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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Surviving Motherhood

I don't care what anyone else says, Motherhood is the hardest job there is. I've done lots of other "jobs." I made it through a rigorous master's/pre-doctorate graduate program, post-degree training, and licensure as a professional counselor. I've worked with some really tough situations in my career as a professional counselor. But nothing, so far, tops the challenges of motherhood.

We are surviving Dear Daddy's departure back to work after being home for two weeks when Zachary was born, but it's been tough. The first day he was back to work, all three of us that were left at home had fits of frustration. Zachary was fussy fussy fussy all morning. Each time I laid him down (praying he would nap) so that I could attend to Zoe, he would last no more than 20 minutes before fussing some more. Each time I picked him up to settle him, Zoe had fits over something. At one point I couldn't handle it anymore, and my still- raging-not-departing-my-body-fast-enough hormones were not helping. I couldn't stop the tears of frustration, which upset Dear Daughter and made her cry more. I eventually just plopped down on the couch with Dear Son crying in one arm and Dear Daughter crying under the other arm, and we all just sat there and cried awhile until I could regain composure.

Three days later, it has gotten better. I'm getting to the pro-nursing stage where I'm finding myself able to nurse a baby at any angle and in the midst of any activity. This morning I was trying to pay some attention to Dear Daughter and was on the floor assembling a puzzle with her when Dear Son decided he was hungry. I managed to get situated with him and begin nursing him while remaining on the floor to help Dear Daughter with her puzzle. However, no sooner had I achieved this task (a challenge in and of itself) when Dear Daughter decided to step up the challenge a bit and announced she had to go "poopie." Those of you with toddler experience know that when a toddler says s/he has to go, you don't mess around. I managed to get up off the floor, to the bathroom, and assist Dear Daughter with getting her britches pulled down, rear wiped, and britches pulled back up, all without disrupting Dear Son's feeding. Don't ask me for more details or for a "how-to" outline, because I really don't think I could tell you. I've decided that as a Mother, you just do what you have to, and amazing skills and abilities surface when they are necessary. Keep in mind that it has barely been over two weeks ago that my abdomen was hacked open to birth Dear Son. I've read that one must remember that a c-section is a major abdominal surgery and so the recovery period includes recuperating from a major surgery as well as all the other postpartum challenges. "Be sure to get lots of rest" the books all say. I would have laughed at that until my sides split if my abdomen wasn't already split. Get lots of rest???????? That's not just a stupid statement, it's a sick and painful, not-at-all-funny joke!

The "Amazing Mom Tricks" continued when later, I managed to nurse Dear Son while reading stories to Dear Daughter and getting her tucked in for her nap. Once again, don't ask me to explain how this kind of multi-tasking can be accomplished. You do what you have to do and in-between the challenges you find those sweet moments like this morning when Dear Daughter wanted my attention in the middle of Dear Son's diaper change. I told her she would have to wait until I was done with Zachary's britches, and she didn't fuss another bit. Thirty seconds later she announced, "I'm waiting for Zachary." Or those even sweeter moments like yesterday morning when Dear Daughter, upon awakening, handed me the balloon decorations from Grandma H's birthday cake, which we had eaten the night before (she insisted on sleeping with them) and sweetly stated, "Happy Birthday, Mommy!" Yes indeed, you do what you have to do, and you straddle the moments of, "How am I going to survive this?" along with the moments of, "How could it get any better than this?" In the end, I believe every mom is both a survivor and a superstar.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Tribute to Great Grandma G

I've neglected to mention that Zachary Noah was born on his Great Grandma G's birthday. Great Grandma G. has since gone to be with the Lord. She has not gotten to meet little Zoe or Zachary, but I can imagine her delight in hearing the news each time she learned she was getting another great grandbaby. I also imagine that on the day Zachary was born (and the day of her own birth) the angels were singing and so so was Great Grandma G., with her voice ringing the loudest above the rest.

Here's a special tribute to you, Grandma G., we look forward to the day you get to meet your great grandson, born on the day of your own birth, as well as the rest of your great grandchildren that you haven't yet met. We are honored that our son gets to share his special day with you!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Another Year Gone By?!

It's days away from one year ago that I started this blog. The days and months have flown by. My little girl continues to grow up way too fast. I begged her the other day to stay my little girl forever..."even when she is 30." She has this endearing new way of saying "Honey" in the middle of her sentences. For example, "Can I have some 'bubbles,' Honey?" She calls both her Daddy and I "Honey" from time to time. Presumably, she has decided that since we call her that, it also makes sense for her to call us the same. By the way, "bubbles" means "Sprite."

Here is the little imp in front of the Christmas tree. We celebrated a few days early with Grandpa and Grandma H since Grandpa H wouldn't have a day off of work close to Christmas. Zoe got most of her gifts that day, but we saved a few, including the ones from Grandma and Grandpa M and Uncle Jowell and Aunt Lisa, for Christmas Day. Of course, she's gotten several gifts along the way the past few weeks in an effort to make the transition of adding a new baby easier for her.

She was so excited to get up from her nap and see presents under the tree. She ran around saying, "Can we open the presents?" and was so excited she could hardly stand herself. As you can see, she managed to get one open before we could get her to look at the camera for this picture.

Each day gets just a little bit easier as we try to integrate Zachary into the family. Zoe gets less upset when he cries, but it is still hard for her. He slept for a 5 hour period a couple nights ago, and I was the tiniest bit hopeful that that would be a routine event. I figured it could be possible, given his current size. But the past two nights have not been so fortunate. He is on a three hour around the clock feeding schedule. It's amazing that he seems to awaken at exactly three hour intervals, and not more than a couple minutes longer. I have to remind myself that in the scheme of things, this stage of his little life is but a blink of the eye. Though I cringe as I use that analogy as my eyes have not been getting enoughs blinks, or winks, or whatever you call them, for a very long time. The pain of starving for sleep finally hit me a couple days ago. I didn't sleep well most of this pregnancy, with bouts of insomnia and just general over-all discomfort keeping me up. Then a couple nights of painful contractions before the all night labor and delivery process. Then being on my own in the hospital this time. Last time Dear Husband roomed in with me and got up all night each night to hand me the baby for feedings and to do all the diaper changes. Of course, now there's also the challenge of having to be up and ready for Dear Daughter to get up at 8 am, which is her usual waking up time. No sleeping until 9:30am after the 6:30am feeding like I routinely did with Dear Daughter. And this time I will return to work at 8 weeks instead of 12.

"People do this all the time!" I remind myself, all the while wondering how it is possible for a relatively well-adjusted, mature, nearly 34-year-old adult woman to feel as though she is getting her butt kicked so badly every day by a mere two-year-old and a mere (not quite) two-week-old. How do poorly-adjusted, immature, young people do this? I know there are those much less capable than I in this world trying to parent toddlers and newborns.

What a mystery, that something so difficult can also be something so rewarding. At the moment, I have a snoozing newborn propped on my shoulder, sighing content infant sighs, little back rising and falling with his tiny little breaths. Upstairs I have, what I believe to be, the cutest, sweetest two-year-old in the world napping in her "big girl" bed. I got lots of cuddles and kisses from her before tucking her in for a rest. When she gets up, the first thing she will want is to see "Mommy" for more cuddles and kisses. Indeed it is the hardest and yet most rewarding thing I've ever experienced, to be a child's entire world--their entire existance wrapped entirely around me. While I'm busy trying with everything in me to meet all the needs of a toddler and a newborn, often neglecting my own needs in the process, I am still saddened beyond words by the knowledge that one day the world will expand for these little ones and no longer will I be their sun moon and stars. It's the biggest paradox I've yet to encounter, this parenting thing.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Zoe's "One Girl Band"

That's my girl, already the aspiring musician! Grandpa and Grandma H got her a complete double set of a "band in a box." Here she is working on the harmonica while Grandpa keeps the beat with the "jingle stick." She now has a harmonica, xylophone, maracas, castanets, a "jingle stick", finger cymbals, tambourine, hollow block thingy (not the technical name, obviously), recorder, triangle, and probably some I'm forgetting. Add to this the keyboard and electric guitar from G. Uncle Ron and G. Aunt Pat, and Zoe's got herself quite the music "arsenal."

Monday, December 19, 2005

Zachary's Arrival

He's here! Born Tuesday, December 13th at 3:34 am. Nine whopping pounds and twenty-three inches. I must comment that I feel fully justified for any discomfort and accompanying "belly-aching" (pun intended!) I uttered during the last several weeks of this pregnancy. No wonder I was feeling baby movements in my groin and my rib cage at the same time!

For those interested in the morbid details, I'll share a few. Some of the most morbid and gory details will remain with those less fortunate who accompanied me through the labor and delivery journey (namely my Dear Mother and Dear Husband, both of whom were there for every minute of it).

Sunday, December 11th: Braxton Hicks contractions at 5 minute intervals for an hour or two at a time on and off throughout the day. A couple "real" contractions beginning by 7 pm Sunday evening and lasting throughout the entire night at irregular intervals.

Monday, December 12th: Scheduled dr appointment at 10:00 am. I decided to skip triage and see my dr first to see what she thought. Dr called it "latent labor" and said I was 75% effaced but not at all dilated. She basically said, "See ya next week" (at my next scheduled appointment). I left feeling discouraged and concerned that I would have a week or more of the pain I was beginning to feel with no end in sight.

Contractions continued all day long with a few hours of extremely painful contractions that I felt only in my lower hips and back. This, I believe, is probably what Dear Sister-in-Law referred to as "back labor." By 8:30 pm I was timing contractions at 5 minutes apart and was just tucking Dear Daughter into bed. Dear Mother is a labor and delivery nurse, so I did what any smart daughter in that situation would do: I called her and told her I had an hour of contractions at 5 minutes apart and I thought they may be getting more painful. Now it was 9:30 pm and Dear Mother and Dear Father headed to our house. Dear Father was going to stay with "Sleeping Beauty" (otherwise known as Dear Daughter), and Dear Mother and Dear Husband were going to accompany me to triage.

By the time we reached the hospital at 10:30 pm, the contractions were so painful that I couldn't walk or hardly breathe through them. After donning the lovely hospital garb necessary and bagging my personal items (I had mental flashes of movie clips of soldiers enlisting and thought to myself that I'd rather get a buzz job on my hair, Demi Moore style in GI Jane, than go through what I knew was going to come next if this was indeed "real labor") I was pronouned 100% effaced and dilated to a 7. Woo-hoo, I was headed into the "real thing." My next thought, "Oh, crap! There's no way out of this now!" I knew that either I'd enter the scary and unfamiliar territory of pushing a watermelon out of an opening that I really could only imagine handling a largish kiwi, or--God forbid--heading back into the O.R. for that other frighteningly familiar path of having my abdomen slashed and child ripped from my flesh (well...we can't tell the story without some drama now, can we?)

11:00pm until 1:00am or 2:00am: I'm not exactly sure when the anesthesiologist arrived to pump the drugs into my back. The time span here is a blur with only rare moments of focusing my eyes. The pain got worse and worse and I don't think I stopped screaming the whole time. My dread of the epidural and the dead legs that go along with it faded into, "When is that @&$%*@ doctor going to get here with those drugs?!!!!!" Then... once the drugs kicked in, an amazing thing happened and the pain was literally gone! I could even feel my legs and move them, and I was only mildly weirded out by the sensations. It was much better than the spinal block for the previous C-section, during which I would tell my brain to move my feet and my feet would not respond. That was the creepiest thing ever.

2:00am - 3:00am: or maybe this stage began sooner, I really wasn't watching the time. There was a constant flurry of trying to keep my blood pressure up. I guess it kept slipping pretty low and the baby was stressing a bit as a result. Meanwhile, I did not dilate any further and the baby was not dropping any lower. It was determined that the baby must be facing backward and not turning, which could explain why I was laboring in my back so much. His head was not wanting to turn the right way in order to continue down that path where watermelon-sized babies mysteriously pass through. Attempts to turn him and assess progress left me with visions of other things I've only seen on t.v. Such as when little baby cows are birthed into the world and some unfortunate soul has to stick his arm elbow deep inside the poor laboring heifer to assist the baby's entry into the world. Only I wasn't the unfortunate soul with arm buried elbow-deep, but the even more unfortunate laboring heifer.

3:00am: The decision I dreaded. Gotta get to the O.R. and get the baby out. He'd had enough. Then there were murmurs of whether the drugs were going to numb me well enough to do the section. The dr began contemplating a general anesthetic. I tried not to panic, which didn't matter, since I was already panicked. We had to wait on the drugs the anesthesiologist needed. I had gripping fears of that stuff you see on t.v. where a person is not properly anesthetized during surgery. "Oh, my God!" I was thinking. "I'm going to feel myself being cut open." I actually wasn't sure if that would be worse than the general anesthetic or not.

It was a long procedure this time, or so it seemed to me. The epidural seemed to work. I have nicknamed my anesthesiologist "The Happy Bartender." He had good humor and was a very nice man. He appeared to be having a pretty good time pumping this and that drug into me. Crank up the epi here, stick in some Demerol there, a little of this a little of that. He kept making cocktails and sticking them into my IV. I would make a comment here and there like, "I've got the shakes really bad" and he would say, "I know, I gave you something to calm you a bit." Then I would say, "I'm feeling a little loopy" or something like that, and he would say, "I know, I gave you something that can make you feel that way." I think he just gave me some of everythng he had behind the bar to make sure I was covered. Then the operating dr says, "We got a lot of scar tissue (from the last section) so it's going to take a little longer to cut through it. Lovely. Just the kind of commentary I love to listen to while I'm hanging out on the operating table. The baby came out and there was lots of whooping about how big he was. Nine pounds...and exclamations of 23 inches. I was only the tiniest bit interested. I couldn't wait to know I was sewn up and off that terrible "slicing table." Then the commentary that ensues while being sewn up...about which layer is complete and how progress is going. Something about a rather superficial nick to the bladder that happened on "disection." Disection? Isn't that something you do to a frog in jr. high biology? Nonetheless, I had to admit, it was a rather accurate description of what I felt like was happening to me. Unfortunately, I've watched these procedures on "Birth Day" and "Special Delivery."

I tried to sing, but I couldn't concentrate on any particular song or melody, so it was random humming in an effort to keep my mind off the whole thing. Yeah, right. It seemed like forever. And then came the awful part where they move you around the table to clean up the blood and fluid splatters (sorry, but it's how it is, and we can't have a story without drama, right?). And of course, being completely numb from toes to above the breasts this time (they really cranked that epi), I felt especially vulnerable as they flipped and turned me this way and that. All the way over to the right side. "Great!" I exclaimed out loud as I focused on a bucket half full of blood. "I've got a great view of this bucket full of blood right now" I was beyond feeling queasy, so I just tried hard to tolerate the flipping and lifting and tried not to dwell on the fact that they could just dump me right over on my face on the concrete floor and there wouldn't be a blessed thing I could do about it. I was wishing "The Happy Bartender" would have given me something to make me feel more happy...like maybe laughing gas.

So...that's the story. And Zachary has arrived. I will spare the postpartum details as I am certain I've already offered more information than many of you wanted.

I'm still left with the haunting question of why do women repeat this experience? I still do not know. I can't believe I went through it twice. I can't fathom why or how anyone could go through it three, four, or more times. Maybe other women's labor and delivery experiences aren't so bad. Or maybe I wasn't meant to go through it twice. Without the advent of modern medicine, Dear Daughter would likely not have survived the birthing process...perhaps I wouldn't have either. I can't believe women did this before there were epidurals and surgeries to save babies and mommies from the pain and, unfortunately death. But...I will not go any further down that road. I have two beautiful children and everyone is healthy and alive.

Zachary is a pretty laid back baby so far. This is good, as Dear Daughter is a total Momma's Girl. My enmeshment with her for the past 28 months has contributed greatly to this, I know. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it's amazingly life changing. But even in these still often "raw moments" of adjustment, I expect that mothering Dear Son will be a repeat (if not it's own rendition) of mothering Dear Daughter, and nothing short of the most wonderful thing that's ever happened to me.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Jumpin' Bean House

We've had some cold days and just a little snow this past week. Dear Daughter was sooooo excited to go out in the snow and grab little mittened handfuls of snow and toss them up over her head. She seemed not to even notice how frigid it was (like 8 degrees or some crazy thing). If this particular pregnant woman felt a bit chilled, you can bet it was darn cold!

Dear Daughter has been begging to "go outside" but it has just been too cold and windy. Saturday we decided to let Dear Daughter open one of her Christmas gifts early so she could enjoy some indoor activity. She was sooooo excited to receive her very own "Jumpin' Bean House," which is what she has called jumping houses ever since the fall trip to Campbell's farm where she got to jump in the great big purple dragon inflatable jumping house. This one fits (sorta) in the back of our great room, but fills a big portion of Dear Daughter's play area, especially with the Christmas tree taking up the front of the great room. I'm glad we ended up with a house with a "great" room as we have discovered it takes a "great" deal of space to house the entertainment necessary for Dear Daughter. Where we will put Dear Son and his entertainment factors once he arrives, I am not sure.

Dear Daughter loves to play with the jumping bean house right side up, so she can jump and flop and carry on like the rambunctious 2 year old she occaisionally is. She also loves to play with it upside down, so it can become a play house with a roof on top, which is the way we turn it when it is not in use. This upside down manuever is mainly used to prevent the younger of the felines who lives in our home from marking it with her "special signature." I think she is rebelling against Dear Daughter, who likes to chase her around the house any time she dares show her furry little face. Whenever the afore mentioned occaision of "cat pee" or "cat poop" arises, it is always the younger feline, who is, I've decided, very passive-aggressive. After finding her passive-aggressive feline poop pile in Dear Daughter's wading pool, which was stationed in the great room during one of Dear Daughter's phases last March, we are especially cautious of what and where we leave items that may be just too temping for a passive-aggressive, traumatized-by-a-two-year-old, cat.

Here is Dear Daughter after church Sunday morning modeling her adorable latest attire from G. Aunt Pat and G. Uncle Ron. Of course, upon returning home from chruch, the jumpin' bean house was where Dear Daughter headed immediately. I had to convince her to come out long enough for this picture. She is posing quite nicely though, isn't she?

...and after a good 'n wild two-year-old jump and tumble in the ol' jumpin' bean house, here is what you can expect your two-year-old head to look like!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Geriatric Influence

I just created a new blog post in Zoto, complete with attached photos and sent it on over to Blogger, only to have something get lost in the translation. I don't feel like re-creating the entire post, but here are the pics...

Note the purple toys. Interestingly enough (or not) all of the toys from G. Uncle Ron and G. Aunt Pat are purple, including the keyboard and electric guitar, which are not pictured. Hmmmm...I wonder who picked these gifts out?











Zoe loves to pretend to vacuum up the "cat barf" with her new Dusty vac. Great. As I've previously mentioned, we have a geriatric cat living in our home. That means we have the occasional "geriatric mess." I'm glad my daughter is learning useful life skills. I trust she goes to the church nursery and tells them all about the "cat barf" "cat pee" and "cat poop" which are all interchangable as far as Zoe is concerned. Nevermind the fact that the last two are extremely rare events.

The Icing...

There's nothing like a G Uncle Ron and G Aunt Pat to "spoil" a kid. Zoe thoroughly enjoyed their visit, the attention and presents from them, and getting G Uncle Ron's encouragement to stick her finger in the icing of their 40th Anniversary cake. She is also still talking about the "Red Lobster" restaurant on a daily basis (where we all went to eat one evening) and the fact that "Ron was there" (sitting next to her in the van on the drive to and from the restaurant).

Growing Closer?

...or at least growing. This is 38 weeks. I read recently that after 38 weeks the mother's belly doesn't grow larger. I don't know what sense that makes if the baby is supposed to continue to add a half pound per week at ths point. My Dr. as well as her nurse both commented at my last appointment that I had "only" gained a pound that week. I couldn't help laughing as I questioned whether that made up at all for the previous 45 total pounds gained. Good grief! I think 5 pounds are hanging off my cheeks and chin.

I will sum up my current existence by stating simply that EVERYTHING is difficult these days, not the least of which the normal not pregnant population takes for granted on a daily basis, and includes such primal activities as breathing and moving one's body.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Christmas is Coming

We had one excited little girl on our hands Saturday when we told her we were going to get a Christmas tree. Dear Husband put her down for her nap, telling her that after her nap we would go get a Christmas tree. She laid in her bed and talked and sang and carried on for a couple hours and never did sleep. Dear Husband finally went to get her up, and upon his entrance to her bedroom, she excitedly exclaimed, "I sleep, and now we can go get a Christmas tree!" Well...I guess it was the thought that counted and not the actual zzzzzzz's, huh?

So we headed up to the local Ace Hardware store (something got lost in the translation of getting a Christmas tree when we left Oregon) to pick a tree out of the parking lot. It's just not quite the same as going to a tree farm and getting a beautiful tree cut right under your nose. Dear Husband scoffs each year at the fact that many of the trees for sale in this region have been spray painted for color. The first year we moved here, we sought out a tree farm and, not finding any trees from the local area we liked, picked one of their pre-cuts. We discovered when we got the tree back home that it had actually been shipped from the same location where we previously lived in Oregon. Go figure. The tree also lost its needles rather early that year, probably because it was less than fresh by the time it traveled 2,000 miles to get to us. The price we had to pay and the lifspan of the tree just didn't make it worthwhile. Since then, we have settled for a tree from the Ace Hardware parking lot. So Dear Daughter will grow up thinking that Christmas trees come from the local hardware store. *sigh*

Nonetheless, Dear Daughter was giddy with excitement running around the trees and hiding and squealing, sticking her head out the fence and waving at the cars passing by on on the city street bordering the hardware parking lot.

When we got the tree home she jumped around the living room and squealed and couldn't wait to hang the shiny Christmas balls on the tree. She's been fixated on Christmas balls because she saw them on the Grinch Who Stole Christmas video, which she has been watching since before Halloween. We did not actually have any of the old standard shiny ball ornaments, so Saturday morning we had to go to the local Stuff-Mart and purchase some. There was no convincing Dear Daughter that we could have a tree without the Christmas ball ornaments.

Dear Daughter seems to be mixed up about Christmas and thinks that it is akin to her birthday, complete with balloons. I think this is due, in part, to the fact that G. Uncle Ron and G. Aunt Pat are coming to visit, and Dear Daughter remembers them clearly from her birthday a few months ago. When they came, we had a birthday party for her, complete with balloons. I've been telling her that Christmas is actually Jesus' birthday. She responds by asking the usual question whenever we talk about Jesus, "Where is Jesus at?" It's precious.

At any rate, the decorating was fun for Dear Daughter and the adults who live in the home as well.


Indicentally, Dear Daughter seems to not be napping more than she is napping these days. She does a nice job of laying in her bed and singing and talking to her stuffed animals and never complains about the quiet time, but about 75% of the time for the past couple weeks, she has not napped. I think it was my Dear Mother-in-Law who stated something about Dear Daughter being a live wire like her mother, never letting much grass grow beneath her feet. Indeed, Dear Daughter greets me most days with, "Where are we going to go today?" and sometimes asks, "Can we go some places?" As I lay in bed with her one night talking with the lights out, I mentioned that we would need to get her a poster to hang in the new open space by her bed (the one that used to be covered partially by a crib rail). The next day at nap time we were lying together snuggling again, and Dear Daughter started to talk about needing some pictures or posters and pointed her chubby little finger at the space on the wall. I said, "Yes, we will have to go to Hobby Lobby or Michael's or something, won't we?" She says, in her charming little inquisitive voice, "What's Michael's?" I explained it was like Hobby Lobby, where she loves to go and look at the chickens that Grandma H is collecting in her kitchen. I left her for her nap, which was another non-nap time with Dear Daughter talking and singing for a couple hours. When I went to get her up, she excitedly says to me, "Let's go to Michael's!" I hadn't meant we would go that very day as soon as naptime was over.

Alas, I realized my time alone with Dear Daughter is growing quite short, as is my ability to just pack her up and take her somewhere fairly quickly and easily. With a newborn due any time, life will change dramatically again. And so I find myself indulging Dear Daughter quite a lot lately, trying to make every moment and memory last and have as many special memories with her as possible before I get distracted. In short, we went to Michael's. Nevermind the fact that I had just finished scrubbing and waxing the kitchen floor (with help from Dear Husband) and the entire house was in a disarray with kitchen furniture scattered about, windows open to dry the floor quickly (thanks to a balmy 65 degree day), and I in my attractive cleaning attire looking quite bedraggled. Ah well, "the rest can wait," I figured. And off we went to get pictures to hang above Dear Daughter's bed.

Life is precious and time too short.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holdin' on for Dear Life

Zoe's favorite thing to do with Daddy is "Go up high!" which usually means he holds her up to touch the ceiling. The other night I suggested a piggy back ride, which was a first for her. Then I suggested she hold in to his ears for security. Ha! Now whenever she gets a piggy back ride from Daddy, she has to pinch on his ears. This was Thanksgiving evening between turkey and pie.

What do you think? Does Dear Husband's expression seem to be saying, "YOU taught her this!"

Ham

Zoe discovered the chocolate mouse whips Yoplait yogurt, and loves them. Yesterday I gave her one for dessert while I cleaned up the kitchen. I let her be for a few minutes and after several minutes of silence I turned to look at her. She had pretty much downed the whole container and manged to have it in her eyebrows and everywhere.

She loves to ham it up in front of the camera, so she had a good time with me taking her picture. Whenever you focus on her to take a shot, she automatically grins and says, "Cheesy!" And when you are done taking pictures, she begs you to take more!

36 Weeks' Worth

Well, here I am in all my "glory" or whatever it is. 36 weeks and still no stretch marks, which is pretty amazing considering the 40 pounds gained and the extreme change since the lower picture, which was taken at 19 weeks. I couldn't resist posting the dramatic difference side by side. Quite the expansion for 17 weeks, or four short months, huh? At 19 weeks, I was feeling large and irritated that people didn't know I was pregnant and apparently just thought I was getting fat. I think I had already gained 15-20 pounds at that point! The hardest part still isn't the size of my belly, my thighs, or even my rear, but the fat that clings onto my face! I keep reminding myself, I lost it all before (nevermind that it took a year and a half)...so I can lose it all again.

Testing Out the Baby Gear

We're getting all the baby gear ready again, and Zoe is really excited about trying it all out. She knows this is "Zachary's bed" but she likes to lie down in it and pretend to sleep. I look at her all crammed into the bassinet, feet hanging out the edge, and remember when we brought her home from the hospital a couple days old and put her in it for the first time. How is it possible? Now she is sleeping in a regular twin bed, which we just introduced to her yesterday. We left the crib up for her too, just in case. She was all excited about the new bed until I tried to leave her in it for her nap after lying down with her and reading some stories. She got concerned over the idea of napping in the new bed and pointed at the crib and said, "How about the brown bed?" So she napped in the crib yesterday.

I tried again with her at bedtime. I didn't push her, I just laid down with her in the bed and cuddled and talked with her awhile after turning out the lights. Then when I got up to go, she said, "No...no! Mommy, go to sleep with Zoe!" and I told her I had to go to "Mommy's bed." She then said, "Well, Mommy could lie down with Zoe and just be her friend!" I melted all over the place and fought back the tears again. After I cuddled and talked with her in her bed a little longer I got up to go, and this time it was okay (for her, but not entirely for me). I wanted it to be okay, but I also didn't want it to be okay. She went right to sleep. I refrained from checking in on her all night during my routine trips to the bathroom. When I peeked in on her this morning, she was all curled up at the top of the bed and looked way too little for the bed. I had to choke back the tears again. Why do they have to grow up?

Monday, November 21, 2005

...Afterthought

On the heels of my last comments regarding pregnancy woes, this morning topped them all so far. I had a routine dr. appointment this morning, and I have to say that as hard as it is to put on socks in this condition, it's not nearly as challenging as trying to pee in a cup!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Pregnancy Woes

We finally hit reasonable overnight temperatures last week: we had a low of 18 degrees one night. I could finally turn off the a/c and even close the windows! I think I've even stopped perspiring for the first time during this pregnancy. Well, except for the days I'm at work. No one else at my office will agree with me on the necessary temperature. They like to keep the thermostat on 74. Good Grief! I insist it needs to be set at no higher than 62. I'm outnumbered, so I get to sweat through all of my sessions even though I dress in the lightest clothing I can find. The office manager wears turtleneck sweaters and uses a space heater on her feet even in August. What is up with that???? It drives me crazy!

On the bright side, though my feet have semi-permanently swollen up again and I have "cankles," at least it's not as bad as last pregnancy when I literally could not get ANY shoes on my feet. Last pregnancy I had to add extra long velcro to my Teva's just to get the straps latched, and that's what I wore for like the whole last six weeks...even to work everyday. It was summer, so Teva's, while not really appropriate work attire, were at least appropriate summer attire. One day a client said, "Those are some big feet you have!" This time I can get shoes on, which is good when the high temps are only 40 degrees. Of course the only time my feet swell bad enough to really bother me is when I'm at work, where it is at least 74 degrees and I would prefer to be barefoot anyway.

On the not-so bright side, it is appropriate to wear socks this time of year, where I didn't have that to worry about with an August baby last time. If you've never been 9 months pregnant and trying to put your socks on, try carrying three 10-lb bowling balls in your stomach and wrapping all your joints, and every other place on your body that is supposed to bend, as tightly as possible with ace bandages and then bend over to try to put on your socks. The other day I finally managed to wrestle my socks on and I'll be darned if I didn't manage to get one of them on inside out. I had to start all over. By that time, 40 degress or not, I had worked up a pretty good sweat.

How people go through this more than a couple times in life is beyond me. I'm feeling crazy enough for doing it a second time.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Applying Love and Logic

I have a very well-behaved two-year-old. She rarely has a tantrum, and when she does, she regroups quickly. She never hits, pinches, bites, etc. She follows directions quite well, except for the occasional typical two-year-old dawdling, goofing around, and when it's time to get dressed in the morning or diapered for nap or bedtime. Although Dear Daugter has been potty trained for nearly 6 months (since she was barely 22 months old) we have not pushed the issue of getting up during nap or bedtime to go. She is not able to get her pants up and down alone and I would rather her get her rest at naptime and for both she and I to get our rest at bedtime than be concerned with getting up and down for potty breaks. At those times we need to diaper her, Dear Daughter likes to get really silly and run around naked and ignore either/both parents instead of cooperating with getting her diaper on. Today I used a little Love and Logic on the issue, and it was HARD!

We have used Love and Logic with her before, but it hasn't been required much. The main incidents I can think of were requiring her to come inside because she wouldn't follow directions not to play in the water or some such thing. We have never needed to use much discipline with her.

Let me preface a bit. For those of you who do not know it, I have several years of professional training and experience specializing in working with behaviorally disordered children as well as conducting child and family therapy. I have seen A LOT of children and families with major problems that tend to most frequently present themselves when children are reaching that pre-adolescent age of 11 or 12, but I've worked with a lot of teenage kiddos and their families as well. The number one reason the families are such a mess and the kids are such menaces are due to poor parenting skills and/or lack of discipline. When parents learn how to be consistent with discipline, it's amazing how the kids thrive. However, the older the child and the longer standing the problem has been, the bigger the challenge. When I see kiddos that are pushing 17 years old and nearing the time of going out on their own in the world even though they cannot function responsibly, respectfully, and appropriately within their own families and limited social circles, I shudder. These are the ones who are at risk of ending up with legal problems, in jail, major drug and alcohol addictions, and passing all the problems on again to their own children. Then I will see their children in my office in a few years. It's an endless cycle. And it's MUCH MUCH easier to start doing it right when a child is a year old than when a child is 15 years old.

Let me also say that I am NOT a proponent of spanking. But I'm not inviting a big spanking debate. This is just my own opinion. I have worked with a lot of abused children who were spanked because parents simply had poor parenting skills and that was the "easiest" thing to do and was a release for parental anger and agression. And many of these kids were hit and physically abused and did not know the difference between getting beat up and being disciplined because the parents didn't know the different between "punishment" (which is often devoid of teaching) and "discipline" (which stems from the word "disciple" which means to teach). I don't believe pure punishment teaches better behavior. A child simply stops the negative behavior out of fear of being hit but doesn't develop internal thinking and problem solving skills, and so will often continue the negative behavior when the parent isn't looking.

The training and support I offer parents in therapy settings are based in Love and Logic theory, which is GREAT! If anyone is intrested, there are lots of Love and Logic training materials and books out there. My favorites are "Parenting with Love and Logic" (great ideas for teenagers) and "Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood" (great ideas for toddlers and preschoolers, but also some stuff quite adaptable for pre-adolescents and teens).

Back to my personal story. At nap time today I decided that it was due time to apply Love and Logic to the problem of Dear Daughter refusing to "cooperate" with getting her "napping pants" on. So I told her that she could cooperate and get stories before nap time or not cooperate and not get stories before nap time. She continued to not cooperate. Keep in mind that Dear Daughter is very well aware of what is meant by cooperate. She has informed me a couple times that "Mommy is not cooperating" if I don't respond quickly enough to her requests.

Cardinal Rule for parents: Never say something you won't follow through with, and follow through with everything you say. I knew I had to be prepared to put Dear Daugther down for naptime without stories if I was going to offer the choice (which is the key to Love and Logic: always frame things as the child's choice. This helps the child learn to think for themselves, learn the fact of cause and effect related to their behavior, and not blame the parents for their own poor behavior/choices).

Dear Daughter cried and begged for stories and ran to turn the lamp back on and whines over and over "NO, cooperate!" and I had to gently and firmly tell her I love her and that little girls who cooperate get stories, but little girls who don't cooperate don't get stories. Then I had to place my sobbing daughter in her little bed and cover her up and walk out of the room. I wanted to cry myself as I shut her door. And I wanted to run back in and say, "I changed my mind! Let's read some stories, you sweet precious little darling!" But I knew that would be the kiss of death and all the pre-teen and teenage "monsters" I've worked with in my counseling career ran through my mind. I refuse to "ruin" my children like that. Then all the advice I've given parents ran through my head. Things like, "You gotta start when they are 1 and 2 years old, you've gotta follow through and follow through consistently" and the Cardinal Rule I mentioned above. Then I thought about the families I've worked with who could not manage their 2, 3, and 4 year olds and how many times I thought to myself when I had these families in my office, "Why are they letting their toddler run their homes and lives like this?" These are the families that come in with problems with their teenagers and have a toddler with them as well. The toddlers offer a great window of information as they tear my office apart and the parents say things like, "You better stop it! Get your butt over here! Do you want a spanking?" and on and on and on, raising their voice more loudly as the child gets more and more out of control. I have said to myself thousands of times over the past few years that I will NEVER be that parent because I will NEVER get into that situation.

So Dear Daughter had her nap without any stories. She stopped sobbing in less than a minute and talked to her stuffed animals for a few minutes and then took her nap. As soon as she got up from her nap she couldn't wait to "snuggle Mommy" and inform me that she was going to cooperate. I squeezed her close and told her I love her and that I was sad she decided not to cooperate earlier because I like to read her stories and that I know she will decide to cooperate and get stories next time.

Well, I didn't orignally intend this to be a "soap box" post. I originally intended to express that this parenting stuff is sure hard sometimes when you are focused on raising responsible, enjoyable children devoid of "spoiled brat syndrome."

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chef's Hat

That's what Zoe calls her new hat from G. Aunt Pat and G. Uncle Ron. She actually allowed the trademark hat to stay off her head last Sunday and wore her new "chef's hat" the whole time she was in the nursery.

So far Zoe is taking just fine to her new bedroom furniture. She has her new dresser and the old one with the changing pad went into Zachary's room. She also has a different chair (one from the living room) and the rocking chair has successfully been moved into Zachary's room. She doesn't seem to mind the changes at all. The next, and final, step will be introducing her twin bed. I'm trying to get her hyped up about it by talking about it and showing her the cute new sheets we got her.

Zoe's new antics include a couple pharses I don't say often, but have apparently said enough for her to plant them in the regions of her brain where the latent vernacular lies and pull them back out at opportune moments. These phrases include, "I mean it!" when she really wants something and isn't getting a quick enough response. And "What did I say?" which is pretty much in the same context. I guess I've said that one when Zoe wants something and is not taking "no" for an answer. It's funny to hear her turn these phrases onto me and her daddy, though we work hard at not letting her see our amusement.

Zoe also has taken to launching her very large red rubber ball at Frederick just to see what will happen. Poor old man is pushing 19 cat years (that's like 90+ human years) and is tolerant as all heck of this two-year-old taunting and "loving." Zoe just adores him, and when she's not trying to launch her ball at him, she is petting him, patting him, meowing at the top on her lungs in his face, crawling along side him on the floor "talking" to him non-stop, and preparing him imaginary food on her toy microwave-which she then sets before him, right under his nose, and squeals with glee as she informs him of the treats she is offering him. The vet says that Zoe is keeping Frederick happy and interested in life. Hmmmm...interesting perspective. He insists on staying near her all the time, so odd as it seems, perhaps the vet is right.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Up to Date

Okay, so this puts me back on track for up to date belly shots. My girth doth expand rapidly at this stage. Yes, I've had people tell me, "I can't believe you are posting those pictures." Ah well...me either. But I am, so why stop now? I've said if the stretch marks suddenly appear, you'll know because I'll stop posting them. So far, so good.

I've just got one quick Zoe funny from last night. She has been into watching the original cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the past 6 weeks or so. Her routine is to watch it each night after getting dressed for bed. The whole family crawls into the king size bed in our jammies and watch it together. I have every line memorized by now. Last night, during one of the scenes where the grinch is being pulled in the sleigh by the poor mutt with the heavy antler on his head, Zoe said, "Where are they going?" when I replied, "I don't know" she followed up with, "Are they going to Hobby Lobby?" Now, I haven't mentioned Hobby Lobby or taken her to Hobby Lobby in a very very long time. As is typical, I have no idea where she gets this stuff, but it is good for a laugh or two.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Mommy's Big Butt and Other Stuff

...I meant "other stuff" not related to the current appearance of my body, but I guess the title of this post includes a pretty accurate pun. Fortunately, I am not taking my daughter seriously when she gets behind me and pushes my rear to steer me across the room and announces, "Mommy's got a big butt!" She is right, and I have to work hard at not showing my amusement at her saying this. While I don't really care so much that she says this to me, I don't want to drop her off in the church nursery and have her telling the nursery workers that they all have big butts, too. I am pretty sure she began saying this because she heard me say it at some point. Surely it's not because my butt is just so big right now that even a barely 27 month old can make the accurate observation (am I fooling myself?)

Last night Dear Daughter announced, "Today's Tuesday!" I corrected her by saying, "No, today's Sunday." She then got a mischevious look on her face and said, "Today's Monday!" which was quickly followed by, "April Fools!" and squeals of laughter as she got a good belly laugh out of her own joke. All I could say was, "Where in the world did you come up with THAT?!" She informed me that she got it from "Little Bear" which is her favorite Noggin Network show right now (tied with Jack's Big Music Show). I was just amazed, as usual, that she used a concept such as April Fools correctly in her own context...well, except for the minor point that it was not actually April Fools Day.

I was also amused last night when she was struggling to put together a set of nesting boxes, each has a lid to put on and then fits inside a larger box with a lid and then a larger box with a lid, etc, etc. She was getting frustrated and finally stated in total aggravation, "This doesn't make sense!" Huh? I racked my brain trying to remember if that was something I said recently.

On second thought, as sharp as Dear Daughter is, perhaps she was making a serious observation about the size of my derriere. After all, I am 38 pounds up right now. Ugh! I suppose if Kirstie Alley can lose the weight, I can too. Unfortunately, with a few more weeks to go, I am going to get even bigger before I can start getting smaller.

Monday, October 31, 2005

New Jumper

Great Uncle Ron and Great Aunt Pat sent Zoe a Halloween package a few days ago. Zoe says "Thank you!" by the way. This pink turtleneck and denim jumper was one of the new outfits they sent. Zoe was a little more perky in the evening, when this one was taken than the next one, which was right after waking up before heading to church.


This is Zoe just being silly. We just got home from meeting some friends for dinner who had come out from Oregon. Zoe loves to go out to eat, which we don't do very often. This time she was all excited about getting some "ketchup with french fries on top." Which is a pretty good description. She loves ketchup and I have to convince her repeatedly that it is a condiment and not a main course (yuck!).

Back on Schedule

This photo was taken almost exactly a week ago at 32 weeks. Though I am beginning to feel (and look) like a sumo wrestler with an extra wagging chin (and extra wagging in other areas, too), I still do not have stretch marks, so perhaps I will make it through another one with minimal "evidence."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Fall Fun

Last weekend we took Zoe to Campbell's Farm to play and pick out pumpkins. She got to ride John Deer tractor trikes, slide down a haybale slide, wander through a toddler size maze...


...meet a clown who made her a ballon teddy bear holding a big heart...

...go on a hayride and pick out her own pumpkins and then paint a pumpkin, "jig" with the fiddle and guitar players, and jump in a big purple dragon bouncing house (which can be seen in the background
on the first clown picture). The bouncing house was her favorite. She announced to us, "I need to stay in here and jump all day!" She still hasn't stopped talking about all the activities of that day.

It's Happening...

As stressful as it was for me at times that Zoe to required constant holding and "snuggling," I also dreaded the day when Zoe completely outgrew being held and snuggled. I think that day has arrived. Now that Dear Daughter is going to bed on her own (without needing to be held and rocked to sleep) she doesn't tolerate being held for very long after bedtime stories. Soon after the last story is read, she points to her bed and says, "Go to the crib?" And I find myself trying to talk her into letting me hold her longer. Last night, after tucking Dear Daughter into her bed, I guess I was lingering a little too long and kissing on her too much because she eventually pointed to the door and said, "Mommy go out the door?" I said, "You want Mommy to go bye bye?" and she said, "No. Don't go bye bye, just go out the door." Ugh! I tried to ignore the ache in my heart and not think about the day when she'll be old enough that it won't be cool to have her Mommy hanging around and kissing on her in front of her friends. At random times Dear Daughter will say things like, "I'm getting big!" and "I'm growing up, Mommy!" and I choke back the tears and say, "Yes, you are" as I wonder quietly to myself how 26 months could possibly pass so quickly.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Little Behind

Unfortunately, the title of this post is a reference to time (this picture was taken three weeks ago) and not a reference to the current size of my pregnant derriere. Keep in mind that three weeks at this stage of pregnancy tends to result in some "big" changes. I'll try to get a newer picture taken and posted. If my self-esteem survives the completion of this pregnant picture posting project, it may be good medicine for me to post my shrinking size post pregnant size.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Stop the Clock!

I know I've said this a million times, but I just have to note it once again: my little girl is growing up WAY TOO FAST!!!

This past weekend we took the drop rail off Dear Daughter's crib and added the little rails to convert it to a toddler bed. The main reason to push ahead with this is that I would like a slow, stress-free, transition for her to a "big girl" bed before Dear Son needs the crib. I expected that Dear Daughter would be thrilled by the concept that she can crawl in and out of her bed now at will. However, she has not tried to get up once. She slept just like before, and we've had no problems for several days. I believe she likes being covered up and tucked in with her blankie so much that she doesn't dare get up and find herself unable to tuck herself back in. When Dear Daughter figures out how to tuck herself back in, we may find ourselves in the battle of having a two year old getting up out of bed frequently. For now...things are great.

We bought Dear Daughter new bedroom furniture this weekend. A twin size bed, 5 drawer dresser, and 2 shelf bookcase. It's not "real" furniture. It came in boxes from the O'Sullivan outlet, and we have to put it all together. Pressboard with a faux wood laminate. But you can't beat the bargain we got. Dear Daughter looked so tiny next to the big twin bed in the store. I think it's going to break my heart the first night I tuck her in it. It will be a while, though. Dear Husband's to-do list is plenty long with furniture assembly being low on the priority list right now. We will be lucky to have 10 more weeks before Dear Son comes along and rules our lives with his countless newborn needs. I'm only banking on about 8 weeks before he arrives. As much as I am tired of the whole beached whale scene, 8 weeks is just not enough time. Not enough time to finish the necessary preparations for the new wee one, not enough time for the mother-daughter time I relish with Dear Daughter that will soon be infringed upon, and not enough time before sleepless nights return and the other stuff that goes along with newborn maintenance. Not to mention the impending gloomy feeling I have that life will again never be the same. I was just getting adjusted to the first round of life never being the same since Dear Daughter entered the picture. I keep wondering when the "excited" stage is supposed to happen and try not to feel guilty that I'm not there. It's not that this baby is unwanted. We always planned to have two children. In that sense, this is the fulfillment of our dreams and goals for our family. But something so rewarding as having your own children is also so difficult and stressful and most of all LIFE-CHANGING!

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Yesterday was Dear Daughter's day to go to Grandpa and Grandma's while I go to work for 10 hours. When she woke up we did the usual routine of talking about going to see Grandpa and Grandma and picking out what to wear, then having some breakfast before packing up and heading out the door. Dear Daughter missed her visit last week since Grandpa and Grandma were out of town visiting Dear Daughter's two Great Grandmothers. Dear Daughter was more than ready to go see Grandpa and Grandma after two long weeks. Dear Daughter sat quietly eating her breakfast for several minutes when all of a sudden she announced, "I better get going!" and she tried to climb down out of her booster chair. I said, "Well where do you need to go?" and Dear Daughter responded, "I better get going to see Grandma!" She changed her mind as I was preparing to clear away her breakfast, and decided she wasn't done eating. She finished up quickly and as soon as I got her out of her chair she said, "Oh! I better get my hat!" She was eager and waiting to get going with her hat in place on her head while I cleaned up breakfast as quickly as possible and gathered all the gear for her day with Grandpa and Grandma and my day at work, and then managed to convince her to brush her teeth before we were off.

When did my tiny baby girl transform into a toddler, and how is it possible that my toddler is so quickly transforming into a little girl who has such complex reasoning ability and conversational skills? I don't want my little girl to grow up! I tell her often she is growing like a weed, and the other day she informed me, "You are growing like a weed, Mommy!" Unfortunately, she is also correct. I will post a new Zachary belly picture soon.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ranting

Last Friday I took Zoe to the park. It's been awhile since we've gone because it has been soooooo hot and I just cannot tolerate it. I swear I've been chronically hot since April of 2003 when I was pregnant with Zoe. I guess it's one of the side effects of raging hormones. I joke that by the time all the pregnancy hormones leave my body (which can take quite some time), I will be entering menopause. So I may as well just accept the fact that I will be hot from now until Kingdom Come. I'm praying that the climate in Heaven will be akin to Siberia. Perhaps if I be really really good in this life God will grant me my very own iceberg on which to perch for the rest of eternity. I had hoped that having a winter baby would mean I would have the final months of this pregnancy during cooler weather. It's now October and still nearly 90 degrees outside most days. And muggier than the atmosphere of a sauna packed with a dozen fat, sweaty men (not that I've ever been in a sauna packed with a dozen fat, sweaty men...but I think it would be similar).

With my belly growing larger by the day now, hot nights make sleeping even more uncomfortable. I am a back sleeper, which I'm not allowed to do while pregnant. So I flop from side to side all night long, which is no easy feat with my current mammoth size. "Side flopping" requires that I muster a good deal of strength and momentum in order to hoist my body up and then oomph it over in a sort of flipping flopping motion. As soon as I achieve this task, I usually notice that it's time for my hourly bladder emptying. So then I must hoist myself up into a sort of rolling sitting position to oomph myself out of bed altogether and travel the well worn path in the carpet to the nearest toilet. Add to this the hot, sticky weather and all the flipping, flopping, hoisting, and oomphing become even more uncomfortable.

I had one of my "hot fits" the other night after flipping, flopping, and oomphing for a couple hours in bed. Sleep being the never-ending goal that is always just out of my reach. I had already made the trek downstairs to bump down the thermostat a few extra degrees. I think I've worn another path in the carpet between the bedroom and the thermostat. My poor husband, unable to sleep himself with all the commotion of trying to share his bed with a sweaty beached whale, got up and took his own trip to the bathroom. I'm not sure that was his intentional destination or if the grooves in the carpet just sort of forced him to go that way. Nevertheless, during the time he was gone I believe a thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth fat, sweaty man entered the sauna. I begged Dear Husband to go downstairs and turn down the thermostat yet again. I assured him it didn't matter that he wasn't fully awake, and he needent turn on any lights...just follow the well traveled carpet path and it would lead him there. Either that, or he would find himself at the toilet again, in which case would he please empty my bladder again for me. Then I had some sort of verbal catharsis that conveyed something to the effect of "@#$#@!!! it! I am so #$#$#@#@! hot! I don't care if we have to set that #$!@#$ thermostat on FRIGID, and I don't care if the #@#$!@ electric bill is $500 this month, I can't take this @#!#$%@ heat anymore!!!!!!" I'm not sure what Dear Husband set the thermostat to that night, but apparently the temperature finally met my approval because I finally fell asleep for a couple blissful hours and didn't wake up in a pool of sweat on my next trip to the bathroom.

I have digressed dramatically. I was beginnng to share about my trip to the park with Zoe last Friday. The weather had a rare break and a high of 72 degrees just barely qualified it to be cool enough for me to leave the house. So I took advantage of the time to get Dear Daughter out in some fresh air to run and play. A grandmother was there with her grandson, and she was sitting near the play equipment watching. Zoe was having all kinds of fun crawling through the tubes and climbing the stairs and going down the slides. But each time she wanted to pass by the grandmother, she got really shy and would cling to me. At one point she gave the grandmother a cautious look and turned toward me, and buried her face in my shoulder and said, "I'm feeling kinda nervous, Mommy." I laughed out loud, racking my brain for a clue as to where she picked up a word like "nervous" and amazed that yet again she used a complex word completely appropriately in her own context as if she completely understands what the word means.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Progress

Since I started this already, I figured I'd better continue--though I may regret it later. This is a 26 week photo, which is actually two weeks old now. We had a second ultrasound last week to verify some things the first one didn't show clearly. Everything looked great, and there is absolutely no doubt that this one is a boy. Even an untrained eye could see the boyhood evidence glaring like a neon sign.

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Zoe's vocabulary and conversational speech continues to grow rapidly, and I am certain she is growing sweeter by the day. The other night I was reading to her and rocking with her before bed. I had to sit up straighter in the chair because I was having trouble breathing with both Zachary and Zoe pressing against my lungs. Zoe appeared a bit concerned and said, "Mommy, are you okay? Do you need a kiss?" After planting a big juicy kiss on my lips she said, "Does that feel better?"

She is also doing great with the "please" and "thank you"'s and has come up with "no, thank you" as well. I did not intentionally teach her that one. One day I asked her if she wanted cottage cheese or applesauce with her lunch. Her reply was "No, thank you." I was really expecting an either/or decision and was caught off guard by her reply.

She also seems to have grown past the fits she was having a couple months ago whenever she got frustrated. Now she calmly asks, "Mommy, would you help with that (fill in the blank)."

The next stage will be transitioning her to a toddler bed. We haven't decided quite when to go ahead with that, but I figured we start by converting the crib and then introduce her to a regular twin bed. I want the bed introduced before Zachary is born so that Zoe doesn't feel pushed out of her territory. I'm also in no hurry to mess with something that is working. She sleeps through the night so well that I hate to throw in something new. Have I mentioned that she is growing up way too fast?

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

My Little Philosopher

I seem to have a very philosophical 25 month old daughter. On the way to Grandma's house yesterday morning we did the usual routine of pointing out all the cows and horses along the way. I pointed out some cows and then a couple minutes later Zoe pointed out some horses. Here was her full narrative:
"Look! There's some cows!" (pause) "Actually, those are horses, I think." (pause) "Horses are kinda like cows, I guess."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

First Haircut

Zoe got her first haircut on Friday. Here is a picture before.... I was beginning to adore those little curls that would fan out from behind her ears....

Here's a picture of Zoe getting her haircut. She had fun getting sprayed by the water bottle and blown dry with the hair dryer.



Here's a picture after. Unfortunately, in order to even out the scraggly stuff, we had to part with the precious little curls...for now.


And this is Zoe's "rockstar" pose that I just had to throw in!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Charming

That's the only single word I can think of to describe the wee one these days. I guess it's a combination of her growing vocabulary and blossoming personality.

Zoe's new Cooshie Booster chair came in the mail finally, and she loves it. She likes to sit at the table sometimes and on the stools at the counter bar sometimes. The other day she was sitting at the table in her new booster chair eating dinner and decided she was done and ready to get down long before her Daddy and I had had enough time to finish our own dinners. So I said something like, "You're ready to get down already? I guess that means you don't want any ice cream then, huh?" Her little face lit up, her eyes got big, a grin spread across her entire face, and she exclaimed, "Oh yes!" Then she settled herself squarely back in her seat and agreed to eat two more bites of pears and wait patiently a few more minutes before it was time for ice cream. As soon as she realized I was ready to get out the ice cream, she began handing me her plate and silverware to clear room for the "good stuff." Then she sat perfectly still and patient (except for the dangling feet that were swinging in anticipation) and clasped her little hands together in front of her as she waited. It was beyond endearing.

She has also begun to repeat little phrases that her Daddy and I have said to her for months. Remember how I said she absorbs everything and then when you least expect it she pulls something out and throws it on you? She was sitting at the counter bar the other day and had finished her lunch and was waiting patiently while I fininshed a phone call. There she sat drumming her little fingers on the counter and then she looked up at me and grinned and said, "What do ya think, Puddle Muff, Momma?" Puddle Muff is one of the silly little pet names we've called her for months, and "What do ya think, Puddle Muff?" is a phrase I'm sure I've said to her countless times. This is the first time I've heard her say it back, and I was amused that she turned it around on me.

Last night was Daddy's night to watch her alone while I was at work. He was charmed by her mannerisms and vocabulary when she approached him two different times, once to ask, "Have you seen my keys, Daddy?" and once to ask, "Do you know where my mail is, Daddy?"

Several months ago I wrote a long dialogue about how great it is to be a Mommy and the seemingly endless string of moments of thinking, "It just can't get any better than this!" Every day I hug and kiss my daughter hundrends of times and recognize that my list of those moments continues to grow longer. It's bittersweet at times, as I also realize how fast she is growing up. I often linger with my hugs, holding her close as long as she will allow, trying desperately to burn the moments deeply into my soul where I pray they will live long beyond the days when all the little girl "lasts" have gone, so that I can somehow hang onto her forever and in some sense of the term...never have to let her go.

Friday, September 02, 2005

More "Zoe-isms"

Yes, this is my charming daughter insisting on wearing a stocking cap in spite of the fact that it was August and 95 degrees outside.

In other Zoe news, she continues to charm, amuse, and amaze those around her with her vocabulary and conversational skills. Grandma H was thoroughly tickled the other day when she gave in to Zoe's pleading to play outside in spite of the weather still being hot, though not as hot as it has been in the past weeks. Once they had made it outside, she said to Grandma, "It feels cooler out here today, don't you think?" These kinds of statements tend to catch everyone around her off guard and unsure of whether to simply respond in equally "mature" conversational style, or laugh out loud then give her a big squeeze and lots of kisses in an impulsive response to being thoroughly charmed. I tend to do the latter first, and then respond in equally "mature"conversation. Or sometimes I just exclaim, "Where in the world did you get THAT?" Which is exactly how I responded a couple days ago when Zoe put her little hand to her chest and said, "This is me," and then gestured toward me and said, "and this is my sister, Mommy." HUH? I really do not know where she gets most of the stuff she comes up with.

A couple mornings ago, Zoe was busy drawing a picture and I asked her if she was being a little artist. She did not respond or even acknowledge what I said. Nevertheless, this comment of mine made its way into her little mind and went dormant until several hours later when she was coloring another picture following her afternoon nap. As she busily colored she nonchalantly remarked, "I'm being an artist."

She's a sponge of latent learning that registers everything around her and discreetly files it for later usage. Then, when you least expect it, she pops out with something, expressing it in full sentence format, and entirely grammatically correct. I swear that her vocabulary and grammar easily exceed that of a great deal of the adult population.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Great Aunt Pat and Great Uncle Ron

G. Aunt Pat and G. Uncle Ron sent a photo of G. Uncle Ron reading a book to Zoe, and I hung it on the bulletin board in the kitchen that Zoe can see from her high chair. There are probably a dozen or more photos of Zoe on the bulletin board, but she picked the new one out right away without anyone mentioning a thing about it. She pointed at it and said, "That's Zoe and Uncle Ron!" Now she has to point at it every morning and say, "Uncle Ron!" I need to hang this photo up so Zoe can point at Aunt Pat too.

I've gotten in the habit of telling her who has given her which toys when she is playing (and also who's given her which clothes when she gets dressed) so she realizes that even though all her family are not close enough to see her often, they all think of her. She pretty much remembers everything, so now when she is playing with a particular toy she will say on her own something like, "Ron and Pat give you that" or "Grandma and Grandpa M give you that."

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Can't Believe I'm Doing This

I chronicled the "belly shots" when I was pregnant with Zoe but never posted them in a public domain. I struggled with making any of them public this time, but decided family and friends might enjoy seeing how Zachary is growing. I try to separate that concept from how much I am growing (not an easy thing to do). Also, in spite of gaining a whopping 48 pounds with Zoe, I managed to complete the pregnancy without a single stretch mark. If I had stretch marks, I don't think I'd have the nerve to post photos like this.

Incidentally, this one is a couple weeks old. I've been trying to log the progress with a photo every couple of weeks, so I'm due for another one on Tuesday. At this stage, I had already gained 20 pounds. I haven't been on a scale since. I said in the beginning I would not gain 48 pounds again. It took me a year and a half to get the wieght all off last time. However, I'm more focused on doing what's best for the baby, and that means eating if I need to. And quite frankly, that early part of this pregnancy was much like last one. While I never experienced "morning sickness" or throwing up, I simply could not tolerate eating much of anything except breads and cheese and orange juice.

I saw a Discovery Health Channel special on pregnancy the other day and got a scientific reason as to why women who are pregnant often can only tolerate eating carbs. It had to do with chemicals and hormones and stuff. I can't remember the explanation well enough to re-state it. The main thing was that I felt justified when I heard it. Another fascinating fact from that special that I CAN quote verbatim is that during a woman's 40 week pregnancy, she manufactures more hormones than a woman who lives to be 150 years old and NEVER experiences a pregnancy. So when I get in one of those "Don't-Mess-With-Me" moods, it's best just to put up with me. After all, at over 20 weeks into this pregnancy, I'm carrying over 75 years worth of hormones!