Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sisters and Brother

Now, I can't have you thinking Krinkeland has become the Official Blog of Madeline Kate. Yes, these past days have been filled with equal parts excitement and exhaustion over her arrival, and that's clearly had some big effects on the other children, as well as on Mommy and Daddy. But, Amanda, Elisabeth and Benjamin are certainly not forgotten. In fact, most of the really fun moments with the baby have also involved them.

Most surprising to me is Elisabeth. This girl is her baby sister's biggest adorer and protector. The first time she held Madeline in the hospital, I asked, "Is she as wonderful as you thought she would be?" Libby replied, "It's better. She's perfect. It's like she's my best friend." Libby is always concerned Madeline is cold. I often check the bassinet and find the baby covered (not her face) in four blankets. Elisabeth would hold Madeline all day, if I'd let her. When grandparents come over, she obnoxiously hovers and begs to hold the baby. I do have to keep a close eye on her; she knows she can't pick up the baby or walk around with the baby, but is having some difficulty sitting still with the baby. She seems to think she has a grasp of switching from one arm to the other, holding her out in front for a better view, or throwing her over one shoulder for a burp or a butt pat. It's a learning curve for all of us.

Well, it's a learning curve for most of us. Amanda has all the answers, where Madeline is concerned. She is the hand sanitizer watchdog. She tells me how to burp the baby. She declares her sister's eyes are "definitely blue," one day, "sure look brown" the next, and, "they're probably hazel," the third. Amanda prefers to call her baby sister "Maddy." She comes into the bedroom each morning, sanitizes up, and asks to hold her. Then, she bounds through the door each afternoon and calls, "So, what did Maddy do today?"

Benjamin is everything you would imagine in a two-and-a-half-year-old boy. He is not mean, though he sometimes gets frustrated. He is curious, and he is physical. Ben loves to pat Madeline on the head and remark at how soft her hair is. (It is! And there's so much of it! Finally, a baby who's not bald!) Being the former youngest and the coddled only son, he is clearly struggling the most. That means I'm struggling the most with him. Somehow, I thought I could nurse the baby during lunchtime. Ben took that opportunity to smear pizza sauce across the kitchen and living room, and to help himself to two bananas. But, he's also very cute and proud. While checking out at Target yesterday, the clerk (oh, yeah, of course they know us there) asked, "So, how are you today?" Ben replied, "Dood. Just out wif my new baby sister."

Way back when we found out we were expecting Elisabeth, and Amanda was still a baby herself, someone told me, "You have one child for yourselves. You have a second so they have each other." That has stuck with me through the pregnancies and births of all the Krinkeland princesses and prince. I can already hear their adult phone conversations: "Can you believe what Mom did now?"

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One Week Old and Nowhere to Go

Now that a week has passed since Madeline's blessed arrival, I am beginning to feel as though I may survive, and we are almost out of hand sanitizer and toilet paper (a dangerous deficit, as you can imagine.) So, I was thinking I might actually venture out into the real world. I took Elisabeth to preschool, but it was cold and raining hard, so I just ran her in and dropped her off.

Before I could hightail it out of there, one of the teachers let me know they were sending home a memo about swine flu. This, in light of recent events-- the death of a toddler in Texas and the first reported case in our state, less than 30 miles from where we live. My dad, who works in schools, and one of my friends, who is a pilot, have been forwarding to me their official updates on the outbreak, and I had been ignoring them. Now, paranoia has set in. I kept Madeline totally covered in her car seat and had an intense internal debate over whether it was safer for Benjamin, germ-transmission-wise, to sit in the cart or to walk around the store. We made it through Target in the fastest time to date, because, let's face it, I'm in poor shape and can't hold my breath forever.

I bought a gigantic 32-ounce jug of hand sanitizer and vowed to give up going out in public forever. I mean, my sister either finds it on Amazon or does without... That sounds pretty good to me.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Madeline's Birth Story

When I was expecting my first child, I was obsessed with this Birth Stories website. It's a place where mothers can post their childbirth stories, or read others'. I would spend hours a day (at work!) poring over the site, trying to imagine what it might be like to actually give birth. Four kids later, and it's still hard to comprehend.

While it seems most people like to talk about themselves, it is interesting to me how much mothers enjoy sharing their birth stories. Since we are coming up on the end of Madeline's first week on the planet, it seems a good time to record Madeline's birth story, from my perspective:

Everyone was asking when I was going to have the baby. It was annoying and frustrating, and I always gave the same answer: (shrug) "I will not go early. Babies do not like to come out of me." People laughed when I bought my ticket to Amanda's school fundraiser, set for April 18, because my due date was April 21 and they said I would never make it. I was there.

In the days leading up to my due date, I was having some periods of pretty regular, intense contractions, usually at night, but they never lasted long enough to be called labor. The doctor started talking induction, which was not entirely surprising, but was something scary and new just the same. My last doctor's appointment was on Monday, April 20, and Doc said it was time to be induced. He was not concerned about the baby's size, because I was measuring small, but he was concerned I was noticing the baby move less and less. He asked me which day I wanted to be induced, but I said that was too much pressure, so he should choose. He went to his office and came back to announce, "The birth day will be Wednesday. Check in at the hospital at 7 a.m."

I notified my mom, who took off the day to take care of the other kids, as well as Todd's mom and all the sisters, as we had invited them to be in the delivery room this time. (Oh, my mom was invited, too, but I knew she would sign up for that as soon as she would volunteer for a root canal.) Tuesday was spent running errands-- when would I get to my beloved Target again?-- doing laundry, picking up the house, and making lists.

Tuesday night, a nurse called from the birth center, to double-check my information, to answer my questions, and to warn me to call before I came in, just to make sure the hospital had room for me. That had not occurred to me-- here I was, finally geared up, and I might get bumped by women in real labor? I collapsed into bed around 10 p.m., but woke up around 12:30 a.m. and could not get back to sleep. About 2:30, I got out of bed and had half a bagel with cream cheese and some apple juice. (Hey, the nurse told me to eat a light breakfast, but I knew I wouldn't be able to down anything by the time dawn came.) Eventually I dozed off and didn't awake again until 6:15... Then, we were in a mad rush. Mom arrived at 6:30, and we tried to sneak out before the kids got up, but Amanda ran downstairs at 7:00, as we were leaving, to say one last goodbye.

We checked in at the hospital and were taken to a different delivery room. The other three children were all born in room 12 (a.k.a. "the big room") so this was a bit of a surprise. I took it as a good sign-- maybe this labor and delivery would go more easily than the others; but as a challenge-- we had four extra people coming to witness the birth, and this room was half the size. I got changed, answered all the requisite questions, got settled into bed, was stabbed with the IV line, and, around 8:15, the doctor arrived to break my water. I was still 3 cm, 70% effaced, head at -1 station. Nurse Tani started the pitocin (a labor-inducing synthetic hormone) and we sat back to wait.

Todd was bouncing off the walls. So excited. Dancing and pacing already. He made one trip to the nurses' station to ask about wi-fi access. He made another trip home to get the card reader for the laptop. I sent him on a third trip to hospital administration to submit a new insurance card. When he wasn't being really twitchy and cute, he was being really annoying-- surfing the Internet and mulling over deck supplies to order. "Do you want black clips or gray clips for the deck boards?" When I rolled my eyes and answered, "gray," he said, "The supplier suggested black."

Doc returned at 10:00 and checked me. I was the same. I told Todd he had better call the others and give them an update. Let them know they were welcome to come whenever, but that it was looking like it would be a very long day. Just then, my sister waltzed in, with fragrant stargazer lilies, her fancy new camera, and four decks of cards. I was surprised to see her so early, but she said she had a babysitter, so why not? The others trickled in over the course of the hour. The decision to invite observers will be saved for another post. Here, I will just say my emotions about EVERYTHING were all over the board. The things that stick out most in my mind are Ellen announcing one of her kids had diarrhea and Kristin announcing she had strep throat again (but was on antibiotics.) I thought to myself, "They should keep that information to themselves. The nurse is going to kick them out." But she didn't. In fact, we started playing cards, and Tani couldn't believe it was Nertz. Like us, she had thought her family invented the game.

Little by little, Tani was jacking up the pitocin. The contractions were getting more uncomfortable, but certainly not unbearable. I was also getting pumped full of fluid, so I was making a lot of trips to the bathroom. There, I could hear what was going on in the next delivery room, and that woman started pushing before noon. It ticked me off, because I had arrived first.

Around 11:30, the good doctor returned, and, yep, I was still the same. The women decided to go and get lunch. I decided to stand up and rock a bit, while reading my People magazine. I hadn't known that, while hooked up to pitocin, I would not be able to walk around the hospital, but I felt I had to try to do something, anything to move this along. The doctor poked his head back in about 45 minutes later, but said, "Oh, you look like you're busy making progress. I don't need to bother you and check you now." I said he was here, so he might as well, and I laid back down. Surprise, surprise. I was now 7 cm, 100% effaced, and the head was down to a 0. He said, "You should get your epidural now, if you want." I said, OK.

Tani paged the anesthesiologist, and, sure enough, while we were waiting for him, the contractions got a lot more intense. It was after 1:00 when I began the discussion with that doctor about my trouble with epidurals. Not only do they make me barfy and take a long time to wear off, but, immediately after the administration, my blood pressure drops off the chart. The nurses basically take turns thinking I'm dying every five minutes, until I deliver. And, since it typically takes just shy of forever for me to deliver, those can be some exhausting hours. The anesthesiologist took that into consideration in his administration, and decided to skip the initial dose of narcotic, and to set the epidural drip at a lower rate. Oh, Todd was not in the room during the epidural administration. He has a history of turning green. And, that was a small room with a lot of equipment for potential head banging. The nurse was very comforting and it was all for the best. And did I mention the anesthesiologist had the personality of my high school history teacher? None.

Before Dr. Drug left the room, I knew something was not right with the epidural. That's the blessing and the curse of having four kids-- been there, done that. Little by little, my left leg began to go numb, but the pain was intensifying on my right side. The nurse said gravity would help, and rolled me onto my right. Nope. I pressed the little button every five minutes to get more medication. Nope. Meantime, everyone else had returned and they were very excited to see there was action! Kristin, you all may know, is finishing her CRNA degree and will soon be a nurse anesthetist in her own right. She tried very hard to be a silent observer, but was called into action by Todd's endless inquisition. She pointed out that I could feel hot and cold down my right side, and it sure seemed the catheter was not in the right space. Truly, I could have gotten up and done a one-legged jig.

Tani paged the anesthesiologist to return. And, that's about the time Nurse Lori stopped in. Lori is a friend, who we actually met while in labor with Elisabeth. It turns out, her family lives very near us, and she has a girl Libby's age and a boy Ben's age. She was working that day, but not in the birth center, so she popped in to say "Hi" and to offer to relieve Tani for a few minutes so she could have lunch. Tani updated her on the epidural situation and left. Lori asked, "Do you think it's possible you're having so much pain because you've made progress and it's time to push?" I said, no, I was not feeling pressure, just the contraction pain, but if she wanted to check anyway, she sure could. At the same time, Doc Delivery returned: "Just had a feeling it was time to check you again."

While he was getting me positioned to do that, and Lori was setting up all the stuff for delivery, Dr. Not-Feel-Good returned. The other peeps were ushered out again. He seemed confident the catheter was not in the wrong place, I just needed more medicine, and proceeded to push an immense amount of narcotics. As you might expect, this would result in my numb side getting number and the pain getting greater (sweet Jesus, was that possible?!) on my non-numb side. The doctor said, "You're ready to push." And I said, "Not until I get these drugs working." Doc said, "Too late. You're having the baby."

I sighed and said, "Well, then call back the women. We don't want them to miss this." Doctor Baby-Catcher challenged me, "Are you sure? You're clearly in a lot of pain. You want them to see that?" I assured him they were not there to see me, but to see the baby being born, and it would be cruel to invite them and then to deprive them of the big show. So, everyone filed back in. Tani waltzed in, finishing her donut, to be my nurse. Lori stayed to be the baby's nurse.

"Two pushes and this baby will be out," Doc Positive cheered. Todd and I both rolled our eyes, because my personal record was a half-hour of pushing. But, someone yelled, "I can see the baby coming out!" Todd scrambled to start the video camera, worried there wasn't enough tape left, and rewound to record over Easter. The doctor said someone needed to grab my legs and I called for Todd, but he later said he was panicked the fourth child would never forgive him if he didn't get that birth on video like he did the others. Ellen grabbed one leg and Kristin grabbed the other. I pushed with the next contraction, and was aware of them counting and telling me, "good job," but that's when things got a little dicey. The baby had a hand up next to her face and the umbilical cord wrapped tightly around her neck. The doctor said, "Don't wait for the next contraction. Just push through the pain and your baby will be born."

Then, she was. At 1:53 p.m., my prince (yes, Todd is my king, but this doctor is my prince) flopped a slimy baby onto my belly and proclaimed, "It's a girl!" Everyone started crying and moving across the room to the warmer to see her. She was eerily blue and quiet at first, due to the cord around her neck, but soon the babe started screaming. her APGAR scores were 7 at one minute, and 9 at five. (The nurses told me with the first child they rarely, hardly ever, give a 10-- try breaking that one to a set of overachieving parents.) The others were hugging each other and vying for views. Nurse Tani leaned over to me and said, "You seem sad." I assured her I was not, just overwhelmed.

The others filed out, so Todd and I could have some time as a family. The baby was wrapped up and returned to me, and immediately latched on to nurse. Todd asked about a name, and I told him to go ahead and pick. Oh, the pressure! He fretted and weighed his options. He wanted to poll the others but I said no, it was bad enough I was letting him name the baby-- I wasn't about to extend the invitation to the rest of the family. He got in brief quizzes with Lori and Tani, who were supportive, but offered no real opinions. Around 3:00 p.m., we called Amanda's classroom, as she had ordered the day before, and told her she had a new baby sister. She asked why it took so long for us to call and Todd said he still couldn't decide on a name. Amanda said, "I could have decided that in three minutes-- it's Samantha!" So, we hung up on her. Finally, Todd asked, "Can I call Libby and ask what she thinks?" So, they decided on the name together.

There were a few more interesting moments. Following her initial silence, the baby began screaming so loudly, and with such a shrill tone, that the nurse in the nursery determined there must be something wrong with her, and summoned not one but two pediatricians to check her out. They ruled out shoulder dislocation from the odd delivery, and could find no other obvious signs of problems. Luckily, this is our fourth child, and Todd and I both just shrugged and said, "Guess she must know how to get our attention." That afternoon nursery nurse later dubbed the baby "Mad Madeline" and I almost punched her when I heard that. Of course, that would have made me "Mad Mommy," so I didn't. Also, after delivering the placenta, I continued to heavily bleed and pass clots, and had to receive additional medication to get things started on the return path to "normal." Furthermore, I laid in the delivery bed for about five hours after the birth, since all that epidural medication kicked in-- after she was born, and still only on my left side.

In the time after Madeline Kate was officially named, the others returned to ooh and aah and to hold her, before leaving. I'm sure I heard Kristin say, "I think I could do that," so, maybe there will be a niece or nephew in our future. All marveled the event was "amazing," and it was.

Monday, April 27, 2009

She Checks Out

Madeline and I had a visit from an OB home health care nurse. This is something I've scheduled after each birth-- just feel better having a professional check. Plus, I did have some questions. For example, around day three, Madeline totally quit pooping. She'd had plenty of dirty diapers up till then, but then just stopped-- 30 hours with no poop. Of course, by the time the nurse came, she was back to her poopy self, so I guess there are no worries.

The nurse said Madeline had beautiful color, and her weight is starting to come back up. I'm sure you know breastfed babies tend to lose weight during their first couple days of life, until Mom's milk comes in. Madeline was 7 lbs. 8.8 oz. at birth, but down to 6 lbs. 14.9 oz. by the time we were discharged. That was considered kind of a big loss, and I was warned about the possibility of formula supplementation. Today, she was on her way up, at 7 lbs. 2.5 oz., so, again, no worries.

The part of the nurse's visit that focused on me was a little odd. She just seemed confident I have everything under control. I'm not so sure, though we are adjusting. The nurse watched to see that I was caring for the baby properly, and warned me about the signs of postpartum depression. But then, in the same breath, she said, "Oh, I'm sure you're not depressed. You're much too busy for that!" Thank heavens, I have not suffered from postpartum depression in the past, and, hopefully, I won't this time either. But, man, if I had been getting ready to make my cry for help, that comment would have stopped me in my tracks.

She also left little piles of garbage all over my den-- wadded-up Kleenex, wrappers from disposable medical equipment. Guess she figured I was already the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe; maybe I wouldn't notice.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Enjoy more photos of Madeline Kate-- and those in attendance on her birthday-- courtesy of my sister. When I'm not nursing or changing tiny diapers, I am answering questions about Madeline. See if you can figure out which resident of Krinkeland asked what:

"When can Madeline come to my school?"
"Is she supposed to get the hiccups?"
"When can that baby go back into your tummy?"
"Why is your tummy still so big?"
"Can I put on Madeline's pajamas?"
"When is the baby going to get some teeth?"
"What's wrong with her belly button?"
"Do you think Madeline will have blue eyes or brown eyes? I think they look kind of hazel."
"Why can't the baby walk?"
"Don't you think she's cold?" (after I find Madeline covered in four blankets)
"Can we put the baby back and get a boy baby?"
"How do you spell 'Madeline' again?"
"Can I hold the baby?" "Can I hold the baby?" "Can I hold the baby?"
"Don't you think Madeline should have a little brother or sister?"

Friday, April 24, 2009

Home, Chaotic Home

The two men in our family, Todd and Benjamin, came to the hospital this morning to pack up me and Madeline, and to bring us home. The doctors gave both of us clean bills of health, along with their blessings. I have many stories to tell about the labor and delivery experience, being a new mom again, our first days as a family of six, and, of course, the amazing and beautiful Madeline Kate. But, right now, I'm exhausted. I don't expect that to change any time soon, but I do expect I will adjust.

Thank you for your prayers and support during this most awesome time in our lives. I would type more, but my arms are literally sore from holding the baby. Yes, I'm cradling her more because she is so tiny and so precious, and because I know she's my last, but mostly because, if I put her down, I'm afraid one of these other fools will accidentally kill her.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More Pictures & Video of Madeline Kate

Madeline Kate Arrives!

Madeline Kate was born at 1:53 p.m. She weighs 7 lbs. 9 oz. and is 19.25" long. It was the quickest birth in Krinkeland history. Two pushes and she was out! Daddy hardly had time to grab the video camera. Kristin and Ellen assisted while Lisa, Mom, and I took video and pictures. Check out the pictures below of our new addition to the Krinke clan. Libby had to help me decide between the two the names I had picked out. Can't wait for you to meet her.


T-minus 24 hours!

We arrived at 7:15 this morning (late of course) and checked into the birthing center. Dr. Minke stopped by to break her water and the pitocin is freely flowing. Here are a few pictures of the expectant mom and our great new nurse Tani. The baby's heartrate is ranging low (134-139) for you old wives' tailers. I will keep you all updated as the day progresses.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Birthday on the Way

My doctor has scheduled an induction for tomorrow, Wednesday, April 22. I have mixed feelings about this turn of events, but I have too much to get done today to dwell on it. I have been wondering if that baby counter is going to go into the negative digits, or what.

Please pray for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. By the next posting, the population of Krinkeland should be six.

On Being Flexible

Elisabeth had her first tumbling class last evening. I must say it has, thus far, been the highlight of my month. I wrestle with this girl-- how obstinate, how emotional/cold/clingy/distant (and I'm never sure which one I'm going to get,) how she seems to have so few interests, how different she is from me.

We made a big step forward last fall when Libby said she wanted to take piano lessons (like Amanda, of course.) She really seems to enjoy playing, and that has been a treat. Cross one off the list. My other push has been for her to do something-- anything-- physical. The girl does not eat. The girl does not go to sleep at night. The girl looks like a stick. The girl does not interact well in groups. Anything, please. Finally, this spring, Libby said she would like to take a gymnastics class. It could be that her best preschool friend had started taking gymnastics, but, whatever.

I paged through the community education catalog, but no gymnastics in the spring. I knew of one fairly large studio here in town, but I had heard they didn't do much for beginners-- it gets to be high-pressure (and high-buck) pretty quickly. Then, I saw an ad in the local shopper for Tumbling Teddies. I remembered hearing about this program from a friend, so I emailed the director.

That brings us to Elisabeth's first Panda class. She loved it! The class was small, with a range of ages and ability levels. The teacher was patient and positive, and somehow able to offer help and constructive criticism without bringing on tears (a skill I have yet to master.)

At the last moment, our whole family decided to come along to watch Libby. That was kind of a disaster, because Amanda immediately went into meltdown mode that she wanted to take a gymnastics class. (She chose a track and field clinic for her spring activity.) We could have let the big sister join... But I really wanted Libby to have something that was just hers. Still, I have a feeling we'll all be back for summer sessions.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Little (Beauty) Shop of Horrors

I decided to curl my hair for the big bash at Amanda's school. A pitiful attempt, I know, and one clearly long overdue, because, to find a curling iron, I had to go down in the basement and unpack a box. That indicates I have not curled my hair in the two-and-a-half years we've lived in this house. And that may explain my girls' fascination with the device and its results.

My usual beauty regimen consists of: shower, teeth brushing, and combing hair while it's still wet. So, when I first put on a robe instead of my clothes, found a tube of tinted face/body shimmer, and heated up the hair iron, my children were dumbstruck. The results were what they were (yeah, did not turn the camera on myself for a photo session-- the point-and-shoot does not have a wide-angle lens) but Amanda and Elisabeth could not stop talking about that curling iron.

"Will you curl my hair?"
"How does that curling iron work?"
"Can I get my hair curled?"
"Will the curling iron make my hair look like that?"
"How do the curls stay in your hair?"

Both girls have inheirited my fine, stick-straight hair, so any manipulation is a challenge. And, I am completely inept with a brush, barrettes, and binders. Most days, Elisabeth does her own hair. But, Sunday morning, everyone was up early, and, after showers were done and church clothes on, the beauty shop opened. Amanda and Elisabeth were thrilled with turned under bangs, and asked each other all the way to church, "Is my hair still curled?"

p.s. Except for the curled bangs, doesn't Amanda look just like Ellen (pictured below?) Everyone always thinks my kid is my sister's.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


We had the annual fundraiser for Amanda's school, Spring Fever, this weekend. The theme this year was "Monopoly Mania"-- everyone in our party (grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles) was "game" to go, but still not in costume. The food was good. The drinks were plentiful. The silent and live auctions were exciting; Krinkeland royalty loaded up on their share of loot. And, according to Grandma, the band was just plain loud.

A good time was had by all. A great time was had by some. I figured I might as well get out of the house-- though putting on a dress and pumps was a challenge, and the rampant belly petting got really old.

Grandma R. and Lisa posed by the hotel Amanda's class decorated.

Kristin bought a "Chance" card and won!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Not an Empty Threat

STOP IT. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop calling and asking whether I'm in labor. Stop calling and asking if there's a plan. Stop calling and saying, "Oh, you poor thing." When I know something, you will know it. If you know nothing, it's because I know nothing.

I am not a private person. I use this blog to discuss saggy boobs and odd hair growth, bowel movements and boogers. I will not keep any news from you. I told you I would tell you whatever I could tell you whenever I had something to tell you. I have many unattractive qualities (short-tempered comes to mind) but I am not a liar.

I cannot sleep. I cannot eat. I have to wrestle with my own excitement, anxiety and scheduling concerns (times five.) I do not need to be burdened with yours, too. I mean it. I will not answer the phone. I will not listen to your messages. If you feel you are going to explode, please take your body to a place where you cannot harm others or make too much of a mess. Either that, or call Todd. He is never easily irked, and might even enjoy talking about me and my misery.

Yes, I am ready to be done with this pregnancy. But, yes, I am also willing to wait because a new child is about the biggest life change there is. I trust my doctor will advise me in making the best decisions, and, so far, he has suggested doing nothing. I have been assured I will not stay pregnant forever-- and I have three rounds of experience to prove that is correct.

You people know who you are. Not naming you here is my final act of mercy. But, if I must out you, I will. And, when I do, any woman who has ever been pregnant, due or overdue will come after you with a vengeance. If necessary, I will change phone numbers. I will change hospitals. I will move. I will change my name and wait to notify you of the baby's birth when he or she goes off to college.

Even if you are standing next to me and notice a pool of amniotic fluid at my feet-- say nothing.

Stop calling me. Don't email, either.

Friday, April 17, 2009

To Everything, Wash, Wash, Wash

I had forgotten springtime coincides with another season around our house-- that would be bath season. This week, my kids have gone from two baths a week to daily scrubbings. I love it that we can finally get outside without the hats and mittens and snowpants, and I want them to have fun. But you know how I feel about dirty kids.

In the winter months, their delicate skin (especially Amanda's) is so dry; plus, they just don't get that dirty, so we skip the baths, unless someone starts to stink or it's church day. But, lately, it's been outside every day. They bring in sand from the beach, dirt from the yard, and dust and rocks from the park. I've had to switch to an inside shoe system for Benjamin-- he typically wears his shoes in the house, due to his ankle braces, but, now, his shoes are so dirty, I'm trying to change them out when he comes in.

I do think it was smart to put a full bath in the mudroom-- just inside-- so the kids come in, strip down, and hose off. However, I wish Todd had taken seriously my other suggestion: Right inside the door, I wanted some of those metal grates in the floor (like you sometimes see at the entrances to retail outlets) to catch some of the dirt. Sweeping, vacuuming and shaking out has become my main exercise routine-- feeble, but funny, since I can't even put on my own socks.

an entire beach 10 feet away, but Ben prefers his sandbox

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Target has 75% off Easter stuff-- not much left, though. What?! If I'm not going to push out a baby today, I might as well shop for bargains. What do you expect me to do-- stay home and clean?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Ice Out and Icy Neighbor Lady Stays In

Spring does not officially arrive in Krinkeland until the last of the ice melts off the lake. That is today! Seems late, for sure, and the lake level is low... But, I'd be hard-pressed to pray for rain when we still have an uncompleted landscaping project from last fall, and any moisture would turn the already messy yard into a mudhole. We took a nice walk and played at the park last evening. Today should bring more of the same.

The other main springtime activity around here has been hiding from the neighbor girl. Did I mention we got new neighbors? Yeah, the boxes began arriving about six weeks ago, along with the rumors. I had "heard" the family included three teenage boys, so, imagine my surprise when I finally waddled over with cookies and discovered living in the house two teenage boys-- and a seven-year-old girl (oh, and a mom and a dad... and a cat, I think... and three refrigerators!)

Though I had been bummed about our best, and only, babysitters moving out some months back, I thought this little girl thing might be great. We live on a busy road, the only neighborhood we really have is made up of others who live on the lake, and there haven't been many opportunities for my kids to just go outside and play. But the change in residents brings a new set of "issues," too.

Let me first say, this is a very nice girl. She is friendly and polite, and seems willing to go along with whatever my kids are playing. And what kid wouldn't have a good time in this House of Wonders? She is Amanda's age, but seems to identify better with Elisabeth. And both girls are thrilled whenever she comes around. However, I am not-- because she COMES AROUND ALL THE TIME.

The first time she came over to play, it was during Spring Break, and, after plenty of hounding by my girls, I invited her. They played for a couple hours, and then I sent her home. Fine. But, not fine, because that opened the floodgate. The second time she rang the doorbell, we were finishing supper, and I was too tired to argue. I let her in to play for "just a little while." About 30 minutes later, her mother called, asking if she was at our house. I was first embarrassed that I had not thought to ask the girl whether her parents knew where she was; then, I was irked it took her parents a half-hour to notice she was missing!

After that, I established some ground rules with my kids. Things like:
1. Don't ever open the door to her-- or anyone else, without my permission.
2. Snack, homework, and piano practice must be done before playing with others.
3. Sometimes I'll say yes, and sometimes I'll say no, depending on how I feel and other plans for the day.
4. Play time will be occasional, certainly not every day.

But, this girl is darn persistent. She is finishing the year in her former school district, which has a different schedule and brings her home an hour before Amanda gets home. That means she is watching and waiting and on our doorstep by the time the bus arrives. I have spoken kindly, but firmly, with her on a couple of occasions, recently telling her, "No, you cannot come in and play right now. I am getting ready to have a baby in a few days, so we are busy with projects around the house." She came back a short time later, insisiting, "But I really want to play."

After supper yesterday, I had promised the kids I'd take them to the park. Before I hit our driveway, the neighbor girl was over with her bike and helmet, ready to ride along. For the first time, her parents were out in their yard, watching the scene unfold. I walked over and said, "We were just going to take a family walk to the park. I don't mind if she comes with us, if it's OK with you." The said, "Great," and turned and went into the house.

I guess that's what chaps my hide more than anything-- Some adult in that house clearly knows where she's going every day, but no one has ever called or walked over to ask whether it's OK with me. No one has ever offered for my kids to play over there (not that I'd allow it, anyway.) I have enough trouble these days chasing after those in my own gene pool... I don't need any more on my plate.

I have no great tactics to deal with this, though I am definitely open to advice. When I told Todd about it, he told me to "chill out" and "let her come over whenever she wants" because "who cares?" Surely, he does not-- he's never here. So, I'm keeping the garage door closed, and sometimes, I don't even answer the door. In fact, yesterday, a friend stopped by. I did not jump up when I heard the doorbell, because I assumed it was the neighbor. Finally, my kids alerted me it was actually someone else. My friend was laughing as I invited her inside. She told me the neighbor girl was hovering as she walked up, and when I didn't answer the bell, the little girl advised, "Oh, just wait. They're home. I know they're home."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Good Wife Would Never Do Such a Thing

Hey, want to know the most intolerable scene to a 14-months pregnant woman, up in the middle of the night?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hop, Hop, Bunny, Bunny

Made you nervous, didn't I? Waiting till the very end of the day to post... You thought there was something going on around here, didn't you? Sorry, just the usual home-kids-work-life stuff. But here are some Easter pictures to make us all smile.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Tax Man Cometh, Jesus Too!

I stayed up half the night with Todd as he tried (unsuccessfully) to finish filing the taxes. Always the procrastinator, this is an annual ritual. He hates doing the taxes, but refuses to pay someone else to do them (grief-to-dollar ratio, I tell you.) So, he waited as long as he could, and then started sifting through piles. I'm not criticizing the job he does-- I sure don't want to do it-- but maybe the problem lies in his filing system:

Now, it is early morning, and he is snoring. The baby woke me around 5:00, and I'm just anxiously waiting for the other kids to get up. When I put them to bed last night, they were bouncing off the walls about Easter. As I turned dirty play clothes right-side-out, I was thinking, "Whoop-dee-doo, another holiday. Just more work for me." But, I must confess I'm still the first awake on special days, lying in bed, listening for the first rustlings, and then their exclamations about hidden eggs or filled stockings, and loudly whispered debates about when it might be OK to wake Mom and Dad.

I put out the fancy church clothes and packed the car last night, so (hopefully) that should make things go more smoothly this morning. When Todd is finally roused from his slumber and it's time to get ready, he will march around the house singing, "Jesus Christ is Risen Today!" He does it every year... claims that's what his dad used to do on Easter morn, though I can't really picture it. Until that happens, I'll leave you with this scene from the primary grades' "Journey Through Holy Week" play at Amanda's school, because her class got to be the ones to find the tomb empty. I especially love it when the guards are struck down in amazement:

Friday, April 10, 2009

B-Day, but No D-Day

It's my sister's birthday-- Happy Birthday, Ellen! She celebrated by watching my children all day. Seriously. Some people just don't know how to have a good time. But I did. Finished up Easter errands. Attended Good Friday church service in peace. Oh, and I went to the doctor.

My doctor asked, "So, when are you going to have this baby?" (Hmm... I think I've heard that question once or twice before.) I shrugged and said, "I'd like to go another week, at least. This is a busy time. But everyone else would like me to have the baby today." He looked me up and down and said, "I doubt it."

Upon examination, it was discovered I am dilated to three centimeters and 70% effaced. Too much information? I totally agree, but there are some who ask, and you know who you are. So, I made another appointment for next week and went home, but not before Doc issued a serious warning about forcibly getting this baby out of me if there is still no action in seven days. But I'm not scared... don't think the babe feels threatened, either.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Only in Krinkeland

Benjamin's "team" from the school district has finally finished evaluating him, and we had a meeting today to discuss a "plan" for moving forward, from the time he turns three (this July) until he starts kindergarten. You'll remember from the time services began for him around age one, the main concern has been Ben's deficiency in gross motor development. With his large head and low muscle tone, he simply does not have the strength to do other things boys his age do: run, jump, balance on one foot, kick a ball. However, the testing involved all aspects of Ben's development, from motor skills to speech to cognitive ability to self-help.

Crazy as it sounds, based on the results of Ben's testing, the experts are suggesting something of a shift in focus. Yes, he does lag behind his peers for physical aptitude, and he does qualify to begin weekly adaptive physical education sessions, beginning in the fall. We will also continue with monthly visits from the physical therapist. However, Ben scored way above his peers for speech (age four) and way, way above for cognitive ability (age six.)

So, believe it or not, the early childhood interventionalists are equally concerned about addressing his exceptional intelligence. One actually used words like "prodigy" and "genius." He suggested we should consider enrolling him in music lessons and look into brain-stimulating computer programs.

I couldn't help rolling my eyes and putting up a bit of a stink. Here, all along, I have been pushing to get this child some help, just so he can catch up and be like others his age. And Todd has been telling me to relax, that none of it is necessary, that Ben is just fine and will come around in due time. Now, though, the tables are turned. Todd was thrilled with the cognitive scores, vowed to start teaching Ben chess, and commented, "Great. Maybe one of these kids will finally make me some money. Do you think we can get him on the "Tonight Show?"

Not to diminish our shining star, who most certainly got 'dem smarts from moi, but I argued I would be happy if we could just get him to a place where he doesn't fall and hit his head every day... Where he can play at the park without screaming, "Help me!" from the top of the slide... Where he says, "Mommy, I have to go to the bathroom" before his pants are full, instead of waiting till afterward and yelling, "Eew, Mommy, something stinks! Change me! There's poop stuck on my penis! My poopy is hurting me!"

No, my next stop on the information superhighway is not the MENSA website. I just put the "genius prodigy" down for his nap, after reading for the third time "Where the Wild Things Are" (or "Where Are Those Wild Things," as Big Brain says.) Nope, now I'm going down for a nap, too. Kids make my head hurt.

But, first, one funny Benjamin story. I was thinking of the speech clinician's report (that part was done a while ago) where she noted Ben's ability to string together many words in complex sentences. While riding in the car, Ben was pointing out different kinds of birds, and talking about what they were doing. I drove him around the lake, to the backwater, which is now open and where I knew there would be a flock of geese. I pointed out the geese and that really set him off:
Ben: "I see them. I see those geese. I see big geese. Look at all them!"
Mom: "What are the geese doing?"
Ben: "They are swimming in the water. The sunshine is sparkling on the water. But it must be cold. They can swim to our house next."
Mom: "No, the geese can't swim to our house, yet, because there's still ice on our part of the lake."
Ben: "No, but they could walk on the ice. Or, they could walk on the road. Or they could fly up in the trees. They could hide in the trees. They could play Hide-and-Seek. They could play games." (finally takes breath-- guess that's what she meant by stringing together words)
Mom: "Oh, do geese play games? I didn't know they liked to play games."
Ben: "Yeah, they can play Duck, Duck, Goose!" (cracks himself up)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


We are under the two-week mark, so I guess you could say we are officially counting down to Baby Day. It's that time when, whenever I get a pain of some sort, whoever else is in the room gives me "the look." Friends and family are calling, saying, "I haven't talked to you in a couple days, so I just wanted to check." Word of advice: Don't do that. It's annoying. I distinctly remember being overdue with Amanda and changing the voice mail on our phone: "No baby today. If you want to talk about something else, leave a message and we'll call you back."

The girls love the baby counter on the side of the blog, and are always reminding me how many days are left. I've been trying to explain that babies often do not come on the due date-- sometimes a little earlier or a little later-- but it's falling on deaf ears. Since one is lobbying for a girl and the other for a boy, and since we don't really care for most of the names the sisters have picked out, we should have plenty of disappointment to go around in Krinkeland.

The past few days have brought stretches of somewhat painful, somewhat consistent contractions, but, after a couple hours, they fizzle out. I think this is what doctors call "false labor," and I am a pro at it. It can literally go on for a week or two. Not once yet have I thought, "This is it." Be assured, you will know. I will post something here when we go to the hospital.

Now, I know we all get wrapped up in our own lives, but Todd and I had the pleasure, while attended the memorial for long-time friend Les Anderson, of catching up with old friends, some of whom actually asked, "Are you pregnant?" If not, that would be some tumor, I tell you. My favorite was one crazy who, after asking the ages of our other children, just shook her head, clucked her tongue and said, "You kids."

My father-in-law asked whether I would soon give up the fight and schedule an induction. I assured him I was much too stubborn-- and much too busy-- to do that. "There's too much going on this time of year," I said. "We need to get through Holy Week. We need to get through Easter. Then, there's this fundraiser at Amanda's school..." FIL said he thought it would be "glorious" to have the baby on Easter Sunday. I said, true, but, please, no, because my husband would probably f-up Easter morning for the other kids.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grocery Shopping, Complicated

I finally made an attempt to enter the 21st century, and I ordered groceries online. I know, I know... some of you have been doing this for a decade. But, we live in a more rural area, so the service has not been available here for that long. Add to it the fact that grocery shopping was not a big deal-- until I became the mother of nearly four kids and always had to drag some contingency of them with me to the market.

As much as I like other kinds of shopping, I despise grocery shopping. It takes too long, it costs too much, I can never find everything on my list (sometimes, I can't even find my list,) I forget the reusable bags in the car... Have I whined enough, yet? But, with all these mouths in the house, I have to go, weekly, and spend $100 each time, it seems.

So, I saw an ad in the paper for the grocery delivery company that services our town. There was a coupon-- you know how I love coupons-- and I decided I would try it once. I went online and checked out the website. It was easy to access and seemed easy to use. I practiced putting things in my cart, and I checked the coupon deadline. Then, I left a half-full cart for a few days, and came back to it this morning.

The problems are:
*Some of the prices are competitive, but more are considerably higher than in my local store (I'd venture 25-40% higher.)
*The selection is not great. Some of the products I buy weekly are totally unavailable.
*Someone else is picking out my produce, and my meat. Isn't that weird?
*I can't check expiration dates.

But, I managed to fill my cart with staples and eventually get to the checkout page. Lo and behold, there I discovered the company accepts manufacturer's coupons. Start over. By this time, I'd become more familiar with the site and the products carried, so I went through my coupons and found some other things to buy. I refined my list, entered the coupon amounts, and proceeded with payment. The final page gave a big warning in red about being sure to leave my coupons in an envelope with a complicated labeling system for the driver or I will not get credit for the discounts. This is getting more stressful. I can hardly wait for tomorrow's delivery-- hope I don't go into labor.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Somebody's Knockin' At My Door

After all the kids were in bed last evening, I decided to take a bath. I don't often soak in the tub-- just seems as though the set-up and clean-up require too much effort. But, I was pooped and puffy, and looking forward to some warm weightlessness. I did not announce to anyone that I was taking a bath, so as not to draw attention to myself. Good plan.

I ran the water, got out the towels and soap, laid down a bath mat, hung up my pajamas, shut the door and locked it. I never lock the door. Two reasons: I want the kids to be able to access me in an emergency; and, I'm somewhat paranoid I could fall down or get stuck and would need assistance. But, I really didn't want anyone walking in on me, and I couldn't think why anyone would need to, at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

However, with the click of the button, you'd think I had Hannah Montana in there with me, or maybe a half-gallon of cookies and cream ice cream. I suddenly became the hottest ticket in town.

The bathtub was not yet full when the first knock came. I did not answer, and my husband (at least, I think it was him) was smart enough to gently try the doorknob and then leave. A minute or two later, another knock: "Mommy?" Amanda called. "I can't sleep." I shooed her away, but she and Elisabeth must have must have passed each other in the hall. Libby was more persistent with her knob-rattling. "Mommy? Mom? Mom?! What are you doing in there?! I can't sleep. When will you be done? Will you come and tuck me in? Will you kiss me goodnight?" All of a sudden, something (a butt, I think) jutted out the top of my belly. Then, the in-utero hiccups started. Aah, relaxing times.

The only family member who did not intrude on my bath time was Benjamin, and I'm pretty sure that's because he was already zonked. Also, he was baby-gated in his room. I should invest in more baby gates.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Will My Kids "Be Still" for Holy Week? Ha!

As is our family's tradition, we celebrated Easter a bit early, on this Palm Sunday, with the Rs (who are out of town on the actual holiday.) The kids certainly got in gear, with plenty of palm-waving, hymn-singing, basket-finding, sweets-eating, and egg-dyeing. I will post photos when I figure out how to upload them with this new equipment. Suffice it to say, Benjamin has blue hands. And their poor cat is going to sleep for a week. A great time was had by all.

I'm getting in gear for Holy Week, too, though I am sure that is not the correct Christian terminology. This morning's sermon urged the daily, simple prayer: "Lord, I will follow You, wherever You go." And church ended with the Lord's important message to us: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalms 46:10.)

UPDATE: On Monday, Elisabeth was reliving the events of Palm Sunday. She told me, while Aunt Lisa and I were running errands, Grandma had taught her how to play the card game "Hearts." Then, she said, she and Amanda played cards with Daddy and Grandma. "Not Grandpa?" I asked. "He didn't play?" Libby's reply: "Are you really asking me that question, Mom? Did Grandpa play cards? What do you think? Grandpa was like this: (head back, eyes closed, mouth open, imitates snoring.)"

Friday, April 3, 2009

Rock of Love

Today's post comes to you compliments of our new computer! Now, I know you won't be able to tell any difference, but I sure can. We were operating on a dinosaur of a Dell out of the back room here in Krinkeland palace-- a place where a fish tank monitor, frozen cursors, and blue screens of death were commonplace. This new thing is sleek and hot, and I have no idea how to use it... but typing seems to be going OK.

That's a good thing, too, because I am especially short on patience, after another sleepless night. It was a weird one. In addition to the usual aches and pains, kicks under the ribs, and hourly trips to the bathroom, I had some company last night.

Around 10:30, I was dozing in front of the recorded version of the behind-the-scenes of "ER" show, and Todd was playing with this here new computer. Amanda walked into the room and started giggling. I asked her what was wrong, what she was doing up, and she mumbled something incoherently and then turned and took off. I first thought she was headed to Todd, and I called out, "I think Amanda is sleepwalking and I think she's coming to see you." We both got up to check and discovered Amanda had instead walked all the way downstairs, turned on the lights, and was sitting at the kitchen table. Her eyes were open and she was shaking, as Todd picked her up to carry her back to bed. They had an entire conversation, which, of course, Amanda did not remember this morning. Freaky.

About three hours later, Todd finally came to bed. I'd complain he woke me up, but I hadn't really been sleeping. However, when he discovers I am awake (and not happy about it) he likes to do this really annoying thing: start rubbing and knocking on my belly and talking to the baby. Naturally, this starts a new round of rolls and kicks, which generally continues once Daddy Dearest has started snoring.

Shortly after the snore machine revved up, Benjamin started calling for me. That boy typically sleeps well for a couple weeks and then has a week or two where he's up at least once every night. He's not sick; I figure he's either growing or spoiled-- probably both. Lately, I've just been ignoring him and he eventually goes back to sleep. But, since I was clearly awake, and he was repeatedly yelling, "Mommy, I need you," I figured I'd check things out.

We played all the usual games. Ben's cup got filled. I read a book. I gave him a stack of books to read himself. I found his teddy bear and untangled his blanket. I turned on his new fish light. I sang a song. Within a few minutes of me leaving, Ben started whimpering again. After more than an hour of on-again-off-again carrying on, I returned-- not the most consistent parenting tactic I know, but we both needed to get some sleep, and I was surrendering to whatever it took to make that happen. Ben held out his arms and begged, "Wock me, Mommy, over dere."

I picked up Benjamin and wrapped him in his blanket, carried him to the rocking chair, and tried to position him on my non-existent lap as we sat and rocked. Ben's head drooped over the crook of my arm... his legs bent and dangled down my legs, kicking my calves. He was looking up at me, but his eyelids were heavy.

Next to us sat the crib, filled with stacks of tiny socks and caps and other assorted baby gear. Soon, this boy ("I am a big boy") will no longer be my baby. Soon, I'll have my arms full with a much smaller, more demanding child. Soon, Ben will truly be too big to rock. (There's no way I could have picked up the sleepwalking seven-year-old and carried her upstairs.) Sleep would have been nice... But I was glad I had gone back to the nursery, glad I had picked up my son to cuddle him, even though I was also coddling him.

I don't share many of the tender moments of parenting, mostly because I'm not very good at making them. I am much better at supervising homework and piano practice, completing to-do lists, and yelling. But there is that soft side of motherhood, too-- faithful, sleepless, constant comforter. Can I put that on a resume?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Shopping for Life Lessons

I talk to my kids all the time-- mostly because they're the only people around to talk to, but, so what? Sometimes they even listen. And they ask a lot of questions. Often, I forget how old (young) they are, and I find I'm caught off-guard by the things they don't understand... and then I have to find some way to explain.

One day, while entering the drugstore, Amanda noticed a poster warning of the dangers of meth. (We live in a huge meth-producing and -using area.) Amanda pointed to the photo of the strung-out young woman and asked me what was wrong with her. "That's what doing drugs will get you," I warned. She asked, "What are drugs?" Then, I had to come up with a child's definition of drugs, illegal street varieties versus legal medications, why they're bad even though they can make you feel good, etc.

While driving through the grocery store parking lot today, Benjamin and Elisabeth oohed and aahed over a fancy coach bus that was picking up passengers. I read the sign on the side of the bus and said, "Isn't that a big bus? It's going to the casino. Sometimes Gua (their great-grandma) takes a bus like that to the casino." Libby asked, "What's a casino?" Here we go again...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Now, Who's the Fool?

The girls are very excited about April Fools' Day this year. It's never really been the "holiday" for me. But, I guess they have decided to branch out from their repertoire of knock-knock jokes... So, we have been looking for some good, clean fun. Need some ideas of pranks and jokes to play on those around you? Here's what we've found:

Kidzworld, clean practical jokes and pranks
Family Fun, sight gags and food pranks
Funmunch, more complicated pranks and some are mean
Discover Fun, more of the same
Jokes by Kids (self-explanatory)

Then, of course, there are great cards at Hallmark. Grandma already sent one that's waiting in our inbox. These crack up my kids for hours.

And, because my kids are the kind who always ask why something is, or how it came to be:, famous for de-bunking urban legends, tackles the origins of April Fools' Day. A common story is that April Fools' Day has its roots in the 1500's when the Gregorian calendar took over from the Julian. People confused by the switch, who celebrated New Year's on the wrong date (previously April 1) were teased as "April Fools." Whether that story is true or not remains "undetermined" according to Snopes. This page also discusses other April Fools' theories and folklore. "Superstition has it that the pranking period expires at noon on the 1st of April and any jokes attempted after that time will call bad luck down on the head of the perpetrator."

And, because no one makes me laugh like Jack Handey: "One thing kids like is to be tricked. For instance, I was going to take my little nephew to Disneyland, but instead I drove him to an old burned-out warehouse. 'Oh, no,' I said. 'Disneyland burned down.' He cried and cried, but I think that deep down, he thought it was a pretty good joke. I started to drive over to the real Disneyland, but it was getting pretty late."