Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Oh, Christmas tree...

Love came down at Christmas, 
Love all lovely, Love Divine; 
Love was born at Christmas; 
Star and angels gave the sign.

Worship we the Godhead,
Love Incarnate, Love Divine;
Worship we our Jesus,
But wherewith for sacred sign? 

Love shall be our token,
Love be yours and love be mine,
Love to God and all men,
Love for plea and gift and sign.

-Christina Rosetti

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Three Years of Violet

Sweet brown eyes

She is just knock-out drop-dead gorgeous, isn't she? It is Violet's birthday and she is 3 years old. We've been wishing her a happy birthday today and she responds, "Happy birthday to you too!" There was so much baby still in her at her second birthday, and so very little today. In the past year, she's weaned, potty-trained, and started sleeping the entire night in her own bed. (Well, most nights. She's actually been going through a bit of a rough patch sleeping-wise in the last week or so.) She is rock solid at identifying letters and numbers and almost as consistently can tell you what sounds letters make and count up objects.

She is so independent and self-sufficient, so confident and brave. Maybe more than anyone else in our family, she is her own person. This means she has no qualms at answering us, "No. Go away," when she is engrossed in something but it also means she is such a calm, collected soul when engaging the great world out there. She has a resilient toughness to her character but still a sweet toddler need for nurturing and snuggling that I hope she doesn't outgrow anytime soon. Who she is right now is amazing.
  • She calls pigtails and ponytails "Veggie Tales", although we are typically more of a Sesame Street and Sid the Science Kid house than a Veggie Tales house. At first, we had no idea what she was talking about when she was demanding these, leading to some great frustration.
  • She sometimes likes to sleep with a towel and calls it her "comfy night-night towel".
  • She dislikes wearing pants/leggings/etc and often outright refuses unless forced. She runs around the house in panties a lot.
  • She is a hair-twirler. I remember her wanting to play with my hair when she was a baby and now she will have both index fingers in her own hair, twirling in constant circles, when she is tired or stressed.
  • She loves to build big Lego structures and put together puzzles, often accompanied by a warbling song such as, "Building things building things building things." Sometime she will move to the piano to continue her song.
Oh, sweet, beautiful, goofy girl, I love you and I am so glad to be celebrating a new year of you.

Silly face

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's All Teeth, All the Time

So this happened:

The one right next to it is loose too

Her first little lost tooth! It had been loose for several days, each day growing more and more wobbly. Actually, now that I think about it, the first thing we noticed is that her adult tooth there was starting to emerge, behind the baby tooth. I was about to call her dentist to see if this was a bad sign when the baby tooth started to get loose. Anyway, we had been talking to Grace about wiggling it back and forth and eventually yanking it out. MUCH to my surprise, one morning she asked me if I would see if I could pull it out. Grace is not the toughest of characters and has a pretty big fear of physical pain (the thought of shots at the doctor gives her lots of anxiety) so her request was pretty unexpected. I tried with my fingers a few times but couldn't get it, so then I made a little loop of dental floss to pull on it. I gave it one good tug downwards and OUT it came. Grace totally freaked out (I'm sure it hurt for a moment and there was a bit of blood) and I have serious doubts she will ever let me do that again. She did recover, of course, and is now happy about her new status and the four quarters she found in her tooth fairy pillow the next morning. (Is that the going rate for teeth these days? I have no idea.) The other bottom front tooth is loose too so we'll see how long it takes her to get that one out.

It is a bit of a mind-bender to have one child losing her bottom two front teeth while another one has his coming in.


He started putting his chubby little fingers in his mouth all the time, then stopped being able to sleep alone for any length of time, then the drool started, and then, in short succession, two sharp white teeth poked through his bottom gums. This is so early, right? He is just 3 months old! Some friends of mine were joking with me that either he was gestating way longer than we thought and he was born already 3 months old, or maybe he is headed for a career as a superhero because he has been exposed to some comic-book-style radiation that is making him grow up at super speed. Grace did get her first tooth at 4 months old (also on the early side) but Violet was more typical at 8 or 9 months. So anyway, little Lewis has been on the fussy side, not inconsolable but obviously uncomfortable (as well as drool-soaked). I think the worst is over for these two but it's just a matter of time until more appear.

I've been a bit under the weather as well, which is truly terrible timing (birthdays! Christmas!). I had a full-blown stomach virus Monday and still feel a bit iffy. And then probably because of the combination of being sick, being tired, being busy, and last night sleeping on my front for a while, I have a plugged milk duct for the first time in 4+ years of breastfeeding. Ow. My plan is to really rest and disengage from everything for the rest of today so that I hopefully can recover and heal quickly. Sadly for Robert, this means he is going to have to pick up the slack on some party preparation and cleaning and such. And on his birthday! Today is his birthday and tomorrow is Violet's, so we are having a party for them tomorrow evening with a little handful of people. And Christmas is SO SOON, you guys. I think I would feel much more ready to celebrate all these wonderful things if I hadn't gotten so ill. I will admit to feeling a bit behind.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Choppity Chop Chop

The time has come, once again, for my dramatic post-partum haircut. Each time I've been pregnant, I've let my hair grow out because all those pregnancy hormones make it look especially full and nice and awesome. Then it gets even longer because after the baby is born I cannot easily go get a haircut, however much I might like to. Then all those hormones go away and sometime around 2-3 months my hair starts shedding LIKE MAD. Seriously, SO MUCH HAIR coming out-- a) it grosses me out and b) my hair starts to look kind of stringy and limp. Then, finally, I reach the point of being able to stand it no longer and go have it chopped all off:

BEFORE dramatic post-partum haircut

AFTER dramatic post-partum haircut

Yay! I feel like a NEW WOMAN. This may have been the most dramatic haircut ever for me; she cut off about 5" of hair. I've found a stylist here that I like quite well who does mostly curly hair. I will admit that I liked the guy I went to in Dallas a bit better as he was some kind of curly-hair genius (hey look! something I like better about Dallas than Salt Lake City!) but this girl here is great too. And oh, how much happier I am when my hair has a specific style that looks like it was done on purpose... (I've mentioned before how I feel about too long hair or hair that has been arrived at by default.) It's still shedding like you wouldn't believe but at least there is less of it now and it looks better.

At around the same time when I chopped my hair, we attempted to go chop ourselves a Christmas tree. We decided to try one more time after last year's less-than-stellar results. We drove to a different Christmas tree farm than last time, although also about an hour away, and tromped around trying to see what we could find.

On the hunt for a tree

Hmmmm, nothing seems very promising

It was EVEN WORSE than last year, partly because it was so picked over (this was the weekend after the weekend after Thanksgiving) and partly because, well, I guess Utah does not grow the prettiest trees, in the style of the Pacific Northwest. It was so bad (and so freezing cold that day), in fact, that we left without one and drove the hour back to the city. We needed a few things at Costco so we stopped there. And look!

So we ended up buying one at Costco

Costco had Christmas trees! "Fine," we sighed slightly defeatedly, and bought one. My photographic record of our Christmas tree journey ends here, but it was still DAYS until we had it up and decorated. We got the tree home and realized that our Christmas tree stand (which is this special swivel-y kind that we like a lot) broke last year and we had forgotten to order a new one. Rob ordered a new one and in the meantime we put the tree in a bucket of water in the garage. Then we proceeded to have a super cold snap with highs in 20s and the tree and its water froze. The first day I could still poke my finger through the ice in the tree's bucket, but by the next day the layer of ice was a good inch thick. By this time the weekend was over and all the rest of our tree efforts had to take place after Rob was home from work, i.e. in the pitch black darkness of December evenings at 41º N latitude.

Our stand arrived once our tree was good and frozen and that evening we managed to get the tree inside, after power saws were used in the dark and so forth. It was so frozen that when we unwrapped the twine holding the branches up, the branches just stayed that way. Over the course of the next hour it slowly defrosted and the branches dropped into a more Christmas-y arrangement. You could hear it if you put your ear next to the tree, these tiny pinging icy sounds. Also, it dropped an unseemly amount of needles, maybe because of being frozen? Or because Costco didn't have one of those shake-y machines that they have at Lowes or Home Depot? The next night we got the lights on, and the night after that, FINALLY, almost a week after we went to cut down a tree, it was finished and decorated. What an ordeal! I have never really seen the appeal of a pre-lit artificial tree but this year? This year I get it.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

3 Months

Lewis is three months old now. Today? Or yesterday? Since he was born on the thirty-first I'm not entirely sure when he would officially have another month under his wee tiny belt. Those hot late summer days when I was so hugely pregnant seem a million years ago and Lewis doesn't seem like an interloping newcomer but like he is exactly where he belongs, here with us.

Little baby hands

I think I've finally gotten over calling him "her" and "she". Having never had a boy child before, using the correct pronouns took some getting used to. I was especially bad about this in the middle of the night in those first weeks. I was only half-awake and he was usually wearing something plain white or gender neutral that both girls also wore, so my sleepy brain was very unclear on exactly which baby this was and what his sex was. During the day, he's usually wearing something that is a more clear cultural signifier for "baby boy"and also I am at least somewhat more awake, so that's been less of a problem.

Little man

Lewis is a big, big boy. He was 8 lbs 6 oz at birth, then 9 lbs 1 oz at his 2-week doctor visit. We didn't go back to the pediatrician until his 2-month well visit, where he had shot up to 15 lbs 8 oz. I still can't believe that-- over 6 lbs in 6 weeks. He wore the 0-3 month clothes for about a month, then the 3-6 month clothes for about a month, and he is currently wearing 6-12 month clothes. He is not going to outgrow them immediately but they are certainly not that big on him. Maybe we'll get a full two months' worth of wear out of this set before he gets too long for the shirts to cover his belly or for the snaps to meet under his diaper. This is a totally new experience for us, as the girls were very average in their growth, especially this early. I have no explanation for this as he doesn't seem to nurse any more than the girls did and I don't feel like I have more or different milk. We're dealing with a bit of overactive letdown, just like I did with Violet, but it's not too bad and he doesn't seem as overwhelmed and troubled as Violet did. I remember feedings with Violet in these early weeks being stressful, brief, milky, spluttering affairs and it's not that bad this time, especially if I nurse him lying down and only nurse from one side per feeding. It all resolved itself with Violet after a month or whatever, and I'm sure it will this time too. He doesn't seem to spit up as much as I remember the girls doing, so maybe that is the secret to his amazing superbaby growth? He actually keeps more of it in his stomach?

Sweet baby boy

His eyes are still very blue and we suspect that he may keep them. My eyes are green and Rob's are dark brown, so we always expected the dominant genes to win and that we would have all brown-eyed children. Grace's eyes were blue as a baby but we kept saying, "Oh, they'll probably change." Months and months passed and eventually we came to realize that she was going to keep them. Violet's eyes were that newborn gray at the start, of course, but they turned Rob's chocolate-y brown very early, before she was even one month old. Lewis' eyes are blue blue blue, much like Grace's, so maybe by some statistical fluke 2/3 of our children will end up blue-eyed.


His neck is getting very strong, he has just started to roll over from front and to back, and he smiles-- full-on huge open-mouthed toothless smiles of glee and joy. I too am full of joy at seeing him emerge from the cocooned curled-up world of a newborn into happy babyhood.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Today is the first day of Advent, the season of anticipation and expectation. We've started playing Christmas music and have put lights up on our house for the first time. I'm... undecided as to whether it looks good or not, which is somewhat ironic since it was my idea. (Rob would not voluntarily choose to put up lights outside, naturally.) We're going to wait until next weekend to get a tree since the Advent season is especially long this year (a Sunday Christmas) and we don't want the tree to be too dry and crunchy by the time we want to light candles on it, but I definitely feel us starting to get ready, to anticipate. I think this time of year is full of expectation and anticipation for pretty much everybody in the western world, but if you're a Christian like I am, then we get to remember that the world waited once for Jesus to come to break in to the darkness and that the world waits again for him to heal all the brokenness forever and to make all the sad things come untrue.

I know I've said this before, but that just doesn't sound like a reason to fall prey to stress and materialism to me.

Or if you're in a more populist, leftist, and/or not-specifically-Jesus-based mood, you could occupy Christmas:

Wherever you're at today as we begin the Advent season, I wish you weeks of rich relationships, meaning, and celebration.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Few Lists

Things That I Neglected to Do Before Our Portraits Last Week
  • Lose 30 lbs of baby weight
  • Get my eyebrows threaded
  • Buy new foundation that is pale enough for me now that my pool-induced tan has faded
  • Get a haircut

Things That I Can't Find Around in Our House Even Though I Need/Want Them
  • our iPod Shuffle
  • the voucher for piano tuning that came with our piano
  • my 1st edition of The Tailor of Gloucester (has been missing since our move from Texas)

Things Violet Has Said To Me This Week
  • "I looking for my Daddy," upon waking up and coming upstairs
  • "Do we go peepee in our panties?!" which she thinks is a hilarious question since she knows the answer
  • "Somebody come and play..." sung in her little toddler warble (I admit that song is really moving to me)

Things I Have Done Recently for the First Time Since Lewis Was Born
  • Leave him (last weekend when I went to have a massage)
  • Go running
  • Sit down and play the piano for a while (see above RE: desperately needing tuning)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Some November Portraits


Our friend Michael Friberg here in Salt Lake is a documentary/editorial photographer and is currently raising money to fund a photography project on Mormon culture. Both Rob and I think really highly of his work and we've wanted to ask him to do a photo session of the kids or all of us or something so we were excited to see that one of his backer rewards was a portrait session. We did our session last Friday at a little park close to our house and I am SO, SO happy with his work. I mean, seriously-- are these not gorgeous? I want to get them all printed huge and hang them around our house. (Perhaps I'll restrain myself to just a handful.) He posted some more images from our photo shoot on his Kickstarter page, if you want to see more. There are 11 more days in his Kickstarter project and you should definitely check out his project and consider backing it; there are lots of fun backer rewards.

And if you are local and looking for portraits, family or otherwise, I think that particular backer reward is fantastic, especially when you compare it to what you can spend to get good family portraits. For the curious, Mike gave us about 70 edited images from our session and we're allowed to print them. He might even be able to get things done in time for Christmas cards if you hurry!



Autumn baby


Funny girl


Spin around



Swing high

Monday, November 14, 2011

Long Time No See, Blog

Things have been rough around here lately and my ability to cope with life has been somewhat compromised, although (spoiler!) the fact that I am now editing photos and sitting down to blog means that I have turned the corner and life is more manageable than it has been for the past few weeks. Rob went out of town for an allergy conference in Boston for four nights, and being on my own with three children proved, ahem, challenging. I did have some friends come over in the evenings to help me with baths and bedtime and then to hang out with me; this helped tremendously and I am very thankful for them. However, I haven't ever been a solo parent with a baby this young before, not to mention two older children as well, so even with some help it was a blow to my equanimity.

On top of the travel, Rob has started working out regularly. The plan is for him to do a Crossfit class three mornings a week before work, which I think is reasonable for him/me/us. I have to get up at 5am on the days he goes to work out if I want a shower that day (which, and here is some insight into me as a person, I ALWAYS ALWAYS DO) and he is then not around to help with breakfast/dressing/etc, which is unfortunate but, you know, life is what it is. So one week he had three intro class things in the evenings (so he was not at home for those three evenings), then the next week he went to work out three mornings in a row to get in his three classes before he left town, then right when he got back in town he again went three mornings in a row to get them in that week. All this resulted in me getting up at 5am for three mornings in a row, then parenting solo, then when he got back I got up at 5am for three mornings in a row again. And then I fell over, dead from the HORROR of it all. No, actually, then we had a weekend and Rob was home and I went to have a massage and took naps and I feel much better about things. I did realize how small the margin has been on my well-being and coping with life, however. Hopefully Rob's new (laudable, admirable) work-out routine will be easier to deal with now that we are back to more normal life.

Now we just have to figure how I can somehow start working out regularly. We left the gym where we were members because it isn't convenient to go to that part of town now that Grace isn't at preschool at the same facility, and Rob has been wanting to do Crossfit anyway. (We can't afford Crossfit AND a gym membership.) It gets dark too early for me to go running when Rob gets home. Running on mornings when Rob doesn't go to Crossfit is a possibility, but I am thinking I may get a regular babysitter a couple times a week to go running and then do a video (Yoga? Pilates? 30 Day Shred?) in the basement. I've tried doing videos on my own and it has not gone super well, what with the baby and his unpredictable naps and the toddler and her desire to climb on me in downward dog. Sigh... I'll forgive them, though, because they are so cute.

Little smile


Even without successfully exercising, the pregnancy weight is slowly, gradually coming off. (I really do want to exercise, though, because I want to be fit and trim and healthy, not just at some specific weight.) I am still wearing what I think of as my emergency postpartum jeans but they are getting big. They are two sizes bigger than what I was wearing before getting pregnant with Lewis, which is the SAME SIZE that I ended up in after my 1st and 2nd pregnancies. Actually, come to think of it, my final weight at week 39 or 40 was the same with all three pregnancies to within 5 lbs, even though I started from fairly different weights (Grace - lowest, Violet - highest, Lewis - in between). Biology is weird. I am a bit miffed that I have had to buy clothes in this depressingly large size THREE SEPARATE TIMES, because of course I didn't keep them. On the other hand, the clothes that I bought almost six years ago right after Grace was born would not be super stylish now. In some strange irony, the emergency postpartum jeans I have now in the largest size I have ever worn are "skinny jeans". HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA... Anyway, I like them and I wear them tucked into boots with loose tops. It took about two years for skinny jeans to look cute to me but I think I'm a believer now. Of course, I'd always rather wear a skirt since they are so much more comfortable, and just better in general.

Friday, October 28, 2011

RIP, Henny Penny

I promise that this isn't becoming a chicken blog, but we had chicken tragedy strike last week! I was out running some errands and upon returning home, discovered one of our hens dead on our driveway. I jumped out of the car and ran around to the backyard and found one wire side of our coop ripped away and the rest of our hens wandering around the backyard. When Rob got home, it was like chicken CSI out there and he ended up deciding it was a good-sized dog that did it. It was a daytime attack, so probably not a nocturnal wild animal like a raccoon, and there is no way a cat could have done the damage to the coop. Also, our hen was killed but not eaten, which seems more consistent with a domesticated animal. It looked like the dog grabbed onto the chicken wire with its teeth and pulled until the fence staples holding it to the frame popped off. I had a bit of a panic attack this morning when I heard barking outside and suddenly thought, "Wait, none of our neighbors have a dog." I rushed out to our backyard and indeed, there was a dog there! Barking and going crazy! The repair job Rob did with sturdier wire and a lot more fence staples seemed to be working, but of course I ran him off. (Our garage is in our backyard; we do have this pretty metal gate over the driveway but had not been in the habit of opening and closing it every time we drove a car anywhere.) It seems very likely that it was the same dog who murdered poor Henny Penny.

So now we have lost one of our hens to a violent end. I feel mad and a bit sad about it. For us, the chickens occupy a space somewhere on the spectrum between pet and vegetable garden. Losing her was not like losing our dog a while back; they just aren't smart enough to really bond with you like a dog or cat or whatever. I do feel sad that we didn't protect her better and that she died a violent death, however. It was Henny Penny who died, the Buff Orpington who was our first to start laying and who we had just cured of being broody. A short life she lived, a fuzzy little chick a mere 6 months ago:


So what else has happened around here besides death? We had the first parent-teacher conference for Grace, where her teacher said she is a good friend and has a great love of learning. We are about two months into kindergarten now and I feel good about our decision to forego the magnet school in favor of our neighborhood school. Grace is really happy there and she has made great strides in reading and I like the community involved in the school. I talked to her teacher about the math being too easy (I think she could have easily done this work a year or more ago) and we'll see if the teacher can make some adjustments to help Grace develop more.

This is also spirit week at Grace's school, with days for dressing up differently all week culminating in them wearing their Halloween costumes today. One of the days she was supposed to dress like a nerd. I don't think she's ever heard that word so she asked me what it was and I told her it was a smart person who was good at things. "I guess we are all nerds then, sort of," she said. Yes, sweet Grace, we probably are. Rob had a bit of ire about the whole thing and I see his point. We want small children to think achievement in math and science and/or wearing glasses is something to be mocked? Anyway, our first thought was to get a child-sized Three Wolf Moon shirt, but then Rob had the fabulous idea to dress her as Steve Jobs. Voila! Wonderful, if I do say so myself.

Our church is changing its schedule and this weekend will meet for our main worship gathering on Sunday morning for the first time, as well as moving to a bigger venue. We had been meeting at 4pm on Sundays, which was AWESOME. Sigh... It will help with some logistical issues and make things more accessible for some people so generally it is a good thing, but oh, how we will miss our relaxed Sunday mornings... I am thankful we had over a year off from the normal routine, but this weekend it is back to working to get everyone out the door at a certain time. Last weekend we took our final relaxed Sunday morning to go out to breakfast at a great little place we can walk to. A) I love that we live somewhere with great places we can walk to and B) I love love LOVE going out to breakfast.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hormonal Fowl and Staples

One of our four hens went broody. Not all of our hens have even started laying yet and yet one of them decided that she would like to incubate some eggs and hatch some little chicks. She sat in the nesting box all day, even when there were no eggs there, all hilariously flat and short and spread out. Apparently this is a hormonal thing; the hormones of this particular hen must be a bit wonky because she started laying eggs a month before we expected her to and now, the broodiness. Apparently the likelihood of a hen going broody varies from breed to breed (our broody hen Henny Penny is a Buff Orpington, a breed known for a tendency to broodiness) and there are a variety of things one can try to cure a hen of this habit. We tried removing her from the nesting box several times a day and letting her run around the yard for a while. It seemed to work for a while, but a few hours later, I'd always find her back upstairs. We ended up raising the ramp of our coop (which looks like this, as a reminder) during the day with them all downstairs to force her away from the nesting box upstairs during the day. Then one evening, we forgot to lower the ramp to let them upstairs for the night and they spent the night (fortunately, a warm one without predators around) down on the grass. Ever since, Henny Penny has been cured! Right now, in fact, I can look out the window in our computer room and see four well-adjusted hens strutting around downstairs.

Lewis is seven weeks old now and we have reached the end of our new-baby meals. What a huge help that has been! Is there anything nicer to have a lovely dinner arrive at one's house when evening rolls around after a day of navigating life with a newborn and other small children? For a while there we were actually up to our eyeballs in food, because there were a number of weeks where we still had our CSA share. The last pick-up for our CSA was in early October so the slightly overwhelming deluge of wonderful organic produce has ended. What a first-world problem-- too much delicious, organic food! Whatever shall we do? And we haven't even really started in on the meals in the freezer from my baby shower.

Today Violet had staples removed from the back of her head. Yes! Staples! From my precious little girl's scalp! Last week, she was climbing over the arm of an upholstered chair and fell, hitting her head on the way down first on the wall, and then on our wooden baseboard/trim. The trim in our 1917 house is pretty thick and tall and substantial and it cut the back of her head. At first, I thought, "Oh, poor Violet, come here for a hug." In hindsight, she was crying more than usual for a tumble, but that wasn't my first thought. When I saw that she was bleeding, I thought, "Oh yes, the scalp bleeds so much when it is cut." Then I found the cut and thought, "Oh crap. That is not part of the human body that is supposed to be out in the open." It was only about 1" long but it was very deep, split wide open, and you could see the fat. Blech. She was really upset and in pain, and in adrenaline overdrive, I gathered all three of them up and headed to the urgent care place. Rob couldn't come because he had patients scheduled all afternoon, but he put a plea out on Facebook and a sweet friend from our church met me there to help manage all these children. They numbed Violet's scalp with some gel stuff and after about 5 minutes, it was obvious that she had forgotten all about it. They left the numbing gel on her for about 20 minutes and then took us back to put the staples in. Apparently they use staples instead of stitches under hair because you don't have to shave the area to put them in; they scar a little more but it doesn't matter because it will be under her hair. She had four staples put in and just cried a little during the last two, more from the weirdness of the sensation than from any pain, I think. After a day or so, she totally ignored them and her cut has healed very well. She cried a little more during the removal of the staples today than when they put them in, I think because she wasn't numbed up at all, but she did very well and her hair escaped without getting all matted or becoming dreadlocked or anything. So, all in all, a not-terrible conclusion to our family's first medical emergency type thing. Not that I am going to start encouraging climbing the furniture or anything.

I notice that in my last post I went on and on about a baby swing, and then immediately afterward I became obsessed with researching and then buying a double stroller. Ah, the siren call of baby gear... I am very happy with the double stroller we got (this one, in turquoise, with the second seat, which came for free on a promotion that they were running earlier this month) and I have since cooled on the idea of a baby swing. I am normally a huge babywearing person and I don't think Violet even got in a stroller until she was 8 or 9 months old, but the 1-mile walk to fetch Grace from school was turning out very uncomfortable with my newborn babywearing options, pushing Violet in my cheap jogging stroller. Once Lewis has head control, we can move to the Ergo or similar, which is quite comfortable even on long walks with a toddler, but for now I have a borrowed Moby and pouch and ring slings, none of which were cutting it for me.  Anyway, I spent waaaaaaaay too much time and energy researching which double stroller to get; it is a big enough purchase that it stresses me out that I will pick the wrong one. I did eventually decide and now I am the proud owner of our first "nice" stroller, which is awesome. A daily-use stroller is something that it is worth spending money on for good quality, I am coming to believe. Using it makes walking through the neighborhood such a nicer experience and I have a rain cover and all the things I need to use it in all weather, so I am going to do my best to keep up with the non-fossil-fuel commute for Grace through the whole winter and in all weather. So apparently you can solve some problems by spending money.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

As September Ends

The high temperature tomorrow is supposed to be 90 degrees. Ugh! It has been really warm this September, which I shall have to remember to prepare myself for next year. This year June was very cool and September was very warm-- interesting. Even I will admit that Utah has lovely, lovely summers but I am totally over it now. This is exacerbated by the fact that I am nearly always carrying around or nursing or otherwise in physical contact with a little warm baby. I don't really desire to get space away from the little warm baby but gosh, I am ready to not be so sweaty all the time. Maybe it is partly hormonal as well? Bring on autumn!

Lewis is 4 weeks old now and doing quite well, full of sweet baby snuggles and a zillion poops a day, in stark contrast with Violet who at about a month old pooped every 4 days or something like that. Seriously, it is not uncommon for me to change his diaper 3 times in an hour when he is awake, and we have had diaper changes that have involved up to 4 diapers as he poops again immediately as I snap him up. Or as he squirts bright yellow breastmilk poop several feet out his butt while his diaper is off, which is a less desirable option. It is a toss-up which is worse-- that, or being peed upon, boy-baby-fashion. I am glad we're using cloth diapers because otherwise we would have spent a fortune on diapers by this point. Also, all this pooping is finally motivating me to switch to cloth wipes as well. Yes, I know, I know-- I've been cloth-diapering for going on six years now and have never used cloth wipes. I know everyone says you might as well do the cloth wipes if you are using cloth diapers already but for some reason it has seemed too hard until right now. Right now, when I am displeased by how many disposable wipes we are going through in a week.

And me? I am tired. Weary. Knackered, even. It befits the mother of a newborn, I suppose, but is not very fun. I have that eye twitch that I get whenever I am low on sleep. I feel like I spend a huge portion of my day walking and moving around and bouncing, because GOODNESS Lewis likes movement, as almost all babies do, I suppose. I am sort of considering buying a baby swing but am full of ambivalence about it. We borrowed a swing from friends with Grace and she liked it for, oh, two weeks or so, after which it made her cry and cry and cry. We didn't have one with Violet. I'm kind of a minimalist when it comes to baby stuff and also am snobbily horrified by the way most baby gear looks so I don't really want one at some level. At another level, I am lured by the siren promises of being able to put my baby down without him wailing. I want to throw money at the issue, thinking "Surely if I just buy the right thing everything will be fixed?!" If I did buy a swing, I know which one I would get: BEHOLD! A non-horrifying swing! There's a handful of them for sale used around town for about half that price. But would I be spending a hundred bucks for less than a month of use? Or worse than that, even? All of the listings for the used ones are all about how it's been used only 3 times and their baby didn't like it, etc.

I am taking a nap or at least resting most days, which is helping with the coping and the sanity and all. Most days after I pick Grace up from kindergarten and we eat lunch, I let the girls watch TV and curl up with Lewis for a nap. Ah, TV, what a wonderful/horrible crutch you are... Speaking of kindergarten, Grace is having a very good time, making new friends and navigating her new social world well. We've only had one school-related melt-down so far; it was the first day the teacher had them write in their journals and Grace was frustrated because she couldn't write EVERYTHING she had in her brain to express. She wanted to learn how to write the entire English language on her first try. I think she has since come to terms with the incremental nature of learning, to some extent at least, and kindergarten is going swimmingly. I am amazed with the strides she's made in reading in just four weeks there. She is doing so much better sounding out words and is much more willing to try and work hard to decode words. It's liked a trained educator knows what she's doing when it comes to teaching reading or something! Or it could simply be investing time on it every single day, which I admit I have never been good at here at home. That is true in almost every area of my life, actually; I have a hard time maintaining the discipline to do something non-urgent every single day. I can cook and do laundry every day but I have always struggled to be consistent at daily exercise or Bible reading or sticking with an eating plan or the like. Discipline is hard.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lewis' Birth Story

Disclaimer: TMI galore! Proceed no further if you are squeamish about childbirth-type gross stuff!

A glad sound

I had a midwife appointment on the Friday when I was just shy of 39 weeks. She checked my cervix and I was dilated 1 cm, which seemed like an encouraging development, although of course not a promise that anything was going to happen immediately. Over the weekend when I was exactly 39 weeks, I lost my mucus plug. This was the first time this rather startling and gross thing had happened to me, as I didn't lose it until I was in active labor with Grace and Violet. Again, sort of encouraging that this baby was getting ready to come, but not a sign that I was going into labor right then or anything.

A few days later, I was awoken around 4am Tuesday morning with contractions that were much more intense and painful than the Braxton Hicks ones I'd been having for weeks and weeks. When I timed them, they were about 10 minutes apart, though, so not really looking like active labor or anything. The contractions stayed pretty much like that for the rest of the morning so Rob went off to work at his normal time, promising to stay glued to his cell phone in case things changed.

That was a weird, weird day. The contractions definitely felt "real"; I had to stop whatever I was doing to cope with each contraction and they were intense enough that I did not think it would be safe for me to drive anywhere. The hours passed, and then passed, and then passed some more, and the contractions just wouldn't get closer together, staying at 8-10 minutes apart for the entire day. I started googling things and decided I was probably in prodromal labor or very slow early labor or, I don't know, whatever you want to call it. The internet informed me that it is not unheard of for this pattern of labor to go on for days (DAYS!). I did my best to rest and conserve my energy and even sleep, with about as much success as you would guess when every 10 minutes my uterus was clenching up in a painful-type manner. I didn't call my midwife until late that afternoon and she was sympathetic and nice but of course couldn't really do anything or tell me anything that I didn't already know. She did recommend that I do everything I could to stop or slow down my contractions and try to get some sleep that night, in the hopes of waking up in active labor in the morning or sometime that night.

That evening I took a warm shower, had a glass of wine, and watched some mindless TV, all in the hopes of calming things down. I felt super-relaxed as I crawled into bed that evening, and then, suddenly, LABOR! Within an hour of getting into bed, the contractions intensified and finally started getting closer together. Eventually they were about 5 minutes apart and at about 1am we decided it was time to go to the hospital. We called our friends who were coming to take care of Grace and Violet to come over (yes, at 1am-- what good friends...) and then drove up to the hospital. THAT was an uncomfortable drive, let me tell you; having a contraction in a moving vehicle is much, much worse than having one elsewhere.

We got all checked in and settled in our labor and delivery room; our nurse eventually checked my cervix around 2am and I was dilated 5cm. Hooray! I was really having a baby! My midwife came and she offered to rupture my membranes. I decided to try walking around for a while first to see how things were progressing on their own, since things would likely get a lot more intense once she broke my water. Rob and I hung out for about an hour, walking loops around the hospital floor, contracting every 5 minutes or so, and eventually laboring on the birthing ball.  We were both quite tired at this point and in between contractions we both couldn't stop yawning; our nurse and midwife laughed at us and our contagious yawns making them yawn too. About 3am, my midwife decided to check me again and OH THE SADNESS, I was still 5cm! I was (and am still) very surprised by this because it felt like I was having good, effective contractions. The first check was with the nurse and the second was with the midwife; I wonder how much these things vary by who is measuring? Anyway, I may quibble but I obviously wasn't making huge progress so my midwife again broached the idea of rupturing my membranes. I decided to go for it, with the idea that I could move into the jacuzzi tub to labor if things really ramped up and got intense and I was having a hard time coping.

The jacuzzi tub was not to be, sadly, because when she ruptured my membranes, both the nurse and midwife made squeamish faces as my amniotic fluid was all full of meconium. I mean, a LOT of meconium. For the uninitiated, meconium is the poop that a baby stores up in his system in utero. They are not supposed to pass it until they are out, and a baby's first few poopy diapers are this stuff, which is all tarry and sticky and weird. When a baby passes meconium while still inside, it means they are stressed to some extent or another and it is a bad thing. For us, it meant that the pediatrics people had to come to check out Lewis right after birth, and that I had to be on constant monitoring until he was born (nooooooo...), and because of that I couldn't get in the tub or walk around or move much anymore. This was particularly unfortunate, because as advertised rupturing my membranes kicked things into high gear pretty much immediately and lots of the labor coping techniques don't really work if you're hooked up to monitors and unable to move.

So there we were, and there we stayed for a while longer as labor progressed. It wasn't pleasant, certainly, and I had a lot of pain particularly in my lower back. I was running out of energy and SO SO tired. Eventually I felt the urge to push and started on the stereotypical scream-y laboring woman routine. My midwife checked me one more time and I was completely dilated so we started pushing. I experienced pushing very differently this time around; with Grace, I had leftovers from the epidural so pushing mainly felt like just very hard work, with Violet, pushing hurt but felt like such a relief after the first part of labor, and this time around it mainly just hurt, especially in my lower back and tailbone. (He sort of spun around while descending through the birth canal from occiput anterior to occiput posterior, or maybe the other way around? I don't remember exactly what the midwife was saying. Whatever it was, it hurt.)

I kind of feel like I did a particularly bad job of pushing effectively this time around. I mean, I don't feel bad about myself or anything, but I'm pretty sure it was my worst showing yet in pushing a baby out. I attribute this to exhaustion; I hadn't really slept in 24 hours at this point and I was just out of every resource I had. I actually passed out briefly a couple time during pushing. I would start to push and the whole room would go starry and black and everybody's voices would fade away for a brief moment before coming back. We kept at it, though, and eventually, FINALLY, despite my inability to really do a good job, Lewis emerged into the world at exactly 5am on August 31. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and his shoulder got quasi-stuck, freaking Rob out for a moment, but he was eventually birthed safely, albeit covered in meconium goo. He wasn't super vigorous when the pediatrics people whisked him to the other side of the room; his first APGAR score was 4, way lower than either of the girls. They intubated him and suctioned him and cleaned him up and generally got him mad and responsive and crying, which in this situation was a good thing. While all that was happening, I delivered the placenta (which my midwife declared to be covered in disgusting green meconium goo-- yeah, thanks for that) and my midwife repaired a small tear I got during the birth. My midwife decided she wanted to give me some pitocin at that point to make sure I didn't hemorrhage (she thought it was a good idea since this was my third birth and I had been in labor for so long) and I said OK, although I think that was kind of silly (AND PAINFUL) since by that point Lewis was back with me and breastfeeding, which releases natural oxytocin that causes uterine contractions anyway. (That's why I make a funny face at 0:57 of Lewis' birth video-- more contractions.)

But oh, it was so, so wonderful to be holding Lewis and to have him safe and sound with us and to be done with the whole ordeal of birth. There is just nothing like the intoxicating newness of a just-born baby who belongs to you, the realization that he is here, that there is this new tiny person to get to know and mother and love.

Some concluding thoughts:
  • I never fail to be amused/horrified by the weird, unexpected "injuries" I end up with after birth. With Grace, I strained an eye muscle so badly that I couldn't focus that eye for a few days, with Violet, I was hoarse for a while from the screaminess, and this time around my tailbone was bruised or something and I burst a ZILLION capillaries on my face, neck, and chest. Seriously, I looked like I was a heavily freckled person. Crazy. Both things were mostly better by the time I left the hospital, but at the beginning my tailbone hurt more than my perineal tear.
  • I was very curious as to why exactly Lewis passed all that meconium and what stressed him. My midwife said it was probably the cord being around his neck combined with being in labor so long. When you have a contraction, the cord gets compressed to some extent, reducing the oxygen that gets to the baby. Apparently the effect here with the cord around his neck was drastic enough to distress poor little Lewis. And he passed ALL the meconium in his system; we changed no meconium diapers at all. He didn't poop at all in the hospital (causing all the nurses to tsk-tsk in a concerned manner), had one sort of transitional poop, and then just went straight to the regular yellow breastmilk poo.
  • At just over 24 hours, this was my longest labor, by a good margin (16 hours with Grace, under 5 hours for Violet). What the heck, man? On my third baby?! I don't think this is how things are supposed to go. Of course, this was also my first time to go into labor spontaneously and have a closer-to-drug-free birth so maybe those are related?
  • This was my second epidural-free birth but I felt pretty different at the end of it than with my first. After Violet's birth, I felt like I'd conquered the world ("I did it!") while after Lewis' birth, I felt more like I'd been hit by a truck ("I made it!"). There were many contributing factors to the difference, but probably the two biggest were 1) the lack of sleep with my labor with Lewis and 2) the artificial speed of my labor with Violet because of the prostaglandin gel I had. Also, the not-ideal positioning (sunny-side-up baby) could not have helped. I also now wonder how much "help" I got with Violet when I threw up. My midwife said that vomiting can really push a baby through the birth canal effectively. I don't know; it just seemed a lot easier last time.
  • Do I wish I'd had an epidural this time, given how rough it was? No, probably not. It was less than 4 hours between when we arrived at the hospital and when Lewis was born so I don't think it would have been worth the hassle of having IV fluids and not being able to walk afterwards and probably a catheter and all that stuff, not to mention the cost. I ponder this now, but at the time it didn't even occur to me that I could ask for one. And anyway, it may have been rough, but he was worth it.
Sleepy boy

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Bullets! Especially For You!

  • Lewis is 10 days old today and doing very well. He has started to have his eyes open more and to stare incredulously at us or things around the house. What an impossibly strange world this must seem to a new baby... He is still very curled up and waves his arms and legs around slowly as if he is a mer-man living underwater. His eyes are still newborn slate gray and I think he is starting to look a tiny bit bigger, a tiny bit plumper, a tiny bit on the way from newborn to delicious baby.
  • Speaking of such things, breastfeeding seems to be going pretty well, for which I am very thankful. Lewis first nursed in that first hour after birth and latched on really, shockingly well. That instinctive ability is so amazing. He then went on to do exactly what he was supposed to, i.e. nurse ALL THE FREAKING TIME. That link is a little cheesy but I think it does a good job of explaining what normal nursing behavior is for a newborn, something that there is a lot of misunderstanding about.
  • I have had some pain and discomfort with starting breastfeeding this time around, similar to with Violet. The breastfeeding experts say that you shouldn't have any pain if you are doing things right but after getting started nursing three times now, I think either a) they are wrong or b) it is effectively impossible to do everything right with a tiny floppy newborn with no head control to speak of who nurses so frequently that any small problems with his latch can do some damage. It hasn't been too bad this time around; I think my discomfort peaked around day 7, things are getting better each day, and I bet I am totally pain-free in another week. So just like with Violet, basically.
  • On the positive side, I figured out how to nurse in the side-lying position on our first day home from the hospital (as opposed to a few weeks along with Grace and Violet), which I'm pretty sure means I WIN AT BREASTFEEDING. AND ALSO SLEEPING.
  • Violet is going through a super awkward hair phase and I am not exactly sure what to do about it. The issue is mostly the front of her hair but I don't want to cut bangs so I don't know what options I really have other than waiting it out. Although the rest of her hair certainly has the uneven/straggly thing going on, which a haircut would fix, so maybe that is the way to go. Grace got a haircut right before school started, back up to chin-length or so, as I decided to take a break from the hair-detangling drama. Oh, the wailing involved in brushing her hair when it is longer... I would like to keep it longer so we'll see if Grace can handle it better when it grows out this time around. In the meantime, it is super cute shorter and much, much easier to brush.
  • Also in Violet news, I see more visible signs that she will eventually learn to read than that she will ever learn to use the toilet. Sigh...
  • Mealtimes are an interesting study in contrasts around here these days. Grace and Violet are, I believe, the slowest eaters on the face of the planet, while one or both of Robert and I are usually scarfing down our food because Lewis either needs or is about to need attention. The only time I eat in a leisurely manner right now is standing up with Lewis asleep in the sling.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Lewis' Birth Video

Here is a bit of a glimpse into life changing for us a week ago. (And here are Grace's and Violet's birth videos, if you just can't get enough newborn wonderfulness.)


Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Labor Day

My due date was yesterday and earlier in my pregnancy when I realized its proximity to today's holiday, I thought, "Wouldn't it be funny if I was in labor on Labor Day?"

Speaking of proximity of events, remember all my pondering of how close my due date was to when Grace started kindergarten? Well, it turns out that Lewis was born actually ON her first day of school, about three hours before she needed to be there, no less. What are the odds, right? In related news, I have discovered a foolproof method to avoid feeling emotional about one's oldest child leaving her preschool years behind forever and growing up-- Just have a baby! On the same day!

First day of kindergarten

Lining up for a new adventure

Seriously, I cannot summon up the least bit of lachrymose melancholy for the unstoppable passage of time and transience of childhood and all that; there is just too much else to cope with. My main feeling is one of relief that Grace did not miss her first day. I still am somewhat in awe that Rob managed it all; he went straight home from the hospital after I was settled in my post-partum room (where he had been up all night with me in labor obviously) and walked Grace to school. She had a really great first week (well, first 3 days since they started on a Wednesday) and is enamored of her status as a kindergartener and walking to school and the fun things they are doing. I am so SO glad that she is transitioning well and has this fun new adventure to embark upon.

Oh, and speaking of yet more crazy timing, Rob is currently knee-deep in studying for his allergy boards. This is kind of a big deal as he has to pass this test (and then pass it again every 10 years) to practice allergy. The test is in a handful of weeks (October? I think? I am so fuzzy on everything right now) and he is working working working in every spare moment to learn everything he is supposed to know. It kind of sucks for him because at some level he is missing out on Lewis' first days and it kind of sucks for the girls because they have one parent who is frantically working in every possible moment and one who is sort of out of commission from childbirth and taking care of a newborn and it kind of sucks for me because my main support person can't do as much as any of us would like. It kind of sucks.

What doesn't suck is getting to know this little new person who is part of our family, now that I am home from the hospital and we are all settling in and figuring out new rhythms to our life. Lewis is this perfect curled-up creature with tiny waving fingers and pink shells for ears and a little-old-man-monkey face. There is just nothing like a brand new baby. Grace is full of enthusiasm for him, wanting to hold him and touch his head and play with his fingers; she is such a nurturer. Violet, who I had more concern about, is doing very well with him too. She has a much shorter attention span for him than Grace and she doesn't really do gentle at this point but she has been very positive and happy and accepting. "The baby is sleeping," she notes. "The baby is crying," she observes with alarm. "The baby is soooooo cute," she declares with approval. And indeed he is.

Two days old

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Lewis Martin was born on August 31 at 5am, weighing 8 lbs 6 oz and measuring 20 inches.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Well, Here We Are This Week

39 weeks pregnant

Still enormous, still pregnant, still thankful that things are healthy and uncomplicated and as we'd wish them to be. I'm now within a week of my due date. At my midwife appointment on Friday, I was 1 cm dilated, which is something, right? I am having contractions pretty much all the time, although just a few an hour usually and not super intense. We had a wild thunderstorm come through Salt Lake late last night and I had a LOT of much more intense contractions while it was storming. I really thought I might be going into labor and started timing my contractions and everything. However, when the storm passed, my contractions did as well and I fell asleep. Dramatic changes in barometric pressure can supposedly bring on labor or make your water break or whatever, so that was a funny thing to experience.

I will admit that every time I have Rob take my picture, I kind of hope it will be the last one of me before going into labor. On the other hand, now that I've made it this far, life would be easier if I don't have the baby until we get through this week and Grace gets slightly settled at kindergarten. If I went into labor today, for instance, I'd still be in the hospital when Grace is supposed to have her first day at elementary school. We'll see! I sort of no longer believe that I am having a baby at all anymore and just figure this will be the way life is FOR ALL TIME.

In the peaks and valleys of energy and motivation and all that, I am in a bit of a valley. I have no attention span to speak of and am having a hard time concentrating on anything or finishing anything, even a thank-you note. It will be some kind of miracle if I finish this blog post and publish it. I am glad that I had lots of nesting energy in earlier weeks and months and got many projects finished. I finally got around to photographing my new and improved pantry to show off.

Pantry make-over

Sadly, I have now realized that my "before" pictures have been lost in a memory card mishap that we had, making my "after" picture rather pointless. Oh well, I guess you'll have to take my word for it that it is much better. It is a very deep closet-type pantry and it was very easy to lose items back in the far recesses. Our sellers had the shelves spaced differently (in a way that seemed inefficient to me) and it was dingy and dirty. We painted it a nice scrubbable shiny white and bought new white laminate shelves (they did have deep enough laminate shelves at Home Depot for this closet that could be cut to the length we wanted). The wire mesh drawers are from the Container Store and are almost the depth of the shelves; I can fit a few seldom-used things behind the drawers. The drawers vastly improve the functionality of the pantry and make it much easier to keep track of things, and the space is so much more efficiently used that I got the slow cooker and toaster off our counter and into the pantry. Those two bins on the floor hold our glass recycling (Salt Lake doesn't do curbside recycling for glass -- LAME -- so we have to keep it separate and drive it somewhere) and for the microfiber cloths I use for cleaning instead of paper towels.

Taking pictures in our kitchen is a challenge as there is no good light and it is awkwardly shaped/sized. I had to use the FLASH-- OH, THE HORROR. Anyway, while I was at it, I took one of our new refrigerator.

The miracle of modern refrigeration

I lurrrrrrrve it. Although it does make me want to remodel the whole kitchen to go with it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Which Comes First?

This past Friday afternoon we walked up to the elementary school to find out all the details about Grace's kindergarten class. They post all the class listings at 4pm and we discovered upon our arrival that this is an EVENT as the school was noisily packed with students and parents and teachers, milling around and saying "hello" after the summer and finding out who will be in whose class. The more interactions I have at our neighborhood school, the more I like it; I hope that it proves to be a good match for us. Grace was placed in a morning class of 20 total kindergarteners, all of them half-day. That was what we ended up requesting, after all my hemming and hawing on the issue. When we had an orientation up at the school a few months ago they wanted me to put down a preference, and the kindergarten teachers said that the morning classes tended to be more calm, to get through more material, and to be more focused so I picked that. We peeked in her classroom and met another little girl who will be in her class and picked up more papers and whatnot to get ready. I tell you-- the papers! Grace is already officially all registered with all the district-required paperwork, and there were things the school wanted, but now I have another little pile of things from her specific teacher. I won't complain, not really, because these are sweet little about-me activities that they are going to do at the beginning of the year. They make me think that her kindergarten teacher is being very deliberate about easing the transition into the new year and making all the new little people comfortable.

I am supposed to bring the finished papers to yet ANOTHER kindergarten assessment. I guess the one we did a few months ago was to determine which class to put kids in (to spread out the kids who will need more help and those who are well-prepared) and this one is more for the teacher's benefit to have more info before class starts? Grace's is this Thursday and supposedly it is going to be 45 minutes long; that's almost as long as the official testing for the gifted program that we did back in February! This is... good, I guess? That they want so much information? I guess? Anyway, we have that this week and then next Wednesday is the big day as Grace leaves behind preschool and starts elementary school.

In baby news, I am now within 2 weeks of my due date and I look like this:

38 weeks pregnant

My most recent midwife appointment was also on Friday and things are still healthy and uncomplicated and looking as they should. Everything looks good with the little man's heart rate and how much fluid is there and my blood pressure and all those things they keep an eye on here at the end. He is head down and I am GBS negative (yay! no IV!) and I think he may have "dropped" recently, as two separate people yesterday at church said that my belly looks about 6" lower than it did the week before and I do feel like there is a lot more room in my upper abdomen. The midwife checked my cervix for the first time at this appointment and she said it is softening and not totally closed anymore and all that, so yay! With Violet I was dilated to 1 cm around 38 weeks, but I'd had that UTI that made me have a LOT more intense contractions than I have had yet this time. And of course with Grace I made it all the way to 41 weeks without dilating one tiny bit. Anyway, I am not really feeling like I am likely to go into labor immediately and if I were wagering, I would imagine that I make it to at least my due date this time around. Grace was born 7 days after her due date and Violet was born 2 days before hers but of course we cheated a bit with her so I don't know if that really helps at all in trying to guess when this might happen. (I just this morning realized that I've been telling people Violet was born 2 days late, which is wrong.)

So now that we've gotten down to it, we'll see how this whole kindergarten/baby thing shakes out. And to sum up, here is a gratuitous picture of two of our chickens.

Looking very chicken-y these days

Saturday, August 13, 2011


taken by our super-talented friend Mike Friberg

Today is Grace's half-birthday and she perches exactly halfway between 5 and 6. In less than a week we find out who her kindergarten teacher will be and whether she got a morning or afternoon class, and about 10 days after that, she will start kindergarten.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

And So the Summer Trudges Along

Here we are, approaching the middle of August. How do I feel about this? Meh, mixed, I guess. I have said this about a million times, I know, but summer is not a time I naturally enjoy. It is worse this summer as I think I am running about 10 degrees hotter than everyone else. (Seriously, I would like to keep our thermostat at 68 degrees if that were practical. This would be hampered by the fact that our AC has had diva-like issues lately and it must be coddled to keep from freezing up and not functioning.) However, there are things about summer that I like and so I shall enjoy those while I can. First on the list is probably swimming, especially given my heavily gravid state. Going to the pool is sooooooo nice and feels so wonderful and really makes a difference in how I feel the whole rest of the day. We went on Tuesday and Violet fell asleep cuddling with me in the pool as Grace went back and forth in front of me, figuring out how to take a breath-- idyllic. Second on the list is probably summer food. Oh, food of summer, you are so amazing and wonderful and delicious! And we haven't even really even gotten to full tomato season yet.


Red currants

And we have done very fun things this summer. My mom came to visit a few weeks after my dad did and the girls got to enjoy lots of time with Nana:

Out for an afternoon snack

We've taken a couple day trips up into the mountains, one with our church and one with Rob's work:

Rockport State Park

Utah is still very lovely, in case you were wondering. Both trips involved lakes (reservoirs? I don't know-- man-made both of them) and the girls waded at one of them and went on wave runners with Rob at the other one.

And we have made two VERY LARGE but also fun purchases. Our refrigerator broke after hemming and hawing for a while about whether it was going to remain a functional appliance and we replaced it with a lovely bright red vintage-style model (after a month of renting one waiting for it to be delivered); I will see if I can photograph it soon. It is super adorable but also! It keeps our food from spoiling! I am still a bit excited about this aspect of it, after several rounds of throwing away milk and putting everything I could in our chest freezer and so forth.

The second big purchase was a piano. Hoooooooooooray!

We (I? if we're being honest?) have been talking about a piano for a while now and this past weekend we found a good deal on buying a used one. A non-profit puts new pianos in the Salt Lake public schools every year and then sells the 1-year-old ones to the public at about 50% of retail as a sort of fundraiser. Then 40% of what you do pay is tax deductible because it goes to support the school district. Nice, right? I think it is a really good way to get a lovely piano at a good price. I haven't had a piano at home since I moved out of my parents' house and I am SO SO SO happy about this. I am still playing piano at church so this gives me the chance to practice a bit and attempt more ambitious things than what I can do just showing up and playing music without ever seeing it before. More than that, though, now I can play just for fun! So far I've just been pulling out things that I played back in my serious days but eventually I hope to work on some new music. And also! Piano lessons for the children! Both Grace and Violet are smitten with the piano and our house is full of, um, melodious banging. Seriously, you should hear the racket they make.

So two very large purchases, both of them fun. They did use up the money we had saved to xeriscape our front lawn, though, so I guess we will keep our environmental-resource-hogging lawn for a while yet.

If you haven't noticed, I haven't been blogging very frequently lately. This is a reflection of the inside of my head, which is S L O W and lacking in having much to say and just sort of blank a lot of the time. I am feeling blank inside.
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It's not always a negative feeling exactly, just sort of fuzzy/dull lack of creativity and energy, which stands in stark contrast to the normal state of my mind, which usually feels like a double-time CLICKCLICKCLICK of processing and thought and spark. GAH, pregnancy is just so disorienting sometimes, in the drastic physical/mental/emotional shifts, the unfamiliar gravity of one's own body and the strange idiosyncrasies of one's mind. I could really use some energy back at this point, though. My nesting energy has evaporated into the ether and I have gotten nothing done in days. I have been meaning to vacuum for, oh, 5 days at this point-- I mean, the vacuum has been actually sitting in the middle of the living room plugged in for 5 days. What have I done instead? I can't even tell you. Nap? Consume a lot of ice from Sonic? I remember feeling this way in my last trimester with Grace, which was even less ideal as I had a JOB where I was supposed to, you know, do original research and stuff. Not a lot got added to our understanding of the universe during those months due to my efforts, let me tell you.

Whatever bleary stasis I may feel like I'm in right now, the reality is that I am coming down to the very last bit of this pregnancy. I am 36.5 weeks pregnant now and I'm having weekly midwife visits. Weekly pants-less midwife visits, no less. We have moved beyond the months of quick pee/weight/blood-pressure visits to ones where we talk about actual labor and she does tests and checks me (so euphemistic) and whatnot. Whether I believe it or not, a new baby is coming, right?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Name for a New Person

We have a name:

A name for Baby #3

Spelled like (and named after) Clive Staples. This has been our boy name that we've sort of mulled around since before we even started having kids and it is really fun to be actually using it. Rob has always pushed for using Clive instead but I just don't know about that. I am less opposed to the name Clive now than I have been in past years (a decade ago it sounded to me like the name of a bully or maybe a cute dog, but now there's Clive Owen and a lot more quirky old-fashioned boy names going around) but I like Lewis better and we are going to stick with that. We are still a little undecided on middle names and are tossing around two family name possibilities, one from Rob's side and one from mine. There are mild problems with both, unfortunately; one of them rhymes with our last name and one of them, when combined with the first name, is a comedy duo from the 40s and 50s. We'll see; Violet's middle name was totally a last-minute decision and I love it so we'll just have to wait and see how things shake out.

Things around here have made some strides toward being ready for a new baby to come into the house, although not enough to keep me from having classic anxiety dreams (you know, where I have been enrolled in a class all year but haven't gone to it once and am now about to fail, or where I'm in a grocery store and can't find anything I need to buy). My subconscious wants me to TAKE CARE OF WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ALREADY.

Have I already explained that we aren't decorating a nursery this time around? There are two main reasons.
  1. Neither Grace nor Violet actually slept in their rooms until they were close to a year old. The nurseries ended up functioning as charmingly decorated storage rooms.
  2. Our house has two bedrooms upstairs (currently an office and a guest room) and two in the basement (the master and the one that Grace and Violet share now). I don't really want to shuffle the furniture and put the girls upstairs until after Violet turns 3, for convenience and ease of nighttime parenting and whatnot. 
So our new little person is officially going to bunk in our room (just like our other babies have done unofficially) and hopefully he will not resent his lack of nursery when he learns about it. Thus, the rearranging we need to do is pretty minimal and I have gotten a start on it, despite what my subconscious thinks. I organized our master closet to make room for some storage drawers for baby clothes, added some under-bed storage boxes to our room, and made plans to get our changing table back in use as such. I think next weekend I am going to have Rob go up in the attic and get down all the baby stuff to clean and set up around the house-- the cosleeper that attaches to our bed , the bouncy seat, the car seat, and so forth. We will still be 5 weeks out from my due date then, which I admit is kind of early to have all that in the house. Or maybe it's not? I have lost all sense of perspective on this and I just need for it to be done.

I did get through a large pile of baby laundry recently. The little diapers are all clean and neatly arranged in their basket and I found all my slings and babywearing gear. And what else does a cliché of a hippie attachment parenting mama need, right? Clothes, I suppose. As you would probably guess, I did not have much in the way of boy or gender neutral clothes. That is, up until about a month ago. In the space of 2 weeks, I got hand-me-down baby clothes from 3 different friends, one of whom had twin boys, and now we are AWASH in baby boy clothes, swimming in a sea of blue outfits. I feel so grateful and overwhelmed with their generosity, and I am so happy to be giving these clothes another round of use instead of buying new ones (the Earth says "yay!"), and AAACK WHERE DO I STORE IT ALL?! Really, I think we are pretty well outfitted through the 12-month size and I have been surprised anew at just how many tiny outfits can fit in one load of laundry as I've sorted through my new stash.

Some sweet friends here in Salt Lake are throwing me a baby shower in a few weeks and I am really excited about it. There isn't a lot that we "need" for the new baby, between the gear we have already (thankfully we bought everything big/expensive in gender-neutral colors) and the hand-me-downs and our general minimalist approach to parenting and whatnot. There are some things that I put on a baby registry at Amazon, but there isn't a lot (and even less that I'll need at the very beginning) and it is really specific things (OK, I admit it-- I am picky about baby stuff) so we decided to go a different direction for the shower. They are doing a "fill the freezer" shower where instead of gifts everybody brings a meal or something for us to put in our freezer and pull out in those intense newborn weeks. I love this idea, especially given the logistics of our specific situation. And what I am really looking forward to is an afternoon of celebrating this new person coming into the world and being encouraged and supported by our community here.

That sounds especially lovely to me right now because I am a bit in the dumps. I am sleeping TERRIBLY and it is hot and oh, I feel so huge. It doesn't seem very real that we get to meet a tiny new person in just a few weeks; instead I just feel enormous and quasi-miserable. I don't really feel an end in sight at this point and my brain is having a hard time connecting all the low-level wretchedness with the end result of a BABY HOORAY. I am hoping that taking some more visible getting-ready steps will help, and I am working to cultivate an attitude of thankfulness about my healthy uncomplicated pregnancy. Six more weeks...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Stuff and Nonsense

Hmmm, what have we been up to over the past two weeks? Our air conditioning was malfunctioning for a while, leaving us very hot and also concerned that our ceiling might fall in. I think we escaped with just some subtle water damage on the ceiling and a bill that was not as bad as it might have been. Grace started a little summer camp she is doing 3 times a week for the month of July, with lots of swimming and rock climbing and field trips and whatnot. Also, my dad came to visit us:

A visitor!

We took him to some of our favorite places around town, like the farmers market and Ruth's and the Park Cafe. We went to the aviary one morning and I just about fell over from the heat (or with less hyperbole and more accuracy, I had lots of contractions and got a headache and my feet and hands swelled up all puffy and uncomfortable). It was a 100-degree day and I think I have fallen out of practice about how to deal with such weather. I seem to remember my main coping mechanism was to refuse to do anything outside until such ridiculousness subsided. Anyway, it was such a lovely visit with him. He came over the Independence Day holiday and we continued our years-long lame tradition of not taking our children to see fireworks. Every year I think, "Oh, we really should take them," and then we think about what our children are like when kept up past their bedtime. Such contemplations cause us to fail to gather the energy/initiative/wherewithal to go somewhere crowded and hot with miserable, exhausted children when we could just stay home and put them to bed. We live far enough north now that fireworks don't start until almost 10pm, and the girls usually go to bed at 7:30pm. One of these years we'll finally do it.

I finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am now finding myself compelled to do things like bake my own bread again and learn how to make cheese. It was a lovely, entertaining read and left me all motivated to make the best possible choices about how we eat. It is certainly a good time of year for that kind of thing; we get a lovely box of produce from our CSA every week and the farmers market is gearing up into the lush part of the growing season. It will, of course, be more challenging at other times of year. I really really really want to do some canning and freezing but we don't have quite the right produce ready right now here in Utah for making jam or whatever. Or at least not in the quantities (and at the price) to make it seem worthwhile-- I don't really want to drop $50 on raspberries from the farmers market to make jam, and I don't think I can drag my third-trimester self to a pick-your-own place this July. I was looking through my pictures and realized that last year I did peaches and applesauce in October, and this leaves me a bit discouraged. Am I capable of canning with a tiny newborn around? I would hate to miss a whole year of having luscious golden peach slices to bring out through the winter. We'll see, I guess. Our new meat situation is fortunately not season-dependent; they have their meat available year-round. Have I gushed lately about their pork? It is AMAZING. I have never really cared for pork that much; it usually seemed dry and bland and not very good to me. This meat is like it comes from an entirely different animal (and in some ways, it does; they raise Berkshire pigs, which is a different breed than what is raised in industrial farms) because it is just mind-bogglingly good.

Another compulsion that has recently reared its head is that I want to pack my hospital bag. I keep leaving things like this and this open in my browser and feel the itch to make lists and get things organized and put it all in a bag ready to go. This is sort of ridiculously early (I am 32 weeks pregnant right now) but I guess it wouldn't hurt to get it done, right? And I think I am just going to obsess about it until I do it. In case you are curious, this is what I look like right now, as I perseverate on packing hospital bags and how I will can peaches with a newborn:

31 weeks pregnant

Here's what I looked like at about the same point with Violet:

Belly at 32 weeks

I think I look about the same, taking into account the uncertainty involved in wearing different colors and standing slightly differently and whatnot. (I actually weigh significantly more in the picture with Violet, believe it or not.) What I can't believe is that I am wearing heels at 32 weeks; that's definitely a difference between a summer and a winter pregnancy. And for completeness, here I am with Grace at 31 weeks, although sitting down doesn't really make any comparisons easy or accurate:


Three pregnancies, three different states-- gosh, we've moved a lot in the past decade.