Monday, March 31, 2008

Progress Report: 40 pounds

It's that time again. It took almost twice as long to lose the same amount of weight, but we kept at it. We both feel fantastic, and we're looking forward to losing the next 40.



Sunday, March 30, 2008

40 Pounds of Freedom

How much does change weigh? I'd say about 40 pounds.

Yesterday afternoon when Chris took a nap, I did a novel thing: I piled the kids into the new double stroller and went for a long walk. We hiked it all the way to the nearest park which is nearly a mile away. Ben's favorite park, he was so thrilled to see the slides. He didn't mind that we had to climb over a snowbank to get to them.

As I walked at a steady clip, I threw my shoulders back and held my head high. I felt strong and capable, fit and responsible. I felt like I was part of a community, even though I was nearly the only one out wandering around. I felt like I was doing something for the environment because I walked instead of drove. I felt ... free.

I pondered the change that has taken place in my home since January 5th. It's remarkable, but at the same time, it's so hard to describe the full range. We're working side by side towards our goals. The house is coming together, and we both feel proud of what we have and own. We're taking time to exercise our bodies and to really think about what we are eating. We trying new things and entertaining new ideas.

As for me, I feel like this 40 pounds was a cloud hanging over my head. I was so sedentary before. The house was in disarray because I didn't really feel like getting off the couch to do anything about it. I avoided the outdoors because it meant activity and more time away from my laptop. I seemed to have a wall built between me and the me I wanted to be but wouldn't let myself examine because I was scared of change.

So as I walked proudly down the sidewalk, pushing my babies, a bounce in my step, I felt free. I felt free of the apathy and inertia that ruled my life before. I felt connected with my body as it moved without strain and pain. I felt my lungs expand with the fresh air that comes with living in a tiny city in America's heartland. I felt like I had accomplished something, my Everest, and I felt like I had turned a page and started on the next story of my life.

The scale read 204 this morning. On January 5th, I weighed 241. I haven't been 204 since I was 20. Though I'm still far from my ultimate weight loss goal, I've made it this far, and I have the tools to keep going. I've developed new habits, and I have every confidence in myself that I'll take this all the way to the next summit. I wish I had done this sooner, but I'm grateful for all the mistakes I've made and the wrong paths I've taken because they've made this new freedom all the more precious.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Up, Up and Away

The writing prompt from Sunday Scribbles this week is "Out of This World." Basically, talk about your feelings and thought about things outside the Earth's atmosphere.
Okay. I can do that.

I remember in 3rd grade, we were introduced to the idea of living on the moon. As a class, we brainstormed what life would be like. We talked about Jetsons-esque bubble cars, fully enclosed cities, really awesome zero gravity basketball games.

Then a little while ago, Guy Kawasaki's Truemors site twittered a link to this story about signs of life being discovered 63 light years away. So I talked to Chris about it. Mostly, I was musing about the baiting, irresponsible journalists who wrote the headline that seems to indicate that life was discovered on another planet. The story itself clarifies and says that a single sign of life, or a single element required to sustain life, methane, was discovered. The planet is too close to its sun, so life is not sustainable, and the scientists used the search as practice for discovering signs of life on planets that are actually capable of hosting life.

Though it goes against my Christian upbringing, I've always left the possibility of life on other planets open for debate. When dealing with something infinite like the universe, I prefer not to make blanket statements either way. You know the old monkeys with typewriters thing... how eventually, due to the whole infinite random chances in an infinite universe, the monkeys would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. I certainly don't know about life on other planets.

I don't go in for conspiracy theories, and I just tend to smile and nod when confronted with narratives of abductions and such. My fancy gets tickled with stories like Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time, which I had the pleasure of listening to again recently. I love the flight into the unknown, the discovery of the new and the intensely beautiful. I love the possibility of entire civilizations of beings who are closer to God than we ever dreamed. And I love boiling the struggle between Good and Evil down to something so intrinsic as to bridge the culture gap between human and non-human beings.

So, my brain foray into other worlds has led me inward instead of outward. That's what happens when I try to wrap my brain around a concept so huge as outer space: I wrap myself around the infinite that I can feel so tenderly. And I wonder if that happens to other people... or even those curious little guys on other planets. I wonder if they find themselves musing on the nature of God instead of trying to figure out ways of reaching out to other planets.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One Around His Knee

If Ben is wearing pants that have elastic on the bottom, one cuff *always* ends up around his knee. Not both cuffs. Just one. I've never seen him tug it up or scratch his leg... One of these days, I'll have to watch him closely after I dress him to see just how it happens.

A mystery for the ages. My son's pant habits. And totally bloggable, because I find it more fascinating than my futile attempt to sew a perfect quilt block.

Off topic bits: My surgery is still happening next Wednesday. In an email to my BFF KS, I likened rectocele surgery to a medieval torture for misbehaving whores. Oh. And my doctor, during my pre-op physical, joked that pelvic organ prolapse is one of those things they don't tell you about before you have kids. I reminded her that she was my OB, and she is the "they" she is referring to.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

How Dare You

Too busy to blog? How dare you say such a thing. You should always make time for your bloggy friends.

I've been busy. Quilting. Decluttering. Organizing. Laundry. Dishes. Floors. Children. Making Pretty Things With Photoshop and Illustrator.

Did I mention we started a remodeling project in the basement? Yeah. Because of the bigger-than-my-patience Train Table with a capital T, we've decided to build a playroom in our previously unfinished basement. While Chris has been busy building stud walls, I've been sorting through boxes of crap that weren't dealt with during my last basement purge.

We bought several utility shelf kits for the basement, and I refuse to just put boxes of crap on those beautiful shelves. So I'm going through all the boxes and then resorting them into new boxes that are labeled. It's nice that way. It's also time consuming.

We also installed shelves on the back walls of our bedroom closet and our entry closet, so now everything is nice and tidy in there.

Anyway. I've been busy. I've been cranky. I've been tired. I've been blessed beyond measure, but I have not been in a blogging mood. You will forgive me.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Glorious Family

We traveled to Green Bay yesterday to meet my brand new niece, little Abigail Kaytlin.

It was remarkable holding her for the first time. She looks nothing like Anna. They couldn't be more different.

A wash of emotions and thoughts came as I held her. This is my brother's daughter. She looks just like him. It's amazing how much she's a miniature Don. That dark skin, dark hair. My, what long fingers! She and Anna are going to be best friends growing up. I'm going to love her just as much as I love her older brothers. She's my niece. She's an addition to our family.

Family. That wonderful group of people who travel through life in the circle of your soul. You don't always get along. You sometimes never agree. But there's that bond. Sometimes blood, sometimes deep commitment.

So we have a new person to add to all the memories we'll create during our lives. A new spark of light to brighten up the long days ahead.

Welcome, little Abby. Welcome to this absolutely insane, incredibly silly, obscenely confident, genuinely loving family. You'll learn to love us.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Sibling Survival Guide

It started out as peals of laughter. Chris rescued Anna and held her as she screamed and slowly began to calm down. I screamed, "Oh my God!," a giggle in my throat, as I ran to Ben and sat with him on the floor, holding him and whispering to him.

"It's a good thing he's two and doesn't know any better."

And those showers of laughter became streams of tears as the enormity of the situation settled in my heart, the "what ifs" running through my head.

I kept thinking of those poor families who are struck with tragedy, the lies created to cover up the unfortunate circumstance of a child's death, so Child #1 will not be forever traumatized by the horrible fact that he caused the death of Child #2.

I had left Anna on her belly on the living room floor. She was playing with Ben's trains. Ben was bouncing off the walls, playing with balls and trucks and bead-and-wires. I went in the kitchen to check on the baking bread and the simmering beef roast.

When I had a moment, I walked through the living room to push the high chair back in place. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Anna's legs pumping up and down on the floor and Ben on his belly.

Chris and I saw it at the same time we heard stifled screams.

Ben had pulled a blanket over Anna's head and then proceeded to roll back and forth over the lump he created.

Silence. Let's just take a moment to hear the frogs croak and the crickets chirp.

Okay. Everyone is okay. No one is hurt. My mother says that God must have planned on us being close by when that happened so we could see it and stop it before tragedy struck.


They love each other still.

Wednesday afternoon, I filmed a short video of Ben and Anna on the floor, talking to each other. It was so precious. About a minute into filming, Ben stood up, and I figured he had lost interest. I pressed the stop button, and a ball flew by my head in the next second. It hit its target: Anna's face.

A few minutes later, Ben went "way back" for a pass, and he stepped on her fingers.

Every day I feel a mix of worry and wonder. I love watching them one-on-one and together. They fascinate me. I can't believe I ever found the adult world as interesting, as delightful, as all-consumingly heart-wrenching as being "Mommy" to these two children.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Double Four Patch Doubly Good

After I finished Abby's quilt, I thought about branching out and trying a new quilt pattern for the next endeavor. I was looking for something that would be easy but still look neat. And I didn't feel brave enough to try cutting triangles yet.

So I found a quilt pattern called "Double Four Patch," and I went with that. After taking pictures of all the new fabrics I bought, I laid out the pattern on the computer again so I could get a nice overall look at color values.

This is what I came up with:

And after just 10 hours, this is what I produced:

I think it's pretty. Now I just have to do the side bands and then the back. All in all, it should be done by the end of the weekend.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Jumping Dumpling

By popular demand (okay, just my brother), I bring you the cuteness that is Anna in her jumperoo. She has more fun when she has bare feet, but I forgot until I was loading the video.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Adventures of Anna Dumpling, Age 5 Months

Last Friday, Anna turned five months old. She's a sparkling little firecracker, a precious little diamond.

Here's the current state of Anna affairs:

No matter how much milk I have in the evenings, she insists on a bottle. Every time. Now I could be firm and refuse to give her bottles. After all, if she's hungry enough, she'll nurse. But we haven't done that. 1. I don't mind giving her a little bit of formula, and we mix some rice cereal with the bottles now. 2. It puts some of the feeding responsibility on Daddy. 3. Her cry is really, really intense. It's not just a fussy whine, it's a shriek.

A couple weeks ago, we acquired a Jumperoo. It's a free-standing jumping apparatus for babies. We had a johnny-jump-up, but we don't have any doorways on the first floor of our house other than our bedroom and the bathroom. Lots of arches. No place for the jump-up. Luckily, the nice Fisher-Price people make a contraption that sits on the floor. Anna loves this thing. She jumps so well, and it keeps her nicely entertained for at least ten minutes. It's located right next to Ben's toy box, and she enjoys watching him play with his trucks.

Everything is going in her mouth now. Yes, folks. We've reached that stage. She will pull things within reach into her mouth. Remotes, paper, orange slices, apple slices, phones, cords, blankets, fingers, noses, etc. You get the idea. This is quite cute, especially when she sucked on her first tart orange.

She's scooting on her belly a bit. Just an inch or so at a time, but Daddy cheers her on.

When she's lying in our arms when she's supposed to be falling asleep, she'll sometimes reach up and grab and pinch our faces repeatedly. The nose, the cheeks, the eye brows, the lips, the tongue, the chin. Everything. It's not gentle caressing, either. It's rough and forceful and determined.

Oh and how verbal she is. She's babbling all the time now. Coos and gurgles and giggles. She spits raspberries and makes farting noises with her lips. It's charming.

She's growing up so quickly. Look how well she holds her head up when she's on her belly!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Go Off Into The World Now, Abby Quilt

I felt a bittersweet sadness wash over me yesterday as I finished the last little bit of the hand-stitched binding. I put away my needle and thread, and laid the quilt on the floor with a flourish. *Sigh* It was beautiful, and I was proud of my creation.

Ben ran over and grabbed it, scampered away, yelling, "Mine!"

No, Ben. It's not yours. It's Abby's blanket. Mommy made this blanket just for little Abigail, who came into this world with a lusty cry and oh-so-long dark hair Thursday afternoon.

And just like Chris, who put in the last stitch on his cross-stitching piece just five minutes before I began pushing Ben into the world, I was quietly stitching the quilt when I heard the news of my niece's arrival. That needlework piece of Chris's is pinned to Ben's curtains. A cat dangling from a branch, saying, "Hang in There." He started that soon after we learned I was pregnant, and he finished it just in time.

I'm not sure if I'm totally addicted to quilting. I hate to admit to addictions, you know. But I am going to jump right into the Mallory Quilt, and I'm going to sign up for a quilting class so I can learn how to do things better.

Bye, Bye, my dear Abby quilt.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

This Is Love

You know the honeymoon is over when you keep getting a whiff of stink, and you finally ask your husband to smell your armpits. "Smells fine to me." Then you smell his. "Nope, not your pits." Then you smell his crotch. "Not overly stinky." Then he smells yours. "Not stinky."

This is obviously love, folks.

We often wonder how eharmony really knew that we would be a good match. How did it know our personalities would mesh so well? How did it know that our sense of humor would be amplified in the presence of the other?

Who would have thought that a computer nerd from Tucson and a proofreader from Wisconsin would come together so well and make such perfect children together who were not hit hard with the ugly stick?

Being parents to Ben and Anna is our favorite part of life. Watching Chris delight in my children, giggle at Anna, rest his head against Ben's... Ah. That's the sweetness in life.

This year also revealed a new dimension to our relationship. We are challenging each other daily on our weight loss goals. Partners, compatriots, coaches. I'm so proud of him for every time he makes a decision to break an old habit, every time he trudges out of the house at six am to go work out at the Y before work. He's melting before my eyes.

Even our discussions about his job fill me with a certain joy. The overwhelming tech lingo gets a little ... well ... horribly annoying ... but the discussions about what he can do about things that bug him at work, how he can relate to someone, how he can change his perspective on something. We talk about something, and then he comes back later with a report on an important step he took in a positive direction. It's thrilling to know that he actually values my advice on matters beyond diaper cream and toddler meals.

If you were to stop by our house this weekend to wish us a Happy Anniversary!!, you might see the following, which I feel kind of sums up where we are in our life together right now:

It's the dry erase board where we write down our grocery list during the week. He started the chaos by adding "Bongo drums" to his list of milk, tortillas and formula. I added "hockey stick." It went from there. Every day we'd add something new ourselves and giggle at what the other wrote. This is our marriage: the melding of the practical and the comedic relief.

Happy 3-Year Anniversary, dear one. Thank you for the nightly back scratches, for leaving the toilet seat down, for not stealing the covers *all the time*, and for letting me be the crazy-ass person that I am. **Nuzzle**

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Scribbling: Anticipation

A nifty writing prompt site, Sunday Scribblings, had the theme of "Smorgasbord" this week. The word prompt wasn't this Swedish diner lingo, but an extensive list of previous scribbles. Ala carte! I've chosen "Anticipation" from the list, because I'm anticipating a lot of things right now.

In a few oh-so-short weeks, I'll be exposing my most private parts to a roomful of strangers. Strangers with knives and needles and probably razors. I'm anticipating a lot of "discomfort." That's a give-in. But how am I preparing for this time?

I'm anticipating a struggle with my weight loss goals during my recuperation. I won't be able to exercise. I can sit on my throbbing butt and do nothing. That's about it. I have some fun graphic design projects planned, but that won't shed the poundage.

Just 7 pounds from my "forty," I can almost taste the anticipation of getting to that magic number: 201. So close to 199, which will feel so amazing. The anticipation of my "forty" tastes like chocolate ice cream and pizza. (My "forty" refers to a 40-pound weight loss since Jan. 5.)

I'm anticipating a lot of anxiety about my house getting messy. I shudder to think of what will happen when I'm no longer able to crawl around the house with Ben, picking up trucks and trains. I *really* hate asking Chris to do stuff like that, because he almost never does it graciously. Though he's a superior specimen of a husband, this is one area where we experience a lot of friction. There's usually a guilt trip involved because I'm a SAHM and he's gainfully employed, and there's usually expectation of a medal of some sort. The anticipation of clutter tastes like dust bunnies and murphy's oil soap.

I'm anticipating a lot of downtime. Well. This is a "duh." Since I signed on to FlyLady, I haven't let myself have a lot of downtime. I even put my sewing machine on a counter so I couldn't sit down while I quilt. I allow myself about 45 total minutes of blogging time every day, and I play six short daily word games on Shockwave. Other than that? I'm decluttering, deep cleaning something, washing dishes, doing laundry, playing catch with a toddler, etc.

So what am I going to do with 2-6 weeks of relative inactivity? Graphic design, blogging, writing letters, sewing at a table, crossword puzzles, watching bad TV, boredom. The anticipation of downtime tastes like anchovies and cottage cheese.

Those are future anticipations. Right now, I'm anticipating bedtime, and that tastes just like Diet Dr Pepper, since I just finished enjoying a glass of it, and I'm going straight to bed.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Change Alone is Eternal, Perpetual, Immortal

Monday afternoon, when I was feeling sorry for myself and eating too many delicious spicy oatmeal raisin cookies, a lady in HR from my former place of employment called me to offer me a job. I accepted with alacrity.

I knew I'd be getting this call. I've known since late January, I think. It helps to still be BFF with your old boss. (Hi KS!) She keeps me informed of the tide changes and rumors.

You see, she's having a baby at the end of May. Her daughter will be born, and KS will be on maternity leave. She and her boss figured that instead of hiring someone off the street to temp full-time, they could hire me part-time, and I'd be far more effective since I'm actually trained to proofread. In the past, our proofreading temps have ended up doing the grunt work for other areas to free up other associates to help with proofing. But even the other associates couldn't really proof.

So for 8-10 weeks, I'll be going to work again on Wednesdays and Fridays.

When KS asked if I'd be interested, I said yes immediately and regretted it but didn't take back my "yes." Other the last month that this has been simmering on my mental back burner, I've come up with a lorry load of reasons not to go back to work.

The highlights of the "Don't do it!" list:

* We'll have to pay for childcare for some of the days, and that defeats the purpose of me working.
* I'll miss the children.
* The children will miss me.
* I'll have less time with my family since Chris is hoping to take a class this summer as well.
* My breast pump will be in Green Bay with my SIL. I don't want to wean Anna so soon, and it would be hard to keep up my supply if I only nursed her once during the day on my lunch break.
* There have been lots of organizational changes at my old job, and it would take me a while to adjust.
* Do I really want to go back to all that drama?
* I'm having surgery in April.

Some of those things can't be helped, like the homesickness and the drama, but I did make another list of "Solutions and reasons to do it."

* My mom will come down for some of the Wednesdays to watch the children.
* The other four floating hours can be in the evenings or on the weekend if I want.
* Chris doesn't work Fridays, so childcare won't be an issue on those days.
* I miss proofreading.
* We can rent a breast pump for a couple of months.
* I liked working there, and I miss my co-workers.
* It'll be good for me to have to talk to adults again.
* Did I mention the extra money will be wonderful? We'll get to go into the fall without any credit card debt, and that's wonderful.
* I wouldn't be starting until seven weeks after my VJ surgery, and that should be plenty of time to heal.

So I'm doing it. And I'll love it. And it's only temporary. And I'll really appreciate my children again when I'm done.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Recto-celia - You're Breaking My Heart

Alternative Post Titles:
When I Found Out Kegels Didn't Work
Last Time I Checked I'm Only 26, Not 66

And The Bottom Drops Out

Rebuilding The Lady Parts

Just Sew Up The Joint And Call It A Day

Call it a rectocele. Call it pelvic organ prolapse. Whatever. I got it. If you want a clinical description, go to this link. For those who don't want to read about a freaky medical TMI thing, stop reading now.

A big part of me didn't want to ever talk about this issue. Face it. The topic is embarrassing and rather gross. But when I was first diagnosed, I went online to look up other people's personal stories about, and I found almost none. Lots of clinical sites, but no personal "This is how I dealt with it" stories. For one, the condition is common, but the severity of my prolapse is rare among my age group. For two, the topic is embarrassing and rather gross.

So I'll put my story out there so if someone like me searches for it later, they'll find a sympathetic ear and helpful and hopeful shoulder to lean on.

In January, I was reaching down with a baby wipe to give myself a little freshening up (considering I get to shower maybe every other day or so) while I was sitting down to do my business. I noticed a large bulge coming out of my yodel. It grew bigger when I would bear down.

To be honest, since having kids, I haven't really been all that interested in checking out the topography down there. Something to do with aversion to feeling scars from episiotomies, and frankly, any "relations" down there are rather uncomfortable and painful, and I'm a little bitter about that. So I've been giving my lady parts the silent treatment.

The "bulge" was freaky and weird. Over the next few weeks, I learned that if I wanted to easily have a bowel movement, I would have to push that bulge back in and hold it there. Gross, I know. This process, I learned, is called "manual evacuation," when you have to use your fingers as an internal splint to hold things in place and keep other things pointing in the right direction.

I kept it to myself. I think I mentioned something to Chris, but I didn't talk about it much. Most of the time, I forgot about it between "movements." In February, I mentioned my freak-accident-like oddity to my mother, and she made me call my doctor and make an appointment. "Might as well get it taken care of before it gets worse." Yeah, I guess.

So I saw my primary doctor the next day, she did a quick peek with a speculum, and then she promptly gave me a referral to see an OB for a rectocele consult. My appointment was a month away. From then on, I noticed my deformed lady bits more and more during regular activities, like walking, sitting, lifting things, etc. Nothing I could do about it. Didn't really hurt... it just felt like a tampon was falling out.

Oh joy.

My appointment with Dr. Bell was this morning. Nice man. He says that my muscle tone down there is very good, so that's not an issue. Weak muscle tone (Kegel exercises can help) is often at fault for pelvic organ prolapse. In my case, the fascia that holds everything where it's supposed to be has ripped apart and detached from its anchor points.

On April 2nd, he's going to slice me open, stitch everything back together, and then sew me back up. I'll be in the hospital overnight, and I'll have lifting restrictions for the post-op period. And my weight loss/fitness goals will be on hold, since I won't be able to exercise for eight weeks.

I'm less than pleased. I wish this whole thing wasn't happening at all. I'm glad that there's a solution, even if it's not guaranteed to last forever, but I just wish my body wouldn't have failed me in this way.

There are so many worse things that I could be going through. I don't have cancer. I'm obese, but pretty healthy. I'm not in any pain, and my body grows stronger each day. My children are precious and well, and my husband is loving and supportive. We own our own house, and we aren't missing mortgage payments. The car is paid for, and I have hobbies and interests that keep my brain active. I also have a wonderful community of friends who support me emotionally.

For that, I thank you. Now how about sitting down with me, munching on some spicy oatmeal cookies and sipping a big mug of coffee. Let's put our feet up and continue to count our blessings.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Home Stretch Quilt Alert

It's not perfect, but I'm proud of it anyway. I've finished the big multi-block section of my niece Abby's quilt. Better hurry. She might be busy being born later this week, the stinker little footling breech baby.

There's still plenty to do, but the really hard, complex stuff is done. There are several strips of fabric that frame this section, and then I have to put a back on the thing and then do the yarn ties. But hopefully, the rest won't be as teeth-pulling-ly obnoxious... not that this section wasn't made with many prayers and many extra stitches of love. *smile*

Language Development

My first words, according to my mother, were Donalds (whenever I saw the golden arches), grawge saywes (garage sales whenever I saw the little sign), and deedle-deets (for pennies).

As you might have guessed, my Benjamin is somewhat delayed in his language development. Not enough to need early intervention, but enough to make every new word or sound cause for some serious celebrating.

Like the other day when he tried "Cow" instead of "Kuck" for the word "Car." I emailed five people to let them know the good news. The advancement didn't stick, and he's back to "kucks." That's okay. We're patient people.

At 2 years and 3 months old, the following is the easy translation guide for communicating with Benji Boy:

Baow : Ball
Whee : Slide or swing
Kuck : Truck or car
Kee-ee : Kitty
Baby : Anna
Um Beh : Bath (it's an homage to this clip from AFV)
Monkey : Curious George
Bobbob : VeggieTales (a mix of Larry the cucumber and Bob the tomato)
Can : Bob the Builder (Can we fix it? Yes we can!")
Goggie : Any dog or Clifford
Ehw-mo : Elmo
Ow-bee : Arthur (no clue why)
Ooh-Why : Super Why!
Gack : Snack
Weet : Eat
Muh : Any beverage
Gox : Socks
Shuuuues : Shoes
Gook-gee : Cookie
Down : Down or Up or "let go of me"
Boo-booz : Bubbles
Buh-bups : Diaper, poopies
Choo-choo : Thomas toys or video
Wee-oh : Wiggles
Go-go-go! : Racing time or sports on TV
Go-go-k? : Mommy, say "on your mark..."
Boy-gee, boy-gee : Bouncy, bouncy
Dump : Jump
Gick-oo, Gick-oo : Tickle, tickle
Fwow : Throw
Buh : Book
Ny-ny : His cuddle blanket or sleepy time
Woom, Beep-beep : Move his high chair into the other room
Wha-zis : What is this?

This doesn't even count the other charming things he does... like when he sees the written word in any form, he starts going, "A, E, Ooh, I, B, D, E," like he's spelling the word for us. Or how he says "hi" and "bye" many, many times a day. Or the way he chases across the room to run full force into our legs for a hug. Or the recitation of "Mumma," "Deh-dee," and "Baby" at various times of the day.

Or the bright twinkle in his eye last night when I crashed his school bus into his truck over and over again. Or the maniacal grin right before he throws his arms down into the water to splash me. I love this kid.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Meme 3 of 3

Now for the final meme, I present Val from Momma Val. A quirky SAHM from the suburbs from Chicago, she always brings something fresh to the table. She's neat, and I've learned a lot from her. She's someone who I know that I'd be friends with in real life, which is neat because we come from different worlds.

Yup. In another life, my dad was a teacher. He had a student named Cheryl Lynn who was very cute and sweet.

The morning after my bad dream this week. I was overwhelmed with relief and love for Anna.

Yup. I was homeschooled for a few years in elementary school, and I spent hours working on my penmanship.

Sun-dried Tomato Turkey

Duh. I have two.

Probably not because I'm a bit of a recluse. I usually need friends who are willing to make more of an effort at keeping up a friendship.

Yes. Unfortunately, Ben doesn't get it yet.


I am not a big risk taker. So no.

Almost any kind of granola. Definitely something with nuts.

No, and I kind of hate that about me.


Heck. Right now, almost anything would taste awesome. But I really love mint chocolate chip with fudge swirls.

Their clothes. I'm not a prig, and I'm not a fashion diva... But I value neatness. I hate leaving the house in sweats and ratty t-shirts. It doesn't take much to make a decent impression.


My tendency towards inactivity. I really have to kick my ass most days to get moving.

Right now, I'm missing the family I used to nanny for. I also miss my mom, who is in California until Monday. And I wouldn't mind spending some time with my brothers and sisters.

Is it sad to say that I'm pretty damn happy right where I am? Small house in a small city. My second choice would be a larger house on the outskirts of town. Something with a big acreage where my children can safely roam and explore and make forts.

Jeans. No shoes. Not even socks. I pulled my laptop out as soon as I got up from my nap, and I'm not planning on accomplishing much this evening. The basement totally fulfilled my "need to do stuff" quota for the day.

A handful of nuts and raisins.

Anna squirming and huffing because I'm not holding her. Ben playing with his bead-and-wire box. TV.

One of the pinkish red ones. Very versatile. I can use it for pink or red. It can be bricks, hearts, trees in the fall, lips, and Clifford.

Vanilla, fruits, fresh laundry, baby shampoo, cinnamon, chocolate.

Yesterday I talked to my SIL on the phone. I don't use the phone more than once or twice a week.


I love gymnastics. Ben loves NASCAR, so I put that on for him when Daddy is sleeping.

Dark brown. Getting darker as I get older. I was a blonde when I was born. My family is always startled by how dark my hair is now.

Brown. More on the amber side rather than the chocolate side of brown.

I'm allergic to them. I wear glasses.


Happy endings. I can't watch scary movies. Sometimes, I even have issues with CSI.

That's easy. Cars.

Blue, green and white stripes.



Almost any kind of cheesecake. Or my mom's apple pie.

I will probably be having it on Monday (but you'll have to wait for the blog post on that one). I still remember the feeling of humiliation when I kept pooping while I was birthing Ben. I know it's natural and no big deal, but dammit. It's just not something I do in front of people. Especially when I can't clean it up myself.

Getting hired as a proofreader.

I just finished listening to Citizen Vince by Jess Walker. Lots of profanity, but a VERY interesting story, and lots of neat writing techniques.

I have an iBook. My "mouse pad" is a small square of plastic that I run my finger around to make the cursor move.

American Idol. Don't judge me.

My children laughing at each other.


Czech Republic.

I'm an excellent googler. I haven't met anyone in person who can match me on my searching skills.

Just down the street.

I'm ending with 46, because I'm feeling sentimental about my family. And because I'm not tagging anybody. If anybody needs blog fodder, they can go ahead and use any of these memes.

Friday Meme 2 of 3

This second meme also comes from RC of Hill Smith Family Update. She's the rare kind of woman who I would pay a small stipend to the gods if they would let her live next door.

What were you doing 10 years ago?

Hmmm. That was one of the most difficult periods in my life. Everything was in upheaval, and I was hanging on by a thread. Eventually I got back on the right track, but it took a lot of time, therapy and medication. That's all I'm going to say about that.

For the glossy facade that I will talk about: I was a junior in high school, and I was really enjoying my time as photo editor-in-chief of the school newspaper. We went to the big newspaper conference at UW-Oshkosh, and I won some awards for my photography prowess. I spent most of my life in the darkroom that year. It was my zone. I also taught some advanced photography to some lower level students who showed interest.

I also went to state for forensics. My category was ferrago, and I won a shiny gold medal for my performance of depressive poetry, lyrics, and essays.

Snacks I Enjoy

Lately? Apple slices with natural peanut butter. Protein bars. Nuts.

If I didn't care about my health and reaching my weight loss goals in a timely fashion? I'd say brownies, cold sugary cereal, candy bars, and most types of cookies. I love pie as well.

Five Things On My To-Do List Today

1. Wake up and get dressed to shoes.
2. Drink coffee and make eggs for my husband.
3. Quickly do a straighten-up of the disaster-zone basement.
4. Scrub the basement floor after the Roto-Rooter guy leaves.
5. Nap.

I've done all of it. I didn't think my basement was that much of a disaster zone (the puddle of shit aside) until a stranger came down there with a flashlight to poke around the corners to look for a second main line entrance.

Things I Would Do If I Became A Billionaire

Pay off the debts of myself and those of my immediate families, including mortgages. Buy beautiful dream houses for them all.

Invest a good chunk of it and earmark the dividends for my favorite local charities, like the Salvation Army and the Women's Community.

I would spend the rest of my life traveling around the world one month a year, finding new places and people to bless with the funds and resources to accomplish their dreams. The rest of the time, my life wouldn't change much.

Three Bad Habits

If given the choice between staying home for an evening or spending time with a friend, I will almost always choose home. The reasons are complex and hard to iterate. It has something to do with insecurity and concerns about making such a fool out of myself that I lose a friend.

When I'm falling asleep at night, I pick dry skin off of my lips, squeeze pimples on my face and sometimes pick my nose. It happens in that quasi-dream state where I don't think I'm technically asleep yet, but I'm definitely not alert.

Sometimes I'm rude to my husband. I stop myself most of the time. Like I get upset about something, and my first impulse is to yell at him or call him a name. "Hey Asshole. Get over here and pick up your dirty socks from the floor." Okay. Not something that bad, but close. In my head, I pause and try to imagine Chris talking to me like that. He wouldn't even dream of it. My husband has never called me a name, even during a temper tantrum. For me, it's a bad habit from previous bad relationships.

5 Places I Have Lived

1. Here
2. Stevens Point, WI
3. Milwaukee, WI
4. Manitowish Water, WI
5. Minocqua, WI

Jobs I Have Had

Housekeeper at an upscale resort. Certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. Sandwich maker at a Cousin's Subs. Retail clerk at a tourist-y gift shop. Data entry assistant for a college office. Copy editor. Cafeteria wench. Building manager. Nanny. Order entry associate. Proofreader.

Things People Don't Know About Me

If I keep answering questions like this, I'll run out of secrets. I'm running on fumes as it is.

Here's two.

1. I go on tirades with Chris about people who aren't living lives of truth and honesty. Like the game show "The Moment of Truth." I would be so boring about that show, because I don't keep secrets. I find them worthless. If I can't be honest with my family and my husband about difficult subjects, I wouldn't feel like a good person. They don't know everything, but if I was pressed, I would always tell the truth. Why bother with lies? Life is short. Love hard.

2. I think I love the cartoon "Arthur" more than Ben does.

Friday Meme 1 of 3

In the past couple weeks, I've been tagged for no less than three memes. Now that I finally have time to do a meme, I felt bad about just choosing one meme from someone and ignoring the rest. So I'm doing them all. Get ready for information overload!

1 of 3 came from RC of Hill Smith Family Update. Dear friend. Lovely lady. The woman who wears turtlenecks but secretly hates them. The woman who is totally enamored with her personal organizer thing. It's almost obscene.

Basically, I need to list 7 weird or random things about me. Here it goes.

1. I just started twittering yesterday. Kind of addictive. Totally addictive. It was all I could do not to drag my laptop around the house with me yesterday.

2. I got my left foot stuck in the spokes of my mom's bike when I was a baby. Miracle, I only ended up with a thick scar running down the second toe.

3. When I was little, I called pennies "deedle-deets." No one could figure out why.

4. I took a year of Japanese in college. I can't remember much of it anymore, unfortunately. Don't get me wrong. I can excuse myself and greet someone. I can also inquire after their health. Oh. And I can ask where the fish market is. I took it because of how much I loved my year of East Asian History. Terrific professor. Hugh Walker.

5. If I had enough money, I'd pay to have my tattoos removed.

6. I still have a lower bonded retainer in my mouth from when I had my braces removed when I was 15. I keep meaning to call an orthodontist to have it removed, but I always forget.

7. My family's favorite number is 46. When they got a dog (or was it when my other brother was born?), they asked my oldest brother what they should name it. He said "Forty-six." He loved how it sounded. They named the dog Bruce instead.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

No Pictures Please

I thought about taking a picture of it. I really did. I even brought the camera downstairs. And then I stopped and thought, "Do I really want to remember this so vividly?"

The answer was no. You'll have to live with these beautiful words.

I didn't bother going down to the basement this week to work on laundry. We had plenty of clothes, and I've been so busy with quilting, I didn't want to add to my workload.

Earlier this week, we experienced a bit of a spring thaw. With temps in the high 30s, the icicles started dripping, and the inch of ice on the sidewalk finally melted to reveal the concrete beneath. Another thing happened. Our basement's dehumidifier started working non-stop.

When we acquired this dehumidifier, one of the first things my husband did was to rig it up so that the basin automatically drained through a hose to the floor drain in the basement. Really nice. We just let it do its job, and we didn't have to worry about emptying the reservoir.

The last day I went to the basement was Monday, and I noticed that the dehumidifier was pumping away, and a puddle was building around the floor drain. It wasn't draining, at least not fast enough. I put a laundry basket underneath the laundry chute hole to catch the falling clothes so they wouldn't land in the puddle, and then I forgot about it.

Imagine my shock and horror this morning when I went down right away, dressed completely, even lace-up shoes (thanks FlyLady), to get the laundry going again.

Picture it. A six-foot wide puddle around the floor drain, probably four inches deep in the center, of murky brown liquid with clumps of what is probably toilet paper. I didn't look close enough to find out.

Oh man. The smell. It's not as bad as I would have imagined, but it was bad enough to make me gag as I quickly sorted the small mountain laundry and started the washer. I really wish I wasn't a responsible adult. I wish I could have just given in to temptation and ran screaming upstairs, vowing never to go downstairs ever again.

For a second, I wished we were just renting this house instead of slowly building equity by paying off a mortgage. But then I realized that we would have to rely on someone else's timetable in getting the situation resolved. We own the problem, so we can start fixing it right away without delay. A blessing and a curse, all wrapped up in one.

Chris will be changing into old icky clothes when he gets home from work. He'll squeeze his huge meaty hands into my dish gloves, and put on his old shoes that are held together with duct tape. And then he'll use our nifty plumber's snake to try and clear the clog that obviously exists.

Best case scenario: He'll work the snake for 30 minutes, and the "stuff" will recede back where it belongs. We'll spend the weekend washing the basement floor with bleach and tossing everything that isn't washable that was in the path of the oozing guck.

Worst case scenario. I'll have an angry, stinky husband, and the drain won't have cleared. We'll have to spend our meager savings on a plumber who will hopefully be able to remedy the problem with a bigger snake. There are other worst case scenarios, but I don't want to talk about those costly matters. I'd like to pretend that our tax refund will go to our debts, not our s**tty basement.

Sympathy, please. Words of encouragement needed.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hugging Tighter Today

Ever have one of those dreams that disturbs you so much, it still lingers with you throughout the morning?

Around midnight last night, I had a dream that someone kidnapped Anna. I knew who had done it, but I couldn't prove it, and she wouldn't tell me where she had brought Anna. I was hysterical. The dream's span only lasted a day, but it was a very emotional day full of panic, dread and grief.

The main things running through my head: "What if Anna starts one of her fuss fests, and they treat her badly? We're her parents, so we treat her with love and understanding. They might shake her or hurt her." "I'm a nursing mother. Anna needs me, and I need her."

Just the idea of little Anna lying in a strange house, looking for familiar faces and finding none, looking for mama's breast and finding nothing, looking for ME and not finding my loving, gentle arms. Man. It tore me apart.

Something I said to this woman obviously broke through, because when I went home later, Anna was in a strange car seat on the ottoman. I lifted her out and carefully examined her strong, solid little body for signs of trauma and found none. Then I held her close to me, stroking her body and kissing her fingers and toes and nose, sobbing with relief.

I had a few other dreams after that, but none that settled so deeply in my heart, and when I woke this morning and fed Anna, I wept. It's amazing that this time last year, she was just a cluster of cells, making their way to my uterus to implant and continue growing into a baby. And now she's this whole new person, all soft skin, sparkling smile and gorgeous blue eyes, squished toes and chubby wrists, stuffy nose and pink cheeks. And she is so permanently etched in my heart.

Chris reminded me that I had similar dreams about Ben after he was born. I think it's safe to say that I need my children as much as they need me. Even though Anna screams and fusses and Ben whines and freaks out over nothing, I love both of them with a fierce dependency. They are each such an integral part of who I am now. And I know I'll be giving a lot of extra hugs and kisses today. What blessings.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Busy Quilting Bee

Tomorrow I start putting together the big block section of my quilt. I'm excited.

I didn't have enough room to lay out all the blocks, so I took a picture of each of the block types, uploaded it to my puter, then laid out the grid pattern in Illustrator.

Chris and I worked on this darn thing for an hour. I ended up with ten fabric patterns, but the quilt is in multiples of nine. It was tempting to just throw out one of the fabrics and just go with the most obvious pattern, but I didn't want to.

How Bath Time Ended

Friday after lunch, I suggested a bath to Ben, and he raced into the bathroom and starting stripping off his clothes. He gathered a collection of cars to take in with him, and I put a couple inches of water in the tub. I was going to multi-task and bathe Anna at the same time (it had been a week for both of them. yikes.)

For the soaping up part, I had Anna in a baby bath tub in the big bath tub. To rinse, I put her in the big tub and splashed water over her body and hair. Pretty normal, right?

I noticed that the water only came up to her ears, so I left her on her back and let her splash. Wow... did they have a great time in there together!!

Anna was kicking and flailing and giggling, scooting around the bathtub, rebounding off of her brother, who was squealing with delight and ecstasy over having a bath buddy. I tried to keep my eyes open through the splashing so I could keep an eagle eye on Anna in case she turned her face into the water and needed mommy's quick hands to rescue her.

It was nerve-wracking for me, but oh so much fun to watch, and Anna was fine and safe, and everyone was having a good time.

Ben started splashing her back, and I watched for signs of distress closely. The frenzy continued until out of the corner of my eye, I saw Ben loom closer to Anna.

He unceremoniously dumped a bucket of water over her face.

I pulled her out of the water quickly before she had time to inhale, and she sputtered a little and blinked hard, but she didn't cry. That was how bath time ended suddenly for Anna. I was caught, as I so often am with these two, between a wince and a guffaw.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Car Seat Perspective

It's not time for a progress report yet, but I made Chris take a picture of me this morning because I felt so good about myself. I have lost 28.5 pounds now.

On the way back from the Y this morning, as I was toting Anna up the steps, I realized something. She's about fifteen pounds. The car seat is about eight pounds. That means that I was carrying around more weight on my body than that darn car seat weighs when she's in it.

I put her down, and felt so many pounds lighter. Picked her back up to feel the difference and walked up another step. Put her back down and walked up a step without her. Amazing. My body must be so much happier! The words "buoyant" and "thrilled" and "bouncy" were spoken.

Here's a picture of my happier body!