Tuesday, August 31, 2010

School Lunch

I just found a new blog entitled Fed Up With School Lunch, which is well worth checking out.

The author is a teacher who is eating the standard school lunch that her students eat every day in 2010.  She's going back to school (and back to crappy food) any day now.  There will be pictures.

You should see some of this stuff.  Really, it's appalling.  And the amount of trash that each lunch generates is absurd.  Everything is in individual cardboard trays with plastic overwrap.  Whatever happened to hairnetted lunch ladies slinging ladels full of green beans onto plastic trays with little dividers?

When my sister was teaching first grade, I took the girls up so they could be her show & tell, and we had lunch with her in the cafeteria.  I'll never forget that they were serving nachos (which consisted of a plastic bag of chips, with 1/2 cup of nacho "cheese" (it probably bore no genetic resemblance to actual cheese), and 1/2 cup of some kind of seasoned beef (or "beef," perhaps) as an entree.  YEURGH!

When the pretty babies are in full-day school, I intend to let them choose one day per week to buy a "hot lunch" (as we called it, back in the day) and to have them pack the other 4 days a week.  One day a week probably won't kill them, and then they'll see pizza, chicken nuggets, burgers and fries, and nachos (!!!) for what they are - treats that should be eaten only rarely, not healthy, nutritious, balanced meals to fuel growing bodies!

I was talking with my mom about this issue today, and she mentioned that Michelle Obama, is working on the school lunch issue, too.  I hope she succeeds.  I didn't breastfeed these kids for 28 months and 22 months, respectively, only to have them fed nothing but crap on weekdays from the time they're 6 until they are 18. 

I just spoke with Megan, and she mentioned that her students (1st Grade) went to lunch at 10:50, and that the school required them to bring a snack to eat at 9:30 am.  Megan had to resort to rewarding kids who brought healthy snacks, because too many of them brought chips, Little Debbies, donuts, etc.  Can you imagine dealing with 25 or 30 first graders who have just pounded back 50 grams of sugar?  I sure can't.  I know I have trouble staying awake and concentrating when I eat crap...  I can't imagine what it's like for growing children!

When I was in school I had terrible problems with low blood sugar - problems that I no longer have as an adult.  I suffered from frequent migraine headaches.  (I still get hormonal migraines, but not the random ones I got back then, and not with the frequency I used to get them).  Sometimes I even got faint or loopy, depending on what I had eaten.  There's one particularly memorable occasion when I had eaten nothing but a hot fudge sundae all day (come on, I was a teenager!  I could fill a book with what I didn't know...) and I couldn't remember how to get home from work (at McDonald's, where I got the sundae).  Even scarier - I was behind the wheel of a car at the time, in the town where I'd lived my entire life, and I was only half a mile from home.  I wonder how much school food played a role in my low blood sugar and associated migraines and loopiness, and whether the lack of school food in my adult life is what has cured me.

Have you got school aged kids?  Have you given school lunches any thought?  How does the school lunch menu affect your dinner menu, or does it?  How would you rate your school district's lunch program?

(I know it's a pain to have to log in to comment, and I'm sorry...  Maybe if you're all very good and you leave excellent comments for a couple weeks, I'll turn anonymous commenting back on.)

Monday, August 30, 2010


I woke up slowly this morning, and took inventory. 

Stomach = not rolling.

Cough = quieter.

Nose = still not perfect, but not as miserable as before.

Aches & pains = not so bad.

And I let go of the breath I'd been holding, and came downstairs to look for food.

Yesterday was pretty miserable.  I felt queasy Saturday night.  I was able to sleep (hooray Benadryl!) but I woke up still queasy.  I had a piece of toast and a little coffee for breakfast.  I tried to hold very still for most of the morning.  I couldn't finish my lunch of leftover beef stroganoff.  I realized mid-afternoon that I'd have to cancel dinner with my aunt and uncle who were coming down from Grammaland.  It was a good thing I did, too, because the queasiness got a lot more real around 4 pm, if you know what I mean.

Right after I got sick I got pretty scared, "This isn't good for the baby!  I need to call the midwife!!"  (Funny how these things always happen on the weekend...)  But BJ calmly reminded me that plenty of women are sick through their entire pregnancies, and their babies turn out fine.  One day isn't going to matter, much, in the great scheme of things.  Of course he was right.  What would I do without him?  No one else can calm me down the way he can.  

After that, I stayed upstairs, mainly to prevent transmission to the kids if I could.  BJ brought hot tea (no sense puking on an empty stomach, and I was trying to stay hydrated), and my favorite movie.  I laid in bed, wide awake, but trying to stay very still.  I listened intently to the baby, making sure I felt an acceptable number of lumps and bumps from my little ninja.

The kids were fantastic.  They stayed downstairs with Daddy all day and didn't bother me at all while I was resting.  When did they get so big?

At some point I put all my symptoms into WebMD and it told me that I might be pregnant.  Uhhhh... thanks.  Hahah!

Anyway, we'll probably still take it easy today, just to be cautious.  But things are looking up.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Claire - Master of Psychology

At the ripe old age of 3-1/2, Claire has mastered the psychology.

"Mary Grace, don't you want it to be my turn?"

"Mommy, don't you want me to have more cake?"

It would be maddening, if she weren't so cute.

So, has she actually mastered psychology, or is she a Jedi...?  You be the judge:

It's really no surprise when you consider who she's been hanging out with...

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who Knew?

I had no idea that there was a pertussis vaccine for parents.  I'm totally going to talk to my doctor about it (after the pregnancy, probably, because I can't even take a flipping Advil, I sincerely doubt that they're going to give me a shot). 

Thanks, J.Lo!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Editorial Decisions

And Jesus said, "WhatEVAH!"
(Please note that I am all hopped up on Benedryl, Tylenol, some residual Robitussin DM, Albuterol, lack of sleep, and strawberry ice cream right now, and this probably isn't destined to be my best writing...)

I have deleted all of the previous posts about the whole Herod thing from this blog and from Facebook.  I have only ever deleted one post before tonight, and that was because I was getting lots of creepy Google searchers coming here via the search terms "little girl's pa*t*es" (and I don't mean "parties" - it was a totally benign post about potty training and rewarding good training behavior with princess... parties, if you know what I mean).  Believe me when I say that I do NOT like deleting posts at all.

I have also disabled anonymous commenting for the foreseeable future.  If you have something to say, you're going to have to man the hell up* and put your name to it.  I am all done dealing with comments from people I may or may not know in real life, people who claim to know where my kids go to school, etc. etc. effing etc.  If you can't see, as a parent, how creepy that is, then you've got a screw loose.  It's the internet equivalent of, "The calls are coming from inside the house!!!

Bottom line, if you get to know who I am, or to think you do, then I get to know who you are.

Finally, I am closing comments on this post because I am done with the entire topic.  99% of what goes on at the school is good.  This is the ONLY issue we've had, and we're going into our third year there.  (Well, ok, that's a lie, the snack thing bugs me, but I'm not going to make a federal case out of it).  Preschool is OPTIONAL - I would not continue to send my kids there if there were serious, chronic, unsolvable problems.  MG's teachers have all been very warm, lovely people.  The director is a delightful, extremely compassionate, and intelligent person whom I greatly admire.  I recognize that my failure to understand the church's position on this issue is ENTIRELY due to two factors that are ENTIRELY my problem - #1 - I have a very sensitive child, and #2 - I am not religious myself**. 

Even religious people admit that you're NEVER going to find a church that you agree with 100% of the time, so considering that I can't even grant them a "given" on the basics, like the existence of God or anything supernatural, it's flipping AMAZING that the only things I've found in TWO FULL YEARS to get upset over are Herod and snack!

If you would like to talk to me further about the school or our experiences there, you're going to have to call me.  If you are Sherlocky enough to know "lots of people" whose kids go there when I didn't even mention the school by name (and when my hometown is not something I've ever published on this blog), then you're Sherlocky enough to call me and have a conversation about it.  I'm in the school directory and in the local white pages.

* I had to delete 27 separate instances of the F-bomb out of this post.  That's as restrained as it's going to get tonight.

** I have tried to be religious, it doesn't stick, I'm done pretending to have answers that I don't have.  While I LOVE the idea of religion and religiousness and the Christians win***, I do not have it in me to believe in anything that is not right in front of me, anymore.  After 34 years, I'm finally comfortable with that.  I may check out Unitarian Universalism in the future, but for right now I'd rather sleep on Sundays, thank you very much.  You're welcome to pray about it if that helps you deal with my agnosticism, but I really don't care to discuss it further.

*** Christians win because if you're right, you get to spend eternity on a cloud with a harp or whatever while I burn in the fiery pits of hell.  Meanwhile, if I'm right and after this life is eternal NOTHING, I don't even get a chance to gloat, and you'll never know the difference.

I'm going to bed. 

Vampire Virus, Part Deux (New Moon?)

I caught the vampire virus from Claire.  It's no big surprise.  The trouble is that I can't think of anything to write about that isn't whining.  

If you don't normally read the comments, then you missed the last time I was actually funny.  Maggie said that she didn't think there was a germ or illness that could live for two days on plastic teeth.   I replied, in the comments, "Maggie, it's a VAMPIRE virus!  They're immortal!!"

I'll be here all week, try the veal.

The bad news is that, like Bella's mutant half-human half-vampire baby in that stupid book, this virus grows really quickly.  I was absolutely fine on Sunday...  We had people over, I cleaned out some closets...  By the time we put the kids to bed I was feeling a little crummy, but I thought it was probably just from the dust in the closets.  A few hours later when we went to bed it was clear that I was really sick.

I saw my doctor yesterday and he gave me a Z-pack.  He's concerned about it going deeper into my lungs, which would be bad with the pregnancy.  Any infection carries a risk of preterm labor, which is not something we want to mess with, especially at only 21 weeks.  He said it's probably viral, so the antibiotics probably won't do any good, but at least they'll (hopefully) prevent further infection.

The good news is that I talked the nurse into getting rid of the plastic vampire teeth when the doctor wasn't looking.  Mooo-wah-hah-hah!

The other good news is that Baby Gozer is still kicking away in there, and other than a few elbows to my liver, to indicate that s/he is not at all thrilled with all the coughing, s/he doesn't seem phased by the vampire virus.

Hopefully his or her teeth won't be unusually pointy.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Welcome New Readers!

I picked up a few new feed subscribers and "followers" yesterday after that whole ugly episode with you-know-who about the you-know-what.

Hi new readers!

A part of me feels a lot of pressure to impress you all with my wit and my deep understanding of... something.  Another part of me had a long day and is really sleepy, and doesn't want to post at all.  But I can't disappoint all the new readers!  So here it is, today's post.

Claire (3-1/2 years old) says "melodade" instead of "lemonade" and it cracks me up. 

No no, I'm kidding.  I mean, she says that, but that isn't today's post...  Calm down.  I wouldn't want everyone to click "unsubscribe!" at once.  We might break the internet.

My midwife's husband wrote a beautiful article about her in a national magazine, but I can't link to it because it gives away my hometown which is Against Editorial Policy.  You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that the article was amazing and made me cry, and it made me so grateful that I've found my midwife, Sharon.  I loved my OB and mourned when he left town, but I couldn't be happier with the care I'm getting right now.

I'm halfway through my third pregnancy, new readers.  20 weeks yesterday, in fact.  But as we all know, the second half is longer than the first half.  For one thing, you're not even pregnant for a couple weeks of the first half, which is totally cheating.  For another, everything takes longer when you can't see your own feet.  The baby will come around Christmas.  We don't know if it's a boy or a girl.

A bunch of people are peeved with me for not finding out the baby's gender.  I tried explaining my reasoning to Jen tonight on the phone, and I'm going to see if I can summarize it here.  When you find out what you're having at 20 weeks, you have 20 more weeks to mourn the baby you're not having.  If you want a boy but you're having a girl, you have to say goodbye to all the snips and snails and puppy dog tails.  You pass cute little blue outfits in the store, and get a little wistful that you won't be able to see your little imaginary man in those cute outfits.  Of course, it's exactly the same if you want a girl and you're having a boy, except with sugar and spice and pink outfits.

However, when you find out at the birth, you don't mourn the baby you're not having.  You're so enthralled with the real baby that's in your arms, that you just pushed into the world, that you don't care if it's not the gender you were hoping to have. 

So since BJ and I honestly do not have any preference, we decided not to find out. 

Of course, that's only part of the reason - it's also part of the experience, for us, to hear, "It's a _____!" at that first moment.  There's also superstition - it's bad luck to name a baby before he or she is born!

Sometimes it's just fun to not know, and to let life unfold the way it's going to.  We don't have many mysteries in this life, anymore, and it's nice to let this baby remain a mystery until we can hold him or her.

If you're new, leave a comment and say hi!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Not To Say "I Was Wrong"

Nope, I don't see any compassion here.
I tried really hard today to educate Ms. Pat Brown.

It is clear that she does not understand the difference between situational depression and clinical depression.  It is clear that she has never suffered from clinical depression herself, nor has she any first hand experience with clinical depression in a loved one.  It is further clear from her own website that she has no medical or psychiatric training whatsoever. 

I have interacted with this woman in e-mail all day.  I have urged her to educate herself, and she has repeatedly stated that in her opinion, there is no such thing as chemically-based depression, postpartum or otherwise.  Nevermind that basically everyone in the medical field agrees that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance.  Pat Brown thinks that if you've had a baby and you're depressed, it's all your own fault.

It is clear from my 12 hours of dealing with her that she profoundly lacks empathy and compassion.  This just proves it (you have to click through - it's appalling, and I can't figure out how to post it here).  She even bragged about that lovely little Facebook status update on Twitter!

You have to be a pretty sick, twisted bitch to bully pregnant women and new mothers - especially new mothers who are suffering from PPD.  You have to have a heart made of ice to think that it's ok to trivialize the struggles of this vulnerable population, to discourage them from seeking help, to blame the victim.  As I said in my initial letter to her - women suffering from PPD judge themselves enough, we don't need the judgment of people like her.  She's just kicking women when they're down.  That's reprehensible.  Who does that? 

I'm pretty sure that Cruella de Brown kicks kittens and skins puppies in her spare time.  She probably also stops by the hospital to pinch all the newborns until they cry, too.

She's a professional bullshitter.  That is all.  She is not a doctor.  She is not a psychiatrist.  She is not an expert.  The jury is still out on whether or not she is even human.  Certainly I have never met a human being who lacked compassion so profoundly (but I live in the midwest, where people are generally nice and make sense).  She goes on Nancy Grace and other shows like that and speculates - with no regard at all for the facts of any case that she's talking about.  Why should we listen to her opinion when it comes to PPD?  Answer:  We shouldn't.  And AOL News should be ashamed of themselves for listening to her in the first place.

Maybe she DOES have a mental illness.  However, just like the mothers who harm their children, her mental illness does NOT excuse her behavior.

Here are the facts - postpartum depression is a debilitating mood disorder which has several possible causes.  Some of those causes are hormonal (estrogen, progesterone, thyroid, oxytocin, and a host of other chemicals at work in the brain and body during and after pregnancy can cause disruption).  Some of the causes are situational (sleep deprivation, lack of support, etc.)... (train of thought derailment...  please stand by)

You know, I took a class in college that talked about personality and how it develops, and we talked about all the different theories - nature, nurture, evolutionary, biological, etc. and each day in class, the professor would repeat that this or that factor was "necessary, but not sufficient," meaning that it played a part in the story, but it wasn't the whole story.  That phrase stuck with me.  Whenever anyone has a black and white opinion about something, especially something as complicated as personality or disease or disorder, I always hear that prof's voice in my head, saying, "It is necessary, but it is not sufficient....."

Anyway, back to the facts...  PPD IS treatable.  The most effective treatment regimen combines therapy and medication.  Many depression meds (including Zoloft, which saved me) are approved for use while breastfeeding, so don't let nursing stop you from seeking help if you need it.  Depression isn't just "sadness." (Mine manifested itself in the form of anger, frustration, crippling anxiety, intrusive thoughts about harm coming to the baby {or doing the baby harm}, and a deep desire to get as far away from my family as possible before I "screwed them up."  I knew, in some deep part of my brain that was still "me" that it didn't make any sense, but I couldn't stop myself from having those feelings and thoughts - even though I wanted so desperately to be happy and normal.)

If you even think for a moment that you might be experiencing something abnormal, please talk to your doctor right away.  There are lots of shades of gray with PPD.  You might have a mild case that can be "cured" with a little extra sleep and support, or maybe improvements in diet and exercise.  You might need medication and therapy.  You might need even more intervention.  Some women, like Heather Armstrong of Dooce.com, are hospitalized, temporarily, until things are under control.

Please don't listen to the Pat Browns of the world who would shame you and blame you for feeling the way you do.  Pat Brown does NOT know what she's talking about.  Listen to all of us who have been there, and who have come out on the other side of it.  It is not your fault.  It is not your fault.  It is not your fault. 

An Open Letter to Pat Brown

Ms. Brown,

As a mother who suffered from and was successfully treated for Perinatal Anxiety and Mood Disorder (or PAMD, formerly known as Postpartum Depression or PPD), I am writing to educate you about the disorder, following your offensive comments in the article at


It astonishes me that you're speaking as a medical and psychiatric expert when it is clear from your website that you have no medical qualifications whatsoever.  It also astonishes me that you would go on public record saying that "most claims -- if not all -- of postpartum depression are a crock."  Statements like that do not help anyone.  By saying that Postpartum Depression is "a crock" you are endangering women and children - because why would a woman seek help and treatment for something that's "a crock?"

Your statements belittle the very real experiences of millions of women like myself - women who have been through the horror of PPD/PAMD - a horror which has nothing to do with losing one's body or one's freedom to children, and has EVERYTHING to do with very real hormones and chemicals in the body.  In my own case, my husband and I tried for two years and desperately wanted a child.  My PPD/PAMD had nothing to do with having an unloved, unwanted burden of a child - she was and remains loved and wanted!  I remember saying, more than once, "I spent two years crying because I couldn't have a baby, and now I'm crying because I have one!  It doesn't make any sense!"  It didn't make any sense because I was sick.  I was suffering from a chemical imbalance that caused me to feel anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety...  It wasn't the baby that caused those feelings!  I loved her and wanted her and wanted to take care of her more than anything!

The medical fact is that there are several possible physical causes for PPD/PAMD, including chemicals/hormones and sleep deprivation.  The hormone that is most suspect is hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal hormone or HPA.  Levels of HPA in postpartum women were found to be similar to the levels in women who had chronic, non-postpartum depression in a recent study.  Women who do not breastfeed produce less oxytocin, which is known to cause feelings of love and well-being, and to produce a desire to care for the child in the nursing mother.  Women who do not breastfeed have a higher incidence of PPD/PAMD.  Additionally, in the 24 hours following childbirth, a woman's levels of estrogen, progesterone, and thyroid hormone drop dramatically, and some researchers believe that this drop leads to PPD/PAMD.

As with most things, it's probably a combination of several physical and environmental factors that causes PPD/PAMD. The fact that researchers do not know the exact cause(s) of PPD/PAMD does not mean that PPD/PAMD is "a crock."  Science also can't explain exactly why gravity works, but that doesn't mean we're making it up and using it as an excuse for our failure to fly!

I do agree with you, however, that Shaquan Duley was probably not suffering from postpartum depression.  More likely the poor woman suffered from postpartum psychosis, which is a different and much more severe form of the disorder.

Please refrain, in the future, from speaking to the media on topics which you are so obviously ignorant.  You are doing real women and children a tremendous disservice when you minimize their experiences in this way.  I would hate to think that there's some woman out there reading about Ms. Duley, who is also feeling the same horrible impulse to harm her children, and reading your words.  Because if PPD isn't real, then there's no hope of treatment or cure, and that poor hypothetical woman now has an "expert" telling her that there's no reason to seek help. 

The women suffering from PPD/PAMD, and those of us who have survived it, do not need any more blame and judgment.  Believe me when I tell you that we blame and judge ourselves quite enough.  We need compassion, help, and access to treatment.  We do not need to be told that our disorder is "a crock."

I very much look forward to a public retraction of your appalling statements. 

Amy Prettybaby
author of http://prettybabies.blogspot.com where this letter will be reprinted

UPDATE:  She wrote back!
I am not ignorant of your argument for PPD and I am not saying in some rare case such a thing could exist based on chemical issues. Generally speaking, I don't buy the chemical imbalance theory for any depression; I believe people just don't want to deal with real life issues and the fact that sometimes life is simply depressing and damn difficult. It isn't about chemical imbalance but tough times and our own issues.
Pat Brown
Investigative Criminal Profiler

To which I replied:

You are not qualified to buy or not buy any explanation for any disorder.  You are neither a doctor nor a psychiatrist!  You obviously, obviously have NO IDEA what you are talking about, and to tout yourself as an "expert" on PPD/PAMD in the national media is ignorant at best, dangerous at worst.

By the way, you've created yourself a real controversy.  Check Twitter - #AOLhurtsmomswithPPD. 

Enjoy the attention.

Updated to add - AOL has removed Brown's comments from the original article!

Updated again - this woman just doesn't know when to quit:
I stand by my comments even if AOL does not.
Pat Brown
Investigative Criminal Profiler


My blood is BOILING!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Post-Ultrasound Baby Update

Mom's Blood Pressure - still excellent, but trending slowly upward

Mom's Weight Gain - 2 pounds total (midwife says I shouldn't panic if it's 8 pounds at my next visit, that I'm overdue for a growth spurt)

Fundal Height - not measured, but right at my belly button which is where it should be

Baby's Heart Rate - 153 bpm

Baby's Anatomy Scan - looks great!  Nothing of concern was detected!

Baby's First Picture - suitable for framing:

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Vampire Fad has Literally Made Us Sick

I love our doctor, I really do, and I wouldn't stop seeing him or taking the kids to him for anything...  But I'm a little annoyed with him today (mostly with myself, to be fair...).

He has a big plastic bucket (the kind you'd put sodas in with ice for a party) full of small toys (pencils, stickers, etc.) for the kids to choose from after their appointments.  That's really kind of him, and the gesture is appreciated.  But...

One of the prizes when I took MG for her shots on the 11th was a set of purple plastic vampire teeth.  MG chose a pencil (after pawing through the bucket that all the sick kids since time immemorial had pawed through, too, while I stood there and cringed).  Claire (who didn't even have an appointment) grabbed the teeth.  They were not wrapped in plastic or anything - they were just lying there, naked, in the germs.  Damn that Oriental Trading Company!!

I told her to keep them FAR away from her mouth, and she did that day.  They got mixed in with all the other debris in the back of my car, and by the time we got home I had forgotten about them.

She found them in the back of the car on Friday, stuck them in her mouth before I could stop her, and now she's sick.  Runny nose, cough, low grade fever, sore sounding throat...  Big surprise.

I need to acknowledge that it is completely my responsibility to keep my kids out of the bucket of germ toys, and to deal with the ensuing tantrums.  It is also my responsibility to take the germ toys that they smuggle out away from them....  But I think the blame here can be shared.  A doctor who is an expert on germ theory and how illnesses are spread should know better than to put toys that are meant to be put in the mouth in a big communal bucket full of germs that the kids are going to paw though.  I mean, our doctor has small kids, too.  He knows how they are!  And I'd be willing to pay an extra penny or two per item if Oriental Trading would individually wrap their stuff.  Wouldn't you?

I suppose it's probably revenue generating.  After all, if this goes beyond a cold and turns into something serious, I'm going to be right back to the doctor's office with another co-pay!  And it's no coincidence that the play area at the mall (aka. Germ Central) is sponsored by the local network of doctors.  It's a tough economy, we've all got to do what we've got to do.

I just wish I'd taken away the damn teeth.

(They did finally get rid of the waiting room toys, after I complained about it, although it had more to do with H1N1 than my complaining.  And I really, really do love our doctor.  I know he isn't really trying to make the kids sick.  I'm just teasing about the revenue generating.  Mostly.  BJ says that it's entirely my fault and I shouldn't be upset with the doctor or with Oriental Trading Company, but he got a lot more sleep than I did last night, so he can afford to be rational.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened...

So a funny thing happened to me last night when I was looking at the pictures from the party.  It had been a while since I looked through the pictures on the camera, and I came across one in particular that made me pause.  "Who is that with Mary Grace?" I thought.

It could be because it's kind of dark, and it could be because of the shadows, but I didn't recognize MY OWN FACE.  (The picture was taken in the Star Wars exhibit at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville).

It was kind of a Great Moment in Weight Loss for me.

I'm not actively dieting, but I've only gained a pound with this pregnancy, which means that everything is redistributing.  My arms are smaller, and my face is apparently a lot slimmer than it used to be.  It was a very strange feeling to look at myself and not see myself.

Anyway, if you see me walking around trying to find myself, now you know why.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

MG's 5th Birthday Party - with pictures!

The party was a HUGE success! Here come a few of my favorite pictures.

First, the cake! You can't tell from the picture, but the cake is vegan chocolate and is SOOOOOO good! The cupcakes were yellow cake (dyed green). They were almost too cute to eat. Cresta of "The Girl With The Most Cake" made them, and if you're local I would be more than happy to pass on her info. Lots of people (myself included) can make an ugly cake that tastes good. Lots of people can make pretty cakes that taste terrible. It takes real talent to make something that is both pretty and tasty!

Cute, huh?  In my wildest dreams, I can't imagine being that talented.  And speaking of talented.....

Anna, our new babysitter, brought her face painting supplies and painted all the kids' faces.  It was so amazingly generous of her, and the kids LOVED it!  MG was a butterfly, Claire got a flower, Gwen got an entire "Nemo" scene with water and fish, Owen was Batman, Cam was Spiderman...  Each kid had his or her own unique design.  If you're local and you want to hire Anna for your parties, I'll be happy to pass on her info, too!  She's also an amazing babysitter (but I don't share babysitters willingly, so that if you want her for sitting I will require a bribe!) and an amazing organizer if you need someone to help you come and get rid of some junk.

It's too bad no one in this photo is having any fun!

Lots of our friends and family were able to join us.  Here's Claire with Grandmother Diana:

They look so much alike!

Mary Grace tore through a lot of lovely gifts (I got distracted with Claire and missed everything).  Our friends Shannyn and Ken even stayed and helped us clean up afterward.

BJ and I are exhausted.  It's not even 10 pm, but I think I'm going to go to bed.  Right after I sneak a little more cake....

A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this day special for our big girl!!!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Follow Up: How do you handle gifts?

Well, after all of your excellent advice, here's what we did... 

We let Claire buy herself a Jessie doll with her own money.

Both of the kids have piggy banks, and somehow they accumulate money - they'll get a $5 from a grandparent for Valentine's day or a $20 from another one for a birthday, or I'll have too much change in my purse so I'll dump it in their piggy banks.  It's not like they have many incidental expenses.  Sometimes when I know we're going shopping for stuff that will bore them (like maternity clothes) I'll let them take a purse and a little bit of their money (and sunglasses and lip gloss, of course) so they can be Big Girls with their own money... but that's really the only time they have an opportunity to spend it, and that only happens once in a great while.  Generally they spend their pocket money on Polly Pockets dolls and small things like that.

Last Christmas, Claire got a FurReal cat that MG loved and coveted, so we let MG go to Walmart with some of her Christmas money from her Great-Grandma Gleason and get one for herself.  I figured this was the same sort of situation.  I may not always make the best decisions as a mother, but I try to be consistent.

So Grandpa Bob went to Indy and bought another Jessie doll, and brought it back, and Claire bought it from him.  (The ones available at our local Walmart had plastic hair, and we wanted the one with yarn hair).

Grandpa Bob may or may not have stuck that money right back in her piggy bank, but if he did, Claire didn't see him.

I'd like to say that peace has reigned in our house since then, but unfortunately that hasn't happened.  Claire is still finding things to fight over, but this attitude of hers started before the birthday festivities began.  Something else is going on with her.  I'd check to see if she has molars coming in, but I'm afraid I would lose a finger.  If she doesn't knock it off, I'm going to make her a doctor's appointment, because she's just been acting a little bit too strangely.

I mentioned on Facebook that we had to leave Wolf Park on Sunday because she was acting like such a colossal brat.  She was terrible at the zoo on Monday, too, but I just ignored her.  She did fairly well on MG's birthday, until we opened presents.  She's just got a hair trigger when it comes to crying and throwing tantrums, lately, and I can NOT figure out what has changed.  She's getting the same amount of sleep.  Her eating habits haven't changed.  She isn't much more or less active.  I haven't changed the way we discipline her (time outs) at all.  There have been moments when she has played SO nicely with MG, and then for no reason that anyone can figure out, she loses her little mind and starts hollering about something.

If anyone has any guesses, besides teething, I'd love to hear them.  She hasn't complained of being in any pain.  Do kids even get molars at 3-1/2?  I can't remember.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How do you handle gifts?

Let's imagine that I'm at my sister's birthday party.  Her birthday is after mine (mine is in April, hers is in June).  Let's pretend that she just opened a really cool gift - a new book by an author I love.  What would I do?

I know exactly what I'd do.  I'd have it ordered on my Kindle before she blew out the candles, that's what.  The last thing I would do is wait until Christmas to ask for it and then hope that I got it from someone. 

Ok, let's imagine a second situation.  My sister gets a book, and I want it, so I take it from her.  When Megan got angry, would my mom say, "Megan, you need to be a better sharer!"?  Would she insist that Megan give me a turn with her book?  Would Megan get in trouble for not sharing?  No.  She would say, "Amy, quit being a jerk and get your own book."

Exhibit A
So, based on the above, I don't see anything wrong with running right out and getting Claire a Jessie Doll like the one MG got yesterday from Grandpa (or Grandma - it was unclear who got what from whom in the chaos).  BJ says we can't because 1) we don't want them to be spoiled and 2) we work hard for our money while Claire doesn't have to do anything productive but convert oxygen to carbon dioxide for the next 15 years and therefore 3) we're not going to set the precedent of getting two sets of everything and 4) Mary Grace doesn't have to share her special toy even though 5) it's breaking Claire's little heart in spite of the fact that 6) Claire totally usurped the Woody doll that MG got and 7) MG didn't even blink because she was too busy falling in love with Jessie.

It's different for kids, BJ insists.

But Claire doesn't understand!  I counter.

That's why we have to teach her!  he says.  And I know he's right, except that it's so hard.  And people always bring gifts for the non-birthday girl in our house (we have such generous friends and family!) and it has rarely been an issue.  But they're both in love with Jessie, and you can't share a doll like that.  You can't take turns with a best friend.  It's really not fair to make Mary Grace give Claire a turn (see above re: Amy, get your own book).

So do we make her wait until Christmas?  Do we let her take her piggy bank money and buy her own Jessie?  That's what we did with Mary Grace when she wanted something Claire got last Christmas - it was a "FurReal" kitten.  Neither one of them have played with the kittens in months.  So while I'm leaning toward the "use your pocket money to get your own" option, I'm not sure that's the right thing to do.

We were not planning ahead when we had these kids 19 months apart.  That is too long between birthdays.

It's going to get 33% harder in December.

I hope Gozer's a boy.  Poor Woody needs someone to love him.

How do you, especially those of you with close-in-age same-gender children, handle birthdays and gifts?  Am I totally being a marshmallow if I take Claire to Walmart with her piggy bank money and let her buy her own? Is anyone hiring pouty three year olds?  Could I have her do some chores around the house over the next couple of days to earn enough money to buy a Jessie doll?  For the record, I hate the idea of paying kids for chores, because chores are something you do because you're part of a family, not because you get paid (no one pays me to do the laundry, after all).  But in this instance, I might be able to make an exception.

And, bigger picture, do the things we teach kids about waiting and sharing in our culture make any sense at all?  And if not, why do we teach them what we do?  Do we do it to make our own lives easier?  Does that even make any sense?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mary Grace, you are FIVE!

Dear Mary Grace,

Happy fifth birthday!  I can't believe that you're already five.  They're really not kidding when they say "it goes by so fast." 

I don't even know what to say...  You're not a little baby anymore - someone who can be summed up in one page.  You're a whole person.  Psychologists say that your personality is fully formed by the time you're five, and that who you are down deep inside doesn't change much between now and when you're an adult.  I hope that's true, because there is so much about you that's so wonderful, and I hope it's all permanent.

You love people.  Everywhere we go you find a kid about your age and you say, "Hi, I'm Mary Grace and this is my sister, Claire.  What's your name?"  You are very outgoing and friendly, and you have lots and lots of friends as a result.  When you're around littler kids, you're very patient with them.  And you love playing with bigger kids.  You can't get enough of Lucy and Jane and their friends, and the older girls in our neighborhood.  You really get along well with everyone. 

Speaking of littler kids, you're really looking forward to having a new little brother or sister this winter.  Right now you're saying you want a brother because you already have a sister.  You come up with interesting suggestions for baby names - this morning it was "Hannay" and "Rosalinda."  You ask me all kinds of really good questions about "Baby Gozer," and you know all about how s/he's growing, what an umbilical cord is for, and so on.  You have such a quick, curious mind.

Claire is truly your best friend.  You are so sweet together.  During school, you always save half of your snack for her.  Daddy took you out for your birthday breakfast today, and you brought home half of it for Claire.  You're always there to protect her, too, if bigger kids bug her at the playground, or if she gets hurt.  Earlier this year she got stuck in a slide at Monkey Joe's, and you came right out and got me.  You two play together so well, and I am so happy that you're each others' best friends. 

We went to Huntsville recently, and I loved watching you explore with your daddy.  You are so bright and so quick, and you understand so many things - and when you don't understand something right away, you keep trying until you figure it out.  Daddy and I are both proud of what a hard worker you are.  You love learning, reading books, going new places, math and science, robots, space...  I hope you always love learning as much as you do now.

Here's the checklist I started doing when you were a baby:

Your favorite toy for playing is: your Toy Story characters

Your favorite toy for snuggling is: your panda bears

Your favorite food is: blueberries

Your favorite book is: Stellaluna

Your favorite activity is: building robots with Daddy

Your favorite place to go is: the Children's Museum

Your best friend is: Claire

Something new that you're doing: coloring inside the lines and using the correct colors for things, instead of just scribbling.  We tease that you color like it's your job! 

Something you've mastered: letting Max in and out of the back door, helping me with laundry, sorting the silverware when it comes out of the dishwasher, setting the table... 

Something people say about you: "She's so funny!"

Something that you're saying is: "Mommy, I know how to iPhone."  "Can I go play with my friends?" 

Something Dad and I are proud of you for: earlier in the year we thought you'd be starting kindergarten this fall, but it turns out that you missed the cut off by 10 days.  You have been SO good about this change in plans, and you haven't gotten angry or upset with us at all, even though we were all a little disappointed. 

Something surprising about you: how tall you are - you're already wearing size 6 clothes because the 4s and 5s are too short. It's surprising because I'm so short.  You'll probably be taller than I am by 2nd grade.

What you want to be when you grow up: a veterinarian

I love you so much, and I am so lucky to be your mom.  I hope today is all full of special memories! 


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Wolf Park

Trying something new with the kids today. They aren't impressed. I think they think it's just like watching Max, except behind a fence. Maybe they'll like it better when they bring out the bison.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Blame the Baby

When I'm pregnant, I have the attention span of a ...  oh look!  Something shiny!

(Hope this explains the profound lack of posts...  :) )

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Brief Baby Update

My blood pressure - 108/64 (excellent)

Fundal height - 18 cm (which is exactly what it should be)

Heart rate - 160 (another girl?  Too soon to tell...)

Fetal movement (while trying to find the heartbeat) - lots

My weight gain - ONE POUND, 5.5 ounces of which is baby!  I'm thrilled about that!

Urinalysis - negative for everything bad

So far so good!  The anatomy scan is in 2 weeks!

A Few Observations

If you have to get blood drawn, try to get the oldest phlebotomist in the joint.  Someone who has drawn blood 10,000 times is naturally going to be better at it than someone who has done it 1,000 times.  It may not be a big deal for us grown ups, but next time my kids need blood drawn (knock wood) I'm going to ask, "Who's retiring next?  We want her to do it."
(Yes, I know all those 20 year olds need practice if they're going to get as good as the grannies.  I don't care.  They can practice on someone else's kid.)

The 20 year old who drew mine this morning really hurt me, to the point where I said, "OH OWWW!" out loud.  I had blood drawn last week (gotta keep an eye on my liver - so far so good) and the Betty White lookalike who did it did a MUCH better job.  I barely felt it.  Incidentally, I always ask for the baby needle.  Why let them use a hose-sized needle if they don't have to?  It's not like I get extra points for being brave.  It's not like the baby needle costs more.  I see no reason to suffer.

Yes, I give birth naturally and I'm afraid of having blood drawn, what's it to ya?  The worst part of Claire's birth was getting the IV, no joke.  Although, to be honest, it could just be because there was nobody cheering me on.  I like attention.

In food news, I made these muffins yesterday, and they are awesome, and only 195 calories each (although that doesn't help if you have two, as I just did).  The only trouble is that they stick like crazy to the paper, even though I sprayed the paper with Pam.  Any suggestions?

Greek Yogurt is awesome.  I'm eating the Dannon brand (with honey) right now for breakfast, and it's delightful.  The texture is much thicker than the yogurt we're used to in the U.S.  Yum!

This article about supplements is pretty scary.  I don't think I'll be taking any supplements that come from China any time in the future.  If we can't trust them to keep lead out of toys, how can we trust them to keep toxic chemicals out of supplements?  Although, someone on Fark.com brought up the excellent point that a lot of prescription drugs cause heart problems, liver failure, etc. too.  Just don't take anything. 

And Dad's here, so now I've gotta go to work.  Happy Wednesday!  I'm 18 weeks today, can you believe it?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Maternity Shopping

I remember going to the maternity store at the mall when I was pregnant with MG, putting on the "practice belly" (so you can see what clothes will look like toward the end of the pregnancy), and crying.  I was just so happy to finally be pregnant.

This time, there was less crying, and quite a bit more laughing:

This picture is guaranteed to give B.J. gray hair.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

What I Learned On My Summer Vacation

No one wants to hear every excruciating detail of our trip to Nashville and Huntsville, but I did learn several things which might prove useful to you on your next road trip.

1)  Take a picture of the stove and all the knobs that are in the "off" position so that you don't have to come back and check the stove twice after you've left the house (yes, I really did).  Ditto the garage door.  I've started telling the kids, "When Mommy asks you in 5 minutes if the garage door is down, tell me yes, ok, because it's down.  See?" 

2)  ALWAYS take blankets and pillows in the car to encourage napping.

3)  The Happy Meal-sized Toy Story figurines that I got at Walmart were the hit of the trip, and resulted in a lot of excellent car behavior - I got each kid a set to discourage fighting.  They've been playing with them ever since I gave them the toys on Tuesday morning.  If your kids are into a particular movie or character, getting them small toys that they can play with in the car might just save your sanity, too!  I also took a cookie sheet (the jelly roll sort with sides) for each kid, so they'd have a hard surface to color on in the car, and the lip of the pan held their crayons so I didn't have to dig them out of the crevices of the car quite as often.  Did you know that if you leave crayons in the car during the day in Nashville, they'll melt?  I've figured this out, so you don't have to!

4)  If I had made a list, I wouldn't have forgotten our toothbrushes and toothpaste.  Replacing them at the hotel cost $13 (for 3 square headed old-school toothbrushes and a travel-sized toothpaste - highway robbery!).

5)  If you have the option, stay at an Embassy Suites.  It's affordable (ours was $129 a night + taxes and parking), and you get two rooms, so once you get the kids to bed, you can sit in the outer room and watch TV, check e-mail, speak in a normal voice, turn on lights, etc.  This makes a trip with children MUCH more pleasant.  Also, they provide a free hot breakfast (not just stale rolls and old fruit, we're talking about made-to-order omelets and eggs, bacon, potatoes, waffles, etc.).  The breakfast alone probably saved us $25 a day.  Plus, all the people were super friendly, and it was really clean.  We've stayed in the same hotel before, and I love it.  I can't imagine staying anywhere else.  (P.S.  No one paid me or compensated me in any way for plugging Embassy Suites - I'm just a very satisfied customer who wants to share her experience, that's it.  Although if the Embassy Suites people want to compensate me, I'll be happy to accept free stays at their hotels!  :) )

6)  If your dog is a nervous shedder and you're boarding her, ask them to brush her a couple times so you don't get a pound of dog fur in your car when you pick her up.

7)  Road trip algebra:  2SC + 1PL + 3m/3D = 2M

Where SC = small child
PL = pregnant lady
m = museum
D = day
M = Much

(In other words, two small children plus one pregnant lady plus three museums over three days is too much!)

8)  Save a fortune on "in room entertainment" by bringing your own laptop and streaming movies over the wifi.  We watched a couple episodes of Dollhouse on BJ's laptop after the kids went to bed instead of watching TV.  We have a wireless 3G aircard, but it would've worked just fine over the hotel's wifi, too.

9)  Take a break.  My favorite memory of this trip, aside from hanging out with our college friends, is the fun the girls had feeding the fish and the birds that live in the canal behind our hotel.  Vacation doesn't have to mean that you run around like crazy people doing and seeing everything.  Sometimes the best moments are the simple (and free!) ones.

10)  Don't get into arguments with cab drivers, but if you do, remember that their boss's number is printed in large numbers on the back of their car.