December 30, 2005


I really don't like being in forward motion, then getting tripped up by something little.

Case in point: Trent & I are planning to go to a marriage conference. It's not that we have huge issues to work out, but we're operating on the principle that tune-ups are better than accident repair.

I went to the conference web site to get some more information, and found an explicit statement that it was for adults only. So... now my assumption that we can take Nathan with us is in question.

Being the conservative, don't-want-to-offend-rules person I am, I called the info number they listed on the site. The woman I spoke with said that they understand some exceptions, but since there isn't a cry room on site at the conference, they really would prefer that there be NO children at the conference.

I explained that I couldn't really leave my nursing 4-month-old with someone else since I was coming from out of town, and she simply asked that I sit at the back of the room so I could take him out if he started to make any noise. I said I'd be glad to do that (I can't fathom choosing to stay in a public venue with a noisy child, but maybe that's just me).

So... we're still going, but now my anticipation of the conference is balanced by some anxiety over being a disruption.

Grr. Tripped up by something small - in this case, something 15-pounds-and-25"-long small.

December 27, 2005

New Discoveries

My doctor asked me at Nathan's 2-month appointment if he'd started squealing yet. He hadn't then, but he discovered the squeal capability in the next couple days. It took until a couple days ago before he discovered the components of "duration" and "volume level" and how to maximize them.

It's cute now to hear him squealing away to himself like a stuck pig as he lies on the floor or sits in his exersaucer, but I can tell already that we will quell squealing when he's a toddler; the boy is loud. I feel like I'm watching a child discover a new toy; they poke and prod it, suck on it (if possible) and determine how it responds to various changes in circumstances - only Nathan's new toy is his voice. He seems pretty pleased with himself and how he's able to duplicate this noise that gets him attention and laughter.

He still loves music (singing along with his own baby noises and squeals when I sing to him) and physical actions (the arm motions on "Deep & Wide", pattycake, etc.). He desperately wants to see things and move. He regularly tries to pull himself up with his stomach muscles; and if you burp him you'd better not have him facing a chair back - too boring.

I had the first mommy-scare of my life last week... While out shopping with my mom, I had Nathan in the front-carrier facing out. The weather was nice, so I decided to walk from Best Buy to the Starbucks just across the street. I was good and made wise decisions (even hit the 'walk' button rather than dodge traffic), but tripped and fell forward ~4 feet from the curb. The pavement dipped down - and that's where I went: down. I landed hard on my knees and one hand. The other hand immediately grabbed Nathan to keep his little face from grinding into the asphalt; I caught him just a few inches away from contact with the pavement. Even now the thought of possibly scraping his nose or cheeks makes me feel sick inside. He was fine, despite some dirt stains on the toes of his sleeper, but it scared him enough that he started crying. I picked myself up and limped the rest of the way to Starbucks, doing my best to soothe my screaming son the rest of the way. He had a sober expression on his face the whole time we were at Starbucks.

I hope I haven't given his little mind fodder for nightmares because of my clumsiness.

December 23, 2005

Diaper Categorization

[Note: one wipe = one alarm, e.g. '1 wipe diaper' approximates a 1 alarm fire]
1 wipe diaper: slight mess, but compact; damage control and clean-up can be accomplished in two swipes of the same wet wipe

2 wipe diaper: one wipe for damage control, one wipe for final spot-checking and cleaning; each wipe may be used more than once by creative folding and positioning.

3 wipe diaper: starting to get directional flows; messier. Use the diaper itself to swipe the bulk of the mess to the seat of the diaper before proceeding to wipes. One wipe to assist the diaper's aim, one for major remaining mess on buttocks and genital area, & the third wipe for final clean-up.

4 wipe diaper: Now you need to be careful - the mess will start to migrate if you don't take precautionary steps. For example, either take off all clothing or push it above the baby's nipple line. Do yourself a favor and remove socks ahead of time. Wipe downward with the diaper before using wet wipes. One wipe for mess around the rear-end crease, one for final clean-up there - rest baby's bottom on the new, clean diaper and continue. Wipe #3 for major clean-up around genitals & wipe #4 for final clean-up.

5 wipe diaper: Here and beyond can easily become a disaster. Mess migrates via clothing to stomach, chest, back, legs, hands. Again, start at the back and work front - Wipes 1 & 2, rear-end damage control & clean-up; wipes 3 & 4, genital damage control & clean-up; wipe 5 should be used for peripheral damage or to assist any of the other tasks.

Put the kid on the floor with a burp pad under his head before washing your hands thoroughly with soap. Don't give him the opportunity to roll off the changing table and add to the day's battles!

December 21, 2005

Dividing Line

While doing my devotions this morning, I read through some past entries and found this quote by Susannah Wesley to her young son John regarding legalism:
"Would you judge of the lawfulness of pleasure? Take this rule: Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God or takes away the relish for spiritual things - in short, anything that increases the strength of your body over your mind - that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in and of itself."
Doesn't leave a whole lot of maneuvering room, does it?

I, who have so often determined my value from what I accomplish or how productive I am, am a full-time mother of a 3-month-old. Nathan, the major usage of my time and energy, doesn't demonstrate the massive amount of time he takes. It was helpful to have Trent home sick this last Monday; I had an objective observer to tell me at the end of the day that the only time I wasn't working or doing something else was when I was feeding Nathan.

All too often I get to the end of a day and wonder where it went... I have to limit my expectations for each day drastically. Right now I have laundry to fold (it's been in the basket since last Friday), more laundry to do, checkbook to balance, bills to pay, a budget to calculate, records to file, rooms to clean and Christmas presents to wrap. Which of these will I do today? I'd like to clean, but I think I'll be limited to wrapping presents. Yesterday it was all I could do to send out Christmas letters - I only just made it to the post office by 4:30 p.m.

My sense of self-worth is having to find a different, more appropriate source than my level of productivity. In the meantime, I can't find words in the English language to convey how inept I feel - especially when I do almost no cleaning or cooking here at my parents'. I'm trying to stave off thoughts of how horrible I'll feel when we're in our own house and I'm still this unproductive.

Philippians 4:6-7; I know, God; I know...

December 19, 2005

Enslaved Android

It's cold and bright outside, and inside there are battles being waged for young minds.

Trent's home sick today; he's wrestled with the flu most of the weekend. Nathan was in his exersaucer, squealing and inhaling every bit of sensory perception his little body would give him, mostly sights and sounds. Trent decided to introduce him to Sesame Street - but only Dora the Explorer and Barney & Friends were on. If you're at all uncertain about my stance on Barney, let me describe my favorite screensaver from college: Barney jumps and chuckles to himself (you can set the number of jumps), then you hear a gunshot. He looks down at the bullet hole in his stomach, says, "Oh!" and explodes.

So... Trent turned the TV to Dora and told Nathan he wanted to hear him speak fluent Spanish when the show was over. It was frightening how riveted Nathan was to the screen. My own little mindless droid, staring eyes, drooling and all.

I'm so proud.

December 16, 2005

And the Wolf Shall Frolic with the Mink

I don't remember who came up with the idea, but it must have been me, since I led the pack of 5+ streakers on our tear through the neighborhood. I made it most of two blocks, cutting through neighbors' houses and various backyards, marking which path I had taken by posting t-shirts at the decision points.

I realized as I exited the 2nd house that a wolf and several mink were running with me, curling about my ankles as I went. I hollered back over my shoulder to the others to watch out for the mink; their coats might feel soft, but their teeth were really sharp.

It was somewhere between then and the last row of houses that I realized no one else was with me. No one at the formal outdoor event taking place at the house to my right saw me (I think), but one of the gentlemen at the family cookout in the backyard to my left hollered out that I should pass his compliments on to my husband.

I made it back home (two t-shirts covering the critical areas); everyone else had already returned and donned clothing again. I also got dressed and went to get $5 from my mom - everyone else had already collected their money. Somehow we managed to keep her in the dark about our streaking.

Mom says a psychologist could make a fortune off of me on this dream alone.

December 14, 2005

Payback's a Mother Dog

You've heard of the Wars of the Roses? Well, today was another battle in the Wars of the Stanleys.

Nathan, though cute, packs quite a painful punch for a 25", 15-lb 3-month-old. He woke up at 3 a.m. (I got back to bed ~3:30), woke again ~7:30 and raked the front of my neck with his fingernails as I tried to feed him (note to self: MUST trim those again), cried off and on until 10, then spent the rest of the afternoon (and now evening) alternately charming and irritating me.

I haven't swung from extreme emotion to extreme emotion like this since Jr. High - no, I take that back: being pregnant. Maybe that was training for this.

For those days when I treated you to behavior like this, Mom... my sincerest apologies.

December 10, 2005

Narnian Delight

I shudder to think how much adjusting I'll have to do when we have our own place - stocking a pantry from ground zero, performing home maintenance tasks, making meals every night, hiring actual babysitters...

...but for now I'll enjoy life. : )
Trent & I went to see the first Chronicles of Narnia movie last night. I think it's wonderful, particularly compared to the BBC miniseries that was made many years ago. Chubby, pudding-faced Lucy with her exclamations of "AZ-laaaan!" Ick. No, no, no, no, NO!

This one's much better. I left the theater impressed by several of the actors, wanting to look more information up on, wanting to buy the soundtrack - even wanting to see the movie again.

Considering the town is only ~6,000, the lines for the movie were the longest I've ever seen at the theater. It was almost like being back in Kansas City for a premiere, except that no one dressed up in Narnia gear. Some strange behaviors are curtailed by a 15-degree temperature; rejoice and be exceeding glad, I say.

Since so many of my family members have ADD tendencies, we often use the saying that "people without ADHD just don't understa- ooh, look! A chicken!"

I tell you this now because, "Oooh, a chicken!": my mother just left the room in delight, having assembled both of the Christmas boxes she needs to mail. I call her the Queen of Tape, since her boxes are extremely difficult to open. I just heard from her own lips (and I kid you not), "If you use enough tape, you can actually waterproof your package."

Recipients of her packages, arm yourselves with paring knives. Nothing else will make it past those rectangular fortresses.

December 09, 2005

Fitting a Schedule

When I was in college, I applied to be an R.A. There were parts of the process that went well, while others... didn't.

When the head of my residence hall got the report back from the interview crew, he shared the wonderful news with me: they felt I was looking for a group to control, not that I was concerned with helping others fit in. I remember one question in particular - What would I, personally, do to help a lesbian on my floor feel like she fit in? Since that fit nowhere in my small-town, conservative upbringing, I actually had the gall to hem and haw a bit before saying something about trying to help her find groups of like-minded people on campus.

I still wonder how much of the final judgment had more to do with them deciding they didn't like ME and how much it was that I truly was unsuited for the job.

This comes to mind now because I _AM_ someone's housing and schedule authority. Whether Nathan likes it or not, there are many days (continuing perhaps for several years) when I can mandate alone time for him - whether he likes it or not. I started implementing a schedule of sorts with him this week:
wake ~7-8
play time (exersaucer or time on his tummy)
nap ~10:30 for an hour or so
cuddle time
alone time/nap from 1 to 3-ish
awake time (books, talking, singing, etc.)
time in his downstairs bed (while we eat supper)
nap for 1-2 hours
awake until bedtime (this is usually when he's the most awake he ever gets)
get ready for bed
...and one last feeding before bed ~10 p.m.

Getting him on a more consistent schedule is Step One in being able to organize the rest of my necessary tasks. Trying to wait until he doesn't need me to do laundry simply doesn't work - and it creates a bad situation of my life being organized completely around his demands.

December 03, 2005

So Help Me, Nathan Will NOT Be/Do/Say/Act...

- He will not chain-smoke by age 2.
- He will not bite his nails to the quick in the first twelve months of his life.
- He will eat every bit of liver I place before him.
- He will not curse at me in Swahili.
- He will not bifurcate his tongue at age 10.
- He will not design a personal tattoo with "Muther" in it.
- He will not have a complete collection of Yanni tunes.
- He will never exceed the speed limit in a Model T.

Figured I better start with loose things I know I can keep. I have other things I think he will "never" do, but I'll wait until he's 15 and see how many of those I can actually control before I'm stupid enough to put it in writing where others can see (and later tease me about) it.

December 02, 2005

The Chocolate Whore

Have you ever figured out what your name would be if you were a stripper? The supposed formula is to use your middle name and the name of the street where you grew up. Some people have exotic dancer-ish results - Aileen Mahogany or Lynnae Birch or something like that.

My name? Jean Sixth Avenue. Don't you want to stick dollar bills down that woman's waistband?

Well, I may not have a cool exotic dancer name; but I have a cool Bond villainness name now, thanks to Trent: The Chocolate Whore. He told me last night and I laughed so hard I gagged.

It's not quite true that I'd do anything for chocolate, but I do rank quality chocolate pretty high on my indulgence list. Greater love hath no Susan than that she share an Andre's chocolate with you - not buy one for you; give you one from a box she has purchased for herself.

I highly recommend the truffles and their grand cru chocolates.

December 01, 2005

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow...

It snowed again last night - lots of snow. 7 inches' worth "lots of snow". It was a Christmas snow: steady fat flakes, but not wet and heavy. I was able to sweep 4" piles of snow off my parents' patio with a push broom. I finally gave up because everything was coated again in 5 minutes.

Could snow be one of God's pause buttons?
Think you're flying out to San Diego? Sorry - bzzt. Blizzard. Thank you for playing.

I was in Chicago a few years ago for one of these. A blizzard had Windy City weatherpeople talking about survival techniques and the wisdom of staying home. It was easier to walk the few blocks from my hotel to the hospital for work than it would have been to take any other form of transportation. O'Hare closed down. -Hell itself couldn't have been far from icing over.

Once I get over the frustration of plans shortcircuiting all around me, I start to see snowstorms as a get out of jail free card. Didn't want to go to play practice? Not a problem; it got canceled. Wrestling with your conscience as to whether you should head back to work or stay home by the fire with a hot drink and a good book? Snow makes the decision for you; no guilt.

I am glad to be back in the world of smarter winter drivers, that's for sure. Other parts of the country freak if there's frost on the windows. My sister once called home in irritation because West Coast news programs were describing how people would need to scrape the frost off their windshields that morning in order to see. Interstates slow down to a 15-mph crawl if 1" of snow falls. Cars end up in ditches because people stomp on their brakes rather than pump and steer away from a skid instead of into it. The loud noise you just heard was a large snort from the wintry parts of the country. Pansies.

No pansies here. 7" of snow fell last night, but Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee still had plenty of milk cartons left in the coolers. Life continued (at slower road speeds), but everyone took the opportunity to check out of life's obligations a bit earlier in the day and stay home. I, who had been at home since Sunday evening, went to run errands last night in the midst of storm. Braving the weather, conquering the elements... Ahh... it's good to be home.

Scrappy December

I've become possessed by yet another addiction. I fought it for several months, but eventually succumbed. I was heroically denying myself, but then my mom brought out her equipment and sucked me back in. -My sister-in-law and my best friend here do it, too! I can't let them go through it alone, can I? I can control it, though, I know I can... I'll pace myself... control how much I do it... how much it costs... how much of me it consumes... This time it will work, I know it.

Formerly a hold-out, I'm now following the scrapbooking herd. My biggest point of resistance before was the whole photo thing. I love taking pictures; I'm horrible about getting them developed. I still have a roll of film from three years ago that I haven't taken in. So... once we got a digital camera, I didn't have to get them developed! Buy some photo paper from a discount store, and voila! Insta-prints in less than 5 minutes.

With the picture issue not an issue any more, there's nothing to prevent my love of office supplies, storytelling, calligraphy, and creativity from consuming me. The problem will be actually finishing anything. It should be a lesson to me that my mom still hasn't finished my brothers' baby books (they are currently ages 26 and 23).

November 30, 2005

Thanksgiving Aftermath

Well, we survived the first major road trip.

We spent a weekend in KC seeing friends, then headed south to NW Arkansas to spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Nathan had 12 people who were more than willing to pick him up if he so much as whimpered. People competed over who got to feed him and complained if they didn't get enough time with him. I'm glad to get my son back, honestly.

Overall, Nathan was a peach - smiled at all comers, didn't fuss over unfamiliar faces, and was cheerful most of the time. What I didn't like was that he didn't get the down time I know he needs. He slept for most of the 9-10 hour car ride home, but I was apprehensive about payback this week. Sunday he was pretty good, and then... Monday. Oy.

Looking back at yesterday, I don't think it was fallout from Thanksgiving as much as it was a product of him coming down with a cold. He woke up at 4 a.m., again at 4:45 a.m.; I was up again around 5:30, again ~7, then finally got up with him about 8 a.m. From then until 9:30 p.m., he didn't sleep more than 30-45 minutes at a stretch; and much of that awake time was spent wailing.

He finally slept the sleep of the drugged last night: 9:30 p.m. until 7:45 a.m. He's stuffed up and coughing this morning, but at least I know why he's irritable... I was going to head over to a girlfriend's place today to do some scrapbooking, but I don't want to take Nathan out when he's sick. Mom offered to keep him for me, but I'd like to be here with him. I'm trying to avoid Nathan's therapy sessions years from now about resurrected memories of his mom abandoning him when he was sick. : )

Nathan's still active even though he's sick; he was so fidgety yesterday that I actually got out the johnny-jump-up. He's still small enough that I had to wedge an entire fleece blanket around his little bod to keep him upright, but he seemed to enjoy it. Is it normal to put a not-yet-3-month-old in one of these things?

(yawn) I'm off to shower and try to do a few things while the boy is snoozing in his baby papasan. More later...

November 16, 2005


It snowed yesterday, and it was bad enough to provoke some schools into calling off classes today. When upper Midwest education is sidelined due to weather, you know it's cold. Our two lab-mix dogs stay in a shed in my parents' backyard. There's a convection heater and electricity in the barn (as we call it), but the dogs' water was frozen this morning.

Even with all this, it's not the freezing climes that are keeping me home. I, born and raised in the upper Midwest, snowbound? Ha. I laugh in your face. I fart in your general direction.

No, no... I'm kidbound. I think Nathan could survive being outside, but when my mom expresses caution (a woman who's raised four children successfully in such winters), I'm learning to listen. I tend to charge into things with overwhelming confidence - and have something get destroyed or injured beyond repair in the process, after which I shamefacedly agree I shouldn't have done that.

I still remember a confrontation with my dad when I was in Jr. High/high school. After our heated conversation, I stalked down the hall to my bathroom, got in the shower, angrily tugged the showerhead down - and punched a hole right through the drywall. My dad was, of course, the only other person home; I had to abase myself and confess I'd broken his house not five minutes after our "discussion".

I don't want Nathan to get broken because of my stupidity or strong will. I'll wait 'til my mom gets home so she can watch Nathan, then go run my errands sans offspring.

November 15, 2005


Lessons I'm learning from Nathan: how to smile at someone who wakes you up, dumps you on a chilly flat surface, then strips all clothing from your nether regions before dragging a cold wet wipe across your genitals. If I was him, I'd want to stick me in the eye with a fingernail...

-He'd slept for >10 hours, but still.

Good behavior must be rewarded, right? I couldn't resist these... they're way too big for him right now, but he'll be able to wear them for a single week of his life sometime in the future.

Maybe someday he'll be a shoe fanatic like his Uncle Brian is. : )


I had a classmate in Jr. High who nicknamed me She-Ra. Must have been my shy, retiring personality that never got anything accomplished due to timidity.

Anyway... yesterday was a She-Ra, Princess of Power day. HOO-rah!
I washed and folded three loads of laundry, changed the sheets on our bed, reorganized our bathroom, finished writing thank-you notes, did my devotions ("spent time at the feet of our Lord," for those of you who speak a more exclusive Christianese dialect), bathed Nathan, went to aerobics, and took a shower myself - in addition to eating three meals myself and feeding Nathan 3-4 times.

You have no idea how big a deal that is, managing to eat all three meals myself. I've reverted back to my collegiate mentality, which was waiting until my hunger outweighed my lack of desire to expend energy in actually preparing the food. Not laziness, per se, since I was doing things like walking everywhere on campus, studying, reading, etc. Eating just wasn't that important to me. Well, same deal here. I look up at the clock and realize it's 1 p.m. and lo, I have consumed nothing. When I want to eat, I'm in the middle of something; when I have the time, I don't have the desire.

No worries I'll skip supper tonight: in honor of my birthday (which is this weekend) we're having steak and mashed potatoes. My dad does a wonderful job with a gas grill. OK, my salivary glands kicked into gear just typing that sentence. Pavlovian response.

It's snowing today... we should have 2-4" by the time this ends - Nathan's first REAL snowfall. Speaking of the boy, it's time to go wake him up - he's been asleep (or close to it) for 9 1/2 hours now.

November 13, 2005

The Unexpected

Another line I never knew I'd hear from my spouse:

"I have just witnessed green goo exiting my son's anus."

November 11, 2005

Two Months Old

Nathan, this week you turned two months old. I knew my life would change, but had no idea how much my focus would shift. When I was pregnant with you, there wasn't an aspect of my life - from eating to sleeping to sitting to standing to walking - that hadn't changed. That's continued since you were born, but now I get to interact with you.

You cuddle. You look cute in shades. You smile at me, and any bad mood seems to melt - particularly when you give me gummy grins at 4 o'clock in the morning. Your screaming may leave me feeling tired some days, but you hear my voice and stop crying. If I sing to you, you smile at me and sing along in your own baby way. I love that you're fascinated with anything bright, pattern-like or moving - brick walls, plaid shirts, ceiling fans, bright lights. I love that your eyes are almost always wide open, as if you're eager to take in every iota you possibly can.

I have fears sometimes that something will happen to you; that I'll screw up somehow, someway - and that my mistake will result in serious injury to you. Like Nichole Nordeman's song Brave says, you make me want to be brave. I may struggle with standing up for myself or my rights, but I would fight tooth and nail for you. I'm not ga-ga over you, but somehow you've entwined chubby fingers into all of my synapses.

I love you, Nathan.

Crack the Week

What a week.

Last Saturday we took a lightning trip 2 1/2 hours south to meet my in-laws for lunch before we turned around and drove back home. Nathan slept most of the way, but he was out-of-sorts by the time we got home.

Monday we decided to throw Nathan's world into chaos. How could I ever know that a hole punched through a man-made rubber substitute would change my life? -Wait, that could be taken the wrong way... I better explain. Nathan's scarfed down food since he was born, inhaling 8-9 oz. in less than 30 minutes. He'd follow these performances with an encore of repeat material - repeated ad nauseum. His nauseum. We hoped increasing the difficulty level of the bottle nipple would slow him down a tad and reduce the amount of regurgitated food.

Now it takes him 25 minutes to get 2 oz. My life this week has been like crack-the-whip or the tail(N.) wagging the dog (me); I'm not sure which. He eats an ounce or so, falls asleep because he's exhausted from working so hard, sleeps an hour or so, wakes up crying, cries while I change him, then attacks the bottle again with a vengeance.

To the problems with feeding were added fallout from his first round of shots (He was 2 months old Tuesday, so immunizations were due). Good news, though: he likes the taste of children's Tylenol. : )

I hope he adjusts OK with eating in the next week; traveling over Thanksgiving will be rough otherwise.

November 07, 2005

When I was in 4th grade, I desperately wanted a Cabbage Patch kid. I even coaxed my older sister into letting me take hers to school - sort of an "Aunt/Fake Niece Day at School" experience.

In high school I would have sawn off my left arm to be in college instead.

In college I wanted a paycheck commensurate with my schooling.

While working, I wanted to have time to savor little things - or jeez, just time to do laundry and eat meals on any sort of regular basis!

Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom (or SAHM, if you prefer, which sounds like a lisped Islamic greeting to me), I have more time. And what do I want now?

Well, this morning I got what I wanted: a shower. My mom fed and bathed Nathan so I could shower. Life is good - and thank the good Lord above for mothers who are willing grandmothers!

I'm returning to childhood - the wants are simpler and more easily satisfied. Must be the proximity to an infant that promotes some sort of osmotic "wants" transfer...

November 02, 2005

Halloween at Age 53

Well, Nathan's had his first Halloween at age fifty-three... fifty-three days, that is. Seven and a half weeks is too young for trick-or-treating, but in a few years I can shamelessly use my child to acquire chocolate for myself.

Funny story: Last year my nephew was asked by a candy-distributing homeowner if he had a little sister. This Spider-man costumed tot said "yes" in hopes of getting more candy. My brother had to intervene and no, there wasn't any little sister at home.

Anyway, you can see I dressed Nathan up as a pilot (I've got to get as many pictures of him in this jacket as I can before he outgrows it). The jacket's so stiff that he can sit upright in it - but he did fall over shortly after I took that first picture.

He's almost two months old, and he's changed so much in just the last few weeks. It used to be that he'd only outgrown two sleepers; now he's on the verge of outgrowing five or six all at once. He's gained somewhere around five pounds since he was born and 2-3 inches in length. He's still sleeping through the night (8 hours last night!) and doesn't waste any time when he's eating. The bigger problem is keeping up with his eating - this child would keep a milk cow busy at times: 30 ounces or more a day.

Along with better sleep patterns, he's more alert during the day. He talks to us on a regular basis now, with gum-revealing grins and happy baby sighs mixed in. He's a charmer, all right... -This Halloween picture looks more pilot-like in attitude to me; it almost looks like he's saying, "You wanna' take me on, sweetheart?" Don't let the picture fool you. He'd bite your arm off if he's hungry enough, and he really doesn't like having his arm or leg motions restricted - no more swaddling for him, thank you very much - but he's still a cuddler and a charmer. He keeps a close eye on all bright colors in his vicinity and shares his thoughts with ceiling fans and stuffed animals placed near him.

[sigh] Yeah, he's cute.

Advertising Will Be in Hell

If ever I wanted proof that advertising/spamming is an evil twisting of communication's intent (true, real interaction between people), spam blog comments would convince me of it.

Case in point:
Hi ________. Can I find any information on here? My friend said to check out [insert recent post title here]... for information on _________ but this does not seem like the most relevant of blogs. I like cruzing through your site but maybe search engines might have more information. Need to come back later though...great blogs!

Nice. A touch of personalized info and reference, informal style, some misspelling and grammar errors, and bingo: some poor blogger is deluded into believing someone reads and likes their blog. If the ad perpetrator is really lucky, the blogger will now post something about topic X in hopes of luring the reader back.

If I choose not to put ads on my blog (not saying they'll never be there, just that I don't want to put any on right now), I definitely don't want someone else putting ads on my site. Grrr.

October 28, 2005

Talk about Feeling Tongue-Tied...

I think every woman in this country has had some sort of issue about food - including me.

Well, my on-going problem right now has to do with food, but it's Nathan's food. He was born with ankyloglossia, which is also known as being tongue-tied. The piece of skin that connected his tongue to the floor of his mouth was shorter than usual; it meant he couldn't extend his tongue past his lower gumline.

I started nursing immediately, but his tongue couldn't work properly for a good latch. Fortunately they caught the problem and performed a frenotomy - they snipped the tissue that was holding back his tongue. He's fine now.

Unfortunately for me, his being tongue-tied did a real number on my nipples. It was excruciatingly painful to nurse at the beginning, and because I didn't know what I was doing and how to help it (and help fix Nathan's latch), the pain continued.

When I came home, I was in tears each time before starting nursing, bracing myself for unbelievable pain on sensitive tissue. I've supplemented with formula and by pumping ever since; I can still get in one regular nursing session a day, but Nathan's not nearly as efficient at the breast as he is with a bottle nipple... He uses his jaw a lot more than he needs to, effectively chewing the nipple rather than just sucking it. My skin can't handle more than several sessions in a row with him before it's too painful to continue.

I expected having to work at getting an effective latch, but I didn't expect this much of a struggle. It was helpful just today to read that most moms of tongue-tied babies either pump or give up on nursing - but then I realized that they meant moms of babies who stayed tongue-tied.

This was the capper for me: there is some inherited aspect to being tongue-tied. If I remember correctly, my husband was tongue-tied at birth. The other study finding, though, is that baby being tongue-tied might be linked to the mom using cocaine while pregnant.

Good grief... As if I would have snorted white powder up my nose and increased the number of unpleasant sensations I experienced during my first trimester.

October 27, 2005


Today motherhood meant:
- Never getting to that shower I meant to take
- Staying in my pajamas until noon (not because I was being lazy, but because I didn't have a long enough block of time when it mattered enough to me to change)
- Looking at the clock to see it was 2 p.m. and, lo and behold, I hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch
- Running Nathan through 3 wardrobe changes, 4-5 burp pads, and at LEAST that many diapers... Please don't ask me how many wet wipes were used today; I couldn't tell you.
- Realizing I haven't seen the checkbook since Monday

In all my childhood games of playing house, in my dreams of what it was like to be a mom - never did any of these items make even a brief appearance. I don't feel like I bought a lemon at all and I AM still enjoying this, but I wish the fine print had been easier to read!

Week Seven

Ain't he adorable?

I thought this outfit was still too big for him, but I had been warned by female family members that I should regularly go through his outfits to check the fit. Too many outfits would otherwise fit the "Ack! He's already too big for this and he never wore it!" category.

So... bear suit it is for the day's attire. He's 7 weeks old today - he holds his head up much better now, reaches for things with his hands, makes all sorts of baby chirps and coos, smiles often, sleeps through the night and has a lot more alert/awake time than he used to. He's very adept at charming passersby; they get sucked in by the chubby cheeks and (usually) wide-open blue eyes. He's pushing 13 pounds now - not a newborn anymore! His cousin Keira (who was 6 lbs. 6 oz. at birth last week Friday) makes him look even more gi-normous (see picture).

Must go. I have a date with my Medela - who gets time with me more often than anyone other than Nathan does!

October 21, 2005

Going 'Round

His Majesty is often amused by things that rotate above him - mobiles, ceiling fans (whether they're off or on), etc.

I'd love to tell him about his new cousin, Keira Alexandra, who was born early this morning to Adam & Lin; even I (soccer mom that I tend to be) know he isn't at that level of comprehension yet.

From the screams I hear off to my right, a ceiling fan just ain't cuttin' it this morning. Nothing less than 6-8 oz. of food - and make it snappy, woman! Never mind that he had 8 oz. less than 2 hours ago... Must go; I have to feed the beast.

October 17, 2005

Week Six

According to friends and reference works, I should be emerging from my chaotic cocoon about now.

I was told before Nathan was born that if I went into the first 6 weeks expecting them to be the least productive and most frustrating of my life, accomplishing little and feeling I failed at most things, well... then I might be pleasantly surprised. -And this from a usually positive, upbeat friend!

The first six weeks have already brought about so many changes - not just in Nathan, but in me. I still wrestle with whether I'm permanently screwing him up if I let him cry in instance X or choose to respond with Y reaction in other circumstances, but I have more confidence in knowing that I know my baby better than any other mom would know him. I'm not worried I'm starving him - he's over 12 pounds already.

After several baths, I no longer worry that I'll drop his slippery little body onto the porcelain sink with injurious force - though his vociferous dislike of being cold and bare would lead a Social Services rep to think otherwise.

He's turned into a chubby baby: rolls on arms and legs with a double chin for good measure. It makes feeding him more interesting, since milk often escapes into the sundry creases of skin around his little neck. His hair has that indefinable 'baby' smell; his neck (unless I've just washed it) has that very definable 'formula' smell.

He now attempts baby push-ups when he's put on his stomach; tries to make baby conversation with the mobile over his crib, the stuffed dog on his changing table or truly interested adults trying to get his attention. I've been on the receiving end of several of his intentional, gummy grins (not just gas-related ones) - and have considered myself paid in full for 3 a.m. feedings.

I see an amalgam of myself and Trent - my face shape, my forehead (so Trent swears), Trent's eyes and eyebrows, some of my strong will and an observer sort of personality that seems more in line with Trent's personality than mine...

He's cute... sometimes freakishly so:

September 13, 2005


Originally uploaded by SJStanley.
Such a sweet face...

Day Five...

Day 5:
Suspect seems to ingest large amounts of liquid, followed by long periods of semi-unconscious to unconscious existence. Behavior warrants future monitoring.

We've only been home from the hospital three days, but each family member has their role. Mommy's taking regular pain meds and trying to get this whole feeding routine learned; Baby's eating, sleeping, charming all comers except the family cat and working his way through diapers like they're going out of style; Daddy's taking to baby care like a duck to water. -A memory I hope to carry with me to the grave is Trent picking up Nathan for skin-to-skin contact (Nathan in just his diaper, Trent in his flannel pants), only to have Nathan spit up down the front of Trent's chest. Bless my husband for his sense of humor and matter-of-fact clean up of the situation. Last night after Daddy got home from work, he put Nathan on the floor for some tummy time. With cheering and encouragement from both Trent and Dan (my youngest brother), Nathan flipped himself over from front to back. Trent said he briefly thought about getting a stopwatch to see if he could time a repeat performance. I'm encouraging him to fight these soccer dad responses.

As I write, Nathan's asleep in his Baby Papasan seat on the floor next to me. I'm feeling a little concerned: he's been asleep for close to seven hours. I've tried waking him, but this child sleeps the sleep of the dead. Noise, light, moving him, prying his eyelids open - he'll still sleep. The only thing that works on a fairly regular basis is to strip all clothing off him except his diaper and put a wet washcloth on his head. I hate to go to such dire straits when he's so peaceful... maybe I'll eat lunch first.

September 11, 2005

New Family Member!

Baby Stanley is now here - and has an actual name. : )

I actually went into labor on my due date, but Nathan Eugene was born the next morning on September 8th at 8:04 a.m. 8 pounds, 5 ounces; 22 inches long (no wonder my ribs experienced so much tap dancing that last trimester; the kid must have been wound tighter than the proverbial drum).

I hope to post more about Nathan later, but for now stop by the web site my husband's updating.

Off to go bond some more with my son...

September 06, 2005

Not Quite Time

After waiting until contractions were 2-3 minutes apart, we went to the hospital. Once there, contractions were only 6 minutes apart and I was measured at 1 cm dilated, ~10% effaced.

We were there 2-3 hours; contractions eased off, though I still made progress (got up closer to 2 cm dilated). I walked the halls for a while (even did jumping jacks), but it looks like it could be a good 5-6 hours before I'm really in need of a hospital, so... I'm back home.

Like I told DH, I just feel foolish. I don't want to be a burden on anyone or ask for more than is necessary, so thinking I was much further along and finding out how early things are means I don't feel like I can trust my estimation of what a contraction feels like, how far apart they are, or anything in that realm.

I'm tired. I was up 'til 3 this morning timing contractions, then woke ~6:30/7 to start timing the next round of contractions. I need to go to bed.

Is This... ???

Well, contractions are five minutes apart or so and have been for the last hour. I'm hoping this is it - particularly after all the times I've timed contractions, stayed up late (or gotten up early) and felt my hopes rise, only to have everything fade.

Wouldn't you know it'd happen that I can't reach my husband on the cell phone (I don't know if he's out of range or has it turned off or what) and neither can I reach my mom. I can drive myself to the hospital if necessary, but I'd really rather prefer to have SOMEONE there with me...

September 04, 2005

Hearing Cries of "Wolf!" Regularly These Days

I've been having contractions (whether Braxton-Hicks or otherwise) since 2nd trimester. Those I can handle. What I haven't enjoyed are the 2-3 times in the last week or so when I've had contractions over random intervals for several hours or even regularly-spaced intense contractions that fade away after an extended time. Despite my best efforts, I get my hopes up that maybe this time will be the time I end up at the hospital with DH and emerge with a new family member.

I finally gave up today after timing for four hours, only to have 7 minutes between contractions suddenly turn into 20 minutes. It got to be too painful to hope that "maybe this time the contraction intervals won't increase."

I'm three days from my due date and alternating between impatience and tired apathy/disappointment.

August 25, 2005

Pouring Rain

It's been a figurative downpour these last couple weeks...

I'm having contractions on a pretty regular basis, but nothing that turns into anything substantial. After 5 hours of contractions one night, Baby's heart rate increased into the 170's (it should be in the 140's to 150's). It went down eventually, but I was told to go in to the hospital the next morning for a no stress test. They wanted to make sure Baby didn't have the cord wrapped around his/her neck or anything like that. Baby's fine, just enjoying the opportunity to play with parental expectations, I guess!

Friday of last week we got a call that my paternal grandmother was in a car accident with a Ford F350 pick-up towing a goose neck trailer of metal pipes. The accident was Grandma's fault; those in the truck had only minor injuries, but Grandma was killed. She was 83, and she'd had a stroke a little over a year ago; the family had been bracing ourselves for the last year that she probably wouldn't be here much longer.

All the same, bracing for something to happen and expecting it to happen on a given day are two different things. Within two days Grandma's five children, two remaining siblings, 16 grandchildren (6 of whom are married, 3 with kids of their own) and a bajillion family friends and extended relatives had been contacted and started making travel plans. We had people coming in from Monterrey, Mexico; New Zealand; San Francisco; Atlanta; driving from eastern Pennsylvania - the family group alone was 41 people. The family spent time together last Sunday night; family viewing was Monday morning, visitation Monday night, funeral #1 (in her current hometown) was Tuesday morning and funeral #2 (in the hometown where she and Grandpa lived for close to 40 years) was Wednesday morning.

One of my hopes headed into the weekend was that I wouldn't go into labor before it was all through. As the days progressed, I started leaning the other direction. Going through labor, yes, but in a private hospital room with nurses to run interference for me - and the added benefit of distant relatives getting to see Baby before they headed back home. Most visiting family members are now on their way home, though, and Baby's still doing dance routines on my ribs. Ah, well.

DH [Dear Husband] and I went out for supper last night at Subway. In the midst of my sandwich, slightly hunched over the table, I got an upward kick in my sternum that felt like a sucker punch to my chin. It was strong enough that I snapped into an upright sitting posture with a sort of dazed look on my face. If I can be charged with child abuse, can babies in utero be charged with parent abuse?

I'm REALLY ready for this little person to be born.

August 11, 2005

36 Weeks and Counting...

According to's weekly email, I should postpone any unnecessary travel plans - particularly anything to do with flying somewhere.

So much for wanting to see New Zealand before this baby's born.

Seriously, I'm just ready for this to be done. Other tasks have gotten difficult in the last few weeks: standing up, sitting down, walking, sleeping, shaving - even trying to stretch out my hamstrings at night before bed. I now have to face almost 45 degrees inside of my leg and stretch kind of sideways; my stomach size doesn't allow any closer interaction.

I have a box of chocolates from my favorite Swiss chocolatier, a paper chain with a link for each day from now until 2 weeks past my due date (I'm trying to set my expectations in advance for going past my due date and possibly being induced), all baby items organized, and just have to pack my bag for the hospital and assemble the list of names and phone numbers to call.

In 28 days or fewer I'll have a baby strapped around my middle in a sling instead of encased in my skin. -Hurry it up already, Baby!

August 05, 2005

Personal Space

Without my say-so, I have become more European in the matter of personal space: closer is better.

The last week has contained several conversations with Junior regarding the need for my rib cage and internal organs to occupy at least some space in my abdominal cavity. Husband thinks the kicks in the ribs are just practice flutter kicks.

I won't be surprised if this little person emerges from the womb and wants its little face two inches from mine for the first several months of its life - until Baby realizes he/she is American and can't handle being closer than three feet to anyone unless romance or family duty is involved.

August 02, 2005

Financial Nesting

Ack... Some expectant women nest by picking out paint samples. Since I currently lack a house (I don't think my parents would appreciate it if I suddenly repaint a random room to resemble a nursery), I have to substitute.

I spent a few hours this afternoon sorting through old financial records. Mortgage here, electric bills there, past insurance policy numbers over here, all health records for family members there, car info here, addresses there - oh, wait; looks like that should be split into current and prior folders... I need a bigger filing cabinet.

Don't I lead an exciting life? My afternoon session with paper (and no paper cuts, amazingly enough!) was only matched by watching our dog Sugar lie down in the wading pool and dunk her entire head under water. She's gotten in the habit of lying down (whether out of the pool or in it) to drink. She's either a natural blond or discovering some long-lost bond with her wild African forebears.

July 25, 2005

MN Survival

Sorry for the long hiatus from posting. I was attacked first by apathy and then influenced for the last week by a lack of computer access.

-But I have SURVIVED!!! What did I survive, you ask? At 32/33 wks pregnant, I willingly took a 7-hr drive to a remote cabin in northern Minnesota that had electricity, running water and heat but no air-conditioning. I not only survived, but I actually enjoyed myself.

For the last decade and more, some segment of my family has gone to Brookside Resort for a week in the summer. This was the first year that all of the kids were there, plus spouses, significant others and children. It was quite a crew to pack into two cabins.

We got back Saturday afternoon to much hotter temps (I escaped back into the air-conditioned house and cranked ceiling fans on high). A nearby locale had a heat index this last week of 118 degrees Fahrenheit.

I think I'll be spending much of this next week indoors.

June 22, 2005

I Don't Know Whether to Blame Baby or Blondeness

I had another doctor's appointment yesterday afternoon. After being weighed (always a pleasant experience when you're pregnant, trust me), I was sent to the bathroom with my sterile cup to provide the standard urine sample.

I went in, did my business and was fastening my capris (mentally noting to sling the waistband under my burgeoning belly so my doctor could measure my tummy and listen to Baby's heartbeat) - then looked at the sink and saw the still-sealed specimen cup, which was empty.

There have been eight doctor's visits, and each one has maintained certain elements - like providing a urine sample. I have no idea where my brain went for that block of time. I was left wondering whether I should rush into the exam room, glug the entire contents of my water bottle and try to put a rush order through to my bladder OR put pressure on my bladder to deliver even just a little more. Thankfully only a few drops are needed for the tests they run, so Option #2 worked well.

Could've been worse. One of my girlfriends spent the morning of her birthday providing a urine sample at an OB appointment while her 4-yr-old serenaded her with "Onward, Christian Soliders."

At least my dilemma didn't have a soundtrack.

June 20, 2005

It's Official

...I'm now a certified fuddy-duddy.

Just consider what splendiferous find I rejected this afternoon: perfect maternity underwear from Victoria's Secret.

I made a trip to the mall today to stop by Old Navy and do some other things. Walking past VS, I glanced at the windows and did not a double-take, but a triple-take. One of the mannequins was wearing what I can only describe as reverse-thong underwear: material for both sides of the gluteus maximus, but a gap of material in-between to display the cleft between the buttocks. Don't worry about the whole modesty thing; there were three perky pink satin bows holding the gap closed like safety pins across a gaping tear.

My response: What on earth would you wear over such an underthing? Panty lines have nothing on outlines of bows under a skirt or pants.

My mom's response when I described them: How does one sit down in them? Isn't it uncomfortable to feel bows embedded into one's rear?

Trent's response (which cracked me up): Does this mean you'd no longer have to put your underwear down to go to the bathroom?

Hallelujah that I'm past the age where I would have pooh-poohed this publicly but secretly wanted to have the body to wear them. Now? I wholeheartedly, 100% consider them utterly, insanely ludicrous.

Victoria can keep this secret, for all I care.

June 18, 2005

I've Got a Terminal Disease...

That's the only explanation I can find where medical insurance is concerned. Outside of being on an employer's plan and not going without coverage for more than 60 days, any insurance company considers pregnancy a pre-existing condition and will not cover someone in my situation: we moved, I had to give up prior insurance (since I was no longer working for the same place), Trent's employer has a reimbursement plan for insurance instead of plans through the company and... we'll be paying the remainder of Baby Stanley's costs out-of-pocket.

I'm really glad we moved from an area where prenatal care and a normal delivery runs $7,000-$10,000 to an area where it's just over $5,000... -Oh, and happy parenting!

In other news, I've come to resemble a storm front: I have my own leading edge. As I explained to Trent today, I no longer bend at the waist - I have to tip forward. Pregnancy is not an upright proposition. I must either tip (to reach forward) or recline (when seated). Here's hoping I can maintain at least a 30 degree range of motion forward and backward until delivery - Trent will have to be tying the drawstring on my shorts/pants, not just tying my shoelaces.

June 09, 2005

What on Earth Have I Been Doing?!

It continues to astonish me how little I do during the day, yet how little energy I have... Today, I can only say I read, worked on a gift for a friend, attended a home party for Usborne[sic] Books, and slept. It was supposed to be a nap to catch up on missed sleep the night before.

I went to bed at 1:15 p.m. and woke up at 5:06 p.m.

So much for that grand idea of getting back on a 'normal' schedule... I'm only just now feeling sleepy again.

June 06, 2005

Master, the Monster is Alive!!!

This morning I woke up and thought I had a knot in an abdominal muscle from my sleep position. I probed the knot to see how deep it was - and it moved to the other side of my rib cage.

Revision of diagnosis: knot!=cramp; knot=baby appendage

Talk about bizarre... For a few minutes I felt all over again like I'm hosting some kind of alien that's going to burst out of my abdomen when it's fully matured. Trent told me we won't be watching any of the "Alien" movies or "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" between now and when the baby's born to prevent nightmares.

The kicks/jabs/punches are getting stronger, too. Trent's had his ear against my stomach a couple times now and gotten kicked in the face. Whether Baby knows it or not, he/she has already received lectures about not kicking Daddy. : )

June 05, 2005

Baby's First Tornado Warning

In the Midwest, severe weather is a foregone conclusion, particularly in spring/early summer or winter. Last night was Baby's first [in utero] exposure to incoming storms... Lights off, local radio station on, all people in the house with flashlights, waiting to see if the sirens blew or not, guys at the windows to watch for the approaching damage, etc. This last item must be a control thing, since it's hard to see anything approaching at 11 p.m.

As usual, the storm actually split around our small town. I'm sure once would be enough, but just once - once - I'd like to actually see a tornado. I feel like my Midwest membership is in question until that day.

Don't get me wrong: it was nice to have a roof over our heads this morning and have everyone in the family alive and uninjured.

Welcome back to springtime in Iowa.

June 03, 2005


Read 'em and weep: 10 straight hours of uninterrupted sleep last night. YAY!!!

Now... if I could just convince my three-year-old nephew to sleep past 7 a.m., the rest of the family would be set.

June 02, 2005

I Got Those Benadryl Blues...

Would someone please tell me how I'm supposed to "get sleep while you can before the baby comes" if my body didn't get the same message?

Sleep has become like a logic problem, with a rapidly decreasing number of solutions. Lying on my stomach? Um... You try sleeping draped over a good-sized melon and let me know how long you last.

Lying on my back? If pregnancy books are to be believed, the baby will (uncaring) cut off blood returning to my heart from my legs as casually as stomping on a garden hose. The result is numb legs and lower oxygen delivery to the baby - it kind of makes me wonder if we're masochistic from conception.

Lying on my left side? This, according to experts, is best. For whatever reason, my body responds to this position by putting the entire left side of my rib cage to sleep - numb, but with tingling sensations that don't let up. It's like trying to sleep while lying on a vibrating massager from Homedics.

Up until last night, lying on my right side worked (provided the pillow configuration was correct; I'm up to four pillows now, three regular-sized, one body pillow). Last night I was determined to get a full night's sleep, so I took two Benadryl. I knew I'd wake up the morning after with a really dried out nose and mouth, but I value sleep more at this point than moist nasal passages.

Last night the Benadryl betrayed me. I learned later that antihistamines can kick off Restless Legs Syndrome in pregnant women. RLS is a lovely, innocuous acronym for a tingling sensation or even waves of pain in your legs. The mind associates the sensations with muscle cramping or nerves falling asleep. Solution? Move your legs. Problem? To sleep, you have to ignore these sensations for X amount of time until you fall asleep.

I finally fell asleep in a recliner in the family room around 2:30 this morning, trying to keep my mind off the tingling. I woke at 4, moved to a couch, slept 'til 5:30, then went back to bed and crashed until after 10.

No Benadryl tonight. I guess my body will let me sleep when I really need it.

May 23, 2005

Chinese Water Torture

I decided last Friday to bathe our two dogs (one 70 lbs., the other 45-50 lbs.). I'm not completely clueless - I used a wading pool and a hose.

My miscalculation didn't involve forgetting shampoo, tying the dogs up as I washed them, or even wearing my swimsuit (all of which I remembered). No, my error in judgment wasn't clear until that night when I realized I'd gotten badly sunburned - as in, you can tell what sort of back my swimsuit has without my swimsuit being anywhere in the vicinity.

Problem #2 (which resulted in the Chinese water torture analogy): I'm just enough allergic to sun that my skin itches unbearably for the 48-72 hours following a bad sunburn, even when I've used lotion with lidocaine on it.

Trying to get a full night's sleep while 5 months pregnant and suffering the allergic reaction of a sunburn is futile. I can state with certainty that the clock beside my bed is still functioning at each hour of the early morning - I've seen it.

I'm still fighting the urge to scratch my shoulders.

May 12, 2005


So sorry for the lack of posts... No sooner did we close out a chapter of our lives (put our house on the market, give notice at our jobs, pack up, say goodbyes and move to the small town where I grew up) then my husband started his new job and my body rebelled. For the last two weeks I've had cold #4 since January - massive congestion/runny nose (would someone PLEASE explain how these two things can happen at the same time?!) interrupted with hacking coughs. I usually get one cold every other year. Greater love hath no mother, I guess.

Headed an hour south today with my sister-in-law (who is also expecting) to the nearest Target. It's baby registry time! Hopefully she won't feel nauseated and I won't feel absolutely drained by the time we get home. Maybe lunch and I.C. mochas at Panera plus a visit to Barnes & Noble will help...

April 21, 2005

Put in Perspective

I got an email from a buddy stationed in Iraq; his unit is one of those patroling Baghdad, and up until now, it's been pretty boring (his words).

Not so anymore:
Things have been quiet in Baghdad since we got here... stuff happens but not around our area. Maybe we get some info about some guys who are anti-coalition and we do a raid and sometimes we find weapons. Mostly it's like being a beat cop... you ride around watching to make sure everyone is behaving. It really doesn't give me much to talk about...

That changed last night. Our 1st platoon, while out on patrol, took contact from about three men, and while distracted, another man drove a car filled with explosives into their squad. Two of my friends were killed instantly... four others were wounded, two of them severely enough to warrant them being moved to a higher level hospital in Germany. Needless to say, the mood has been pretty gray here all day... there are questions that seem to have no answer, and things don't make sense... trying to think about what happened is useless, because our minds can't fit around the situation... we just all somehow know that we lost two of our brothers last night to an act of terrorism.

Make no mistake: it has not shaken our resolve to carry out our mission here and fulfill our sworn duty to the people of the United States and to the people of Iraq whom we vowed to defend... I believe that if anything it will strengthen our will to rid this country of terrorists.

The reason I let you all know about this is so that you can continue to pray for the guys here, specifically for the six fallen men. One of the KIA's was twenty-two years old, married with an unborn child... he had plans to attend college and pursue a degree in sound engineering. The second KIA was a twenty-year-old kid, unmarried, who was dedicated to serving the country in the army... he talked about nothing else. He was like everybody's kid brother, always tagging along trying to do what the big kids were doing... he wanted to go out for Special Forces with me when we got back after this deployment. I think he would have made it, too, with a little more maturity... he certainly had the heart.

So... please remember them and their families... they will need your prayers.

I am and will remain safe in God's hand - I love you all very much.

God bless and keep thee, even though you're half a world away - I'm fiercely proud of being able to call you my friend.

April 14, 2005

From Ships to Shoes to Sealing Wax...

-no cabbages or kings today, though; my apologies to Lewis Carroll.

I work in a front office as the main secretary, and the broad ranging requests I get... I've had to track down a missing baby gerbil, figure out when a wood-carving class met, answer a question of whether rain fell on the earth prior to the Great Flood - you name it, I've probably had it.

Today it included figuring out which genus specie of fig tree was the biblical one and how tall they grow (ficus carica and 30', if you wanted to know) and if it's possible to make gummy candy at home.

I'm an information geek; I like to know how to do things or what they mean or how they work. The internet and libraries (to say nothing of bookstores) are my friends - particularly this site, which is a gathering site for used bookstores around the world. I've found all kinds of incredible deals on books there...

Is it any wonder I'm paranoid I'll have a child that doesn't want to learn?

April 13, 2005

Life is Never So Bad...

...that it couldn't be worse. I don't know if 'worse' in this case is that Ms. Spears is about the same point in her pregnancy as I am in mine, or if 'worse' would be going through pregnancy under the hot lights of tabloidal glare. Just imagine if there'd been eager photographers snapping pictures of me at 5:30 this morning regurgitating a recently-ingested pear down the garbage disposal...

I would say that pregnancy symptoms and Hollywood don't mix, but hormonal swings, a skin glow, weight fluctuation, mammary alteration, appetite abnormalities, marital miscommunications and unaccountable brain absences are right up Hollywood's alley. Maybe I should be saying that Hollywood's the perfect place to get pregnant; I mean, c'mon... who'd notice a difference in behavior?

April 12, 2005

Recipe for Insanity

Take one (somewhat) normal couple, add two lab-sized dogs and allow to marinate for a couple years.

Now add in a pregnancy, a job change (out of state), sorting/packing/staging/selling a house, moving aforementioned dogs and blend for a period of three weeks.

We move May 2nd.

I think I'm gonna' cry - that or sleep for the next 20 days; I don't know which yet.

April 08, 2005

Nesting and No-no's

Hel-looo, nesting instinct...
Last night I wiped down all kitchen cabinets and drawer fronts (38 of those turkeys) with Orange-Glo wood cleaner/polish. You'd have thought the Midwest had its first citrus grove.

I also attempted to clean the brass pulls for all of those doors and drawers, which was less successful. Now, I may be nesting, but I'm not stupid; no scrubbing for hours with a rag and nasty-smelling metal polishing agent. I found a site that said I could soak them in ketchup or vinegar for two hours, wash with cool water and a soft nail brush, and voila! Bright, shiny, clean brass pulls!

I overlooked a gross assumption: you must first have brass pulls. Ours, I discovered while scrubbing, are brass-plated pulls.

Turns out two hours in vinegar removes brass plating. Who'd a'thunk it?

-Oh, and we realized this morning that after unloading groceries last evening, we forgot to close the driver's side back door on my car. It was still open this morning. Hallelujah for the neighborhood we live in; I think the pregnant-stupids must be contagious...

April 07, 2005

A New Four-Letter Word

I've discovered a new four-letter word for expectant moms - 'chip.'

While we were at my in-laws for Christmas, I was introduced to Plocky's Black Beans 'N Rice chips. We took two bags home with us, which were gone in a week. When we were down there again this last weekend, two more bags came back with us.

My doctor said to avoid foods that start with C except for fruits, veggies and chicken. I asked about chocolate (since I'm a dark chocolate fiend), and when he said it started with a C, I responded that "Andre's" (a Swiss chocolatier in the area) didn't.

Well, I've decided 'chips' might be bad, but 'black beans 'n rice crisped tortillas' aren't - esp. with mildly spicy cheese dip. Yum, yum, yum... I'll lay you odds that first bag will be gone in a day or two. [crunch]

April 04, 2005


Me this weekend at my in-laws, to my husband: "I felt the baby move this morning."

H: "You did?!" [w/ an instantaneous, lit-up grin]

M: "I think so..."

H: "What did it feel like?"

M: "Kind of like a muscle twitch, only one I wasn't moving."

I really have no idea how to explain it. Part upset stomach that isn't gas? Kind of spasmodic and innocuous, but could possibly become injurious if it increases in force? I don't go along with the whole 'butterflies in my stomach' feeling. I know no butterflies that could give me that sensation - and besides, I've been in too many nerve-wracking performance situations to confuse that feeling with 'complete other being moving inside me.'

How wrong of me is it to rejoice in having felt movement at 17 weeks when all the books I read said 1st time mothers normally feel it at 18-20 weeks? I can't tell if I'm rejoicing in my apparent over-achievement or Baby's. Either possibility has frightening soccer mom implications.

March 31, 2005

Now I Know Why 1+1 = 3...

In bygone days when I was single, I had times when I wondered if I'd lost my mind. Meeting people I'd only spoken with online, for instance. Well, I no longer wonder... I know.

Q: What kind of engineer agrees with Barbie that math is hard?
A: A pregnant engineer.

I've lost my ability to do simple arithmetic. We're not talking complex polynomials, here; I mean mistaking 328 for 330 or having totals off by more than 100. I'm even losing some of my language abilities - yet another argument for waiting a few years in my marriage before having kids: at least there's a prayer my husband can figure out what I meant to say.

"Did you let the corn out yet?"
"You mean the dogs?"

No wonder one of my friends calls the 2nd trimester the "Pregnant stupids" stage.

Humility, here I come.

March 25, 2005

What kind of world is this? Is just ANYONE allowed in?

Maybe there's something about impending parenthood that creates a lower idiot tolerance threshold... I'm with someone who posted a feedback comment on a blog I read who said, "It would be really handy if every keyboard was equipped with a 'Dumb---' key that we could use as a shortcut to comment on guys like this."


I know they make universal remotes to mute/turn-off TV's in public places; can they make a version that mutes/freezes/immobilizes people? I'd like one for my keychain. or situations like this one... or this one. (I'd personally like to use it on both parties in that last instance)

March 24, 2005

Saving the Chest for Last...

Pregnancy has, er, significantly altered facets of my physique.

I'm not suddenly an automatic implant suspect in the spirit of, say, Spamela Anderson, but I could technically give a believable interview at Hooters - at least until my stomach protuded from beneath the skimpy halter top. Do they have redneck-ian versions of Hooters?

Though I used to think it might be nice to be more well-endowed, now I'm not so sure. I keep running into these things. Rolling over in bed at night was never so fraught with peril. Before, things stayed put and out of the way of arms, pillows, other skin... Now? There's immediate pain if I forget to factor in added bust size - never mind that it's 2 a.m., when my brain is always on vacation and I'm never in a pleasant mood.

It's also dismaying to realize that outfitting these new features could cost a significant chunk o' change. I have plenty of serviceable bras - and they used to fit, and may someday fit again, post-baby. For now? I really don't cotton to the idea (or silk, for that matter; har har) of shelling out X times $20 to make sure I'm decently attired above the waist. I'm down to four that I can wear - and let me tell you how slim the wardrobe can get if all you have clean is a bra that's navy blue. Sheesh.

So... they're nice to have for test drives; I like a bit of the gratis 'feminine mystique' they grant me, but... can I have mine back? Please?

March 22, 2005

Sleep Patterns

I remember required Sunday naps during my childhood. I'd reluctantly go to my room and read (not too reluctantly, since I enjoy reading). There were a few times I ventured back out to the living room, only to be told I needed to go back to my room. It wasn't required that I nap, just that I be in my room so napping could take place if possible.

My preschool and kindergarten classes never had a 'nap period,' but I couldn't escape those Sunday afternoons... I quickly figured out that my parents were the ones who wanted to nap, and so they enforced the ruling on the entire house. I remember thinking at the time that grown-ups were crazy. Why on earth would someone choose to sleep in the middle of the day? Wasn't having to sleep at night bad enough?

Oh, to be back in those halcyon days... when the thought of getting a good night's sleep was puzzling, because what other kind was there? Neither uncomfortable position nor loud noise nor multiple bathroom trips stayed me from eight full hours (or more) of sleeping like a log, dead to the world.

Now? Ha.

We have a sleep number bed (which we both love), so I've actually been pretty comfortable as my avoirdupois changes its shape. All the same, I thought it'd be a good idea to get a pregnancy pillow to help me stay on my side rather than shifting to my back. Like a good girl, I researched online for others' experiences and comments. I managed to save myself the headache of paying close to $200 for the privilege of an adult-sized Boppy pillow.*

I'm technically an ethnic Euro-mutt, but a lot of my contributing heritages have reputations for being reluctant to spend money (Dutch, Irish, Scottish, German). I'm not willing to pay $200 for an item I plan on using for less than a year. We found body pillows at Bed Bath & Beyond for $10 apiece instead, which was much more in line with what I was willing to pay.

So... bought two of the things and got them home, only to realize we had no pillow cases which fit. Not a big deal: safety pins and a few fleece blankets, and voila! Insta-body pillow cases. I thought I'd work my way up to using one for front and one for back by my due date. I imagined a sort of pillow cocoon, from which I'd emerge gracefully each morning.

The factor I missed in my imaginings was the size of our bed. One queen-sized bed minus two body pillows does not equal space for two adults. We finally kicked both of them out of bed and slept peacefully without them. I've tried a couple of configurations since then, but I always end up fighting the pillow, feeling frustrated or claustrophobic (or both), and subsequently dumping the pillow overboard to the floor on my side where I can trip over it the next morning.

I'm told that the problems with sleep during pregnancy are one of the ways God gets people ready for sleepless nights with infants. The thought isn't terribly reassuring from where I try to sleep during week 16.

*[Note: I won't insult your intelligence or mine by delving into the mysterious etymology or definition of 'Boppy.' Suffice it to say that the term is one of the many terms apparently necessary to the syntax of parent-speak.]

March 18, 2005

Parental Roles

Some things have yet to be determined in our little family-to-be: Who will stay home with Baby? Who will be the primary wage-earner the first year? Who will teach our children to cook (since my husband's really better at this than I)?

One thing has become clear over the last several days, though: I'll be the one instructing our offspring about the finer points of sports, tournaments and playoffs. There are reasons my husband isn't a basketball fan - many years and a number of hours spent concentrating on swimming, no pressure from parents to participate and be highly competitive in contact sports, not a whole lot of interest, etc. Whatever the primary reason, I was the one using polls and statistics from sports articles to complete my NCAA tournament brackets. He sometimes used the criteria of "which team is closer to the state I consider my home state" to complete his.

We went out for dinner last night (pregnancy has only increased my desire for meat, and lots of it; medium-rare to medium hamburgers sounded really, REALLY good). On the way home from the restaurant, he demonstrated his love for me by telling me I could turn on the TV to watch basketball when we got home, and that he would actually watch them with me.

Greater love hath no husband.

I can see it now: I'll be the one in front of the TV on a Saturday hollering at refs (I'm a college sports fan, be it basketball, football or wrestling); rather than asking what Daddy is yelling about, our kids will be tugging on my husband's pant leg asking what Mommy is so upset about. At least I never cultivated the taste for beer; shouting, "Honey, would you bring a cold one? I don't want to miss what's happening with the game!" across the house is a mental image of role-reversal that makes me shudder.

I do have my limits. I have never (even during college student days) painted my face for a game. -I'm not saying I wouldn't ever, but it hasn't happened yet, so there's hope...

I have seen a frightening glimpse of my 'soccer mom' potential, though. I was reading in a book for expectant parents about the Apgar test that's given to newborns shortly after birth. While reading the breakdown of the scores (responsiveness, degree of oxygenation, etc.) I felt a primal urge that our child would get a 10 out of 10. Fortunately, the rational side of my brain kicked in shortly thereafter and scolded my competitive side. I mentioned this to my doctor during my next check-up, and he started making cracks about, "What do you mean, 'blue?' Nah... that's the light in the room, Doc; you can just mark a '2' down for that oxygenation score."

I foresee years ahead of me of restraining my competitive impulses so my children can have peace. What are my chances that this is just pregnancy hormones?

March 15, 2005

Formulaic Strictures

Math/science majors should not get pregnant. -This has nothing to do with gender issues; this is about peace of mind, even sanity.

Ever since getting pregnant I've wondered if I could just come up with the right combination of foods to eat, foods to avoid, optimal sleep time, number of trips to the bathroom and a host of other variables - if I just get it right, I could avoid nausea, insomnia and other bad things associated with early pregnancy.

Last night I confess I actually started thinking in mathematical terms. --If I take an integral over time from zero to nine months and make sure there are multiplying factors for family history and difficulty of pregnancy, factor in the variables... --

I'm sure some researcher somewhere would get a kick out of the resulting trial equation I created today:
[av(i)^2][w/x)^2x + avi(b/xy) + av(cz) ≈health
0 i

I won't bore those of you who aren't math geeks, but there are actually terms there for how compounds like raffinose affect me, the way milk seems to help, and the impact of drugs on my ability to sleep through the night.

As I said, math/science majors shouldn't get pregnant. It does weird things to the brain.

My husband has been a saint in all this - making his own meals (which he usually does anyway, since he cooks more often than I do), putting up with accumulating dirty laundry and clutter, and insisting on helping out wherever he can. He says he's made a discovery about the 'protect/provide' switch that flipped on in his head the day we got married: it isn't a switch, but a dial. Apparently impending offspring crank the dial 'to eleven,' to quote Nigel of Spinal Tap. He's completely remodeled the upstairs bathroom, drawn hot baths for me, provided shoulder rubs, and willingly reads through pregnancy books with me. I married a prince among men, beyond a doubt.

I've grumbled a bit (to myself, spouse and friends) about the changes necessary during pregnancy; some have been harder than others. Though I like food, I'm not terribly keen on eating regularly - I'd rather read. It's hard for me to make myself eat throughout a day. Pregnancy requires me to be on a more structured timetable that's not really under my control. Though I like structure, I like it when I create it. Too often I consider freedom to be what's outside enforced structure...

Today I was reading some of Madeleine L'Engle's book, A Circle of Quiet, and I came on these words:
'It is our bones, our structure [the skeleton] which frees us to dance, to make love. Without our structure we would be an imprisoned, amorphous blob of flesh, incapable of response. The amoeba has a minimum of structure, but I doubt if it has much fun.'

So... I must confess I don't want to claim as offspring a creature formed outside of the structures of gestational period, uterus, and human developmental cycles. If I accept the structures, there are strictures [restrictions] that result.

Upshot? I'll finish with this line and munch some ever-present unsalted soda crackers to carry my stomach through the early evening hours. Buenas noches, lectores.

March 14, 2005

And So It Goes...

Why on earth is there a need for yet another blog - particularly one about motherhood?

I just read a Slate review of the recent genre of 'mommy-dom' iconoclastic books (shattering the myth about women who do it all), and feel I have a unique voice. In other words, I don't juggle the corporate world and children, my husband isn't insisting on a second income to maintain our WASP status, and my husband's electrical tools effectively disqualify our house from any mention in a Pottery Barn-lookalike contest.

Yup, we're average.

In all honesty, this is more to feed my writing itch and help keep friends updated at the same time without sending out annoying distribution emails with loads of email addresses included.

And so... it goes.

This morning (week 14 of a first pregnancy, for those playing along at home) started with flashbacks of weeks 7-13. Insomnia at 1 a.m... insomnia at 5 a.m. (forget going back to sleep; the alarm went off at 6 a.m.) Morning sickness? That's a misnomer if I've ever heard one - pregnancy-related nausea can strike at any time. This morning my digestive system (or the baby, I can't figure out which) decided it had an aversion to taking water on an empty stomach.

OK, fine; we'll try something else. Cheerios? You like Cheerios with milk?

Well... I guess those are acceptable.

I'm still feeling queasy; better take some of those ginger root supplements my doctor recommended.

Ick! No! [empty stomach]

Note: ginger root in capsule form is SO much nicer on the tongue/throat/esophagus than ginger root straight - particularly when combined with hydrochloric acid.

My list of possible food items gets smaller as smaller, since I avoid foods that have seemingly induced nausea like the plague. Call me paranoid, but I now have bad experiences with broccoli, onions, carrots, sugar, grapes, greasy food, prenatal vitamins, B vitamin supplements, water and ginger supplements.

I really wish there was something helpful my husband could do: he's reduced to watching me lean over the sink and retch, agonizing as he tries to help. I asked if he could get me a second body, as this one seems to have been usurped by an intruder outside of my control; he thought that a little beyond his ability.

Overall, I've retained my sense of humor, which I'm told is essential for parenting. I mentioned to my husband that I might just be one of the lucky ones who stays nauseated through all nine months.

He thought I seriously meant that would be lucky; now he's worried about my mental health.

: )