Monday, June 29, 2009

Marketing Madness.

I recently asked my gorgeous and young-looking friend Michelle about the skin care products she uses, mostly because I am not 34 anymore and feel like I should spend a little more effort preserving what I've got. Michelle recommended two product lines, both found on quite convincing infomercials: Cindy Crawford's Meaningful Beauty and Victoria Prinicipal's Principal Secret Reclaim line. I tried products from both at her house one afternoon and was stuck with a tough dilemma: do I want to look like a Supermodel Mom or a seemingly ageless Actress?


After much consideration, I went with the Principal Secret, mostly because it smelled good and the focus seemed to be a little more on improving your skin while the Cindy products were mostly about maintaining. So I ordered a kit online and waited to start glowing.

A very official looking box came a few days later. When I opened it up, practically tingling with anticipation, I was greeted by a large, slick piece of paper that proclaimed (and I am not making this up):


You are about to embark upon an unprecedented beauty adventure..."

An unprecedented beauty adventure? Really???? Now, I can hang out at Sephora, the makeup store, for HOURS with Michelle until they kick us out at closing. Most of my disposable income goes towards new makeup and tools. I GET the makeup and beauty thing. But I had NEVER been invited to go on such a highly touted beauty adventure... this seemed, even to me, to be a little much.

And I am very happy to report that I started using my products that night and am thrilled with them. I am on my Unprecedented Beauty Adventure and loving every minute of it.

Along the same lines of marketing pressure, I don't know if you know this, but I am pregnant. (Oh, REALLY, Cheryl? Why not mention it a few million more times???) If you want to feel marketing pressure, go register at Babies R Us or another baby-supply store. Holy cow. I made a registry, mostly because there were a few things I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to buy for myself, and was given a nice, slick, registry packet that has lots of tips about how to spend about $58,397 to get ready for your infant. In the middle of the packet is a list labeled The "Must-Haves" Registry Checklist, and I am not exaggerating: this two page list has 153 items on it.

153 separate items... and that does not count things that you "must have" multiples of.

I remember when I was pregnant with Michaela, Dan and I went to a baby store and I had to leave after 10 minutes. All the pregnant women, all the anxiety in the air, all the scurrying around Trying-to-Buy-the-Absolute-Best-for-My-Baby vibe was driving me crazy.

At least this time not only do I already have 90% of what I need, I know exactly what I use and what I don't use to take care of an infant. But I feel so bad for pregnant first time moms and the marketing machine that's in place to convince them that they need 153 items to care for their child which only adds to the pressure they feel to do the whole motherhood thing perfectly from the start.

Like if you have the 153 items, all will be okay.

Here's my advice: get some diapers and wipes, some sleepers, some blankets, and a big bottle of wine*. The rest is just gravy.

*This list is NOT endorsed by the Academy of American Pediatrics.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Not Sure How to Respond to That.

Tonight our family was invited to a wrap-up picnic for a huge 18-month strategic planning project I've been working on at our church. I was looking forward to going as it was 1) a night filled with people I like at church and 2) a night I didn't have to cook.

The girls and I started getting ready about an hour before we were supposed to get there. I quickly threw them in the tub and that's when Jenna started acting up a bit, whining, asking who was going to be there, and saying "I don't want to go." By the time I was getting her dressed, she was really fighting me. She went through three or four dress choices but they didn't "twirl enough" when she spun around so they were not in contention. In desperation, I suggested she wear a skirt and shirt. We looked in the drawer where she has four or five perfectly fine skirts of all weights, lengths, textures and sizes but none would do. Finally I said- LOUDLY- "you pick something out. This is ridiculous!" and left the room. She then summoned me to show me her selection and I immediately knew it wouldn't work: the top and bottom were both too patterned to go together. I suggested an alternate skirt, which was just a hair different than the one she chose and she nixed that. Finally she agreed to wear a pair of plain white shorts with the patterned shirt.

After she put on the shorts, she marched into the bathroom where I was getting ready and announced: "All of MiMi's clothes are REAL and all of mine are FAKE!!!!"

(Yeah, don't try to make sense of that. Just let it kind of wash over you. Jenna is great for saying these declarative statements that make no sense, though you can kind of understand what she's trying to say behind it. Your brain is working so hard to decipher what she's saying that you can't come up with an appropriate response for a four year old to understand.)

And this is when I remembered, with not a small amount of glee, that my friend Judy says that she just lays out clothes for her sons and they just put them on. No big deal. And I thanked the Good Lord for knowing what my limits are and blessing me with a boy this time around.

And that's also when I realized we would all be better served if Dan stayed home with Jenna and just Michaela and I went to the party. So we did.

Earlier in the day Jenna had done the same thing. She is still not potty trained and so Dan tried to bribe her with the old "If you go on the potty for five days you can get any toy you want" kind of deal. She was really gung ho for the first 6 hours and then by 2pm was just peeing indiscriminately all over the house, which is understandable if you are two, but not when you are over four. So this morning Jenna was trying to figure out how she could not go on the potty yet still somehow get the toy (she said she wanted a baby doll). She offered every conceivable option between her underpants, MiMi's underpants, Pull-Ups, and diapers, some of which were pretty creative, but I was firm: you had to pee on the potty to get the toy.

She asked me if one of her friends, Emma, wears diapers. I told her no, she wears underpants and goes on the potty. I told her that all of her friends- Jack, Erin, Emma- they all go on the potty and none of them wear diapers. Her response, which, by the way, was entirely accurate: "Well, they're all three years old."

I just laughed.

By about noontime, completely out of the blue, she walks up to me and says, "I don't want another baby. I have enough babies."

Score: Jenna, 1; Potty training, 0.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Vacation 2009: Day 2

Well, reality has set in.

I woke up this morning to Jenna yelling "MOMMY!" to wake me up, Michaela yelling at Jenna for waking HER up, and general crabbiness and sullen-ness all around. "You haven't given ME love this morning!" "I want MY breakfast first!" etc, etc, etc.

So I gave them the Standard Mom Speech #437, available for all moms with two children or more: The "It's Going To Be A Looooong Summer If This Is How You're Going to Behave Towards Each Other" speech. And eventually they had a little something to eat, got a little love, and started the day on a better note.

And the rest of the day was very good: lunch out with my parents at the DEE-LICIOUS diner in town and then we swam the afternoon away at their pool. Swimming feels sooo good on my back (and, come to think of it, my front as well)... the buoyancy makes me feel hardly pregnant instead of starting the third trimester.

Tonight we are off to Dan's softball game and then to a graduation party, which should be fun.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Summer Vacation 2009: Day 1

So today was our first official day of summer vacation, and it was glorious.

We have enjoyed more celebrations, graduations, ceremonies, assemblies, parties, get togethers and play dates in the last month to choke a horse, and while they all are lots of fun and a great way to kick off the summer, the girls and I walked around yesterday like the living dead: exhausted to the core and very badly needing a day off from life.

So we declared today "Do Nothing Day." And we had a blast! The girls, whose bedtimes have been pushed back to ridiculous hours, both slept in until after 9:30am. After a leisurely breakfast watching SpongeBob, we got comfy on the couch and started watching the first Night at the Museum movie, which we've never seen. It was a huge hit and enjoyed a little lunch afterwards. Then we did some tracing, drawing and crafts in the early afternoon and finished the day watching Bolt all piled on top of each other on the couch. We snacked on some yummy strawberries and blackberries and finished off quite a few chocolate chip cookies I had baked yesterday.

By the end of the afternoon, we were refreshed and ready to take on whatever summer has in store for us. It was the kind of day that makes one profoundly grateful for having the freedom to stay home, the absolute joy of having children, the relief of having older children, and the fun of good movies.

Life is good.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day Fun

Daddy and his two girls

We had a great Father's Day down at Dan's brother's house. His brother, Jimmy, and his wife are expecting twins (they already have a two year old daughter) about 4 weeks after our baby arrives so there is lots of excitement and anticipation. Their younger brother Michael just became a canine daddy to the most adorable little shih tzu puppy named Quincy. Between the cousin and the puppy, Michaela and Jenna were thrilled and well entertained.
Daddy got some very nice things for gifts: a "toffee tup" from Jenna that she made in school, a hand-written and illustrated book called The Driver from Michaela, several handmade cards, a chocolate tie from Mommy and the promise of an outing to a major league ballpark with some of his friends.

Here are some pics from the day:

Olivia, Quincy, and Michaela

Friday, June 19, 2009

Best-Dressed Fetus In Town.

Found these adorable shoes (the black ones are patent pleather and the booties are suede) and sweater in the bargain sale bins at Gymboree yesterday. The shoes were originally $19.50 for each pair and I paid only 99 cents each. The sweater? Only $4.99. I so rarely ever find hidden treasure sales like this that I was beside myself.
I called Dan when Jenna and I got home from shopping and wanted lots of kudos because I resisted all of the other sale rack boy clothes, which were all part of a matching line of uber-preppy kelly green and navy plaid shorts, long sleeve green gingham check button downs, shorty overalls, and short sleeve golf shirts. They were just delicious. But alas, I really don't know how big or small Baby Boy will be by next summer and would be heartbroken if I had bought the wrong size.

So, who's hormones are raging? Who's nesting instinct is a little out of control?

I have NO IDEA WHO or WHAT you are talking about.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Jenna moves up in the world.

Proud new member of the Four Year Old Class

Friday night was Jenna's Moving Up ceremony for her preschool, complete with a potluck dinner for the kids and their families, a slideshow with pictures of the kids throughout the year, a song performed by the three and four year old classes, releasing of the butterflies the kids studied in class, and an adorable graduation ceremony for the four year olds.
We really do it up right.

Jenna was fairly unfazed by the whole affair, very happy that the school year is over and asking if she can have a new teacher next year "because Mimi gets a new teacher every year." She did a good job singing the song and seemed pleased to get her little certificate and goody bag.

(A funny story about the butterflies: a few years ago, right after they released the butterflies the class had cared for from the time they were caterpillars from the mesh pop-up cages, a bird swooped down and ate most of them. How's that for the reality of the cycle of life, right before your eyes??)

The teachers, who are two just phenomenal women, always get a little teary eyed at the graduation. After all, they have seen these children 2-3 times a week for two years and have watched them grow from little three year olds into big soon-to-be kindergartners. I will never forget the first graduation of the kids they had taught for both years (the second year the preschool was open): one of the moms figured out all 15 graduating four year olds' birthstones and had a bracelet custom made for both teachers from all those stones. I was practically weeping I was so touched just seeing them presented to the teachers, and the teachers and audience just about bawled. Moms + little kids + milestones= guaranteed crying.

Here are some pics from the night.

Jenna and her friend Emma R.

Singing the song

Getting her certificate (with Bitty Baby)

Jenna and Mrs. Glaser

Monday, June 15, 2009

Third Person Singular, I think.

The last couple of afternoons in our house have gotten rather toasty, temperature-wise. Combine this with the bursts of productivity I've enjoyed (nothing says happiness than NEW FOOD STORAGE CONTAINERS!!! That SNAP TOGETHER!!! And NEST!!!) and the approximately 7 foot long, 150 pound fetus I'm carrying right under my chin and I've been gettin' a little sweaty.

This being hot is an entirely new phenomenon for me, who usually runs so cold that I have blankets stashed in all areas of the house. Dan is convinced I have long ago broken my internal thermostat, never to be a regular temperature regulating warm-blooded human again, to which I reply,"Yeah, sure... now move your legs closer to mine so I can feel their warmth."

All of this working and sweating and busy-ness has also lead me to mutter alot under my breath little commentary of what I'm doing and what I'm going to do next, along with lots of groaning if I have to stand up, moaning if I have to change positions, and lots of general whimpering if I can't breathe well. Most of it sounds like this," O-KAY! Next... onto some laundry... oooooooooohhhh that hurts Mommy's hip.... Mommy's getting old..." all said to no one in particular. And I have ended up on more that one occasion saying, "Whew! Mommy's HOT!!! It's HOT!!! Are you HOT, girls? Isn't it HOT? 'Cause Mommy's HOT!" and Michaela or Jenna look at me slightly puzzled and say, "No, I'm fine."

And yes, I do call myself "Mommy" even to myself, which is something I clearly inherited from my own dear mother who still, with children aged 30-(Something, COUGH) and 29, calls herself Mommy to us. I distinctly remember a time when I was about 15 or 16 and said to her "Mom... I know you're my mom. I have a clear understanding of who you are and your relationship to me. You can just say, 'Bring it to me' instead of 'Bring it to Mommy'." And she just smiled and said, "Mommy thinks you're funny!"

No, actually she didn't say that. I made that up.

But she did sort of intimate that it is just a habit that starts in your children's youth and is very hard to break. And now I understand because I do the exact same thing.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby #3 Update: Week 25

Tomorrow I am 25 weeks pregnant. 15 weeks to go. It seems impossible- didn't I just get knocked up, like, what, two weeks ago?

It has been a good couple of weeks since my last update, mostly marked by intensive growth by the baby. He is... enormous. Really. My stomach is huge (think good-sized seedless watermelon shoved up my shirt) and I honestly am not sure where three and a half more months of growth is going to go. Someone last weekend asked me, "Oh, you must be due soon!" and I said, "Well, not really... I have three months left..." but I am not getting too worked up because 1) people are notoriously bad at judging how pregnant other women are and 2) this woman is literally blind in one eye. Really.

His kicking and movement have progressed from gentle flutters to a slightly more insistent poking feeling, like you're trying to get a friends' attention. He is about as active as I remember Michaela being, which was pretty active, but not overly so. I think of every movement as a little postcard sent from him to me, saying, Hey! It's all good in here! I am feeling very good, eating well, drinking copious amounts of water every day, and my intense hunger has somewhat abated... I can now go three or - goodness help me- even FOUR hours without eating.

I have a little insomnia action going on pretty much every night, finding the hours of 3-5 am just uncomfortable enough to wake me up and cause me to lose myself in bad, bad early-morning programming on television. The uncomfortableness comes in my hips, which I haven't experienced with either girl: I feel a numbness and tingly sensation from my hip down my leg after I've been sleeping on that particular side, and it also feels as though I've been clenching my leg muscles as I've slept. So I tried going to the chiropractor in case there was something that could be done adjustment-wise. I also thought that getting a massage may help my leg and back muscles a bit with the pregnancy, as well as being a nice treat for Mommy.

And the story of my massage is quite something.

So I go to a male massage therapist who is affiliated with my chiropractor and comes highly recommended. We start with the general getting-to-know-you stuff, what brings you here? how is your general health? are you feeling comfortable enough now that I'm an okay guy that you can take all your clothes off for me and I can rub you all over? know, that kind of stuff. He was friendly and outgoing and not gay (not that it matters, of course, just as a point of interest) and seemed pretty non-smarmy. So I got myself situated on the table and right before he starts in, he announces that he's "more of a technical massage therapist, but will do a little relaxation stuff at the end." And that's when I should have known what I was in for.

For the next two hours this man pummeled me, kneaded my leg muscles, stretched muscles in my back, shoulders and pectorals that I honestly didn't know I had, and I was screaming (like a "Ahhhh-ahhhh-owwww!" type of screaming) and laughing at the ridiculousness that I was PAYING HIM TO DO THIS TO ME. But he found spots that were tight in my back that he said were corresponding to my leg pain and explained to me everything he was doing and why. The best part was when he found some joint in my lower back, hooked his fingers into my vertebrae, and then had me push backwards as he was pulling towards me. Yeah. That was fun.

But... when I got up, got dressed, pulled myself back together, and walked out, I swear I felt better than I have in weeks. I didn't even feel pregnant. Gone was the waddle, the tightness, the straining, the unbalanced feeling of leaning backwards. I was just walking. Like a normal person. Loosely. And I was sold on this guy. So I am going back in my third trimester to get everything limber for labor and delivery.

We are no closer in the name department. We still have a core list of three or four solid, non-flashy boy names we like and can't seem to come to any other consensus for any others. We each have three or four other names we each personally love but the other person hates. Mr. Only Names From The Bible is having trouble embracing anything fresher or younger than 4000 years old. But we are getting lots of fun input; among the suggestions we've received (hopefully in jest): Sergio, Luciano (Lucky Libutti for short), Mortimer, and any first name from the '86 Mets, including Dwight, Darryl, or Mookie. None of those are on the short list.

Dan and I went to Manchester, VT for a date afternoon on Sunday and hit the carter's outlet and hit it HARD. We walked out with two big bags of beautiful, practical, and soft, soft, soft sleepers, towels, outfits, and onesies. One of the shirts says "Big Guy" on it and another onesie says "Mommy's new little man" on the front. I lap that stuff up like a little puppy. I feel much more prepared now for the first few weeks and am glad that Dan and I were able to pick out some cute clothing together. We also went to the Polo outlet and bought a light blue button down shirt, a navy blue vest and an orange and blue golf shirt, all in 2T /3T sizes. Too fun. I am leaving the tags on everything just in case the ultrasound was wrong and we can re-use all our gorgeous girl clothes instead of this new blue and brown collection.

All of my organizing projects are coming along nicely, well-coordinated with all the nesting hormones. The Container Store is now sending me personalized, chatty emails since we're such good friends now. But I tell you, every article of clothing or soft textile or child's toy in my home will eventually be encased in clear, organized plastic by the time I deliver this baby. I am planning on making the big move for Jenna into Michaela's room sometime in mid/late July and painting and setting up the boy nursery soon after that. It is a delicate balance of doing things before the baby comes so you are prepared, but not so early that everyone thinks you're an overeager dork.

So life is good here. I am starting to feel a little more slowed down, like I can't accomplish all I used to without taking a cat nap in the afternoon or getting a little short of breath. I have to pace myself, especially doing errands (the grocery shopping just kills me) or when I am working on the many projects I have simmering all over the house. Of course, June is a crazy, crazy month when you have children anyway: lots of end of the year wrap-ups and special parties and excited kids. I am also wrapping up a huge volunteering commitment at church- we are re-organizing the church governance structure and changing the constitution- that has lasted the last 18 months and is being voted on by the congregation this Sunday. So all of this is happening at once: endings, celebrations, and a fresh beginning of a quiet, restful, lazy summer.

I can't wait.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Frustrations, frustrations.

I have tried for a few days to upload a video of the girls to my blog and have been unsuccessful... I see others have had this issue as well. Unfortunately, I've been spending all my blog time waiting for this to go through and haven't posted about anything else.
I promise a good pregnancy update tomorrow.
Now it's off to finish some laundry and run a few errands.
Enjoy your day!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Brownie Bash and other Michaela tidbits

Monday night was Michaela's last night of Brownies/ Girl Scouts for the year. She has an AMAZING Brownie leader, who is a good friend of mine, and it is by far her favorite extra-curricular activity. She had been with the same troop since she was a little Daisy in Kindergarten and is now almost a third grader. (Sniffle, sniffle... dab eyes.)

They hosted an adorable end of the year ceremony, complete with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Girl Scout pledge, and a little skit about what it means to be a girl scout. We were just super proud of how well Michaela read in front of a large group of people. The girls each received a membership pin for this year's involvement and the last of the patches they earned this year.

Michael gets her pin from Dana.

Michaela and her friend Kaitlin.

Then it was time for ice cream! We all enjoyed make your own sundaes and presented Dana and her assistant leader Joan with gifts from the families of the troop. I also showed off a patchwork quilt that the Brownie girls had started back in February, when I was the meeting volunteer and taught 14 seven year olds how to sew, embroider, make a bean bag, use a sewing machine, and introduced them to sewing patterns. They had pretty much finished the patchwork part and I worked on Monday to put the backing on, fill it with batting and hand-tie quilt it. It really was adorable. They did a beautiful job for their first try!!

In other Michaela news, she attended an American Girl Mystery birthday party on Sunday and each guest was assigned a character to play. Michaela was supposed to be a hobo, and she looked so cute all hobo-ed out that she suggested I "take a picture and put it on the blog". She had a great time at the party!

Michaela the hobo

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

Memorial Day is a big deal around our house.

Our town holds a parade every year and it is quite possibly one of the greatest small-town events in the state... maybe even the country. It reeks of small town America, with the sports teams, Girl and Boy Scouts, churches, Fire and Police departments and town politicians marching along with the bagpipers, fife and drum corps, the High School band and the VFW members. If you've lived in the town as long as I have, you know a good 60% of the people marching, and the other 40% of people you know are sitting on the sidelines, watching it all happen.

It is a huge event for us as a family; years ago, before I had kids, I saw a family all wearing matching red, white and blue shirts to the parade and as soon as we had a family I started that tradition. Every May I go searching for our shirts, this year bought from Target, and we also now wear matching red, white and blue nail polish and some sort of patriotic- themed tattoos. (Interesting side note: the tattoos I bought this year were from WalMart and were raised jewel tattoos in the shape of an American flag. There were specific instructions on the back: "Do not apply to your eyeball." I laughed about that all day and felt VERY sorry for the poor not-very-bright person who DID apply it to their eyeball, necessitating the instructions.) Yeah, we go all out.

Jenna sporting with the Hartle Girls before the parade starts.

The excitement jacked up a notch two years ago, when Michaela marched for the first time in the parade with her Girl Scout troop. She was thoroughly mortified by the screaming, cheering and catcalls we made as she walked by and we have since had to promise her that we'd tone it down. Michaela marched again this year, but ducked out when she reached where we were sitting so she could enjoy both marching and watching with us. And so we didn't have to search for her at the end with the 25,000 other parents looking for their Girl Scout, Boy Scout, soccer player or little league slugger. It was a great compromise.

We were joined this year by my brother Brian and Beth and the adorable Miss Kate. They love the parade as much as we do. When Brian and I were kids, we went to the parade and then went to our friends the Day's house (they lived close enough to walk to the parade route) afterwards for a picnic. Those days are one of the rose-glassed, golden-edged memories from my childhood.

We went after this year's parade to our friends the Hartles' house, where we enjoyed a wonderful BBQ. Then we meandered over to my parents' house where the grill was hot and the pool was luke. (A Meet The Parents reference there, if anyone caught it.) Michaela and Jenna hit the pool like it had never been closed.

Of course it helped that the weather was STUNNINGLY gorgeous... sunny and warm and not a trace of humidity. It was a beautiful, relaxing, fun, friend-and-family-filled day. And to think that next year, our little man will be able to join us!