Friday, November 30, 2007


Today is the last day of NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Thank God It's Over.

I managed to successfully finish the month without a lot of junk posts. I tried to come up with something substantive every day, even if I did cheat slightly by working ahead a bit on the weekends sometimes.

Journaling my life every day is an interesting idea. Doing so publicly is kind of crazy, but it's a journey of honesty and self reflection. For me, it's also a test of my morality and my character. I try to live my life without subterfuge and deceit. I try to do things I could be proud of, and I try not to keep areas in my life that I would deem unbloggable.

Since quitting my job and staying home, I thought those character tests would dissipate. Not interacting with so many people every day would make it easier to be a good person because I'd be less likely to be catty, less likely to gossip, less likely to stress out over stupid things.

That's not really true, though I am less likely to do those things.

Staying home has opened up different areas to fail or fall short. Instead of judging my co-workers, I find myself more critical of my husband and myself. Instead of stressing out over stupid work stuff, I find myself stressing out over stupid kid stuff.

Blogging keeps me sane and keeps me honest. Reading other people's blogs demonstrates to me that other people are going through the same things, and I'm doing okay. I don't have to be a perfect stay-at-home mom to be a success in life, to be a good person.

I find grace especially in times when I disappoint myself. In the process of identifying where I could have reacted differently or where I could have shown more kindness, I'm learning to accept the roller coasters of life and the fallacy of perfection.

Though it would be nice to be the sort of mom who never snaps at her toddler or who never begrudges her infant another marathon turn at the breast, I know that I'm not alone in those so-called failures. I'm human, and blogging helps keep those instances in perspective.

One could say I'm blogging right now to avoid changing a monster poo diaper my son just produced. That someone could be right. Or one could say that I'm blogging right now to claim a bit of time during the day just for me... as a mother, but more importantly, as yet another person on this crazy ride called life. That someone would be right as well.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Other Side of Bliss

Today I feel like my talents as a SAHM are being taxed for the first time. Having two children. Sure, it's been difficult in the last six weeks, but today is different. Today, my son is sick.

Ben went to daycare Tuesday afternoon so I could clean the basement. He woke up Wednesday morning with a raging cough. By evening, he was wheezing. It was a rough night.

In between his breathing treatments for his asthma, he's being a trooper. I can tell, though, that having Anna around bothers him now that he has to share Mommy when he needs me most.

It's the little things. He came over to cuddle when Anna began to cry, needing her diaper changed. Later, he tried climbing in her bassinet (but asked my permission first. He didn't get it.)

When my back was turned, he sat in her swing and actually got it to swing back and forth. When he saw that I had Anna lying on a blanket on the floor next to me while I was washing dishes, he came over and laid down next to her, staring up at me like she was.

If Anna weren't here, I'd be able to sit with him and cuddle all day. Instead, I only get to give hugs, wipe noses, offer oranges, water and teddy grahams, and say "I love you honey" over and over again. I feel ripped in two, my heart trying to be big enough to cover all the hurts and misery.

My brave little boy, content to be tucked into bed for a nap, knowing that I needed to get back downstairs to tend to crying Anna. I love him so much, and I'm so grateful he is so brave and so generous.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Conditional Basement

I have a definitely love/hate relationship with our basement. Looking back on old posts, I remember that the basement of this house was one of its prime selling features. I described it as clean and dry.

Ha. Ha, I say.

When spring came, the walls leaked. The floor became very wet. And all the boxes that we had left on the floor in one half of the basement were ruined. Like the ubiquitous wire hangers, I say, "NO CARDBOARD BOXES!"

Months ago, we sorted through most of the boxes down there. We quit after the first sort, and we never quite made it back down there again. So we left chaos and garbage everywhere.

I never had to see it because I was pregnant, and Chris wouldn't let me carry laundry up the stairs. No other reason to go down there.

Well, last week, Chris's employer had a turkey handout. Like the year before, we donated our turkey to a friend since we had no freezer space for a whole turkey. Chris said that by next year, we'd have a small chest freezer so we won't have to turn down free food again.

The "fool" mentioned it to my mom. Now she's taking us shopping and is helping us pay for it.

I told him I'd let him get a chest freezer under one condition: we get the basement looking halfway decent before we bring it home.

So how the heck did I get stuck with the cleaning job? Oh yeah. That's right. I'm not employed. Ben went to Amber's house for the afternoon, and Anna and I tackled the basement.



It's still not really good, but at least there's some clean floor. I filled over ten bags of garbage (Sorry Landfill). Mind you, this is only 25 percent of the basement. But it's good enough for me for now. The true test is that I'd let my mom go down there without dying of shame (though her basement is a disaster area, but that's one of her quaint eccentricities... I just don't want to admit I inherited that trait from her).

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The One We Kept


Once Anna decided to rush into the world, Chris and I finalized our decision to go ahead with the cat plan. We didn't talk about it much before hand. I think we had two conversations about it. I kept getting very emotional, so I just wouldn't talk.

The plan was to surrender my cat while I was in the hospital with Anna. Chris would take care of the details, and I wouldn't have to be involved.

There were some issues. Since our local humane society is no longer the de facto drop-off site for strays in our county, they will not always accept surrendered animals. They tried scheduling an appointment for surrender two weeks out. Our nice, neat little plan was collapsing.

Chris called them back to explain the situation to them, how we wanted the cat surrendered before the baby came home. They relented. Chris made arrangements for Adira's medical file to be forwarded to the shelter. He got everything ready for her to go.

Maybe it was a bad idea then for me to go home to have dinner with Ben while Anna was still in the hospital. I was already a hormonal wreck, and I was missing Ben, and Adira missed me. While I sat in the living room eating, Adira was sitting on the back of my chair, licking my face and arms, nuzzling me and being the sweetest cat ever.

I just sat there and cried (kind of like I'm doing now).

Anna was released the next day, so Chris brought Adira to the shelter in the morning. Nothing short of a miracle, my mom answered the hospital phone while I was packing all of our hospital things to go home. It was Chris calling. He was having second thoughts as he drove Adira. I'm sure she was crying and meowing (she hates car rides). I don't know if I would have been strong enough to tell him to go through with it.

He did. And we haven't talked about it. We quickly learned to say "the cat" instead of "the cats." I'm learning to try to appreciate the one we kept, Maisie.

She's just so annoying sometimes... and she's so NOT Adira. But, she loves children and babies and she always uses the litter box, even if it's way past the time it should have been cleaned.

And she's kind of cute, once in a while. Pure white, she has one blue eye and one yellow eye. I just wish she was Adira. I just wish I could have kept Adira. I miss her lots. I hate thinking about what her life is like at the shelter.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Don't Look, I'm Naked!

There's a funny tradition in my family that started years ago with my sister. When we are making the toweled run from the bathroom to our bedroom, we yell, "Don't look!" Of course, if you hear that, you automatically look.

I've blogged for over a year now. It's not like I was purposely keeping it a secret, it just didn't seem like anybody would be interested. Chris has never peeked, though I told him he could. He just doesn't care, so I didn't think others would.

When I was in the hospital with Anna in my belly while they were shooting me up with lots of drugs to keep her there, my mom was there for a bit to keep me company. I started blabbing, and I told her I had a blog. I didn't tell her what it was called or how to find it, but I told her.

When I was hungover from the drugs, I realized what I had done. Over the next few weeks, I started feeling a little more like telling others in my family about my blog. It certainly would be an easy way to show them pictures of the kids and to keep them up to date on what's going on in our lives.

And on Thanksgiving Day, I showed my sister my post about cleaning up the toy box to show her how few toys we left out for Ben. When I looked away, she started skimming through the rest of the page. I felt very self-conscious about it.

But not nearly as self-conscious as I've felt this weekend when I checked my site meter and realized that she's read over two dozen pages of my blog over the last two days. (Hi Jolene! I see you!)

I guess I don't have anything to hide. It's not like I have a secret life that my family doesn't know about (anymore). I don't "talk crap" about my family either. It'll just take a little while for me to feel less naked, less exposed. It's just like she's reading my diary.

Really, that's what blogging is for me. Instead of writing down my most secret thoughts in a book, I'm typing it onto a web page for the world to see. There are some things I keep to myself, but not much. But "the world" doesn't have preconceived notions of who I am, my family does. While I don't really care what "the world" thinks of me, I care what my family thinks.

Maybe by Christmas I'll have enough nerve to show my mom how to find my blog. Maybe I'll even tell Chris's family about it. For now, I'll just quietly shudder and try to get used to being emotionally naked in front of people who really matter.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Meant To Be Together Right Now

I had an awful dream yesterday morning. The premise was silly and very unlikely, but the emotions evoked from the scenario shook me. Basically, someone thought it would be a good idea to take Anna away from me for an overnight without my permission.

I remember at one point in the dream, I was shouting and yelling and wailing at these people, trying to get them to understand that Anna and I are meant to be together right now. "It's just not natural for our bodies to be far apart!"

Oh how true. In the dream, I was engorged and in pain by morning, but my heart hurt even more.

When Chris woke me from the nap, he was holding Anna in his arms. I reached for her and nestled her next to me as she slept peacefully. My whole body seemed to sigh with relief.

I remember I felt the same way when I got back from the hospital with Anna. Not having Ben near me was painful. It wasn't the physical pain that it would be without Anna, but it was an intense psychic pain.

Anna is six weeks old today. Yesterday, it dawned on me that if I were still working, my maternity leave would be over and Anna would have to go to daycare tomorrow. Now that I know she doesn't have to go, I hate the idea of having other people take care of her. I just can't imagine them doing as good of a job as I can. She belongs with Mommy and Daddy and Ben.

In retrospect, it's sad how much I had to harden my heart to let Ben go to daycare when my maternity leave with him was over. My heart still broke, but I was resigned to the reality.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Music In His Soul

Our son loves music. This doesn't really make him unique from other toddlers, but it still delights us.

Whether it's banging with all his might on the lid of a trash can or spinning and clapping when the radio is on in the kitchen, he's letting the beat take over.

Ben's just starting to sing along with the radio or our own sloppy renditions. He doesn't sing words yet, but he's vocalizing. And, like a trained monkey, he will dance on command, even without music.

We don't have cable TV, so he doesn't really get to see a lot of music performers. The Next Great American Band is his chance to see some people rock out. I can practically see his brain memorizing the moves as he stands so close to the TV.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Resistance to Potty Training

Ben will be turning two in January. His friend Luke is potty trained, so I've been talking to Ben about how neat it would be to go pee-pee and poopies on the potty.

Sometimes he'll play with the accessories: the stool, the kiddy-sized potty ring. He'll climb up, sit for a second, give Mom a high five, and then climb back down. Repeat. Over and over again.

Then of course sometimes, he's just not interested.

The other day when I was changing his diaper, he jumped off the bed mid change. With Ben running around the house with no pants and no diaper on, I suggested he sit on the potty for a little bit. I went into the bathroom and sat on the edge of the tub, waiting.

Ben came running in, looked at me, and shouted, "NO!" He grabbed the potty ring forcefully off of the toilet and put in on the floor. He picked up the stool and put it as far away from the toilet as he could. Then he came back and slammed the toilet seat lid down, looked at me again, and said "No!" with as much authority as he could muster.

I guess he's not ready.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day Gobble Gone

Well, it's over. This part of the family survived anyway. It's not over for the rest of them. Those suckers have to move a piano up some stairs tomorrow.

Ben pretty much slept through the night. Anna did pretty good as well. Both of them woke up at five, much earlier than anybody else in the house. I managed to keep Ben in the bedroom until 5:15, but that was a struggle. Once we were out of the room, others slowly started waking up by necessity. At least there was coffee. There's always coffee on in the homes of Finnish people.

Ben had a blast playing with his cousins. Anna wasn't put down for a second. There was always someone to hold her.


Things did get tense, though. A member of our family is on an anti-vaccination crusade, and since I don't buy into that line of thinking, it was difficult for me to keep my mouth shut. So I walked away and washed dishes. She feels as strongly about not vaccinating children as my mother does about her faith.

Once the Packer game started, Chris, who really hates sports on TV, escaped to the kitchen to help prepare dinner. My mom kept privately gushing to me about how wonderful he is.

We celebrated my nephew Gage's first birthday. He turned one on Monday. It was a very nice moment, all of us people who love him so much, gathered around his high chair to sing to him and watch him eat his first cupcake.


Dinner went off without a hitch. The game was still on, so the die-hard fans ate on TV trays in the living room, while a few of the other adults sat around the table with the children to supervise the feasting. It was the first Thanksgiving in memory that we didn't try to all sit around tables to eat. I know it's terrible, but it was kind of nicer this way. Less of a fight. More leisurely of a dinner since half of the group wasn't chowing down quickly to finish and go back in the living room.

Tensions grew high again when we all sat down to figure out how to move a piano. Since we've been dragging that thing around the state for twenty years now, we know it requires four strong movers. We only have two, since we're not going to let my dad help. They were ready to just give up and say they'll just shove the thing in the barn up north and call it good. I suggested we ask the next door neighbors if we could borrow their twin sons who are probably home for the holidays. They were and were quite happy to help for the loading.

I told my mom to get on the phone to some of her old friends up north. Their friends may be old, but those friends have kids. She lined up two more people to help with the unloading up north. Disaster averted. The piano will be in the relative safety of a scantly heated farmhouse for the winter.

I'm kind of sad about it. We got that piano when I was seven. I started taking lessons. I took lessons until my junior year of high school. I loved playing piano. I wasn't half bad. But the piano has always belonged to my aunt, and it was time to let my mom get rid of it. Oh well. I'm sure a piano will enter my life at some point down the road again.

Did I mention we drove home in a snowstorm? Very heavy flurries. Had to drive slowly. Scary to drive in, but it was lovely to look at.

Oh yeah. And I took home most of the leftovers from the dinner. :) Shhh. Don't tell.

Friday morning: Three other things happened that I want to remember, so I'm adding them now.

1. Walking into the kitchen with Anna after I finished feeding her in the bedroom. My mom was at the stove with Gage toddling around her ankles. After she told me where all the other kids were (basement playing playstation), I asked her if I could help. She said no, and calmly explained that there's a fire in the oven that she needs to take care of first. She grabbed a jar of baking soda and after two tries, had the nerve to open up the oven door and start shaking the powder over the dancing flames. Apparently the apple pie that baked the night before had leaked more than she thought. When she was preheating the oven for the traditional Finnish pancake, the spillage started on fire. I started teasing her about how badly things could have gone, and she just said I didn't need to tell my siblings about it. "This is between me and God." Still makes me smile. We still were able to use the oven to cook dinner.

2. My brothers' family has two dogs, Snickers and Mitzy. Ben thought they were nifty. When he was jogging around the house blowing off steam, with every thud on the floor, he was yelling, "Goggies, Goggies, Goggies, Goggies."

3. At one point during the Packer game, my brother-in-law shouted, "Go, go, go, go!" at the running back scurrying down the field with the ball tucked under his arm. This was the first football game that Ben experienced. After that moment, whenever Ben looked at the TV he started yelling, "Go, Go, Go, Go!" at the top of his lungs, whether there was someone running or just giving commentary on the most recent play. I found it unbelievably precious.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Liveblogging Turkey Eve

I don't know why I do this to myself. Away from Casa Del Nana, I'm full of sweet reminiscing of the glory of family time. Once I'm here, all I can think about is how nice it would be to go back home.

The chaos is increasing a little here at my mom's house. My sister and her family will be arriving after people go to bed. They'll get the other bedroom. My nephews will be sleeping on the couches. We'll be stuck in our bedroom over night with Anna because we'll be disturbing my nephews if we come out to the living room.

It'll be interesting to see how we survive the night. I wonder if Ben will sleep at all. He's been having a blast with his cousins.

Ugh. Chris and I talked about how we could easily block youtube from my father's computer. Or how I'd be willing to give up internet access for the next 24 hours if it meant I wouldn't have to hear another child star/singer blasting out another cheesy song in a flat slightly off-key voice. It's my dad's latest passion: to find the videos on youtube and play them for everybody over and over again. Seriously. I'm going nuts here.

We can't disrupt it, though. Chris, the family computer expert is here, and he'd be called upon to fix the problem. Grrr.

This is why God invented alcohol. It's just too bad my mom's a teetotaler. I know I'll look back on these moments and smile. Right?

Twenty-Minute Tackle

In my Love/Hate post yesterday, I listed Ben's toys as a hate because of his game of tossing things over his shoulder while he's digging through his toy box. It creates chaos in the five to seven feet in front of his box. Every night I go through and throw the stuff back. Gawd, it's annoying.

I told Chris on Saturday that I wanted to clean out his toy box and put the stuff away (like I did with his books... I left him ten books). But it's tough to find time to tackle the project since I can't do it with him around or face a tantrum, and when Ben's not around, Anna still is. Yesterday, since Anna was awake but not screaming, and Ben was upstairs in bed for a nap, I tackled it. I conquered.

Here is a photo essay of the experience:

Before the Tackle
The "before" picture. I pretty much kicked all the toys in the room towards the toy box and took a picture.

I put Anna in her Bumbo seat. She looked at me with a bewildered look on her face and then started screaming her cute little head off. She had decided she was hungry. For the first part of the sort, I had her on my lap, latched on. With one hand, I pulled stuff out of the toy box and threw it over her head into the storage bin.

Halfway Through
After I got done feeding her, I finished the sort. This is a picture of the organized chaos. The items on the floor were things I was keeping out but needed a home. Anna was relatively happy lying on the floor. She's not a fan of the Bumbo yet. I have hopes for it, though.

Toybox Tackled
I kept his favorite dump trucks, his Clifford hat, his favorite stuffed creatures, his large-sized building blocks, his alligator boots, his favorite baseball cap, his favorite book-of-the-moment and his activity block with the whirly wires on it. I really don't think he'll notice or mind that much.

The rest of the stuff was just static in our lives. It's not like I'm throwing out the other items; they are going into the attic. They'll come out again when Anna is old enough and we need some fresh toys. By the way... she's getting to be an awfully cute, chubby baby, isn't she?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Love/Hate Relationship

It's NaBloPoMo, and I haven't missed a day yet. I have to tell you. It's getting hard. I don't have a lot of daily contact with people other then Chris, Ben and Anna, so there's not a lot of bloggable material jumping out at me.

I'm going to fall back on a bit of a meme. Five things I love and five things I hate. You are free to use this post idea if you want.

  1. I love how connected I feel to Anna when she's nursing. Sure, there's a literal connection, but I have this overall sense that she's a part of me, an extension of me. It makes me feel a little bit guilty about not having that exact same sense with Ben, but I think we're bonded just as well, but differently.
  2. I love having a cup of coffee in the morning. Black, no extras. This is an homage to something my mom always said. "Mommies don't have time for anything other than straight black coffee." So I've learned to like it black.
  3. I love folding laundry. Seriously. It makes me happy, always has. I love making perfect piles of folded clothes and towels, especially towels.
  4. I love a couple of new TV shows this season, namely Chuck and Pushing Daisies. I'm sure there are others I'd like, but I can't stay awake that late.
  5. I love designing cards. I can get lost for hours on a single aspect of design. Today it was choosing the perfect background image for our Christmas card. I pulled two dozen images off the web, picked my favorite, and then spent a whole hour coming up with three ways of using the image. I could have been doing number three from my hate list instead.
  1. I hate the sound of ice scrapers. This is an odd hate for someone who has been in a snowstorm every year of her life, but it's true. It's like nails on a chalkboard to me, which is another sound I hate.
  2. I hate it when my parents burn unburnable items in their burning barrel at my grandma's farm. Stuff like styrofoam, plastic bags and milk jugs. Wow, it really upsets me. I've tried to get them to stop, but my parents pretty much believe that environmental concerns are pure fabrications of the wacko left wing liberals out there.
  3. I really don't like picking up all the miscellaneous toys that we keep in Ben's toy box. One of his favorite games is to pick stuff out of there and toss it over his shoulder until he gets to an item that really captures his attention. I'm going to clean out the box soon and just leave the large items and toys he plays with a lot. It's just finding the time to sort through it when Ben's not around...
  4. I hate it when Chris avoids taking out the full garbage bag and instead keeps trying to fill it more, but really just piles garbage on top of the already-full bag. He'll even open up a new garbage bag and start filling it... and he'll put it on top of the garbage can. Since I became a SAHM, this is something that since I can't live with, I get to take care of. I can't just avoid the kitchen until I nag Chris enough to take out the garbage. I have to be in the kitchen. Grr.
  5. I hate emptying out leftovers from containers in the fridge. I'm with you on this one, Dana. I've wasted a lot of money on new tupperware and other plastic containers because I've put off cleaning out the fridge and ended up tossing the nicely sealed boxes and bowls so I don't have to smell them.
In other news, the powercord for my laptop is failing. The cord is twisted and frayed by the laptop end, and on the other end, it makes a sizzle sound when the box gets nudged. Not really a good thing for fire safety. I ordered a replacement today that should be here tomorrow, and I'm going to try to keep the current one together with electrical tape for today. I can't bear the thought of life without my laptop. Oh man. It's an awful thought. Based on reviews for other products, it seems that Apple didn't design a very reliable 65W AC adapter (the one that comes standard with the laptop). My problem is quite common. I've seen the newer models, and they aren't that different, so they haven't really done much to improve it. Too busy working on the iPhone, I expect. Okay. My Apple rant is over.

Monday, November 19, 2007

To Sleep Perchance To Dream

I had some messed up dreams this morning with Anna nestled next to me in bed. (Chris has decided he won't complain about me co-sleeping with her as long as she'll sleep in the bassinet for him for a couple hours.)

It started with seeing gas prices rise to 9.99 in anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday. People were freaking out, but I was amazed at how many people were still able to go about their plans to travel even with the should-be prohibitive gas prices.

Then I was walking through our downtown carrying Anna, and nursing Anna, and burping Anna. I walked back home with her because I couldn't remember where her new daycare was. Chris didn't believe me that I couldn't remember, but I couldn't, and it made me nervous. Later when she was at daycare, I went there to check on her and take her temperature because she wasn't feeling good. I used an ear thermometer, and the little safety caps kept filling with fluid.

She woke up at five this morning, and I didn't mind though I was still exhausted. Dreams as weirdly disconcerting as those should be ended soon and not revisited. Hey. At least I was sleeping deeply enough to dream.

It's a holiday week now. I remember what work was like during Thanksgiving weeks. Over fifty percent of the staff would be out on vacation. We'd be down to a skeleton staff in some departments. We adjusted our production schedules to accommodate, so there was nothing for us suckers to do. If it wasn't for the lone supervisor per department remaining, we'd all be sitting in our cubicles reading novels or watching movies online.

Chris gets off of work early on Wednesday, and we talked about heading up to my parents' house a day early so we'd have more time for a visit. I asked my mom what the vacancy level looked like for that night, and it's not looking good. My brother Don and his family will be arriving late Wednesday night, which means that one of the bedrooms will be full.

I had hoped we'd have two bedrooms to ourselves so Ben could sleep away from Anna. We could still swing it, though the bedroom leftover only has two twin beds. Ben can sleep in the packnplay, and Anna can bunk with me on one of the beds. We'll just leave the room with her when she gets up to eat and get changed.

I thought about staying down here in Wausau and just going up for the actual holiday dinner, but we'd miss out on so much fun with my nephews. I want Ben and Anna to have holidays full of family memories, especially the glorious chaos of fitting so many people into my parents' 3-bedroom house.

For Christmas, we've already reserved a hotel room in town.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Baby Booms

We all found out last Friday that my brother's wife is pregnant with their first daughter. After two boys, we didn't dare to speculate about the gender of her baby bump. We kind of went with the "it's probably a boy" party line. So we were pleasantly surprised and excited to discover that they'll have the joy of a daughter in the home.

Woo-hoo! Little Abigail is due in March.

My sister is six weeks pregnant with her second baby. Her son is turning one next week. Only a couple months of difference in the age gap between her two and my two. Gage is rather high maintenance, so we wonder how he'll react to sharing his mommy.

Pause... who's next? I'm done. No more babies for this family. My other brother is not planning on having a baby with his wife since they already have a daughter from her previous relationship. Maybe my sister will want a third? I know my brother and his wife are considering having another soon after little Abigail is born so she'll have a playmate (the boys are 8 and 14).

It just feels like we're on a roll, and we should keep the momentum going.

Just with the babies born recently and the ones still cooking in the oven, family get-togethers will be fun. Five children under the age of three by next Christmas. It boggles the mind. They'll have fun growing up together.

Chris has his first appointment at the end of the month for a consultation with the doctor who will perform his "snip." It feels very final, but it also feels like the right move for our family, even if we're not helping with the baby momentum.

Our family is still growing, though. At Anna's one-month well child visit, we learned that she's now 20 inches long and weighs 8 pounds, 14 ounces. Her diaper rash is nearly gone, and she's eating like a pro. Her pediatrician couldn't be happier.

And in another "boom" moment... I put Anna in her bouncy chair in the kitchen. Ben and I started playing catch with his mini basketball. Ben thought it would be a good idea to include Anna in the game, just like Chris and I play three-person catch with him. So when Ben had the ball, he threw it at Anna. Boom. Right in the gut. She didn't even flinch. I scolded Ben and said that Anna was too young to play and not to throw the ball at her again. But he did. Boom. Again right in the gut. That was the end of Anna being in the bouncy chair near where we're playing catch.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Politics of Sleeping

We had a good system for a while. Anna would sleep in her bassinet next to Chris while he was up in the living room and then next to him while he slept on the bed in the dining room. When she'd wake up after midnight to be changed and fed, we'd switch places, and he'd get to sleep off duty while I tried to sleep with Anna. I didn't bother with the bassinet, though. I pulled her into bed with me. We both would sleep for two or three hours stretches at a time. It was wonderful.

This last week, Anna stopped sleeping in her bassinet. She would fuss and grunt and eventually work herself up into screams. She'd only sleep while curled up in someone's arms, against their chest. That totally ruined Chris's routine. He cannot, I repeat, cannot sleep with Anna against him.

Friday morning, while he was changing her diaper and we were both half asleep, he announced that it was my fault that she wasn't sleeping in the bassinet. I had spoiled her by co-sleeping. Not only that, he was going to ask her pediatrician to have a talk with me about the dangers of co-sleeping.

I haven't had the strength or the will to fight Chris since an argument we had just after Anna was born. It feels futile to me. So I just sat there, staring at him. I couldn't believe he was going to "tell on me."

Eventually, we tried to remember what we had done with Ben, since this was an issue with him as well, one that sparked one of our first huge shouting fights as a married couple. We couldn't really remember. I think he slept in a swaddle while in the carseat. So we're going to try that. During the day, I'll try to remember to put her down while she's sleeping instead of letting her sleep on my chest (like she's doing right now. Shhhh.)

The thing about co-sleeping is that if both parties aren't on board, it doesn't work. Even if I said I'd only sleep with Anna in the other bed, Chris still wouldn't be happy. He doesn't really think it's dangerous, he just doesn't want to give up his "shift" with her. I think it's like a badge of honor with him that he lets me sleep undisturbed for 3-5 hours every night. He really wants her to be able to sleep on her own.

I'd love to keep co-sleeping with Anna. It feels right to have her nestled against me. When I roll over, she rolls with me. I was even getting the hang of nursing while lying down. My "gut" feels that one month old is too young to start sleep training... we'll keep trying out some compromises until something works... or Chris gives up and lets me sleep with her.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Silver Screen Dreams

In my junior year of high school, I lived at a foster home for my most of my second semester. I had problems sleeping, so I would put in VHS tapes in my VCR and play them softly on repeat all night long. I had about 10 or 11 tapes full of Simpsons episodes.

After I moved back home, my brother confiscated the tapes on the grounds that he's a bigger fan. Whatever, Mitch. I started a new collection of tapes based on a new obsession: old studio movies from the '40s and '50s.

I grew enamored with Doris Day and Cary Grant, Katherine and Audrey Hepburn, among many others. I recorded almost every movie I found with my favorite actors starring when they aired on TCM and AMC. By the time I was 20, I had a rather large collection. Over 50 tapes with 2 or 3 movies on each.

Over the years, many tapes have worn out and are no longer playable. Others have been recorded over and over again. I still prefer to fall asleep with the TV on. Instead of the Simpsons, I play my old movies. This is one of the reasons my husband and I don't have the same bedtime. He waits for me to fall asleep, and then he comes in and turns off the TV.

In honor of my quirky habit, I present my Top 5 favorite movies that I have recorded on tape. These movies are in no particular order.

Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
with Cary Grant and Myrna Loy

This is an off-beat comedy with a simple premise that has been redone a few times. Husband and wife buy/build dream house, encounter problems along the way, fight, make up, live happily ever after. Myrna Loy is absolutely charming in this. I especially love the scene when she's describing paint colors to a painter. (Soft, fresh butter yellow, winesap apple red, robins-egg-peacock blue grey, white, but not a hospital white, warm white, but not to suggest any color but white).

Bringing Up Baby
with Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn
This hilarious farce is on many famous funniest-movie-of-all-time lists. I totally know why. I've seen this movie dozens of times, and it still tickles me. The crazy romantic comedy is about a scientists who finds himself trapped in the madcap escapades of a ditzy young heiress. His career is dependent on how things turn out, and the mish-mash of personalities is classic.

Woman of the Year
with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn
The first movie to pair the two, this classic showcases the undeniable chemistry between the two leads. It's hot and fiery. Less comedy than drama, I love the woman-power aspect of the movie. Spencer has to figure out a way to fit into the jet-set-political life of the woman he loves. The ending suggests a compromise between a suzy-homemaker life for Katherine and the I-am-a-liberated-woman power trip she was on before.

The Awful Truth
with Cary Grant and Irene Dunn

I love these two together. In this romantic comedy, the married couple fight and begin the divorce process. They still have to see each other because they share custody of the dog. They both move on to new loves, but still find themselves drawn to each other. With comedic moments bordering on farce, the movie has a quick pace and quicker wit.

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?
with Tony Randall, Betsy Drake and Jayne Mansfield

The only color movie of the group, I have this one memorized. Advertising man loves his secretary, but finds himself having to publicly romance a starlet in order to secure his job. Hilarity ensues. It's almost cartoonish, really. Absolutely silly, and I love it. The moral of the story is that success isn't the most important thing in the world. Happiness is.

So there you go. My top five old movies.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Calendar Doesn't Lie

First of all, I don't own a calendar anymore since I stopped working. It seemed so foolish to buy one for 2007 since they've already come out with 2008 calendars. A stupid reason, I know. But there it is.

Second of all, once Anna was born, my world has been insulated and isolated from the rest of the world. I stay at home, ready to pop out a breast at any moment, watching her grow and listening to her grunt. Other than remembering to pay bills after my husband's paycheck gets deposited, the calendar date means nothing to me.

The only reason I know it's the middle of November is that they talked about the start of gun-deer season this weekend on the local news, and my mom reminded me that my oldest brother is turning 40 on Sunday.

She talked about Thanksgiving and mentioned that it's next week already. Yeah right. You've got to be kidding me. No. It's true. Next week is Thanksgiving. Actually, a week from today. Believe it or not. The holiday will happen with or without you paying attention.

As I look at my little Anna who seems to have grown three inches since she was born, I'm startled by the realization that she's already a month old. Her due date is Monday. She's about eight pounds, and it's difficult for me to understand that women give birth to babies this big (and much bigger) every day.

The days on the calendar keep flying by, and my children keep growing. I'm left on the sidelines, cheering them on in a sleep-deprived daze and holding on for dear life and dearest love.

I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, my favorite of the holidays. I have two healthy children, a husband who loves me and a house that isn't getting foreclosed. I have an extended family that is growing and loving and learning. It's November 2007, and all's right in my world (except having a baby who decides to cluster feed while mommy is blogging).


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Jump Around Jump Around

We've been trying to teach Ben to jump for months. His version of jumping was cute, though not really jumping. It consisted of him standing on a bed or in the tub, launching his center of gravity up while he flings his legs in front of him, landing very hard on his butt. On the bed, he'd bounce; in the tub, he'd splash.

When he'd be on the floor, Ben would jump by going on his tippy-toes and slamming back on his heels quickly. He never got airborne.

Leave it to Elmo to teach him the way to do it. Today in Elmo's World, the topic of the day was hopping on one foot. Ben was in his high chair playing with bottle caps, so he could only watch intently. I demonstrated hopping, quickly realizing that breastfeeding mothers should not, under any circumstances, hop without a supportive bra. I left the rest of the instruction to Elmo and his human friends.

Ben slowly grew more excited, and he insisted on getting down. He did... and he hopped. And he jumped. He actually left the ground. Over and over again. I beamed. I clapped. I shouted and cheered. Yay jumping Benji! I was so proud.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

30 Days Old

We came right up to the deadline for getting Anna added to our insurance, so I was quite aware of when she would be thirty-days old... today!

I was noticing yesterday that she already has those cute little fat rolls on her thighs, and she's getting the rolls on her wrists, too. A plump little baby. She's getting too big for the newborn-sized sleepers now.

Her eyes are getting lighter every day. It really seems like she'll have blue eyes like her daddy. I've always thought light-colored eyes and dark hair look very intriguing in combination.

As I type this, she's nestled against my chest, cradled in the perfect-fit cushions of the boobies. She has her hands up by her face, and she has one hand covering her eyes since she's facing the lamp next to me.

She went 5.5 hours between feedings during the night. I celebrated despite the engorgement. Don't think I got more sleep because of it, though. Ben woke up at 3:30, thinking it was time for morning. I changed his diaper and cuddled him close while he whimpered.

We still haven't pinpointed many aspects of Anna's personality yet. She spends a lot more time awake lately, but she's mostly just looking around at everything nearby. I think she's a cuddly and curious baby with lots of patience and tolerance.

Ben remains in love with his little sister. I keep waiting for him to act out against her, but he really hasn't. Sometimes he gets frustrated at me for not being available for him, but that's to be expected.

I do some things to help that, though. Every time I get ready to change her diaper, I offer to change his first. He hates diaper changes, so he never accepts, but when I ask him first, he doesn't fight for my attention while I'm busy with Anna. I also ask him if he wants a snack or a refill on his sippy cup before I start nursing. I try to involve him in her care. If we're in a different room and she starts fussing, I ask Ben to come with me to check on her, and we go hand in hand together. So far so good.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Me and Mine Meme 100 for the 200

Nordette from BlogHer is trying to get back into the bloggy swing of things by interviewing 100 (you heard right) mommy or daddybloggers by the end of the year. I think she should interview me. :) She wants us to do the following meme so she can decide who to interview:

1.) State the name of your blog, your real name or your online name, and link to your "about me" page.
My blog is entitled Red Pens & Diapers. My name is Cheryl Mathis (my online name is mammacheryl), and you can find my "about me" page here.

2.) Say you want to be profiled on BlogHer as a family blogger and link back to this post.
Dude. I want to be profiled on BlogHer as a family blogger.

3.) Tell how long you've been blogging.
I've been blogging since October 2006. This is actually my 200th post. Woot!

4.) Pass this meme on to three other bloggers that you think should be profiled/interviewed.

I think Dana, Candace and Daisy should be profiled as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Oh No He Didn't

I can't believe he just said that.

I was expressing mock scorn over Dana's faltering on NaBloPoMo, and my husband uttered the unspeakable.

"I bet in three years this won't matter so much anymore."
I remained silent, so he continued to explain himself better.

"I mean you probably won't be blogging in three years. You won't care about stuff like that because you'll be too busy chasing after our kids."

Blogging is a lifeline right now. I don't know if it'll be a lifeline for me in a few years, but it matters now. Now while my life is changing every time I blink.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I love Mister Rogers, but that's not what this post is about.

We bought this house in January. Our first house with our first yard. We have small patches of lawn in the front and a huge expanse of yard in the back.

This beautimus yard landscape requires mowing, and we purchased our very own lawnmower in the spring. [Dear innocent husband didn't even realize that he bought a Packers-themed mower. He hates football and doesn't understand that living in Wisconsin makes him an obligatory Packers fan. Now he explains to anyone who sees the mower that he is not a Packers fan. I worry that he'll get beaten for statements like that.]

The mower has an attachment bag to gather clippings for mulch. Chris thinks this is the coolest thing in the world. He proudly and religiously emptied the mulch bag 15-20 times every mow session. His designated mulch pile is under the clothesline against the back wall of the garage.

Anna was born in the middle of October, and we were still in the throes of tiredness and excitement when leaf pickup occurred last week. We didn't rake our yard like we were supposed to, and we certainly didn't rake the leaves into the street for pickup. Last weekend, Chris mowed the lawn, effectively vacuuming up the leaves, and dumped the clippings onto the mulch pile.

A couple days later, a city inspector came to the property and made note of the pile. He didn't recognize it as a mulch pile but as an unlawful storage of refuse materials. We received a letter in the mail on Wednesday stating that we had three days to remove the pile and dispose of our refuse properly.

Wow, did that upset Chris! His precious mulch pile (though we don't have a garden yet) was being declared a nuisance.

Our garage is against our property line, and our backyard is not separated by fence or hedge from our neighbor's yard. That means that our neighbors, in essence, get to share the beauty of our mulch pile. I wouldn't blame them for complaining about it.

So the big question is how do you make a mulch pile look like a mulch pile and not a pile of yard waste that wasn't deposed of properly? Chris would have the answer to this question if he had remembered to call the city guy on Thursday or Friday during his office hours. But he didn't, and that means he has to bag up his mulch pile today. We predict 8-12 yard bags full of clipped grass and leaves.

In marriage you have let your spouse have their little oddities. I hate putting a new roll of toilet paper in the holder. Chris needs mulch though we don't have a garden. I tried to explain to him that the battle isn't worth it, and we should just haul the bags to the yard waste site and let it go, but, as Chris explained to me, "The mulch pile may not be important to you, but it's important to me."

Until Chris talks to the city property inspector and learns what we have to do to have a mulch storage area, our bags of mulch will be stored in our garage. I have a feeling that in a few weeks, we'll be the proud owners of a chicken wire fence in a remote corner of the yard.

Friday, November 09, 2007

What That Sounds Like

What does an open, honest and relatively unemotional conversation about child sex abuse sound like between a mother and daughter? I found out yesterday morning.

My mother mentioned how a friend of mine from high school always looks so sad when she sees her around town. I told her that she's a sad person who had a rough childhood. There was rampant incest in her house that everyone knew about but nobody did anything about. Being in that family and surviving what she went through would make anybody sad.

So starts the conversation. You see, when I was a very young girl (toddler through kindergarten), my babysitter was the lady across the street. I was over there all the time when my mother was working or busy. It was the lady, her husband, her two sons and her daughter. The oldest boy was in high school during that time frame, and he was a sex predator.

"Stuff" happened that was very traumatic and disgusting and upsetting, and I've been through lots of therapy and some spiritual exercises to overcome and move beyond the past. I'm healed, I'm fine. I can talk about that stuff now without getting upset.

My mom and I mainly talked about what the warning signs are of children being sexualized too early. We talked about how it could have happened right under the neighbors' noses in their house without the parents really knowing (you turn a blind eye to ugly things you don't want to deal with). In a roundabout way, we talked about how it could have happened under my mother's nose without her knowing and how she's not to blame. [An eerily similar circumstance surrounds my sister's childhood, taking place in a different neighborhood with different people. Nobody realized or acknowledged that abuse at the time either.]

We talked for over an hour, dissecting the idea, analyzing it. She was sitting in the dining room, and I was in the living room nursing Anna. There was space between us physically, and also emotionally, which is probably why we could discuss an intense subject without getting upset and judgmental.

Ironically, earlier that day I had watched a TV show where they mentioned off-handedly that honesty is always best in families, and it's the only way to really have healthy relationships. At the time, I thought it would be nice to have honest relationships within my family where people actually talk about things rather than just tacitly accept and move on.

When everything that happened in my youth came out of hiding when I was in high school (and had a nervous breakdown), we never discussed it as a family. My mom and I talked a little bit about it during therapy sessions, but otherwise, we just chalked it up to history and moved on.

After having such a healthy discussion today with my mom, I have a new dream. I wish all of the adults in my family could sit down together and talk about these issues. I don't need sympathy or apologies for blind eyes. I want them to be educated about how stuff like that occurs, and how people can be open about these issues without dwelling on them. I want them to know the warning signs of child sexualization and child sex abuse, and I want them to learn some ways to keep the lines of communication open with children when it comes to difficult subjects.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mother Blessings and Work Drama

On Monday, my mom sent me an email asking if lasagna was good for something for her to bring down for us. I said yes. Lasagna would be yummy, as would her American spaghetti and chicken and rice casserole. I was teasing, but she took me seriously.

I told Chris what she was bringing down, and he piped in, "and her beef stew?" I said I'd rather die than ask my mom to make a fourth meal for us. Knowing her, she'd bring down the ingredients and get it going in our slow cooker.

She really is such a blessing. Did I mention that she's buying me a winter jacket?

My mom is coming down early this morning. ("I plan on leaving extra early tomorrow. What is the earliest you'll let me in?" "We get up at 5:30.") She's bringing lots of food, and she's staying until early afternoon when she gets back on the road to travel to another house with grandchildren where she will fulfill more Nana duties.

Yesterday was odd for me. Chris forwarded an email he had received from work about a drastic, extensive re-organization that is taking place in my old department. Every single position is affected by the re-org. As I looked through the workflow charts, my mind boggled. I could feel my blood pressure rising and a panic attack coming on.

I was in a dither and very anxious for a whole thirty minutes until I told myself that it's not my problem anymore. It's nothing I have to be stressed over because I don't work there anymore. I paced back and forth with Anna for ten minutes, repeating aloud to myself, "I am a stay-at-home mom. I do not work at [Company Name] anymore."

I left my laptop alone for a while and stopped emailing back and forth with my old boss. I washed dishes and folded laundry. A few hours later when I picked the laptop back up, I looked at the org charts downloaded to my desktop and sighed. With relief, I think.

Somewhere in the back of my head, I think I'd been pretending that I'm just on maternity leave. Especially now that Anna's here, it's pretty easy to imagine that. In that skewed reality, the re-org would be traumatizing since I dislike change so much. In the actual reality of my life, the re-org is inconsequential. Sure, it will make my friends stressed out for a while, but it's really not my problem anymore.

My job is to nurture and care for my children. I don't proof pages anymore. I am a stay-at-home mom, and I'm not going back to work for years.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Butt Saga

To Kelly: I made the announcement myself using Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. The paisley is a fabric sample image I stole online from Google Images. The card design itself is heavily borrowed from another announcement I saw at Tiny Prints. The fonts were downloaded from Font Freak, a freeware/shareware font site. I made about five different designs for an announcement and chose from that selection. "Pink Paisley" was the winner.

I modified and tweaked all the images in Photoshop and put together the design in Illustrator. I used a lot of different boxes, frames and lines, and played around with color swatches until I had the balance I wanted. A dozen layers later, presto. Pink Paisley.

Anna had her last weight check yesterday. She's now seven pounds, thirteen ounces. Terrific gain. Definitely a Super Mommy moment. Breastfeeding is obviously going well, thank goodness.

Her butt remains a problem. She still has the diaper rash she developed two days after birth. It's not really a rash. It's more like open wounds that won't heal. Two patches where the cheeks touch. No skin. Just raw, red, oozing flesh. Painful of course. Doctor says there's really nothing else we can do other than what we're already doing. It's just a matter of how much she is pooping (every 30-60 minutes). Once the skin opened up while she was on antibiotics, she's kept pooping and she hasn't had a chance to heal.

Currently, our diapering routine is this: We change her about 15 times a day. We use a squeeze bottle of warm water to clean off her bottom and a clean cotton towel to pat dry. Every change she air dries for at least five minutes. Five times a day, she stays diaper free for twenty minutes. Once she's dried for a while, we gently apply Triple Paste or Aquaphor to offer a moisture barrier.

It's starting to look like it's beginning to heal. The edges of the "rash" are turning white and changing shape a bit. But it's been three weeks, and that makes us sad.

So I'm doing the unthinkable. *I kid.* We're buying a couple packs of cloth diapers, a pail and some diaper pins. We're not switching all the way to cloth diapers, but I want to keep her in them for at least six hours a day. Hopefully that will give her butt a chance to breathe a bit more.

If we like using them, maybe we'll increase the ratio. After all, I'm home all day with the kids, and we have our own washer and dryer. If anybody has an ideal situation for using cloth diapers, it's me. (Not true. I could be incredibly wealthy and live in a city that has a diaper service.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Finished Product


The final version is 5x7, and I chose recycled craft paper envelopes and bright white heavy cardstock. I'm looking forward to receiving my order from Paper and More, my favorite mail order company for that kind of stuff.

It was tough choosing the pictures. It felt kind of weird doing the photo-retouching on a little baby, but I didn't feel right leaving her with the flakes of dried breastmilk on her face that I didn't notice.

Snow Means One Thing

Chris emailed me on his way back to work after lunch. "Snow!!!!"

It's been two and a half years, but I still find it charming that my Tucson-native husband is shocked by the arrival of snow.

Sure, today's small flurry isn't sticking to the ground, but it does give us a bit of a wake-up call to the season. Summer is definitely not coming back any time soon. Fall isn't the pretty colorful spectacle anymore. It's now the stuff of forty degrees or less and leftover soggy leaves that we forgot to rake.

Winter is coming! This means more to me than the pending arrival of the holiday season. I love winter, and I always have. Of course it's not because I enjoy winter sports, because I don't... it's because I love cold weather and gazing at freshly fallen snow. I love the crunch of snow and ice under my shoes. I even love having a cold and runny nose while I'm slaving over a shovel.

Last winter, Ben could care less about the snow. We tried to encourage him to play with the white stuff, but he just shook it off and looked at us like we were crazy. I'm hoping that this year, we can teach him the joy of snow angels and snowpeople.

You can be assured that once we have accumulation of more than four inches, I will be leaving Anna inside with Tucson Daddy and dragging Ben outside to throw snow at him.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sibling Joy

I was the caboose of the family. The surprise.

My oldest brother was 13 when I was born. When I was a couple weeks old, and he was watching me while my mother was away, he carried me (under my armpits) down the street to his friend's house a few blocks away to show me off. It's the classic Don and Cheryl story.

My other brother was 10 when I was born. The first thing he said when he saw me was, "That's MY baby." And so I was for the next seven years. He adored me and loved me to bits. He dropped out of high school when he was 17 to join the navy, and I was heartbroken and cried for two weeks. The "my baby" is the classic Mitch and Cheryl story.

My sister was seven when I was born. Beforehand, she always told my mom that she was praying for a little sister so she would have a friend. After I arrived, she felt differently. She wasn't the baby anymore. Later on in life, when I was excelling at school and she was struggling through, she resented me even more. When I was in college, she got a divorce and started school herself. We were roommates. So started our relationship as adults. It's been rocky, but we're at a good place now, both mothers now, both happily married. The "praying for then resenting" is the classic Jolene and Cheryl story.

Everyday, there are little Ben and Anna stories happening all the time. I marvel at how Ben interacts with her, and every moment feels special and phenomenal. I wonder how they'll be together when she's one and he's nearly three. Or when she's four and he's nearly six. What will their friendship be like? Will they be inseparable best buds?

I didn't have a sibling close to my own age. My sister wasn't around much when she was in high school (issues), and my brothers were long gone, both in the military. I felt like an only child. I played by myself, and I had Mom and Dad to myself well before I hit puberty. I don't know what it's like to have to share or argue or get along with my brothers or my sister. I don't know what is in store for Ben.

I do know that we're off to a good start.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Photo Shoot Day

This isn't one of the beautiful photos that were taken by my friend Mary today, but I still thought it was cute. Anna was being burped by her daddy, and I love the look on her face. So curious and amazed by everything.

My mood level is low tonight. It's been a long day.

We had a lovely visit with my brother Mitch, his wife Becky and their daughter Alisha this morning. He talked a lot. He doesn't usually talk that much in front of me, so it was nice to hear him talk so animatedly about his job. He's running for union rep, and we laughed about how my father is going to crap a brick if he gets the position. My dad is very anti-union. Anyway. They stayed for a little less than an hour.

Dear friend Mary came over after lunch to visit and take Anna's newborn pictures for the baby announcements. We had a nice time cooing over the baby while her four-year-old son JT played with Ben. I started falling asleep a couple hours into the visit, so they left, and I tried to nap.

I think my mood level is low tonight because Anna is acting a little weird. She hasn't really been very hungry today. When she does eat, it's just for about five to ten minutes, and then she stays asleep no matter what I do to try to wake her up. Sometimes when she's awake, she still won't be hungry. If she keeps this up for more than 24 hours, we'll have to start bottling a bit more to make sure she stays hydrated. We can "force" a bottle, but we can't get her to do the necessary work at the breast if she doesn't want to. She's been so content to sleep and cuddle all day.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Sleep Deprivation Illness

It's not a new story. I have a newborn. I'm not sleeping a lot. Mothers have been staying awake with their newborns forever. It's just the way things are.

And really, I have a good setup here. I have Super Husband, who takes a 4- to 5-hour shift with Anna every night so I can get a solid stretch of sleep away from her. That's a blessing. Then there's the rest of the night when I'm on duty... and I get little fitful catnaps with our angel baby.

I'm getting more sleep than other mommies, but I'm still feeling the effects. I'm constantly feeling like the flu is settling in. That groggy, stuffed up, achy, sickly feeling that always hangs over me. Ugh.

Breastfeeding is going so well, I haven't been able to express that much when pumping. That means that there aren't enough bottles to feed her for my nightly sleep session... and dear sweet girl refuses bottles of formula outright now. We're going to try bottles of half breastmilk, half formula and see if she'll take that, but I don't hold out much hope.

Last night Chris came into our bedroom defeated, carrying a screaming, flailing, very hungry Anna. He apologized over and over again as I sat up and pulled out a boob. "No problem, sweetheart. I know what I bargained for."

We've tried nursing while lying down. She's just too small for it right now. We'll keep trying every couple of days, but it's just not an option for the moment.

In other news... Ben is turning delightful again. We've had a week full of easy naps. He doesn't go upstairs on his own anymore, but he lets me carry him up there and put him in bed and tuck him in. And he stays there and falls asleep on his own. Blessings. Yesterday he took two naps for a total sleep time of three and a half hours.

One of my brothers and his wife and daughter are coming to see Anna for the first time tomorrow. Should be fun. An excuse for me to take a shower and put on clothes that aren't jammies. Side note: I've lost all of the pregnancy weight already. I can't even use the excuse that I can't fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes so I'll just have to wear nightgowns.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Uninvited Guest

We only had one group of trick-or-treaters last night. We felt totally cheated... until later when we were the unhappy recipients of a trick.

Around 8 pm, I was washing pump parts in the kitchen while Chris, Ben and Anna were in the living room. I heard a loud crash behind me and turned around to see our cat Maisie running a circle around the table and disrupting a couple bags of recycling that hadn't gone out yet. Then I saw that she was chasing *something*.

Shudder. OMG. It was larger than a mouse, smaller than a grey squirrel. I screamed, and Chris came running into the kitchen as I went running into the living room. I picked up Ben and went up the stairs to put him to bed.

When I came back down, Chris was stalking the wild beast but had unfortunately lost sight of the animal. I sat in the living room with my feet up, holding Anna, trembling and crying. He came back defeated. No luck. Couldn't find it.

We waited, and I kept crying. I wanted to leave the house, get a hotel room or move. Chris reminded me that leaving wouldn't solve the problem, and besides, we have a mortgage. So we waited.

About 15 minutes later, we heard a slight ruckus from the kitchen again. Maisie was pawing at one of the recycling bags. Chris peeked in and saw that the critter had landed in there and was stuck. He brought the bag outside and released the furry woodland creature back into the wilds of the neighborhood.

It was a flying squirrel. We don't know how it got in, but this weekend we're putting screens on all of our heating vents and returns. I'm totally traumatized. And of course, I'm in a crazily intense cleaning mood. Pardon me while I go mop the kitchen floor again with disinfectant.