Sunday, May 31, 2009

Give an Inch, I'll Take a Yard

When I was in junior high, I had a math teacher who was always ranting about yard work. He would tell our class he wished he could just pour concrete wherever there was grass, so he would not have to mow. Having a father who was meticulous about his lawn (still is,) I thought this was weird. And, since the teacher just happened to live next door to the family of one of my best friends, I was also somewhat appalled for their sakes.

Fast-forward 22 years, and, except for the fact that he's not Asian or 20 years older than me, I could swear I married the algebra teacher. We hired a landscaper to fix and finish some stuff that badly needed fixing and finishing. But, every time I look out a window, I see another truckload of rock or another pallet of pavers. My husband made the mistake a couple weeks back of asking me what I thought of the project, and I told him it looked like landscape projectile vomit.

I had to put a stop to things before every blade of green was gone from our postage-stamp-sized lot. When I asked why there was rock under the hedge shrubs, Todd said, "Because I don't want to mow around them." When I asked why we were planting bushes next to the sewer pump, Todd said, "Because I don't want to mow around it." He left two little strips of green in the backyard-- one around the firepit and one between the two tiers of retaining walls, but, now, he says, he doesn't know how he's going to nagivate all this landscaping block to get the mower to the little patches of grass.

However, from my perspective, I think the patio under the deck will be a nice shady area, and will hopefully cut down on the amount of dirt and grass that gets tracked into the house.

The new curved stairs that were moved to the end of the retaining wall (there were previously stairs up the center) are much easier to navigate, and bring you up from the beach right to the edge of the patio and base of the deck stairs.

And, we had to replace the mulch around the swing set, because the mulch stuck to the kids' feet, but washed away when it rained. Navigating the rock will be a learning curve for Benjamin, though. His knees are pretty banged up after a day of climbing.

Mom says we're ready for "Better Homes and Gardens." I'm just ready to reclaim what little yard we have, so I can send the kids out to play in it. Inside, all they want to do is make messes. Darn kids.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Having a Field Day

Todd took the day off Friday to volunteer with Track & Field Day at Amanda's school. As you can see, they were the yellow team, team name "Bumblebees." They took third place overall-- and Amanda was so excited to not just get a "participation" ribbon. (I think Dad was pretty proud, too.) Ellen and I and the other kids went to the park to watch for a while. It was a beautiful day, and everyone had a ball!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Unexpected Postpartum Conditions

In medical news, I spent the evening in Urgent Care, where I was diagnosed with both pink eye and two broken toes. The two conditions appear to be unrelated. I probably would not have sought medical attention for one or the other (I pretty much already had it figured out) but I started thinking about how famous people always die in threes... and I was worried about what my third ailment might be if I didn't treat the other two.

Yes, I know how you get pink eye, so I'm sorry if the news grosses you out. What I don't know is how I got pink eye. Nobody else here has it, and I literally wash my hands at least 45 times each day-- always before and after diaper changes. Plus, I own stock in hand sanitizer. God has a sense of humor.

As for the toes, I opened the refrigerator yesterday morning and a can of Diet Mountain Dew toppled out and landed top-down on the edge of my foot. (Another sign from the Almighty-- lay off the Dew; it will get you one way or another!) This was quite painful, and I may have even said a naughty word in front of a breakfast table full of little ears. The deformed appearance and dark purple lines emerged. But, I think I've broken all my toes at one time or another, so I knew there wasn't much to be done. Urgent Care Doc, who was more "urgent" than "care"-ful-- and oddly tan, by the way, confirmed it. Just to make me laugh, he offered a cast, because that would be oh-so-practical. We agreed instead on cotton between the toes, some medical tape around them, and flip-flops as my official footwear.

The best part of the evening was going to the hospital with Madeline. Of course, she is too little for me to leave for any amount of time, and Todd was out with the other children, anyway. Urgent Care and the Emergency Department share a waiting room and triage area... and it was chock full of unsavories on a Friday evening. That meant Madeline and I spent our time pacing the hallway-- to avoid everyone else's cooties. It was either that, or survey the other waiting patrons the way my mom does: "What do you have? Are you contagious? Does your kid know how to cover his mouth when he coughs? You're just bleeding-- it might be safe to sit next to you."

What the World's Been Waiting For

For some reason, our email account now receives Amazon's Gold Box Deal of the Day alerts. Most days, I just delete, because I haven't gotten around to figuring out how to cancel them. But how could I not open a message entitled "Make Everything Taste Like Bacon for 20% Off?"

On a quest to make everything taste like bacon J & D's Bacon Salt is well on its way. Starting with Original, Hickory, and Peppererd flavors they have now extended to include Natural Bacon Salt and several Limited Edition flavors (Applewood, Jalapeno, Mesquite, Cheddar and Maple Redux). And now they have expanded beyond Bacon Salt to add Baconnaise to their product line. Maybe the most amazing part is that this great bacon flavor comes with no guilt (excepting the Baconnaise of course) - low sodium, zero calories, zero fat, vegetarian, and kosher. So enjoy the bacon salt and help J & D's on their quest.

Haven't tried it... not plugging it... I'm just saying...

Click here for the deal.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Retiree

Have I mentioned my dad is retiring? After a lifetime in the classroom, he's turning in his grade book. (Yeah, I know grades are computerized these days... but I'm not sure Dad does.) It took him a long time to make the decision, and everyone is uneasy about the transition into this next stage of life. Still, I think it's pretty exciting. I sure don't regret my decision to "retire." Picking up the new profession of motherhood, on the other hand-- that one gets second-guessed on a daily basis.

So, this afternoon was the first of a number of retirement parties. It was filled with the requisite funny, old photos and "I remember when" stories. Everyone poked fun at how Dad likes to talk all the time, bribes people with chocolate, and still gets confounded by the most common computer programs. Some of his colleagues pulled me aside to feign pity on me-- to warn that Dad won't know what to do with himself next year... that he'll be knocking on my door... that my sister and I (the stay-at-home contingency) will have to find ways to occupy him.

But, the joke's on them. Dad can come over any time he wants, because, when Dad's here, he WORKS. He cleans, he fixes, he paints, he plays Uno, he changes poopy diapers. He's like the wife I've been wishing for. And, anyway, if things do go from bad to worse, I have caller i.d.

Pizza! Pizza!

While driving through a neighboring town, I noticed a pizza joint going into a new strip mall: Little Caesars! I have not seen a Little Caesars-- or those annoying "Pizza! Pizza!" commercials-- since I was in college! We used to order Little Caesars all the time. Believe you me, there is nothing better than Crazy Bread and a cheap, hot, cheesy pizza after a long night of... studying. Ah, memories.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Smiley Face

I dismissed the first smile sightings as a combination of gas and overeager grandparents. But, now, there is no denying it-- Madeline is smiling! Yeah, so, I'm going on just a couple hours of sleep. Yeah, so, every phone call made or received in this house raised my blood pressure a few points. Yeah, so, the next two older kids spent most of the day screaming their guts out and beating on each other. Yeah, so, I didn't get a shower till 3:30 p.m. Yeah, so, I spent what coherent moments I had trying to capture the grin with the camera. That smile is all worth it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Belly Button

I took Madeline to the pediatrician because her belly button did not seem to be healing properly. Her umbilical cord stump dried up and fell off, as expected, about a week after her birth... But, remaining in the middle of her belly button was a red, weepy "bubble" of skin, or, as Uncle Ted observed, "She has a waaay outie." Since she is my fourth child, I knew Madeline did not have a life-threatening condition, but this is one I had not seen before.

Dr. Nonchalant took one look, shrugged and said, "Oh, yeah. It's a granuloma. Totally common. No big deal. But we need to treat it." The doctor explained it to me as some extra scar tissue that is left over after the stump comes off. No one knows why it happens. It doesn't hurt the baby because there are no nerve endings. (I was worried about this because it rubbed against Madeline's undershirts and also really bulged out when she would cry.) The doctor got silver nitrate and applied it with a cotton swab, to basically burn off the excess skin. Madeline slept through the procedure. How lovely, after all the screaming during our last visit.

The pediatrician said we may have to return in a couple weeks to do it again, because Madeline's umbilical granuloma was quite large and oozing a bit. Right now, her belly button is gray. Eeuuw. I will not post a photo.

Just thought you might like to know... Even after all these kids, I'm still learning. Now, if you see it on your new baby, you'll know not to freak out, but to go to the doctor to get it fixed. Thank heaven, some day she'll still be able to wear a bikini and get her belly button pierced.

It's a Dirty Job

"This was a good weekend-- not a relaxing one, but a good one," Todd told me in bed last night. Yeah, with four kids, none of them self-sufficient, "relaxing" really isn't a word in our vocabulary. Todd filled the weekend with dirty jobs, which took a lot longer than necessary because he let the kids "help": yard work, mixing and pouring cement for the basketball pole, getting the boat from storage and starting to clean it. Oh, yeah, and he finally finished, I mean totally finished, the glass block wall in the bathroom-- scrubbed the rest of the brick, sealed the grout, put back the tools and other odds and ends in his shop.

Now, Todd has taken four showers in the past 24 hours. Have to clean up after each dirty job, I guess. Or, just enjoy standing in the steam of many shower heads and racking up our water bill.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Oliver!

Today is my youngest nephew's first birthday. Many of you will remember back a year, a little more, to my sister's hospitalization and her son's premature birth. I know I echo her thanks, and my BIL's, for all the prayers and support over the past year. For more on the one-year-old, then and now, check out the Beaudry Beat. But, as you can see, Oliver is pretty terrific!

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lessons for a Long Weekend

I pass along some of the things I have learned so far this weekend:

1. Even if you had no indication she wasn't feeling well, other mothers at the birthday party will still shoot you daggers when your kid comes out of the bowling alley restroom and announces, "I have diarrhea!"
2. Do not laugh when the five-year-old emerges from her bedroom terribly overdressed in a wool skirt, cardigan sweater and tights, and then protests, "But, it's the only thing I have that matches!" Also, when you return with her to the closet to pick out something more weather-appropriate and you both agree on a short-sleeved dress, do not roll your eyes when she asks, "But does it have anything special about it?" Instead, point out the sash and the embroidered flowers on the smocking.
3. Do not send your husband to the nursery to pick out shrubs to finish the landscaping, unless you truly do not care what he comes home with.
4. When a two-year-old yells, "Hey, let's play 'Rock, Paper, Scissors!'" in church, it is easier to just play with him than to shush him.
5. It does no good to fib "just five more minutes" to a seven-year-old wearing a watch.
6. Using expensive diapers does not mean there will not be poop blowouts.
7. There's no point in protesting when your husband wants to spend the holiday weekend shopping for a triathlon bike-- as long as he takes at least two children with him to do it.
8. When you live in a lake town, avoid Wal-Mart at all costs on the weekend.
9. Even though he is a new parent himself, a young guy doing work on your house will still be terribly embarrassed if he comes across you breastfeeding.
10. Plopping in front of the TV to nurse at all hours really stinks when the only thing on is a "Jon & Kate Plus 8" marathon.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

One Month

Because I have been a day late and a dollar short on absolutely everything this week, I am just now posting the big, big news that Madeline is one month old! Where has the time gone? I assure you, I have not been sleeping it away. We celebrated by weeding out the newborn-sized outfits she has already outgrown. And, because the pediatric scale is in the same room as the computer, I just weighed Madeline. The scale read 9 lbs. 12.5 oz., which can't possibly be right, unless her sleeper weighs at least a pound.

In other age-related news, today is my brother's birthday. Ted is 396 months old.

Friday, May 22, 2009

On Broadway

Last evening brought more musical entertainment by one of our children. Amanda's school's spring program had a Broadway theme. I'm not sure who had the better time: the performers, the audience, or the director. First grade is so fun to watch; the kids are so enthusiastic-- and so twitchy!

the most dedicated music teacher I've ever met, and one of her adoring students (mine)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pomp and Circumstance

We have a graduate in the house. Elisabeth has officially graduated from preschool, and what a ceremony it was! Do I think it's silly to make such a fuss over a fake "graduation?" Of course. Were they all so cute, anyway? Of course. It was just shy of 8000 degrees in the church, but all the little scholars got dolled up and donned their caps and gowns. Still, I think my favorite picture was this:

It's a production in itself-- the parents and grandparents jockeying for seats, views, and photos.

Libby was very excited, and proud to have her family there. The classes put on a little program, too. I asked her beforehand, "Are you going to sing loudly?" To that, Elisabeth rolled her eyes and sighed, "Mom, you know I am the loudest singer in the class." We will miss Libby's teachers, who are so kind and so good to her. If Benjamin can ever lose the diapers, maybe he'll get to attend in the fall.

And, because it's a Christian preschool, I leave you in prayer:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Big Show

Amanda brought Madeline to school for show-and-tell.

On the day her baby sister was born, Amanda was telling all the teachers and staff, "My mom is having the baby today. She'll probably bring the baby to school to show us this afternoon, or maybe tomorrow." After everyone gently pointed out that it was not likely to happen, Amanda made me promise to bring in Madeline for the day in May when it was her turn for show-and-tell.

Things went well. The beloved teacher reminded the children about 42 times that they could not touch the baby. Madeline stayed in her car seat, and managed to hold on to her sleep through Amanda's loud presentation and big gestures. I lost count of the number of times Amanda said "poop," but she otherwise did a good job describing her sister. She knew just how old Madeline was and approximately how much she weighed, and she pointed out the important features like her hair. When asked whether she liked being a big sister, Amanda replied, "I love it. It's the best thing ever."

Monday, May 18, 2009


Three years ago, my mom warned me of the biggest household change with the addition of a third child: the laundry. And, she was right-- the piles grew exponentially. I combatted this by changing my once-a-week big laundry job to instead washing a load of lights and a load of darks every day. Every single day.

But, my mother was smart enough to stop at three. Since Madeline's birth, I've had so many kind offers for meals, and child care and fun outings for the older children, and treats and gifts. But, no one has come over to do the laundry. The day I gave birth, my mom sorted and folded and put away until every last stitch was clean and in its place. That was the last time the laundry in this house was done. I've decided to just let the piles win.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Keep the Momentum Going

Good news on another front. This comes from the Associated Press:

NEW YORK - The Gallup Poll reported Friday that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion, the first time a majority gave that answer in the 15 years that Gallup has asked the question.

The findings, obtained in an annual survey on values and beliefs conducted May 7-10, marked a significant shift from a year ago. A year ago, 50 percent said they were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life — in the new poll, 42 percent said they were pro-choice.

The new survey showed that Americans remained deeply divided on the legality of abortion — with 23 percent saying it should be illegal in all circumstances, 22 percent saying it should be legal under any circumstances, and 53 percent saying it should be legal only under certain circumstances.

The findings echoed a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center, which reported a sharp decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases — from 54 percent to 46 percent.

Taken together, the two polls have elated anti-abortion activists, who had been stung by the November election results that placed President Barack Obama and other abortion-rights supporters in power in Washington.

Click here to get the complete story: "Majority of Americans Now Pro-Life, Poll Says"

A Voice for Autism

This is important to my friend, and so it is important to me. The following comes from her:

There's a bill currently making its way through the house in MN to require insurance companies to guarantee coverage for Autism therapies which are not covered by 90% of large, considered traditionally not only "good" but the BEST insurers. This is super painful for so many families who need critical intervention for therapy for kids who have every promise growing up with the right help and support that are not included in today's healthcare packages. Amazingly, there are only 7 states in the union that actually guarantee this coverage today, with many states introducing bills to mandate what should be covered to better the lives of many children.

Please spend a couple minutes writing or emailing a congress person to show support.. email, snail mail or whatever works for you. Please send this to everyone YOU know who has a voice; you will make a difference in the lives of so very many. Thanks in advance!

Autism Speaks, the nation’s largest autism science and advocacy organization, applauded Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA,) Chris Smith (R-NJ,) Eliot Engel (D-NY,) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) for their introduction of a House companion bill to the Senate's Autism Treatment Acceleration Act (ATAA,) which was introduced last month by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL,) Robert Casey (D-PA,) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ,) Like the Senate version, the House version of the ATAA (H.R. 2413) is comprehensive federal legislation that addresses several critical challenges facing the autism community, including increased funding for scientific research, treatment and services.

The ATAA incorporates provisions from the Expanding the Promise of Individuals with Autism Act (EPIAA), originally proposed by Representatives Doyle, Smith, Engel, and former Representative Chip Pickering. As in the Senate's ATAA bill, a key section of the House bill requires all insurance companies to provide coverage for the diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASDs,) including coverage of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy-– a medically necessary, evidence-based autism treatment. While the number of states that have enacted comprehensive autism insurance reform legislation has grown to ten, most state insurers are still allowed to specifically exclude coverage for these critical services, which can cost upward of $50,000 a year, well beyond the means of most families.

The House version of the bill also addresses the unique needs of adults with ASDs, creating a demonstration project with one-year planning grants and multi-year implementation grants for the provision of service for adults with autism. In addition, it creates the Network for Autism Spectrum Disorders Research and Services, aimed at accelerating the dissemination and utilization of critical, new information, moving it from “bench to bedside” as quickly as possible.

Now help get ATAA Passed! CONTACT YOUR FEDERAL REPRESENTATIVE! Urge him/her to become a cosponsor of the ATAA bill, H.R. 2413. Call your Representative's office and let him/her know that you support the ATAA bill, H.R. 2413, and you want your Representative to become a cosponsor today. Send an email to your Representative!Autism Votes has written part of the email message for you. Click here for the email form, or more information on these bills: Autism Votes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Run, Forrest, Run!

Amanda chose to take part in the community education track meet. At least she had the wind at her back-- it felt as though it was about six degrees out this morning! Daddy watched and cheered her on through each of the first grade girls' heats. She came home with a fistful of ribbons, and said, "Mom, I am so proud of myself!" I asked her which event was her favorite and she surprised me by saying it was the "distance" run, 200 yards. "When I first saw how far that was, Mom, I nearly died! But, when I started running, it was so fun!"

Friday, May 15, 2009


I am easily annoyed. While that is neither a secret nor a surprise to any of you, in the interest of full disclosure, I disclose it. I am also sleep-deprived, which makes the irritating all the more grating. There are certain words, objects, and actions, which, in my always-strongly-stated opinion, should just go away and never come back-- bigotry, chauvinism, violence in the name of religion, of course. But I'm talking about the other things that make my blood boil and my skin crawl:

Bratz dolls
watermelon-flavored gum
strange little kids trying to touch my baby
the word "mouthful"
makeup on little girls
baby's breath (the flower, not the actual breath of a baby)
door handles in public restrooms
my kid chewing on non-food items, especially her hair
Sherwin Williams Navajo White paint
pierced nostrils
chain emails with pass-this-on-or-else threats
dried flowers
semi trucks in the fast lane
seersucker fabric on men or boys
indoor play areas at fast food restaurants
hotel bedspreads
the US Postal Service
made-up names
half-circle windows at the top of regular windows
adults who act like they're still in junior high

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Everyone Knows It's Windy

I've been trying to post every day, but I guess yesterday kind of blew away from me. Seriously, the wind. Where we live, the wind off the lake is always fierce. After almost three years, I still am not used to it. However, when the weather forecast is "windy" on top of that, it's nearly unbearable-- noisy and exhausting.

I'm kind of relieved the guys haven't been working on the deck the past few days, because they're so thin, I'd be worried about them blowing off. Keep your tool belts fastened, boys! The kids can't play outside, and I wouldn't want to take the baby out, anyway. Even in her little car seat, the blanket blows off. (We can't use one of those nice, zip-in liners to keep her cozy because someone-- not me-- is certain they impede the securing abilities of the straps and the buckles and compromise safety.)

Amanda, who is perpetually warm and asks to wear sundresses in February, dressed for the bus stop this morning in long pants, a long-sleeved uniform shirt, a sweatshirt, a faux-fur jacket with a hood and mittens. Plus, Madeline was essentially up and nursing from 1:45 a.m. till 6:15 a.m. I know that has nothing to do with the wind, but maybe it explains my irrational need to rant about the weather. Enough with the wind, already.

My mom had this song on a 45 in an old box of records (probably from her childhood.) We used to listen to it all the time when we were kids.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Visiting Hours

The three younger kids and I visited the Birth Center at the hospital, to deliver a thank-you note and treats, gigantic cupcakes made from scratch by... some great Costco baker. (I didn't bake before-- you actually think I'm going to start now?!)

Todd and I have had some really wonderful experiences, delivering each of our children at the small hospital in the town where we live. In the beginning, it was a big decision, and we had a lot to consider: yes, my OB/GYN would send me to a larger hospital if he anticipated complications; yes, either the baby or I could be airlifted in the event of something unexpected; yes, the hospital was already equipped with a level two nursery; yes, it has been consistently ranked one of the best small hospitals in the country. In the end, we felt well cared for by the excellent staff and I know I wouldn't change a thing.

One interesting thing happened on our excursion. As we entered the hospital, (what a sight I must have been: newborn in the Baby Bjorn on my chest, two bakery boxes on my shoulder, a preschooler and a toddler holding hands dragging along behind!) Elisabeth and Benjamin became quiet and well behaved. They were soaking in the scene as though they'd never been there before. They were so subdued, they wouldn't even talk to the nurses in the Birth Center; they just stood quietly and waited for me to usher them out. While we were walking toward the door, Ben said, "Mommy, I didn't like you being in this hospital. I don't want you to come back here."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Mother's Day to Me

Each of my children gave me the most perfect Mother's Day gifts.

Benjamin woke up early Sunday morning, but I was already awake, so I got him out of bed and put him on the toilet. He went a few times that morning-- hooray!-- and even wore underpants to church. By midday, the novelty was wearing off, and my attention was stretched too thin, so we went back to the Pull-Up. Still, it's something.

Elisabeth's preschool teachers helped her make me this mug with her photo and artwork on it. It is so beautiful it is now on display on the kitchen counter. She keeps asking when I am going to drink out of it, but I told her it would have to be a very special beverage. She was so proud of the job she did, along with the hand-crayoned card and wrapping paper.

Amanda came home from school with a backpack full of Mommy gifts, everything from a paper flower bouquet to a computer-generated image of herself. My favorite gift was the first grade cookbook, compiled no doubt with plenty of help from those dedicated teachers and parent volunteers. Each child submitted a recipe. When I began paging through the book, and saw how many classmates had shared their favorite recipes for cookies, I thought, "Oh, crap. I don't bake. I do cook, but I hardly ever let the kids help. All they do is make a mess. Amanda isn't even interested in cooking. What did she have to contribute?!" Sigh of relief-- she gave up the family recipe for pancakes. It even almost made sense.

Madeline, after alternating between nursing and screaming all Sunday evening, finally fell asleep around 11 p.m. and slept until 5:30 a.m.! I, of course, was up on-and-off from about 2:45-- checking that she was breathing and tending the rock garden growing on my chest. But those were some welcome hours of rest, I tell you. I do not expect a repeat performance tonight, as Madeline has also been napping well today. But I don't think my boobs can take another night, anyway. I had to pull out the nursing bra with the four rows of hooks, and they still feel like weights on my chest. This absurd fullness-- I bet I look like I have implants.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Results Are In

We've had a few visitors this week, and everyone seems to agree Madeline looks most like Elisabeth. I can't really weigh in, because I can't get past the hair. All the other kids were so bald! Also, whenever anyone asks me who the baby looks like, I always think of something I heard somewhere: "All newborn babies look like either Winston Churchill or Ghandi."

On a related note, it appears beyond argument that Madeline will have blue eyes. I took my one genetics class in college, so I know brown eyes are dominant. But, the Punnett Square with one blue-eyed parent and one brown-eyed-blue-recessive parent shows we should have a 50-50 chance of having a brown-eyed kid every time. I cannot explain why, then, we have four blue-eyed kids-- except that my genes are better.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Play It Again, Girls

Our two older daughters had their piano recital this evening-- Elisabeth's first, but Amanda's an old pro by now. They were both very excited and nervous. We were very proud. We were also so pleasantly surprised, when Elisabeth received the award for best attitude in the studio.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Who Has Seen Me in My PJs?

2 deck builders
3 landscapers
1 school bus driver
1 mail lady
1 UPS man
1 grocery deliverer
2 guys who stopped unannounced to spray for bugs
1 home health care nurse
5 next door neighbors (including 2 teenage boys)
2 parents
1 mother-in-law
1 brother
1 sister
1 sister-in-law
45 passersby as I wheeled out the garbage can

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Well Baby

I've done this enough, you'd think I'd be a pro by now, but... no.

Madeline had her first Well Baby checkup this morning. I took Elisabeth to school, stopped at the post office and then headed over to the clinic about 20 minutes before we were due. It had only been two hours since the baby last ate, but I wanted to arrive early, in case she cranked it up, so I had time to nurse her before the appointment.

When we got to the waiting area, Madeline was sleeping soundly in her car seat, so I left her alone. Instead, I focused my attention on Benjamin-- keeping him away from the kid who sounded like he was going to barf up a lung and not letting him eat anything off the floor. Luckily, Ben finds hand sanitizer an entertaining distraction. As the appointment time arrived, I uncovered Madeline and unbuckled the straps. That did it. She opened her eyes and started screaming. Fortunately, I can translate newborn: "IF I AM AWAKE, THERE SHOULD BE A NIPPLE IN MY MOUTH!!!"

However, I thought to myself, "The nurse will be calling us in any moment. If I can just keep Madeline calm until we get her weighed and measured, I will feed her in the exam room." Good plan. But we were still waiting, and she was still screaming, 20 minutes later. Finally, I told the receptionist we were headed for the mothers' room. She agreed-- the doctor would now have to wait. Yet, I got Madeline fed enough to tide her over and changed her pants, and her name still had not been called.

The doctor is typically on time, so I don't know what was going on there today. By the time we did go in and I stripped her down, Madeline was screaming again. I don't know why I feel the need to make excuses for a new baby, but I told the doctor, "She only screams like this when she's hungry or cold." The doctor replied, "I think she's both." Further proof I should have gone to medical school.

Madeline checked out great. All clear on the newborn screening blood work. Her weight is up to 7 lbs. 14 oz. (40th percentile,) a gain of a full pound since our hospital discharge. Her length is at 20 3/4 ins. (70th percentile.) Her head circumference is 14 1/2 cm (75th percentile. Ugh. Here we go again.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Mommy Uniform

Now that I have given birth, the wardrobe changes. Of course, my "regular" clothes don't really fit yet, but I'm also not putting those maternity clothes back on-- ever. That's actually my one post-childbirth weight loss tactic: The maternity clothes get packed up the day I get home from the hospital, because I know if I put them on again, I would never take them off!

But, a bigger issue than the extra weight, in my opinion, is nursing. This little angel began as a parasite, and continues to suck everything I have (fat included, hopefully) right out of me! Dresses are out, as is anything too fitted. The usual t-shirts and jeans aren't the greatest, because I have to lift my shirt to feed the baby. No material that's too thin, because it shows the rolls. Nothing too light or too dark in color-- really, nothing with a solid color-- because it won't camouflage a leak. Nothing too short, or something will hang out.

Yet, by my fourth child, I am trying to expand my horizons, and am willing to try just about anything. I did step things up around Christmastime, and visited a higher-end maternity store. At Hot Mama, I bought two "D&A" blouses to wear to church, and anywhere else that requires more than jeans and a t-shirt. "D&A" stands for "During & After." These tops have empire waists and v-necks, with extra material around the bust. They're meant to be worn more snugly during pregnancy, and still work after the baby's born, with special designs across the top for nursing. These tops were expensive, but I love them.

Then, there's nursing wear. I have never bought clothes specifically designed for nursing because I think they look queer. There, I said it. Those extra flaps of fabric, slits down the middle, big buttons on the side. Forget it. I try to avoid nursing in public, but, when unavoidable, I'd rather have my fat and my boobs just hang out. Still, I had a moment of weakness during my third trimester and found myself paging through this "Motherwear" catalog and thinking, "You know, this stuff is actually pretty cute." I ended up ordering a pretty pair of lounge pajamas, a blouse, and two dresses. However, when the package arrived on my doorstep, I discovered the stuff was not so cute. As queer as could be expected. I'm wearing the pajamas (as regular clothes, I might add.) We'll see how desperate I get before I put on the rest of the stuff.

And, my sister bought me this Hooter Hider. It's a kind of nursing "cape," like a blanket, but with built-in features to make it better. It has a rigid top that pulls away from my shoulder so I can see what the baby is doing under there. Also, the material is breathable and lightweight, so the baby will not overheat. And, it has a strap that goes around my neck and other shoulder, so the babe can't pull it off. Plus, it's really pretty. Yes, Ellen is much more granola-eating-tree-hugging-baby-sling-wearing than I am. But this Tit Tent has already gotten some use, and it will get more. I will not let my child starve for the sake of modesty-- or fashion.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Angle on Angling

A beautiful day Sunday-- The girls and their cousins talked Daddy and Grandpa into taking them fishing. It's a sunfish bounty right off the end of Grandpa's dock. And, with four little lines in the water, the two men had full-time jobs, just trying to keep worms on hooks. So, it was a huge step forward when Elisabeth and Amanda finally bucked up and started touching the fish. Amanda even got brave enough to start taking her catches off the hooks and throwing them back.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Talking Points for Two-Year-Olds

While waiting to return movies at the Redbox, Benjamin "struck up a conversation" with two other toddler boys. It went something like this:

Ben: "I saw this movie. Do you like this movie? That's 'Bolt.' I saw 'Bolt.'"
Boy #1: "Unngh."
Ben: "We have that movie in the car. That's 'Scooby Doo.' 'Scooby Doo' is scary. I like 'Scooby Doo.'"
Boy #2: "Guhnnn."
Ben: "This one is about cars. I never did see this movie. I want to rent this car movie."
Boy #1: "Buh."
Ben: "Do you like movies? I like to watch movies. We watch movies in the den. We have popcorn. Daddy likes to watch movies. Movies are fun."
Boys #1 & #2: (walk away)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Two Firsts

Ten days old and the baby is growing up! Madeline got a new tummy time mat, and Elisabeth had to open it up. After she and Benjamin took a few test runs, we laid down the baby-- and she didn't seem to mind! She did try to eat the pad.

Also, with her umbilical cord stump dried up and off, Madeline got her first bath. Yeah, she hates to be uncovered, but, boy, do her lungs work! And do you think we had enough help?

School Girl

I (along with Madeline) took Elisabeth to her kindergarten screening at school-- a chance for her to meet both the kindergarten teachers, and for them to get a feel for her and in which class she will best fit come fall. I was worried she would cling to my leg and get weepy, but Libby took the teacher's hand and bounded off without so much as a backward glance. When she returned, she told me it was so much fun... She got to answer questions about a story she heard, and even walk on a balance beam! We stopped in the office on the way out and bought a couple new uniform shirts. The girl is ready to go!