Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Routine So Far

It's been a few weeks now since I left the ranks of the employed. Just this afternoon, Chris and I realized how much more in tune I am with Ben. I was having about eight contractions an hour this morning, so I'm resting this afternoon, and Chris is on Ben duty. I solved a few mysteries for Chris.

1. Ben wanted to get into the pots and pans cabinet not because he wanted the pots and pans, but because that's where we keep our extra bottles of apple juice. 2. Ben stood at the arch to the dining room and whined and pointed into the room. I waited to see what Chris would do. They both became very frustrated until I explained that Ben wanted Daddy to rough-house on the twin bed that's currently set up in there for the duration. 3. Ben started fussing and screaming when Chris was walking towards the bathroom with some dirty laundry. Almost had a tantrum. I chastised Chris for not remembering that putting laundry down the chute is Ben's job, and he gets very upset when someone stomps on his territory like that. Chris handed him the dirty socks, and Ben ran to the laundry chute and gleefully shoved the items down the hole.

Ahhh. Yep. You heard it folks. I'm super Mommy. The toddler whisperer.

I had a few rough moments last week. Okay. That's a bit of an understatement. I won't elaborate too much, but the outcome was that Chris had to skip a party after work, almost had to take some time off to stay home the next day, and I doubled my Zoloft dose. I've had depression and anxiety since I was a teenager, so I know the warning signs now. We came close to a crisis, but it was avoided. And I'm feeling much better and more stable on the higher dose of happy pills.

Ben certainly isn't to fault for any of that crap. He's a delight. He's definitely getting more adjusted to our new lifestyle, even though he has his moments of panic and inexplicable sadness when he wakes up from naps. I don't mind giving him the extra cuddles. How could I? With a poodle boy like this?

"Breakfast. Yummy."

"Look what I can fit into!"

"This window tastes so good."

"I have a big goose egg on my forehead, but I'm not mad at the world anymore."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Jungle Gym Story

Cute Ben Moment:

Last night, Ben found a way to use Mommy as a jungle gym but without hurting the baby belly. It involved him climbing on the arm of my chair, crawling down my legs and diving head first between my knees onto the floor. He'd inevitably let his legs slide down after him with a big thump. Then he'd stand up and shout "Ta-Da!" (actually just "DA!", but I totally get what he was trying to say.)

He did this about twenty times before he got hurt. At one point, as he was trying to stand up, he slipped and slammed his forehead against the hardwood floor. Daddy to the rescue, and Ben received the hugs and comfort he so desperately needed. Then Ben reached over for some Mommy TLC.

When he got onto my lap, he pointed to his hurt forehead and shouted "DA!"

There was much laughter in the house.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Please Steal the Show

Today is the first time I'll go back to visit my old friends at work. Around 1:30 this afternoon. I have mixed feelings about it.

I'm not really worried about it. These are my peeps. I know them well. Life and work have moved on without me. I kind of know what to expect. "How do you like being a SAHM?" "Is it as wonderful as you imagined?"

And since I'm rather type-A about things like this, I'm trying to decide what kind of attitude I should adopt. I know for sure I don't want to be a negative pissy pregnant lady. I also don't want to paint a picture of bliss and roses.

So how do I like it? With care and dedication. It's a delicate balance between being a complete couch potato and a cleaning, nesting dynamo. It's being frustrated with a frustrated toddler and wanting to lock myself in the bedroom for a few minutes and wishing I could soak up more of the Benji love that's thrown my way. It's seeking out and identifying the blessing moments throughout the day.

Is it as wonderful as I imagined? I was pretty careful not to put any solid expectations about life after the change to SAHM. I had some hopes and dreams for what my life would be like, but a label like wonderful? That's setting me up for disappointment. I imagined it would be different and fulfilling. And it is.

Ben is bonding closer to us than ever before. Since he gets so much "mom" time during the day, he's all "daddy" when Chris gets home. The evenings are full of shrieks and giggles and jumping on the bed and songs. During the day, Ben is learning to seek out different activities. He climbs up into his high chair while I'm cooking or washing the dishes, and I'll set him up with some crayons or some water play. We eat lunch together, and we watch TV together. Ben, nestled on my right side, the laptop on my left. We are growing closer because of the time invested in each other.

And pregnancy? I'm 32 weeks now, and even though with Ben, I was only three weeks from delivery, I have a sneaking suspicion that Anna will take her precious time with coming into the world. She's measuring on track perfectly, and I'm not nearly as huge with her as I was with Ben at this point. I'm sore and in screeching pain some days with my pelvis, and my contractions are starting back up again after two weeks of relaxation, but I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel yet. I'm looking forward to the end of the pregnancy and getting to cuddle a newborn again.

Will it be odd to see my old friends at work again? Yes. And I wish they wouldn't ask me a lot of questions. I wish this was just a normal walk-through with Ben to show him off. But it's different this time. I'm the person they want to see more, not Ben. They want to analyze me and question my choices and eye up any changes to my baby bump. And of course hug me and wish me well. I hope Ben starts dancing and steals the show.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Keeping a Diaper on the Boy

We've found that we have a new responsibility in our household. It comes with many challenges, many on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments, and many laughs.

Ben absolutely loves to be naked now. When he finds a free moment, he tries to take off his pants and sometimes succeeds. And he's a pro at taking off his diaper. He loves the feel of riding around on his little green motorcycle with nothing between his private bits and the plastic seat. He enjoys (I think) freaking out Mommy by standing for long minutes on the only piece of carpet in the main area of the house where it would be harder to hear the sound of tinkle hitting the floor.

He also loves *helping* by taking off his perfectly clean clothes and diaper and tossing them down the laundry chute. Or throwing them in the garbage. Since Friday, we've gone through about three or four changes of clothes per day.

Chris and I have had some long discussions about this. Daddy is anxious to potty train, Mommy isn't. Frankly, I don't think Ben is ready. I think toddlers can have periods where they love nudity without actually being interested in the potty. And Ben shows minimal interest. When he's diaperless, he doesn't even notice when he pees. He's not even two.

As a compromise, I've agreed to have Ben watching the potty training video I picked up from the library. If that spurs him to want to try out the potty, I'll definitely accommodate his wishes. But if it doesn't, oh well.

A naked toddler makes my life more interesting, by the way. You try having an argument with a non-verbal child about why he can't go outside to ride his motorcycle around the block if he doesn't have any clothes on. I'm sure the breeze on his butt would have felt wonderful, but it's a highly trafficked neighborhood, and I wouldn't want to cause any accidents because of drivers doing a double take.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The Moon and I

We had a good time. Chris and I together, Ben and his Nana.

Ben had a few rough moments of sadness and melancholy with my mom, but overall, was excited and thrilled to be around all of her toys. She has a piano, for goodness sakes, and that's just about the most exciting thing in the world. She was happy to report that Ben didn't pound on the keys like other children. He approached the piano with reverence and delicacy -- exactly how I did when I was his age. My mother predicts a future with years of piano lessons.

He did well without us. When we arrived to pick him up yesterday morning, he didn't run to us to give us hugs. Instead, he ran to gather up all the new toys to show us. Eventually, we got hugs, but not before we were shown every last piece of wonderful that he'd discovered.

When we finally got home, he was a cranky maniac, but that was to be expected. Life with Nana is a very different from the pace of life at our house, and he was overwhelmed by the switch. He slept through the night, though, and I'm hoping that'll restart his batteries.

As for our babymoon, we had a wonderfully romantic time together. As romantic of a time that could be had with a wife who is on pelvic rest. Needs were met, however, and we focused on intimacy rather than wild, carnal lust. We explored the little tourist town we had chosen, ate terrific meals, read books down by the water, swam in the pool, napped, watched cable TV (luxury), and basically just enjoyed each other's company.

A funny moment. When we checked into the hotel, we saw the heated pool and our hearts sank because we hadn't packed our swimming suits. The pool seemed like a really good idea to my tired, pregnant body, so we drove to the next big town to see if there were any swimming suits left in stock. There weren't. So we drove another hour to pick up suits where we knew we could find some... our house. That little escapade took four hours out of our first day, but it was worth it. We loved our time in the pool. Chris joked that next time, we should choose a destination at least two hours away so we won't be tempted to run back home for things we forgot.

It's Friday morning now, and my life starts over again. I feel refreshed and okay about that. I missed Ben's giggle. I missed my own bed. I missed my laptop.

**On a side note to Dana and anyone else who may be confused about the name thing. Chris is Chester and Chester is Chris. When I first started my blog, he requested that I not use his real name (Chris). He's a curmudgeon sometimes. Anyway. I decided that once I quit my job to become a SAHM, I wouldn't bother with the charade anymore, and Chester was rebaptized as Chris. **

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where Is Your Nose?

Me: Ben, where's your nose?
Ben proceeds to point to his nose.
Me: Yay! Good job, Ben!
Ben continues to explore his nose, reaching both fingers in up to the knuckle.

Now whenever I ask him to point to his nose, he does this:

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Off We Go

Today's the day we leave on our mini-babymoon. That crazy plan to leave my dear son with my mother for two nights while my husband and I disappear somewhere to "reconnect." It sounds sordid to me, but hey. We're doing it.

That means no laptop until Thursday evening. Yikes.

Do Chris and I really need time to ourselves? Eh. Maybe. The point of it is to have time together, alone as a couple, before Anna arrives and creates a delightful uproar in our lives. How "together" we can get with this gigantic baby belly in front of me is debatable. At the very least, we'll be cuddling and watching cable TV, and Chris will help me take a bubble bath, and my feet will finally get clean.

I will miss Ben. He's going through such a difficult time right now with the transition from daycare. While he's not miserable, his psyche is dealing with some turmoil, and he has had lots of nightmares. I feel bad leaving him with my mom right now. She'll be great with him, and she's a very nurturing, kind woman, but she's not his mommy or daddy. It's different, right?

Can you tell this will be the first night I've spent away from my son since his birth? And it'll be two nights.

In other news, my man crush has found himself a lady love, and I was devastated at the news. It was fun to have someone pining for me again. I think I'd be more comfortable with the concept if he had picked a nicer lady. The woman in question had always given me the cold shoulder. She never seemed very warm and kind... she's so *not* me. Apparently, he knows a different side of her. She's probably very different away from work, because he extols her "big heart." Whatever. Bastard. :)

Also, I had my 31 week checkup yesterday, and everything's peachy. I've lost four pounds since my last checkup, and I'm thrilled. I've already reached my "goal" weight for the whole pregnancy, and I still have a couple months to go. So I've tried to be more active and to eat less and better. Anna is still getting the nutrition that she needs, and she's still thriving. Yay.

Have a good few days, bloggy world. I'll be off in the wonderful world of marital bliss sans toddler.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Cat and I

I don't know why I couldn't stay in bed. Around 2:30, my mind started spinning, my emotions churning. I switched from libidinous passion to delirious happiness to shoe-on-your-head silliness. All while lying perfectly still.

So it was time to get out of bed.

The subject of the cats is on the table again. No, Adira hasn't made another mistake. She gets her dose of prozac at least every three days, and she seems to be functioning properly. Right now, she's curled up at my feet on the ottoman.

I've been a cat person all my life. When I was in fourth grade, we moved into a rented farmhouse, and I was allowed outdoor kitties. I had several over the next few years. Eventually, the number tapered down to two when we moved to the northwoods. Then one. Then none. Adira came into my life when I was seventeen, an olive branch from my parents.

I had a dream that I found a little marmalade kitten with a red bow around her neck. My mom and I searched through many humane society shelters until I found that kitty of my dream. And Adira, then Mandy, became mine.

While I was in my first year of college, she was cared for by my mother and was relegated mostly to the basement. My dad has awful allergies, but he had promised, and so Adira stayed.

My sophomore year, my sister started university at the same place as me, and we were allowed to get an apartment together instead of living in the dorms. Adira and her cat moved in with us. Then when I lived by myself, it was just me and Adira. A few years later, I got her a funny little white kitty named Maisie.

As a single girl, I loved being a cat owner. They were my constant companions. Adira and I share a special connection, perhaps imagined, but often sensed. She's content to sit by my shoulder for hours, keeping watch. Such loyalty.

So what changed? Well. I got married. Adira started feeling that it wasn't that necessary to actually pee in the litter box, content with the floor adjacent. I had a baby. Now I'm having another. And having pets is no longer a priority for me.

Being a dutiful cat mother, I spent hundreds to have Adira diagnosed with something. Turns out she's only sick in the head. She has an anxiety problem, one that is treatable with generic prozac. Even a generic medicine costs money when you can't add a cat to your health insurance.

Did I mention she bites Ben? She hates children. She gets upset and hissy whenever a child approaches her, even if they aren't targeting her. Living in a 900 square foot house with two rug rats isn't going to be pleasant for her.

I love her dearly, I'm just not sure I love her enough to fight to keep her, though nobody is asking me to get rid of her. Nobody except that little voice in my head. She'd be put to sleep almost immediately because she isn't able to be re-adopted due to her anxiety issues and her problem with children.

I can totally imagine life without her. My mom has offered to subsidize her surrender fees. My husband has offered to bring her to the shelter himself while I'm away. We'd be able to get rid of the litter box in our bedroom because the other cat is perfectly willing to use the one in the basement.

So what's holding me back? What the hell is all this wet stuff dripping down my cheeks? Even though my heart is starting to say, "It's time," my head reminds me that I have about a month of generic prozac left. Unless she makes another mistake while on the happy blue pill, she gets to stay. I feel a bit like a monster.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The State of the Household

I woke up this morning to day four of my new life. At 4:45, which is actually sleeping in for me lately. Pregnancy insomnia is hitting me hard, and I can't sleep in if my life depended on it. I'm still in bed by eight and asleep by nine, but this is cause for adjustment. And I don't hate it. I get at least an hour to myself with a few cups of decaf coffee, my laptop and my heating pad.

I wouldn't say that Ben and I are getting into a routine yet. Life is flowing more smoothly, but it's not always predictable. Ben is still "transitioning" which means he's refusing most meals, still prone to meltdowns and napping erratically. I'm getting more patient, though, which helps. And Ben is learning that Mamma is learning, too. If he wants something or wants to start a new activity, he has to initiate it sometimes.

We've had a couple of good days. I've allowed myself permission to not do so much around the house. I have Tasks That Must Be Completed that include washing the dishes, preparing meals and folding some laundry. Everything else can wait until my next burst of nesting energy.

Ben hasn't made any motions towards wanting to go back to daycare, but I don't really know how he'd express that desire. Maybe he'd insist on putting his shoes on in the morning or start reaching for the doorknob around our usual time. He's not, though. Part of me still wishes I could bring him there for an hour or two, if only so he could be around some other kids. Even when we go running errands, he doesn't really see other kids. Sure, the nice cozy women in the checkout aisle flirt back and play peekaboo, but that's not really the same.

In a couple of weeks we'll start going to the Family Resource Center drop-in playdates, and until then, he'll have to be happy with just me.

As for what's going on in my head and heart... I still feel a bit suspended above it all, like this isn't really my life. I'm going through the motions and doing what is expected of me, and I'm always on the lookout for moments of joy and bliss (which do happen). But the reality hasn't really settled in yet. The good news is that I'm no longer that anxious to go back to work.

Chris and I cuddle more in the evenings, and he's very affectionate and attentive. Our relationship has changed a lot since we're no longer within 200 feet of each other at all times anymore. So we hug more, and I still send him totally inappropriate text messages for him to receive while he's in meetings.

So that's that. My life, four days into the Change.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The First Day on the Job

On the outset, let me remind you all that I'm 30 weeks pregnant and VERY hormonal. Add into that equation that I despise change, even when it's good, and I have a toddler who is going through a life upheaval and transition of his own. Although I'm slightly ashamed at what happened yesterday, a part of me understands and forgives me.

Ben woke up at 5:45 yesterday, right after I had put our big Finnish pancake in the oven to bake for breakfast. The next hour went smoothly. But by 7 o'clock, I was bawling my eyes out onto Chris's shoulder, keening with desire to bring Ben to daycare and to go back to my cubicle at work.

To set the scene, we finally got our dining room put back together after a month and a half of painting it when we found time and felt up to it. It's red now, and very beautiful, though we haven't taken the tape down yet. I also bought a bookcase to put in there so we'd finally have a home for all of Ben's videos and books. Do you see where this is going?

Chris and I showed him the game where we put the items in tidy little piles and stacks and arrange things nicely on the shelves. Ben, however, thinks it's way more fun to pull things off the shelves and toss them around the room. I tried twice to show him the proper way to play with the stuff, but he grew more frustrated and adamant about it, and threw the books aside with more fury. I gave him a timeout, but he went right back to the task when he was done.

Enter Chris, looking all handsome and put together, smelling clean and fresh, ready for work. Picture me, hadn't showered since Saturday, in my ten-year-old, tissue thin pajamas, unshaved legs, morning breath, sitting in the corner of the bed that's in the dining room, just staring at Ben with a glassy-eyed expression.

And I cried a lot. I actually said I wished I had a different boy to take care of if I had to be a SAHM. Chris took charge and held Ben while they put the stuff back on the shelves. I kept crying, and Ben came and gave me a couple of hugs and kisses. The mood quieted, and Chris went to work.

The rest of the day was better, of course. I grew rather stir crazy just sitting around, and the urge to nest was intense. I washed dishes, moved furniture, swept, mopped, packed donation bags, carried boxes up to the attic, cleared out the front entry closet, put in a shelving system in there, folded laundry, made lunch and dinner, tickled a small boy and watch a lot of children's programs on TV.

I didn't have another meltdown, but the day felt a little lackluster. We'll get a routine, and we'll get used to being around each other 24/7, and then life will be better, right?

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A Boy and His Balloon

Thursday afternoon, someone delivered a bouquet of daisies and balloons to my cubicle at work. They were from my mom and my sister to congratulate me on my new job (SAHM). A very sweet gesture.

Along with a multitude of boxes and various items including a wooden snowman, a lamp, a radio and a pillow, we carefully shoved my bouquet into the car at the end of the day. I knew the balloons, more than anything, would be oh-so-exciting for Ben. And wow.

When he was getting strapped into his seat, he looked over and noticed the balloons. You should have seen the grin spread across his face. I cut one off and handed it to him, but he accidentally let go of it a moment later and the wind floated it off into the sky. So he got a second one, an orange one.

And he didn't let go of it until the afternoon. Seriously. He slept with that thing. It was so funny seeing him on the video monitor, curled up under his blankets, holding tightly to the balloon's string. Around four in the morning, he started waking up a bit, and we could hear him play with the balloon in bed. Squeaka-squeaka-squigzh.

After he came downstairs in the morning, he started playing with his other toys, but only with one hand, because the other one was still holding onto the balloon. And when he tripped and fell and started to cry, he came running to me for a hug, but turned around when he got to me so I could lift him up from behind to hug him. He didn't want to let go of the balloon, even for some loves from mom. I wish I had pictures of Ben holding his orange balloon in one hand, his little yellow school bus in the other, while Chris carted him around the grocery store after the morning nap. I bet he was pretty cute.

By mid afternoon, the amount of helium left in the balloon wasn't sufficient enough to keep it aloft for very long, and it was easier and easier for him to hold it and carry it around. And then Chris and I started batting it around so Ben could play monkey in the middle. Soon after that, the balloon started to lose its charm. It currently lies on our bathroom floor, where Ben put it after I refused to let him toss it in the bathtub while I was taking a shower.

Chris was worried about the obsession, but I was stalwart in my defense of Ben's mania concerning the balloon. Over breakfast, I assured my dear husband that Ben would not be graduating high school with the thing, it might pop at any time, and would be dead by Monday no matter what. It's not like he was obsessed with a pair of scissors or a tampon. A balloon is a perfectly natural, reasonable thing for a small boy to be in love with.

Even though the balloon is relegated to the past along with his other discarded used-to-be-favorite toys, I'll always remember fondly his little obsession, his insane need to constantly be hugging it, and that brave balloons refusal to die, even when being steamrolled by a toddler over and over again.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Job Well Done, The Long Goodbye

It's customary for employees on the corporate side of the business to write a last email, a goodbye missive, to the departments they worked closely with on their last day. I put off writing mine because I didn't know what to write. I even looked online to see if there was a form letter I could use. But I decided that the best email would be one from the heart, even if it sucked. Turns out it didn't suck, and I only got positive feedback from it.

In this letter, you'll figure out that I didn't burn any bridges, I didn't mention any of the things about my job that frustrated me, and my husband's real name is Chris, not Chester. (He wasn't comfortable with me using his real name, but I finally realized that he's just being silly, and he won't notice anyway since he's never read my blog.) I feel good about the letter. It feels like it was the right way to end an era.

"As I'm finishing up my last day of employment here, I realize I'm exhausted, physically and emotionally. Physically because I didn't sleep much last night, and I'm in my third trimester of pregnancy, so I'm entitled to some fatigue. Emotionally... well. It's hard to say goodbye to a place that's been my home away from home for the last four years.

But I'm not really saying goodbye. I'm not dropping off the face of the planet after all — I'm just going to my house that's only a fifteen-minute walk away. There, I will dig out some fingerpaints, some crayons and some scrap paper, and I will play with my son. Ben and I will have at least a month of Mommy/Ben time before the birth of his little sister Anna, and then a whole new adventure will begin.

I've learned a lot as a proofreader and as a member of the team. I've learned that it's important to think about and maybe even talk to our customers every once in a while to gain some perspective. Concentrating too much on the details keeps you from seeing the bigger mistakes you might be making. Smiling at a coworker while you tell them how much they screwed up goes a long way toward keeping your car tires unslashed at the end of the day.

Leaving this job is most difficult, I think, because I didn't hate it. I actually loved being a proofreader, and I rarely tired of proofing catalog page after catalog page. So really, you all owe me an apology. You should have made my life unbearable. You should have always been sullen and morose and crabby. You shouldn't have smiled at me in the halls or thanked me for my 'good catches.' You should have made me feel undervalued and unappreciated. But you didn't, and now I'm sad.

On the bright side, my husband still works here, and that means I'll still be coming around to visit often. I'll definitely be coming in to show off my babies, and I might actually have Chris bring in baked goods that I create in a fit of domestic flurry but can't bring myself to keep in the house. In that way, your life may be better once I'm gone.

I'll be online at home, and you are all free to email me to visit or to gossip or to ask proofing questions.

-Cheryl Mathis

'I don't believe that children can develop in a healthy way unless they feel that they have value apart from anything they own or any skill that they learn. They need to feel they enhance the life of someone else, that they are needed. Who, better than parents, can let them know that?' -- Fred Rogers"

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

The Last Week

So it's now officially my last week of employment before I join the ranks of the happy SAHMs. Yesterday, my replacement started. She's cuter than heck and very sweet. And I already feel superfluous. She's not proofing a lot yet, but she's making the rounds, getting introduced, and I continue packing up my cubicle and clean everything for her take over next week.

My boss and I are not talking a lot about my leaving. When we've mentioned it in the past, we both get rather emotional. And I'd rather not have to have a big goodbye scene with her. She's become a best friend... though we don't really admit that outloud. We'll still see each other, and she promises to email me, and we'll get together and have our boys play. I'll still be going into work to visit and show off the kids because, after all, my husband still works there.

But the wind down is happening. Every day I either pack another box or go through another file. Tomorrow we're having a potluck in the printer room as my Goodbye Cheryl sendoff. Friday, I have my exit interview with HR. And then I finish out my day and I'll be done. And I will not be wearing mascara that day.

In other news, today is the day of my gestational diabetes testing. I just guzzled down the Fanta-on-steroids glucola, and we'll leave for the doctor's office in about thirty minutes. After the blood draw, husband and I get to wait for an hour while they run the test, then we have my 29 week checkup with my doctor. On my list of things to talk to her about include bleeding hemorrhoids that don't itch but are scary, dizziness, and my fear that Anna is not growing quickly enough.

By this week when I was gestating Ben, I was measuring at least a few weeks ahead. I was huge. I'm big, and my belly is full and round, but it's a lot smaller. I'm lucky if I'm measuring at 28 weeks. I guess I'm just nervous because Ben was five weeks early, but a good size (6-14). What if I'm preterm again and Anna isn't that big? Ugh. Best case scenario is that she's small because she's not planning on making her getaway early... and even that kind of fills me with dread because I'm not really looking forward to being nine months pregnant (something I didn't have to live through with Ben because he was born already).

And my grouchy, hormonal self is also having traumas about life with a newborn. Life with newborn Ben was exciting and wonderful, but not blissful. I remember being very tired all the time. I'm worried that I haven't arranged enough people to come and stay and help me take care of Ben AND Anna after the birth.

But anyway. I hate sounding so bitchy. I'm quite in love with my little fetus. She kicks me constantly, and I have lots of fantasies about nuzzling her sweet little baby cheek and tickling her ear lobes.

And Ben is a delight. Very affectionate and loving. Very rambunctious and curious and loud. And he's saying more and more words now... but his favorite is "No!" Emphasis on the exclamation mark. He'll shout that especially when we ask him if he needs his diaper changed. As an added benefit to toddlerhood, he likes picking up trash from the floor and throwing it in the garbage. Just last night when husband was getting the coffee pot ready for morning, he went to dump out the old coffee grounds, and he was surprised to find two of Ben's shirts in the garbage. Ben helped. :)