Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Weekend of Brunches

Ah, what a lovely, lovely weekend we have had... Rob had FIVE DAYS OFF because of some scheduling details at his office and oh, what a luxury that was! The 80-hour work week has been a regular in our household off and on for the better part of a decade so this new life with Rob in a real doctor job instead of med school or residency or fellowship is a revelation.

And isn't brunch a good way to enjoy a holiday weekend? I love brunch, as well as its less-fancy cousin, restaurant breakfast, and the even less-fancy cousin, a whole hot breakfast cooked at home. On Friday, we made migas and French press coffee and were all lazy about the house. Also on Friday, after about 18 months of using baking soda and apple cider vinegar instead of shampoo and conditioner for my hair (with breaks for travel and moving), I got some of the vinegar in my eyes for the first time. Ow ow ow ow ow ow... I recommend avoiding this.

On Saturday, we had planned a day trip to central Utah, including our first stop for brunch at Communal in Provo. Provo, for the unfamiliar, is the town where BYU is and is sort of an LDS social/cultural center. I would never have guessed that it is also home to a really fantastic restaurant using lots of local, seasonal food but oh my goodness, it was so wonderful. Definitely worth the drive.


Mmmmmm, crepes

After that, we continued south toward Uinta National Forest, planning to drive Nebo Loop from north to south. Supposedly it is about a 90-minute drive if you go straight through and there are places to stop along the way for a little walking and/or light hiking. Sadly, when we were about 15 minutes in, we discovered that the road was closed, all gated and chained off by the Park Service or Forest Rangers or whoever does that kind of thing. The entire road is closed for the winter and it turns out that it is still too early to get really up on Mt. Nebo this year. We have had an especially heavy year for snow (there were 10 inches of fresh powder up at the ski resorts yesterday, although most of them are closed now) and there is all kinds of concern about flooding and mud from the snowmelt around here. It turns out that part of the road we were planning on driving was damaged up further from such issues. It also turns out you can look up these kinds of things on the internet, which I now know to do before we plan such an outing again. It didn't really occur to me that on Memorial Day weekend trails and road and whatnot might still be inaccessible. The more you know.

Fortunately, there was a trail accessible from the open part of the road so we did a tiny bit of a hike. It was lovely to be out amongst the trees and open air and nature and all.

Running ahead


On Sunday, we had yet more brunch, this time just Robert and me. A brunch date! Hooray! We went to the Wild Grape Bistro, which was very good indeed. I have been having intense sugar cravings (thanks, pregnancy!) so I had this brioche French toast that was all slathered in lemon curd and blueberries and OHMYGOSH I want some more right now instead of whatever virtuous breakfast I just ate.  Sigh... Too bad the weekend of brunches must end.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let's Not Do Yesterday Again Ever

Wispy hair

Well, yesterday was quite a day. Violet had her sedation and dental work and everything done in the morning. It all went smoothly and like it was supposed to, but ugggggggh it was quasi-awful. Not truly awful, because I am well aware how lucky we are to have two healthy children that don't have serious medical problems, but still, on the normal scale of my existence? NOT. FUN. AT. ALL.  They first gave her a shot that knocked her out, then took her back away from us (at which point I burst into tears-- BECAUSE OF COURSE I DID) to do the X-rays, put in the IV for the sedation drugs, do the fillings, and so forth. It took about an hour and then she was in recovery where we could be with her again. She started to wake up about 30 minutes into that. And a very small child coming out of anesthesia? That is something I can do without experiencing ever again, thankyouverymuch. Nothing unexpected or bad happened but the poor thing was all dizzy and floppy and blurry-eyed and agitated, trying to throw her 28 pounds of self haphazardly around in a fit of dim, uncertain consciousness.

But now it is done, and hopefully any other cavities that develop can wait until she is almost 4 or whenever we can just do the nitrous. Or maybe our newfound dental diligence and flossing and so forth will stave off further tooth decay? We shall see. She started to really perk up around 4pm yesterday, and today she is just a clingy, fussy version of her typical self, mostly back to normal. Oh, and Grace had her fillings done a couple of weeks ago. It was a bit more tense than her first time (maybe because it was 3 fillings instead of 1?) and emotionally draining for her and me, but thankfully it all went smoothly.

In other Violet news, I haven't ever publicly declared her weaned, have I? When I got pregnant, she was still nursing most days, occasionally more than once a day, but sometimes skipping a day and only very rarely at night. It started to be really uncomfortable for me so I worked toward weaning. I used some distraction and postponement and shortening nursing sessions (telling her she could nurse till I counted to 10 or whatnot); these kinds of techniques worked for us well, just like they did with Grace. Violet was completely weaned by the time I hit the second trimester, but I don't remember exactly when or how, again just like with Grace. It was very gradual and I am happy about that, although it is sad in some ways to know that there was a "last time" that I nursed Violet and I don't remember it. It probably isn't strictly accurate to call what we did child-led weaning but I am OK with that. And now that I am comparing, I have realized that both Grace and Violet nursed until just past their 2nd birthdays, maybe 26 or 27 months each.

In case you're curious, you don't HAVE to wean an older baby because you're pregnant, as long as you have a healthy normal pregnancy.  I think tandem breastfeeding (that's what it's called when you nurse a toddler and a baby at the same time) is fine and good but I don't think it's a good fit for me and our situation and all. It would be different if the spacing of my pregnancies was much closer but at almost 3 years apart, I feel very comfortable with weaning the older child. In both cases, I feel pretty sure that they would have weaned within a few months anyway.

So what a big girl Violet is getting to be! Weaned, usually sleeping in her own bed the whole night, wispy little-girl hair, talking up a storm... She will be 2 and 1/2 next month. We've dabbled in using the toilet but I don't know; I don't see that being a skill she has mastered anytime in the immediate future. We're closing in on the 3-month mark until my due date so I am not sure it will happen before then. Maybe if I went all hardcore potty-training boot camp on her? But is that worth it? Would having two in diapers be all that bad? I have no idea.

Yesterday was also a pretty momentous day for Grace: her last day of preschool... EVER. When we return to school in the fall, she will be a kindergartener. We had a lovely year of pre-K at the Jewish Community Center and I am very happy with how our preschool experience turned out, even if I did plan it on basically no first-hand information while still living in Texas. Yesterday I picked up Grace there for the last time and brought home with us the ziploc bag with a change of clothes that has lived in her cubby all year and a huge final pile of art projects and now it is summer, I guess? The high temperature today is 60 degrees and it is drizzling so it doesn't really feel like it but I am thankful nonetheless for not setting an alarm this morning, not packing a lunch last night, and getting to spend the whole day with my fun girls.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Chair Makeover

I've been wanting to reupholster this chair since we lived in Connecticut and thanks to my nesting insanity and some extra money we got this spring, it is finally done!

Chair makeover!

This is that scratchy orange chair that we took all Grace's and Violet's chair pictures in. Is it too busy now for chair pictures? We might have to switch to a different chair for that. I just love how this turned out, though-- a lovely intense graphic pop of interest in the room. I was really drawn to a bright peacock print (intense blue and teal peacock feathers) but I decided that was maybe borderline too eccentric and this was a better balance of interesting with sane. It is such a delight to finally have fixed up this chair. The man at the upholstery shop said that the chair looked like it had been recovered once already, sometime pre-1960 (because that orange fabric was done with spit tacks, whatever those are, instead of staples) and it was probably about 20 years older than that. He thought it was likely originally built in the 1930s. And what a lovely 80-year-old chair it is... It originally belonged to Rob's grandparents, like much of our furniture.  We joke that everything we own is either 60+ years old or from IKEA, but I love having old furniture that has been fixed up. Like most Americans, I have a fraught relationship with material possessions, but I am happy to have quality things that are worth fixing whenever I can instead of disposable things.

The chicken coop in process

In other nesting news, Rob is making great headway on the chicken coop. This picture is from Friday, I think, and right now it looks like this. That top part has the roosting area and nesting boxes and the bottom part is for them to run around in the grass. The chickens themselves are growing HUGER and HUGER by the day, at least compared to the eensy little puffballs they were when we first got them. One of them in particular has grown just amazingly big. She is the Buff Orpington, which is a "dual-purpose" breed, meaning you can raise them for eggs or meat. I have realized that what this means is they grow shockingly fast. (In case you are wondering, we are keeping chickens just for eggs. When they reach the end of their useful egg-laying years, they will probably be eaten by someone, but I seriously doubt by us.)

I am 25 weeks pregnant now and my main pregnancy symptoms are:
  • getting tired easily (NAAAAAAAAPS-- I NEED NAAAAAAAPS),
  • getting bigger and bigger, and
  • disorientingly wild mood swings.
Sometimes the second and third are related as I once again experience just how much pregnancy changes one's body. I am not one of those women who look all normal except for an adorably round belly; I am one of those women who wonders why must my face and arms and legs get all puffy/fat because a baby is growing in my abdomen. This time around I have even been gaining slightly less than the "normal" range but apparently it makes no difference. Sigh... Other things that have made me woeful and despondent recently include missing our dog who died last summer really badly and answering Grace's questions about what a homeless man's sign said. Seriously, I was sobbing in the car explaining that no, he did not have a bed or a place to keep any food. I think I freaked her out with my reaction; she is about as unaccustomed to me being crazy emotional as I am. Of course, the mood swings do go the other way too. I have felt ridiculously gleeful and giddy about the songs on the 90s station on the satellite radio in our new car (which is still working for now, despite us not paying for it). And is it just me, or are 30 Rock and Doctor Who and How I Met Your Mother totally the most awesome TV shows ever? And getting that chair done made me way happier than it normally would have. I am fragile and everything is just so intense, I guess. Including the heartbreaking beauty of my children.

A little chiaroscuro action


Monday, May 16, 2011

My Posts Don't Have Unified Themes Anymore

This is probably a reflection of the inside of my head these days.

Monday mornings are one of those times when I am so glad to be the one who does not have the full-time job that keeps us in mortgage payments and health insurance. It is a good time to be a stay-at-home mom, as the world starts up its workaday routine and the gears of a new week start turning. Grace has walked across the street to our neighbors who will drive her to preschool and Violet (who slept freakishly late) is sitting at the dining room table munching on blackberries and a waffle with honey on it and I am glad to not have anywhere to be immediately.

Monday mornings are also when we get our delivery from a local dairy and I just put it all away. It is a bit of a luxury, I will admit, but it is so, so nice to have some things that I know we always need just show up in the cooler on our porch every week. Their milk isn't organic but it is hormone-free and is produced locally. And it comes in glass bottles! I like that the glass bottles get re-used and not recycled (we rinse them and put them back in the cooler for them to pick up and take back). I get some other things like cheese regularly, and then occasionally other treats. They deliver a lot of regular grocery items in addition to the dairy products they produce themselves but the milk and cheese are our staples from them.

Grace only has 8 days left of preschool for the year, which seems somehow impossible. I am happy about her being finished for the year; I always like when she has time off and we get to spend more time together and we don't have to rush around in the mornings to get someplace at a certain time. She is fun to be with. Both girls are, actually. Violet is deep in the throes of two-year-old adorableness, all little sentences and pretending to be an animal or a letter of the alphabet (she is usually D and I am usually W, I believe) and sweet smells. How do small children manage to smell so good, especially their heads? And also, why do two-year-olds have such a terrible reputation? They are not strong on logic and reason, I will grant you, and sometimes seem like an uncontrollable force of nature that one can only hope to restrain, but they are so full of charm and funny speech and blooming personhood.

We have had such lovely gorgeous spring weather over the past few days-- our first 70-degree day! We've been taking advantage of it and eating outside and visiting some of our favorite warm-weather restaurants, because today we go back to cooler weather and rain for a while. I don't mind going back and forth like that because while the warm weather is utterly wonderful, it has been causing me to SWELL UP and hopefully this cooler weather will calm things down. Both girls were winter babies and I didn't really have much swelling until the last month; this new baby will be my first time to be very pregnant in the summer and I am a bit apprehensive about how bad it might be. Just those few days of warmth made my hands and feet noticeably puffy, especially if I did a lot of walking (which I have been-- see lovely spring weather mentioned earlier), and I think it quite likely that I am going to be a swollen mess by July or so. I have an engagement ring and a plain wedding ring and I already cannot wear them both at the same time; I bet within a month I won't be able to wear either. I know a lot of women buy a replacement ring to wear while they're pregnant (not actual real jewelry, mind you-- just inexpensive costume jewelry) and I can't decide what I think about that. On the one hand, yay for pretty things that make you feel pretty! Jewelry is fun! On the other hand, why exactly would it would be bad for me to go ring-less for a few months? Surely the vast majority of people do not care if I am married or not? Are there really that many strangers who would make an uncharitable character judgment about an obviously pregnant, obviously hot woman? And surely I am not going to base my actions on the opinions of such a hypothetical stranger?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Morning Ramblings

Our trusty computer is having issues-- so sad. The DVD drive fails to cooperate more often than it works and more importantly, the hard drive is starting to flounder. The computer is four years old but we think it is worth fixing rather than just replacing (because before this round of troubles it was meeting our needs perfectly well) so Rob is about to embark on a repair mission. I consider myself technologically literate but I am not really a hardware/IT person so such things fall to Robert in our house. Also, he is a natural tinkerer so I suspect he derives a measure of enjoyment and satisfaction from such a pursuit. In this case, this will involve removing the glass from the front of our iMac (!!!) to get to the hard drive. I am now working on that Google Chrome laptop that Robert got sent (did I ever mention that here? such a surprise...) which works well for what I do, with the exception of photo editing and organization. No photos for me for however long this process lasts. And I guess no music either, since now that I think about it we don't have any way to play music outside of our computer. Here's hoping it all goes quickly and smoothly...

Something else that I am hoping will go smoothly is all the fillings that my daughters apparently need. Ugh ugh ugh. I took them both to check-ups last week and they BOTH have cavities. Grace had a couple from last time that the dentist thought looked questionable but decided to wait on since she hadn't ever had a filling before. On the last go-round, Grace had one filling done with nitrous and she did super well so this time he is going to do all 3 areas that look iffy. I feel pretty confident that this will go smoothly; everyone at our pediatric dentist's office is really great and I think she will handle it well, especially considering that last time everything was easy peasy and she isn't afraid at all of the dentist. Violet is another story. The dentist couldn't even really get a thorough look inside her mouth and she wouldn't sit still for X-rays. She definitely will need to be sedated, which is what they do at this age for dental work. The cavities he could see were between her two front teeth but there could be more obviously (they'll be able to find everything and fix it all when she is sedated). Oh my goodness, I hate this idea, though; I don't want my sweet little two-year-old to be sedated and have an IV and all that! I think the best option for us is doing the sedation and procedures in the dental office; it will be a CRNA who will do the sedation there. I have a bit of anxiety about this because ideally I want, you know, a crack team of highly-trained experts in a top facility (i.e. pediatric anesthesiologists in a children's hospital or something) taking care of her while they are sedating her but they do this a lot and as long as no one is terrible at their job it should be fine. I have always been impressed with everyone at our pediatric dentist, so I think I trust them. I think.

And then the question of WHY WHY WHY? We don't ever have juice or hard candy, although we do occasionally have dried fruit and we certainly do not outlaw sugar. I nursed both of them at bedtime for a long time but the research is anything but conclusive that that is bad. We brush their teeth twice a day although we have not been regular flossing types. (But who flosses their toddler's teeth?! Actually, thanks to Facebook I now know that a number of my friends floss their toddler's teeth so... oops?) This is all so foreign to me because I had one cavity my entire life, when I was in high school sometime, I think. I almost never flossed as a child and I was nursed well past my 1st birthday and we had sugar around the house. In contrast Rob had a lot of cavities as a small child and Violet's teeth especially look a lot like his-- really tight and close together. I don't know; I'm sure I could obsess and think of a million reasons why this is our fault and then a million reasons why it isn't. The truth is probably some combination of the two, and perseverating on why is not a useful pastime. Instead, we shall face the unpleasant task of adjusting some of our routines (flossing, and maybe giving up the gummy vitamins?) and taking my small children to have their cavities filled.

I did another unpleasant task last week. Our adoption agency emailed and told us that all our paperwork and background checks had finally gone through and we were now an approved prospective adoptive family. Normally this would be the point where they would start showing our profile to prospective birthmothers. We went ahead and told them that we wanted to have our file on hold and we would get back to them next year or so about where we want to go from here. The agency was really supportive about it all and I so appreciate the way they've dealt with us through this. (I'm sure this isn't the first time this has happened for them.) I do feel sad about it because this was us really saying "no, we're not doing this now" for the first time. And can you believe the timing of all this? If we did go forward with the adoption right now, the average time to have a baby placed with us would be 3 to 6 months. Yeah... my due date is now just under 4 months away. I can't get over it-- so crazy!

Those things are all rather unpleasant, but my life has been rich in friendship/relationship stuff lately, for which I am so grateful. I am still thinking about Easter and how our church celebrated it this year. It was pretty much unlike anything I have experienced before and the joy and reality of resurrection was real in a new way to me. Our friend Becky (who has a lovely SLC food blog) had a post about it here with pictures and whatnot. And then the next weekend I hosted a bridal shower for a friend here who moved to Salt Lake about the same time we did. It was so fun to celebrate her and this transition of hers, so fun in fact that I only took this one picture before everyone showed up. And I think I have taken three (or was it four?) meals to friends who have just had new babies in the past few weeks. Lots of babies! But more importantly, I think, a richness of relationship and connections with people here who are a part of the new life we're building. It can be so hard to find that, and I am so, so thankful for this beautiful place and the people in it and our intertwining links here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has sprung

I've spent the vast majority of my life in a climate where spring came too early and too hot, but that is not the case here. It turns out that I actually like spring here! The sun is out (when we aren't getting visited by wet spring snow) and the bulbs are blooming and the outside world beckons with wheeled vehicles and walks around the neighborhood.


Going on a walk in our neighborhood with Grace on her bike is a work-out-- not a physical one, mind you, but an emotional one. She has mostly ridden just on our driveway and venturing into the big world with HILLS (very, very slight hills) and STREET CROSSINGS and BUMPS ON THE SIDEWALK is a big undertaking. Grace is someone who feels her feelings intensely and can be dramatic about circumstances, so taking her out and about is a very slow process involving lots of encouragement and talking her down from the edge of hysteria. She is highly motivated to master new skills (which is good, of course) so she doesn't ever want to give up and go home. But oh, the dramatics...

Bicycle time!

Our chickens have grown very dramatically in the past ~10 days. I first noticed them looking bigger on day 4 or 5, which is kind of amazing to me. They don't have that round-ball-of-fuzz look anymore and a couple of them are already losing their chick fuzz in favor of adult feathers. Soon they will enter the awkward adolescent chicken phase when they look like they have mange and listen to music I don't like in their room with the door shut. But seriously, they eat ALL THE TIME, which I guess is how they manage to grow so fast. I bought them a second heat lamp when we were having a cold snap and snow (poor babies were all huddled together under the single heat lamp) but if we get more warm days then I think they can visit the grass for the first time next week sometime.

Growing fast

We had Grace's little ballet recital last night, which was, you know, what you'd expect from an evening of 3- to 5-year-olds "dancing". All the other pictures I took have other people's children displayed a bit too prominently for me to post them on the internet, and then this one below is out of focus-- AAARGH. Oh well, hopefully you can still tell what a lovely ballerina she is. She had so much fun doing ballet. She says she wants to do soccer next, so I should probably get on that. Things are wrapping up for the school year-- ballet class is finished, Grace will be done with preschool in 3 weeks, etc. This is giving me some cognitive dissonance because, again, I have spent almost my entire life somewhere where May brought the truly hot weather as well as the end of the school year, and it SNOWED last week here. It was warm and summery when we moved here last July so I'm assuming the snow will stop at some point before then?

Ballerina Grace

Speaking of Grace and school, last week somebody from the ELP office called me to ask what our ranked preference for the magnet schools was and I told them we were going to go to our neighborhood school. Then the next day a more in-charge woman called me wanting to talk about that decision. It turns out that Grace tested very highly and she wanted me to know that before I declined an ELP spot. I thought we made this decision already! Aargh! Anyway, we are still going with our original plan for all the original reasons because I still think they make the most sense for us. I am, of course, now mildly plagued with worry that this isn't the best decision for her. On the other hand, I am OK with not making the absolute best decision for her as an individual in favor of one that will be good for us as a whole, as long as it isn't a BAD decision for her, you know? And I don't think this will be, even if she doesn't spend next year performing to her absolute peak 5-year-old potential. The administrator woman was very supportive and said she just had one piece of the picture there with the test scores and children and their families are much more complicated than just that. She said that our neighborhood school is great, which is what everyone says. We can always re-test Grace another year to try to get one of these spots again if we decide we should do that. So it turns out that Grace is even more a mini-me than we thought she was, from her hair to her big feet to her ability to take tests very well.