Wednesday, December 23, 2009
I love, love, love Christmas music. As soon as Thanksgiving hits, two radio stations near me switch to an all-holiday music format and I eat it all up. I love that the girls are starting to enjoy the Christmas music, too, and we can take a short-lived break from the Disney CD we have been listening to in the car for the last year and a half. (Maybe Santa will bring me some new CDs...)
This year I discovered my new favorite Christmas song: Christmas Canon by Trans Siberian Orchestra. It is Pachobel's Canon in D with Christmas lyrics set to it, all with a lush orchestral setting. It's beautiful, and sentimental for me, too, as I walked down the aisle to Pachobel's Canon in D when we got married. Awwww.
Another favorite is Sting's haunting Gabriel's Message from A Very Special Christmas album back in the 1990's (and I discovered a month or two ago that it is based on a hymn and it's in our hymnal at church- wild!) which gives a beautiful account of Gabriel giving Mary the news of what was to come and includes a portion of the Magnificant.
Yet another favorite is Josh Groban's O Holy Night. I LOVE THIS SONG. I think O Holy Night is the best of the traditional, popular holiday music, because it actually has such a beautiful message... who cannot be touched by the lyrics: "Fall on your knees... o hear the angels' voices! O night divine! It is the night of our dear Savior's birth..." Josh Groban does such a gorgeous job with his version- reverent and deep and shivery. Later in the song the chorus changes to "Noel! Noel..." and every time I hear it I wish my name was Noelle. (In fact, we know a Noelle and I think of her every time I hear this song.) (Semi-related tangent: if we had a daughter who was born near Christmas, I would have pushed very hard to name her Noelle. I think that's ADORABLE.)
The other highly cheesy reason I love this song is this: back in college, when I and my entire dorm floor watched Days of our Lives (seriously- we scheduled classes around this show) there was a storyline in which a baby was kidnapped (so soap opera-ish!) and on Christmas Day, one of the characters was singing this song in church, all hushed and quiet, with the grieving parents sitting in the front row, worried sick about their baby and dreading spending a Christmas away from her, and who comes in but another character CARRYING THE MISSING BABY. Of course the parents were sitting in the front row of the church and we got to see the look of joy on their faces as they are reunited with their child, right there in church, on Christmas, with O Holy Night being sung in the background. I almost cry just THINKING about it. And then I get all mad at myself because it's so ridiculous. But it was a beautiful moment.
I am also a big fan of I'll be Home for Christmas mostly due to it's wistfulness. I once saw Dan's grandmother hear this song and she was completely transported to another place and time. I don't know what she was remembering- a past Christmas, her deceased husband, a lost family member- but she was engulfed in a memory and it was sort of beautiful to witness that.
I have mentioned the group The Roches before and they have a beautiful Christmas themed album with a few original songs. One of my favorites is an acappella song called Star of Wonder and describes the dilemma of a shepardess who has seen the Star of the Christ Child: should she go and see the Child or stay with her sheep and keep them protected? "In the morning they'll come looking for that shepard on the hill/ what would make her leave her flock for surely she must love them still /Star of Wonder in the heavens/wonder what you want of me/ shall I follow you tonight? Star of Wonder/ shining bright..."
Hope you can listen to a couple of these favorites and enjoy them. If I was really cool, I'd be able to link this post to audio clips, but I'm just not that cool. So go ahead and google them.
We are spending Christmas Eve with my family: we're going to see the girls sing at the 5pm Christmas Eve service and then going to my parents' house for a party. We'll open gifts here Christmas morning and then head down to Dan's Dad's house for the day with his family. I am tremendously looking forward to both days and being with the people I love best in the world. I am excited for the girls to open their presents and for Dan to see the surprises I have up my sleeve. I am also quite excited for the girls to see the Pooping Reindeer stocking stuffer I got them (push on it's head and candy poops out)... 'cause that's what Christmas is all about.
Merry Christmas to you and best wishes for a meaningful, happy and wonder-filled Christmas Day!!
Monday, December 21, 2009
I am looking forward to Thursday and Friday, when all of this nonsense is done.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
I have spent the last 75 minutes paying various bills (yay, Christmas! And dentists! And cell phones! And cable television! And mortgages! And garbage pick up!) while listening to glorious Christmas music on my iPod.
I wrote out three checks to the hospital where I had Alec and the doctors who safely delivered him into this world and into our lives.
Grand total: $ 1,172.08. (And yes, we have good, mainstream health insurance who paid for the other roughly $7,000.00)
He is worth every penny.
I am thankful we have him; I am thankful we can pay for him; I am thankful that we are both healthy; I am thankful we are a family of five this Christmas.
God is good all the time.
Interestingly enough, she did it at almost the exactly same age as Michaela, which either points to a shared genetic quirk of extremely late potty training or my total ineptitude at training them. I am their mom and live with them and even I think it's a toss up.
I guess I take a very laid- back approach after introducing it to them. I read them the books. I bought the pullups and the pretty underwear. I get the little potty out, quite hopefully. I offer and offer and offer some more. And they both steadfastly refuse to have ANYTHING to do with it. And at that point, I'm out. I let them decide when they are ready.
To me, the whole potty training thing is a wonderful way to feel self-righteous if your kid does it early and also is a way to really sock it to us moms who have late trainers. I just refuse to engage in a battle with my kid about their body and bodily functions. If they don't want to engage, you are just beating your head against a wall. I really liked my pediatrician's advice at Michaela's 4 year old physical: "Don't ever mention it again to her. She'll do it when she's ready."
And that's just what happened.
Jenna has followed the same trajectory: the same books, same pullups, new underwear, same potty, same hopeful offers. And she did the same thing: totally refused to have anything to do with it.
Then a few weeks ago, Jenna developed a diaper rash and I used this as a teaching tool. So last Thursday I said very quietly to her, This is your skin telling you that it is time to start going on the potty and not wear diapers anymore.
And she said, "Okay. I'll start on Saturday."
And Saturday came, she put on underwear, and that was that. She's had one accident and done an absolutely beautiful job. No struggle. No begging. No resistance. It has been such a wonderful joy to not have to change two kids diapers anymore and not have to deal with soaking wet diapers and a four and a half year old's poop up close any more. I feel... cleaner.
The best story out of the whole thing was this: on Tuesday afternoon, she found some diapers of hers we kept for emergencies in the center console of our car. "Oh! These are diapers!! I remember when I used to wear diapers... " she said with a knowing, wistful laugh.
Ahhh, yes... that was AGES ago.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
(And the other lesson is that a glass of wine or a good beer can smooth out lots of edges, but that's another post.)
I am not a type A personality by any stretch; I am generally pretty laid back and anxiousness is not in my nature. I spend most of my days talking Dan and Michaela off the ledges of anxiety. Jenna and I are more on the same wavelength, personality-wise; a little more go with the flow; a little more "it's going to be fine". But there are certain details I pay lots of attention to and want to be perfect. The clothes my kids wear. Anything paper- my pictures, invitations, birth announcements, Christmas cards. Party favors for the baptism. Anything that I bake. That kind of stuff.
And in the last two and a half months, some of my personal pet projects have just had to be good enough. Because I simply don't have time to obsess over them anymore. It's hard for me to feel like I'm letting some things go, but it makes everyone-including me- infinitely happier.
So for now, I'm aiming for good enough. I can strive for perfect, but not be upset when something doesn't work out exactly right.
And I'm betting that it bothered NO ONE that the holes I punched on the baptism favor tags were a little off center.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
In any case, it has been busy but good here at the house. Here in no particular order is the latest lowdown:
1. Michaela had her first orthodontist appointment today and got molds made of her teeth. She cried before the appointment, convinced they were going to slap her braces and expanders in today. I did my best to reassure her and we headed out. When we got there, she got a little overwhelmed by the whole thing and started crying again. "What exactly are you afraid of?" I asked. Just then- and I swear this is not made up- we heard a kid in a treatment room cry out in pain or discomfort or something. Michaela looks at me and says "THAT'S EXACTLY what I'm afraid of!!" Thankfully, that broke the ice a bit and she settled in and ended up doing fine.
We made our next four appointments, and at the third one, in late December, she gets the hardware cemented in. Should be a blast.
2. Thanksgiving was a great day. Dan had told me earlier in the week how much he was looking forward to Thanksgiving morning, eating cinnamon rolls like we do every Thanksgiving morning, and watching the parade. As soon as he said this, I knew it would be a semi-disaster: high expectations bring nothing but disappointment when kids are involved. And I was right: everyone was hopped up on sugar, excited about the day, making messes all over the house, and generally out of sorts. I retreated to the kitchen, where I made cranberry sauce, an apple pie, chocolate chip cookies, and Brie baked in puff pastry with pesto. We watched a little of the dog show and dreamed about the dog we may, possibly, get someday. The girls want a little yippy dog and Dan wants a big dog and I want something in between. (Actually, I don't really want one at all but noone seems to listen to that.) We got dressed in our holiday finery and went over to my parent's house, where we celebrated with Dan's dad and aunt and uncle. We took some nice family pictures while we were still fresh and lookin' decent. Alec wore a button down shirt and a quarter zip sweater over it and we were all dying with the cuteness.
The food was excellent and the company was great and we all hung out until late and celebrated a wonderful, relaxing holiday.
3. Jenna has announced that she will not go on the potty until she's seven. I replied that I am no longer buying diapers after she's five.
4. In a related note, I realized the other day that I have changed at least two diapers a day for the last 8 years. Do you know how many diapers that is? 5,840. And assuming that I use 2 wipes at each change, I have handled 11, 680 wipes since Michaela has been born. I don't think I ever consciously thought about how changing diapers is such a part of my everyday life. I don't really mind it... I'm just impressed with the sheer volume.
5. Christmas preparations are in full swing here at the house. We put our tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and the girls were a riot helping out this year. They divided up the tree so Michaela's ornaments are on the left side of the tree, Jenna's are on the right, and anything pertaining to Dan and I are in the middle. I love seeing the ornaments year after year, and can't wait to add a Baby's First Christmas one with Alec's picture in it. I have been shopping when I can and the girls are mostly done. I have ideas for pretty much everyone else; it's just an issue of ordering things online or hitting a few more stores. I will be working on my Christmas card in the next few days (thank you, snapfish, for the 40% off Christmas cards deal you are running!).
We are very into the Christmas tv specials this year and have a schedule taped to the side of the tv cabinet so we can DVR one at a moment's notice. We have been listening to Christmas music in the car and generally are milking the holiday for all it's worth. And it's only December 2nd.
6. I brought Alec for his two month checkup and he is doing great. He is 24 and a half inches tall, and 12 pounds and 14.5 ounces. This puts him in the 90th percentile for height and 75th for weight. He is, incredibly, growing out of the 3 month sized clothes and I have his 6 month sized stuff in the wash as I type. He got his first round of immunizations and tolerated them pretty well; the only after effect was that his legs were pretty sore that night. He has been sleeping pretty well and even slept through the night twice this week, something the girls didn't do until they were about three years old. He is just an entirely different baby than they were- content, happy, easy, laid back, hungry, and adorable. He started smiling last week and that has melted our hearts completely. I have some pictures I will post soon.
7. Sunday is Alec's baptism and I have been doing various things to get ready for that. My brother Brian is actually baptizing him and we are all excited for this special day. We chose to have the reception at a local country club instead of at our house, and this has reduced my stress levels by about 100000%.
8. We need a new roof. How exciting. We're starting to get estimates and hope to get it done before winter snow arrives. We also need to fix our dishwasher, which is working, but not particularly well.
9. Tomorrow is Michaela's parent teacher conference. I have to admit I'm a little anxious about the whole thing. I know she's doing fine and there should be no surprises, but I want her teacher to love her like we love her and see all of her goodness inside all of that bounciness. Plus, Dan rewards good conferences with a dinner out and I LOVE going out.
10. Tonight is the first Advent service at church for the season. I love Advent services: they help me focus on the right things and are like a wonderful time-out. Plus, they feed us dinner beforehand and I LOVE going out.
11. I weaned Alec from breastfeeding last week, and while I have mixed emotions about it, generally I am just relieved. He is the second child I weaned this year. The whole transition was seamless; I was willing to nurse him a little longer but he lost interest and clearly liked the bottle better. I was unable to sit and nurse him like I did the girls and as a result was unable to produce enough to keep him satisfied. I feel good that he got a solid eight weeks of breastmilk with all the goodies that gives his immune system, but feel a little bad that he didn't get more. And, for all I complained about it with Jenna, it is a special time you have with your child. On the other hand, I certainly feel no less bonded with Michaela or Alec, both of whom I nursed 8-10 weeks instead of the four years I nursed Jenna. And the constant nursing and need to be with Jenna all the time was very, very difficult on me and Dan. So it's kind of a mixed bag of emotions, but I am glad it is over and my body is truly my own again. Added bonus: this will be a great thing that Jenna can throw in their faces as a clear indicator that I loved her best. (Michaela and Alec: I love you just as much.)
So that is life around here. And it's all good.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I just read an article about him in the newspaper and was just amazed and somewhat horrified. He was in a car accident in 1983 which left him paralyzed and in what appeared to everyone to be a coma.
His parents, convinced that the diagnosis was wrong and that their son was still in there, never gave up on him and continued to seek medical treatment for him. They brought him to the US five times for tests. FIVE TIMES.
The man can now communicate through an assistive device and told reporters: "I screamed but there was nothing to hear." (If that doesn't send a shiver down your spine, nothing will.)
After thinking about it a little, I am struck by his parents' determination, fierce love and true grit. They stood by their son, advocating beyond the point that many, many people would give up to get what they believed was right for their boy.
I'm sure when they would stare at him in the hospital bed for hours on end, they had the same feeling that I do when I see Michaela sleeping: the vivid flashback of staring at your child sleeping as an infant, new and fresh and full of promise. And you can almost feel the wiring in your own brain changing, laying down new tracks- tracks that mark you as a parent who would do anything for your child. Even transporting a paralyzed adult to a foreign country five times, looking for help, searching for anyone who could see what you saw.
So good for you, Fina Houben of Brussels. I can't even imagine how many people thought you were plum crazy, were annoyed by your refusal to believe what the doctors were telling you, and wanted you to give up on your boy, your baby boy. And you persevered.
You did what we mothers all hope we could do: be our child's last defense against the world despite staggering pressure to give up and give in.
You are truly an inspiration.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
And we're all still standing.
Even though he is my third baby, I still worry about all the same things I did with the girls: is he growing? Is he happy? Is he being stimulated enough? Is he sleeping enough? Pooping enough? Burping enough?
Though I do have a slightly better ability to look at him objectively and say definitively: yes, he's doing just fine. He's growing like a weed and to me doesn't look newborn-y anymore. His cheeks are luscious and full and when he started smiling last week we discovered a dimple on his left cheek. No one else has dimples so this is particularly awe-inspiring for me as his mother.
I love him. I'm in love with him. I think everything he does is amazing and wonderful and I can't stop kissing his gorgeous head and telling him I love him.
And I hope he feels this love every time I kiss his forehead or cheek or neck.
I love having three kids. I love the busy-ness this brings to my life and the sense of fullness. I love thinking about the holidays with all these warm, cozy little bodies (in coordinating pajamas, of course). I love sitting on the couch, holding Alec with a girl on either side of me, leaning their heads on my shoulders as we all watch SpongeBob in the morning. I love thinking about the next 20 years as they all grow and become their own people and all the memories we'll have of this time.
I am such a sap that last night we discovered that we don't have a good pencil sharpener in the house and I was thrilled with the prospect of having to buy one. Because big families with big kids need good pencil sharpeners for schoolwork. It doesn't even really make sense, but somehow feeds into my overwhelming desire to provide all I can for these three little people that God has put into my care.
Of course there are moments- some of which last several HOURS- when they are whiny and crying and cross and I feel overwhelmed and exhausted and out of patience. But the last eight weeks have been remarkably calm, fun and quick. The bad stuff sort of recedes over time and the happiness stays at the fore. I'm not saying it's perfect, but man, it's really good most of the time.
Alec is a blessing that we are watching unfold right before our eyes.
Michaela made us parents; Jenna made us a family; Alec was made out of love.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
At the end of our conversation, she said to me, "Don't worry... your next child will be a boy."
I didn't really think too much of it at the time... Jenna was such a tough baby, it was looking unlikely that we would even have another child. I loved having my two girls and it did not bother me in the least that we didn't have a boy. I did think it was strange that she said it at all, and that she said it with such confidence, like Don't worry... the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning.
Fast forward to now, where as I type this my almost-eight-week-old son is sitting contently in his bouncy seat next to me.
I think back to that woman every once in a while. Did she REALLY know I was going to have another baby and that it was going to be a boy? Or was it just that the small chance she had to be right came through? Could she really see into my future?
Here's the bigger question: can I find her again, and can she reassure me that my kids will stay healthy, grow up to be functional, happy adults, and that Dan and I will be able to provide for them in every way?
Can she soothe every other worry and concern we have about our kids?
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I was going to post a delightfully fun, humorous, relevant, reflective, anecdotal post today, but instead I'm just going to tell you this:
Being a mom is hard. And there are some very bad days.
Now, I am very happy to tell you that I have not experienced one of these hard days this week- sleep deprivation notwithstanding, it was a busy but good week- but talked with several moms this week who are struggling with one area of motherhood or another.
The problem with having a bad mom day is that you are intensely afraid that not only are you unhappy, but perhaps you are ruining your child(ren) in some way as well. And every mom I know is doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children. So sure, Dan has bad days at work, but I don't think he's afraid that his actions may lead to his kid becoming a serial killer. (Side note: on a particularly BAD DAY when Jenna was a baby, I did call Dan at work at told him this: "If she turns out to be a serial killer, I honestly did the best I could.")
So you moms out there, who are swimming around looking for a life preserver to cling to or a ballast to provide safety and security and steadiness... talk to another mom who's been through it and is sympathetic. Reach out to someone. They'll talk you down off the ledge and provide great perspective.
Motherhood is such a process, filled with tremendous learning curves, and requires constant re-evaluation and reinvention.
Being a mom is hard.
Call me if you need help.
Monday, November 9, 2009
So I wake up, an hour or so later, put him in his crib, climb back into my incredibly comfortable, warm, cozy bed and do you know what happens? About 3 minutes later he wakes up and starts crying. Because he's hungry. And I have to get up and start all over again.
And I am literally sick to my stomach because I just want to sleep so badly.
It is so bad that the other day, when I was in Walmart, I passed the pharmacy section and looked LONGINGLY at the bottles of NyQuil. You know that hard, solid sleep you have after downing a good-sized dose of NyQuil?? I haven't slept like that since 2001.
So this sleep deprivation, while tolerable, makes my brain a little, you know, crazy. (Just to interject: you realize that sleep deprivation is used by the military as a form of TORTURE, right?) My head is currently filled with all sorts of ideas about Thanksgiving, and the holidays, and special food, and hearth and home, and Pilgrims, and harvest, and feeling grateful. So I am sitting in church a few weeks ago, singing How Great Thou Art, really singing my little sleep- deprived heart out, and I have this vision. Not a flashback exactly, and not a daydream but this very clear picture of me in a somewhat primitive little church, singing my heart out and surrounded by tons of my own children. And I am a pilgrim.
Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. Dan and the kids and I are all in the car, heading downstate to meet our new twin nieces for the first time. I am a "car thinker", which means I can sit in a car for hours and something about the rhythm of the tires somewhat hypnotizes me and my brain can just wander. And wander, and wander, until 15 minutes later, I generally ask Dan a fantastically random question, like, "Where are JuJu and Uncle Dick's neighbors originally from?" out of the clear blue and Dan laughs and shakes his head and says, "What on EARTH makes you think about that?" We used to play a game that I would try to re-trace the string of loosely connected thoughts that got me to my random blurted out question and that was always fun.
Then we started having children and all I wanted to talk about in the car was having more children. "If we had a baby today, what would you name it?" was Dan most dreaded car- thinking game, and that poor man endured about 7 YEARS of this game.
But now we are done having kids and that game is pretty much over.
So we are just leaving Columbia County yesterday in the car when I blurt out, "Do you believe in reincarnation?"
"What?" sputters Dan.
"You know, reincarnation... do you ever have the sense that you've lived another life? In a different time, maybe? Do you ever feel drawn to a certain time in history, like you've lived through it already?"
"Because I had this vision the other day in church, and I think that I may have been a pilgrim in New England in a previous life."
Now he starts really laughing at me. "Like you came over on the Mayflower?"
"No, I definitely didn't come over on the Mayflower... I have no recollection of that kind of horrible voyage. Maybe I was born here, like the second generation of Pilgrims."
"But doesn't it kind of make sense?" I ask. " The whole Pilgrim obsession, my Thanksgiving fetish, my bizarre interest in farming, my love for the ocean and the Cape and New England. I think I was a pilgrim, with tons of kids and I was really religious."
"You have tons of kids now." Dan says, laughing.
"I have three kids... that's hardly TONS. But I'm serious... I think it's a possibility."
"Hey, sure. Whatever you think, friend."
I really don't know. I know I had this vision, this strong connection with that time and place. And I was happy, but tired... sort of like now, with my TONS of children. Or maybe it's just my sleep deprived brain playing tricks on me.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
So yesterday I'm waiting in line to buy a tub of formula before my $5 off coupon expires at Walmart, and I notice the people ahead of me in line. They are two men, fairly flamboyantly gay (not that there's anything wrong with that... I'm just trying to give you the entire visual) who are stocking up on groceries. The checkout girl is a young Latina named Eve, who is fairly dripping with fake gold jewelry and is really quite pleasant. As Eve is trying to bag the couple's last 10 or 20 items, one of the guys says to her, "You know, these plastic bags all end up in the OCEAN. YOUR GRANDCHILDREN will have to figure out what to do with all of them."
Eve just kind of umm-hmmms him.
"I saw it on the news... it's the size of TEXAS- TWICE!!! and YOUR GRANDCHILDREN will have to fix it!"
And God bless Eve. She took it really well, stayed pleasant and didn't say something like this:
"You know what, Mister? I'm just a girl making a few bucks an hour here, trying to feed myself and my kid. I hardly think that I or MY GRANDCHILDREN will have to solve the entire WORLD'S environmental problems. Maybe if YOU had brought some canvas bags to pack your food into, MY GRANDCHILDREN would have a few less bags to pick up in the ocean. So lay off."
Because that's what I felt like saying.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Less than 5 weeks after Alec was born, Dan's brother Jimmy, his wife and almost-three-year-old daughter Olivia welcomed beautiful twin daughters to their family. They were born on Monday of this week, and are robust and healthy.
My poor sister in law Michele carried 14 and a half pounds of baby around for 38 weeks.
I will never complain about my back hurting ever again. Whew. What a trooper.
Their names are Sophie and Melina and I can't wait to hold them, kiss them and generally love them up.
I am also beside myself with idea of buying coordinating "My First Christmas" outfits for the twins and Alec and taking a million pictures.
'Cause that's how I roll.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Cutest Lil' Pumpkin in Town
Friday, October 23, 2009
And we encountered the Right of Passage for All Middle-Class American Children: our dentist handed me the business card of the local orthodontist and recommended that we make an appointment for a consultation for Michaela.
It is the same orthodontist who fixed my woefully crooked teeth, twenty five-plus years ago.
I, too, started when I was eight.
The hygienist who cleaned Jenna's teeth took a good look at her mouth, identified her crossbite, and said, "She's going to need orthodontia, too."
And so it begins.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Michaela.... is transitioning nicely from her long-term substitute teacher at school to her real teacher, who came back last week after back surgery... is thrilled that Brownies have started up again... loved her friend birthday party this Saturday at a bead store, at which they each made a beaded necklace complete with a silver charm... has become addicted to Extreme Makeover: Home Edition on Sunday nights and gets tears in her eyes each week during the reveal... attended a basketball skills clinic on Saturday morning and loved every minute of it... does great on her weekly spelling tests IF she can focus enough to study well... is back to singing in the church kid's choir... could argue that the sky is green and the ocean is pink and wear you down so that eventually you'd agree with her... is an amazing help holding Alec so I can shower or make breakfast or just breathe... is as energetic, bubbly, and Tigger-ific as ever.
Jenna... has decided that having a new baby brother is as good a reason as any to suddenly start talking to people... is eager for soccer season to be over in two more weeks and will not be playing again... wants to take swim lessons at the YMCA so she can learn to swim without any assistance... loves holding Alec and then announces, "Okay- I'm done!"... went on a field trip to a local apple orchard today with her preschool and had a great time... could eat her weight in watermelon every day... has become a master of explaining why she couldn't possibly help me clean up her room, and will pick items up and put them away with her TOES just to prolong my agony... has picked out $45,976 worth of American Girl products for Santa to deliver on Christmas... loves to dress up for school in her "fancy clothes"- skirts and leggings and shirts, along with necklaces and bracelets on each arm... is as sweet and gentle and loving as ever.
Alec... is absolutely delicious and snuggly and beautiful... is drinking from a bottle every day, sometimes filled with breastmilk and sometimes formula... is growing like a weed- he hardly looks like a three week old baby... makes fabulous baby grunting noises... is a total faker in the crying department- he'll cry and then just stop... is sleeping well at night (for a four hour chunk last night!!!) when given a formula bottle before bed... has much more relaxed and happy parents than Michaela did... loves to be warm and swaddled... is NOT sleeping in our bed at all... is the easiest, so far, of our three babies... is getting more used to his crib... is getting more and more awake and alert each day... is making great eye contact and looks like he's starting to think about smiling at us... right now has dark blue eyes that remind me of Jenna... is as great a gift as we could ever imagine.
I love my kids. All three of them.
Friday, October 16, 2009
As I've written in numerous other posts, I have a vast array of must-see television, from high-brow PBS specials to the lowest of low-brow reality shows (ie, Rock of Love). I was pretty occupied over the last year being pregnant and all the ensuing projects I did, which really limited my viewing hours (plus I actually did lots of reading over the summer) but now all of that is over, Alec is here and I'm back to mindless boobtube staring. At all hours of the day and night.
In no particular order, here's what I've been looking forward to most on my DVR:
1. Mad Men: I am madly, madly, madly in love with Don Draper and the whole feel of this show. It takes a few episodes to get into it and understand the characters, but it is so well written and acted with just a brilliant sense of time and place and culture that it is well worth the effort.
2. Modern Family: a new show that is also just so funny and well done. I actually watch some episodes more than once so I can enjoy it all over again.
3. The Office: by now, it's a classic. I love the small sense of sadness in each episode.
4. Project Runway: I have watched all but the first season and it just never disappoints.
5. Family Guy: gross, crude, infantile, irreverent, and hilarious. Be prepared to be horribly offended and to laugh your tushie off.
6. Community: another new show that is fun to watch. Starring Joel McHale of The Soup, who I could basically watch do ANYTHING, it is funny and getting a good sense of rhythm.
7. The Soup: a recap of all the best tv moments of the past week. I knew I was watching too much tv while nursing Jenna when I watched almost a whole episode and had seen every clip- the first time it was on tv. Yup, THAT was a wake-up call.
8. Flash Forward: I watched this once just to see what it was about, and am now totally hooked. It's very much like Lost, but with much, much more satisfaction: the plot actually moves along in each episode.
9. Saturday Night Live: I've been watching SNL since middle school and it's just a habit now. I do love the cast they have now, especially Andy Samburg's digital shorts and Fred Armisen's vast array of characters. I do feel a little old when I fail to recognize- and/or enjoy- most of the musical guests. Ugh.
10. Way Too Early with Willie Giest: I don't actually DVR this, but many mornings I am up at 5:30 am when this comes on. Willie has a very skewed, dry sense of humor and puts an interesting spin on the events of the day. There is actually a segment they do each day where they ask you to email them why exactly you are up at that hour of the morning and then they read the most interesting reasons each show.
11. SpongeBob Squarepants: Ok, this is obviously because I have two kids under 8 who are addicted to Spongy Bobby (as we call him at our house) and we watch one episode every morning. But I gotta tell you- I actually have favorite episodes ("Just One Bite" when Squidward eats his first krabby patty is the BEST ONE EVER) and know vast amounts of random dialogue from most of the shows. The scariest times are when I recognize what episode is coming on by the opening music. I enjoy it much more than some of the other kids' programming on Nick and Nick Jr.
Because there are many days that I feel like I'll blow my brains out watching another episode of Dora or Diego.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Of course we had a girl's name picked out before I was even pregnant with Alec, a name that we had always considered for each of the pregnancies and just never used. We were going to name the baby Brooke Gracelin if it was a girl: we both love the name Brooke, and the name Grace (and because it was through the grace of God that Dan agreed to have another baby) and the "lin" was to honor my mom Linda. Jenna's middle name is Alicia, after Dan's deceased mom Alice and Michaela's middle name is Elizabeth, after my grandmother Else.
So we struggled through all the name books and the only names Dan would agree to were Christopher, Matthew (which we were going to name Jenna if she were a boy), John, and David. For 3/4 of the pregnancy, I planned on naming the baby David John and even started thinking of him as just David. But then at about 34 weeks, I got cold feet. David is a great name, beautiful and strong and regal and biblical, but do you know how many people named David there are in the world?? Lots. And I just couldn't wrap my head around the whole "Dave" nickname. Or Davey. And I wasn't sure it went exactly with Michaela and Jenna.
So then we looked at alternatives. We considered James and Jamie. I pushed for Andrew and got nowhere. We thought about John as a first name. I lobbied for Jake. At one point, I said, "Let's name him John and call him Jake!" and Dan replied, "How about we name him Arthur and call him Christopher!" And despite my PROOF in the baby name book that Jake is a nickname for John, he didn't see the connection and refused to consider it. I offered Holden, Hayden, Roman, Marco and Rocco, though I honestly couldn't imagine my father saying, "My grandson's name is Marco (or Roman)" with a straight face. And I figured my German grandmother would roll in her grave having a great grandson named Rocco Libutti.
And then one day, while looking through the Baby Name Wizard book, I was reading the suggested sibling names for Michaela and Jenna and came across Alec. "I could do Alec," Dan said, and I almost fell off my chair. "Really?" I asked. "Because I kind of like Alec, too." So I held onto that and lived with it for a little while.
In the end, Dan gave me final naming responsibility with a strong rejection clause: I could pick the final name but he could nix any one he didn't like. In the final weeks, I was torn between Alec John and Derek John. Derek was the name we had picked out for Michaela if she was a boy and had never really gotten out of our system. But Alec seemed fresh and unusual but not weird; everyone has heard of Alec (thank you very much, Mr. Baldwin and 30 Rock) but I don't know anyone named Alec. (Side note: we actually considered all of the Baldwin boys' names just for good measure.) (Additional side note: My friend Jen just reminded me via facebook that Alec is the name of Judd Nelson's character in the movie St. Elmo's Fire, one of my all time favorite teenage angst movies. I bet Jen and I rented that movie and watched it a million times during our high school years and cried every time. I loved Judd Nelson in the movie. Hmmm... interesting.)
John was a given for any name we picked out. My paternal grandmother had five brothers, named Sherwood, Kendall, Guy, King, and John, aka "Those Handsome Hazelton Boys"as they were described to me by a woman who knew them growing up, and I am not kidding when I tell you that every male child in our family has one of the five names as their first or middle name. Dan and I always loved the name John for its quiet strength and simplicity, and I was NOT going to be the first person in my family to break the tradition. So our Alec John is named for all the other Johns in our family, whom I am quite fond of.
We are two and a half weeks in with Mr. Alec, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how few times I have had to say, "No, Alec with a c... like Alec Baldwin." Most people seem to get it on the first try. We don't really have any nicknames for him yet, though we do occasionally call him D'Brick because we called him D'Brickashaw during the whole pregnancy. To make a long story short, Dan and I were so riddled with anxiety that 1) we were actually having another baby and 2) something would go horribly wrong that we thought of the most ridiculous name to call the baby we could think of to help lighten our mood. And on the NY Jets is a player named D'Brickashaw Furgeson. We told a few people about our little joke and our friend Tom offered to buy beer for Dan for the rest of his life if we went through with it and actually named him D'Brickashaw Libutti. Which of course we did not, despite the tempting offer.
But we do still call Alec D'Brick, especially now that we have him and see how solidly built he is.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Michaela is at a Brownies activity, running around a corn maize on a farm with her friends.
Jenna is spending an hour at my parents' house, playing with her "action figures": little resin figures of the Disney Princesses and a few Polly Pockets thrown in.
Dan is laying on the couch, watching football, holding a rapidly growing Alec, who is also sleeping. (Is there no better feeling than holding a sleeping baby? No. There is most definitely not.)
I am poking around on the Internet, checking emails and facebook and eating a delicious dessert that the mom of one of Michaela's friends brought over this week, along with a killer salad and some baked ziti. I am feeling much better, recovering from the birth and the stitches and the nursing and the cramping and the anxiety and realignment of my back and stomach muscles.
We made our triumphant first appearance at church today and it was wonderful to be back, to be sitting in the pew as our family of five.
In an hour or so, we are going to a friends' house for dinner.
We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our family and friends who have celebrated the birth of this baby like he was their own.
The clothes, the toys, the meals, the treats, the love.
The Giants won.
The Yankees are winning.
Mad Men is on tonight.
Life is just about perfect.
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I had an OB appointment that afternoon and valiantly tried to think of anything- ANYTHING- I could do to bribe my doctor to induce me. At one point I told him, "I make REALLY good chocolate chip cookies!" and without missing a beat, he looked up at me, raised one eyebrow and replied, "How about oatmeal raisin?" And I told him I could do those equally well.
"It just doesn't work well to induce if nothing is happening... the labor and delivery can get long and complicated," he said.
"PLEASE don't bog me down with DETAILS!!" I replied, but indicated that I understood completely what he was saying.
But then he looked at my elevated blood pressure, my incredibly puffy legs, and checked me: I was 2-3 cm dilated. He asked how the baby was moving around and I truthfully told him that the baby was much quieter the last day or so, so much so that I almost called the on-call doctor the night before to make sure things were a-okay. The OB wanted to do a non-stress test and after he saw the results of that, he announced, "Well, you're getting your wish! Show up at 7am tomorrow morning to be induced."
And sweeter words I had not heard in many, many months. It was like a tremendous weight was lifted off my shoulders.
We showed up at 7am the next morning and I did my usual, "Uhhh... I'm here to have my baby" statement to the nurses. They were so packed on the unit that there were no rooms available for me to be in. They put me in a post- delivery room, where a sign stating We care about the health of you and your baby! Wash your hands thoroughly! taunted me the whole time we waited. All I wanted to to get things started and hold my little boy and have it all be over with.
We read the paper. We filled out paperwork. I read a People magazine. All three doctors from the OB practice wandered in and out. A very nervous looking third year medical student came in and asked me how painful my contractions were. "Not very," I replied. "I'm not in labor- I'm here to be induced." "Oh," he replied and looked visibly relieved.
Finally at 12:30pm a room was ready and they wheeled me into the room where my baby would come into the world. Dr. B broke my water and my contractions started coming pretty soon and strong after that. The pitocin was started. We talked about my pain control plan, which was to replicate as much as possible Jenna's birth experience, which was terrifically empowering and fast and generally fabulous. I didn't have an epidural with her, instead got some short-acting drugs in my IV and then fell asleep while I dilated. I woke up and pushed her out in four contractions. I was looking to do the same with Alec.
So about an hour into the whole process I got my first dose of pain meds and it just did not cut the pain like it did with Jenna. After two more hours, I was progressing beautifully but was starting to panic about how much it hurt. I asked for something- anything- to help with my pain control and was offered an epidural, which I knew would not come to fruition: I was too far along, too close to delivery, and likely unable to tolerate sitting up and staying still as someone fiddled with my spinal column. I settled for another dose of the same pain meds which they hustled off to get for me.
At about the 4pm mark, the room was quiet, Dan was standing next to me and I was sweating, yelling during every contraction and in the throws of painful labor. I was checked by a resident, who declared me 8 cm dilated and then about 10 minutes later Dr. B checked me and said I was only 6 cm. And that's when I lost it. Because 8 cm is a lot closer to delivery than 6 cm.
But I needn't have worried because a few minutes after that, I started to have to push. Not like, "Oh, I'm feeling pressure down there and think pushing would be a good idea" but more like "Parts of my body are convulsing on their own and I'm just letting you know that very soon a baby will be coming out." Dan called for a nurse and immediately the room was filled with the doctor who started barking orders at the six or seven nurses who came into the room.
As I roared like a lion from the pain, I felt the amazing journey my baby was taking: I FELT his head start down the birth canal, felt all the pushing and shoving my body was doing all on its own. And as I screamed, "HIS HEAD IS COMING OUT!" the only comfort I felt was knowing that very, very soon this would be all over and my baby would be born.
And it was just like Jenna's birth. I went from 6 to 8 to 10 cm and then, after an incredibly breath-takingly painful few minutes that I will never forget nor cease to remind Dan about for the rest of our married life, our beautiful son Alec John Libutti made his debut into the world. It was exactly four hours from start to finish. I have never been so glad that something was over in my whole life.
"Is it a boy? Is it a boy?" I kept asking over and over, because while I could sense that everything was fine with me and the baby, no one was saying anything. Dr. B started fixing me up (if you know what I mean) and the nurses started doing all the stuff they do to newborns.
I had finally gotten my second dose of the pain meds 10 minutes before I delivered, which did little to cut my pain during delivery but instead hit me afterwards and made me groggy. "Danny! Get the camera out! Take some pictures!!!" I told him.
That's when one of the nurses said, "He's a big baby!" and I whipped my head to to the right, trying to look at him for myself. "I bet he's over 9 pounds!" What?? Over 9 pounds??? That was so different than the 7-8 pound prediction that had been repeatedly told to me leading up to delivery. If I had known he was going to be that big, I probably would have opted for the epidural from the start. Because what kind of freak wants to deliver a 9 lb, 3 oz baby without great and total pain control??
I guess freaks like me, who somehow find value in the experience of going through labor and delivery doing the work, feeling the pain, and almost weeping with relief when it is all over. I still don't know exactly why I chose to go this route, but I did- and planned to since the beginning of the pregnancy- and I'm glad in a way, though it did really wear me out for the next few days.
Quick, dirty and painful: a four hour time period that changed our lives forever for the better.
And that's my story.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
We put new shelves in the playroom closet and I put almost everything into plastic bins. Dan was very afraid that I was going to put him into a plastic bin, too.
All my sewing supplies, fabric and notions... out of ghetto plastic bags and into nice neat plastic shoeboxes.
The wall of shelves in the playroom: toys on the bottom, DVDs, CDs, boxes to hold the girls' schoolwork, and picture albums at the top.
Another big project I worked on was getting the room ready for the baby. I really love the new baby's room.
Now we are ready for fall.