Thursday, December 10, 2009

I'll take 'Pink Tricycles' for $1000, Alex...

Was watching a few minutes of Jeopardy the other night and got to thinking...what would my girls' Jeopardy categories be? Here goes!

If Rachael's life was a series of Jeopardy categories, they would be:

* Cartoons with Ducks and Chickens
* Foods Dipped in Ketchup
* Scenes of Dangerous Tumbling/Acrobatics
* Pink Tricycles
* Trials of Left-Handed Children
* Preschool Sociolinguistics (all answers are to start with "NO NO NO!")

Oh, fun. Now Erin's turn:

* Binkie Taxonomy
* Seborrheic Dermatitis
* Words that Start with "Buh Buh Buh" (all answers are to start with a juicy, toothless grin)
* Big Sisters I Worship
* Handed-Down Clothing
* Funny Grey Cats

Haven't decided on Final Jeopardy 'answers' yet... :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beam me to Michigan!

Cute lil moment Saturday...Rachael and I were driving to gymnastics when, once again, she said, "Momma, wait! We no get Uncle Jim! He come with us!"

My brother, who adores Rachael, went with us to gymnastics the last two times he and my sis in law were in town. Since then, Rachael has decided that Uncle Jim will be coming with us to gymnastics each week. Now that would be a lot of commuting... :)

Perhaps she'll stop asking me why we left Uncle Jim at home once I can get her to understand the distance between Michigan and Connecticut...until then, Jim, I think you're on the hook for getting yourself to gymnastics every Saturday. Hee hee... :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Merry Chr...Thanksgiving!

The turkey just doesn't stand a chance these days...

It used to be annoying, but I've finally just accepted it: I will shop for Halloween costumes among Christmas tree displays. I understand that stores fund entire fiscal years around holiday sales, but dang...I was at the mall on October 30th and the kids trick-or-treating in mall definitely clashed with the tinsel and holly berries on display at JCPenney. And, at least here in the Detroit area, radio stations start playing Christmas music during the first week of November. Who wants to listen to White Christmas when the jack-o-lanterns haven't even hit the trash can yet?

This rush to the American Christmas season does make me a little sad for poor, lonely Thanksgiving. Is Thanksgiving is nothing but an eighth rest in the middle of the loooong Christmas carol?

Well Thanksgiving--I appreciate you! I think it's fabulous that we have a day in our year bookmarked specifically for us to be thankful. Yes, there's the arguable history behind "the first Thanksgiving," but it's pretty well accepted that Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge our blessings. So I'm going to turn down my Christmas music and set aside my wish list for a moment to give Thanksgiving its due attention. :-)

Here's a short list of what I'm thankful for:

* my beautiful, smart, healthy daughters
* my beautiful, smart, healthy husband
* the roof over my head and the (soon-to-be-new!) carpet under my feet
* my job and my colleagues (even the snarky ones in Ann Arbor) ;-)
* my health insurance, which helped pay for my Tamiflu prescription last week
* my city's autumn leaf pickup program
* my brother and Jen, who love me, Dave, and my girls from afar
* Sandy and Ron, who love me, Dave, and my girls from afar
* my inlaws, who are so generous with their time
* my mother, for doing the best she can
* my furnace, which warmed my house to 68 degrees right on schedule this morning
* my tub of Infant Vics Vapo Rub
* my kids' pediatrician, who made me laugh while I nervously held my feverish baby
* the heated seats in my car
* Dr Seuss, who reminds me to try new things, even if I'm sure I won't like it
* AIM Instant Messenger--how did I ever function in corporate America without IM?
* my friends, new and old
* gas being less than $4/gallon

I could go on...but an eighth rest only lasts so long! Thank you, Thanksgiving.

Back to Christmas!

We took the girls in for holiday photos already. Yep, weeks before Thanksgiving...I know, I know. Here's a hint of what you'll see in your mailboxes next month:

Neither of our girls had any interest in having pictures taken. Oh well! They're still cute. ;-)

Happy Thanksgiving, gentle readers!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Trying, Once Again, to be Responsible...

David and I try, but we admittedly fall short of being perfect parents. I know...contrary to popular belief... ;-)

We've been talking about getting a Will and Living Trust drafted for about three years now. We even got as far as meeting with an attorney (two, actually), but never got the whole effort off the ground. It's an incredibly daunting task.

Well, I'm proud to say that *today* we finally went back to the attorney and gave her everything she needs to process a first draft of a will, living trust, and the re-deeding of our house (this process also helped us discover that buying our house before we were married opened up a few legal loopholes. Awesome.) It'll take a few weeks for her to get everything together for her first draft, but heck, after the three years it took D and I to formulate the content of that first draft, two weeks isn't bad.

For those of you who are not experienced with estate planning with minor children, this is why it took us forever to get to this point in hella-serious estate planning. You need to:
* decide WHO should manage your estate (liquidate your assets, invest the proceeds, close accounts, collect your life insurance, deal with your house, deal your cars, deal with your children's new guardian, etc etc etc)
* decide HOW that person is to manage your estate (work with an investment counselor, plan for kids' college, etc)
* decide WHO will raise your children, which is almost as hard as this last biggie...
* decide HOW you want that person to raise your children

So let's say you decide you want Ralph Smith to manage your estate (cash) and Loretta Jones to raise your children. Sounds cut-and-dried, right? But now consider this: if Loretta Smith dies, do you automatically want her husband, Jerome, to raise your kids? Do you want Ralph Smith to have a say in that? Oh, and how much are you going to pay Ralph for managing your crap? And do you want Loretta to send your kids to private school instead of the Jonesville Public School? Who decides if Jonesville Public School is acceptable? Who has to agree before the estate (Ralph) will pony up for private school? Oh, and what if Loretta decides to move to Paraguay? Or worse, Cleveland? Can she take your kids, or does the next-in-line guardian get the kids? And how old/how accomplished do your kids have to be before they can get your cash? 25? 30? 26.5 with a college degree? 27 with a Masters degree? AUGH!

Every single decision opened up Pandora's box a little wider. Crap.

So, realizing that our current plan of just ignoring this whole mess might not be the most responsible decision, we wrote a narrative on what we would generally like to see happen....the pretty essay written in a pleasing font had clear sections describing the things that are important to us and the things that confused us (see Paraguay issue above). Proud of our work, we handed it to the attorney, then watched as she stared first at us, wide-eyed, then at our single-spaced narrative, and asked if we'd really written a narrative on our estate plan. Said she'd never seen that before. Heh. Clearly she needs to get to know D and me better. So, she talked us through her recommendations and agreed to have her draft in the mail in two weeks.

Not easy stuff, no easy answers. I am glad that we at least have the process in gear now.

Anyhoo, here are the princesses we're doing all this for! Check out my pretty-pretties in the Halloween gear:

Rachael as Minnie Mouse

Lil Ladybug Erin

Me and my girls...with Rachael in her other costume (was too cold for this on Halloween night!)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Stop the Insanity (Ins'anity?)

Sometimes it is so painful to witness ignorance in action.

I realize I am a snob when it comes to grammar. Worse, I'm sure I make my fair share of typos (typo's? typos'? ty'pos?), given that I spend most of my day pounding out emails and instant messages by the hundreds. But dammit--it's shameful when college-educated people (MANY OF THEM EDUCATORS THEMSELVES) cannot use an apostrophe to save their (they're?) lives. Forget the comma, the semicolon, the colon--they are all just instruments of torture. But I think anyone can be taught how to use a frigging apostrophe. It's (its?) not that hard. Here's a quick overview:


I found myself suffering another bout of grammar depression just this morning. I was in the drive-up line at Tim Horton's (yes, that's possessive, folks) when I saw a van with this painted on the side:

Fine Touch Window Washing's

Come ON. You had your WORK VAN PAINTED and no one made sure you were SPELLING THE NAME OF YOUR COMPANY CORRECTLY? I weep.

Is there a school somewhere teaching that, if a word ends in 's', you need an apostrophe? I really don't get it. When I was a youngster learning how to use these darn little hooks, I sure wasn't bold enough to just splash them where ever. I was careful to ask myself, "is this possessive? Is this a contraction? What are the rules for the situation I'm in?" I asked myself these questions until the usage because more natural for me.

I know this makes me a b*tch, but I'm putting this out there for the good of the many: people judge you when you use poor grammar. If you are an educator sending letters home with crap like "...student's need to..." strewn about (real example, by the way), parents will THINK YOU ARE STUPID. Pick up a copy of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style and make it your business to learn from these masters. It does not matter if you are teaching science (s'cience?), English, or wood shop--you had to take English to graduate. So prove that you showed up for class.

Rant over. But would it be wrong for me to paint over the apostrophe on the Fine Touch work van? ;-)

The holiday of my people:

Cari, I dedicate this post to you...I would be lost without our fierce instant-messaging sessions over poor diction and apostrophe abuse (abus'es'?) :-)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rachael and the Big Wide World

Rachael discovered the moon last night.

We were walking out of the mall around 7:30pm last night, so it was pretty dark outside. I just happened to notice a nearly-full moon in our line of sight and said "ohh, Rach, look at how pretty to moon is tonight!" She looked around for a bit until we got her to look up into the night sky.

"Moon? Over der? MOON! The moon is over der, Momma!"

It never occurred to me that she hadn't really seen the moon before. I mean, we're outside a lot in the summer, but the sun is out until after 9pm--no moon out when she's playing. And in the colder months, we're inside most of the time. Rach is in bed by 8pm most nights during all seasons, so very few moon moments. Reading Goodnight Moon only gets you so far...

Rachael talked about the moon the whole way home. "Where's the moon now, momma? Over der? Over DER?" She was fascinated. How many times have you noticed the moon in the past month, the past YEAR, and given it much thought? I can't properly express how amazing it was to see, feel, and hear this experience through her eyes. What's more is that she able to TELL US so clearly about what she was thinking and how she was feeling--after more than a year in speech therapy, we definitely don't take that for granted!

How neat. One more piece of the big wide world tucked inside that pretty head of hers. One more thing she can teach her sister ("...and then the MOON comes out, Erin..."). I can't wait.

Here are some pics from my little astronomer's third birthday party! Yep, she's three! We had a princess-themed party for her:

Purple Pearl Cake

Princess Bounce House...Rachael and her lil friends LOVED it!

My lil a tutu :-)

Keep on exploring Rach!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Light and Fluffy

It's been an interesting two job is consuming a great deal of my energy and patience (I about blew today when someone described a point as "mute" instead of "moot" is it that educated people continue to f**k this up?!). Then, the morning before a fellow daycare mom backed into my car and smushed my bumper, some degenerate jacked my iPod from my car. There haven't been too many breaks from the action lately.

It's amazing how I remain such a cheerful creature. (stop laughing!) ;-)

Lucky for me, the aforementioned degenerate chose to NOT steal the CDs from my car, so I still have my copy of the Juno soundtrack. I *love* the movie Juno. Well-written, great casting...all around it's an enjoyable flick with a neat message to boot. Additionally, the soundtrack is just fantastic--it's worth seeing the movie just to enjoy the music!

To spread the Juno love, here's a link to "All I Want Is You" by Barry Louis Polisar. This version clips the first two or three seconds of the song, but it includes the great opening scene from the movie. I can't help but smile when listening--it's so light and fluffy. I think you'll find yourself smiling in spite of whatever might be on your plate for today. Enjoy!

If I was a flower growing wild and free
All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.
And if I was a tree growing tall and green
All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were a river in the mountains tall,
The rumble of your water would be my call.
If you were the winter, I know I'd be the snow
Just as long as you were with me, when the cold winds blow.

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were a wink, I'd be a nod
If you were a seed, well I'd be a pod.
If you were the floor, I'd wanna be the rug
And if you were a kiss, I know I'd be a hug

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were the wood, I'd be the fire.
If you were the love, I'd be the desire.
If you were a castle, I'd be your moat,
And if you were an ocean, I'd learn to float.

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Evolving Faith

Here's a departure from my usual kid-centric posts... warning, there's a good chance of me offending you with this offering, so if you're not feeling terribly open-minded today, you may want to pass on reading this.

OK, you've been warned...

I've been thinking a lot about The Church lately. Before I get too far into my transcendental rant, gentle reader, allow me to define what I mean by The Church. By The Church, I mean just that--not God, but the human beings charged with delivering the Word of God to the masses and tending to God's flock.

When I was younger, I didn't much differentiate The Church from God. Traditional teachings express The Church and God as one in the same, after all. In any case, I, being a faithful follower of The Church, I listened to my pastors, absorbed the messages they delivered, even managed to (finally) pass their hard-core confirmation classes. I was proud to be part of this conservative, 'by the book' Church. I didn't know anything else.

As an adult, I find going to church far less comfortable than I did as a child. I go to church and find myself cringing more and more during sermons. For example, let's take The Church's position on homosexuality. Homosexuals are bad? Oh wait, homosexuals are not just bad, but also going to hell? We need to minister to gays to help them find their way back to God? What if they already know God? I know many God-fearing men and women (who work with me at a Catholic Healthcare institution) who are active in Christian churches....and who happen to be gay. Is that possible? Are they attending church 'under cover'? Or is it possible that God and The Church are NOT one in the same and that each "The Church" has defined its own version of right and wrong?

I strongly believe that sexuality isn't a conscious choice so much as it is a biological construct. I can state for the record I didn't wake up one morning and DECIDE to be heterosexual, any more than I woke up one morning and DECIDED to have two arms and two legs. So I struggle with being a member of a Church that damns homosexuals. If I'm right, and sexuality is a biological construct, then why stop at gays? Why not also damn someone with Downs Syndrome? Or a deformed foot? Those are biological constructs too. I know, sounds ridiculous--but allow yourself to think about it. If you're convinced that sexuality is only a social construct, then my position will make no sense, but do try to at least consider opening your mind up to my argument.

I can feel the blood pressure of my Lutheran/Catholic family starting to rise while reading this--before you delete me from your Christmas card lists, remember that free will gives us not only the right, but the responsibility to explore our freedom. So even us Missouri-Synod types need to exhale once in a while and admit that there's discussion to be had on these hard topics. ;-)

So back to exploring my discomfort:

Clearly the beliefs I have conflict with the ethos of The Church, or at least The Church as defined by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. But do my beliefs conflict with God? I don't think so. I've seen the work of God. I've experienced Grace that can be explained by nothing but the presence of The Divine. But I feel like The Church is packaging God in box that doesn't feel right to me anymore. God...Grace...The Divine...he/it is all around us. I feel sad for people who say "I don't believe in God" because I think what they really mean is that they don't believe in The Church. I don't know how you can watch a waterbug glide across the still surface of a lake, look into the eyes of a newborn, or watch as some takes their last breaths and not believe in a Divine presence. Science only gets you so far. I just think The Church may be making God too exclusive.

So where does this leave me? Where does this leave my girls, who were both baptized in the church with which I'm struggling? If I align with The Church, I want it to be because The Church aligns with my belief in The Divine. I don't want to just "be Christian" or "be Lutheran" because that's how I grew up. I don't want to dismiss my questions, and I don't want my girls to grow up judging the world from a haughty pedestal.

Maybe the churches I'd scoffed as a youngster are exactly the ones that would best fit me now: Unitarian, Episcopalian...generally more accepting congregations than the by-the-book, hellfire-and-brimstone congregations with which I grew up. They still provide that moral compass that is the backbone of any Christian Church, but with less judgement and social exclusivity. I'm not ready to make any kind of change yet; I'm still exploring.

Until then, I challenge you to explore the faith-related questions that may linger in your head. Go ahead--I know it's scary walking into a dark cave, but don't worry-- I'll leave the light on for ya. :-)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pregnancy Mystery # 4563 Revealed

Pregnancy Mystery # 4563 Revealed:
You won't actually go bald when your lush preggo hair starts falling out

Flashback: November 2006. My baby is three months old, my body is starting to resemble that what it once was (not counting the 20, ok 30 extra pounds…), I’m SLEEPING, and I’m thinking how great it is to finally be over all the weird stuff that pregnancy does to your body.

Then my hair started falling out.

I’m not talking a few extra strands. I’m talking about CLUMPS. I whip open Google and search on “alopecia + post partum” and find “you might experience some hair loss in the months following pregnancy.” Some?! At this point I’m fairly confident I’ll be bald by Christmas.

I chat with some friends. No one had their hair fall out in clumps. What the hell? I start to wonder what I’ll look like with scalp showing through my thinning hair. I'm reading up on other potential causes: vitamin deficiency, kidney issues, hypertension.

Then I noticed the hair loss staring to slow down after about a month. Yep. Weird. So, by the time Rachael was five months old, my hair wasn't coming out in clumps any more, and what I was left with was wavy and about five shades darker than it was.

Fast forward: August 2009. My baby is three months old, my body is starting to resemble that what it once was (not counting the 20, ok 30 extra pounds…), I’m SLEEPING, and I’m thinking how great it is to finally be over all the weird stuff that pregnancy does to your body.

My hair is again falling out.

At least I knew to expect it. It doesn't make it any less strange, losing clumps of hair with every wash, dry, and style. But I'm not freaking out.

I am sure that it's weird crap like this that motivates new moms to write books. They are convinced it's their obligation to tell (warn?) the world of what to expect from your forever-changed, still-morphing body. I know I've inhaled books like that...the "girlfriendy" books that deliver straight talk on pregnancy-induced hemorrhoids, acne, joint pain, nursing. I think there's a huge market of insecure new moms just looking for someone to say "yeah, it happened to me and I lived through it..." I was desperate to find a passage in one of these books that read " hair fell out in clumps and I'm not bald." Never did find it.

Other than being entertaining, these books didn't do a damn thing to prepare me for what my life would be like after bringing home my beautiful girls. All you really need is a whole lot of confidence, which is unfortunately in poor supply for the average new mom. I know I had zero confidence when Rach was wee. What probably needs to be published for new moms is a new book with just three sentences: You're doing FINE. You'll be FINE. Your kids are FINE. Oh, one more: You WILL sleep again someday.

But feel free to call me if you're absolutely convinced that you'll be bald by the time your lush preggo hair falls out.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back to Work and Potty Training

Monday was my first day back at work after 11 weeks home with my babes. I was in touch with work folks here and there, answered questions here and there, but I did manage to ignore the really icky emails while I was home.

I wasn't shocked to find all the icky problems described in the icky emails waiting for me when I got in Monday. Oh well. I will NOT complain about my job--I really am thankful that David and I are both still employed while living in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

Anyway, so both girls are in daycare now and I'm getting used to the new routine (paying for two kids in full-time daycare though....holy sh*t...can't even talk about that yet...) One of the major benefits of daycare is that the teachers are rather routine-oriented, and routine is a beautiful prerequisite to...potty training. They've been working with Rach for a while, and she's been cooperating with increasing consistency. She was wearing Pull-Ups so if she peed in her pants, no big deal. It was just nice that she was getting used to the idea of potty time, the routine associated with potty time, all with zero pressure.

One day, fueled by black coffee and six hours of uninterrupted sleep, I introduced Rachael to underpants. She was thrilled. She put them on herself. She danced in them. She went and told her dadda that "she's wearing her underwear pants." She talked about the butterflies on her underwear pants. I explained to her that she couldn't go pee pee in her underwear pants, so she needed to tell momma when she needed to go pee pee. She nodded proudly and marched out of her room, still talking about her underwear pants.

...Then she peed in them.
...So I put on new ones.
...So she pooped in those.
...So I put on new ones.
..."Rachael, do you want to go potty? Let's go sit on the potty."
...Sits on potty, nothing happens
**5 minutes pass**
...She pees in third pair of underpants.
...I decide to throw in the towel for the day and put her in a Pull Up.
...She goes insane, demanding 'underwear pants'
...I, like an idiot, try to reason with her (did I mention that she'd gotten up at 7am, it's now 5pm, and she didn't take a nap?)
...She has a tantrum.
...and pees on the floor.

So, OK. This was just day one. I never thought we'd get this licked in 24 hours, and as the next few days passed she got more and more wise to the requirements of underwear pants. I'll say this--a few straight days of potty awareness with Rachael resulted in me adding a 6-pack of Sam Adams to the grocery list.

Since those initial days, she's doing a LOT better. We still can't get her to actually come and tell us when she needs to go, but she's clearly able to hold it until the opportunity is presented--when we suggest potty breaks and she actually needs to pee, she'll quietly agree to join us in the potty and, often, use the toilet with success. If she doesn't have to go, she'll say "NO NO NO"in a tone and manner that suggests David and I are not only mean, but clearly stupid. Ahhh....

What's really awesome is that, in the four days she's worn underpants to school, she's had 3 accident-free days. That kind of track record makes me feel fairly confident that we won't still be buying Pull Ups for her when she's learning to drive, or registering to vote. And she's making all of this progress with a newborn in the house, so I have to grade her on a curve. Lots of life changes going's asking a lot to expect her to also master a new approach to bladder/bowel control. She'll get there. :)

Monday, July 20, 2009

Trusting the Taller One...

I admit, I was very hesitant to let Rachael hold Erin. I see all these pictures of older siblings holding their newborn brothers and sisters, but I just wasn't sure Erin would survive such an experience with Rachael. Let's face it: there's a reason why Rachael's age group is called "the terrible twos." I needed these nine weeks to see them together and evaluate how Rachael is around Erin.

Rachael is VERY cautious around Erin. She doesn't touch Erin unless invited to do so, and when invited ("can you give sister a kiss on her head?"), she is very gentle. All in all, I've been very impressed with how my impulsive little two year old has behaved around her fragile little sister! it is! Yes, that's my hand holding up Erin's head (see previous post for an explanation...I can't expect Rachael to also manage Erin's floppy noggin!) Rachael held her sister for about 3 minutes and kept giggling away as she made goo goo faces at Erin. I think this might be the beginning signs of Rachael's role as nurturing big sister!


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tummy Time is HARD!

Erin deals with troubling situations by whimpering...then just passing out. Light in her eyes? She sleeps. Too noisy? Sleep. Big Sister throwing queen-sized temper tantrum in car? Sleepy time. Oh, but 3am this morning? No sleep. It's a process...

Anyhoo, tummy time is not exempt from Erin's problem-solving strategy. We've been working on helping her strengthen her neck...she's still not holding up her head for more than 3 or 4 seconds at a time, so we've started Tummy Time Bootcamp.

Here's how Erin's responded to our Tough Love approach to neck strengthening:


Scrunching into sleepy-time pose:

And....we're out:

We may be holding her head up for her until she's in college at this point. ;-)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Two Months!

My babiest baby turned two yesterday! Ok, two months...but two nonetheless! She was feeling ULTRA giggly when I was taking her two month pics so it was hard for me to pick just a few to post here. Check it out!


Peek a boo! She grabbed her sign and pulled it over her face mid-photo shoot:



Little Erin is growing so fast! We love the personality she's starting to show cool watching these little ones figure things out!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Pregnancy Retrospective

*I started to write pieces of this post when I was on day two of my induction with Erin. Figured I'd finish it up now, finally! Plus, I thought it would be fitting to write my retrospective with my beautiful baby girl sleeping on my shoulder. :)

5/13/09. As I wind up this pregnancy, I thought I'd reflect on a few notable events/things I've experienced over the past 39 weeks.

First Trimester: Lessons Learned

1. It's possible to work 12 hour shifts at a less-than-desirable Maryland hospital while wanting to die from "morning" sickness (read: "all day sickness"). Yes, I worked 12-hour shifts last September during the worst of the first trimester progesterone poisoning. I was only about 6 weeks along at that point, so I had to lie to my coworkers and say I had a sinus infection...luckily (???) I really was congested, so the folks I was working with bought it. This made for a very long week, vomiting in secret at regular intervals.

2. My family will eat my food when I'm unable to. Picture it: Novi, Michigan--October 2008. Eating lunch at Red Robin with my beautiful daughter, loving husband, and sensitive brother. I announce shortly after our food is delivered that I feel horrible and need to go home--now. My loving husband and sensitive brother respond with "so, you're not going to eat that?" and gesture toward my uneaten salad. Loving husband and sensitive brother eat the chicken off my salad while I make my way toward the door with my beautiful daughter. Dave and Jim: @#$@#%@#. 'Nuff said. :)
Second Trimester: Lesson Learned
The second trimester made it possible to forgive my body for the first trimester. Smooth sailing, nice blood pressure readings, good times. I could still wear many of my clothes...all in all I felt like my ol' self. But hey, no surprise here, right? D and I went to Italy for 10 days during my second trimester with Rachael. Second trimesters are SUPPOSED to represent feel-good weeks. I suspect it's to give you a break before the big finish. To Erin and my body I say THANK YOU.
Third Trimester: Lessons Learned
1. My body does not like to be pregnant after 30 weeks. Same story as last time with Rach--bp started creeping up around 33 weeks. Luckily this time I was able to manage it by working from home and limiting physical activity, instead of being forced into bedrest or medication. Major props to bosslady Kathleen for making the work situation happen!

2. Two-year olds don't care about mom being on "limited activity." Rachael was not interested in my physical condition...she still wanted to play outside and go on walks after school. On most days, she rolled with being trapped indoors, playing puzzles, Play-Doh, or coloring until daddy came home. We made the magic happen. Other days I had to be more creative...

3. Labor and delivery is more AND less scary the second time around. First for the 'less scary' stuff: As I perched in my hospital bed, IV of Pitocin running on its 10th hour and on my second dose of cytotec, I'm not shocked to learn that "it's taking longer than we'd expected." Rachael's induction took forever, too (forever = 2.5 days). So nothing scary about the unknown. When my MD showed up the morning of day two to break my water, I knew to have nursing call anesthesia as soon as she was done--no waiting to "see how labor goes." I remembered how fast full labor came on after Rachael's water bag was broken, and I was quickly reminded of the mind-numbing, lip biting, indescribable pain of full labor. No thanks. I'm no hero--just put the catheter in my spine, please, and bring on the fentanyl. Knowledge is power!

Now for the 'more scary' part: since I remembered some about what to expect, I couldn't fool myself into thinking this wasn't an insane physical challenge. It's true about how one forgets a ton about labor and delivery--I often have to ask David about my experience with Rachael because I have little recollection (and no, I was not THAT drugged). But trust me when I tell you: the memories flood back as soon as the first REAL contraction comes and people are reminding you to breathe because the shock of the pain has taken your breath away. As all this is going on, I could feel panic settle in because I knew what was coming. I knew the glorious fentanyl/bupivacaine drip in my spine would be no comfort when I was ready to push the baby out. I knew I'd have to actually tell myself to work with my body, not against it, as if my body and my brain were separate entities. I knew that there wouldn't be any opportunity to sleep after this crazy two-day induction. I knew I'd feel like a soggy paper towel for several days after my 8 pound, 7 ounce princess arrived, and I knew I had a very energetic two year old waiting for us to come home. So while I didn't feel so completely in the dark like I did last time, I definitely struggled with processing how I was going to manage the exhausting, anticipated aftermath. So yeah, knowledge is power...and fuel for panic for the laboring mom!

In the end, it's all good. All good and then some. Yes, the first few weeks are rough. Dave and I were (are) tired and cranky, but we are a kick-ass team at any hour, day or night. My husband is the schiz. :-) But anyway--after those weeks of experimenting with schedules (before remembering that there are no schedules with an infant in the house) and adjusting to three-hour blocks of sleep and figuring out that it's not possible to have all the laundry done and have clean floors in the same week, it all starts to feel right.

And I'd do it all again for these awesome girls. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hi Aunt Jen!

Sis-in-law Jen is in town for the weekend (yay!) and got to meet Erin for the first time this afternoon. Erin loves her Aunt Jen--she displayed her affection by promptly snuggling up to Aunt Jen and falling asleep. :-) Rachael was excited to see Aunt Jen too--took Rach a few minutes to warm up but was a full-blown chatter box in no time!
Erin woke up for a few pics with the girls:

Aunt Jen and Erin

Erin, Jen, Rachael and Kristine

Rachael being goofy!

Glad you're here Jen!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Cure for the Crankies

Erin is developing a pattern of mid-afternoon crankiness. Around 1pm she starts whining for no discernible reason....not crying, just waaa this and ehhh that. Not hungry, not wet. I think she just wants to share her general feelings of mid-afternoon discontent.

Yesterday the mid-afternoon crankies came on just as I was five minutes into my quick re-organization of Rachael's closet. Erin had been peacefully sitting next to me when the crankies took hold--BAM! So, I set her on Rachael's bed and put Rachael's 'snuggle blankie' on her while I hunted down a pacifier. LIKE MAGIC, Erin was quickly settled. Within minutes, she was fast asleep on big sister's bed. I took off snuggle blankie for a minute to snap this pic:

Quilt in picture was made by David's Aunt Ellen for our wedding 5 years ago, and our friend Steph gave Erin that cute purple butterfly dress. Props where props are due!

Anyhoo, I think Erin has already developed an attachment to big sister! :-)

Finally, I *have* to share this friend Denise from work gave Erin this outfit and Erin's now big enough to wear it. It's A-DORABLE! Check it out:

The little sock-shoes that go with it are my favorite part. Thanks Denise!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We are not too Good for Child Labor

That's right folks...we're starting our kids early. You may recall last year when we had Rachael help us move eight yards of mulch. Evidence (August 2008...she loved Mount Mulchmore):

This year, we figured Rachael was old enough to start pulling her weight with lawn maintenance. She is, after all, 2.5 years old! Her mower is MUCH cooler than mine...hers blows bubbles! Look at how hard she's concentrating on her task:
She doesn't seem to mind being put to work. :-) Check out this smile:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hi Erin!

A month overdue, I know, but:

Welcome Erin Susanna!

Erin arrived on May 14th at 5:19pm...she weighed 8lbs 7oz (just like her sister!) and was 21 inches long (unlike her sister, who was only 18 inches). Check out this pretty little girl:

Big Sis checking Erin out

It's amazing how FAST the first weeks go by. Of course, when it's 3am and we're responding to one of Erin's meal calls, it seems like the hours drag by slowly. But I cannot believe it's been over a month already! My boss called yesterday to discuss my return-to-work date, so time is really going by quickly!

More to come as I find minutes here and there for more pics and stories :)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Virtual Associate...

I've been working from home for about a month now. I am very aware of how lucky I am to have a job (and a boss!) that allows me to work remotely. Being home has allowed me to continue working at this point in my pregnancy; if I were still trying to go to the office every day with the insane schedule I was keeping, I'd most certainly be on bedrest by now. My body just doesn't like being pregnant after 30 weeks. Go figure.

I worked from home for a while at my last job, so the whole home office thing isn't foreign to me. Lots of folks ask me how I resist the temptation to do laundry, websurf, or watch TV while I'm home. I guess I'm just over such temptation--if it's Monday through Friday between 7:30 and 4, I'm working, no matter where my butt is parked. If I have a free hour, I'm more likely to try and unearth my inbox than do a load of laundry.

I will admit, however, that it takes some time to get back into the swing of the home office environment. Here are some of the things I've noticed in the last few weeks...

Things I like about working from home:

1) It's QUIET (well, it's quiet when my bathroom isn't under construction).

2) I get a lot done because of reduced "drive-by" visits from people. Drive-by visits ("um, got a minute, Kristine?...) are notorious agents of time suckage in an office environment. I still get drive-by phone calls and IMs, but nothing like actually being there.

3) I can wear my PJs until it's time to go get Rachael from daycare. Big perk.

4) I can make myself as comfortable as I want (or as comfortable as I can...) by moving from chair to chair, sofa to sofa...until my spine and my baby find a position that's mutually acceptable. Biggest perk.

5) I can make macaroni and cheese for lunch.

Things that suck a little about working from home:

1) It's QUIET (after years of working in the eye of an office/hospital hurricaine, I fear that I thrive on chaos).

2) As much as I whine about drive-bys, it IS harder to be in-touch with those who report to me when we don't have that daily face-to-face interaction (Thank goodness for AIM Instant Messenger...).

3) Phoebe. Phoebe is my very needy cat. She thinks I'm here during the day to play with her, exclusively. She drives me nuts. She also sends non-sensical Instant Messages to my co-workers by standing on my keyboard while I'm making macaroni and cheese.

4) Door-to-door salespeople. I had no idea my doorbell rang so much during the day. GO AWAY!! I do not want to buy your raffle tickets, magazines, meat, kites, or any of the other crap that's been shuffled up to my porch for the last five weeks. I'm actively seeking a tasteful "no freaking soliciting" sign for my front door. And before you ask, I've tried just ignoring the doorbell. Guess what--they keep banging and ringing. I think they see me in the den and just assume I'm taking extra time to find my checkbook before answering the door. Awesome when you're on a conference call with 50 other people and you have to excuse yourself to tell Jerome from the Youth Center Basketball League to piss off and get off your porch. working at home is working out. I do miss the interaction with non-furry life forms (sorry, Phoebe), but hey--this is much better than being a prisoner on bedrest! :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What Breech Baby?

YAY! Breechy baby changed her mind and, after two painful evenings of her shifting around, she is finally head down. My MD did a quick u/s on Tuesday to confirm; if baby was still head up, MD was going to schedule my c-section. So, instead of a head in my ribcage, I have feet in my ribcage. Equally painful, but at least now I'm not guaranteed a c-section.

Speaking of head down--check out this pic. Rachael isn't quite on board with pillows yet...some nights yes, some no. I couldn't help but take this picture when I went in to check on her several nights back and found her like this:

At least her feet were resting comfortably on her new pillow... ;-)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! This Easter was particularly neat because Rachael is 'getting it.' The fun, kid-centric part of Easter is pretty lost on tiny kids (it's more for the parents...admit it. We get to dress them up and show them off!). But this year we hid eggs for her to find on Easter morning and she was ALL over it! I only hid 15 plastic eggs (filled with Gerber puffs) and wished I'd hidden more, since she was so engaged.

This is also the first year we've dyed eggs with her--no way was I going to put a one-year old in front of egg dye...but in spite of her having some very blue fingers, it wasn't a traumatic mess and she had SO much fun. Pretty neat! I mean, check out this smile:

Hope you all had a Happy Easter, too!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Baby in 3D and 4D!

Being a frequent flyer at the ultrasound office, I once again got a chance to be a guinea pig for the ultrasound techs who are learning the 3D and 4D equipment. On Wednesday of this week, the application engineer from Philips (ultrasound vendor) was at the specialist's office doing training...nifty coincidence. Being a sucker for any chance to see my kiddo on the big screen, I was agreeable to let them train on me. :)

They started with the standard 2D stuff (to cover my REAL reason for being there...evaluate blood flow, take measurements, etc), then they took some 4D images. Those were neat, but, like 3D, the baby has to be in the perfect position to see anything much. Our daughter bashfully kept her arms in front of her face for quite some time before relenting and allowing us to oooohhh and ahhhh over her. :)

4D is useless for taking still images (it's intended for observing movement), so when they switched back to 3D, we were able to get this pic. I know it's hard to discern at first (we had the benefit of watching her move into this position before the still image was snapped), but it's a picture of her sucking on her hand, kind of looking down. You can see her chunky baby arm and her knee pulled into her chest. Pretty neat-o...

NOT so neat-o is that little darling is breech. BREECH! C'mon.... While it's still possible that she'll be a good girl and move into a head-down position, there's a better chance at this point that she won't and I'll end up having a c-section. I chatted with a few friends who had breech babies and went through the process of having the baby turned--all of them commented that they ended up with extensive bruising and...c-sections. My MD isn't fond of the manual manipulation thing either.

So, fingers crossed that she decides to do a somersault sometime VERY soon!! As convenient as it would be to schedule a c-section and be able to plan around that, I'm not interested in major abdominal surgery if I can avoid it...

Ending on a positive note, here's a pic of SUPER RACHAEL in her sparkly green cape. My friend Kathleen from work made this for her...Rachael loves twirling around in it. Thanks Kathleen!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Art and Baby Prep

My brother reminded me that I'd promised to post pics of Rachael's St. Paddy's Day art project...egad! Sorry for the delay! Here's the "mommy and me" project that Rachael and I did:

You might guess that Rachael didn't do much of this by herself...and you'd be right. Rachael painted the shamrock from the stencil provided, then I found my type-A self unable to let her "toddler-ize" the rest of the project. So Dave and Rach painted something else while I finished up the border of the plate. She had fun and didn't care if she was painting the plate or her paper was still a fun thing for us to do together.

In other news, we've been slowly excavating infant gear from the basement. First was the bassinet. Here's a pic of Rachael helping her daddy get the bassinet ready for Baby Sister:

I know I said this many times while pregnant with Rachael, but this time I really mean it: WHERE ARE WE GOING TO PUT ALL THIS BABY STUFF? Bassinet, swings, high chair, bouncy seat, pack n play...I need a 3000 sq ft house!'s cool. If one is going to have clutter, let it be baby clutter. :-) So worth it!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grocery Shopping: Confessions of a Hungry Pregnant Woman

I took Rachael with me to Meijer last Saturday to get some groceries. I am supposed to be taking it easy, but with Rachael riding in the grocery cart and me walking at a glacial pace, I did OK and it felt nice to get out for a bit.

We made it through the produce section before I realized, with horror, that I was STARVING.

This is what ends up in the cart when you mix hungry pregnant woman + content toddler + big grocery store (even with shopping list in hand):

* Cinnamon bread (for toasting--one of my favs)
* Combos (cheddar cheese ones...)
* Rolos (you know, those carmel candies with the chocolate coating...)
* Pretzels (critical for heartburn management, so these were medicinal...)
* Ingredients to make homemade pizza (health food!)
* A can opener (I found this in our cart as I was checking out...Rachael added this. Glad I caught it before we bought it...)
* Chocolate chip cookie mix (over 300 chips per mix! Couldn't pass it up...)
* ...the rest of the stuff on the 'legit' list

Rachael and I ate the Combos while driving home. the time we got home, the Combos had taken the edge off the hunger enough for the rational, practical me to return and realize that I had a bag of cinnamon bread, Rolos, pizza sauce, cookie mix... Rachael proudly carried in the bag of contraband (probably thinking her can opener was inside as well) and demanded we make cookies immediately (over 300 chips!).

I made her eat a peanut butter sandwich first, which marked the end of that afternoon's irresponsible food frenzy. :-)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Photo Shoot of the Smallest Baker

Smallest Baker had a little photo session yesterday and she, of course, insists that her pics be posted on the blog! Usually ultrasounds this late in a pregnancy aren't very fun, since the baby is really too big to fit in one frame, but we still managed to get some good pics to bring home. Super-fantastic: the ultrasound tech took a few extra minutes while baby was in a good position and took some 3D images! While the 3D ultrasound definitely has its drawbacks (such as, your baby has to be in perfect position to get any kind of discernible image), seeing a 'real' baby face was pretty sweet.

Here's a 3D image of Smallest Baker--she's using her placenta as a pillow here, with her arm tucked under her chin:

And here's a 'traditional' 2D profile shot--she's waving her hand in front of her face. HI EVERYONE!

We were surprised to hear that Little One is measuring two weeks ahead of her gestational age. She's about 3 lbs 9 oz now. Who knows? We could have caught her during a growth spurt. I'm not diabetic (just got my glucose test results back, in fact), so no blaming me for her size! She has probably just been putting on a lot of muscle from regularly using my bladder as a punching bag... ;-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Art--The Follow Up

As promised, here are pics of the art projects we did last weekend at the pottery studio:

Rachael calls all cats "Phoebe," much to our Phoebe-cat's dismay...our Phoebe is gray, not yellow with blue, orange, and green polka-dots...

The Real Phoebe. See the resemblance?

Lotsa green on this side...

A calico kitty! Just like Phoebe! ;-)

We also made this plate with her handprint...I thought this was cool.

We went to a "Mommy and Me" art class this weekend and did a St. Patrick's Day project, so hopefully we'll have pics posted of that project next week!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


It's rather frustrating when the temperatures hit the mid-40s during the week (everyone at work/school), then the weekend comes and it bearly reaches 15 degrees. Augh! Sub-freezing temps make for some LOOONNGG weekends with a two-year old...can't really go outside, can't really stay inside all day...

Anyway, this past Saturday we decided to take Rachael to a pottery place not far from home. It was nice--got all of us out of the house and gave us something fun to do! Here are some pics from our adventure--Rachael liked it but was VERY serious about the painting process!

I cannot wait to see what shade of brown this clay kitty turns out to be after the application of its many 'calico' layers.... ;-) I'll post pics of our projects after I pick them up next week!