Thursday, November 26, 2009


We had a great Thanksgiving dinner at my mom's house...21 people total. 13 adults, 6 kids aged 2-6 and 2 babies. It was a bit wild, as it should be with kids this age, and definitely wonderful.

The highlights:

Gage is thankful for "The 'Little Gardeners' book at my Grandma's house." Lila is thankful for "My healthy Mommy. And my healthy Daddy." (That one nearly made me cry.) Josie, if she could talk, would most certainly be thankful for my breasts.

Gage ate very well, having second servings of the veggies, and looked around the room at everyone talking and laughing. He stage-whispered to me, "I thought Thanksgiving Feasts were supposed to be quiet." Ha! It'll be a long time before we have a quiet Thanksgiving...and I think I prefer the loud ones anyway.

Lila sat next to my dad, her beloved Pop-pop, during dinner. At one point she took a bite of squash and got that deer-in-the-headlights look. She glanced around and took my dad's napkin off his lap - ignoring her own napkin - and spit her bite of squash into his napkin. She wiped her tongue once or twice and balled up the napkin. "Here, Pop-pop," she said, handing it back to him. Gross, Lila! My dad laughed and surely saw a bit of his own influence in his grand-daughter's sneakiness.

All in all, dinner was a great success. And I'm already hungry again.

Some Random

I am totally, completely in love with Josie. We all are. It's amazing how much this tiny girl moves us...she's definitely something special.

The smell of the hospital...especially the green hand soap...makes me want to cry. I wish I could smell that soap once a month for the rest of my life. It brings me right back to my each baby.

Josie looks a lot like Gage as a newborn. Especially her profile.

Gage and Lila love their new baby sister so much. They often ask to hold her, and I always say Yes. They sit on the couch and hold her in their little laps, and stare at her sweet squishy face. "I like her! I really like her!" they always say, as if surprised.

I know that everything I'm thinking and feeling right now is riddled with hormones, so I am trying to take it with a grain of salt. That said, I totally want a fourth baby someday. Right now I'm all about Josie, and trying to wring every moment of babyhood out of her, but I definitely feel like we'll have one more. Someday.

Gage and I have been calling her 'Jos.' Like, rhymes with 'Most' but without the 't.' I like it.

Speaking of crying, I was actually brought to tears when I heard a little song from a baby toy that has been in the attic for two years. Actual tears. From a battery-operated musical toy. And so it goes.

Unbelievably (and again: riddled with hormones), I am already nostalgic for my baby belly. Also, I CANNOT get over the fact that this kid was INSIDE me a week and a half ago! Geezum! How did THAT work!?

Josie seems wise - she has big, alert eyes and is quiet and observant. It'll be interesting to see how that plays out...whether or not those qualities stay. She's all potential right now.

My first beer in ten months was nice...but rather anticlimactic.

I forgot how much I'm charmed by the little birdy mouth of a nursing baby...the way she twists her neck and fish-kisses my bicep. She knows how to get her point across, for sure.

I'm really, really happy.

She's Here!

Josephine Lynn, AKA Baby Josie, was born on Monday, November 16th, at 5:20 AM at 7 pounds and 19 inches.

*Warning* Detailed birth story follows! (Written 11/20/09)

Saturday night I had what I thought was yet another case of false labor. I've had many (at least a dozen) instances of lots of contractions, increasing in intensity and getting closer together, but never quite *painful* and they always ended abruptly. I learned that the best thing to do is try to go to sleep ASAP, and if the contractions wake me up…I'll deal with it then. Every time that I had false labor at night the contractions were gone by morning.

Sunday morning they were still there, but still irregular and not painful. The kids and I took a walk around the neighborhood, then went to the grocery store with my mom. Our dear babysitter Abbey volunteered to come watch the kids, knowing that I was really close to having Josie. She came over and I called the doctor at 4:00 PM on Sunday and said, "I don't think I'm in labor yet but things are starting." He told me to call back when the contractions got more intense.

Mike and I walked around the neighborhood for a while and decided to go out to dinner. I still wasn’t sure that I was in labor, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I had a serious craving for fajitas so we went to Jack Creek, and got hot wings as well, just in case spicy food would help things along. We got home, put the kids to bed, and settled in. At 9:00 PM I got my first painful contraction. I wrote down the time, and made a decision to write down only the contractions that were painful. I’ve had so many contractions lately that I can drive myself crazy trying to record them – this painful one was notably different.

I continued to have painful contractions for the next few hours, but they were few and far between. I’d have a painful one, then a couple of minor ones, then another painful one. The painful ones were about 20 minutes apart but the minor ones were every five or six minutes. At 1:30 AM I had a *very* painful contraction and I called the doctor. “I think I should go to the hospital,” I told him. He agreed.

My parents came over so Mike and I could leave. My dad was going to stay with the kids until I had the baby, and my mom was going to give us a head-start and then come over to the hospital to be with me. While we waited for them, and on the drive to St. Luke’s my contractions got a bit more painful and a bit more regular. I still wasn’t sure that this was the real thing, but I was getting more convinced by the minute.

I was admitted to triage on the labor & delivery floor at 2:00 AM, and changed into a gown, got hooked up to a monitor. Here’s where things get interesting.

We had a decent nurse, but she wasn’t very proactive. Once she hooked up the monitor she left, and we didn’t see anyone for maybe a half hour. Then a med student came in, and I swear I think it was his first day in L&D. He seemed to have very little idea about what, exactly, labor was. He gave us this whole speech, with lots of fumbled words and vague descriptions, basically saying, “We’ll do an ultrasound to determine if the baby is head-down.” (She was – and I knew this.) “We’ll check you to see if you’re dilating.” (Yes, please, now.) “I can see by the monitor that you’re having contractions every four minutes. We’ll leave you hooked up to the monitor for a few hours to see if you’re really in labor.” (Um, what?)

He left again without checking me or doing the ultrasound, and popped his head in ten minutes later. “It’s going to be a while before anyone comes in to see you,” he said. “A woman has just unexpectedly gone into labor.” (Again: Um, what?) Turns out he meant someone progressed much faster than they were expecting (a hint of what’s to come?) and was ready to push. “Let the nurse know if anything changes.”

Two minutes after he left I told Mike, “No way am I waiting for him. I wasn’t even checked yet!” My contractions were 3-4 minutes apart and quite uncomfortable. “Tell the nurse I’m feeling pressure.” This wasn’t a lie – I *was* feeling more pressure – but it was a bit of a prompt. When my sister had her third baby the nurse mentioned in hush-hush tones that the way to get your cervix checked was to mention the word ‘pressure.’

My nurse said, “Oh, we’ll check you right away – the woman who is having her baby now was feeling pressure – turns out she was 10 centimeters!” I said, “I’m hoping for an epidural, so I’d like to get that started before I get too far along.” Here’s the second hint of what’s to come: the nurse said, “She was hoping for an epidural, too, but she didn’t get one!” Ha. Ha.

She checks me – I’m 3-4 centimeters. Good. Not too far – plenty of time left. But my contractions are coming harder and faster, and I’m getting really uncomfortable. The nurse says that my cervix is super thin, and any movement (or any randomness) will break my water. The nurse also says she’s going to start an IV and take blood – they have to check your blood in the lab and you have to have 1-2 bags of saline through the IV before you can get the epidural. By now it’s about 3:30 AM.

She takes the blood, she starts the IV. S l o w l y. I can’t believe how long she’s taking. I can see that she’s not busy, and I can see that she’s not hurrying. My mom arrives – I’m glad she’s there. The med student comes back in with a doctor, the doctor checks my cervix. I’m 5-6 centimeters. They all exclaim over how quick that was – going from 3-4 to 5-6 in twenty minutes. Mike and I look at each other – I think it’s this moment that we know I’m not getting the epidural. Obviously I’m progressing quickly, and they’re not reacting to me quickly at all.

I’m moved to a delivery room via wheelchair and by now it’s about 4:00. The contractions are two minutes apart now, and each one lasts about a minute. It’s very intense. My own doctor comes in to check me and I’m 8 cm. He wants to break my water. I’m scared, because I know that the contractions will get worse when the water is gone, and the contractions are already pretty darn bad. The nurse says that my bloodwork is not done, so the anesthesiologist cannot yet put in the epidural. My doctor says: “Do you want to do this on your own?” I feel tears well up in my eyes but I nod my head ‘yes.’

He tells me he’s going to break my water and check my cervix again, although it’s only been a few minutes. I feel the gush, then I feel an awful pain that makes me groan out loud. I can’t believe how much this hurts – I’m vaguely embarrassed at my vocal reaction – but then it’s over. “I tried to stretch out your cervix,” the doctor says. “Sometimes when I break the water I can stretch the cervix out to ten, if you’re already close. But I couldn’t. You can still get the epidural if you want it.”

The contractions seem to never let up. I can barely catch my breath. Mike keeps saying “You’re going to be okay. You’re doing great.” I finally have to tell him “I know. Please stop talking.”

The anesthesiologist is on his way, finally, and it’s 4:30 AM. I’m struggling to breathe through the contractions. The nurse keeps telling me to breathe differently, and, as it turns out, wrong. My instincts told me to breathe shallow, quick breaths. The nurse kept telling me to take deep, long breaths. Her way was much more difficult for me to do, more painful, but I tried to do as she said. I wish she had let me do it my own way – I believe that would have made things a bit easier. I wish I had known that my instincts were telling me to breathe the way Lamaze teaches – then I could have stood up for myself and told the nurse to shove it.

The anesthesiologist gets held up – there’s an emergency.

Another half hour of breathing through the contractions. Each one seemingly worse than the last. Many of them double contractions – I’d have a normal contraction, feel it begin to let up, then it would worsen again, right into another contraction. I just had to deal. There was no other choice. I was grateful for the single contractions – at least that way I got a bit of a break. With every contraction I’m breathing vocally on each exhale – I’m dragging a breath in and humming it back out.

My mom, who had three babies with no pain relief, gave me a brief coaching session. She told me not to be afraid of pushing – that the painful part of labor was the contractions, not the pushing. I nodded my head and gripped her hand harder.

The anesthesiologist finally arrives, after 5:00 AM. I struggle into a sitting position so that he can insert the catheter into my spine. While sitting I have three contractions. It’s absolutely essential not to move during this procedure, and the contractions were the worst yet. I know that being in an upright position contributed to the intensity of the contractions, but what I didn’t know was that my body was transitioning into the final stage of labor. The first contraction I breathed through, focusing only on getting through it. I’m now groaning through each inhale *and* exhale, and, again, I’m vaguely embarrassed, but not nearly enough to try to stop myself. The second contraction felt different – like the baby was pushing down, hard. I figured, again, that it was because I was sitting up. The third contraction coincided with the anesthesiologist finishing up, and with this third contraction my body started to push the baby out.

It wasn’t a conscious choice, and it wasn’t something that I felt I could control. My body was pushing and I was along for the ride. I’ve heard the phrase ‘urge to push’ but this was not an urge, it was a *need.* When the nurse realized what was happening she shrieked for me to stop pushing and I said back “I can’t!” She said, “You have to!” so I tried my best to stop. I was still sitting up at this point - they got me onto my back again and the room went mad. Nurses and doctors came running in, donning scrubs, adjusting the table. I had another ‘pushing’ contraction and managed to fight the urge – easier to do when I was on my back. When I was sitting up it was near impossible.

My doctor felt the baby’s head and said, “She’s still pretty high up, but we can start pushing.” I said, “Is the epidural in?” The anesthesiologist said, rather sheepishly, “The catheter is in, but the medicine hasn’t been turned on yet. It will take 15 minutes to work.” There was no waiting. This baby was coming NOW.

With the next contraction by OB talked me through it: “Take a deep breath, let it out. Take another deep breath, let it out. Then you push.” I knew how to push – this is my third baby, after all, and the first two came out pretty easily (I’m lucky to have small babies). I curled myself up, rounding out my back, and tucked my chin to my chest. I gave it my all and I felt the baby move down. I took another quick breath and pushed again. HARD. Her head was out. The doctor paused to unwrap the cord from around her neck – it was looped once. I felt like there was no way that my body could accommodate this baby coming out, but I know that there’s no other choice. I grunted “It *does* hurt!” while thinking about my mom’s words from earlier, and some part of my brain reminded me to focus, and I didn’t try to talk again. I took one more breath and pushed one last time. Her body was delivered, and she was out. She was out in one contraction.

And I felt every tiny little bit of it, start to finish.

Amazingly, as soon as she was born I felt a thousand times better. I had no stitches, which was great. I was in a scary, dark place for the last two hours of labor – it was terrifying and incredibly painful. But as soon as she was born it was over – the sun rose and everything was beautiful. I felt great. I felt amazing, actually.

The only lingering dark cloud was that awful med student sticking his head in the room to say “I guess you really were in labor!” Yeah. Thanks for that, pal.

We got to snuggle our new little one for two hours while the nurse filled out paperwork that should have been done before the delivery – but of course there had been no time. After those two hours I walked myself to the bathroom to clean up and I felt really good. I couldn’t believe how normal I felt. I was tired, of course, and sore, but not nearly as much as I expected.

I’m actually grateful that things turned out the way they did – sure it was a difficult time, but I did it. I’ve always been interested in natural childbirth but I was too intimidated to try it. This time I had no choice, and I am truly amazed at what my body did, what I did. It was trying, for sure, and definitely the most intense physical experience I’ve ever had, but then it was over – it ended. And I got a beautiful baby and a new respect for my body.

I keep looking at her, especially at her head, and marveling over how big she is. I’m smiling as I write this, because I know she’s not big, but she looks impressively large, considering where she came from. I’m totally in love with her. I’m also more than a little in awe of myself right now - my body and my ability to take things as they come. I handled it, for sure, and I’m really very proud of that.

I’m also glad that both Mike and my mom were there through the whole thing – we made a good team and none of us freaked out. We each saw solid, stand-up parts of each other that maybe, under normal circumstances, you don’t really see.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Baby Games

Gage loves to play games with my belly. He kisses it, rubs it, laughs at how his arms can't reach around it. He shines flashlights at it, then turns them off, then on. ("It's day! It's night! It's day!") Lila is interested, too, but not nearly so intensely. She kisses my belly and certainly uses it for a pillow (which is funny when she gets tired - her head kind of rolls around on it), she pats it and says "Baby Josie kickin'!" but she doesn't really try to interact with it the way Gage does.

One of Gage's favorite belly activities is to share his blankie with the baby. He has a special blue blankie that he's had since babyhood, and he never sleeps without it. Anytime he's in the mood for a snuggle...out comes blankie. Recently he's taken to spreading his blanket out on my belly, then siting next to me and holding a corner of it for himself. He says, "Does the baby like that?" Imagining the rush of love that spreads through me at these gestures, the endorphins and relaxation, I am sure that she does, and I say Yes.

Sometimes Gage wants me to speak on behalf of the baby. I squeak out baby sentences and he thinks it's the funniest thing. The other day he put not one, but two blankets on my belly and I said in the baby voice, "Ooh, it's warm in here! It feels like summer. But I thought I was supposed to be born in the fall! How can it be summer already and I wasn't born?" Gage finds this *hysterical* and now needs to repeat the whole scenario several times a day. "Mommy, do that thing where the baby thinks it's summer!"

He always finishes these games by giving me a good squeeze and saying: "What's the baby thinking now?"

"My big brother loves me. I'm so lucky."

We are all so lucky.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Darn Pictures!

Why do my landscape-shaped pictures always get cut off? What's the deal? Do I have to do something special to make them fit? I'm copying them from photobucket (which I'm angry at anyway for deleting my adorable baby bum pictures, saying that they 'violate' their 'terms' [sneer]).

Pumpkin Thief

I'm almost through my 36th week. I have only three weeks to go before my due date...and I'm really getting excited. For months it was all I could do to think "Get through the pregnancy. Get through the pregnancy." Because even a straightforward, relatively uncomplicated pregnancy isn't *easy*. But now the focus has so shifted to "You will have a baby soon. You will be holding your newborn child sooner than you can imagine." I'm getting over yet another nasty cold and, finally feeling better, am relaxing into a peaceful "almost there" plateau. At Who knows how I'll feel tomorrow!?

I had an OB appointment today - I have gained 24 pounds and am 1cm dilated. I know that the 1cm of dilation doesn't mean much - I could be 1 cm dilated for another three weeks, or I could go into labor tonight - but it still feels good to see some official progress. I have lots of contractions and the baby is head-down and low, so it's all coming together.

Gage and Lila are excited to meet the new baby. Gage and I have been talking about how he and Daddy and Lila will come visit me and the baby in the hospital and he's getting into that idea. His only memorable hospital experience was one evening in the ER when he somehow scratched the inside of his throat while eating a pear and there was more blood than we were comfortable with. He was three at the time, probably around three and a half, and on the way to the hospital he quietly asked me, "Can we not tell the doctor about my froap hurting?"

I've explained that the part of the hospital he'll visit this time is a friendly part - all Mamas and their babies, nobody sick or scared. He seems okay with that, and the fact that I will be away from the house for a couple of days and, when I come back, it will be with Josie.

Strangely, a lot of well-meaning strangers keep trying to engage him in baby conversation by saying: "Wow, you'll be a big brother soon!" Gage always looks a bit confused, and I'm not sure what to say to that either. I know they're just being friendly, but Lila's right there, standing next to him. He already *is* a big brother! I end up saying, "And Lila will be a big sister for the first time." Pregnancy brain addles not only the pregnant woman...people come out with the most random, and often far too personal comments. I get just as many "Oh, you're absolutely tiny!" comments as I do "Wow, you look like you were due last week!" As a rule, it's best to just say "You look great." Let's not talk too much about size, can we agree on that? Every pregnant woman gets a big belly, and every pregnant woman is very aware of it.

Besides the cold, and the many viruses I've been dealing with in general the past couple of months, the only problem I'm having right now is nighttime. In addition to mild insomnia (I am writing this at 1AM, after all) I just can't get comfortable. I almost dread getting to bed because I know that the next several hours will be a string of wakings, a repeat of me rolling laboriously from one side to the other, only to wake and reverse the motion fifteen minutes later. It's long nights lately...long nights of peeing and rolling.

But soon this will all be a distant, and probably somewhat fond, memory. Mike said something to me the other day that made me smile: "You're at the stage where other pregnant women are jealous of you." He's right. I'm in the homestretch. I'm just about at the finish line. And that only happens by putting in the time, which is now (just about) behind me. If I saw someone as pregnant as I am I would know, "She's there. She's going to have a wonderful surprise very, very soon." I like being in that place.

When I was pregnant with Lila I really pictured her, as a newborn, as the female version of Gage. I imagined that she would have dark, full hair and huge eyes, a wise little expression. She was nothing like that at all! In fact, she had barely any hair and it was light-colored, and she almost never opened her eyes until she was several days old. What a shock! I can make two kinds of babies! Now my question is: Will Josie look like mini-Gage or mini-Lila? I have learned nothing - there's no possibility of a third kind of baby...just as I once made only Gages I now make Gages and I also make Lilas. Which will Josie be?

Lila stuns me with her memory and recall lately. She can look at any picture...people that she's met once, people that have aged significantly since the picture was taken...and know whose picture it is. It's amazing. I have never been good at facial recognition...nor is Gage. Mike is, and Lila is. But to see this tiny two-year-old look at a baby picture of a now-four-year-old friend and rattle off his name is amazing to me.

A few days ago Lila was riding in the cart at Wegmans, looked at me sweetly, and said, "Mama, will you sing that song 'Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer, do? I'm half crazy, all for the love of you?'" Impressed, I told Mike. He laughed and said, "Sounds like she didn't really need you to sing it at all!"

Gage has used a couple of adult-like phrases lately that just tickle me. He recently began saying "To be exact" and...get context. It cracks me up! The first time I heard it he said, "Mama? Do M&Ms and peanut butter go together? Smooth peanut butter, to be exact." This kid!

Today he was making a sandwich for me with plastic food - a waffle, a slice of tomato, a piece of lettuce (which he always calls 'salad'), etc. He was about to present it to me and pulled it back, quickly rearranging the tower. "This will make it more appetizing," he said.

We've managed to get out and do a couple of fun fall activities...of course, I have to grin and bear it as fellow hay riders watch me bouncing comically in a wagon, joking about "Way to induce labor!" or "Watch that lady! She's trying to steal a pumpkin!"



Next week will be full of Halloween fun - a parade and party at Preschool, Trick-or-Treating, and a party at Grandma's. I collected a few little things for the kids (bat-shaped lollies, pumpkin tattoos, tiny boxes of candy corn) and I decided to give them their treats today, so they wouldn't be lost in the overwhelming Halloweenness of next week. I told the kids before dinner that I had a surprise for them that I would give them before bed (I still needed to put the things together in their respective baskets). Gage went a little crazy, wanting to know NOW about the surprise - Where was it? What was it? Why was I holding out on them? Didn't he understand that he really wanted me to tell him NOW? He actually began to tear up and I had to say: "I'm a little sad I even told you about the surprise. It seems like you're not excited, you're upset. That's not what I expected." Poor guy. He pulled it together, though, and managed to wait patiently for the treats.

When he saw the his-n-hers baskets on the dining room table he ran over to one, his face bright with happiness, and said, "This is just what I thought! I thought about what the surprise would be and this is exactly it!" Then he and Lila gorged themselves on candy corn and apple cider, grinning drunkenly and begging for more tattoos on their skinny little arms.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Things have been so much better since the weekend.

I finally feel like my (pregnant) self again. I mean, I won't feel like myself myself until after I have the baby, but I feel so much better.

Our terrible day last week was Wednesday. On Thursday he developed a fever and a cough, which continued through Friday. My eye began to heal on Saturday (YAY!) and we were all on the road to recovery.

Mike and I saw David Sedaris speak and read Saturday night, while friends kept the kids. Overnight. Mike and I slept until noon on Sunday. I'm grinning as I write this. Sleeping until noon - it's the rarest treat these days, and just the thing I needed. I was able to put in my contacts again (YAY!) and things are just. So. Much. Better.

One thing that I learned...I need to be more proactive about having a distraction at the ready. Since the Very Bad Day I have spent some time each evening preparing a small craft for the next day, to be used when the kids need a positive diversion. Something to be doled out when they're at the brink of misbehavior...something to head them off at the pass. I've been drawing simple worksheets, mazes, coloring sheets. On Sunday while Lila was napping Gage painted and strung a pasta necklace (although he paused in his work at one point to say: "Mama? Painting noodles is not really my idea of fun"). Not really my idea of fun!? Where does he get this stuff!?

Another day I cut out black shapes - triangles, circles, big goofy grins - and outlined a pumpkin on another sheet of paper. The kids had a blast coloring their pumpkins and then gluing the shapes into faces. Five minutes of prep the night before = a peaceful fifteen-minute project the next day. I'll take it.

I know it won't avoid all problems, but it feels good to have a project at the ace up my sleeve.

In case you're curious, as of last night Gage got all of his toys back.

Lila has been using the potty almost flawlessly for several months now...we'll have a couple of weeks where she has not a single accident but then one day she'll suddenly have, like, three accidents in one day. After a good run I think, "Is this it? Is she really trained?" and then No, No she's not. But overall she's doing great.

Recently she's taken to announcing: "I need to go potty! I want to use the *big* potty, in the baffwoom." She starts to head upstairs, turns to look at me and says primly, "I need pwivacy." She disappears up the stairs and I hear the door close firmly.

Of course I have to invade her privacy moments later when I hear the toilet flush, because while she can get her pants down, pee, and flush she cannot pull her pants up, wipe, or stop flushing.

She'd stand there flushing the toilet all night if you'd let her.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Bad

Now that it's dark, and quiet, and everyone else is sleeping I can finally reflect on the day with less anxiety. And what a day it's been. Two days, actually. All yesterday and all today I've had a raging eye infection, which is bad enough on its own but worse because I'm not used to wearing my glasses. Of course I can't wear my contacts with a swollen and red eye, so I have to rely on my glasses, which affect me physically (dizzy, headache, nausea) as well as psychologically (vulnerable, volatile, crabby).

I have not been my best self the past two days. The eye, the big, awkward belly, the constant heartburn. It's just not a good combination. I know that my bad mood has significantly contributed to Gage's misbehavior these past two days but I'm still shocked and embarrassed by how he's been acting.

Gage bit Lila yesterday. And Gage bit Lila today.

Gage is not a biter. He's just over four years old and we've never had a problem with aggression of this sort.

But the more I think about my own actions the past two days the more I feel responsible for his.

Today in the car. Late, on the way to the doctor for my eye. Couldn't find my health card, hence the delay. My fault. Rushing Gage, sternly chiding him in the car, "Buckle yourself! Hurry up!" This is a new challenge for him, and it's not easy. He has little hands, and the buckle is stiff and non-compliant. He strains to click the buckle into place and misses. "Hurry!" I nearly shout.

Who is this talking?

Promising donuts for a successful trip to the doctor. The kids are golden. They sit patiently and quietly. We run out of time and have to go straight to Gage's preschool. No donuts. I'm never unreliable, except today I am. They notice.

But he bit her, and that's a problem. Yesterday he got scolded, and got a time-out in his room. He seemed honestly sorry...he did his time, he apologized sincerely. And The same thing. Lesson? Not learned.

I lost it. And he lost it. And Lila lost it. I sent Gage to his room, seriously enraged. I held and soothed Lila, and when she was calm I went to Gage's room with a big box and started packing up his toys. He was freaking out, but I kept on...packing up his toy kitchen, his train set, his cars. I told him he could have them back in a week if he showed me that he could control his temper.

I went back downstairs to Lila and cried. And cried.

Gage, when released from time-out, shakily told me that it was hard for him to control his temper. I nodded my head and said "I know. It's hard for Mommies and Daddies, too." Obviously. But biting? It's not okay.

And now, six hours later, snippets of the evening are running through my mind, making me tear up all over again.

Lila, patting my cheek with the whole of her hand, saying "Mama, you feel better? No more tears? You not feelin' angry anymore?"

Gage, face damp, asking, "Please don't talk about my toys. I'm just going to keep crying."

Mike, looking at me with patient sympathy. Knowing I'm not me.

And all the while I literally can't see straight. My world is rounded and slanted and vision is like a bad movie filmed with a hand-held camera. Everything is wrong. Everything is just a little bit off. And it's been two full days.

"I have nothing left to give," I whispered to Mike at one point tonight, when Gage and I had finally stopped crying.

This is not me. I don't like this at all.

After bedtime I went to Lila's room, pulled her blanket up around her shoulders, watched the regular rise and fall of her chest, listened to the little sighing sounds she makes in her sleep.

I went to Gage's room, and climbed into bed with him. He didn't wake, but snuggled against me. He spooned his back into me, and then shifted so his furry head was pressing against my belly. Josie responded by swiping at the round top of his head with a hand or a foot, pressing her body against his, with me in between. When you're pregnant you're never alone.

As I nestled in Gage's bed with him the tears started up again.

He's getting to be so big now. He's my tiny little baby.

I want him to do the right thing. You expect too much.

His mistakes are my mistakes.

He needs to make mistakes.

I kiss his forehead and whisper "I love you. I love you so much."

He sighs in his sleep and murmurs back, "I love you too."

We all make mistakes.

We're none of us perfect.

But I know now. We're all going to be okay.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I'm 32 weeks & 5 days along now, only 7 weeks to go. :) I will have OB appointments every two weeks now, and after two of those I will go once a week. I've gained 15 pounds and overall I'm feeling well.

One of the strangest things about pregnancy is how different you can feel from day to day. And when you have a bad day (exhausted, huge, sore, cranky) you feel like that's how it's going to be from here on out, until the baby's born, and how on earth are you going to survive another two months of this!? But then the next day you'll feel great - lots of energy, and a look in the mirror will tell you the opposite of what you thought yesterday...why, your belly is positively petite! It's so weird...but you totally go back and forth, more toward the end of pregnancy, with the good days and bad days. And I know, the pictures appear to show a big, round belly, but I swear sometimes I gaze lovingly at my midsection and can't get over how compact it is. So what if my mind is playing tricks on me? It feels good.

I feel the baby moving all the time now. She is very active, as were Gage and Lila. I love to sit back on the couch in the late evenings and watch my belly undulate, watch lumps rise and fall, slide. It's amazing. Once in a while she moves so forcefully that I feel as though I'm thrown off-balance. Not that my balance is all that great to begin with these days....

Gage began preschool a week and a half ago. I was dreading the start...I really was. I was anxious and sad that my baby was going to be away from me, was going to be in a classroom where I could not watch over him, could not make sure that he's treated the way I need him to be treated. Luckily the transition has been much easier than I feared. He's enjoying preschool and we have no problems during drop-off. He marches right into his little classroom and the first thing he does, every day, is go to the "Helping Hands" wall to see what his job will be for the afternoon. His favorite so far: Bell Ringer. I understand. Who doesn't love to ring a bell?

Lila has been the surprise problem with drop-off. I had no idea that she would be as affected as she is, but every day she cries after we leave Gage's school. Every day she wails on the drive home, "I miss my Gagey! I miss my big brudder!" Earlier this week she told me that if she says "...I miss my Gager, I need my Gager he will come home to me." Poor little one.

Another preschool surprise is that I am enjoying the free time it provides to me. I was so nervous about the thought of Gage being gone that I really didn't stop to think about what my afternoons (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday from 12:30 until 3:00) would be like. I guess I imagined myself biting my nails while watching the clock. This is what's it's been like: We get home, I tuck Lila in for a nap. Two hours of silence (although I do watch the clock more than strictly necessary). I wake Lila up and we go to pick up Gage. It's crazy what those two hours of solitude have done for my well-being. It's been pleasant to have that time to myself...although short-lived, since Josie will be here before we know it.

Gage is already showing off his new knowledge...he reminds Mike to "Turn off the lights when you leave a room. It's good for the enbironment." And yesterday he rattled off the days of the week to me with no hesitation. He's picked up some of the Pledge of Allegiance and two nursery rhymes: Twinkle, Twinkle and Hey Diddle, Diddle.

I have to laugh when he recites Hey Diddle, Diddle because (despite the many times I attempted to correct him) he always says:

Hey Diddle, Diddle
The cat and the fiddle
The cow jumped over the moon
The little dog laughed with excitement
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

I love that - laughed with excitement. And then he chuckles in a grown-up way and explains: "It's funny 'cause dishes can't run."

Whereas cows can *totally* jump over the moon.

I recently picked up a crafty toy for the kids, called "Bendaroos." It's a collection of colored stiff string coated in wax...that the kids can make into jewelry or shapes or whatever. They spotted the Bendaroos in a store the other day and Gage recognized them from a commercial. He asked if we could buy it and I said No, but a salesman heard me and said "We have some of those in clearance - the boxes were crushed a little, but the toys are all there." Crushed boxes? I'm there! So we bought them after all, and the kids are having a blast using them. What's funny is that Gage calls them "Fingaroos" and Lila calls them "Kangaroos" and I stubbornly refer to them by their given name. It's like "Who's on First" when they want to get out the Bendaroos.

Gage has entered a new stage of reliability's mature and disarming. For his whole life thus far when he's insisted on something that doesn't sound right I can correct him, with almost 100% accuracy. Lately he's been saying things that don't sound right and when I go to correct him he quietly and politely insists that he's right. And then he is right.

Case in point: yesterday afternoon Lila wanted to watch "Charlie and Lola" (a Disney cartoon, a favorite in our house). She pushed Play on the DVD player (who knew she could do *that*?) and the theme music began to play.

Gage: "It's not on. Lila wants to watch Charlie and Lola and it's not on."
Me (in the dining room, where I can hear the TV but not see it): "It's on. I can hear it."
Gage (not paying any attention to the TV): "No, it's not on."
Me: "Gage, I can hear it."
Gage: "But it's not on."
Me: "I want you to come look at the TV so that you can see it's on."
Gage: "All right, but I want you to come too, so you can see that it's not."
Me (slightly put out by this, and irritated at having to stand up for nothing [yesterday was a Bad Day and I felt awful]): "Fine."

We meet in front of the TV. There's a moment of silence.

Me: "Oh. It's not on."

The DVD player was on, the speakers were on. The TV...was not.

Me: "You were right."

Gage: Does not feel the need to rub it in - does not even say 'I told you so.' Gage is a good kid. And maybe I ought to give him the benefit of the doubt once in a while.

He's been right an awful lot lately. And patient...and kind.

There's got to be a lesson in there somewhere.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Next Time I Won't Sing With You

I had another OB appointment last week, as well as the Glucose test, which is done between 26 & 28 weeks. The Glucose test involves drinking a very sugary orange-flavored liquid and waiting around for an hour, after which there is a bloodtest. The test measures how you metabolize the sugar, to check whether you're in danger of gestational diabetes. I passed the test with flying colors. Good news for this candy-loving mama. (I actually talked Mike into buying for me a case of candy cigarettes two weeks ago. That's 24 packs. They're delicious.)

I am now 28 weeks along, and have gained another 4 pounds, bringing my total weight gain up to 10 pounds so far. With all three pregnancies I didn't gain at all until after 20 weeks, and then I gained a normal amount (about 35 pounds) in the last half of the pregnancy. Looks like this time will be the same way. It's just weird to look at my big, big belly and think I've only gained 10 pounds. (...and to think that there's more to come.)

My weekly dinner of homemade buffalo chicken wings (fried, of course) will surely help the weight pack on. It's for you, baby. For you.

Oh, and the lemon angelfood cake with lemon glaze, pictured here atop my belly shelf, which Mike never ceases to find amusing:

The kids are well. Lila has been making us all laugh with her own version of the ABC song. She does the ABCs themselves pretty well, only missing a couple of letters here and there. At the end she sings:

Now I know my ABCs.
Next time I won't sing with you.

Cracks us up every time.

Gage is getting ready to start preschool in three weeks. (Mama is certainly NOT ready to have her little boy start preschool in three weeks.) He's excited about it, about carrying a bookbag and writing his name and snacktime. I know it's a good school and an essential part of growing up, but I want to keep my little boy home with me for longer.


Our garden is giving us lots of deeply red tomatoes, lots of leafy, aromatic basil. We've been eating some combination of the two mostly every day - this is the best part about August, I think. Last week I made a tomato-basil side with garlic and black pepper, all layered over fresh mozzarella with a crumbly butter-rich tart base. It was fantastic, a sure repeat dish.

And, because I'm a dork, I took a picture of it. I often take pictures of food. I like to capture my creations on film, which is why my computer is loaded with pictures of my kids and pictures of dinner.

I'll upload that one this evening so you can see it, too.

In the meantime, here are the kids during our recent week-long beach vacation. I have since cut Gage's hair a bit, sigh.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Some Random

- I went to the OB today and I finally gained some weight! Six pounds in the last month...bringing my total weight gain so far to six pounds. I'm almost 24 weeks along now, so I'm happy to be gaining. I was getting sick every day during months three and four, and only in the last three weeks or so has that stopped. I feel stronger and more energetic lately, too.

- We are fairly certain that we will name the baby Josephine. When I told the kids this I said "I think that I'll call her Josie. What about you?" Gage piped up immediately: "Josephine Jellybean!" So she already has a couple of nicknames, all darling. She is measuring right on, as is my belly.

- Last night Mike took the kids to Wawa after Parkettes, as he often does. Gage picked out a treat for me, a package of Twinkies. I was surprised that Mike didn't steer him toward something else, because Twinkies? Not really my kind of snack. So suffice it to say they were still in their package today. Gage asked me why I didn't eat them and I said, "Oh, I'm not hungry. How about you and Lila each eat one?" He agreed, and I handed them out. (This marks their first packaged cake experience.)

They each took one bite and put their Twinkies down. Lila swallowed her bite and went about her business, leaving her Twinkie on the table. Gage chewed his bite, made a horrible face, and ran to the trash to spit it out. I heard him call from the kitchen: "I found that cake to be much too sweet!" I laughed and happily threw away the Twinkies. They tried them - it's more than fine with me if they don't like them.

- Gage turns four tomorrow. Four! He is excited for his birthday, but in his ever-empathetic way he made a card and wrapped a present for me so that I would not be left out of the festivities. He is storing both card and gift safely in his desk until his big day.

Here he is posing with his pizza, one that he made entirely with his own hands - from patting the dough into a big round to putting on the sauce and toppings. He and Lila love to help in the kitchen and they love to eat what they create. Gage was very proud of himself for this pizza, as was I.

- Lila is still convinced that she has a baby in her belly, and she has named it Judith. (Judith is Lila's new cousin's name - my oldest sister Sarah gave birth to her third child just over a month ago.) When you ask Lila about her baby she points very specifically to her bellybutton and says "See?"

Lately 'Baby Judith' has been apparently active...Lila will put her hand on her belly and say "Baby Judif kickin'!" It's too funny - a perfect imitation of her mommy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two Quick Laughs

Since Gage was a baby we've played the wildly popular 'Stinky Feet Game.' What's involved: Sniffing one of the kids' feet, making a face and saying, "Ooh, those are some stinky feet. What were you walking in?" The kids love it - they offer up the other foot and enthusiastically say "This one's even stinkier!"

Lila was flailing on the couch the other day - I was sitting, she was tumbling over me - and I caught one of her feet in my hand. I sniffed it, gave the obligatory snort of disgust and said "Ooh, those are some stinky feet!" Lila pulled away, glared at me and said with careful enunciation:

"My feet are clean and soft. Actually, they're fine."

She turned away with an indignant huff.


I guess she told me!

Yesterday I was pushing Gage on the swingset; on the one meant for two kids...the swing that has handles and a place to put his feet, and the kids sit back-to-back. I was pushing him pretty high and he slipped his feet off the bar. I stopped the swing quickly and asked if he was all right.

Gage: "Yeah. Can you push me again?"
Me: "I thought you were going to fall."
Gage: "Nope. I like to do that."

So I push him again and again he slips his feet off the bar. After the third time I said, "That makes me so nervous. Why are you doing that?"

And I swear this is exactly how he responded.

He looked at me slyly and grinned. "I like to live on the edge."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hi, Baby.

You're an awesome chick already.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Manners Police

For a long time now Gage has had high standards for manners - for himself as well as for others. It cracks me up that such a little kid wants things so orderly, but that's how he's always been. I have a video of Gage at maybe 18 months putting his milk cup on a coaster on the coffee table, turning to leave, turning back and pushing the cup to exactly the middle of the coaster. Only when it was perfect was he satisfied.

Tonight he couldn't sleep and he heard me puttering around in the kitchen, making a blueberry coffee cake. He asked to come help me and it was one of those days when the right thing to do is say Yes. So he helped me sprinkle blueberries on the top of the cake, then cinnamon and sugar. After we put the cake in the oven we sat on the couch to share the last 3/4 cup of blueberries between us.

Gage likes the sweet ones, and I like the sour ones. We spent a good ten minutes snuggled together on the couch...he'd take a little bite of each blueberry. "Sweet" ones were popped into Gage's mouth and he poked the "Sour" ones into my mouth. While he was busily sorting through them I brushed his bangs away from his eyes, told him that I miss seeing his eyes because his hair is getting so long.

"I like it long," he said. "Sour." I accepted the blueberry from him.
"I know you do now," I said. "But you might change your mind."
"No I won't," he murmured in a sing-song voice. He took another little rabbit bite from a berry. "Sweet," he smiled. "I'm really good at this," he observed unselfconsciously. The next one was sour. He watched me eat it, and the Manners Police descended.

"Um, excuse me," Gage said.
"You were chewing that with your mouth open a little bit. I could see a peek of it."
"Oh, goodness," I said. "I'm sorry for my bad manners."
"It's all right," Gage smiled supportively. "Everybody makes mistakes." He popped another blueberry into my mouth. He kept his eyes on me and pressed his own lips together, silently reminding me how to chew. I chewed obviously and with tight lips. "Good," he smiled. "Now you're doing a great job."

It makes me laugh that he's so parental at these moments. We are almost always happily secure in our roles. He and Lila know they're the children, and Mike and I know we're the parents. There's no doubt about that. But Gage won't hesitate to turn a teaching moment around in your face if you seem to need it.

He's such a sweet kid, and so empathetic. But if you dare to put your feet on the table in my house be prepared for a stern talking-to from my nearly-four-year-old.

And talk with your mouth full if you want. But do it at your own risk.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Homemade Perfume

Gage doesn't nap anymore, and hasn't for at least a year. I wish he would, but he just doesn't require much sleep and he never has. Even at Lila's age he was a 12-hour a day guy; 11 hours at night and a 1-hour nap. These days he sleeps for 10-11 hours at night and that's all. Some days he seems to really need the nap, and some days he falls asleep in the car. But the most I can get out of him is the rare and often-interrupted 'rest.' When he 'rests' he plays by himself, quietly, in his room while Lila naps and I decompress by myself. Every five minutes or so he pops his head out of his bedroom, calling "Can I come down now?" That's my cue to call back "NO!"

Anyway. And as a point of interest: Lila sleeps for about 15 hours a day. No joke. 13 hours at night and a regular 2-hour nap every afternoon. She takes after her Mama that way.

So a few days ago Gage was 'resting' in his room and I was resting on the couch. He was quiet for several minutes (which, in retrospect, should have been my first clue). The next time he appeared at the top of the stairs, asking to come down, I turned to tell him "No" and saw that he was holding a plastic bowl with both hands.

"Um. What's that?" I asked. "I made you a gift," Gage said happily. He carefully carried the bowl down the stairs to me and presented it with a big smile. "It's perfume. Doesn't it smell wonderful?"

I peered into the was significantly full of murky-looking colorless water, with a few bubbles popping on the surface. "Wow," I said. I sniffed. The sickeningly sweet, thick soapy smell turned my stomach - no woman in her first trimester should be made to smell homemde perfume.

"Wow," I repeated. I forced a smile and nodded my head. "Wonderful."

"It's a gift," Gage said again. He held the bowl closer to me. I pulled back an equal distance, then made myself accept the bowl with what I can only hope was a gracious expression (what part of clenched teeth and tearing eyes doesn't indicate gratuity?).

"Thanks," I said. As soon as he was distracted I went upstairs to see what he'd gotten into. Apparently my 'gift' was comprised mostly of home fragrance oil (sans reeds), foaming hand soap and water, with approximately 15 damp paper bathroom cups somehow having been involved.

Now. I love homemade gifts as much as the next person, especially gifts from my kid. But I think I need to draw the line at perfume. Maybe perfume is just something you ought to leave to the professionals. After a long and gentle conversation Gage reluctantly agreed.

Lila is on day three of a particularly independent streak. She has been in a terrible mood, and much more difficult than usual. I love her to bits, but she's been working my nerves like you wouldn't believe. She's usually pretty easy-going, which makes the recent naughtiness that much more surprising. But...naughty as she is, she still manages to be as cute as a darn button.

This evening I was driving home with the kids in the car. We'd gone to the health food store (at Gage's request. This is what he said: "I want to go to that store. The one where we sometimes go that's not Wegmans. With the peanut things. But not Christmas." After a moment of confusion and several stores mentioned: "Do you mean Target?" "No." I said, "The health food store!" "Yes!" But I still don't get the 'But not Christmas' part of it.) and then I had a couple of errands to do. Five minutes from home Lila started screaming. Like, just out of boredom. But that drives me nuts, so I told her to stop.

Me: "Lila, that's too loud. Please lower your voice."
Lila: (screams)
Me: "Lila, stop screaming or you will go right to bed when we get home."
Lila: (screaming) "NO!" A pause while she takes a breath, preparing to scream again. "I NOT!"
Me: (stunned silence, trying not to laugh) "Oh yes you will..." (weakly) "Young lady."

I gathered myself and delivered the time-out, and she apologized very sweetly, but five minutes later she kicked me while I was putting her pajamas on and she went right back to bed, this time for the night.

I feel more prepared with Lila than I did with Gage - naturally, I guess. When Gage went through phases at this age (like this naughty phase Lila's going through) I always thought, "Oh, great. We had such a good thing going, and now this. Now this is what I have to deal with for the rest of his childhood." We'd battle constantly - he fighting for his naughty independence and me fighting to maintain the upper hand and, of course, a few days later everything would even out and he'd be back to his sweet self. Armed with this knowledge, Lila's phases, while still trying, don't force that same cloud of gloom to hang over me.

Nowadays I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I just need to keep clawing my way toward it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Money, Money, Money

My two have been mischevious the past week or so, for sure. They've had Spring Fever, I think, and until this weekend didn't have much of a chance to get their energy out outside.

Gage has become very adept at slyly mooching money off my dad. Pop-pop has been giving Gage 'pay' when Gage helps him with a chore. At first this meant something substantial, like Gage cleaning up after a messy project or pulling weeds from the garden. Gage receives a dollar as his pay, and this thrills him. Sometimes we go to the local old-schooly drug store, where they have the best selection of candy, and Gage gets to choose something right away. I don't mind this one bit, because he is learning so much through these transfers...what he can afford for a dollar, how to wait in line and receive change, all of it.

Plus he is SO careful to get something for Lila as well as for himself. The first time he spent his pay it was around Halloween and he had his eye on a Reese's Peanut Butter Jack O'Lantern. I told him that was fine, he could buy it. It was $.75. He asked if he could buy two and I said no, he couldn't afford it. He frowned for only a moment, put the Jack O'Lantern back and picked out a regular 2-pack of Peanut Butter Cups. "How about this?" he asked. "Yes," I said, "You can afford that."

"That's what I want, then. One for me, one for Yi-yah."

I don't need to tell you that my heart nearly broke. He has always been careful to have enough candy to share with his beloved baby sister, and I never fail to warm at his generous spirit.

Anyway, back to the story. So lately Gage has been getting away with doing less and less work yet still expecting - and receiving - pay. He'll ask Grandma if he can help her make dinner. She'll say "Sure" and hand him a pile of mushrooms to drop in a soup pot. Gage will happily comply and cheerfully crow, "Now I get pay!"

Or he'll hand my dad a screwdriver when he's working in the garage and practically leave his hand outstretched, ready to receive his dollar. And my dad never fails to deliver.

We save most of the dollars (he gets maybe 2 a week) but the odd trip to the candy store and the carefully folded bill in his tiny pocket is enough to keep Gage going.

All this learning about money is great, and Lila has been picking up on it, too. She doesn't earn pay yet (you have to be three to make wages in this family - we don't want to risk any child labor issues by hiring a one- or two-year-old) but she does get quarters from Pop-pop, which she dutifully drops in her owl-shaped piggy bank.

A week ago Mike was washing my car for me, with the kids' help, while I was away for the afternoon. We bought a new 2008 Mazda 5 in February, our first-ever new car. I love it and I'm happy as can be - it's a sweet ride. It came with all sorts of features that I wouldn't have requested had they not been standard, but I'm certainly happy to have them. One such feature is an in-dash 6-CD changer.

While Mike was scrubbing the tires that afternoon Gage asked to climb into the car. Mike didn't see why not, and opened up the door. Gage and Lila both scrambled inside and pretended to drive for no more than a minute before Mike peeked in at them. What he saw was Lila happily poking quarter after quarter into said brand new in-dash 6-CD changer.

Mike shouted and delivered a time-out and panicked and worried and spent hours taking the CD changer out of the dashboard and fishing all the quarters out (about a dozen total). Thankfully he was able to restore it to its original beauty.

When asked about this transgression all Lila did was smile and say "Piggy bank!"

I have no idea where they get this fascination with money. No idea at all.

Incidentally, here I am with my arm around my money, a year and a half ago:

But I have no idea where they get it.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Thinking on Their Feet

There are times when the kids don't know the word for something, so they make up a phrase that they figure best suits the definition. I love when they do it, because I totally still do the same thing. I remember one such instance that still makes me laugh...I couldn't think of the word 'antler' and sputtered out "Ear...horn...." instead.I was, like, 20 at the time. Everyone is at a loss for words sometimes, and I consider it a wonderful example of how imperfect we all are. ;)

So two days ago we were riding in the car and Gage was looking out the window. He spotted a yard that had a couple of pinwheels spinning in the breeze. He smiled and said, "Look! That house has two...(silence while he's thinking)...wind...propellers."

Wind propellers! What a great description!

During another car ride this week Lila was snuggling a stuffed puppy and barking softly, "Woof, woof." She was so happy when I said "I think I hear a doggie in the car!" that I couldn't help but carry on the joke.

Me: "I hope I hear a kitten soon."
Lila: "Meow!"
Me: "Oh, I did hear a kitten! I hope I hear a cow."
Lila: "Moo!"
Me: "Great! Now how about an owl?"
Lila: Silence. Scanning her brain for what noise an owl makes. Finally, taking on a deep parody-voice: "Hello, Lila!"

So...just so you know...that's what an owl says. It says "Heyyo, Yi-yah" in a comical toddler baritone.

We're entering Birthday Season. My kids, as well as almost all of their cousins, have birthdays between May and August. It will be a whirlwind of cake and presents, and Gage is very excited to begin partying. We made cookies on Tuesday that Gage insisted were "For Lila's Birthday party" although we have another five weeks to go. I'm so happy to have warm weather and good times to look forward to.

I'm feeling well. Surprisingly well, better than I did with either of the other two pregnancies. I am definitely larger than I was for those, but that comes with the territory. As soon as I have a recognizable 'bump' I'll be sure to post pics. In the meantime I'm craving fresh fruits and veggies, lots of avocado, and of course seltzer and milk.

Lila has decided that she also has a baby in her belly, and her baby's name will be 'Lila.' When I suggested that it might get confusing she changed her mind, choosing the name 'Baby' instead. Ahhh, the creativity my kids have when it comes to names. We have the afore-mentioned stuffed dog, who is named 'Puppy' and a stuffed duck named 'Ducky.'

My baby, on the other hand, they want to name 'Yellow Tree.' It was a compromise; Lila chose 'Yellow' and Gage (who, incidentally, was looking out the window at the time), chose 'Tree.'

I can see it now. "Meet my children: Gage, Lila and Yellow Tree."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

And Another On the Way

We're expecting again (!!!). I'm nine weeks pregnant and we're due in early / mid November. We're really excited. Nervous about how we'll handle three kids aged four and under, but excited.

Both Gage and Lila want a baby girl ('baby guh-whirl'). I think it's a boy. I have an appointment in a week and a half for my first ultrasound, and we'll be happy to see how big the baby is and watch the sweet swishing heartbeat.

Today Gage asked me how the baby's going to come out. He's asked me this a couple of times before, and I've gotten away with saying "My body will let me know when it's time. I'll call the doctor and he'll meet me at the hospital. The doctor will help me get the baby out." Short and sweet, right? Well, today he wanted more information. He said, "Will the doctor use a knife?" I had to get more specific. I had to say the V word.

Gage: "Where's your bagina?"
Me: "It's in my private area. Do you remember where that is?"
Gage, puzzled, points to his left bicep with a curious look on his face.
Me: "No. Um. No, that's not it."
Gage shrugs his shoulders, unconcerned. I don't know what's worse, that he considers his arm his most private body part, or that he thinks my baby will come out of my shoulder.

Either way...I see we have more work to do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Who Likes Tomato Soup?

Gage very politely insulted my cooking the other day.

I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I'm so pleased with how my kids eat. They're adventerous eaters; Lila does it naturally and Gage succumbs to unending, gentle prodding.

They treasure fruit above anything else, and vegetables are a close second. They eat heavily flavored foods like curried noodle soup and hummus. Favorite snacks include salt-and-pepper edamame and crackers with brie.

It's not always easy to make it through a meal, and I wish sometimes that they (especially Gage) would eat more per sitting, but they definitely eat very varied foods.

Usually willingly.

So two days ago I made a tomato-based soup with spicy sausage and green beans. Lila happily worked her way through the bowl while Gage took one tentative sip and sighed noisily. He sat back in his chair while the rest of us ate.

Me: "What's the matter, Gage?"
Gage: "Well, Mama."
- Long pause -
Gage: "Well, Mama. A lot of the time the food that you cook is really good. But sometimes...the food is just not so good."

I had to hide my face because I didn't want him to see me laughing. Tears actually ran down my face. The poor guy, trying to spare my feelings.

And takes more than a dig at my tomato soup to get to me.

After the obligatory...Mike: "It could hurt a person's feelings to say that," and Me: "I work hard to make healthy foods for my family. There are going to be some things that you don't like. Nobody likes everything," we had...

Me: "But. Eat it anyway."

And he did. With the prodding.

He seems to have kind of gotten the message, though. Twice since then he's made it a point to compliment me. Yesterday at lunch and again today, during dinner. Both times he's said: "Mmm. Mommy, you're a good cook. This dinner is good."

So I guess we're getting somewhere. Slowly.

Nights have been much better. The promise of a morning popsicle has done wonders in getting Gage to sleep through the night. And I know, I know. A popsicle in the morning is not the best tool in the parenting belt o' tools. But sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. Besides, they're 15 calories a piece. I checked.

Every night when I tuck him in (and try to mimic Mike's 'tucking in' procedure, which involves making 'a Gage sandwich' with lettuce and tomato...which always fails to be exactly right and ends with me promising to 'send Daddy up in a minute') I say "Remember, what are you going to do tonight?" He cheerfully responds: "Stay in bed!"

We're at, like, an 80% success rate. Which is WAY better than 0%.

Lila and I went with Mike and Gage to Parkettes on Monday night. Gage is still in the Parent-and-Child class, although the teacher recently said that she believes he's ready for the Kindergym class, in which parents are not involved. I'm totally ready to switch him, but Mike, who really enjoys this special bonding time, is more reluctant.

We decided that we'd take Li for a try-out class, see how she likes it, and then bump Gage up to Kindergym for a couple of weeks before enrolling Li in the Parent-and-Child class. So Mike will still take them. He'll send Gage off with his teacher (big kid!) and then attend Lila's class with her.

So far, so good. Lila LOVED it. She had a blast in the gym, walking unsteadily on the balance beam (while Gage held her hand and walked confidently in front of her) and jumping into the foam pit, right into my arms. She even went for a ride on the rope swing with the teacher. This is a really cool thing - they have a rope set up over the foam blocks and they swing out and back, then out and let go to fall into the supreme softness. Gage can do it all by himself now, and did it three times on Monday.

I watched. With my very own eyes.

My kids.

They're growing up.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ugh - pics

I don't know why I'm having trouble loading pics here in any size but HUGE all of a sudden. I used to be able to resize pics fine. I'll keep working on it, but bear with me until I figure it out. Sorry the pics are huge and cut-off. Ugh.

Reflecting On My Newborn: Gage

Gage William. Such a fantastically beautiful baby. See the fur on his shoulders? I loved that fur. He was born 9 days early, with (dare I say it?) an easy labor and delivery. He had the most gorgeous, huge bluish-gray eyes that opened immediately after birth. His gaze was throat-catching...his eyes sharp and wise.

Gage was a typical baby for the first two weeks...I say typical in a kind of all-encompassing, all-accepting way. He was on the small side and had to be monitored to make sure that he was at a healthy weight. He was up many times every night. He was just what we expected from our first baby.

And then.

Ohhh, and then.

The colic started.

He cried from the time he was 14 days old until he was 3 months, 3 days. I know this because the day he cheered up...we ALL cheered up. The poor little guy had an awful go of it...he was constantly unhappy, constantly arching his little body to try to avoid what experts assume is comparable to full-time gas pains. (No one really knows what colic is, or how to fix it, just that it randomly strikes 1 out of every 4 or 5 babies.)

The pediatrician had no advice, other than to hang tough. Well-meaning strangers had plenty of advice, mostly made up of the (oh-so-helpful) comments like: "He sounds hungry." or "Uh-oh! Somebody needs a nap!" After weeks of politely dealing with these comments, weeks of near-constant screaming in my ear, weeks of little sleep at night and a child who napped maybe 10 minutes to one hour THE ENTIRE DAY, my response transformed from: "No, he's not hungry. He just ate," to a slightly wild-eyed: "Nope! This is just my son! This is how he is! This is our life!"

Ah, motherhood.

I remember thinking: "THIS. Is not what I imagined."

But throughout all of the screaming, all of the heartache of watching this intense little baby and not being able to help him, Gage and I were pals. We had each other and we needed each other. He didn't scream any less for me than he did for anyone else, but MAN did we have a deep connection. We had such a palpable bond in those early days...I sensed from him that he was unhappy but not angry. He needed to cry but he didn't want to have to. And he seemed really grateful that I still loved him through all of it.

The one time that Gage was quiet was when we'd bathe together, so we bathed together often. The warm water soothed him and he'd relax on my chest. He'd snuggle into me, into my neck, and I welcomed the softness of his body, the compliance of his tranquil little form. The bath was an escape for us both and is one of my strongest memories of baby Gage.

You get what you get, and you do right by your kid. You have to. You don't have a choice: You're the mama.

When the colic dissipated he turned into his real self...and I recognized him immediately.

I remember thinking: "THIS. Is what I imagined."

And our adventure began for real.