Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Stork Is Scheduled

My c-section is scheduled for Friday, June 4th, which means that regardless of what else happens, in 65 days I will have held my baby girl. This makes me smile in a very big way.

I mentioned my decision to opt for a c-section this time around in a very early pregnancy post, and as happens with these issues, people had opinions. They're interesting to read, especially since I frequently and gratefully rely on my blog to serve as a world-wide internet community of girlfriends, but there is one view that annoys me, and that is the one that assumes this is something my OB pushed me into doing. I am a smart, self-confident woman. If I had walked in my OB's office for my first maternity visit after a perfect vaginal birth and she recommended a c-section, I would have left to find a new doctor. My OB's white coat and status as an MD would not have affected my ability to think for myself one bit. This option was introduced by me alone.

You see for me, Landon's birth was perfect. It was very calm, relatively quick, nearly painless (at least until the very end), and resulted in only one little tear. I recovered quickly, running errands at Target by the end of the first week and happily regaining my sex life 4 weeks later. If I was the only party involved I wouldn't think twice about doing it again; in fact, I would give birth at least 3 times in a row if it meant getting out of a few of those pregnancy months.

But childbirth involves more than just me. There's a baby, and in Landon's case, that baby came out and developed dark purple bruises covering the entire top of his head, both sides of his body, and the bottoms of both feet. He was diagnosed with Respiratory Distress Syndrome, which is not unusual for preemies, but is somewhat rare for 35-weekers. And once he recovered from that, he de-satted for over a week, something the neonatologist said was unusual and very likely connected to the 7 broken ribs we discovered a few weeks later. (Her letter and testimony was very helpful at our DCFS appeal hearing.) We don't know- and will never know- that the birth process is what broke Landon's ribs, but it remains by far the most likely possibility (the other being that something happened to him while he was in the NICU) and I simply will not take a chance on that happening again. He was a perfectly average sized baby at 7 lb. 7 oz., and since this baby will hopefully bake a few weeks longer, she should be at least the same size or bigger, and we're not going to risk her getting stuck or injured in my screwed up pelvis.

Those are my medical reasons, and my doctor agrees with them. But it goes deeper than that, as I realized when I had my first OB/GYN check-up right after we moved to Austin- the idea of another bruised or injured baby terrified me. When I sat down in my OB's office to introduce myself, I was amazed to find the whole Chicago story spilling out of my mouth about 5 seconds after saying hello. I hadn't told it to anyone start-to-finish since it happened, so it was a little bumpy, but she listened patiently and we talked about my options. Well, she called them options, but I knew I had already made my decision as to how future babies would be exiting my body. I wasn't pregnant and had no plans on becoming so for at least a year, but I felt really good leaving her office knowing that she knew my full medical history (a history which includes my baby) and that she was at least on board with the possibility of a c-section. Throughout this pregnancy she has continued to phrase it as an option, but when we sat down to talk about the birth at my last appointment she agreed that it was the right one. I will be 39 weeks on June 4th. I really hope to stay pregnant that long and have come to believe that I will, but even if I don't, I'll just show up at the hospital and go straight to the OR. The peace of mind this has given me can't be put into words.

But, and this is the part where I'm really looking forward to your comments, while I am confident in my decision, that doesn't mean I'm not a little disconcerted by the idea of a scalpel-meets-belly birth. I never worried or thought much about labor the first time around. I figured I'd have a vaginal delivery, but if that didn't work out I trusted my midwife to make the right recommendations along the way. And my recovery was so easy- I felt back to 100% days before Landon was breathing regularly. I've had major surgery before- my hips were operated on in high school (as noted above, I have screwed up, turned-in hips that managed to tear through a bunch of cartilage not normally rubbed by your pelvic bones and it had to be cleaned out), but this is abdominal surgery and that's different (though it can't be much worse than major joint surgery, I had to have walking lessons after that). Still, it sounds like recovery will be harder than a vaginal delivery and I worry that it will take a long time for me to be able to pick up my baby and play with Landon like normal.

So for those who have had one, how was the recovery for you? Is there anything you recommend that I have on hand post-birth, either at home or at the hospital? And this isn't medical, but I almost cry when I think about being away from Landon for the four days I'll be in the hospital. Sure he can visit, but it's not the same and I'm going to miss him so much.

And yet, 65 days. I can't freaking wait.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Because Every Holiday Deserves A Cookie

In honor of Easter, and partially in honor of me being pregnant and requiring a constant inflow of sugar,* I decided we should decorate Easter cookies this year. So I broke out my Swedish great-grandmother's recipe, which I had attempted for the first time at Christmas, and made a small batch of dough.

Last time my little hand-mixer nearly had a breakdown when asked to combine all the wet and dry ingredients, so it was a joy to use my shiny new Kitchen-Aid. Landon served as sous chef. He quickly became intoxicated with the newfound deliciousness of cookie dough, though he refused to eat it directly from the beater, preferring instead to use his teaspoon. His mother had no such qualms.

The dough chilled overnight on Saturday while my mom, sister, and I went to see Phantom of the Opera. My mom loves music and soundtracks were often blasting through the downstairs of our house as she cleaned or did dishes. Phantom was a favorite and my sister and I knew all the words way before we had any idea what the story was about. When I was in 9th grade the play came to Houston, and even though we totally couldn't afford the tickets, my mom took my sister and me. It was the first play I ever saw and though I've now seen and loved many others, Phantom will always be special. And I'm glad to say the show in Austin on Saturday was fantastic.

On Sunday my mom headed home early in the morning and Landon donned last year's bunny ears (from my beautifully labeled "Easter" bin) to assist me with the baking.

Our Spring cookie cutter assortment consisted of a sheep, duck, bunny, and egg. The egg was my favorite; the sheep was a total pain in the ass to cut and transfer without messing up the fluffy fur. So guess which one Landon liked the best?

The sheeps.

Here they are, all ready to decorate!

Except JP had a group meeting that went 3 hours longer than he predicted, so the cookies remained naked for some time. While we waited, Landon and I did our best to soak up the absolutely gorgeous 75 degree weather. I plugged my work laptop into an outlet on the back deck and doc reviewed for 3 hours while Landon baked me many delicious treats in his new play kitchen (a fabulous craigslist find; more on it later).

When JP finally came home we cooked out hot dogs to eat with potato salad and a delicious green bean and cherry tomato salad that I found on Smitten Kitchen. The cookie decorating (with lots of homemade icing) served as dessert.

Such focus.

Landon managed to finish 4 cookies. JP completed 9, shown below, though I think only 4 count as actually being decorated. But he did put Landon to bed and then cleaned up the kitchen table, so I suppose he gets a little extra credit for that.

I was left to decorate the remainder. Many a sheep ended up with an identical twin.

They are so delicious. It was lots of fun and something I expect will be turned into tradition. And hopefully the amount of work involved will keep me from purchasing cookie cutters for Thanksgiving, Halloween, and the 4th of July.

* I'm not kidding, I've never craved sweet things like I have during this pregnancy. I had my glucose tolerance test last week. I passed, of course - believe me, if my body was having any trouble processing sugar I would know it by now.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Our Day

I was flipping through my archives the other day and came across two posts of my schedule as a law school mom: one from Landon's perspective at 6 months old, and another from mine at 9 months. They were fun to read, even if the second one made me tired, and I decided I should memorialize our current schedule in a blog post somewhere. And not because it's difficult- due to a combination of factors (my flexible work schedule, JP's status as a graduate student, Landon's excellent health and sleep habits, etc.), our days feel pretty easy. This is going to be far more detailed than necessary, but I just feel like our life is never going to be easier than this - when we have two real jobs, two kids, and the kids start having their own evening and weekend activities, things are going to be so much more hectic, and I want to remember this time clearly.

7:30-8:00ish: Wake up. As we have since the day Landon came home from the hospital, JP and I take turns getting up with him. Now that he's a big boy, this is less about bleary mornings leaning over a crib, and more about shepherding him through the dressing process and getting him set up with breakfast. You also change his diaper, feed the dogs, and generally get the day started. The other person gets to linger in bed, which feels delicious even if it's just for another 30 seconds before jumping in the shower. The big boy bed has made mornings much easier, and I do love being the one to get the cheerful "Hi Mama, I wake up!" when I open our door (he comes downstairs so quietly I'm actually not sure when he does it; this morning I found him reading a book to the dogs in his play room), but it's also great to loll in bed for a few minutes flipping through my blackberry and planning my outfit.

8:00-9:00ish: The general morning routine. I used to fear this part of being a working mom, but it's actually very calm and happy. Landon eats his cereal and a banana, sometimes with JP or I sitting next to him at the table, and sometimes with Thomas on TV (his only tv show of the day; I do love the PBS kids on-demand) while JP or I come in and out of the kitchen as we do other things. After he's done eating Landon joins us in the bathroom while we get ready, asking for a blast from my blow dryer or reading me a book while I'm in the shower. I keep my blackberry on the bathroom counter and check and respond as needed, while Lilly plants herself in the middle of everything and looks annoyed if you come close to stepping on her. We make Landon's lunch while he takes 10 minutes to put on his socks and shoes "BY MYSELF", and then he stands by the door asking when we can leave for "daycay" while I throw my work computer in its bag and gather up whatever I was working on the night before.

9:00: My goal time for getting out the door. If I leave at 8:50 and it's not raining, I can be parked in my work garage in 8 minutes. If I leave much before that, there's traffic and I get to work at 9 anyway. I always get a big hug and lots of blown kisses Landon before I go. JP doesn't have class until 11 Monday through Thursday, so he takes him to daycare (which is 1.0 miles from our house) on those days. I think they usually leave the house around 9:30 or 9:45.

9:15-5:30: I work. Usually pretty productively, with the occasional interruption from colleagues and friends. Sometimes I get annoyed with myself when I enter my time and realize I lost over an hour chit chatting, but then I remind myself that an enormous part of my job satisfaction comes from enjoying the people I work with. And besides, on most days, I work pretty hard. I generally go out for a quick lunch with a friend/co-worker. I've found I don't actually work when I try to eat at my desk, so unless it's a really crazy day I like to give myself an official break.

5:30-5:45: On Tuesdays and Thursdays I get Landon and Outlook alerts me at 5:30 that it's "time to pack up". I un-dock my laptop, throw it in my bag, and gather whatever I need to continue what I'm doing later that night. Even if I don't think I need to do any work I always bring my laptop home because on the nights I don't I'll invariably get an email at 8 or 9 asking for a document I can't access on my blackberry.

6:00: Pick-up Landon at daycare, one of my favorite things, and get a toddler-led tour of his new artwork hung on the wall and/or whatever toys he's particularly fond of that day (yesterday it was a little plastic beetle). We drive home while Landon tells me what he did that day. The dogs greet us enthusiastically at the door while Lilly looks on with disdain at their unseemly exuberance. The dogs go outside and Lilly gets lots of pets from Landon; she pretends not to be pleased but I notice she doesn't move away. (On the other days when JP doesn't have an evening class he picks up Landon around 5:30.)

6:15 Dinner is started or reheating. On the days I don't pick up Landon I get home about now and JP is the one playing chef (or he's not and I'm on the verge of being crabby because I am hungry and food is not in the process of being ready for me to eat it). Landon is immediately settled at the table with milk and a fruit or vegetable to ward off crankiness while dinner cooks (I should probably start doing the same for myself) and he sings me songs or tells me all about the random things that pop into his head. Somewhere during this I'll flip through the mail and make stacks to file, recycle, or otherwise deal with, wash out his lunch box, and feed the dogs. And change into sweat pants and a comfy shirt.

6:30ish: We hope to be eating by now, though it frequently doesn't happen until 7 depending on the meal and what time everyone got home. If it's later, Landon will play with his toys between his appetizer and entree and I'll go join him.

6:30-7:45: We eat, clean-up, and play. JP takes the dogs on a walk and Landon usually goes with them. I join on occasion, but lately have felt a strong need to sit on the couch immediately following dinner. When they get back we play some more, read Landon's books, build block towers- basically do whatever Landon wants. By 7:45 we help Landon put his toys away and head upstairs for bed. JP and I take turns with the nighttime routine, and just like in the morning, while I love my turn to kiss his damp head and read him his books, I also love the evenings when my off-duty light turns on right at 7:45. This is all going to be so much harder with two children.

7:45-8:00: I've written about the nighttime routine a few times before, but it's special and usually very easy. Bath, teeth, books, snuggle, "make me cozy", sing a song, lights off, walk out, close the door. Landon has done awesome with the big boy bed. Sometimes when I go back upstairs later to feed Lilly or put clothes away I'll hear him singing to himself or talking to Puppy, but he never gets out of bed until morning.

8:15-11: JP and I are both on our laptops working- usually with him in the study and me at the kitchen table. Even if I don't need to work on an assignment, I'll clean up my Outlook inbox, enter my time, or do whatever other "wrap-up" items I didn't finish as I ran out the door to come home. On Thursdays we watch our NBC shows and then I watch Project Runway, but on most other nights we don't bother turning on the TV. If I'm just sitting on the couch with my personal laptop, JP will come out and work next to me so we can talk and be near each other. On some nights we'll run a load of laundry because I hate when my weekends feel chore-heavy, and I always straighten up the counters before heading to bed. I've found that if clutter never builds up, it's never takes very long to put away.

11-11:30: We start getting ready for bed, or at least start thinking about getting ready for bed. I always read, even if it's only for 20 minutes, and sometimes JP does too. But usually he just falls asleep next to me and then I snuggle into him once I turn off the light, always promising myself that I'll go to bed earlier the next night.

There's variance of course. I've worked until 3 and 4 a.m. on multiple occasions, JP sometimes has all-evening meetings with business school classmates, and once or twice I've come home and had to get straight to work in the study while Landon and JP bring me food and drop in to keep me company (Landon loves to type next to me on my old broken laptop). But life is good. Now that Spring is here we've been eating our dinners outside on the porch or taking a picnic to the nearby park, which Landon loves (and I love because I can sit on a bench and watch him run about while expending very little energy myself; at 30 weeks pregnant and who knows how many pounds heaver, that's very nice).

I worry a little about what it will be like with two kids and both parents working- so far we've always had one parent as a flexible grad student. I'm sure we'll find our own ryhthm and things will be great, but I also know that there will be times I look back on these days with a lot of fondness and not just a little longing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It was a good run...

After two years of nearly perfect health and a grand total of only FIVE visits to the pediatrician (3 required check-ups and 2 ear infection visits; there was a time when we had 5+ appointments a month), Landon will be reentering a hospital to have his adenoids removed and new ear tubes inserted. Ironically, the surgery is scheduled for April 1, which is both April Fool's Day and the same date he got ear tubes for the first time in 2008.

my itty bitty patient on April 1, 2008

His tubes fell out sometime late last year and he immediately got a double ear infection. We went to the ENT where Landon charmed a nurse and failed a hearing test (though not because he couldn't hear). The doctor advised that we wait to see if he got any additional infections before we decided on another round of tubes. Given JP's long and tormented history of ear problems (short version: his eustachian tubes do not work, at all) we knew there was a good chance Landon inherited the same anatomical "quirk" (so much better than abnormality or evolutionary failure, right?). But many weeks passed and he stayed healthy and we started thinking that maybe he got my nice, properly functioning ears and wouldn't need another surgery after all.

Then, about two weeks ago, Landon started waking up an hour early. He didn't cry- he'd just walk downstairs and play quietly with his trains until we emerged from our room, but it was strange and he wasn't getting enough rest. On the second day he was a little clingy at night, wanting only to sit in my lap and cuddle. On night three he felt hot and had a 102 fever. We dosed him with Motrin and then, after some cuddles, he very seriously informed me that "the doctor needs to check my ear." "Oh really?" I said. "Yes," he replied with a slow nod, "there's an elephant in there... he's hurting it." I almost laughed, but then I remembered that when we saw the ENT (months earlier) the doctor had jokingly asked Landon if there was an elephant in his ear. Since Landon was feeling fine at the time, he said Noooo and laughed. But I guess it stuck with him, and now that his ears hurt, he knew that pesky elephant must be involved.

He got some extra cuddles and another dose of Motrin, and I called the pediatrician on my drive to work the next morning to make an immediate appointment, thanking god for a child who can now talk when he's hurting because he had no other symptoms of an ear infection. Then JP called from home a few minutes later to say that Landon's ear drum had perforated during the night. And sure enough, he had another double infection, one burst ear drum, and another looking like it would burst any minute. Poor kid- an elephant indeed.

So ten days later he was back at the ENT who said both ear drums had healed, but both ears already had a build-up of fluid just waiting to get infected. Landon was very good during the hearing test, but he failed anyway- this time on legitimate grounds. They found a significant amount of hearing loss in his left ear and a somehwat lesser amount in his right.

I'm certain the surgery is the right call and based on last time, getting the tubes put in will be far less traumatic for him than any ear infection. But it's a little harder this time around. He's older. He's more aware. We've been extraordinarily spoiled with his immune system of steel over the past 2 years. I've stopped thinking of him as a patient- he's just my snuggly, smiley little boy. For the first time I understand the parents who freak out over some minor procedure while I'm looking at them thinking, dude, calm down, s/he's going to be fine! So it's a little general anesthesia? The odds are totally with you!

I really did think that way. I think it was an inevitable mindset, at least for me, when your baby spends his first 12 days in a NICU and then too many more days in various specialists offices, emergency rooms, and ORs. He became clinical and I could write about it and deal with it only in that detached way. Plus, I'm naturally pragmatic and the odds are with you and really, ear tubes are just not that big of a deal. I'm also just not a worrier, even in situations that all but demand it.

Yet I find myself mildly worried about next Thursday. I have complete faith in the doctor and the beautiful new pediatric surgery center where we will be going. But Landon's older now- he might not head off down the hall so cheerfully with a stranger like he did at 9 months old. When he wakes up he'll wonder where I am, rather than just being excited that he's allowed to have his bottle again. Helping him recover will be a bit harder, I think, since I can't just strap him in a swing and forcibly restrict his movements. The adenoidectomy also raises new issues as we haven't experienced that one before. Have you? What was the recovery like for your child? Any tips or things I should stock up on? When were they back to feeling 100%

On the positive side, I am looking forward to solving Landon's elephant-in-the-ear problem, and introducing him to jello. I also really hope I can take another picture of him in mini-scrubs.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

For My Little Sunshine

Baby girl's nursery is about 85% complete and I'm so happy with it. It's a cheerful, sunny space and I'm so excited for our daughter call it hers.

The walls are "Daisy Spell" yellow and while they turned out quite a bit brighter than I anticipated, I've come to love them. And I have great plans for whenever this room is no longer needed as a nursery and can become a guest room with grey and white bedding and turquoise accents. With a metal bed frame and maybe this chair. That will be fun.

But back to the present. The wall cards and other framed prints are from this etsy shop. I love how her work is creative and colorful without being overly cutesy or looking like it's meant only for a baby. I laminated the wall cards at a teacher store and just used sticky-tack to put them on the wall. The white frames for the 11x14 prints ("You Are My Sunshine" and "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star") were bought on clearance at Michael's.

The butterflies are from Land of Nod, as is the bedding. The furniture is all from Landon's nursery, though we did switch out the plastic Ikea Trofast bins for girlier colors. The curtain rod still needs to be put up, but first we (JP) had to spackle the holes from the old rod and then we (JP) need to paint them yellow and then we (JP) can hang it up, but it's white with cute finials on the ends. The too long, too wide (but inexpensive and the perfect shade of pale medium blue) panel curtain is being hemmed into a single valance that I think will ground a lot of the yellow on that wall.

The butterfly trash can was picked off a clearance rack at Wal-Mart for $3. The wooden shelf is an $8 Hobby Lobby purchase that I was going to paint but then decided the natural wood color looked as good as anything else. My beloved owl sits proudly in the corner, keeping careful watch over the room. The yellow butterfly is also there because he blended a bit too much into the walls and after hanging a butterfly in three of the corners and one over the bed we weren't sure what to do with him. It was also about 11:00 pm and JP looked like he was going to kill me if I suggested he rig another one to the ceiling with fishing line. I'm thinking of nailing the yellow guy straight to the wall at an angle on the corner of the quilt since I'd like to leave some shelf space for a picture frame or two, but I don't want it to look like my high school bug project. The power tools will be removed as soon as the curtain rod is installed.

And then on the back wall you can't see there are two collage picture frames in a pretty cream color that will hold her birth announcement and some pictures of our newly expanded family. There's also a purple butterfly flying overhead. JP and I had several discussions about the angles the butterflies should hang, with me preferring them soaring majestically upward, and him preferring the suicidal looking downward dive. We compromised with three soaring up and one hovering nearly level with the floor. I'd also like to get a little name plate to hang in the area between the room and closet doors.

It's a happy little room and even Landon likes to hang out in there, though I'm sure he's getting very curious about where the heck this baby is hiding and why we won't bring her out to play.

(P.S. New High-Heeled and Pregnant post over at All Kinds of Pretty.)

(P.P.S. Updated nursery pics here.)

Monday, March 22, 2010

Landon, right now

I know I promised nursery pictures, and they are ready to go, but after working on Landon and his sister's baby books over the weekend, I feel a strong need to freeze time just for a moment on focus on Landon and what he's doing right now -- because this kid, this former baby who made me fear all future babies, is pretty much 33 lbs. of toddler perfection.

(newborn Landon in the framed scrapbook page I made two weeks ago; we've come a long way baby)

Work was light this past week due to a combination of Spring Break and every case I touch immediately entering mediation, so I left at about 3 each day to pick up Landon and hang out with my boys. Daycare pick-up remains one of the very best parts of my day- in fact, I have a potential post brewing about how daycare is really one of the best parts of my little family's life generally- and each day last week I would walk outside Landon's classroom (on nice days the kids are always outside; the teachers just transfer the materials for whatever art project and activity they have next to the tables outside) and watch him playing with his friends, usually racing around on a bike with his girlfriend, until he spotted me. He'd then launch himself off the bike with a happy cry of "mommeeee!" and run over for a big hug. That completed, he'd turn right around and run back to his bike and his friends and I'd spend 20-30 minutes trying to get him to leave with me.

But because I was so early, we didn't have to rush out the door. It was fun to linger in the yard chatting with his teachers and listening to their funny stories of Landon and his friends. We're so blessed with this neighborhood daycare center. The teachers really are fantastic and the way they tell stories about the kids reminds me of the way JP and I talk about Landon at night. Always half laughing, shaking our heads, and marveling at his quirks and the things toddlers say. And since we don't do many playdates because weekends are nearly sacred family time and he gets plenty of social time during the week, it was also really fun to watch Landon talk to and play with the other kids.

When I got tired of standing in the sand in my heels, I'd mention the snack I had waiting for him in the car and Landon would agree to leave. He had to hug every teacher and wave goodbye to all of his friends and then usually hug each teacher again, and then we could head to the car. I'm glad I got a window into his afternoon that I don't usually see. I love how much he enjoys "daycay" and his teachers and classmates (always referred to collectively as "my friends"). I love our dinner table conversation and the glimpses he gives us of his day- the shirt a friend wore, who sat by him at lunch, who didn't eat their lunch, or how fast he rode his bike outside (hint: very fast, always very fast). And I love his little daycarisms- like turning a book around to face me after "reading" each page aloud, just like I'm sure his teachers do at circle time, even though he's on my lap and I can see better when he leaves the book the way it is.

He's an affectionate little guy who loves to give hugs and whose new favorite thing is to "get cozy with you mama" (which means he sits on my lap on the couch with my arms around him). Toddlers don't (or can't) make much attempt to hamper their emotions which means that while you may get the full force of their unhappiness with the way their jacket zips up and touches their chin, you also get the full force of their love and zest for life. And Landon spends most of his time full of love and zest. He starts each day by announcing with excitement and pride that "I wake up!" - I think if I started my day that filled with a sense of accomplishment it would be very hard to ever be in a bad mood.

The way he makes me feel on a daily basis, and the way JP and I giggle about the things he's done or said when we go to bed at night, makes me understand why people who have kids talk so enthusiastically about parenthood even though it's hands down the hardest thing you'll ever do. I feel like we're in an oasis of easy right now - we're out of the physical rigors of newbornhood but not yet to the difficult line-drawing and emotional ups and downs of teen and pre-teenland. His needs are pretty simple, the boundaries are pretty easy (even if somewhat tiring) to (repeatedly) draw, and kisses and hugs still have magical powers. It's a very happy time and I wish I could sum it up in words to store away forever.

(showing off the necklace we made on Saturday;
a natural model, he felt this pose best showcased his creation)

Instead I can only write little anecdotes, like how he always tells Tex he's a "handsome boy" as he pats him on the head, something he must have picked up from me, though I didn't realize I said it so often. Or how delighted he gets when something matches (ex: his shirt, socks, and milk cup - what could be better?!), something I'm certain he picked up from me. And I can soak him up and be present every moment I'm with him, and then one day go back through and read my archives with a big smile on my face.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

It's Like a Little Bit of HGTV

Hopefully that title doesn't get your expectations too high- this is going to be more like HGTV on a crash diet with bad lighting, no film crew, and a single very un-trained designer who took band in middle school just to avoid the disaster that would have been her in Art class. So, with that set-up, and if you're interested in these sorts of things, I'd like to show you a few pictures of our master bedroom.

This is what the room looked like 2 months after we moved in:

Too big, too bland, and too little furniture. The pieces we did have were a motley collection from childhood (my side table), craigslist (our bed frame and JP's side table), and college (our dressers). I kept our room for last because (1) hardly anyone sees it and (2) I wanted to do it right. We saved money for nearly 18 months and purchased a master bedroom set through Costco (I know, Costco? but it's really nice stuff and the set was nearly $1,000 cheaper than the other "discount" furniture places in Austin). During those 18 months I slowly purchased linens and other decor through Crate & Barrel sales and those giant Bed Bath & Beyond coupons you get in the mail every few weeks. We also painted and installed a new, much prettier ceiling fan (and by "we" I do not mean me).

The colors really never come across as well in pictures, but the walls are a soft silvery blue. My goal was to create a room that looked nothing like the rest of the house. I wanted it to be soothing and almost hotel like- a little retreat for JP and me. And I love it. We still have a few projects. There's a picture (a canvas JP bought on the banks of the Seine in Paris 6 years ago that we'd totally forgotten about until I cleaned out the closets two weeks ago) being framed at Hobby Lobby right now that will go up on one blank wall by the bed and a shelf on back order from West Elm that will go on the other (with a few accessories), but it's close. And of course we have a few baby items that are temporary additions to the room- the changing table in one corner and folded up co-sleeper in another. But it feels like a real grown-up's space and I still get a smile on my face every time I come in.

The bathroom was redone as well, though I forgot to get pictures of it. It has a slightly darker paint color (a grey with more blue in it) that looks great with our dark cabinets, brushed silver fixtures and accessories, and white towels and rugs. If only I could get JP to use the beautiful mirrored medicine cabinet I had him install instead of spreading his toiletries out on the counter. His brightly colored tube of tartar control toothpaste really messes with my aesthetic.

Pics of the nursery coming tomorrow!

Friday, March 19, 2010

28 weeks (measuring 31 weeks) and counting

The belly, it is growing. I am 28 weeks along which means my baby is officially viable with a "90% chance of entering Kindergarten with no ill effects from her premature birth." So you know, a nice bench mark, but she better not have any plans on exiting anytime soon. My perinatal nurse practitioner, whom I have come to love and will actually miss dearly once our weekly chats are over, is very pleased with my progress and lack of labor symptoms. My belly has been steadily measuring 2-3 weeks ahead, which she assures me is probably just evidence of a big baby, like her brother (who was 7 lbs. 7 oz. and 21 inches long at 5 weeks early, and my dates were right), and not reflective of the number of cookies I ate during the month of February (Valentine's AND my birthday; it's a month full of sugary landmines that I willingly throw myself upon).

Due to an unusual amount of free time at work, I've been very productive on the baby preparation front. Her beautiful birth announcement has been designed by my talented friend and awaits the insertion of details and pictures, and the addresses of family and friends have been gathered and printed out on labels. (Side note: when my friend sent me an image of the announcement I immediately started crying at my desk; I'm having a baby!) Her baby book has been purchased and the pages I can fill out ahead of time are done. I pushed JP up the stairs on Wednesday and Thursday nights to hang up everything in the nursery and it looks so pretty. I just need to get a curtain panel cut in half and re-sewn and then it will be complete! Landon loves to go in there and keeps sticking his toys through the slats in the crib "for the baby". We've also set up the new changing table in our bedroom downstairs, have the co-sleeper waiting in the corner, and the little changing table baskets filled with the necessary newborn accessories. Her closet is empty except for this adorable Swedish/Spring inspired dress which I saw while shopping for summer t-shirts for Landon and absolutely had to have, even if she won't wear it for another year:

I'm totally over the novelty of being pregnant, not that I was really into it the first time around. In fact I pretty much hate the whole process and believe me, if JP could grow a baby, he'd be the one wearing the elastic pants this time around. But having a baby who turned blue in my arms about 3 seconds after he was born and then spent 12 days in the NICU has given me an adjusted perspective and I'm grateful for every day my belly gets bigger, my belly button looks a little stranger, and my baby girl continues to appropriate most of my body's resources for herself. I may still complain, and at 35 weeks I may be superficially wistful when I remember that last time I was done right about then, but I will be grateful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

SoCo Field Trip

We rarely eat out of the house mid-week, and we even more rarely travel out of our neighborhood to the more Austin-y areas of Austin, but tonight I just spent the most lovely few hours with my boys on the fun and fabulous sidewalks of South Congress.

JP called on his way home from an afternoon swim lesson to ask if pizza sounded good for dinner. As he well knows, pizza ALWAYS sounds good, and since it was Spring Break and the weather was beautiful and I felt like being a little crazy, I suggested we head to Home Slice on Congress. Within an hour JP and Landon were waiting out in front of my office and together we headed to SoCo with all the windows down.

Because we are no longer hip and with it (though really, were we ever?), we'd completely forgotten that South by Southwest was going on, so the streets were packed and live music was coming from every direction. While walking from our car to the restaurant Landon paused in the middle of the sidewalk to throw up his hands, tilt back his head and dance. He was feeling the music- his feet were shuffling, his hands were waving, and several (probably intoxicated) SXSW'ers and St. Patty's Day parties stopped to clap for him. I really miss that total lack of self-consciousness that you have as a child.

After eating some of the best pizza in Austin, we continued on our way up Congress, listening to the music and stopping Landon from enthusiastically petting every dog we passed without asking the owner first (we're working on this, but the child fears no canine). We stopped at the Mighty Cone trailer for some seasoned fries (absolutely delicious- some of the best fries I've had in a while) as a post-dinner snack for the baby, and then stopped at Amy's Ice Cream on the walk back down for dessert for JP.

It was a perfect evening- the kind of Spring night that reminds why I don't hate living here even though ultraconservative nutjobs do things like remove Thomas Jefferson from history textbooks because they don't like that he coined the phrase "separation of church and state" (never mind that he's the AUTHOR of the Declaration of Independence and that whole separation thing is GOOD and IMPORTANT, especially if you are a religious person and the changes are so ideological and frequently factually incorrect that I am left embarrassed and stuttering by my home state for a whole new set of reasons). But back to my lovely evening.

Landon was so fun. We've really reached that point where he's such an easy, fun, and giving member of our family. Rather than just being happy to get through an evening out with a child in tow, the whole experience is really more enjoyable because he's there. We're about to screw this all up again for about two years by adding baby #2, but for now I'm just enjoying the fact that we can sit down at a pizza place without a single extra child-related item, order off a regular menu, watch Landon drink from a regular cup and eat off a regular plate, and laugh as he talks non-stop about his trip to the lake house and how "daddy went on the jetski but he went TOO FAST and it WASN'T SAFE and I didn't like it and I slept next to Uncle Egick and I was very quiet and he didn't wake up!"

We finished off the night by tucking a sleepy Landon into bed and then hanging up almost everything in the baby's room. JP was super excited to be wielding a hammer under my close supervision at 9:45 at night, but now the butterflies have taken flight and the room is nearly finished. Pictures soon, I promise.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Project

About a week ago Sarah over at Harry Times asked if I'd like to be part of a mom-authored, mom-focused style blog. She'd invited several other women of varying ages, sizes, and backgrounds and hoped to get posts on stay-at-home styles, working styles, maternity styles, etc. I loved the idea, and even though I sometimes have a hard time getting posts written for my own blog, I signed on to the project.

Then I went away for 2.5 days to a lake house without consistent internet access and my inbox exploded with emails full of ideas and content from the enthusiastic contributors. It remains a work in progress (we're working on a background and I need to write my bio), but there are 29 posts already and my first one, "High-Heeled and Pregnant" went up today.

So if you'd like another way to waste time on the internet- and by waste I mean read fun things about clothes and other accessories, stop by! And let me know in the comments over there or here if there's anything particular you'd like me or someone else to write about.

Oh, and just to be clear, I will receive no compensation or other benefits from the style blog. Just like on Lag Liv, I will be paid in the enjoyment I get from writing and the new internet friends who bring their support and humor to the comments. Should I ever receive freebies or special offers I'll let you know, though so far I have always turned them down because I'm really only in this blogging thing for the community, the archives, and the writing itself.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Break 2010

We kicked off JP's last spring break with a quick trip to my parents' lake house. Landon adores his Papa and Gigi and was SO EXCITED about the trip. We couldn't leave until after 1 since JP was taking a midterm, but Landon was very patient and helped me pack and clean the house all morning until finally at around 11:30 he had the brilliant idea that, "Mama and Landon can go in Mama's car! We no need Daddy."

When JP got home we threw our dogs, our bags, and our toddler into the car and took off for Livingston. We arrived about 5:30 and Landon immediately showed his puppy around the grounds.

The life vest was a new and mandatory accessory any time Landon stepped outside the house. With four dogs ranging from 55-95 lbs. running around him I was living in fear of hearing a splash in that deep, murky water. We had been trying to play up the awesomeness of the vest, so when I put it on him I exclaimed, "Landon you look so handsome!" Landon had already taken off towards the point, but he yelled back with a chipper, "Yeah, I know!"

On Saturday my dad made Landon a balance beam and he loved walking across it. It cracked us up that he'd only go one direction; hopping off the end and running back to the other side to start again. I think it's another daycare kid thing, kind of like how he tries to make the dogs walk in a line and lectures them on sharing and "being nice to our friends."

It was an absolutely gorgeous weekend and we spent a lot of time running around the yard, playing washers (pictured above; Landon was a proud member of the mens team, the expression on his face makes my day), eating, sitting, and beating JP at badminton (oh wait, that was just me). Now that Landon sleeps in a twin bed in a different room, rather than the pack and play right next to our bed, we could get some sleep and enjoy the trip so much more. My brother was home from college for the week so he and Landon were roomies.

Now, I try not to recreate too many "my toddler is so adorable" stories because I know every parent has their own, but I must share this one. We had told Landon not to get out of bed until my brother got up, figuring that while we wouldn't make him stay in the room until noon, maybe if he woke up really early he'd see Eric sleeping and go back to sleep himself. Well JP woke up around 7:30 and poked his head into the other bedroom to check on the boys. He found Landon half-sitting up in the bed, wide-awake, patiently waiting for Eric to wake up. Too sweet.

And while I would never have described Landon as a timid child - he threw his elbows around to walk with confidence amongst our crazy pack of labradors - he was very uncomfortable with the jet ski and the speed boat. He kept up a vigil whenever JP was out on the jet ski and would frequently yell out to me that "he's going too fast! he's got to BE CAREFUL!" Once, when JP did a fast turn and splashed up a bunch of water, Landon burst into tears because he thought daddy was falling. JP was not falling, which was good since the water was freezing, but he did go further out to do any additional tricks so Landon wouldn't see and get worried.

All in all it was a wonderful mini vacation. Our dogs are absolutely exhausted- they had to keep up with my parents' much younger puppies to constantly defend the property against birds, ducks, and other potential threats. Landon fell asleep so fast on the car ride home that his hand was still inside his little bag of crackers. I am also exhausted but unfortunately found out a memo that I thought was due mid-week was actually for a call with the client at 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, so I to work frantically from the moment we got home until just a few minutes ago to get it done. But it is finished and circulated and I can still feel my post-lake glow. I just wish I had the rest of the week off for Spring Break too!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Deep, Cleansing Breaths

I should start out this post by saying that JP doesn't read this blog. He could, of course, and I've even bookmarked it on his computer, thinking he should have easy access to anything a stranger in Minnesota might be reading about him. But when I asked him a few months ago if he ever read it he said no, not since Landon was born. Since that means I've written 32 months of posts that he hasn't seen, I asked why he didn't want to check to make sure I wasn't saying anything bad about him. He looked at me, wide eyed, and replied, "but what could you say?" An insufferable response if it weren't so true. He's a pretty awesome husband, dad, and best friend and I rarely have any complaints. The ones I do have- his passionate and time-consuming love affair with swimming, his dogged determination to forge an unconventional career path no matter how uncomfortable it makes me- these are frustrations I accept because even with them, he truly is the more giving half of this marital partnership. He's dragged himself out of bed on many a morning when it wasn't his turn and I can't say I've done the same. He's a keeper, even if he likes to soak pans that don't need it.

But I hung up on him today -- slammed the phone down in a desperate attempt to avoid screaming profanities into the receiver with my door open and my co-workers, the ones who remark that I'm always so cheerful and smiley, in hearing range.

You see I did our taxes back in January. I had one portion remaining, the one about any personal business deductions or expenses, and I've been asking repeatedly since January 20th for JP to look at it regarding the swim school. He finally told me on Friday that we didn't need to add anything about the company and I immediately filed the taxes that night. Then today he called to let me know that oh! he happened to read through all the papers the swim school's CPA sent him over a month ago and it turns out we're supposed to file something with our personal taxes and there's some deductions we can take and we're supposed to get an extra refund because the partners overpaid on their business taxes. Isn't that great?!

I should also add, just to complete the picture, that I had just spent 5 hours over 2 days and 4 phone calls battling with our insurance company to cover my weekly progesterone shots. The ones that will cost a total of $300 and should prevent another $55,000 NICU bill. And also, some of my other OB claims were submitted incorrectly, so it turns out I paid more than I should have, and it will take hours of phone calls to get reimbursed for them- and no one would have ever told me I overpaid if a co-worker hadn't happened to mention on Monday that certain categories of maternity costs are covered at 100% under our plan regardless of whether the deductible has been met. And I pay nearly $1,000/month for this insurance. And it is a good plan, and I'm grateful for it, but my god it should not be this hard to get the things I'm paying for paid for.

So it was not a good time for JP to cheerfully inform me that he had discovered the answer to the tax question I'd been asking him for 7 weeks, 4 days after I submitted our taxes. In fact, he is very lucky I hung up because otherwise I probably would have turned it into a fight the likes of which we haven't seen since 2003 when we broke up for 5 months.

I grabbed my keys and went out to run errands. I find them soothing because of their productivity and the ability they give me to cross things off my to-do list. I picked up this owl at Target for the baby's nursery:

and hugged it in my arms as I shopped around the store. I also got a fabulous pair of gold sandals at DSW for $9 after a bunch of coupons and found a changing pad cover in the perfect shade of green at Babies R Us.

I returned to my office feeling calm and re-centered. I no longer wish to physically harm my spouse. I have in fact spoken with him in a pleasant manner and told him about my stuffed owl and golden shoes (about which he was far more enthusiastic than normal), and informed him that he will fix the tax problem and I'm not going to remind him about it. It's not even going on my list. I'm just going to ask about it sometime in May and my god it had better have been done. But I love you! and sorry about the slamming of the phone thing. Let's get ice cream after dinner tonight, yes?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

On Second Thought

maybe there's something to this nesting thing after all...

Lately I've been consumed by a need to DO THINGS. All things. Everything I can think of that could possibly need doing. I write out to-do list after to-do list, crossing off a few items each night and more on the weekends. I'm out of books to read, my work load isn't that heavy, and I can't sit still. Even JP, who is quite used to my to-do listing, remarked that I seemed a bit... unusual lately.

On the plus side, my house is looking beautiful. The baby's nursery is painted a very cheerful shade of yellow and all the linens from Land of Nod are so cute! My big challenge of the moment is locating a valance for the window. The one in the "Beautiful Morning" set is nearly the same shade of yellow as the walls and I think that's a bit much, but I'm having a terrible time finding something else. I perused the aisles of Buy Buy Baby yesterday and was amazed at all the infant things I've forgotten about.  Pacifiers (not that Landon ever liked them), mylicon drops (not that they ever seemed to help), and bottles (not that Landon liked the ones I bought first last time) -- there's so many things we need to stock back up on! We've also been setting up our master bedroom to house the baby for the first several weeks. We have a changing table that matches our bedroom furniture and an arm's reach co-sleeper that at least doesn't clash (a great craigslist buy). I have the table set up with baskets and a changing pad cover that matches our bedding and a box of itty bitty size 1 diapers. In the nursery I've framed my beautiful etsy prints and plan to make JP tackle the hanging butterflies next weekend. Everything is really coming together and I can't wait to get it all done and take pictures.

But baby stuff isn't the only thing on my lists. Our bedroom will soon have framed art on its walls (thanks to some discoveries during my massive spring cleaning last weekend) and I've ordered a gorgeous, abstract print of Chicago for my office. The books in our study are now in alphabetic order by subject and author. Landon's baby book is filled in with information (thank god for this blog- it contains the only existing record of his 12-month doctor appointment stats) and pictures, and for reasons that can only be explained by 26 weeks of pregnancy, I spent one night last week making a scrapbook page to be framed in Landon's big boy room. It's actually quite cute, with his birth announcement, two NICU pictures, and a sonogram shot, but it is decidedly not my normal kind of project. JP looked over at me at 10:45, surrounded by pinking shears, stickers, and scraps of paper and asked if we needed to talk. But I'm quite fine, just filled with a nearly frantic need to do things to complete every room of my house before the baby comes because she WILL care if one wall of my bedroom is missing just a little something to really finish the look.

In non-nesting news, I visited a co-worker, his wife, and their new baby girl today. I brought them chicken barley chili with all the fixings and spent a lovely hour smiling at their daughter and sympathizing with their sleeplessness and feelings of doubt. I'm getting pretty excited to do this again.  Terrified, but excited. This time I have the knowledge and a hazy memory of how hard and how bad it can be. But I also know how extraordinary that love is that you feel for your child and how very much fun he or she will become. I could write post after post about Landon right now, but there truly aren't words to describe how sweet and funny and chatty and charming and easy he is. I think it might be worth the sleepless year of a difficult baby to get this joyous of a toddler- if that's how the trade-off works, though maybe then it flips back and we get a bratty teenager? It's so hard to picture that after all the kisses and hugs and pretend tacos with ketchup he gave me today.

Man, I'm exhausted. I'm half-watching the Oscars and my mind keeps wandering over to the vanilla bean ice cream and fresh strawberries in my fridge. Surely all that organizing burned enough calories to justify a bowl?

Thursday, March 4, 2010


While leaving daycare this evening:

Landon: Where is Matthew's daddy?
Me: Maybe he's at work?
Landon: Noooo, only mommies go to work!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Place for Everything,

and after Sunday, everything is in it's place.

In a classic case of doing the "too much" I was warned not to do by my doctor, I cleaned and reorganized ALL of our closets on Sunday. Did you know we have 9 closets? We do! And now they are beautiful.

It all started because I spent Saturday morning going through Landon's old clothes to put into the new girly Ikea bins in the baby's room (we used the Trofast system instead of buying a real dresser for Landon's nursery in Chicago because we didn't have any money and I wanted to add as much color as possible to our white walled room, and we're continuing to use them because I found that bins were great for baby clothes- it's not like you can really fold a onesie, but we did have to spend $22 on new bins because the bright red, blue, and green ones were messing up my beautiful "you are my sunshine" color palette). So, I opened up Landon's "0-3 month" plastic tub of clothes and sorted through all the sleepers and onesies and itty bitty socks. Landon had fun too. Lately he's been obsessed with pictures of babyLandon (one word) and carries the "Landon's First Year" photo book I made on Shutterfly just about everywhere we go. JP went up to check on him one night last week and found him fast asleep with his chubby little cheek stuck to an open page of the book. So he recognized many of his little pj's and liked pointing them out by name. We'll see what happens when he finds the baby wearing them.

After that I decided to take out anything Landon-related from the nursery closet (except old clothes already organized into bins) and move it to the closet of his big boy room. Then I realized JP had a few things in the big boy closet, including a box of valuable baseball he'd thought were lost in the move, so those had to come out (much celebration and a lost hour of him telling me how much they're worth, even though I explained they aren't really worth anything unless you sell them, something I am told will never happen). Then I thought I should look at the things I threw into the guest room closet because one day that will be our little girl's room and she doesn't really need easy access to the Halloween decorations. This snowballed into me crawling back into our closet under the stairs and finding a giant box of stuff I packed from my childhood room before we got married and never opened through all our successive moves. And then I started rummaging through our other downstairs closets to gather up odds and ends that had been stuck in random places when we were unpacking. Soon there were bins, labels, permanent markets, and STUFF everywhere and I was in the midst of it all.

JP, seeing that he could do nothing to help the label-making frenzy I'd whipped myself into, decided to take the dogs and Landon on a long walk through the fields and forest near our house. By the time they returned the sun had set and I was sitting on the couch, in the dark, with a slightly spasming back and a giant, satisfied smile on my face.

Everything we needed to save or would use again in the foreseeable future had been placed into neatly labeled bins. Everything else was in a giant Goodwill pile in the kitchen. It was such fun going through most of it. I had several memory boxes spread around the house- one from college, dominated by love letters and other evidence of my courtship with JP, another from high school, filled with swimming ribbons and college scholarship letters, and two from the younger years- postcards from elementary school friends, treasures carefully selected and purchased from tourist traps on our many camping trips, and even a letter my grandpa wrote to me when I was in preschool.

It brought home again how important it is to commemorate the big events in my kid's lives. My parents were really, really good about that. I have the card my mom made me the morning of high school swim try-outs (a blue piece of construction paper with pinking-sheared edges, signed by each member of my family), the letter my mom and dad wrote to me the night before my first state swim meet, the "menu" for the fancy, four course dinner they hosted in our dining room for me and my friends when I turned 12. I'm so glad to have all those things safely packed in a plastic bin under my stairs and I look forward to a leisurely day in my retirement when I can go back through them and cry happy tears.

But for right now I'm taking it easy (my back is better as I've forced myself into flat shoes for the past two days) and resting securely in the knowledge that when I want to decorate for Easter I can open the closet, pull out the "Easter decor" bin, and proceed to bunnify the kitchen. I believe this is called nesting, but I'm not sure my post-organization high would be any different if I wasn't pregnant. I think it goes back to my love of cubbies in kindergarten- it's so delightful when every little object is in it's properly labeled home.