August 31, 2005

Things to be thankful for...

I spent a lot of my spare time today surfing CNN and the "Katrina Aftermath" blog. Two things leapt to mind; first, I didn't mean to be jumping on a faddish bandwagon; I just started blogging when I did because I finally realized how easy it had become, and that I had something a few people wanted to hear about (Emily and Laura :-) ). That said, I've been amazed (and, frankly, impressed) at how well the blogosphere works for information transfer (keeping the salt shaker handy, naturally, in case grains become needed.) Second, it's always nice to sit back and ponder how fortunate we are. I know it's a common reaction to natural disaster; there's something in the human race that revels in the "Whew! There but for the grace of God go I!" (a.k.a., "I'm glad it's not me!") reaction to tragic events. All the same, it's a good excuse to hug my little family, pat the walls of my upright, non-soggy house appreciatively, and gaze lovingly at the lights, which are ON. Let's not even talk about the luxury of a working sewer system (probably not on most people's thank-you lists...unless it stops working!)

Another thing to be thankful for: I had my six-week checkup today, and all is well. The incision has finally healed to the point where it doesn't bug me anymore (I took my last pain pill sometime last weekend, I think, and that was after many adventures out and about and lugging Emily a lot). Also, the doc says I can stop applying goop to it (she had me using Neosporin and some steroid lotion that plastic surgeons use, in rotation) and just towel it dry after showering. This will leave me more time in my day, always a good thing! And, of course, now I'm "legal" to lift Laura, which will make being alone with the girls WAY easier. I need to ease into that, though; I did feel a few twinges today hefting her in and out of her crib, no surprise after surgery and just not picking her up for a long time. The muscles need to build up again.

I'm also glad that Matt has a reasonably stable, fairly secure job. That said, he is facing the Year From Hell this year. As I remarked to him this afternoon, it would be a horrible year even if we hadn't just had a newborn; it would be a YFH even if he were single with no commitments! Here's why: the only time, really, that he's had just English classes (plus speech) was when he had the lower-level students. They present their own challenges and are usually more work IN class, but the paper load--English-teacher-speak for how many essays and other things you've got to grade outside of class time--was reasonable. Those years weren't easy; having some Social Studies classes made life easier, and brought the sparklies out in his eyes since he got to teach some of his passions.

This year, he has all English--no History, no Psychology classes--plus speech. All the classes are "on-level", which means the paper load will be large. He got his class lists today, and his classes are bigger than ever; 37 in one class! (they hovered around 20 when he started there, and I was soooo jealous! No more...) More students means a bigger paper load, not to mention the joys of just dealing with that many people for presentations, record keeping, parent contact, etc. Finally, one of those English classes is completely new to Matt; a "new prep," in teacher-speak. A new prep means figuring out all the planning from scratch, not being able to "wing it" on a down day, not having easy sub plans for days he's gone, and, of course, a lot of reading to do (he did what he could over the summer, in between home improvement, graduate school, and diaper changing, but there's always more). So he'll have way more work to do at--and, let's be honest, away from!--school, and I'll have less of his wonderful support in helping with the house and kids. Oh, and I almost forgot: his speech team assistant was cut from the budget last year, so Matt's been fundraising over the summer to keep him (we decided the time he spends away, fundraising, would be infinitely worth it if his assistant can go to a few tournaments and help out--it will save our sanity!)

If we don't call, if we seem crabby or tired, now you know why. And yes, I'm still glad he's got the job at all....I just wish it could be a little easier while we have a new baby and a toddler in the house; all of these changes came about while I was pregnant, of course! Teachers often joke of putting a Valium-lick (like a salt-lick for deer, but for humans) in the faculty lounge. Maybe we need one for our living room...

August 30, 2005

Goals for the day:

--Get Matt out the door on time to inservice.
--Have both children (and me) survive until he returned to put Laura down for her nap.

Check. Check! There were a few rough spots, but we did all survive. Emily got sideswiped by a disobedient Laura (it was an accident--Laura was randomly flailing at the time, not aiming for anybody, but that didn't stop her from being evicted from the room), but she--Emily--was just fine (just a little shocked at the completely unfamiliar treatment!). Laura was fine, too, eventually; she just had to scream for a while to, um, express her feelings about the banishing. On the up side, she stayed banished even though the door was open, so at least she obeyed *then.* We'll take any progress we can get.

I try to remind myself, over and over, that toddlers all go through this sort of thing, that it's normal, and in fact, necessary as a part of growing up. Otherwise, we'd all be random ids, with no egos or superegos developed over time. (Then again, I think there are people in the world who've never gotten past the toddler stage in maturity; perhaps they were never kicked out of a room for making their baby sister cry...) I also try to see the progress (as above)...she does like to emulate us, so she's *trying* to be a grown up. We noticed the other day that she says, "Oh, yeaaaaah" when she leans over to one side; we figured out that that's how Matt stretches his back. Today she picked up my baby sling in one hand, and a dolly in the other, and had me help her get the dolly all secured. We tell her she's a good mommy! (and this was after the incident, so she doesn't hold grudges...)

So there she is, demonstrating the ease and flexibility of the sling; she's a hip mom, after all; she's got to keep up on her reading of the weekly newsmagazines, and she's not gonna let her dolly keep her from it! It's moments like this that make it possible to love her not merely because she's my own flesh and blood, in spite of her being a stinker sometimes. After all, she makes me laugh!

August 29, 2005

We're thinking of "The Big Easy" and surrounding areas tonight. Sounds like a mess down there.

Before our own local flood warnings hit, we were out this morning in the backyard. A team effort got all the compostables moved around so that we can go back to adding fresh stuff to the bins (yay! Summer is a lousy time for the works to be not working; Emily was worth it, though.) And about those flood warnings: having had an incident the last time it really poured (I think it was in May, and the storm sewers couldn't handle the runoff, so our street flooded), I'm happy to report that both the Spider Closet (a.k.a. "the Wine Cellar." As if we had a Cask of Amontillado down there...) and Laura's nursery remained perfectly dry. I think the street has to actually be completely flooded, thus making our gutters overflow, thus dumping tons of water right next to a crack in the basement wall, in order for an "incident" to occur. And we do plan to address that little day soon. But the rareness of the problem makes it not excruciatingly high on the to-do list.

I got Laura's mattresses and head board ordered today (there was a little rush since this was the last day of the sale for the mattresses). We'll pick up the frame eventually (or whenever we get a buddy to go with us in an SUV or truck :-) ). Just another of the wonderful ways the Internet has changed our lives; it's still a little amazing to me that comparison shopping is so easy now. I'm sure it's a mixed blessing for stores, but I like taking advantage of it.

August 28, 2005

We spent some time Friday and yesterday getting Matt some things for school; he does wear out clothes, like everybody else. We had an unusually high level of success at actually finding things in the stores in which we looked; and a good thing, since clothes shopping with a toddler and a newborn is no joke! We all survived, though, and spent the better part of today cleaning closets and catching up on/taking care of the new laundry.

Cleaning closets is a big deal in our house. We have a pact to try to keep the "common" areas of the house reasonably tidy (if not always spic and span...), but no such rule applies to our own "private" areas. That's why our closets and offices seldom reach par; that's where we stash all the stuff we remove from the common areas. Cleaning out, clearing away, and general tidying-up behavior vary with our moods, and of course, the time we have to spend. Since we're both pretty anal, though, the actual process is like scratching a big, big itch. Matt moved out clothes he doesn't wear, and got all organized for school. I have a ton of ironing to do, but it's nice (actually, a watershed event!!!) to have all the stuff cleaned (including anything new) a whole week before school starts. With luck, I will not have to spend a lot of time the night before school begins slaving over a hot iron, as in years past; instead, I can peck away at it, which will be a lot better for me. I'm not complaining; I know it's sick, but I actually like ironing (and some other household chores that have an instant-gratification factor!) Meanwhile, I dug into secret built-in drawers and retrieved some pre-pregnancy clothes that I can hopefully wear while nursing, and replaced them with items that are only wearable when in a pregnant state. I'm sure it all sounds hopelessly mundane, but it really feels good; we are both patting ourselves heartily on the backs!

Emily is beginning to resemble Augustus Gloop. She still sleeps pretty well at night (once she GETS to sleep...), but she eats a great deal more during the day, most days, than she was a few weeks ago. Those big jowls have melted into the second chin, making her look like she could get sucked up that chocolate tube (not that we'd let her go swimming in the first place, of course!)

I think we've finally figured out the bed for Laura: wins for the headboard; Penney's wins for the mattresses (even though the delivery charge is higher than some local stores, the mattresses on sale are a MUCH higher quality than the ones we could get for the same price locally--they must be on "close out" or something), and one of the local stores wins for picking up a frame; lowest cost, and there's not much point in paying shipping for that. Nice to have it settled!

August 26, 2005

Happy Birthday, Emily!

Thursday, Emily was a month old. We celebrated by going to the beach again (well, it sounds like a good excuse to me, anyway! And she didn't care--she slept and ate just like she does at home.) Laura has fallen in love with the beach; she got all of a yard onto the sand proper before she plopped herself down and dug in.

Conversations with her sound like talking to a schizophrenic in a foreign language, though (explanation follows):
G: Did you have fun today?
L.: Ella! Yun! Yant! Kye!

This from a child who is perfectly capable of saying "yeah" or "nope". Of course, those aren't detailed enough. Ever since we went to see Joe and Carol a month or so ago, "Ella" has stood in for "fun". So I interpret the first part as, "Yes, I had as much fun as I did with Ella!" The rest are all the reasons we go to the beach ("beetch!") : Sun! Sand! Sky! Upon reflection, I couldn't have said it better myself.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner at the Kodiak Bar and Grill in Lincoln City. I mention it by name because it was a great place. The food was good, and we got quite a lot for the money, but more importantly, the whole place had a quirky, self-deprecating sense of humor. And, they had a playroom with a dolly (and clothes), two huge bears, kid-sized tables and chairs as well as a few sofas for the grown ups to sit on and supervise, and a three-horse carousel. What a brilliant idea for families; giving the kids a chance to blow off steam before/during/after dinner, but without having a Chuck E. Cheese atmosphere (or menu). Two thumbs up! (Matt's only complaint: the drinks were not "bottomless.")

August 24, 2005

"Banana Stroller"

Of course, Matt meant to say, "Umbrella stroller," but that's not what came out of his mouth. I had to include it here because it just made such a funny picture in my mind; a banana stroller must look something like the Oscar Meyer Wiener-mobile, but with a handle on the back so you can push it.

Would a double banana stroller be a....wait for it....banana split?

"Skidamarink a dinkadink, skidamarinkadoo..."

What could melt a parent's heart more than hearing their child say, "I love you"??? We say it a lot to Laura, and of course she's learned the silly skidamarink song, but never actually tried to say the words. Tonight, as she was about to have her diaper changed before jammies were applied, the Moment occurred. Of course, we both reciprocated, and then Matt said, "O.K., now let's get your pants off." (He was in charge of diapering). Sick puppy parent that I am, I of course said, "Get used to that, Laura. Men saying, 'I love you' followed by 'now let's get your pants off.'" The adults got a good laugh out of that!

Laura Bed search update: We checked up on some local stores, and, armed with my online research, found an even better deal on mattresses, frame, and delivery costs., however, is still leading the field for the headboard we like, and their shipping seems reasonable. The saga continues...

I forgot how hungry I would get when nursing! Especially when Emily goes on one of her occasional binges (perfectly normal, of course, since they fuel her growth spurts.) I'm trying hard not to gorge at each meal, since someday I would like to look un-pregnant again, and would prefer not to s t r e t c h my stomach out, so I end up eating at least as often as Laura (and sometimes, more, since she goes to sleep earlier than I do!) I have, however, been trying to eat more healthily (i.e., more like Matt, mostly) than I did when pregnant. Now that I'm up and around a bit more, I don't have to rely on "convenience" items as sources for protein as much (Matt is wonderful, but he draws the line at cooking, say, hamburger, for me, no matter how low fat it is; he tries hard not to eat beef at home at all, but he does love the stuff). On the other hand, Emily has already eliminated a few of my favorite ones (two healthy, one not), so it's always a challenge.

Which brings me to what we've been up to the last few days. When we can swing it, we like to keep the freezer stocked with pre-made (or just about made) meals. It has made life SO much easier since we started doing that. The challenge is finding recipes that all of us can eat: I can't have citrus, which is a *very* popular flavoring in low-fat meals, darn it. Matt tries hard to keep to a very low-cholesterol, healthy and relatively low-fat diet (we cook mostly with olive oil). (N.B.: He suspends the rules when we eat out, whether at restaurants and/or with friends or fam. This serves the combined purpose of making sure nobody else has to worry about our diets, and that we do have a social life! ;-) ) I have to give him kudos; he not only lost weight this way, but he was able to avoid having to use any cholesterol-lowering drugs, which his doctor didn't think was even possible given his cholesterol "scores". And all of this is to try to avoid his heritage, which involves quite a lot of heart disease. So, that's the challenge. And, of course, now that I'm nursing, finding things that aren't too, ahem, "troubling" for the baby. Bye-bye, broccoli! (no, I didn't give it up willingly...but I prefer to sleep at night.)

Given those parameters, plus not wanting to heat the house up too much in the hot part of August, we made meatballs (the root of sweet-and-sour meatballs, mmm). We have a recipe that uses 2/3 turkey breast (99% fat free, good stuff tho' kinda spendy) and 1/3 tofu (because I'm cheap, and some soybean is good for us). Also, we've got some cooked, diced chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, of course). Yesterday and this morning were perfect for cooking these, since it was fairly cool. One day soon I'm scheduled to make a couple batches of focaccia dough (which we'll add olives and mushrooms and parmesan to cook), and that should hold us for a while.

In between times, I've been searching online for Laura bed possibilities. I have assembled a possible solution for the money we've got--we're going to scope out one more bricks-and-mortar place before we take the plunge.

August 22, 2005

Life did turn out to be much easier today. We're all set to do some cooking ahead tomorrow, in preparation for the craziness that always is September.

And now, a pet peeve I've been meaning to publicize: LOUD toys for kids. I have no problem with toys that make noise. I am not one of those people who scream and run the other way when I see one of those xylophone-things at garage sales (a whole 'nother topic is, why are so many of them up for grabs at garage sales? Could they be annoying??? Hmmm...) No, my objection is to the toys that are amazingly, obnoxiously, and probably ear-damagingly loud, and HAVE NO VOLUME CONTROL. (sorry to shout, but some of you probably can't hear me unless I do. Especially if you've been near one of those suckers.) So, o.k., I know manufacturers probably figure they have to contend with the background noise that would appear in a "Calgon, Take Me Away" commercial, but we don't even watch TV here. The background noise tends to be (at the loudest), the radio playing old '80's tunes or NPR. The occasional toddler squeals, baby's cries, and the like. No Nintendo. Few kettledrums. No jackhammers. So why must toys have volumes that would outpace any of the above?

Aside from my peevishness, I actually worry about my kids. They're the ones so close to these objects, pressing the buttons gleefully...haven't we always been told that exposure to loud noise is bad for our hearing? (Witness Matt, who figures he blasted his with loud rock music as a teen....sadly for this peeve, my hearing works JUST FINE.) Both my kids passed their hearing tests in the hospital; it'd be nice if they could still hear when they're, oh, five or so, ya know? So, I don't mind musical or noisy or whatever toys...but please, please, please, provide a volume control. Here endeth the ranting.
Yesterday was one of those "lost days" that seem to happen when there's a newborn in the house. The nearest comparison I can make is (having never had one, myself) to the blackouts some drunks experience when they can't really remember where they've been or what they've done. Matt took Laura, and I took Emily, and we each just tried to sleep when our respective charges let us. Both of us had a little luck, but not nearly enough.

Around five o'clock, we all regrouped, gave the girls baths, ate dinner, and staggered towards night. Today is already better! (I do think I've figured out what might be bothering Emily's stomach, though, so I guess that's something...) I guess the high point from Sunday (for Matt, at the very least!) was that I was the one to give Laura her bath. Matt just did the lifting in and out and the toweling off; his knees have been suffering as he did the honors for the last few months when I was too big to be remotely comfortable folding over the tub, and then being in pain. I'm better, so I told him I'd give him (and his knees) a break.

Saturday, we went up to see Matt's mom and Bill, and Matt and she and Laura (Emily and I wouldn't have fit in the car, so we stayed at their house with Bill) went out to see if they could find a twin bed for Laura (eventually, someone else is going to need her crib...and while I don't care much about the bed stead itself, as long as it's not something that will entangle the child, I would like new mattresses, with all our allergies and kitties and whatnot.) I was a little surprised to find that there's not a great selection of them out there, at least not where we've been looking. Perhaps all the twin beds were sold in the 1950's, and people have just been passing them around since then. So, we'll keep trying. We still have some time; Emily is quite happy snuggling next to Mommy at the moment to sleep. And we have bassinets to set her in when I need a break, until she gets too big for them.

Friday, we went out to Silverton so Matt could do some inservice-y stuff at the school. He's planning to miss some of the "official" time, so that I won't have to be actually lifting Laura (and my check-up at the doctor's is in the middle of that time, too!) So he wanted to get his room set up as much as possible, and we all went so he wouldn't be completely responsible for The Toddler. She had a high old time, running up and down the aisles between desks, playing with crayons, and "helping" with the recycling while I purged a few file folders for Matt (her idea of helping is to spread the recycling around, giving us a chance to make SURE that we really want to get rid of each piece of paper. Sometimes, she helps pick up. Sometimes, she doesn't.) Anyway, we were home in good time for late naps.

August 18, 2005

Out in the yard today again, and I discovered quickly that I am not recovered enough to be digging in the dirt (with a shovel, at least). Guess those nasty weeds will have to wait awhile! I'm perfectly capable of sifting compost, though, so I did that instead. Matt built us three big compost bins two? years ago, and they've weathered quite well, in spite of being made of old fence boards (those came with the house, and many were already on their last legs...). We've actually not been adding to the bins lately (what with the pregnancy, recovery, and newborn!), so the stuff in them has mostly stopped composting...but there's still lots of good stuff to be recovered, and we'll go back to adding to it to break down the leftovers. None of this is a particularly big deal; we try to take a Zen approach to it. As Matt has learned, our mantra is "compost happens." Anyhow, the bit that I sifted got added to the bed that most needs amending, that against the back fence (the one that separates us from the "street" that's really an alley behind our house). We started outside when Laura was down for her nap (I skipped TBS today, having slept in), and when she got up, she was eager to see what on earth (get it?) Mommy was doing. I may train her to sift sometime soon...why waste all that toddler energy? Besides, I find it to be wonderfully meditative, while being more productive than, say, watching paint dry. Not to mention feeling righteous the whole time for actively doing the "reduce, reuse, recycle" thing. (And let's not forget that it appeals to certain aspects of my, um, Northern Great British heritage--we don't spend anything much on amending the soil, just a little lime from time to time.)

While I was sifting, Matt was figuring out ways to get the moss off the roof of the house and especially the garage. We prefer not spending much money, and not using anything that's going to hurt the environment, so the first step is using (gentle) brute physical force (the next step, really, is getting someone to trim the maple tree further away from the roof, but that's a big budget item...maybe next year!) He did a good job; he took a long pole I bought last year at a garage sale, duct-taped a flat wire brush to it (left over from prepping the house for painting, I think), and did all the spots he could reach easily on the step ladder. It came off pretty well--a good thing, since this may become an annual ritual. All in all, I think the tree still has more benefits than costs, especially in the summer when our back yard is several degrees cooler than the front (though *I* am not the one balancing on the ladder....)

Yesterday was a little hazy; Emily had rough nights two nights running (what was it that Mommy ate? Could it be kielbasa? Onions? Eggs? Time will tell...). We (mostly Matt) tidied up around the house, we all ate, and some of us got clean. Some days with a newborn, that's all we can hope for!

On the other hand, what with being up so much, Emily took the opportunity to eat pretty often. She's developed a lovely second chin, and seems well on her way to a third (Matt notices, since he changes her a lot more than I do, that her behind has more padding on it, too). We do like our babies to be chubby!

August 16, 2005

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
-- John Burroughs

I think of this quote whenever I have a particularly good time with friends, as we have the last few days. Sunday, we had a wonderful dinner with our neighbors and friends, Ross and Tamara. (We actually invited them out, and they ended up taking us to dinner, the sneaks. :-) ) Even though we live next door to each other, it's amazing how hard it is sometimes to stay caught up on each other's lives; so, it's always a good thing when we can take a little time to touch base.

We also made it to church for the first time since Emily's been born. There were many oohs and aahs. In a few weeks, she'll probably be old enough that we can just pass her around the sanctuary during the service ;-) (there are a LOT of grandparents and/or wannabes in our church!)

Monday was another fun day. We went out to breakfast, came home for TBS (The Big Sleep), then packed up and went to A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village. They were having a grand opening of an exhibit, and an anniversary celebration of their own, AND we had never been there! What fun!! If you've never been there and have a small child, I highly recommend it. Among other things, they have a room devoted to playing with bubbles, a good sized sand pit, what seemed like miles of "outdoor play structure" with many variations (something like a tree house, actually...), and, of course, the exhibits. Yesterday's goodies included an "'80's dance party" (there weren't that many people there, or dancing, so we and others got to enjoy Laura's dance moves) and actual break dancers. Adding to the fun for us was meeting friends: Heather and David were there with Liam, and Tami was there with Wrenna and Noah. Since these were all people we hadn't seen in months (and years!), it was truly wonderful to get caught up a bit while the kids played. We came home exhausted but happy and poured Laura into bed, sand and all (she is currently enjoying a bath to remove it!)

Since Matt hates to have the kitchen heated up when it's already hot outside, I decided to do a little "cooking ahead" last night while we were waiting for the house to cool off anyway-–nothing exciting, just fish and rice--so we'd have stuff in the fridge. Of course, now it's deliciously cool today (that's life for you....) On the other hand, it's nice to finally be feeling up to cooking some (Matt is ecstatic about that!)

August 13, 2005

Like so many others, when I first read _The Power of Myth_ as a freshman in college, I was struck by Joseph Campbell's words: "follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be." Lately, truly, my bliss has been being at home with my girls (even though the recovery is not that much fun!) We've been very fortunate in the help we've received; I know a lot of people would despair at "making it" on one teacher's salary, at least with a growing family. Anyway, last week I got a nice affirmation from the universe; Matt and I kept talking about getting a double stroller to make life easier now that we have two kids to cart around...I finally said that I'd love to have one, but wasn't willing to spend money on it, so if someone wanted to give us one, fine. Otherwise, we'd manage somehow. Not twenty-four hours later, one of our neighbors knocked on the door, and asked if we wanted their double stroller to use until the girls are too big (their two kids are too big for it now.) It's not that huge in the grand scheme of things, but we're grateful...and it does make it seem as if we're on the right track, somehow. :-)

Today went well; Matt and I and even Laura actually got into the back yard to do some tidying up. Usually, I mulch in the fall (having an abundance of available leaves on the ground!) around the various garden beds, then clear up gradually in the spring as I plant things. This year, I did basically nothing in the yard since I was pregnant and feeling gross. So the leaves, as well as the dead bulb leaves, etc., were still there. Oh, and let's not forget the weeds that had sprung up, too (thankfully, the one thing I *did* do while pregnant was attack the biggest weeds. And there would have been many more had we not mulched, of course.)

Laura was our expert scooper; she held a big dust pan and loaded it up with guck that Matt and I had swept or raked up, then dumped it in a bucket her daddy could dump in the bin. She got completely covered in dust and bits of leaves and smeared her hands in all the vegetation, and couldn't have been happier! She got a bath later! (oh, and Emily was sleeping in her carseat,
resting on its stroller apparatus thing.) She--Laura--also wanted to wear Mommy's gloves, which was o.k. with me by then since I was done working and only "supervising" at that point.

Anyway, there's lots more to do before it doesn't look like a jungle out there, but the herb bed looks tidy and the patio is swept and the bed under the maple looks a lot cleaner. Since these are all visible from my office's French doors, I am enormously happy we got it all done!

(Frightening how much I can get done if I just take the right drugs...I have given up trying to avoid them and will just take the d@#% things when I hurt. The doc assures me I should feel better in a few weeks, and *she's* not worried about me getting hooked. (Perhaps because I worry about it....))

While all the girls took what Matt today called "The Big Sleep" after all that yard work, he got some time to goof off, which always seems to be good for his soul. All in all, a good day.

August 12, 2005

I finished _The Meaning of Wife_ this morning, and I give it two thumbs up (or ring fingers...). It was a fascinating (and often, really funny) exploration of what the term means to us, and what it, perhaps, ought to mean. The author explores lots of different aspects of the term, including a *really* interesting history of the origins of a certain...umm...household appliance (only the fifth to be electrified, even before the vacuum or iron! Though that was probably more for the convenience of doctors than housewives, because they...well, read the book. ;-)) If I had to boil her discussion and recommendations down to a nutshell (to mix metaphors), I'd say she feels that when you say someone is a husband, you don't know much about them except that they're married; when you say someone's a wife, there are a whole host of--mostly stereotyped--ideas that swarm to mind. She suggests that our society will probably be better off when the latter is no longer so, a direction that we are moving in with glacial speed. It was definitely good non-fiction in my book: interesting, well-written, entertaining, funny, quote-worthy, and something that made me think.

Yesterday was a little sleep-deprived; I don't think Emily cares for taco-salad flavored milk. Last night was back to normal, so I still really can't complain.

Laura continues to be fascinated with the baby. We often put Emily in her carseat when she's sleeping and nobody feels like holding her, and Laura will get *really* close to the carseat and stare into Emily's face from a distance of four or so inches (I figure if this doesn't freak Emily out, maybe they'll be good friends!) I think Emily gets better hugs and kisses from Laura at night before bedtime than I do. Then again, I'm generally holding Emily at the time, so I sneak in some extras.

Today was a banner day for Laura; just as I read that at her age, children often begin to say their own names, this afternoon, she finally did! (she's been saying EM-I-LY! for a long time.) She continues to acquire words quickly; she's at that stage where she can repeat something after only hearing it once or twice (recently hearing it, at least...who knows what she has stored away in her brain by now?) I'm not so much impressed because she's my own personal child, as I am at how the whole language acquisition process works--we've gotten so used to her limited vocabulary that it's just startling when she picks things up we said just a moment before, and the change in her learning has been very rapid. Must be a switch somewhere in the brain that just flips to "on."

On the other hand, it was not that great a day for her mommy; I had a doctor's appointment. The ol' incision was examined (ouch), Neosporin cleaned off (ouch), silver nitrate applied (double double ouch ouch). My doc seemed a bit apologetic that I was still experiencing ouches; I guess in her line of work people are usually either anesthetized or really distracted when they hurt, and then it's not really her fault, but Mother Nature's. I tried going without any drugs again yesterday and again regretted it, so the doc set me up with some more meds, and said I should be feeling better by the time I go in for the six week check up. Ironically, I have no problem lifting, stretching, etc., since my insides feel fine; I just don't want that skin (on my outsides!) to move, so I end up holding still for as long as I can. Not a very conducive regimen for getting all better and back to a pre-pregnancy shape, so, back to the drugs I go. I do need to be up and around, for my sanity as well as my health. I have promised Matt I'm not going to become a junky. The doc also gave me a prescription for some goop that plastic surgeons use--a minor steroid--that she says will speed up the healing process as well. Of course, the pharmacy we use didn't carry it, so I can't get my hands on it until Monday. C'est la vie.

Matt continues to slave away at the housework and toddler care; he said today he thought I was healing slower than last time, and I think he's right. I wasn't in this much pain still at this point with Laura (even though I got to sleep for much shorter periods, so I was probably loopier!) Anyway, I'm awfully glad to have him. I don't know how people manage without sympathetic husbands, and totally understand how easy it would be to have postpartum depression if one didn't have much help at home (not that that's the only reason people have it, but it is one of the possible contributing factors.) We did both work on bathing Emily tonight; it takes a while to remember how, but bathing a baby is like riding a bike, I guess, in that one does remember once in position. He is also working hard to remember silly songs we sang to Laura as a baby (why reinvent the wheel?) And he's been quite nice to Laura about singing songs from the library's story time to her, over and over. And over. And over. And over. (We've been working on a few extra verses to the "Wheels on the Bus" song, just so we wouldn't have to start over at the beginning again so soon. Oh, the sacrifices we make to have literate children....)

August 10, 2005

Sleeping Beauty II

Last night was more normal--up at midnight with Emily, then again at 5 or so. But Monday night, just as she turned two weeks old, she slept for seven hours straight. Honestly, I know I should just count my blessings, but after having to wake up Laura every three hours when she was a newborn, this just creeps me out a little. On the up side, I can certainly get used to it, especially since Laura didn't reliably sleep through the night until this last February or so. I have a lot of missed sleep to catch up on!

Since figuring out several months ago that Laura and Matt basically share sleep patterns (complete with night terrors, which are almost funny with Matt--because he often doesn't remember them and is absolutely unable to communicate the scary stuff at the time--but are a pain with Laura, since she can't communicate except by crying inconsolably), I am hoping that perhaps all this sleepiness means Emily has *my* sleep patterns. That would be nice: deep, calm, restful, and long. Lousy, of course, if one of her future teachers wants her to complete a "dream journal", since I seldom remember mine, but you can't have everything.

Yesterday was a busy day but not especially exciting; Matt had stores to go to for various supplies before and after Laura's nap, and during the nap he was again painting chalkboards (it may need one more coat; stay tuned for late breaking developments. ;-) ).

Today, we got to go to the library. I'd been envisioning sending Laura and Matt off to savor the fun of Lap-Sit Storytime without Mommy (or Emily), but I realized yesterday that I was BORED. One hazard of being a nursing mom recovering from a C-section is that you get stuck sitting a great deal. Being in recovery from surgery means that getting up again, to, say, set the sleeping baby down somewhere and do something Energetic and/or Useful, is really not that attractive. I'd rather read. But I've been getting stuck under the sleeping baby with nothing *to* read. A real tragedy, I know. So Emily and I went along to get some books for me, to save me from counting the threads on the recliner's upholstery.

My first selection is "The Meaning of Wife," a nonfiction book which so far looks pretty interesting. Matt saw it (and its somewhat provocative cover), and said, "Uh-oh, am I in trouble?" I assured him that he was fine--it looks to be more of an examination of societal unease with the term and all its connotations, as opposed to a polemic that argues one interpretation over another. But I'm only in the second chapter...

Meanwhile, the family web page is updated, too. Included are new shots of the girls, of course, and some pics of playmates I've mentioned in previous entries, as well as a few pictures of our beach trip. (I haven't mentioned Elisha; she's Jonah's little sister, and came over with her brother and parents, Ty and Erin, to welcome Emily and play with Laura. Both little ones slept side by side for the entire visit, pretty much as they appear in the picture.) Enjoy! Oh, and help settle a debate (it's not up to the status of an argument, by a long shot) : Matt says people will be disappointed that the old newborn shots aren't there. I figure, since we have somewhat limited space, that I'll take down the old to make space for the new. Would you rather also have access to the old pics, even if it means all the pictures would need to be smaller, or is it fine to just see the new ones? Submit your opinion and make your voice heard! :-) You can comment here, or email us. Consider this the first reader poll of our new blog. ;-)

August 8, 2005

Some Technical Stuff...

O.K., so I'm not going to post three or four or even five times every day. Don't Get Excited! But this is new stuff, so I have to fiddle with it a bit.

Ty made the good suggestion that I try to set up an RSS/Atom feed. I have a little better idea now than I did before of what that is (easy since my previous knowledge could fit on the head of a pin...a very small pin!) So, I've read some help files and changed a few settings, and I'm hoping someone will give me a shout if they're able to use an aggregator thingamajig to read this. I've a feeling that since Blogger is so popular, it *should* work...but knowing so little about them means I truly have no idea!
I promised to write about Matt, too. So, today he took us to the doctor's, took care of Laura lots, and started painting the chalkboard to go in Laura's room. (That project didn't get done before we went off to have Emily). There ya go.
Sleeping Beauty

Today, we had to take Emily *back* to the doctor, because I had forgotten the little card they gave me at the hospital that has her little blood spots on it. It's the one they use to check for some fairly rare but serious disorders--PKU is the name of the tests, though they check for some other things, too. Anyway, I forgot it (they do the first test at the hospital, and the second at the dr.'s, then the doctor's office sends it off to some state testing lab.)

So we get there, I take Emily back into an exam room, and she's asleep (she fell asleep in the car, as usual.) The tech. and I extract her little heel, and the tech. puts some warming stuff on it to increase the blood flow. She "sticks" Emily. Emily screams. Emily continues screaming as the tech. squeezes out the blood to fill in all the little dots on the card. The tech. finally finishes filling in the dots. Emily stops screaming. The tech. applies cotton balls, and that stretchy stuff to use as a bandage. I look at Emily. She is asleep again!!! And stayed that way, pretty much, until after we were home.

I know one is not really supposed to compare one's children to each other, but I can't help but note how much difference there is between this reaction, and Laura's. I was expecting to have a sad little girl who really, really wanted to nurse. (Of course, Laura would nurse at the drop of a hat--anyone's hat, in any nation!--so that probably skews my reality a bit...) Or at least a little girl who was awake, especially by the time she was pulled in and out of her carseat. That, though, is not the child I have. What other surprises does she have in store?

Speaking of sleep....I tried going pain-drug free today (I have a prescription for the maximum dose of Motrin, as well as the Tylenol 3, and am allowed to take them together or in sequence, whatever I feel like.) The Motrin works well--though not as well as the T3--but using it all day, every day, tends to bother my tummy. Although codeine is about at the bottom of the list of the addictive opiates in terms of potency and therefore, likelihood of addiction, I'm trying to be careful with the stuff, especially since the whole incision thing is making me need more of it than I'd like. (I did resist all attempts at the hospital to give me Percocet--the charge nurse made me promise to take it if I wasn't walking enough. I walked! And then my o.b. offered me a prescription for it, which I got downgraded to the T3. Last time, I was not so smart at the hospital and found out that I really hate Percocet, even if it does kill the pain. They always tell me at the hospital that I have a "high pain tolerance." Whatever. You should hear me wail when they stick me with things like spinal needles and IV's, though...) Fortunately, during this experiment, through the grace of Matt and Emily (one watched the toddler, and the other took several naps--you work it out :-) ), I slept a great deal once we got back from the appointment. But I have decided I'm not ready to go without painkillers...I was in a fair amount of agony when I finally rose for dinner. At least now I know, and I'm definitely well-rested!

August 7, 2005

Laura's Learning!

Laura is at that stage where she's picking up new words quite quickly. My favorite manifestation of this has been in relation to her playmates. She's been saying "MA!" for her grandma for quite a while, but lately has been waxing nostalgic about her time with "Donah" (Jonah), especially when we talk about her shoes. (Jonah was kind enough to loan her some in her size, since he's grown out of them). She pats the corner of the couch where she sat with her cousin Kelia last week and says, unsurprisingly, "Klia!" And yesterday, after the family shindig, we went to visit our friends Joe and Carol and their little one, Ella. So today, she's mentioned Ella several times, and sort of looks around for her. I think it's safe to assume she had fun! (Thanks, Joe and Carol!!)

Lots of people have asked how Laura is adapting to having Emily around. So far, she's fascinated and somewhat protective; she looks a little skeptical whenever we let somebody hold "her" baby. We are trying to hedge our bets against jealousy by having her help out whenever possible; she unfolds diapers for daddy when he's changing Emily, and "helps" me burp the baby by patting her on the back. So far, she's been reasonably gentle (for a toddler) in her interactions with her little sister. I'm sure she could use some more one-on-one time, especially with Mommy, but all in all she's coping pretty well.
A family reunion

Yesterday, Saturday, was quite an interesting day. Because of a woman from Texas whom I had never actually met, a bunch of my relatives and I now actually have seen each other. (Well, for a few of them, it was a reuniting, but I was too young to remember the last meeting.)

It all started one day two? three? years ago, when my mother and I were messing around on the Internet and she decided to search for her grandfather's name to see if we could find out anything about him (I think I had been extolling the virtues of Google...) Anyway, this woman in Texas had posted in a geneology forum about him, and we began emailing back and forth. It turned out that she was my mother's double first cousin, once removed (their grandmothers were sisters and their grandfathers were brothers. Got that? Good! Because it happens again, later!)

Time passed. We traded some geneology info. She decided to come and visit her relatives in the Northwest--she was here in 1985, too. Since she was coming, she encouraged all the branches decended from my great-grandfather to get together, and yesterday, up in Washougal, it happened. I was relieved to find out that I wasn't the only one who didn't know everybody there; there were quite a few who either hadn't seen people since at least last century, or who didn't know many of them from Adam. We fit right in.

I didn't get to talk to everybody; keeping track of Laura and Emily kept Matt and I from mingling extensively. I did, however, find myself saying to myself a couple times, "Wow, what neat people! I wish I was in that family. Oh, wait, I am!" The house it was held in was one that my grandfather had helped to build. Three of the people who stick in my mind were (without naming names!), a mechanical engineer--a female, who just "loves men" because they are easier to work with!, the missionary who had spent thirty years in Africa with his wife, and raised his kids there, and the young mother who sat and chatted about the joys and sorrows of same while we enjoyed Emily and her newness. There were lots of others there...somehow, until I sat down to sketch out a rough family tree the night before the reunion, I had never realized that my grandfather had EIGHT siblings, SIX of whom reproduced. Trust me, the descendants have kept busy that way, too. I would guess that not even a quarter of the various cousins were there, and it was a big, big party anyway.

I enjoyed myself way more than I thought I would. Usually, meeting a room full of strangers is not high on my list of fun things to do of a Saturday, but this was educational, entertaining, and a way to extend my root system. I do like knowing from where, and from whom, I come.

Oh, and in case you're wondering; two of my grandpa's sisters married brothers. So a bunch of my cousins are double first cousins to each other. I told you it would happen again! (from looking over the tree, it hasn't happened since that generation, though.)
The C-section story...

Well, I'm not going into all the gory details (we've recounted the story many times, and Matt tells a pretty funny version of the labor portion of it!), but some people have been amazed that I've been out gadding about already. One word: Tylenol3! No, really, I do hurt, but as I mentioned to a nurse at the hospital, "it's only pain." I explained then, and will again here, that doesn't mean I'm a pain junky, just that I know I'm not going to damage myself by moving around. Just because it hurts doesn't mean I've hurt myself, if you follow me. Actually, except for the fact that the incision itself isn't healing quite right--the edges "slipped" and didn't really completely mesh, so I have more of an "owie" than I should at the moment; that's actually why I've been hitting the codeine from time to time--the only other suffering I have is muscle pain from carrying Emily around.

I do get tired quickly, but I feel so much less sleep-deprived than I did with Laura (that would be because I AM so much less sleep-deprived!). I can't help but think that'll help the healing progress; not being on bed rest beforehand seems to be making a huge difference, too.

So, anybody up for a family picnic?
Emily the Inchworm

Emily had her two-week check up last Friday, and all is well. She's back up to her birth weight of 7 pounds, 9 ounces. I was a little worried because she sleeps so much, and has made it clear that there are times when she would rather sleep than eat. One day last week, we even applied the cold wet washcloth (she had been sleeping for five hours!). She woke up, finally, was applied to the breast, and promptly went back to sleep without eating at all (more washcloth notwithstanding!) So I did wonder. Apparently, she's getting all she needs, and I'm not going to complain about a newborn that only wakes up once at night most nights. I only worry that she's storing up to do something especially obnoxious as a teenager....

She also grew an inch. I've heard it said that babies grow mostly when they're sleeping. That would explain it all, I guess.

She does travel well. Unlike her big sister, she konks right out by the time the car has gone a block or so. We took advantage of this last week; Thursday, it was forecast to be REALLY hot in the valley, so we went to the beach. I have to say, it was a perfect day. We ended up at Gleneden Beach, south of Lincoln City, and though we could see fog to the north and to the south of us, where we were was picture perfect--temperature in the 70's, sunshine, surf, and not too many other people. We got home later than planned since we ended up with quite a wait at a restaurant for dinner (apparently we weren't the only ones with the brilliant idea of leaving town!), but we all enjoyed ourselves. Mostly: Laura learned a new word on the trip, since she was being changed in the trunk of the car. This was no big deal until after dinner; the new word is "BRRRR!" I'll let you picture the rest of the context!
Why use a blog? A very good question...I finally decided it was one good way to "keep in touch" least with those I know who have access to the web. I think it's sort of a good idea for an English-teacher-type person (especially one who prefers teaching writing over teaching literature!) to practice what she preaches; in other words, if I make my kids write, I ought to do it myself. Muscles that aren't used do tend to atrophy.

I used to send out emails from time to time, blanketing one and all that we love with news. Of late, I've gotten sort of lax about that sort of staying in touch. (My grandmother reminds me from time to time!) The arrival of Emily, and the overwhelming response to her pics on the web, made me realize that maybe there was an audience out there for the thrills and chills of our daily lives (well, really, there aren't really that many thrills OR chills--but let's not scare away the reader, o.k.?)

So, I have no large aims to become a high-volume site in the "blogosphere", but am looking for an easier, and more "user-friendly" way to keep in touch. I promise to still at least reply to emails, and maybe even send one out to let you know if there's something *really* exciting that I write about here. (Note well: I do plan to write about snail sketches--my Aunt Barb caught me out on that one, and it's just begging for an entry. Note well #2: this is a cheap method of foreshadowing.)