Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Coming Up For Air

Can't blog. Busy playing Guitar Hero and watching Diego's Arctic Rescue like I'm getting paid for it.

Oh, and staying up until FOUR O EFFING CLOCK in the morning reading (i.e. going through half a box of Kleenex) The Time Traveler's Wife. This right here is why I can't read on a regular basis, people. I get a taste of the sweet sweet Novel and I'm like a crack addict: ignoring chores, loved ones, meals, personal hygiene, etc. just for the chance of sneaking in one more page of sweet sweet WORDS. No lie: yesterday I ate nothing but a packet of instant oatmeal and candy from my stocking until seven PM because I was so busy reading. Well, and also cleaning up holiday detritus and doing laundry and feeling resentful that even when it is still technically within the Twelve Days of Christmas (what, you don't celebrate all of them? Pssh. Amateur.) things like dishes and sweeping still kind of beg for your attention.

But there was a LOT of reading sandwiched in there. The low point was when my sister and a friend came over last night to (what else?) play Guitar Hero and American Idol with us, and I was stealthily trying to read in between my turns, then shoving my book under the couch and acting all nonchalant like, "What? Me, antisocial and rude and acting like this book is going to turn into a pumpkin and disappear at midnight? Never."

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Calm and Bright

Edit: It's not too late to skip on over to pseudostoops and add fifty- no seventy five!- cents to her donations to three not-widely-known but very deserving charities simply by commenting in each of these posts. Go now! Um, and then come back here!

I just finished reading MO Mommy's exquisite holiday post here and my gosh but you are a breathtaking writer, Erin. I just want to express my awe at your amazing ability to come up with this stuff in the midst of postpartum hormones and round the clock nursing and two energetic little boys. You have a real gift for seeing the beauty in life with small children, a life that can so often seem full of too much frustration and too little reward. Thank you for a lovely Christmas gift!

And now I'm going to send a little Christmas gift of my own to my family and friends, near and far. Consider this my Christmas letter if I don't ever get around to it this year, okay? :)

This year has frankly seemed a little unevenly tipped on the side of bad luck and disappointment for us, but here we are at the end of it, topping it off with a serious car accident and a house full of sick people, and yet I am feeling the happiest and most at peace I have in a long time. Years, maybe. Ultimately I credit God's presence in my life for this, but I cannot deny that the hands and feet of this Presence have been all of you. My faith has felt weak at times, or I've simply been so busy and so depleted and have so poorly prioritized my time that I haven't been seeking strength from the real source. Yet even when I've failed to seek it, it has followed me, piggybacking on each of you.

I'm not the greatest at expressing gratitude, at least in person, but let me say here that I am unutterably thankful to each one of you for every hot meal, every gift, every sweet comment on this blog and in the mail, every hug, every prayer. Every time you dropped what you were doing to babysit our kids so I could go get my blood drawn (again) or gave me a massage gift certificate so I could relax or told me that I was doing a great job handling things when I was feeling paper-thin and fragile on the inside. Every time we ate together on summer evenings and Sunday afternoons, every time we met for lunch, every time you came over in the evenings and hung out with us housebound parents so we wouldn't feel like we had no social life! You have been generous with your resources and even more significantly your time, and I love you for it. I've heard that "hell is other people," but in my experience, so is heaven.

I'm a big Madeleine L'Engle fan, and this segment of one of her poems, which I wrote down in a diary years ago, has come to my mind often in this past year:

Unclench your fists
Hold out your hands
Take mine
Let us hold each other
Thus is His glory manifest.


Thank you all for holding out your hands and taking mine. Thank you for loving and praying for my babies, the ones here and the ones waiting for us. Thank you to our families for reminding us over and over of WHY we still want to have more kids, and why family is worth working and fighting for.

You know that song I referenced a few days ago, the one from Kelsey's Christmas mix CD that made me cry? The chorus goes like this: (last quote, I promise!)

But it feels like it's been one long Christmas dinner
One unending prayer, one unbroken line
Singing “Be Thou My Vision” by day or by night
All is calm and all is bright.


That's kind of how I feel about this year, and I have you all to thank.

Well, and eight pound six ounce Baby Jesus.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ho Ho Ho DRINK

So guess what I got in the mail yesterday? Not one but TWO fantastic Christmas music mixes, one for me and one for the kids, from Kelsey at Midwest Mom! (Oh, um, because I won her contest, not because she just felt moved to add to my holiday CD collection because she likes me more than you all.) They are both SO good and SO perfect. Thank you so much, Kelsey! Although, you really should have WARNED me about the second song, which was Long Christmas Dinner by Carrie Newcomer. I had never heard it before, and maybe I was just in a super sensitive mood due to the way Christmas church services always affect me, but dude, I was crying by the end of that song. And not like a romantic tear or two, but like, scrambling in the glove box for old paper napkins to blow my nose in because OH THE CRYING. Maybe just listen to it, hmm? And then you can decide if I'm normal or possibly borderline unstable. It's probably the last one.

I also got Christmas cards from two of my bloggy friends, with pictures of their kids, and signed with their kids' real names and all that good stuff! So exciting. And guys, I'm sorry we still haven't sent out a card to any of you, real life friends or otherwise. Maybe sometime around Valentines I'll get to it... I had put it off and was planning to have ours be a fashionably late but still in the nick of time card, you know, the one that sashays into your mailbox perhaps the day before Christmas Eve. But now we just have a lot going on this week with a new washer and dryer arriving tomorrow and new flooring upon which to PUT the washer and dryer still needing to be purchased and laid and then that little thing called shopping which still remains to be done for a few people on my list.

Oh and also there's the fact that Jim got in a car accident today and his car was totalled. Well. Of course! No holiday season is complete without turning in claims to both your home owners and your car insurance providers!

Jim is more or less fine, except for a jammed knee which needs to be looked at by a doctor tomorrow and a cut on his knuckle. And the person who PULLED OUT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF HIM is fortunately okay too, and fortunately will be the one getting issued a citation. Also, I guess in a way the timing is as convenient as it could be...

Jim had already planned to use up vacation days and take the rest of the year off work starting tomorrow, so he won't technically NEED his vehicle for a couple of weeks. His being around will also be helpful for installing of major appliances and shopping for a new car and laying a new floor in the laundry room, too! Hey kids! Remember the Christmas we made magical holiday memories like taking multiple treks to Sears and Lowes and had incredibly loud annoying fans blowing through our house for three days and we all got sore throats and coughs from the house being so thoroughly dehumidified that the water was sucked from our very skin?!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Enough With The Hygiene

I never thought I'd be yelling at my kid to STOP washing his hands. But I also never thought that two year olds could figure out how to drag a kitchen chair over to the sink, turn the water on, and suds up (to their elbows) all by themselves. All day long. And then messily attempt to wash dishes, dishes like steak knives and fragile wine glasses. Every time you turn your back. All day long.

I wish he was still little enough for the play yard. Or the BOUNCY SEAT. Man was that thing great while it lasted...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If Only Writing A Christmas Letter Was This Easy

My blogging year in highlights:

January- I witnessed the birth of David Nicholas, my friend Jess's second son. First birth I've ever gotten to witness from an angle other than my own screaming head!

February- The remodel of the den, aka Man Room, was finally completed, a fact which still occasionally delights me when I look around and remember what it USED to look like.

March- Our first Clomid cycle following the August '08 miscarriage was a fail, resulting in a painful cyst which forced me to go on the Pill for a month to let it shrink.

April- My sister got engaged (after about a month of dating, following my stellar example) and we found out about yet another possible fertility issue, my blood clotting disorders.

May- We celebrated Jim's birthday and our fifth wedding anniversary with a trip to the family cottage in Canada! This was some much needed relaxation. Later that month we visited a reproductive endocrinologist, who gave us a very welcome second opinion regarding my blood clotting disorder and the (alleged) need to take Lovenox during future pregnancies. Oh, and we also found out that Jim's business was forced to eliminate overtime completely, and cut everyone's salaries as well.

June- We went to the beach again, this time with the kids, and instituted a family dinner rotation with the grandparents and cousins, which was a great way for the kids to enjoy time with their cousins on those long summer evenings.

July- We tried to conceive again, this time using a combination of antibiotic, Clomid, mid-cycle ultrasound and subsequent hcg injection to make sure I ovulated before my egg deteriorated, and Prometrium supplements during the last half of my cycle. I found out that I am a big baby about abdominal injections and would prefer to have someone else do it for me while I look away and think about something else.

August- Got a positive pregnancy test. Had weird, less than reassuring hormone level draws, got a five week ultrasound that showed a sac developing. I tried to relax and not worry, especially after the hormone levels improved a bit following an increase in progesterone supplements. The kids and I went to a water park with my parents, sister, and her friend, which was really fun except that I was feeling kind of nauseous and icky and nervous still. And forgot my camera, of course. Eli turned 2!

September- An eight week ultrasound revealed no heartbeat, and that the baby had stopped growing at seven weeks. My body did not miscarry on its own, though, so I had to take Cytotec to induce miscarriage, since I had already had two d and c's after earlier miscarriages and the doctor didn't think I should have any more. I tried to cope. A surprise birthday party, projects, and family visits helped distract me when I needed breaks from coping.

October- Found a new, more homeopathic doctor who reviewed my history and suggested a different treatment path, starting with a saliva testing throughout an entire cycle to evaluate what my hormones are doing when I'm NOT pregnant, something no other doctor has bothered to check on. Addy turned 4!

November- Took a brief detour towards the unabashedly sentimental, raked a staggering amount of leaves, ate some pie.

December- Baked up some magic, then went to a Piston's game and proved that I still can't handle my alcohol. Oh, and then our house decided to turn on us.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

PB and Chocolate

So, I have one more session of holiday baking planned, and I need a good peanut butter treat recipe that is NOT peanut butter balls or buckeyes or whatever you call them. It also needs to be suitable for boxing up and freezing. And, you know, I will be the one making them, so it needs to be kind of idiot proof and not involve steps like sifting flour, mkay?

Anyone have any tried and true favorites combining the concepts of PEANUT BUTTER, chocolate, and EASY?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Winner! (And The Story Of The Fans)

First off- I drew the lucky cleaning contest winner, and it is Hillary! Which is kinda great, because she has a baby due in, like, five minutes, and it's fun to send gift boxes to preggos. Hmm... do you think perhaps this prize will include something BESIDES cleaning supplies? Anyways, here's the deal: I will be trying to email you tonight, Hillary, because every time I try to go to your homepage to find your email address, my internet immediately crashes. But this only happens on MY computer, not my husband's, so tonight when he gets home I'll try to either find your email address or leave you mine in your comments section so I can get your info and ship you your goodies pronto!

And speaking of cleaning, yeah... So what actually happened Friday is that our washing machine overflowed, for about the third time in as many months. The first two times we thought we figured out that it was because the knob which sets the load size had gotten stuck in between settings and so it just kept filling. But that was not the case this time- I checked the load size knob immediately, upon realizing the FLOOR WAS AGAIN FLOODED, and it was very definitely on an exact setting. New theory: appliances possessed by evil.

By the time I discovered the wet floor (only about ten minutes, if that, since throwing in the clothes and turning on the washer,) the water had spilled into the kitchen and had gotten into the cracks and under our laminate floor. Even once we had it mopped up, we could feel it squishing around beneath the floorboards, so... Yeah, you can't really just ignore that. Floors rotting, mold growing, etc. So we called the insurance scammers- er, I mean emergency repair people- and had them bring out giant fans and stuff, then give us the astronomical quote for their services and the use of their equipment.

A portion of the floor had to be ripped out altogether and will need to be replaced, not to mention the two APPLIANCES which will need to be replaced. (The dryer was on its way out anyway, has been for about a year. You can't ever leave the house with it on, or put clothes in and then forget about them, because if left to its own devices the dryer will just keep running ENDLESSLY, shrinking your clothes and using up massive amounts of electricity. We've just been putting off replacing it until the washer needed it too. Kill two birds, etc.)

Luckily we're just rolling in cash these days. HA HA HA.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Merry

Well, we're back from our first Christmas celebration, at Jim's grandma's in Michigan. We were all supposed to spend the night there Friday, but we had a little snafu about an hour before we were supposed to leave... We had sent Addy on ahead with Jim's parents, but instead of being right behind them as soon as Jim got home from work, we instead ended up calling our home owner's insurance, calling a water and fire damage company, and enduring a weekend of professional grade drying fans and dehumidifiers blasting away in our laundry room. At least we were gone on Saturday and didn't have to listen to it.

Anyone want to guess what happened? Anyone want to guess who was the genius that, while pulling sopping wet laundry out of the utility sink, accidentally dropped the hose which empties the dehumidifier out of the sink and onto the floor? Thereby slowing down the drying process a bit, since for two hours, the dehumidifier was basically sucking water up and then dumping it back onto the floor?

Friday, December 11, 2009

A Thousand Calories Later

We interrupt your regularly scheduled morning with this announcement:
I think I ate my weight in Nutella last night. O.M.G. I still feel sick and sluggish just thinking about it.

I was really craving more chocolate dipped pretzel sticks, but they were all packed up to go to Grandma's house this weekend. Sad. But then I had this genius idea to dunk the leftover, undipped mini pretzel rods in Nutella while watching The Office and 30 Rock last night. And I don't mean, here and there I dunked one in, the way a normal person might eat such a fattening snack. No, I mean that for an hour straight my hand was in constant motion between the pretzel bag, the Nutella jar, and my gaping pie hole. I'm sure it was just the sexiest thing EVAH to watch. I should've had someone tape me, so I could sell the video online to that sadly neglected segment of the p0rn industry consumer demographic- the calorie fetish folks.

Yeah... I should probably go to the gym now. After I eat my morning snack of Nutella on toast, that is. (Isn't it hilarious how they dare to advertise that stuff as part of a nutritious breakfast, btw? Yeah, sure it is, if you eat an egg and whole wheat toast and a glass of orange juice and then have the chocolate spread as your dessert. Let's end the charade, Nutella. Ditto to you, Pop Tarts.)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Essay Question/GIVEAWAY/Martha Stewart-like Blathering

I am so tired today. I woke up last night a total of SEVEN times, you guys. And only one of those times was kid related. First (cover ears, boys,) I woke up to cramps so painful that in my delirious, half awake state, I momentarily thought I was in labor. That was fun. Then when I finally got back to sleep, I had this dream that a kid I went to high school with had broken into our house and was SANDPAPERING MY HANDS. I know. I had been whining about my poor, cracked winter hands to Jim right before bed, so I think it must have been some kind of manifestation of that conversation, but seriously, brain, WTF? Then Jim's alarm clock went nuts, having apparently been messed with by a child, and started going off every ten minutes starting at five o' clock in the morning, even after being unplugged. This happened four times before Jim figured out what was wrong with it. THEN the kids woke up and stood at their door, yelling for me. This was about a quarter to six. And sooo...

So today's post is a boring question/contest idea that I've had in the hopper for awhile, but haven't yet been so brain dead that I had to resort to the topic of CHORES. Today is that day, however. Here's your task, my lovies- tell me how you clean: your methods, your schedule, or lack thereof. Favorite products, least favorite tasks, best time saving technique, etc. Who helps out, and how efficiently. I'd bet every single one of you has something to contribute, especially when you hear that I will be sending a random winner a box of my favorite cleaning supplies! (Underwhelmed silence. Crickets.) Um, and maybe something less boring, too! Chocolate dipped pretzels! Your own maid!

Oh, and I don't just mean this for people who have a set schedule and your house is always clean. This also applies to people who only deep clean a few times a year for company, so you have to answer too, even if it's just, "My idea of cleaning the bathroom is throwing away the shower curtain liner before it is completely covered in mold."

Examples of what you could talk about: Do you usually clean a task at a time, or a room at a time? Or, do you block an entire day and clean your whole HOUSE top to bottom? Do you have any sort of schedule for cleaning, and are there certain tasks, like window washing, baseboard cleaning, ceiling fan dusting, etc. that get done at certain times of the year, like "spring cleaning" or whatever? What method have you found to be the most efficient? Does your family all pitch in? If so, what tasks have you found to be good for kids to help with?

Answer one or all of these questions, or something else entirely that I didn't cover above. Whatever strikes your fancy. Contest ends on Saturday at midnight!

Oh, and I guess I should answer too. I do tasks at a time, rather than a room at a time. It feels more efficient, if I have the vacuum out anyways, to do it all at once. Same with dusting. If I'm in the wiping things down mode, might as well wipe everything down!

I used to do rooms at a time, and that felt more satisfying, for some reason. I liked knowing that at least one room, on any given day, was perfectly clean. It just wasn't very practical, though. I found I got way too caught up in organizing that room, and ended up MAKING a big mess sorting things out before I finally got it clean. I was also more prone to rearranging that particular room as I cleaned it. Big time waster. But if you're someone who hates cleaning, I would suggest starting with the room at a time tactic because of the fun factor involved in organizing and rearranging stuff. It makes the cleaning aspect seem part of the overall FUN of prettying up the room, rather than just bustling around the house with your Swiffer like a dang maid.

I do have a schedule, which involves the house getting dusted and vacuumed, the bathroom getting cleaned, and the kitchen getting mopped at least once a week. (I TRY to get in a second vacuuming over the weekend, too, but it doesn't always happen.) Sweeping the hardwood bedroom floors is in the schedule too but about half the time I skip it. The majority of the bedroom floors are covered with big rugs anyways, which DO get vacuumed every week, so I figure it's no biggie if the dust gathers at the edges a bit. I sweep the kitchen and laundry room with the broom as needed- which ironically is MORE often in the winter than the summer, thanks to Fonzie's incessant shedding.

Deep cleaning stuff, like cobwebs, ceiling fans, baseboards, windows, and cleaning under furniture, I try to do twice yearly and/or whenever I remember it. Each season (so four times a year) I make a list of the non-weekly chores I think it's time to get around to. On the winter list, for example, will be curtain washing, as I know it's been over a year since that's been done. Other things, like cleaning the fans, I do more often, so they're on a list at least twice a year. I don't have an EXACT schedule there; I just kind of know in my head how long it's been since the last time I did such and such task- or you know, I can SEE very apparently that something needs done!- and I write it on the list, hang the list on the fridge, and try to tackle one thing on the list each week during that season. (I will not be making the winter list until after the holidays, btw. That's just crazy. And also, while you're taking down the Christmas decorations and putting stuff back in it's place is a great time to get some of that deep cleaning stuff done anyways, like baseboard dusting and vacuuming under furniture.)

Whew. Anyone who made it through all that deserves a prize just for endurance. Sorry. Off to drink more coffee.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

In Da Club

All right, yes. It's basically another picture post. (Whispered aside: but I generously included a pretty embarrassing picture of me at the end, so you know, good things come to those who scroll through other people's photos. That's the saying, right?)

The story: last Friday Jim and I took off for the Palace, home of the Detroit Pistons, where Jim had scored some seriously great seats for a fraction of the normal price. AND free passes to the club room. Private bathrooms at a sporting event, ya'll! Can I get a what what? Then, during the raffle at the end of the pre-game chalk talk, Jim won court side tickets behind the basket. It was sweet. We actually felt like we had a better view of the overall game from our original seats though, so we kept switching back and forth between quarters. Sorry, people we kept stepping over! That's how the high rollers do it.


After collecting our tickets at will call, we were ushered from the packed atrium through heavy glass doors and into this plush and silent hallway through which one reaches the private suites and the club room. It would've felt a lot fancier if I were wearing perhaps my old prom dress instead of a jersey and jeans, but whatevs. Still cool. And the seats were even cooler.









As promised, here is this awesome picture of me tipsily clinging to a giant stuffed horse for balance. Er, I mean, posing with the Pistons mascot. Go team!



Wait, who IS that? Why, it looks like Renee Zellweger gained thirty pounds, dyed her hair brown and tied one on! But why is she accosting that horse?

In my (weak) defense, it was a really stressful two and a half hour drive to the Palace- we hit Friday rush hour in Toledo and Detroit. By the time we got to the game I was desperately in need of both food and a chill pill. Unfortunately the chill pill, aka cocktail, arrived before the food, and I was apparently too hungry/stressed to make wise decisions like waiting until I had eaten something. Plus, the drink was being served to me in a private lounge instead of from a scowling vendor! What's a girl to do?

Still, that horse didn't have to squirm away so quickly. Like he's never been hugged by a drunk person before, geez.

Monday, December 07, 2009

*Also, Sugar

So here's another post to add to the folder I like to call "Proof that your early childhood was filled with Christmas magic*."


One of my family's favorite Christmas cookies, chocolate cherry thumbprints.



Baking with Mom or Nina or Nonny or Lynda, depending on which of us you're asking. Or perhaps we'll just say, the children's maternal grandmother.



Pretzel dipping. Who needs to bake when you can just dunk stuff in chocolate?



Addy was initially very painstaking and methodical in her dipping.



Eli dove right in.



I may use this picture in our Christmas letter- sure, they have food on their faces, but on the other hand, any picture with clean faces would seem clearly posed and unrealistic.



Mint chocolate dipped pretzels. I also made some with white chocolate rolled in crushed candy canes. Both kinds turned out AWESOME and ADDICTIVE. I am totally making more in a few days, because my supply is, uh, already mysteriously depleted. Thanks for the idea, Lori!



The kids' project- chocolate and sprinkle dipped mini pretzel rods. After watching them slobber all over the pretzels and their own hands before dipping, these little goodies are being enjoyed ONLY by the kids.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The Bathroom: It's The New Family Room

So does everyone else with little kids feel like you spend about half your day in the bathroom? (Well, I know you do, bananafana!)

Between helping your four year old wipe herself properly, trying to familiarize your two year old with the concept of the potty, trying to DE familiarize your two year old with the concept of flushing things, trying to prevent your two year old from washing his hands (i.e. flooding the bathroom) about ten times a day, trying to GET your kids to wash their hands after playing with the dog's tail, keeping your four year old company while using the toilet because she randomly cries if left alone, and of course the inevitable teeth brushing and baths, I spend way more time in that tiny room than I ever imagined I would.

And the list above is just stuff directly kid related. Let's not even talk about how I have to actively bar the door if I want to relieve myself in privacy, take a bath without an audience, or clean the toilet without the kids knocking over cleaning products.

Jim also likes to joke that the whole family seems to have ended up on the same, eh, elimination schedule. As soon as one of us adults decides to pee, Eli immediately has a wet diaper, and Addy is banging on the bathroom door, hysterically demanding that whoever is on the toilet get off it RIGHT NOW because she is DYING to pee and is about to melt into a puddle on the carpet.

We might as well just throw a sofa and a toybox in there and camp out to save all that walking back and forth. Either that, or build one of those two-hole outhouses off the deck. That way the kids can have all the company they want!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Can I Still Talk About "Good Things" If I'm Not Martha Stewart?

Here are some random things I've been thankful for lately, things a little more interesting than the usual, "friends, family, health" list. Not that I'm not grateful for them, too. OBV. But at a certain point that just sounds like a cop out answer, so...

-Our garbage disposal. Seriously, you could put leather down that thing and it would keep on churning, devour it whole, and lick its lips. It is indefatigable. I remember very well that digging the food remnant crud out of the sink trap after washing dishes used to be my least favorite thing IN THE WORLD when I was growing up, second only maybe to repeated vomiting, so I try not to take for granted this magical modern marvel. Keep on keepin' on, disposal!

-The toothpaste I bought awhile ago, Crest Whitening Expressions Wintergreen Burst, (I think?) tastes just like wintergreen gum. I actually get a little excited about brushing my teeth because that is seriously the best toothpaste flavor ever. (Oh yeah. This is not a paid review blog now, mkay? I just really like that toothpaste. I may have gotten ads, one of which I can't get to fit properly in my sidebar after two hours of #^%*/@ fussing with it, but I haven't branched out to reviews just yet, so that was just a free endorsement up there!)

-We had to get a new back door in our den because Eli put a crack in one of the windows of the old one. And also the old one was, you know, OLD, like approximately sixty years old, and it was a good excuse to get a new one because that thing was on its last leg. The new one, while nothing fancy, looks SO MUCH better and is keeping out the cold from that back room SO MUCH better! I get happy every time I look at it. Our heat bill thanks you, white, six panel steel door.

-Eli's full blown obsession with Disney's Cars seemed to have tapered off a bit, replaced by a new fascination with all things dinosaur. I enjoy this new interest a lot more. And also I'm happier to buy things involving dinosaurs, which seem educational and science-y, than I am to buy yet more Disney paraphernalia. I mean, he still likes cars, don't get me wrong, all relatives who may have already purchased Cars items. He's just realized that maybe he can enjoy MORE THAN ONE category of toys and movies. Also awesome? We have convinced him that dinosaurs hungrily devour all their meals, so whenever he starts being Mr. Picky Pants about dinner, we're all, "Where's the dinosaur? Does someone hear a hungry dinosaur?" Etc. Classic psychological manipulation, of course, but in this case I think the end justifies the means.

-The kids were both old enough this year to help us put ornaments on the tree. It totally blew my mind. Sure, two of the more fragile ones got shattered. Sure, I had to kind of redistribute some of the ornaments after they went to bed, since three fourths of them were on the bottom two rows of branches. But it was totally worth it. Christmas magic! And they're being really good about not messing with the tree now that it's up, other than both of them demanding to be lifted up to see the angel on top every time they enter the living room. I'm sure that will wear off in a week or so, though. Either that or the angel's going to mysteriously disappear.

-And speaking of thing that need to mysteriously disappear, last year my mom got Eli a Little Einstein's rocket ship Hallmark ornament. Which, when SOMEONE puts the BATTERIES in it, plays the entire theme song every time you push a button. And hey! SOMEONE put the batteries in it this year! And someone ELSE who is two years old and thrives on repetition is having his world rocked by the Little Einsteins song every five minutes. It's as festive as you might imagine.

-Uh, wait. This was supposed to be a thankful list. Ha ha, look at that! How quickly I diverge into whining!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving, ya'll!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Baking A Pie In Ten Easy Steps, Or, The Expression "Easy As Pie" Is Very Misleading


Apparently one glass of wine, MAYBE one and a half, is considered helpful for large baking projects and is recommended by the leading experts.


Also, choosing the correct brand of slimy, lard-type substance to be used in your pie crust is key. Bon apetit!


The virgin pastry cutter. Please refrain from commenting re: the pigtails.


Flouring dough. Pretty self explanatory.


I think it's official: I am incapable of being photographed without at least one piece of hair falling into my face. It's like my trademark.


Addy takes her baking very seriously.


Crimped pie shells. The crimping was harder than I thought it would be. Pastry shells are fragile!


Jim's mom, crimping the top of the crust over the apple pies.


Garnishing pecan pie with... pecans! What a bold culinary move!


And done. Not too shabby eh?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday One Through Five

1) I'm so excited! For Jim's side of the family, we're using "my" (actually ripped from Marie Green) idea of giving only handmade or hand-me-down/secondhand gifts. I think this is a great opportunity to both save money and be much more personal and creative. Yay! It's like Little House on the Prairie, but without the whole almost freezing to death/ starving/having to wash out one's flannel sanitary rags in a bucket of ice water aspect!

2) I'm going to learn to make pie crust from scratch today. I will either ruin Thanksgiving dessert for twenty-some people, or emerge a stronger person. It's another epic smackdown of Sarah versus Pastry. I have at long last mastered cookies (for instance, there is an important difference between softening and completely MELTING the butter, apparently) so I am feeling hopeful.

3) On Saturday I helped decorate Jim's family's coffeehouse for Christmas. Oh, and Adelay did too, inasmuch as drinking three cups of pink lemonade from the fountain and getting insanely hyper about all the sparkly lights could be considered helpful. No, actually, that's all I expected from her, and she did of course fulfill that expectation, but she also ran bags of ornaments back and forth to the different trees for me, which WAS genuinely helpful. So hey! Having kids has finally paid off!

4) Tomorrow we're having a big Thanksgiving brunch at my mom's house with my side of the fam before heading to Indiana for Jim's side in the afternoon. So that's two enormous meals in about a five hour time span. Relatedly, I have resolved to work out five times this week. Two down, three to go!
(Side note: does anyone know how to work out one's leg muscles without somehow managing to make one's thighs LARGER? I mean, I appreciate the added muscle tone and I know, I know, exercise is about HEALTH, not aesthetics, but who are we kidding? If I'm going to bother working up a sweat, I'd appreciate looking better for it!)

5) I'm really in the mood for Christmas music today, especially after reading Shelly's post. But I need some new music, and stuff the kids would like, too. Anyone have suggestions for Christmas albums that you and your kids enjoy together?

Edit: Also, the Swiss Colony catalogue came the other day, and it was SO FUN to watch Addy and Eli poring over every single page with pure, unadulterated sugar lust on their little faces. Addy kept jabbing spastically at the items and announcing, over and over and OVER with no sense of irony whatsoever, "THIS one's my favorite! No, wait, THIS one! Or... THIS one is my favorite thing!"
MEEM- RIIIES!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Try, Try Again

I am so happy right now. About a year ago, I bought the movie Milo and Otis for the kids, thinking it would be something fun and non-commercial and non-annoying-to-adults, and also educational because of all the different animals and the view of farm life and whatnot. I certainly liked it when I was a kid.

Alas, both of them HATED it, and it has been shelved, unwatched, for quite awhile. Then today, when Eli had rejected every single morning cartoon I could find but was still asking for a "show," I remembered Milo and Otis, remembered that Eli has recently developed an obsession with his animal books, and thought to give it another whirl.

Dude, he LOVES this movie now! He has been totally mesmerized by it, and is interacting by loudly naming every animal and then bellowing out the corresponding animal sound. Yay! So cute.

Um, but maybe scratch my initial thought that this movie would be non-annoying to adults. Because SEE ABOVE PARAGRAPH re: naming every single animal and then making the corresponding noise.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What's The Word?

So, not a BOATLOAD of sob stories down on that last post. Maybe there are fewer people with broken hearts than I'd imagined- or maybe not everyone was quite in a rehashing heartbreak kinda mood. Too, maybe we're all better at coping and moving on and finding closure regarding our problems than we give ourselves credit for. For example, I want to clarify that I don't currently feel like I'm walking around with a cracked, bleeding heart. Just one with a still on-the-mend scar, which every now and then smarts a bit.

Like yesterday at the Y, when I ran into an eight months' pregnant friend with a gorgeous, enormous baby-girl-filled belly, and afterwards I had to go into the ladies' room and lean against a stall door taking deep breaths for awhile before I could work out. The stupid thing is that I don't even ENJOY the big, ripe, eight months' pregnant orb of a belly stage very much: the sweet little baby flutters have turned into painful flopping and thrashing which crushes your internal organs and jabs your ribs; you're ten degrees hotter than everyone else no matter what; between trying to get comfortable and the constant need to pee, you're never sleeping more than two hours at a time. Your movements are more like graceless shuffles than strides, thanks to the constant hip and back pain. And for me, the mood swings get pretty bad towards the end. (Um, but it's so worth it, currently pregnant women! Ignore the above! Or, at least know that I'm deeply sympathetic to your suffering. I remember!)

So am I JEALOUS of this hot, uncomfortable friend who, when asked, described herself wearily as "so ready to be done!"? Not exactly. But, I do wonder now if I'm ever going to get that far along with a baby again- you know, where there's an ACTUAL baby on the horizon, and not just the possibility- and so the sight of anyone largely with child occasionally inspires weird feelings that I don't exactly have a word for. Envy and jealousy aren't quite right. Just wistfulness, maybe?

Do you think that will ever go away? I don't want pregnant bellies to make me feel weird. And what if I even feel weird someday about my own pregnant belly? You know what I mean? Will I ever feel like I'm safe- like the BABY is safe and I can stop worrying all the time?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Broken

So here's a kind of serious question: have you ever had your heart broken?

Maybe I should back up a little here... A couple of times recently, my mom and I have been in the car together to go see my sister, and the conversation has somehow drifted to BOYS. Also, having one's heart broken by them. And I realized, I never really have had my heart broken over a guy. I got married really young, as most of you know, so that's probably the main reason it never happened.

In high school I dated maybe four guys, but only one of them longer than a month. That last relationship was actually pretty serious, and we would always talk hypothetically about how we'd get married and have babies and all that jazz. In the end, however we broke up (obviously!) due to what I'll just call irreconcilable differences. It was him that had his heart broken, though, while I felt mainly relief. He was a sweet guy and I cared about him a lot, but I knew even then that I was escaping an unpleasant future. Still, I used to have guilt dreams about him all the time, because the last time I saw him he was crying as he drove away from me, after having unsuccessfully tried to persuade me to get back together. Ouch. Guilt, though, is definitely different than heartbreak.

After getting married, I remember mentally breathing a little sigh of relief, like, "Whew! I have now forever dodged that whole emotional train wreck of being screwed over by a guy! I'm safe from sadness forever!"

Well. Then I started having babies. And losing babies. I am now quite aware that there are other kinds of heartbreak than the sort inflicted by teenage boys. I am also aware now that just about everybody gets their heart broken at some point or another. Maybe it's a boyfriend that betrays you when you're an idealistic college student, sure, but maybe it's a husband of twenty years deciding that marriage has grown stale for him and he wants to start again with someone else just as you thought you were approaching a peaceful retirement stage together. Maybe it's YOU realizing that your marriage has grown stale, but you don't know what to do about it and the future is looming ahead long and tiresome and joyless.

Maybe you've lost a parent, or a sibling or a friend. Maybe a family relationship has fallen apart and despite your efforts seems unmendable. And, maybe your body has betrayed you in the one area that mattered most to you. Maybe you are unable to conceive, or keep losing your babies in spite of every medical attempt made and every prayer prayed and even though you still have faith and you don't exactly feel abandoned, you do feel confused, and you do feel angry. Or maybe you have lost your faith, because of one big reason or a bunch of little ones, and your life suddenly feels like the bottom has dropped out.

So go ahead and tell me (anonymously if you wish, I certainly understand): what has broken your heart?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I'm Kind Of Slow With This Stuff

I installed SiteMeter today, because I want to do BlogHer AdSense (Please don't hate me! Still come read me!) and you can't register for it without submitting how much traffic your site gets each month. And I, uh, I currently have NO IDEA how much traffic I get. So that's why the SiteMeter. But, what I realized I still don't know, now that I've already installed it, is whether SiteMeter just tracks actual visits to my website, or also tracks each time one of my posts gets read in someone's Google reader, or whatever reader they use.

I bet most of YOU know the answer to this. Help me out?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Perfectly Punctual

Jim laughed at me the other day for ranting to him at length about a house I'd seen recently, a house that was already all lit up for Christmas. Yes, he LAUGHED at me, and said that he had long since stopped judging people for getting prematurely in the spirit of the holiday, because if he did that he'd have to judge ME as well. ME! I'll have you know that I wait to do any holiday decorating or festive music listening until the end of November, until at least the day AFTER Thanksgiving, every year even if it kills me. Which as far as I know is a fairly UNIVERSAL rule, right? Anytime after Thanksgiving counts as the Christmas season, anything before counts as TOO EARLY. Back me up here, internet types! I am NOT an early celebrator! I am exactly on time. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Accomplished

No, I COULDN'T be bothered to sit that plastic basketball hoop back up for the picture. My arms were too tired from singlehandedly raking up a forest's worth of leaves.




What did YOU do this weekend, bee-otches? 'Cause I bet you can't top this.

Eh, to be fair, I should point out that I only raked up the fifteen leaf piles (note: camera couldn't span wide enough to picture all piles!) Jim took care of getting them all from the backyard to the street. BUT then I MOWED the backyard singlehandedly! (You know, so I wouldn't be in charge of entertaining the kids, which was the alternative option.)

(Also, bah. Now that the yardwork's all done, I have no excuse for not going to the gym.)

Monday, November 09, 2009

Three Things

Here are two Addy issues that have me a little concerned:

1) Her frequent stammering, which used to seem normal in the context of toddler-speak, seems to be getting more pronounced the older she gets and the more articulate her vocabulary and pronunciation become. What does one DO about this? Ignore it entirely? Assume she'll grow out of it? Speech therapy? I've literally never known anyone who dealt with this, so I am bewildered.

2) Her complete confusion regarding gender-specific pronouns, i.e. he/she, him/her, his/hers. She uses them interchangeably, saying things such as, "He's so excited! Her mommy got him a new toy!" all presumably about the same child, whose identity is now a total MYSTERY. I imagine there's not much to be done other than regular, gentle correction when she's gets things mixed up, but is this normal at her age? (Does she actually think we're all hermaphrodites?)

Here is an Addy thing that is awesome:

1) She totally gets the concept that mammals grow in their mom's bellies before they are born, and she recognizes a pregnant human belly immediately. I still haven't explained how the baby gets OUT, however, and she doesn't seem concerned by this little detail just yet. Or rather, she is not concerned about it because she has apparently invented her own version of birth which she finds completely legitimate. She will have her mommy horse just sort of... crouch, I guess is the word, over the baby, and announce to us that the baby horse is still in its mama's belly, but it is "almost ready!" Then she'll count to some arbitrary number, say, seventeen, yell, "Ta da!" and have her mommy horse jump off the baby. "The baby is born!" she announces grandly. I don't have the heart to disillusion her just yet. We'll save the special, magical discussion of cervixes and dilating and placenta expulsion for some other date. (I kinda like her version better, anyways.)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Spoiler Alert: Sappy Post. Seriously. You've Been Warned.

I think I've mentioned before that one of my favorite authors is Elizabeth Berg, mainly because I usually finish one of her novels feeling good about the world in general and even my own life in particular. It may not merit the Pulitzer Prize, this style of fiction, but on the other hand maybe it does. It is not such a small thing, to be able to give people that feeling.

Anyways, in one of the many quotes that have stuck with me from her books- this particular one is Never Change, I believe- the main character is talking about the frustrating inadequacy of words to fully express some of our deeper, fleeting emotions. The example she gave was of looking at the autumn leaves, still vivid on the trees, and of being so unable to convey the depth of what she felt at that moment to a companion. "I mean, what would I say? 'Aren't the trees pretty'? And so I keep quiet."

That's kind of how I feel about this blog, sometimes. I can put a funny spin on annoying situations, OF WHICH THERE ARE PLENTY; I can even try to express, and thereby ease, the pain my life sometimes brings me. But the joy? Sometimes it's difficult to put into words. It's hard and raw and excruciatingly tender to say the truth, which is that I would bleed myself dry for my children. (And never tell them about it, either, so they wouldn't feel guilty!) That when I watch them playing happily together, here is what often comes, unbidden, to my mind: "This is enough. I could die now and it would have been enough."



Another way to say it is the lyrics of this song, "Existentialism on Prom Night" by Straylight Run. (And yes, I know, now I'm quoting SONG LYRICS. Next up: a mix tape! Maybe several! Accompanied by a friendship bracelet!) But here it is anyways:

There are moments when
When I know it ends
And the world revolves around us
And we're keeping it
Keeping it all going
This delicate balance
Vulnerable
All knowing

(Sing like you think no ones listening)

You would kill for this
Just a little bit
Just a little bit
You would
(You would)

Sing me something soft
Sad and delicate
Or loud and out of key
Sing me anything

We're glad for what we've got
Done with what we've lost
Our whole lives laid out right in front of us












Aren't the trees pretty?

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

You Win, Universe

Also I got violent food poisoning last night. I am now so dehydrated that my head is pounding and my bones are aching.

The end.

Monday, November 02, 2009

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Sigh. Sigh sigh sigh. These sighs are coming up from the very bottom of my toes, it feels like. I have felt like a lousy mom many many times today. I have BEEN a lousy mom at least once today. And the worst of it is, I was actually TRYING. And it just wasn't enough. Sometimes your best is just not enough to handle what's thrown at you. Not gracefully, anyways.


The Sordid Story:
I've been under the weather plus PMSing, so I knew today was likely to be crappy. Therefore, I did everything I could to head it off: I made us a nice nutritious breakfast, I took plenty of medicine, and I didn't worry about house chores other than dishes and laundry. I spent lots of time snuggling and cuddling and being silly with the kids on their level instead of making lists and schedules and trying to push myself. AND (this is very important to note) I was changing Eli's diaper every hour to make sure his rash wasn't going to flare up again. Everyone hung around in their jammies until eleven, and generally were happy as clams.

I asked them what they wanted for lunch, and Addy gave the standard answer: scrambled eggs. We eat a LOT of scrambled eggs around here. So I made that, and oatmeal- a breakfast lunch, nothing wrong with that, right? And I let Addy help me make it and everything. All was well, the kids were eating, and then suddenly Eli got a pained look on his face and announced that he needed a diaper change.

This would not ordinarily be a big deal. But Eli got a diaper rash last week, and even though it's getting better, he is now absolutely petrified of diaper changing and completely loses his mind when he has a dirty diaper that requires extensive wiping. This always happens: one rash flare-up leads to a week at least of diaper changing drama. I dread diaper rashes like some people dread colonoscopies.

You get ONE wipe before he reacts to the discomfort of his rash and begins to scream and flail around maniacally on his bed. One wipe if you're LUCKY. Also please understand: even for Jim, getting Eli immobilized enough to clean him properly is a challenge. For me it's almost impossible. I literally do not have enough upper body strength to match 1) his shockingly muscular thighs, and 2) his adrenaline-fueled INSANITY once he sees a wipe coming his way. Our solution is usually to just wait him out until he's settled down a bit and then try again, then let him scream, then try again, etc. It's a process to say the least. AND I have to change his sheets every day before bed because he's always ended up getting poo on them. It's like I'm laundering changing pad covers for a newborn all over again.

I feel bad for him because he's so obviously terrified and I'm sure the rash causes pain and all. But dude, it's not like it's BLEEDING or anything. I think it's really way more a matter of emotional panic here than actual physical torture. He's just a passionate kind of kid for sure. He tantrums all the time, still, so I suppose it shouldn't shock me that unpleasant diaper changes lead to tantrums too. But when there's poo flying everywhere and getting on my sleeve and on the bed and on his socks and up his leg and he's thrashing and twisting and arching away from me, all while screaming bloody murder as though I'm trying to kill him instead of just CLEAN HIM UP WHICH IS NOT EXACTLY FUN FOR ME EITHER, it's super hard for me not to lose my cool.

All that to say, I totally DID lose my cool this morning, when he had managed to destroy my outfit and his outfit and the mattress protector on his bed and gotten poo in his hair and I had run out of wipes but still hadn't gotten him clean. I was screaming right back at him to just HOLD STILL FOR (something not nice's) SAKE! and not just in a loud voice but a kind of a hissy, mean voice, and it was crossing my mind to just give his thigh a smack to snap him out of his craziness, but I realized that there was no way I should be attempting any sort of corporal ANYTHING right now, because I WANTED to smack him a little more than I should have and...

Gah. It was ugly. I had to just leave him in his screamy, poo-smeared tantrum and go into the hall and cry before I could deal with it again. I finally went back in, and, when all my renewed efforts to help him settle down were futile, I just pinned him down with my elbow and knee (there's something I never thought I'd say regarding my child sigh sigh sigh) and used warm wet washcloths to clean him up. Washcloths which I then threw away, along with the mattress protector, because they were SO gross I didn't even want them in my washing machine. Then I put him in the bath, where he immediately settled down and began playing boats as though the twenty minute fiasco had never even happened.

I however was slumped against the bathtub, having a huge fit of depression about what a craptastic mom I was and how no WONDER the universe wasn't letting me stay pregnant right now, I can barely keep from killing the baby I HAVE... And then Adelay came in, saw my face, made a sad face herself, and gave me a big hug. She said softly, "I so proud of you, mom!" Which made me burst into tears. "Why are you proud of me?" I asked incredulously. "You help Eli when he, when he be's... so CRAZY with his diaper," she explained laboriously, gesturing towards their bedroom. "You're a nice girl!" This, accompanied with gentle back patting.

Just... What do you even do with that kind of sweetness?

I guess maybe I've done a few things right.

(Either that or it's very tragic that my four year old is already good at talking people off a ledge.)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

We're Not All Going To Die. But We Might Get Fatter.

Son of a b. I am still sick. The body aches/raspy cough have morphed into horrendous head cold/phlegmy cough. Still no fever at all, or vomiting or anything, so NOT H1N1, I assume. NOT THAT I WOULD BE ALL THAT FREAKED OUT ANYWAYS. Ahem. But it seemed, basically, like a mild fly immediately followed by a cold. Not fair.

But at least no one else is sick. YET. Dum dum dum...

This is why sometimes having a gym membership seems like money down the drain. Can't (WON'T) go because I'm sick, then can't go because the kids are (most likely going to be) sick... There goes two weeks!

Between sedentary lifestyle and two buckets of unguarded Halloween candy sitting out in the evenings, I am going to be well on my way to dressing as Jolly Old Saint Nick come Christmas. I won't even need a pillow in order to fake having a belly that jiggles like a bowl full of jelly.

But I don't really care. I'm feeling very "meh" about weight lately. Like, if it's not enough to hurt my health, and if I can still fit into my clothes and don't have to buy a new wardrobe, then I'm not really going to fret over some scale fluctuation. There are other things to worry about.

LIKE THE FLU!!!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Or Maybe I Could Be Oscar The Grouch?

I really hate how grouchy I get with the kids when I feel so crappy. Also, every time I touch them I think, "Great, more germs!" so I am trying not to hug and kiss on them the way I usually do. Between the lack of physical contact and the sudden barking tone of voice and irritability, they probably think their mom has been swapped out for some heartless nanny. Poor lovies.

Also, I didn't get to hand out candy OR take the kids trick or treating last night since I'm all gross and sick. Jim took them out with their cousins and they had a great time, from all reports, but I'm still sulky that I missed it. AND I have to miss the adult Halloween party we were supposed to go to tonight. I was even going to dress up! As.... something! I hadn't planned that far yet. But I WAS going to do it. And now I can't, since I'm still coughing like crazy and feeling like I can't breathe and as of this morning, blowing my nose constantly.

I guess that could be my costume theme, were I to go- Angel of Death or something. I could just go in my pajamas, sans makeup or bra or use of a hairbrush, and stand in a corner sneezing and moaning and projecting germs. I'm pretty sure I'd win a prize for scariest person there.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Catching Up On My Correspondence

Dear Trick or Treaters,

I'm very sorry, but there will likely be no candy at our house tonight because it is currently in a feed bag around my neck. The odds of there being any KitKats or Reese's Cups left for any of you by seven PM are not looking good. For this bit of tough luck you can thank the fact that there have already been three pee accidents here this morning, one requiring a sheet change and another involving the careful soaking of Addy's crepe-like Cinderella costume which must be clean and dry by tonight. And hopefully unscathed by the washer. The accidents above also BOTH required baths. Oh, and I had to throw towels on the floor instead of bath mats because the bath mat was in the dryer from having been peed on YESTERDAY morning by Eli, right after HE peed his bed.

Also, did I mention yet that I have the flu (no not SWINE) and that, while I was initialing feeling better this morning, I have gone rapidly downhill again? A downward spiral which was MAYBE triggered by the sight, immediately following the third pee incident, of a steaming pile of dog vomit in the den? And a retching dog, who, when hastily let out the back door, proceeded to flee from the yard (HOPEFULLY TO HIS DEATH)?

Yours Sincerely,
Feels (and looks) Like Death Warmed Over

Relatedly:

Dear Parents of these kids and Owners of this house,

Please come and relieve me of my duties, which are beginning to seriously bite. Your daughter needs to learn how to speak to adults in a tone other than the one used in olden times to address the servant responsible for emptying the chamber pot. And also how to handle having her hair washed without gasping and screaming as though she's being water boarded.

Your son has begun demanding dessert after every feeding, including snacks. He also seems to think my sleeve is his personal handkerchief, and worst of all, he keeps stealing all my good snacks. Just snatches them right out of my hand!

You guys need a housekeeper, too. This place is starting to reek of dog and diapers, and I keep finding grubby fingerprints all over the place. AND I can't use the washing machine because it is constantly filled with soaking, pee covered clothes, bedspreads, and rugs. WTH? Get with the program- you're almost out of towels, and my one pair of jeans that fits properly has been waiting to get washed for three days.

I will be upping my price to twenty dollars per hour as of today, and I would like hazard pay as well for any situation requiring me to come into contact with bodily fluids, as you keep forgetting to purchase latex gloves for my use.

Yours Sincerely,
Not Mary Poppins

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Definition Of Vicious Cycle

I can't already be too old for staying up til five in the morning, right? And then getting up again at nine-ish? That's still four hours of sleep; it's not as though I completely missed an entire day's worth of rest. Plus it was two nights ago! I should be recovered. But sleep deprivation is a sneaky thing. I think the day immediately after, you get a bit of adrenaline to get you through it. Then later it sneaks up on you and leaves you feeling all bleary eyed and nauseous and stabby.

Especially after last night, when I was trying to catch up on sleep, but was instead awakened at one thirty by a GARBAGE TRUCK loudly emptying our neighbor's trash. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. They use a different waste removal company than we do, but I've never heard them come before seven AM. We have heard weird nighttime crashing noises in the distance before, so I'm guessing it's this same company, which apparently runs a night shift. And now the night shift has come to our neighborhood. Great.

I was up so late 'cause my sister and a couple of our old high school friends were all simultaneously in town Saturday night and congregated at our house while Jim was out of town and the kids were sleeping over at my mom's. It was totally fun and totally worth it, but geez, I clearly needed to nap yesterday to make up for it. I tried, too, but Addy never naps anymore and Jim was still out of town at a soccer meeting, and... Well, you can see where this is going. I shouldn't have even attempted to lay down, because getting THIS CLOSE to sleep five times in a row only to have your kid suddenly start shriek/singing along to her movie or jump unexpectedly onto your shins is far worse than just drinking some coffee and sucking it up.

All that to say that this post is brought to you by my profound and, as of today, renewed dread of someday having another newborn who's just as poor a sleeper as Eli was. I can't believe that for the first year of his life, I was pretty much feeling like this EVERY DAY. While trying to sell our house. If there was ever a venture totally contraindicated by nursing a fussy baby round the clock, it's trying to sell your house. This seems obvious to a sane person, probably. But: the sleep deprivation makes you CRAZY, which makes you think it's a totally DOABLE idea and NOT really crazy! And then all the cleaning and the laundry hiding and the nursing nursing nursing makes you a little MORE crazy! Ha ha ha! It's a carousel of crazy!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Intentions

More doctor crap, but not about me this time:

So a few days ago I took Addy in for her four year check up. Usually a trip to the pediatrician leaves me sweaty and frantic and ready to look up the laws re: child abandonment in our state, but this time, despite the hour and half of waiting, I managed to stay calm and keep them reasonably entertained and not climbing the walls. (And this without my morning coffee. Perhaps the adrenal booster is working?) They were being well behaved, I was being well behaved: all was well.

And then the dreaded vaccination discussion. Apparently she was due for four separate shots, or maybe it was four vaccinations, but two were combined so it was three shots? Anyways, a LOT of different live viruses being injected all at once. And I wasn't really cool with it, especially since she's still kind of low weight for her age and she's just so pale and FRAGILE looking. She doesn't exactly seem like a hale, robust child who could fight off four different, albeit tiny, doses of serious illnesses and keep on feeling fine while doing so. So I asked if we could stagger the vaccines, and still have her caught up by preschool next year. Not a big deal.

They agreed in the end- I mean, they can't FORCE the needles into her thighs without my permission. But they kept whining about how it's so much EASIER to get it all over with at once, and the younger the better, so that the kid doesn't remember the shots and then hate the doctor and the nurses. And it's so much better when they're smaller so that they're easier to hold down. All I could think was, "This is all stuff for YOUR benefit. Why would I make this decision based on what's going to be easiest for you guys?!"

In the end I let them give her one booster shot, the combined one for polio and pertussis- I've heard about some outbreaks of pertussis (whooping cough) lately and it really sounds awful, so I thought we'd better get on that one. And wouldn't you know, she held perfectly still, didn't require any holding down, nor any convincing that the doctor and nurses weren't evil people bent on stabbing her. She didn't even cry, and she THANKED the nurse before we left! (Bribe her with a Dum-Dum sucker, though, and she'd probably let you break her leg without much fuss.) I felt pretty smug. Totally nixed THAT argument for doing all the shots at once!

But later, at four o' clock the next morning, she was awake, crying and clammy, with a fever of one hundred and four and complaining that her stomach hurt. I was immediately awake, jolted with adrenaline and fear. Her forehead was so hot against my lips, her gaze so vacant. Once tucked into our bed, she said very little in complaint to our repeated attempts to gauge her temperature and administer medicine, which was the strangest thing of all. Not to be melodramatic, but she just looked so pitiful laying there against my pillow, all bright red cheeks against white, white face and glassy eyes.

She was fine by morning; a dose of Tylenol helped her to sleep, her fever broke, and she was back to her old self. It was obviously a result of the vaccination, though, so I can't help still feeling really yucky about it. Good job preventing that vaccine reaction, Mommy! And fevers in the nighttime are always so scary feeling to me. I become Ma Ingalls, huddling over my sick baby with washcloths and a furrowed brow, wondering if this is just a fever, or is it YELLOW FEVER? ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another Day, Another Doctor

Tuesday I drove about an hour away to a chiropractor who had been referred to me as someone who also does nutritional advising and homeopathic supplement consultation, etc. Apparently he's helped people with fertility issues for whom drugs weren't fully solving the problem. At least, enough people that I heard of him by word of mouth, a state away.

At this point I'm figuring anything's worth a shot. However, I'm also beginning to feel that the stress of worrying about doctors' visits, timing of drugs, injections, blood draws etc. is possibly counteracting any good it's doing. Stress in the area of fertility is definitely a cyclic thing, in my opinion. The more things don't work, the more stressed you get, and the less likely treatments are to help you because your body is not in a receptive state.

This opinion may sound kind of in opposition to the fact that I am pursuing yet another doctor, but I guess I rationalize it by saying that this doctor is DIFFERENT and that his treatment suggestions are very DIFFERENT than those the OB's and reproductive specialists have proposed. He thinks, based on a LOOONG discussion and medical history review, that the problem may be a dysfunctional adrenal gland. This gland processes progesterone and if it's not working, tends to turn progesterone into cortisol (stress hormone) instead. This could explain why even when my body was being seriously pumped FULL of progesterone, my blood levels were still shockingly low.

Some of the symptoms of this dysfunction are sugar cravings (huge for me- can't go a day without it,) chronic tiredness (iffy here- yes, I get draggy in the afternoon, yes I have a hard time getting up in the morning, yes I drink coffee at both of these times in order to wake up, but who doesn't?,) depression (again, iffy- yes, I haven't been at my highest, mood wise, in the last year or so, but we've been dealing with a lot of stress so I think that's kind of normal,) and very low alcohol and medication tolerance (definitely true. SO TRUE.) Also severe PMS is a big indicator, and I have always, always battled that.

But the main indicator is definitely the recurrent miscarriages, which APPEAR to be happening because of low progesterone levels beginning at conception. So what he wants me to do is a cycle-long saliva test, which measures your levels of estrogen and progesterone throughout your entire cycle so that you can get a really good picture of when your levels are rising and falling, and if they're doing so appropriately. Before we've only tested post-ovulation and then once I'm pregnant. No one's ever attempted to measure my levels all cycle long to see if my progesterone is even going up at all post ovulation.

He said once that's done, we'll have a clearer picture of how to proceed, and whether or not I need more specific adrenal function testing (probably so.) In the mean time, he gave me an adrenal... kick starter? Or something. It's for short term use after athletic events or stressful physical experiences, such as surgery, miscarriage, illness, etc. I'm supposed to take it for a month to try to help my body get back to normal after this, the World's Longest Miscarriage. Then next month I'm going to make sure my cycle is normal (this current one is not exactly acting normal.) And then the cycle after THAT, probably in December, is when we'll do the saliva testing.

I'm happy that he seemed normal and nice and not a quack. Nor was he quick to offer me some magical supplement that would cure all ills. The fact that he seemed a little unsure and doesn't yet have a set idea of how to treat me is reassuring, I guess, because I don't like it when doctors are quick to jump to conclusions and aren't really listening to all the specifics.

On the other hand, it was a little depressing HOW unsure he seemed. He was very surprised, looking through my stack of records, at how poorly my body has responded even to such high doses of progesterone, EVEN in conjunction with Clomid which supposedly jacks up your hormone production. He said there definitely seems to be a big problem in how I process and produce that hormone. I didn't get the impression that there's one specific supplement that I can take to magically fix that. It seems that this treatment route may take a while and be quite a process. But at least I won't be worrying about GETTING pregnant until the process is done (usually with supplements they want you to wait three to six months after beginning them, to make sure they're fully integrated into your system.)

So, hopefully it won't be all that stressful. I have accepted and am (mostly) ok with the fact that it's going to be awhile before I get pregnant again, and I'm trying to look at this as a period of rest for my mind and body. A time to get well, and to take good care of myself and my family. A time to appreciate what I have, to enjoy the holidays, and to enjoy good health.

I'm trying to be ok with the fact that maybe there is no solution, too. Maybe I won't get pregnant again, or maybe I will but I'll miscarry. There are no guarantees. There is only the fact that I do have two kids, that I have managed to maintain two pregnancies to a safe point, and that I have gotten to give birth and nurse and cuddle on two babies. This is not SO unfortunate, as misfortunes go. I do think we would eventually pursue other options for adding to our family, if I really can't have another baby, but we're certainly not there yet. There is still reason to hope.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't Hate Me Because I Could Kick Your Butt On An Elliptical

Last month marked the one year anniversary of my gym membership. I have logged approximately ninety work outs, which is... less than stellar. I mean, that's what? Exercising one out of every four days, on average? But don't worry, I have all sorts of excuses: the hernia surgery last October, two weeks after I GOT the gym membership; various illnesses, mine and the kids, since any sickness on their part prohibits me from going during the day and utilizing the childcare; THE HOLIDAYS; a few bad weather/icy road scenarios, I'm sure; and of course the pregnancy/miscarriage during August and September, during which months I think I logged in maybe four or five workouts TOTAL.

I am still quite proud of myself, though. I did it. I no longer think of myself as a non-exerciser, or someone who doesn't have muscle and in fact CAN'T build muscle, or can't be in good cardiovascular shape because of my poor KNEE, wah! (Though if it weren't for exercise bikes and elliptical machines, that might be true. I have pretty much abandoned running, even though it's much more fun than machines, because of knee pain.)

I've lost between five and ten pounds this year, but weight loss wasn't the primary goal here. What is noteworthy is the huge increase in endurance and stamina, and the significantly more toned muscles. My upper body and waist are a little more defined, my arms a little more shapely. Even my legs, while nothing even approaching thin, are at least somewhat firm now. Most importantly to me, my legs FEEL much stronger. My knee, which always used to feel weak and wobbly and cause me to walk gingerly whenever I was on uneven ground or stairs, feels fine now. It may someday give out again, of course, if I do something stupid or turn too sharply, but in general I feel a lot more confident running around, playing with my kids, and generally acting my age instead of like a little old woman.

The biggest benefit of exercise, though, in my experience, has been quality of life and mood improvement. I always feel more productive if I've gotten to the gym, and it's a good way to get out of the house and do something with the kids other than shop (expensive!) or errands (boring!) especially if the weather is not condusive to playing outside. I have more energy the rest of the day, I'm more inclined to eat healthfully before and after I work out, and I just generally feel more positive.

I contribute a lot of my emotional recovery from this last pregnancy loss to the fact that I tried to get back to exercise as quickly as possible, knowing that the last time I miscarried, exercise was what really helped me feel better. And it worked. I'm not exactly walking on air, but I'm not depressed right now, as opposed to the last time when I would say I was definitely battling it. Most days I feel okay, mostly happy, and even hopeful. I have certainly felt FRUSTRATED occasionally with the way things were dragging on, but I never felt like I didn't even want to get out of bed in the morning or that there was no hope of our ever having more babies or anything like that.

So I know this is a barfy fitness post (term credit: Tess) but it's been on my mind the last few days, and it's something I wanted to express to anyone out there who may be battling some melancholy or even just a negative self-image. Exercise is not magic: it's not going to turn that frown upside or anything, and it's not a cure-all for every problem. Also, if you don't change your eating habits much (which I have NOT) it's probably not going to cause the pounds to shed miraculously. But you WILL be healthier and stronger, and you will at least feel better. That I can guarantee.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Inner Child

I'm a big dollhouse fan. It's not even so much the playing with the dolls in the house, per se, but the arranging of the dolls' stuff in the tiny little houses that I find so magical. I used to drive my friends crazy when I was little, because I never really wanted to play with them. I just wanted them to go dress the dolls and drive them around in their mini coupe while I arranged the furniture to my heart's content.

There was one friend in particular who had a dollhouse I truly coveted. This dollhouse. Every time I went to her house I virtually ignored her in favor of her doll mansion's sprawling terrace and charming old fashioned bathroom fixtures.

Fifteen years later, the charm has not worn off. This exquisitely detailed dollhouse showed up at our house two days ago:



My sweet mom has fulfilled my lifelong dream of owning the Playmobil Mansion. Now I can die happy.








Tragically, though, my mom gave me this gift only with the stipulation that I must share it with her granddaughter:




Oh well. She's pretty good about taking turns.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Young Man...

Eli. Eli, Eli, Eli. What to say other than you SURE DID get the memo that you have turned two, huh?

You are lucky that you are cute and cuddly and learning funny little phrases, so that when I have to stomp, er, go to your room for the third time in a row at ten o' clock at night, you can hold up your arms, immediately stop screaming, and lisp sweetly, "COME 'ere!" And then grab my sleeve and attempt to haul my giant adult body into your toddler bed beside you, but in the most winsome and coaxing manner possible, so that I have almost no choice but to at least TRY to force your tiny bed to hold us both.

Turns out it does, until my leg falls asleep. Unlike YOURSELF!

Dude, if I end up with ten extra pounds and a drinking problem this winter, the blame is squarely on your little shoulders. Because once you are finally asleep, all I ever want to do is celebrate, adult-style. (And by adult style I of course mean diving into a box of cookies and a tumbler of red wine while watching the most recent Netflix offering.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Belated

So here's my firstborn, my NOT baby NOT toddler but honest to goodness kid, doing some kind of gleeful pirate jig in anticipation of her birthday party later that day:




Here's the spread before it all got torn apart by par-taying:




Yet more plastic princess junk to add to her already substantial pile of plastic Disney princess junk. And I can't even blame relatives for this particular gift- my sister Jeni had gotten her the original Cinderella set, but once I saw what a hit the tiny, rubbery dress up dolls were with Addy (and the elevated status they gave my sister) I felt compelled to include another set in her stack of birthday presents. Yes, I am a cheap sell out, bowing at the altar of Disney just for popularity.

(Public service announcement: those dresses are SO HARD to put on, even for adult fingers. Forget about a child being able to do it. In the process of dressing, I even POPPED THE FLIPPING HEAD off the original Cinderella and had to go shamefacedly get a replacement. So if you too lose your mind and buy these, expect to be helping your kid dress and undress the dolls about ten times a day.)


But just look at that gorgeous cake. Only my mother could come up with a way to satisfy a four year old's very specific wish for a cake on the theme of Ballerina Strawberry Shortcake.




Happy birthday, Addy Bear!