December 26, 2010

Power of the pen


My friend and I have started writing letters again. You know, like, with pens. On PAPER. It's crazy stuff, actually. You write something, put it in an envelope with a stamp and an actual geographical address, take it to a mailbox (medium-sized blue thing, sort of looks like a trash can) and put it inside. Several DAYS later, it's delivered by hand to the other person.

DAYS. That's practically forever in our light speed universe. And you know what?

I love it! I love getting mail. It feels special somehow. It certainly makes the daily trek to the mailbox more exciting when you've a hope for actual correspondence instead of just credit card offers and grocery fliers.

Lisa sent me this picture on one of her letters and it's EXACTLY how I feel about our epistolary relationship (Get your mind out of the gutter and look it up! It's not vulgar! Well, mostly not... moving on.). Sure, email is fast and immediate and often immensely convenient. I use it every day and it keeps me close to people I don't get to see often anymore.

But a letter... there's just something WONDERFUL about getting a letter. So if you're in the mood to make a resolution this year, may I recommend an investment? Stationary, stamps and a comfy pen. Send a letter to someone every week, every month, whatever. You'll have fun doing it, I promise. You may just make someone's crappy day a little bit better at the sight of your handwriting mixed in with the post-holiday bills. Considering I have pretty awful script, that's a big deal indeed!

December 25, 2010

Christmas Magic

There is a special present under my tree. I can’t honestly remember the last time I had a Christmas gift from that particular person. When I first opened the package I was so overcome that I surprised even myself.

“Why are you crying, Mom?” my girls asked. “Do you want to open it right now? We’re sad, too, can we open ours?” Ever the sly negotiators, my kids.

I smiled at the conniving and said, “Sorry, ladies. No presents until Christmas. Besides, I don’t care if I ever open this one, I just like seeing it sitting here.”

They met this declaration with skeptical disbelief, but it’s true. It doesn’t matter to me what is under that wrapping paper. It could be a box of chocolate, a miniature airplane kit, the first season of I Love Lucy. I really don’t care. It’s there. My dad sent me a present, it’s under my tree and I feel like a kid again.

Christmas as an adult can be stressful and, since I’m being honest, I haven’t really enjoyed the season in a long time. The lists, running around, shopping and flow of money out the door has a tendency to rob the thrill for me. Since having my children, I now just look forward to their anticipation, surprise, glow and excitement more than anything else. Kids have an innocent belief that I’ve lost.

This year, with one small and unexpected package, I’ve found a little bit of my own innocence again. It’s easy to forget that this time of year is a reminder to treasure the people we value… and the people who value us.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you all find a little surprise under your trees, too, whether it’s wrapped up in paper or just a feeling of appreciation you didn’t know you’d missed.

December 04, 2010

Judgement Day (or night, to be exact)

We went to the freezing but lovely Festival of Lights Parade downtown this evening. By freezing, I mean goodgraciousmeohmyDAMNitissupercold. Driving home when the excitement was over, all the kids started to quiet down in the car at about the same rate that their fingers and noses thawed. Jack, after a few minutes of wailing (turns out his hat had slid down over his eyes, oops. Will the real bad parents please stand up?), fell into one of those coma-like infant sleeps.

"Maybe he'll be so tired out he sleeps through the night," I commented to Kurt.

"Really? You think so?"

"No, of course not. I was just being optimistic."

Kurt glanced over at me, a non-committal sub-smile barely lining his face.

"What? That's who I am. I'm a glass half-full kind of girl!"

The non-committal expression morphed as he ever-so-slightly raised his eyebrows. "Hmmm," he murmured. The sound echoed as it bounced around that peanut gallery.

Okay, so I know that, what with me occasionally taking the stance that the glass is not only half-empty but also irreparably broken, I'm not exactly the optimistic type ALL THE TIME. But it was a nice night, the kids weren't crying and my fingers had started to comfortably return to the land of the living. He could have at least pretended to give me the benefit of the doubt.

Everyone's a critic. And they're all out to get me.

(Gee... I sure am thirsty. If only this cup here had more water in it. Sigh. Life is so unfair.)

November 30, 2010

The dream vacation

In my head, there's this perfect little New England B&B, in a perfect little town, surrounded by lovely paths that are perfect for thoughtful, relaxing strolls. I wear cozy sweaters and toasty mugs of coffee or hot chocolate warm my hands. No digital e-reader for me, I curl up next to a scenic window with the comforting weight of a real book in my hands. I lose time in the most luxurious of ways.

The sounds around me are the background hum of other people's daily life. The rustle of wind in the trees mixes pleasantly, though probably inaccurately, with the rush of the ocean. See, my mind can't decide if my B&B is on the coast or in the country, but this small detail doesn't bother me at all.

The crucial point is, I'm alone.

I have never taken a trip completely by myself. Oh, I've flown solo on my way to visit other people, sure. But I've never gone to a location for the single purpose of just being somewhere, anywhere, all on my own.

"Wait a minute", Kurt protested over dinner the other night. "I know this is your little dream escape but I thought it was for US to go away. Together!".

I could hem and haw right now, try to smooth over his exclusion from this imaginary vacation of mine. I won't, though. It's my dream, right? And in it, I'm not anyone's mom or wife, friend or family. I'm just a woman all alone in a lovely little place. Probably I could go several days without even talking to anyone beyond a brief nod of hello or good morning. As much as I love my husband (and I really, really DO love the guy), the idea of such silence… well. Let's just say my fantasies don't aspire to much more beyond that at this point in my life.

As time goes by, my imagination fills in more and more little details of this trip: the old bookstore with overstuffed chairs tucked away between shelves, the local café with a menu dedicated to comfort foods and amazing pie. Sometimes when the decibel level in my own house reaches critical maximum (which happens often with three kids), I close my eyes and go to the wrap-around porch of the B&B, snuggle into a cushioned wicker chair and watch the leaves rustle on an apple tree nearby.

I know that no such place actually exists. I could be setting myself up for more disappointment each time I add sweet details to the dream. But I don't think so. I think that somewhere out there is a perfectly nice little place with enough of its own charming details to stand up against my own imaginings.

And one day, all by myself… I'll go and find it.

For now, I can curl up in my own comfy chair in the playroom, hands wrapped around my own mug of coffee and close my eyes during the occasional moments when all the kids are happily off chasing their own imaginations with the help of crayons, dolls, teething rings and blanket tents. After all, those days are their own kind of dream, too, and not to be forgotten.

If you could go anywhere, for just a little while all on your own, where would it be?

November 19, 2010

Beige and other signs of the End Times

We're getting our carpets cleaned. Like, you know, not just scrubbing away at the spots with a bristle brush until our arms cramp up, but actually professionally cleaned. It's a BIG DEAL.

See, while we have a lovely house and are fairly consistent in keeping things tidy and wiped up, the big stuff tends to slide around here. For instance, in the 6 years we've lived here, we've (love how I keep saying "we" when Kurt does all the work) painted two rooms. The backyard is graced with only the dream of a nice deck and the curtains in every room are the same ones that came with the house.

It's not that the rooms NEED to be painted; they're not nasty or peeling or anything gross. They're just beige (which some may consider gross now that I think of it). The curtains are just fine, not simple filler treatments left by the previous owners, but actual nice fabric. And guess what? They are, in the majority, BEIGE. The deck, well... that's a dream we speak of every year. The back "yard" is mostly gravel and retaining wall. Kurt has committed and researched to getting it built next summer, first thing, and I know it's going to happen now. He NEEDS it to happen, it's a thorn in his side. On that count, I am very excited for the actual completion of one of our home improvement fantasies.

We are not beige people. We are colorful people who eat outside all summer on their nice deck and sip wine next to the comforting glow of a built-in fire pit. It's just that all that takes TIME, dedicated, throw everything (including the kids! Watch them soar!) to the side and exclusively devoted TIME.

Opportunities like that just don't really seem to exist these days. I have trouble sitting down to just ramble on about paint and curtains on a blog, much less actually do the painting and curtaining. (Curtaining? Can I verb-ize that? Wait... verb-ize? My journalism teacher is wincing right now.)

For now, seems like we're just going to start from the ground up, literally. Clean carpets. Next year, a deck. With all that inspiration, who knows what's possible? I may even have a bathroom painted by 2012! Just in time for the end of the world. At which point, I'll probably give up on curtains all together. I mean, who cares about beige during the apocalypse?

On that note, my baby has just awoken and all things decorating will have to wait... again.

November 11, 2010

Fitting it all in: kids, family and...me, too?

I have a cramp in my hand. The muscles right between my thumb and forefinger are protesting this workout in a major way. Occasionally I stop, shake out my wrist and stretch the fingers but then… the exercise continues. What am I doing?

Read more at HybridMom.com.

(Update: This post got picked up on the Yahoo Shine homepage!)

October 15, 2010

Jeans

You know that awesome feeling when you fit back into your favorite jeans after your baby weight starts to come off? It starts with a hesitation, "Should I even try these on? Isn't this just setting myself up for a seriously bad mood when they don't button?" Once they're pulled out of the drawer, though, there's nothing for it but to just put them on.

More at Hybridmom.com.

(Sorry for the redirects, eventually I will actually write content for my own blog, too. That's the plan!)

September 20, 2010

Sarge! We have a boob down!

The other day I answered the door to a college student selling one of those pizza coupon deals to raise money for the project du jour. I listened to his pitch while the girls buzzed around me like frenzied bees about to swarm. The baby had just fallen asleep in a milk coma and was cuddled down in the family room, hands limp and face peaceful.

Read more at Hybridmom.com.

September 17, 2010

My budding photographer

Can you believe Anna took these pictures? Watch out Trystan Photography! (Oh, and by the way... I chopped off all my hair!)


Posted by Picasa

August 13, 2010

New perfume line! Get yours now!

I'm starting a new line of (non) celebrity perfume. I'm hoping I can get a picture on the advertisement like the one for Halle Berry's new line. (Just add in some spit stains, more tangles in her hair and a slightly doughier figure...)
My fragrance will have a base of soured milk with delicate notes of infant poop. I'll round it out with a subtle finale of unwashed body odor. I'm predicting a BIG reception from the public (i.e. everyone covering their noses and running in the opposite direction).
The only audience I think won't have a reaction? Moms with small babies. They won't notice the perfume at all. And why pay for what you already have for free?

The baby's here... but I've lost my mind

When I was about 38 weeks pregnant, I met a woman at a playdate with three children all under the age of five. The youngest was a baby in stroller, about 6 months old. I sat there at the picnic benches and watched out of two sides of my head as the girls ran off to play in opposite directions. With a hopeful note I asked her, “So, three kids! What do you think? Everyone keeps telling me it’s not so hard.”

She looked at me with kindness, smiled gently down at her sleeping baby and said, “No, it’s not easy. The third one nearly broke me.”

Everyone else around us gasped and started equivocating about how it’s not going to be so bad and she shouldn’t say something like that to me, but honestly, I was relieved. I wanted THE TRUTH, not platitudes and lies.

Read more at Hybridmom.com.

July 23, 2010

Three is a magic number

In the words of the immortal Monty Python and the Holy Grail...

"Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out."

Jack Stephen was born July 18th at 6:52 P.M. He weighed 7 pounds, 4 ounces and is absolutely gorgeous (if I do say so myself). I had the birth experience I wanted, but not at all the experience I thought I knew it would be. More on unmedicated childbirth later (once my postpartum amnesia takes a little stronger hold so I don't cringe whilst typing). But suffice to say that, as incredibly painful as it was, it was awesome, amazing and ultimately hugely satisfying.

And I'm very, very glad I won't be doing it again.

I love my boy, he's perfection. And now... back to napping, nursing and freaking out. Wish me luck!

July 09, 2010

If you really want to help, stay out of my sex life

Aside from the constant comments from random strangers about my appearance at this stage in the game (”Wow! You look awful!”, “Gee, you must not be sleeping what with those big dark circles!” or very, VERY rarely, “You’re just glowing, how beautiful”), my absolute favorite bit of advice I get bombarded with is to go have some rowdy sex with my husband and get this labor started.

Now, I know there are women out there who feel like fabulous, sensual creatures while nine months pregnant. There must be, or why would everyone talk about sex in the last month as if it was even remotely possible? Someone, somewhere, must have tried it.

Just, you know, not anyone I’ve ever met. Or ever expect to meet. EVER.

Read more over at Hybridmom.com.

July 08, 2010

People are stupid and I have lost my filter

I rolled out of bed this morning, still pregnant. 39 weeks loooong. That's 273 days. (Actually it's possibly 38 weeks, 5 days, or 271 days, if you are my crazy ass midwife who changed my due date by two days randomly when I was about 6 months pregnant. Not that I'm bitter, not that the date isn't TOTALLY made up anyway, but still. At this point, two days is a big fuckin' difference when it comes to my mental state. We'll see who's more accurate in the end. I'm just saying.)

The girls jumped into the fray around 6:30 A.M., squealing in excitement for their preschool field trips today. Kurt, God bless him, rolled over away from us to give them more room to tackle me. Sweetie pie.

Did I mention the "still pregnant" part? Just checking. It's sort of the first thought of every day. Actually it's more of a despairing, "Still fucking pregnant, nononoNO". (Sorry for the f-bomb left and right. It's where I'm at.)

ANYWAY. Up we get, I comb my hair, put in my contacts, pull on the last few comfortable clothes left to me and otherwise completely ignore my appearance. Oops. Why oops? Because I will have to pay. Because there's always SOMEONE with SOMETHING stupid to say.

This time, too, this lady had no excuse. Another mom at the girls' preschool, who herself had a baby three months ago, waylaid me as I tried to drop-off Silvia and run for it. My kiddos always do best with a quick hug, kiss and departure. But this lady...

"Oh my gosh, you're still here?! WOW! You look SO uncomfortable. I bet you're not sleeping, right? You've got the biggest dark circles under your eyes, you poor thing! What are you at now, 39 weeks or so? Ugh. I was so lucky, I went at just before 38 weeks, the nicest short labor, but I bet this is just miserable for YOU. You just look terrible, poor woman! But it's so great that you're carrying all in front, I just HATE women like you, staying thin the whole time with just that basketball belly. God, I just HATE you, hahaha!".

Oh good! We're even, then! I really fucking hate you, too! Let's have a coffee and I will make you a list! You look like a clown, what is with that blue eye shadow? That outfit? Something my 5-year-old would pick out. Oh, and your nice short, 38 week labor? FUCK YOU.

Yes. The F word filling every nook of my brain in a Christian preschool. Because that's where I'm at, people. So thanks, crazy bitch lady from school. I'm glad to see your sensitivity to the whole pregnant experience dropped off a lot quicker than that baby weight. And yes, I just made a rude comment about someone's weight, I know. Low blow.

But she said I had circles, big dark circles. So I'm okay with calling her fat. So there.

I'm so glad I brushed my hair!

July 02, 2010

Wrapping up the nursery, so why don't I feel ready?

July is here, my friends. My baby surprise is due the 17th, which of course means I’m focused on the possibility it could be any day now. Maybe tomorrow! Maybe today! Probably… around the 17th. Sigh.

To distract me from the wait, I’ve spent the past few weeks (or possibly months. Ahem.) nurturing a growing obsession with the nursery. I finally got my husband to buckle down and paint and when that was done I went on a mission to get every major store in the city to hate me.

More about my adventures in transference at Hybridmom.com.

June 25, 2010

Just let the baby have the bone

A few weeks back, I dragged my husband to see the documentary “Babies” down at our local indie theater. Not exactly romantic date night material, but we were pleasantly surprised by how much we actually enjoyed the film.

Basically, it is a comparison of film clips between babies in four different parts of the world: Namibia, San Francisco, Japan and Mongolia. As you’d expect there are huge differences in attitude, child-rearing and even development.

But there are some similarities, too. The film manages, without any narration, to weave seamlessly together the milestones of the first year as well as providing some seriously humorous comparisons in the way these kids are raised.

Hands down, our favorite moment was the episode with the Namibian baby, Ponijao, and the bone. Read more at Hybridmom.com.

Full term

37 weeks. As far as the doctors are concerned, a baby born at this point is considered good to go. That's not to say that every day in the womb isn't beneficial, of course. 40 weeks is the best goal, for certain.

But there's a certain comfort in knowing that this whole thing could be done soon and no one would try and stop it. Ahh...

With the impending baby release date looming, though, I've been spending more time thinking about, watching and generally waxing maudlin about the two children with me already. I'm not worried, per se, though that plays into it, too. (Worry is my specialty, of course!) But things, they are a changin', and I feel distinctly nostalgic about the relationships I have now and what will be lost in the transitions to come.

Biggest of all looms the time lost alone with my girls. Each day there seems to be at least a few moments where I can just sit and be with each of them, individually, with nothing more between us then a book or a favorite toy. Anna is especially cuddly these days, almost to the point of leech-like tenacity. And even if I'm just sneaking in a nap while Silvia sleeps, I can count on her to come rest with me for a bit, pat me on the head as she wanders by and, almost always, cover me up with pillows to make me "comfortable".

With Silvia, it's more just a matter of holding on, in a very physical sense. She leans into me, she curls up on my (now nearly non-existent) lap, she grasps my hand on the stairs. She's still little, but soon she will seem so very, very big by comparison alone.

I'm not trying to romanticize the girls. They are still ornery and loud and get into their sibling wackiness with alarming regularity. They're also best friends with nothing to come between them. The status quo we've established, the ability to "share mama", is about to be challenged. I know, without a doubt, that they will insanely love this new child. But now they have to share mama in a whole new way and it's bittersweet. I, too, have to learn to split my focus yet again, and that's a little sad, too. I'm finding myself putting off just about everything in the house that I need to do on a daily basis, from dishes to laundry and figuring out meals, just so I can sit and watch them play or make a paper airplane or re-read a random chapter of "The Phantom Tollbooth" while they press up against either side of me.

As hilarious as it seems considering how challenging things sometimes are, there's a part of me that is mourning the fact that it'll never be this "easy" again. And now, I'm off to get misty-eyed and sniffle over their laundry while making excuses for the perpetual mess their room has become since they moved in together.

Remind me of my maudlin regretfulness tonight when it takes yet another hour of theatrics to get them to sleep at night, okay?

June 10, 2010

And then my face turned red and I passed out

Ok, so I didn't actually pass out. Maybe just sort of grayed out for a second and I was lying down at the time. Not terribly dramatic, if I do say so myself.

But why, you ask, am I all red in the face and woozy? Inversion. Frickin' crappy, hate the damn word and want to throw rotten tomatoes at my husband every time he asks if I've done my exercises, inversion.

Baby Three (we're just going to name it Three. Keep it simple.) is upside down. Or, technically, up side up. It's not that big a deal yet and I'm hopeful that he/she will get bored with the view and slip around the right way in the next few weeks. I mean, come on, my midwife has spent months casually reminding me that I'm "all stretched out" this time around. I'm sure there's plenty of flex in there for some last minute acrobatics!

But, just in case, I've got to do these exercises at least three times a day. I get down flat on the floor and put a bunch of pillows under my butt and relax for 15 minutes whilst Three is supposed to be encouraged somehow to change direction by the change in MY direction.

Only it's not relaxing. It kills my back and after about 30 seconds I get a massive head rush that then turns into a growing pressure headache. I have not made it to 15 minutes yet, I just roll to the side in defeat after about seven or eight minutes and then have a good little whimper while my blood circulation attempts to re-assert itself.

Oh, and of course, so far this game of pregnant Twister has not inspired any shifting at all, except to get Three to kick me more fiercely right in the cervix. Ouch.

On a brighter note, Anna LOVES this game. She gets all pillowed up right next to me and then goes into a cheery speech about how, "I can do this so much BETTER than you, Mama! After the baby comes, maybe you can do the things that I can do, but right now I'm so much better! Can you put your legs over your head like this? Try it! No? Well, I can! See? SO MUCH BETTER!".

When Three makes this little flippity-flip-flip move, I will go out and have a whole yummy strawberry shake just to reward him/her. And I will do it right-side-UP.

(See, Lea? See what I did there? I said "when", not "if". Do I rock or what?)


UNRELATED SIDE NOTE: I wanted to clarify for posterity and concerned media outlets that when I'm expressing my feelings, trepidations, joys or other whatnots about this pregnancy and impending mommyhood challenges, I'm not in anyway blaming or belittling the baby. Three is the innocent player here and I fiercely look forward to meeting this child. I know from experience that once you have another child you always find your life impossible to imagine without them. I've been there. And even with everything that happened after my second daughter was born, there was never even a second in time where I flashed an inkling of an idea that it was somehow her fault. In fact, the nature of my unreality was rooted in how my children deserved so much more than my flawed and useless self. They are the prize, I am the undeserving winner.

In my opinion (and this is, after all, all about MY OPINION, right?) I'd rather face up to what's in my head so I can deal with it and move on. Putting it all in a pretty shiny happy box of pretend does nothing for me. It's totally possible and (dare I say it? Normal!) to feel happy and blessed by your life while still acknowledging the challenges, fears and guilty sense of inadequacy that often comes along with the good stuff.

So, to summarize, if you think I'm somehow hating on the baby when I'm just being honest about MYSELF... Suck it. And that's all I have to say about that.

June 08, 2010

Three?!

Today started with me peeling open my hayfever clogged eyes to the sound of Anna commanding loudly from down the hall, "NO, Cici!! That's DAN-GER-OUS! NO."

This was immediately followed by a loud bellow from the culprit of, "FINE! You're not my friend anymore!".

Then... a heavy beat of feet and arguing as they each ran into my room to complain/tattle/cry about the injustice wrought upon them by their sibling.

At 6:30 A.M. in the morning.

I do not sleep well at night (which means Kurt does not sleep well at night, but I can't convince him to give up the charade and sleep in the guest room. He said, and I quote, "I'd rather sleep badly next to you then sleep well without you". Cue the waterworks, pregnant lady. But that's another story). I wake up almost every morning exhausted. And almost every morning, I am smacked in the head with the sound and fury of two bitter rivals. Also known as best friends. Also known as boxing trainees. Also known as Broadway star hopefuls in full song and dance mode.

Also known as my children. (When I'm not using more creative language)

In the midst of these battles and screamfests and brutal mornings I always end up thinking, "Okay, so here we are dealing with THIS... now add a newborn." Anna having hysterics because Silvia scratched the hell out of her back with the guilty party now having hysterics at being put in time-out?

Add a newborn.

Two leeches following me around the kitchen within an inch of my feet, whining for chocolate milk and snacks, arguing and tripping me at every turn?

Add a newborn.

Preschooler with night terrors crying out in the night then waking her sister who now shares her room?

ADD A NEWBORN AT 2 A.M.

Please, God, let this baby be a reincarnation of Buddha with the corresponding zen indifference to noise, insomnia and gentle, guilt-ridden neglect. And since I'm here begging, I wouldn't mind a dose of that zen attitude myself.

And some soundproofing in my bedroom with a shiny new lock on the door. Wait, make that THEIR door.

June 01, 2010

The real salon experience

Dear 20-something single hair stylist boy,

Hi! After our session today, I just wanted to offer up a few suggestions. I hope these ideas will help you in your future client relations.

1) Do not complain, in detail, about how "destroyed" you are from having to drag your ass out of bed at 9 A.M. Trust me on this one-- all you are doing is making enemies. Enemies who have been up since 5 A.M., at least, and whose caffeine fixes are starting to wear off.

2) Just because you have a friend who has a child with whom you sometimes play does not qualify you to dole out parenting advice. Spending an hour or two on the weekend in the same house with a kid, while drinking on the side, does not make you "nearly a dad". Thank God.

3) Same thing goes for having a dog.

4) Yes, I am a stay at home mom. No, this does not mean I get my hair done all the time (as evidenced by my six months of split ends), and spend the afternoons out "shopping and getting lattes with the girls". I do not live in an episode of Desperate Housewives nor, quite frankly, do I want to.

And finally, 5) Never, ever, EVER ask a stay at home mom (especially one who is hugely pregnant and exhausted), "Well, what do you plan to do when you go back to having a real job?".

Sincerely,

The woman who tipped you 2%

P.S. My hair looks great, by the way. Kudos!

May 22, 2010

"Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

I have a belly bump.

Yes, I realize this is neither surprising (at 7 months pregnant) or news. I'm only really commenting on it because on top of my belly bump I HAVE A BELLY BUMP. It's a head. A disturbingly big head, from my perspective.

This kiddo is resting comfortably sideways across my middle, the very definition of a spare tire. Talk about a muffin top, whoo! And until he or she decides to move down into the more traditional pose, its head looks like, well... a big, round head. Growing out of the right side of my belly button.

The best part is when Mini-Schwartz stretches. Then the whole landscape changes and suddenly I've got that Sigourney Weaver* effect when the alien starts to press its way out of her abdomen, everything bulging in a creepy, squirming bullet shape. It's kind of a relief when it all settles back down into the nice normal bizarre lumpiness of the day-to-day.

Sort of makes dinner time less appetizing, for sure. But so far nothing has actually broken through and latched onto my face, so that's a bonus.*

*if you don't get all the Alien Trilogy references, get thee to Netflix, pronto. It's the only way to be sure.

May 17, 2010

why hormones are a bitch and friends are important

So there I am, walking out of the preschool after drop-off, barely 8 A.M. I've got my jaw clenched and my eyes open as wide as they can go to hold back the hysterics. I'm doing fine, right? Keeping it all together. Then I see my friend Lisa has pulled up next to my car to drop-off her little girl as well.

And that's it, y'all. You can't be all stoic in the face of friendliness. It just doesn't work.

So there I am, leaning against my (very dirty) car, sobbing, Lisa staring at me in bewilderment but being VERY NICE (because that's what friends do when confronted with randomly bawling other friends).

Why so blue? What's wrong? What happened to evoke this downpour?

Anna didn't want to go to school. She, in fact, had a full-on collapse when I tried to leave the classroom, clinging to me like a spider monkey and wailing for me not to leave, please don't leave me mommy, I want to stay with YOOOUUUUUU!!!! The teachers had to pull her off me and geez oh man does that girl have a strong grip. It was a scene.

The problem is that most mornings the kids meet in a big classroom but some mornings, depending on teachers, they meet in a classroom with a younger class before heading over to the big class. Anna HATES drop-off in the little kid's class. Even though all her friends are there, even though she knows all the teachers, even though she's been doing this for YEARS. Drop-off in the little kid's class is akin to torture, child abuse and full on abandonment worthy of years in prison for the horrible, terrible, awful mom who leaves her there.

Which would be, you guessed it, me.

Now mostly I am sort of annoyed by these random drop-off fits. It seems like such a silly thing to get upset over and starting my morning off with a screaming, clingy 5-year-old is never my preference. I usually hug her, pry her off and hand her to a teacher, and leave as quickly as possible to minimize the damage. But today?

Today I wailed in the parking lot like a broken doll on the shoulder of a bewildered and time-crunched friend. Who was, can I say again? VERY VERY NICE. As if it's totally normal for someone to get upset about a whiny preschool drop-off after more than two years of doing that exact same drop-off two and three times a week.

Which, I suppose, is the point. It probably IS normal... if you are seven months pregnant with your third child and so pumped full of emotionally compromising hormones that when you pull in to fill up your car with gas and find out you've picked the world's slowest fuel pump you are filled with a rage that could burn down the whole gas station.

Just, you know, as an example. Not that I've ever done that personally. Of course not.

(I called the school, by the way. Anna's fine. It's only the mama who's losing her shit.)

May 12, 2010

The words on the street

At our weekly playdate today, a little boy called the girls "stinky sluts", several time, while they ran around the play area. Clearly he had no idea what it meant (let's hope!), but when they came back to tell me and started giggling and calling each OTHER the same thing, I was not happy.

Now, I'm so not a confrontational person. I've always gone back and forth on playground politics and when to intervene. Mostly I tell the girls to say something and walk away if they are bothered. Occasionally, if I feel like the other kid's mom is not doing enough when someone gets physical, I'll tell the kid to knock it off and leave my girls alone. But in this case, talking to the child wasn't really appropriate. Can't you hear it?

"Hey there, little 4-year-old boy! Stop calling my children sluts! You don't even know them socially!!"

Yeah, right.

So, I went to the boy and had him take me to find his mom. He looked scared when I tapped him on the shoulder and I immediately started to feel bad. I was nice, though, and just followed him around to where she was sitting. As soon as she saw her little boy run up with another mom following him, her face went serious, and she said, "Oh, no, is everything ok?". She was a totally normal person, just hanging at the play area for something to do for an hour before lunch and nap time. She looked like just about any other mom I know.

And, boy oh boy, was she MORTIFIED when I sat down and gently told her what he'd been saying. (Funny side note: I actually blushed when I said "sluts". I need to get out more!) Her whole face went red, she covered her mouth and just shook her head and apologized. Then she turned and stared at her son. His face, of course, had gone all oh-no-what-just- happened-there-goes-my-tv-time serious. I told her it was ok, I just figured she'd want to know and I walked away.

First thing she did? Pulled out her cell phone and called, I'm assuming, her husband. Can't you hear that fun conversation? "So, honey. Guess what little Bobby just said! Hmm, where do you think he learned THAT WORD? Any ideas? SWEETIE?".

After I sat back down with my friends, I watched her from across the room. I felt a little guilty to see how appalled she was, especially when the little boy started crying as she made him get ready to go. I could have just told the girls not to play with him (or repeat him) and left it at that. My reasoning is that if it were me, I'd want to know.

So whaddya think? Would you have told the mom or let it slide? Is it any of my business what other kids say?

April 30, 2010

Lurking around every corner

Last night I found myself stuck in a horrible nightmare loop for hours. I couldn't shake it, wake up from it or in anyway escape. I used to have these kinds of looped visions, waking and sleeping, when Silvia was first born. I was SO WORRIED about Anna, that somehow my split attention would leave her unprotected.

This time, Anna was across a busy street from me, waving as I waited on the other side, holding the baby. Then she hopped up, a big smile on her face and dashed out into the road to get to me. I tried to scream at her to stop, but the words stuck in my throat.

She ran in front of a huge truck, went flying through the air and landed at my feet, eyes wide open and completely blank.

All night long, I watched my daughter die at my feet, over and over again. I finally woke with my arms over my head, curled into a ball, scream still stuck in my throat, sheets twisted around me. I reached over and crushed Kurt's hand, but he didn't wake up. I threw myself out of bed and stumbled into her room.

Anna is a deep sleeper most nights but she threw her arm across me when I lay down next to her, then snuggled her head into my shoulder. I curled around her, stroked her hair and cried. My hips hurt from being on my side, my belly kept cramping up in tight contractions and I just didn't care. I finally fell asleep with my hands cupped against her back. It's hard to imagine your child gone while her body is breathing deeply against your own.

Tonight, I may just take a sleeping pill.

March 26, 2010

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!

He's home! It's really over, can't believe it. So far Kurt's slept for 10 hours straight and is working his way up to 11. Afterwards-- cappuccino and a long walk. Woohoo!!!

March 25, 2010

Getting my husband back, a work widow no more

I know, work widow, sounds so dramatic. But these last few months I've really felt that way-- left alone and abandoned to a life without my husband. The caveat is, he's not deployed or away on business or, thank God, dead. He's just been GONE.

Since before Christmas, and really reaching back into the past year and a half at least, my dear husband has been suffering a death by nibbling predators. By the end of last year, the small bites became more painful mouthfuls. In the past three months, he's been nearly completely eaten alive by this scavenger called a "job". He's worked non-stop, 90 hour weeks, through weekends, sleeping 4 or 5 hour nights that are haunted by dreams of the work yet to be done. He wakes downtrodden and vaguely hopeless, exuding nothing more than a wave of exhaustion. The few days he has insisted on simply walking away and trying to breathe have been full of depressive episodes and fits of temper. He looks ill. He IS ill.

On the other side of the coin, the girls and I have been on our own. At first they cried a lot when he wasn't here and spent a long couple months behaving miserably for me, pushing me to my last nerve. Then they moved on to baiting him and fighting for attention with their best whining, tantrums and sibling antics for the times he was here. Then there came the night when, at bedtime, Anna leaked slow tears and held tight to my arms, sighing, "He forgot me, Mama. He usually remembers, but tonight he forgot me."

Now, they don't question his absence, they just delight at the treat for the moments he's here. Last night he came home right around their bedtime, threw himself down on the couch and closed his eyes. Silvia copied his every move from the opposite couch and Anna walked up, gently feeling his forehead.

"You're hot, daddy, you must be sick." She patted him on the arm and then gently covered him up with a blanket. I put them to bed after that. He opened his laptop and went back to work.

And every day for the last month at least has been the last day.

Today, though... today may actually BE the last day. He told me this morning that the tests and simulations on his chip (he's an engineer, is that too much information?) have all finally, finally, (Is it possible? Could it be?) run clean and flawless. Today the chip could go out and be done. When, if, this magical moment occurs, my husband will walk out of that office for two weeks without looking back.

He will rediscover sunshine and his children and sleep and smiling and exercise. He may even do the dishes. We will take walks and hold hands and stare at each other until our kids run up and throw stuffed animals at us, demanding attention and chocolate milk.

My first reaction this morning at the mere possible reality of all this was to choke back a massive scream of hysteria. Happy, disbelieving hysteria, but disconcerting nonetheless. The core principle of our family has always been to work in order to support our lives, never to live in order to support the work. Putting that to the test, and now seeing a glimpse of the chance to set it right again, is enough to send anyone into a tailspin.

So if this really is it and my husband comes back to life today then... I expect we will both have a good cry. And then go for a walk in the freezing air while the kids jump willy-nilly into frozen snow drifts. We'll all turn red from the cold, our nerves waking up.

Our family coming alive again. Let's hope.

March 15, 2010

Babies everywhere

Thursday morning before I had shaken the sleep from my eyes I received a texted picture on my phone of my new nephew. He looked VERY new, with red chubby cheeks and swollen eyes, bundled tightly in the ubiquitous hospital swaddling blankets. I cried because he was so beautiful.

Friday night I got to walk around a store for a long while holding a little three-month old baby girl. She snuggled into my shoulder and chewed her fingers, leaving a big drooly spot on my shirt. It felt WONDERFUL. When it was time to go, I almost forgot (on purpose) to give her back to her mom.

Saturday I visited my friend at the hospital and held her newborn daughter, a mere half-day old. I sat in the big rocker and snuggled her against me. She made little faces and yawned and gurgled and slept. Several times I won smiles (okay, probably just intestinal side-effects, but still, they looked smiley, so it counts). After carting around Silvia and Anna for so long, the weight of her felt wispy, dreamlike, in my arms.

Last night, I relaxed on the couch, my swollen calves propped up on pillows, to catch up on my DVR'd shows for a bit after the girls were in bed. I missed nearly the entire episode of Grey's Anatomy because I couldn't take my eyes off the bumps, punches and general movement visible against the skin of my belly. Every time I saw the shape of my stomach shift, I smiled and pushed right back. I found myself, (cheesy as it is), humming a little nonsense tune to see if it had any effect on the baby's movement.

It did.

March 12, 2010

getting it together

Nesting? How can I be nesting? I'm still 4 months out from birthin' time, but the urge to GET EVERYTHING READY is pretty all consuming these days. I'm sure it's just a control thing. After all, the world feels pretty much out of control at the moment, so grasping at preparations and organization give me something to hold on to. I'm that way, always need an anchor, even if it's just a list for the grocery store and an exercise routine for the gym.

That's right, the gym. I was blow-drying my hair the other day and casually watching my tricep-area wave back and forth in the flow of air when it hit me that I haven't really exercise, much less done any strength training since that little test came back positive. While for some this may seem like a "Woohoo!" kind of moment, implying relaxation, for me I just felt yucky.

Last year I got myself into the best shape of my life. I LIKED having muscle tone and fitting into cute outfits and feeling strong enough to keep up with my kids and my family and all the fun things you can do when you're body doesn't hold you back. Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I don't still want all of that.

Besides which, I always feel better, in general, when I make the time and force myself to work out. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and, yes, control. (Sensing a theme here?) I dragged my not-so-firm rear end to the gym and met with a trainer for a complimentary session to set up a good pregnant-friendly routine. I left feeling VERY SORE but motivated. Besides, I'm going to need those arm muscles come this summer for when I end up having to carry three children, a stroller and a 10-pound diaper bag through the mall. You KNOW that will happen at least once.

On top of that, I've decided to make a full-force effort to get a hold of our "what's for dinner?" disaster. I say "our", but I really mean "my". I hate cooking, I hate planning something every night, I hate 5 o'clock. I even hate when I cook something really disgustingly bad and Kurt eats it anyway in a show of love and support. Just makes me feel worse. He once at an entire serving of nearly frozen broccoli just to be nice.

But it's part of my life right now, so this week I've worked on sucking it up and getting it done. I went through my cookbooks and magazines and made a reference list of about 20 of my favorite recipes. Then, next to the reference, I jotted down a list of the basic ingredients for each recipe. Now I can just scan the list once a week, pick out 4 or 5 dinners, make a grocery list and get 'er done.

While I don't ENJOY any of this and will have to force myself to plan and then prep and then actually cook every night (or most nights), it's better than the all the freak-out I feel when I have no idea what to feed my family.

Being organized is a pain in the butt, but you know what? It puts me back in... CONTROL. Ah-ha!

March 05, 2010

All prayers welcome

Seems a little silly to be worrying about laundry and groceries and sore joints today. My friend Janalee, co-founder over at MA! Motherhood with Attitude, is at the hospital today while her newborn baby girl has open heart surgery. Mae was born about a month ago and shortly after they brought her home it was discovered she had a rare congenital heart defect. You can read more of her story here.

So any extra thoughts of healing and support you can send out to the Powers That Be today, I'd appreciate it. This has been a nightmare for their family and I'm strongly of the opinion that a big ol' happy ending is in order.

Thanks.

February 22, 2010

Half-way there

Twenty weeks this week, halfway there. Today is my big ultrasound, the one to which most moms look forward eagerly. It’s a chance to see your little one “in person”, so to speak, and many families learn the color of the tiny baby clothes they’ll be buying soon. Pink or blue?

For me, though, there won’t be any color revelations. We’re not finding out the boy or girl surprise until this little person slips out into fresh air and its father’s strong hands. Hopefully, that is. Not unless there’s something wrong. And there lies my guilt and anxiety.

Read more at MA! Motherhood with Attitude.

February 11, 2010

Bully Update

I took Anna to school this morning, full of trepidation for the necessary discussion with her teacher and the school administrator. I even got up and put on REAL CLOTHES (as opposed to just wearing the sweat pants I sort of actually slept in) and mascara. Mascara makes me look more awake, or that's what I tell myself.

Anna, of course, is oblivious to the issues at hand. I've talked to her all week about how to handle the Obnoxious Boy as well as about trying to stay around her friends that are nice. We listed off names of people she likes to play with and practiced loudly saying, "NO, DON'T DO THAT!" and then walking to the teacher.

Except Anna only likes to yell at her sister. Every time we'd practice, she'd peacefully say, "Please stop doing that," and then smile at me. Sigh... she's a sweetie, but it could totally backfire on her.

Anywho, I got to the school, kissed Anna off into her class and went into the hall to talk with her teacher. Guess what? She was WAY more nervous than me. (By the way, as to why I was nervous-- I just don't do confrontation well. Gee, I wonder where Anna learned that?) She stood with her arms wrapped around her chest and just look... unhappy.

Not because she'd been caught or was mad at me, but just because the situation puts her in a difficult position. I totally get that. And I totally understand that she can't watch every kid, all the time, or catch every misbehavior. I mean, I've only got two at home and I miss at least half (probably more) of the sibling rowdiness that's going on.

So I assured her that I understood her position entirely and just told her my two main concerns. 1) That Anna didn't tell anyone what was going on and 2) that she's starting to just act like it's part of her day to get pushed around (AND SPIT ON, YUCK!). I told her what I've been working on with Anna at home so that we'd be on the same page and then asked what exactly they'd be able to do at school to prevent any further bullying.

She said they'd talked to the boy's mom (who's also a teacher there) and that they're trying to figure out a disciplinary technique with him that's effective, though so far nothing much seems to get through. It was SO obvious that Anna's teacher was feeling helpless with this little boy. It's not like she can take him out behind the woodshed-- but I think maybe sometimes she would really like to.

I get that, too.

Where we stand right now, I think we're all on the same page helping Anna stand up for herself and identify what's ok with other kids and what's totally NOT acceptable. Her teacher is on the alert, the boy's mom has received a warning and we're all hoping things improve from here. If she comes home with another wad of gross in hair, I'll have to think about what to do from there, but for the moment I think we're all handling the situation within our means.

Oh, and Anna told me that Obnoxious Boy has been telling her a lot that he's going to marry her.

And so it begins.

February 09, 2010

My name in print... virtual and otherwise

My essay about when I first found out I was pregnant appears in this season's issue of Get Born Magazine. You can read it here on their website, but I encourage you to go pick it up or, better yet, sign up for an annual subscription!

I have a few gift subscriptions available, too, so let me know if you're interested!!

February 08, 2010

A bully

Anna's found herself the target of a bully at preschool... how would you handle it? Read more at MA! Motherhood with Attitude.

Nickels and dimes

Taking a hard look at where the cash flows over at HybridMom.com.

A little time for mama to be ME

It's a bright and sunny (ok, bright, snowy and cold) Monday morning and the girls are at school. And guess what?

I'm NOT doing laundry.

This month the girls have started back for three half-days of preschool a week, instead of two. At first I thought of how, with the extra 4 hours, I'd have time to get all my chores done and maybe throw in a nice quiet coffee break for myself, too.

Then I kicked myself in the head. Not an easy maneuver on a normal day, much less at nearly 5 months pregnant. But I gave it my best effort.

The girls are away and HAPPY and distracted and well-cared for 12 hours a week. It seems only fair that I use the time in the same manner, don't you think? Come summer, those hours will be filled with newborn needs, naps and cooing. While all that isn't necessarily too exhausting (hopefully) it's the beginning of the return to being all mom, all the time. Babies are just not independent or self-sufficient and, at least in our family, they don't go to preschool. While I'm sure I'll manage to take breaks here and there, this is really my last spree of scheduled and dependable free time.

So I'm sitting here on this toasty (or, actually, freezing) morning, clearing up my desk, sorting out my books and papers and contemplating the possibilities. There is time for laundry later. There will always be time for laundry because there will always be laundry.

There will NOT always be time for me. Kids in school? Great! Mom's in recess.

For now.

January 27, 2010

And then there was a flutter

I felt the baby move last night. I was collapsed on the couch next to my (equally exhausted) husband, watching the girls tackle each other on the floor of the living room. Kurt had his legs across my lap and we were just... being. He's been working so much lately that it was a perfectly perfect moment of perfection to just exist within the same minimal square footage together.

And then, just above and to the side of my left hip, a tickle. I moved my hand over the spot unconsciously, a gesture that was more muscle memory from my previous pregnancies than an actual reaction to the sensation.

And then, again, a flutter, against the inside of my skin.

"Hey," I whispered to Kurt, "Hey! It moved! I felt it move."

"Are you sure that's not just dinner moving?"

"NO!". I glared. "This is different. I know this. I remember this."

Suddenly, without even realizing it, my face morphed into a huge smile, practically melting away every line of exhaustion and stress that's etched it's way in over the past few months. A flood of memories blurred my vision; laying still in the night while the world slept and a baby moved and twirled inside my belly, just the two of us, my hands curving against the bumps and punches, feeling amazed and amused all at once.

It moved. There's a baby and it moves and grows and will be a person and have soft skin and warm breath and fingers that wrap tight around my own. Oh, my God.

It moved.

January 21, 2010

Groundhog Day

Is this really all there is for me? Laundry and dinner and groceries and kid crafts and bathrooms and laundry and screaming children and chores and short tempers and errands and laundry?

The monotony that seems to be stretching out into my future is weighing me down. I didn't realize how MUCH I was looking forward to venturing back to the work world until now, when that vista has totally slipped from my view.

Each day is blending into the next in a blur of kid-level activities and household maintenance. Probably this explains why I've got nothing to write about and no inspiration for future topics. Want to hear more about my laundry and how it never ends? Or I could spend some time detailing how much I hate to cook and struggle to have to prepare reasonable meals all week long. Maybe I could wax poetic on how tired I am and what a difficult time I'm having with the kids right now, would that fascinate you?

I know, I know, I'm just being whiny, I hear you all saying it (or at least I hear the voices in my head saying it). I need to be more proactive, discover new activities, create adventure, shake things up, create a more stimulating routine, etc, etc. The urge to go find a job, an anything kind of job, is sometimes overwhelming (mostly as the clock hits 4 P.M.). But then I get wacked with a big lead pipe of "how will you pay for daycare for the kids? How are you going to work once the baby comes? Who's going to take care of the home-side of your lives? Like anyone would hire a pregnant chick anyway. And admit it, even as drab as it all feels, you'd hate to put your 6-week-old in daycare."

So for now, this is, I guess, all there is. I'm sure with summer sunshine I'll find more things to do all day, but the constant blurry repetition of each day, each child's request, each task, chore and more...

Other women are single moms, working moms with kids at home, moms with deployed husbands and moms with no income. The world is a much harder place for some, a thought that lectures me all day long. I know that, believe me. Even sitting here in my gray area, I know my monotony is much easier than many, many people's lives.

But nevertheless, it weighs on me.

January 08, 2010

My life in quotes

I love quotations. I don’t mean inspirational, moving or thoughtfully philosophical quotations, either. I can come up with my own deep thoughts but, quite honestly, they don’t make a lot of real sense if I can’t look at it sideways and laugh.

More about my fixation at Hybrid Mom Insider.

January 04, 2010

New Year

It's funny, but you'd think what with all the excitement going on, I'd have a lot more to say. Somehow, though, it seems the exact opposite is in effect. I'm much more interested in what everyone ELSE has going on. For instance:

My friend just had her baby a couple weeks ago, gorgeous little girl. Then right on top of that, her husband was deployed, leaving her with her older two kids and newborn. It feels so sad and mixed up and unfair and yet she's doing ok. (I think she's doing ok... once again, not on top of my communication skills. Are you doing ok?)

Another friend will be moving away later on this year, an exciting change for them and a bummer all around, too. The prospect of a move is ALWAYS fascinating, full of potential for all the new things, places and people coming on. But having to leave sucks. Is it worse to leave or to be left? I've never been able to decide.

Yet another friend will be giving birth any day now to HER suprise third child. Her experience along this shocker has been a road map for me. Just a shout-out to say, "Thanks!" for listening to all my cuss words. I'm not terribly inventive in my curses, but I can use the same word over and over and over again to great effect.

Two more women in my life are expecting their second babies come March with bellies blossomed full enough that the weight of it begins to pull them down.

Babies, everywhere. It's not just me.

But this weekend I stretched out on the couch and looked down at my swollen too-much-lunch looking stomach with disgust. "Look at that! Just LOOK at that! Ugh," I groaned at Kurt.

"So? You're pregnant. That's what happens," he shot back in a matter of fact voice.

I literally flinched when the P-word left his lips. Don't know why, it's not like it's a surprise to me. I think it's the way he said it, the calm acceptance and tone of "what did you expect?".

He's there now, right smack in the middle of his happy medium and I... am not. All done with the first trimester, the first hurdle, and I'm still pissed off. I'm tired and short-tempered with the girls and tired and short-tempered with Kurt and most of all tired and short-tempered with myself.

There's lots of other interesting things going on around me and one extra addition to an already happy family doesn't seem like that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. My attitude right now certainly doesn't do me any credit and is totally unfair to this little kid-to-be.

New Year, new you, right? I'm waiting for that reboot and refresh magic to hit me with all it's glory and potential. It's sort of like anticipating a big move, I guess, only it's the world that's shifting, not me. Maybe that's what I need to work on, discovering some anticipation and interest in my own outcomes.

So. Hip hip hooray! Yay! Woohoo!

Fake it til you make it.