Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Feel a bit prehistoric?
Catch any bad guys?
Discover your twin was really a sister instead of a brother named Luke?
Chase any Jedi Knights around the Death Star?
Eat a little too much candy?
Note: all costumes are homemade...the Clone Trooper is made from poster board. He looked great - my husband did a fantastic job.
"I have fifteen great-grandchildren," she stated.
"That's great," I enthused.
"No, it's not," she said.
...Uuh..."Do you wish you had more?"
"No! I have to buy all those presents," she lamented.
This is so sad. Her great-grandchildren are just drains on her pocketbook. I sincerely hope that my own children are more a source of joy for their extended family than a financial burden. I'd rather my kids get nothing ever from a grandparent, aunt or uncle than that they be viewed this way. My grandparents couldn't afford to give gifts to all their grandchildren. I was thrilled when Grandma pulled me aside and snuck a quarter in my hand. One year, we all got McDonald's gift certificates for Christmas - that was the only year I remember getting anything. But I don't think I loved Grandma any less than I would have had she showered me with expensive gifts.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Actually, the very nice police officer didn't play any games. He told me right away why he pulled me over, briefly chastised me for speeding with kids in the car (because 48 mph on a very wide, very straight, four lane road with a ridiculous 35 mph limit is dangerous, I guess), checked to see if my registration and insurance were up to date, asked if all the kids were mine, and then took my license back to his car to make sure I wasn't wanted for felonies in ten states.
I was pretty sure I'd only get a warning, since he didn't take the car info. My kids were very excited at the whole spectacle, and I think were a tad disappointed that nothing more dramatic then a cursory order to "Slow down" occurred.
As we pulled away, I asked who was going to tattle on me to their father. The response was a chorus of gleeful "Me!"
"Does he really need to know about this?" I asked.
"Yes!" Again, a happy, unanimous response.
So much for not biting the hand that feeds you.
For the record, I don't keep secrets from my husband, and he wouldn't be (wasn't) particularly upset by this anyway.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Me: I'm sorry, honey, she's crying. I need to nurse her.
Jenny: Mommy, can I hold Mary?
Me: I'm sorry, honey, I'm still nursing her.
Jenny: Mommy, can I hold Mary?
Me: I'm sorry, honey, she's really happy here on my lap.
At that point I realized that the answer was just simply NO. And perhaps it shouldn't be. Even if those brief moments of contentment are cut short by the unpleasantness of being held by a Not The Momma.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
She's not our lightest sleeper. She's just like all the others.
We have video footage of infant Fritz fast asleep in his father's arms. Bill raised his little arm high, and then let it drop like a dead weight. This kid was out cold. And yet, as soon as he touched the crib, he would wake up. We tried everything: placing him on a warmed blanket, hovering over him for back-breaking minutes, using background noises to distract him from the transition. Eventually he outgrew it and would sleep through fireworks, but, oh, those early months were exhausting.
And they're mainly exhausting for me. Sure, Bill makes sure he gets in that video or the photos to prove that he does in fact physically care for our children. Cleverly, though, he has relegating the creation of family archives to me; therefore, he plays the role of sensitive, caring father in a disproportionate number of snapshots. I can't very well take a picture of myself.
But honestly there's not much he can do anyway. He'll be the first to tell you that all our kids seem to divide the people of the world into two categories: The Momma and Not The Momma. They have a decided preference for The Momma, and he is most definitely Not The Momma.
When Fritz was about 6 weeks old, my parents came into town for his baptism and met him for the first time. My mom, naturally, really wanted to hold her new grandbaby. But she was Not The Momma. Every time I handed him over, he would wail. Finally, he fell asleep, and she was able to indulge in that sweet foretaste of heaven.
I truly love holding babies. I wouldn't mind doing it all day, really. But somebody has to do the laundry, and somebody has to cook dinner, and toddlers (and older kids) need lap time too. As much as I love holding babies, I think I hate the idea of my house falling apart more, and I really, really like to take a shower a few times a week at least. So, I try to pawn my little baby off on others, even if it's for ten or fifteen minutes.
But if Bill is Not The Momma, brothers and sisters who jiggle a little too roughly are even more so Not The Momma.
The bassinet is definitely Not The Momma.
The swing and the car seat are Not The Momma.
The bed is Not The Momma, but sometimes, if all the planets are in the proper alignment and The Momma is right there next to her, the baby might be content. But if The Momma ever so gently, and slowly, and quietly leaves the bed to go take a shower, the bed instantly reverts to full Not The Momma status and sleep for baby and anybody within the house is rendered impossible.
I marvel at babies who happily go into the arms of any friendly person. That's completely foreign to my own experience.
I'm trying hard to cherish these fleeting days of exaltation. Being The Momma is as close to being a goddess as I suppose I'll ever get. In a few weeks, my little one will accept the warm arms of a loving substitute - at least while she's sleeping. Then, week by week, she'll be a bit more content to swing or to let an older sibling entertain her. And even though all my kids still seem to fight over me and want to sit as close to me as is physically possible, there are times for them when The Momma is definitely not their favorite person and they are convinced that other relatives would make better (more sympathetic) caretakers.
So, I'll accept my demi-deity role, knowing that with such glory comes much work, and as the work load wanes, so, too, will the glory.
Friday, October 26, 2007
BiLLy yoo are stooPiD.
One day, she'll understand the point about the pot calling the kettle black.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Yesterday, she had gained another 5 ounces in 5 days. Checking at home with the midwife's scale, I was not surprised at her weigh-in, but I did hope that she would gain faster. Fortunately for my sanity, the doctor reminded me that this is a decent weight gain. Otherwise, I was running the risk of going off the deep end with supplementing. Right now, she gets about 6 ounces of formula a day spread out in two or three feedings. She has a ways to go to regain her birth weight, and until she does so, I won't reduce that amount. The danger of giving her more is that she would nurse less, and that would be counterproductive to the ultimate goal of no supplementation.
Fortunately, she's latching on well and she is mostly over the confusion between me and the bottle. Also, fortunately, I was finally able to view the videos at this site by Dr. Jack Newman on breast compression. This technique helps the weak nurser get more breast milk. I wish I had known about this years ago. I think even with my stronger nursers it might have helped them get more food in their tummy faster, and possibly given me a bit of a break in those early, arm-wearied weeks of a newborn's life. Many thanks to Deborah, who sent me to this site (where the files are easier to read) and which linked to the site with the video.
Continued prayers for her weight gain are appreciated. Those offered up so far have been truly felt. My husband will attest that I'm not nearly as frustrated or weepy. Although I will say that weighing the baby at the end of the day when I am most tired is not good. I've resolved to weigh her no later than 4 pm, lest a minuscule increase in her weight combined with typical new baby exhaustion create an unpleasant flood of tears.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
The point in these chores isn't so much absolving me from household responsibility (not yet anyway). I've tried to pick ten tasks that need to be done on a daily basis. I want my kids to see what it takes to efficiently run the house (no, clean laundry doesn't just magically appear in your dresser); I want to instill in them a sense of team unity in running that house; I want them to master certain tasks to the best of their ability; and I want them to practice obedience. Often this last goal is the primary point.
The chore that gets the most complaints is emptying the dishwasher in the morning. The other four morning chores are things that can slide, and I did that intentionally. Some mornings are too crazy, and the added stress of crucial jobs being undone would be too much. If the dining room rug doesn't get vacuumed every day, it'll be unsightly, but we can live with it. But if the dishwasher doesn't get emptied, the dirty dishes begin to pile high in the sink...and on the counters...and eventually, even making dinner, let alone eating it, is difficult.
I have one child who, in recent months, has acquired an unpleasant knee-jerk reaction to any request for assistance. A reasonable and predictable request at 3 pm for everyone to pick up the debris-strewn house so they can go out and play with the neighborhood kids who will be home soon from school is met with crossed arms and a shrill whine: "But nobody else is cleaning!" Ask her to do something extra, like help her little brother get some juice, and you'd think we treated her like Cinderella. But even things clearly her responsibility, like removing her personal belongings from the main living areas, seem quite beneath her dignity.
This month, this child has had the dreaded task of putting away the clean dishes. Every morning, my reminder to do this job has been greeted with the most unpleasant, high pitched noises expressing, as best as I can tell, her extreme displeasure at being assigned such an oppressive chore. She is young enough that I would gladly have helped her with the items that went in the upper cabinets, but my own knee-jerk reaction to her tirades has been a flat-out refusal to give any assistance.
She would cry and whine, and I would tell her if she had asked nicely, I would have helped her. She would instantly calm herself and ask nicely for help, and I would tell her no, she needed to ask nicely without first crying about it and without being reminded about proper behavior. And then I would walk away so as to not witness her gymnastics in getting glassware and stoneware away, lest my fear of dishes breaking would soften me.
We repeated this scene for nineteen days. I despaired that she would ever learn her lesson and wondered if some genetic deficiency prevented her from being capable of poised and pleasant behavior. But finally, on the 20th day, when I asked her to empty the dishwasher, I watched her take a deep breath, compose herself, and say, "Mommy, would you please help me?" Amazing.
And so it has been. I'm glad that I didn't shorten the chore rotation period to two weeks as I considered. As yet, this good behavior has not extended into other times during the day where she is asked to pitch in, but there is hope for her. Slowly, slowly we mold decent human beings.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Besides, I hate crying. It gives me a headache.
Instead, the kids and I watched Bridge to Terebithia. I loved this book when I was a kid. Unfortunately, that was about 25 years ago, and my memory is a bit sketchy. So, we're all happily munching popcorn and enjoying how these two adolescents engage their imaginations to create a fantasy world, and then, the next thing you know, Leslie is dead.
My husband, working on the computer across the way, has a very sensitive wife-has-lost-it-emotionally warning system (or perhaps he just could hear my sniffles and sobs), and he came over to see if I was okay. He's not watching the movie; he has no idea that this girl has died. For all he knows, it's just more post-partum weepiness which has me crying, at times, over completely insignificant things. But he knows, without duly expressed concern and compassion, he runs the risk of a snowball effect wherein I cry also because nobody cares, and then I cry more because I'm crying over something stupid, and how could I expect anybody to understand that...it can get quite ugly around here for these (thankfully) brief episodes.
"Blast it. I forgot the girl dies. I'll be fine," I managed to croak out, wiping away my tears, and regretting we didn't just watch baseball instead. He expressed his concern, patted me on the head, and then went back to work.
Then Jenny started asking me, "Where did Wesley go?"
"Leslie died, honey."
"But where did Wesley go?"
"Heaven, honey, she's dead."
This kept up for a few minutes until she said, "Is she in the graveyard?"
"Yes, she's in the graveyard." This satisfied her, and finally, the topic could rest in peace.
After the movie, Fritz offered his opinion. "Why did they have her die? This is a kids' movie. People aren't supposed to die in kids' movies."
I nodded empathetically. "I agree. I think her death was completely superfluous." Everybody just stared at me. Instead of asking for a definition of superfluous, they all just pretended I didn't say anything at all. My words of comfort were wasted.
Off went the kids to bed, and then Bill had someone come over to work on a report, so I retreated to my TV-free bedroom. It was only later, as I was feeding the baby at her usual 11 pm oh-I'm-sorry-you-weren't-trying-to-sleep-or-anything awake time, that I remembered to check the score.
It's okay. It's time to move on. Baseball in October is obscene. Instead of watching the World Series, maybe I'll get some more kid-and-mom friendly movies.
Like Old Yeller.
Friday, October 19, 2007
It is now taken for granted that the school will teach about sex, the doctors will decide what immunizations are given, and the parish religious education office will teach children the faith. Too many parents are just passive observers. They just blindly chauffer their children from one indoctrination activity to another. And when a parent tries to wrest control from one of these institutions they are labeled as a trouble-maker, a fanatic, or an unfit parent.
The pediatrician wants her patient to gain weight. I understand that she isn't going to care much about how that is accomplished. Even if I did exclusively bottle feed formula for a week (I'm not!), it doesn't mean that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed my child eventually. It would just be even harder. And I'm all about making my life easier.
Mary gained 3 ounces between 1 pm on Wednesday and 11 am on Thursday. I recorded giving her a total of 6 ounces of bottled nutrition - only 1 3/4 ounces was formula. Nobody is suggesting that the pump is measuring my production - I just preferred to give her breast milk and was attempting to keep my own supply stimulated.
But there is no way that I will be able to continue to pump much - not long term. I need to be present for my other five children, and it is very difficult to pour juice and tie shoe laces while pumping. Plus, the pumps (I have an old, but reliable, Medela pump that I used when I returned to work after Fritz was born...plus a brand new Medela pump the midwife loaned me) are only yielding about a half ounce for thirty minutes of pumping. That's too much time for too little result.
I prefer to stimulate the milk production naturally, and the midwife gave me a nipple shield. I need a bigger size, but am managing to use it, and it does work. It's very annoying that my daughter seemed to prefer the rubbery taste. I also managed to have her latch on without it, but only after the other kids went to bed and it was very calm in the house. And it wasn't for a long time.
I also have some breast shells, and we'll see if that makes a difference.
I'm guzzling Mother's Tea. It contains fenugreek.
I've been in touch with a lactation consultant. I have her number if I need any more help.
I have an appointment this afternoon and Monday afternoon to weigh the baby. A normal, healthy weight gain is one ounce per day. As long as Mary is gaining weight, it doesn't matter how the nutrition is delivered to her little body. Right now, my plan is to nurse the baby as often as possible (au natural or using the nipple shield if necessary), and supplement with formula up to about 6 ounces in 24 hours.
I've switched to using a syringe to give her the formula. This is a tedious, messy procedure, but delivers nutrition and avoids nipple confusion by denying her the pleasure of sucking. I did use a bottle around 1 am, because I wanted to get some sleep, but during the day time, I don't intend to use it. We'll see how it goes. The proof is in the weight gain.
We'll get through this. And it probably won't be very long until it is all resolved - maybe a week or two. I remember looking back at some dated items when I was suffering through this with Jenny, and I realized that the whole ordeal was about three weeks in duration. I was shocked. It really felt like it had taken months.
It's kind of like when I ran the Army Ten Miler. The finish line is around a bend. I ran with Bill, who had run the race the year before. He kept telling me, that last agonizing mile, that we were almost done. I couldn't see the end, though, and despaired at how far I had to go. If I run that race next year, as I intend, I will know where the finish line is. I won't need to see it.
I can't see the end of this situation, but I know it is not too far up ahead.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Last evening found me sobbing in a black pit of misery. I am still miserable - woefully so - but I have the advantage of a fresh morning and some good hours of sleep to bolster me. Experience tells me that I will be feeling every depth of despair this evening after yet another difficult day.
I really can not believe that once again I find myself, as I did over four years ago, pumping milk, using bottles, and praying a novena to Our Lady of La Leche for her intercession with my starving child. The baby has lost entirely too much weight in her week and a half of life. Even supposing an inaccuracy in the midwife's scale used at her birth, it is still too much. I have to take her to the doctor's again this morning to reweigh her and see if she's gained anything in 24 hours.
When this happened with Jenny, it was assumed that the stress of Bill's deployment affected my milk supply. Although I'm sure it was a major contributing factor, I think more so it was her difficulty in latching on strongly. Pete seemed to have some trouble too and was diagnosed with a tied tongue (I'm not too sure that this is true, since he has no speech problems and seems to be able to stick his tongue out now), and I had to take him twice to be weighed to prove that he was thriving. He didn't lose that much weight all told.
Mary, like Jenny, has had difficulty in achieving a firm latch. We've been banging our heads in frustration since her birth, and she has spent most of her days and nights either struggling to latch on or nursing. Much to both our exhaustion, she has rarely been out of my arms and, if so, has usually been crying. Being hungry constantly will do that to you.
Despite her extreme weight loss, it's not been as bad as it was with Jenny. Jenny experienced dehydration and lethargy. It was a scary time. Mary's constant nursing managed to bring in my milk supply, and she was producing wet diapers. We were making painful progress. With Jenny, I was scared into supplementing with a lot of formula. I then had to wean her off bottles (she had nipple confusion) and gradually increase my milk supply by pumping. With Mary, the doctor wanted to record how much she was getting, so I have had to pump, and, if the pump failed to produce enough (and sadly, this seems to be the case), supplement with formula.
I'm worried about my milk supply. I'm worried about nipple confusion. I'm worried about my child's health.
And after she drinks one ounce of expressed milk and then sits alert and content in someone else's arms or falls into a good, deep sleep for two hours, I remember that it's not normal for even a newborn to cry all the time. I feel guilty and frustrated for failing to take care of my child properly, for failing to be a good mother.
It's a dark pit.
Experience soothes me. With Jenny, one week I was crying because she would sleep for two or three hours, satiated on formula, and the next week I was crying that she was up every hour to nurse. It's a black pit, but, not only do I know there is an exit, I know the way out.
Our Lady of La Leche, pray for me.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The last conversation Bill and I had on Sunday night had him remarking that this pregnancy seemed to be ending worse than any of the others. While I did agree that I was very uncomfortable, I didn't think that it was any worse than any of the other times. I just think we forget those things. At least I try to forget them. That night, I told myself and Bill that it was almost over - a week more or less. I just didn't realize how much less.
As per usual, I woke up around 230 am needing to go to the bathroom. I happened to have a pretty strong Braxton-Hicks contraction at that time. There was nothing particularly unusual about this, but the contraction did seem stronger than most. An hour later, the scenario was repeated, and I paused to consider my "birth plan" wherein my water breaks in the early morning hours while using the toilet. Alas, this was not to be the case.
My morning progressed much like most mornings, even though it was a federal holiday and both Bill's school and the public schools were closed. Bill left, hoping to get an upcoming assignment finished, and I did an abbreviated school day with my crew, knowing that the neighborhood would be jumping by lunchtime and getting anything done after noon was a lost cause.
Bill actually came home in short order; his classroom was locked. It was just as well. I continued having pretty strong, but irregular in frequency and duration, contractions throughout the whole morning and into the afternoon. For me, this was classic pre/early labor. With my first labor, I suffered like this for two full days before I had my son. With the others, it was shorter, but not "short" - a night and a day, perhaps. So, I knew the baby was coming, I just couldn't be sure exactly when. I thought I was in for a long night and guessed the baby would come the next day in the early morning hours.
I tasked Bill with monitoring the kids, and I did my best to rest. I napped. I took a bath. Thank goodness I had put ribs in the crockpot first thing in the morning, and I had dough for rolls waiting in the fridge. I really took it easy.
Fritz had an orthodontist appointment that afternoon at 4 pm. Bill was loitering in the front, watching Pete on his tricycle and waiting for Fritz to get ready. Our next door neighbors were out, and Bill told them I was in early labor. I came out, and there was some discussion about which neighbors were likely to be available to watch the kids and when. I was still thinking that everything was going to be happening later - in the middle of the night or the next day.
When Bill and Fritz came home, we had dinner, but I was really getting uncomfortable. We tried to time the contractions, but they were sometimes 8 minutes apart, sometimes 5. Sometimes they lasted for a minute and a half, but sometimes only for 40 seconds. And although my back was beginning to get a little achy, it wasn't my usual back labor, so I felt that it was still very early in labor. I left dinner before anyone else was done to take a bath, but I asked Bill to see about setting up the labor pool the midwife had brought over the week before. I knew that being able to fully immerse my body in hot water would really help. He asked me where I preferred the pool, and I said in our bedroom, if the hoses would reach. They had to go from the hookup at the washing machine in the basement up to the second floor.
He got to work running two hoses up the staircases and setting up the inflatable pool. By this point it was around 630 pm, I was out of my bathtub, and we decided to get the kids washed up and in PJs despite the early hour. I really, really thought that perhaps I would just labor in the pool for a while and do my best to relax. I would be fine, even if I were alone, until the kids' 8 pm bedtime. Around 7 pm, we said bedtime prayers, and I suggested the kids watch a movie to keep them occupied until bedtime. This was a popular idea. Bill called the midwife and asked her to come over - maybe in about an hour. She said she'd be there in a half hour. I suggested to Bill that we ask our neighbor's daughter (almost 12 years old) to sit with the kids until the movie was over.
But FIRST, I wanted that pool filled. He went to the basement to turn the water on, and I went to the bedroom to hold the handle on the nozzle. The water started pouring in, and after a minute was nice and hot. But the pressure at the nozzle was too great for the old hose and suddenly a hole burst about 18 inches from the end. Water went everywhere in the bedroom in the few seconds it took me to crimp the hose and gain control of the spray. Bill, unaware of situation, was coming up the stairs. I called to him and he entered the disaster scene briefly before learning that I needed the water turned off. When he returned, he stood there in eye-blinking shock while I laughed so hard I could barely stand up. It was another minute before he understood that the hose had a hole. He actually assumed his blond-at-birth wife had lost control of the hose and allowed the water to spray at will. Nice, huh?
He got towels, and we began mopping up the floors, the antique desk, the laptop, the schoolbooks and the walls while water dripped on us from the ceiling. The various artwork in the area was left to dry on its own, and miraculously, The Whiskey Rebellion, which is nicely framed but, being a canvas print, is not behind glass, seemed to have been spared a drenching. Patton seems to be none the worse for his bath.
Just then the phone rang, and it was our neighbors across the way offering to take our kids in. God is so good, and our neighbors are such a blessing. Bill went to escort the children across the road, with movie in hand, and along the way let the midwife into the house. Momentarily distracted by The Great Flood, my contractions weren't too bad, but now that the crisis had passed, I was really starting to feel them again and this time they were definitely in my back. My midwife had brought over a TENS unit, and when she came up to my room, I was in the middle of trying to figure out how to attach it. She helped me with that, and then we decided to see how far I had to go: I was 7 cm. The baby was still a little high, but I couldn't believe I was that far along and only beginning to have significant back pain.
And then...things stalled. An hour later, I was in the pool, relaxed most of the time, and having only moderately strong contractions. The midwife checked, and I was still at 7 cm. I wasn't surprised, but I was disappointed nonetheless. The midwife suggested breaking my water, and although I am normally reluctant to do that, it was approaching 9 pm and I didn't want to be doing this all night. It took about 10 or 15 minutes for the contractions to begin to pick up. It was back labor, but between the hot water and pressure applied by Bill and the midwife, it wasn't too bad, and I was able to relax between contractions.
I was almost, but not quite fully dilated, and I seemed to stall again. I ended up getting out of the pool and trying a few different positions for what seemed like forever before I got to the pushing stage. And that stage, too, seemed to take a long time - it was certainly longer and more painful than with any of my other children. The midwife said she was a little sideways, and when I found out her weight - 8 pounds 12 ounces - I realized that her size probably contributed to my difficulty as well.
But all is well that ends well. Like my two other daughters born with no drugs to numb the pain, I was not at all interested in holding the child responsible for such agony. But everybody always insists that you do it, and it's good, because my pain begins to recede immediately as my motherly love kicks in.
She was born a little after 10 pm, so those last phases really didn't take as much time as they seemed to while I lived through them. Bill retrieved the sleeping children from another neighbor's house (they were moved next door at bedtime), and the midwife cleaned up and did paperwork.
It was after midnight before she was ready to leave. Her final instructions to Bill included how to administer drugs in the unlikely event I were bleeding to death and what paperwork he would need to bring with him to the emergency room just in case. My poor husband! Exhausted, but terrified of the possibility of waking up to a dead wife (and having to care for 6 kids all by himself!), he vowed to not sleep at all that night. I'm quite certain he was kicking himself for not having installed that baby car seat yet in the van, and what if she needed emergency treatment? Fortunately, I felt well, and suggested that he set his watch alarm to go off every hour, and he could make sure I was still alive. Of course, we all made it through just fine.
And that is Mary's birth story. I hope to do a post on home birth, and also on things I did differently this pregnancy, and if I think they helped at all. But those will wait for another time. This post took three or four days to write - life with a newborn. We're getting through these dizzy days one at a time.
Monday, October 15, 2007
Saturday, October 13, 2007
And so, it is possible that my judgment is clouded, and I'm too sensitive regarding trivial matters.
God blessed us with pouring rain and thunder storms today. Bill and the older boys should have spent the whole day doing this big outdoor Scouting extravaganza: archery, crafts, other stuff like that. Everything was canceled, and the boys were terribly disappointed. But Bill, behind on schoolwork, and I, eager to have his help with just getting through the day, were grateful for a chance to sit and read without the doorbell ringing and the constant traffic of children in and out of the house.
After lunch, Fritz wanted to go over to a friend's house. We like this family a lot, and their three children play with our kids quite a bit. We phoned over and gained permission for him to go there for a while. About ten or fifteen minutes later, the phone rang and Caller ID told me it was their house. Now, they had taken advantage of the Columbus Day holiday and gone on vacation for a week. They had only returned late on Thursday, and naturally missed the initial buzz surrounding the baby's birth on Monday. I was actually expecting the wife/mom to be calling with the usual questions one would have when one finds out that a pregnant neighbor is now a new (again) mother.
It was actually the 9 year old daughter, who frequently escapes the masculine din of her brothers' games by playing dolls and house with my daughters, asking if she could come over here to play. With a gentleness that belied my irritation, I explained that because I had just had a baby, a baby she had met while inconveniently playing in my yard the afternoon before, I was not yet ready to host people inside my home. I did suggest she ask her mother if my daughters could play over there.
She never called back.
I'm trying hard to assume that her mom was unaware of the phone call. Perhaps, even, the girl didn't mention to her mother that I had suggested that my girls go over there. Maybe, possibly, the girl had acted behind her mother's back and after her mother clearly told her no she could not come here.
But since two other neighbors didn't seem to think it was a big deal that their children play in my yard yesterday afternoon, something that required me to sit outside in the chill with my not yet 4 day old baby to make sure that my 2 year old did not escape the yard (by older children leaving the gate unlocked) and wander throughout the general vicinity, I highly suspect that my own expectations regarding polite behavior in these circumstances is a bit more strict.
I guess it's just the Jane Austin in me.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Mary Therese Reitemeyer.
The beautiful doll arrived at 2208 (10:08PM for you civies) last night and weighted in at a whopping 8 lbs 12 oz!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Both Michelle and little Mary are resting well, although I am not as I make a feeble attempt to emulate the bionic woman who actually runs this house. (My first order of business was to outsource parenting to a neighbor.)
All is going quite well and everyone is VERY excited.
Husband of a Saint, father to Angels,
Monday, October 08, 2007
An acquaintance-friend has one child - a boy. He kicked her rear end as a baby, and she deferred having more children out of fear that she was a horrible mother. I'll take her word for it how bad he was. I had limited exposure to his behavior and he seemed pretty normal to me.
But Petey looks like an angel in that photo, too.
Now that her son is four, he's evened out and is more manageable. She and her husband have decided to risk that parenting adventure once again. She's about 4 months along now, and still a bit worried about her parenting ability. "Maybe you'll have an easy baby," I suggested to her a few weeks ago. I've heard about these kids: the kind who coo happily at the dappled sunlight filtering in the room, who love to be held by grandma or auntie or anybody at all, the ones who only cry for clearly discernible reasons and who take regular, long naps with minimal effort. No child like that seems to want to claim me as their mother, but I've heard they exist. I was trying to offer her some hope.
We ran into them on Saturday and chatted briefly. The husband mentioned to Bill that they found out some shocking news.
They're having twins.
Hoo boy. Even two easy babies are quite a handful.
Perhaps, though, her first-born son was her prep course for handling the next ones. The other day, I was watching Pete and trying to be more amused than shocked at his antics. Had he been my oldest son, I would probably have quit motherhood right then and there. He had a toy gun and was shooting everybody in the room (except for me, I might add - good boy!). He had all the appropriate sound effects and would inform his victims, "I shoot you!" with enthusiasm and a smile. Most disturbing was that every so often, he would turn the gun to his own head and shoot himself. He would say, "I dead," and then prat-fall to the ground in a heap to the unveiled delight of all his siblings.
Yes, having older brothers is a blessing. Sure. This is an improvement over naked tap dancing or getting dressed up as a witch? Hmmm...
I take all things in stride. Most days, he really is more like that little angel in the photo.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
Saturday, October 06, 2007
1. They were (still are) married. Their commitment to each other, for better or for worse, translated to a belief in their commitment to me, their imperfect child, for better or for worse. Their example of marriage indoctrinated me to the concept that marriage was permanent. No matter how difficult times might be with my own husband, walking away is not an option.
2. They love each other more than they love us kids. I still feel like the apple of my father's eye; he dotes on all of his daughters. Both of my parents showered us with hugs and kisses as we grew up. They definitely love us. But they love each other more. When my dad comes home from an errand or work, he still seeks out my mother right away to tell her he is home and to claim a welcoming kiss. Growing up, he would not tolerate us mistreating or backtalking her. He might clown around with us and act like a kid at times, but we knew, deep down, that his loyalties were with mom. She was (is) the love of his life.
As a mother and as a wife, I too love my children. But I love their dad more. He's the guy I'll have to live with when they're all grown up after all. Spending time with him, even if it is only a late night conversation after the children are asleep, is very important. Our young children are learning through observing us what kind of a person they want to marry. Our children are learning how to work through disagreements. Our children are learning that being angry with someone doesn't mean you can't love them and certainly doesn't mean that you head to the lawyer for a divorce. Our children are learning that a man treats a woman, especially his wife, with dignity and respect, and that a woman treats a man, especially her husband, with dignity and respect.
They are learning this the same way I did: by how my own parents love each other.
3. They taught me responsibility and independence from an early age. This is something that tends to come naturally in households with more than two or three children, I think. I am the middle of five kids. One older brother has Down's Syndrome. There are only 8 years between the oldest and the youngest. My mom had her hands full, and I'm sure she had that pointed out to her many times, much to her annoyance, and much as I do. We had chores. We had to look out for each other. We didn't have things handed to us. We didn't get an allowance. Once I started earning regular money, the lunch money supply dried up, I started buying my own clothes, and I saved up to buy contact lenses. Perhaps, especially when I was younger, I had too much responsibility. But by the time I was 18, I could cook, I could clean, I could make adult decisions and take responsibility for them, I was aware of other people and how my actions affected them, I knew how to budget my time between (school) work and play and how to budget my money between essentials like food and non-essentials like going to the movies. I may have still been immature through lack of experience, but I was somewhat capable of going off to college and functioning as an adult without relying on my parents to do everything for me.
As a mother, I hope to accomplish the same thing in my own children. I don't expect that they will always make wise choices. I don't expect that they will leave home at 18, never to ask for advice or money or assistance. And I certainly don't expect them to do any of this without having had a few years of practice before leaving home. And so they have chores now. And they have to look out for each other now. And they don't get everything handed to them now.
My parents weren't perfect parents. But they did some things right. Thanks, Mom and Dad!
Friday, October 05, 2007
And this little guy is suddenly camera shy. He got a haircut, too. No spa treatment, just a buzz.
I'm off to get a haircut. But not just any haircut. Oh no. I'm going to a day spa for a ninety minute haircut at a place which clearly says that children must remain in the waiting room or not come at all. Cell phones are banned. I expect soft lights and quiet music. What a treat for the middle of a Friday morning!
Here is what the place promises on their website:
Elemental Nature Haircut
Service begins with a consultation and sensory journey based on the Elemental Nature Questionnaire. The therapists will then cleanse, tone, and moisturize the face. All while you receive a customized aromatic foot bath and a head, neck, and shoulder massage. Followed by a relaxing shampoo, haircut and finishing style by an AVEDA© trained professional stylist. Finishing with a make-up touch up for women, or hot towel treatment for men. All service is performed in a private spa room. 90 min.
The cost? About half what I would expect to pay on the East Coast.
Have a great day - I'm outta here.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The Dad neighbor who lives next door was describing his seven-year old's uncooperative attitude regarding the wearing of bug spray, and then told how they got into a wrestling match when he tried to put some anti-itch lotion on his son's bites so his son would stop scratching them into a bloody mess.
It was one of those "if you heard any screaming, we really aren't abusing our kids" conversations.
"I just can't wait until they're all dead," I stated emphatically as we watched the children running around the yards.
There was a pause, and the neighbor and my husband looked at me. Finally, my husband spoke up.
"You mean the bugs?"
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
But she doesn't announce her intentions of using the bathroom before doing so. Thus I often find myself becoming vaguely aware of a little voice coming from a different part of the house calling for me to help her. And there are times I'm sure that voice has been calling for more than a few minutes before I recognized it for what it is. I always feel a little bad that she's been left to sit there for some time feeling abandoned. The worst is when I've been outside and I just happen to go in for something and I hear her. I wonder what would happen if I hadn't gone in for whatever reason.
Now I know.
On one trip through the house, I saw that the downstairs bathroom door was closed, but didn't think much of it. I have a toddler who enjoys opening closed doors and closing open doors. Everybody was outside playing on our swings, jumping in the neighbor's trampoline, engaging in a mock court martial (military kids - go figure). Everybody except Jenny. She had been there, but at some point had gone inside and hadn't come back out. I didn't notice her absence for at least a half hour. Bill was reading a book for school, and I was actually enjoying a newspaper while the chicken was baking in the oven.
Eventually, though, it was time to go in and Bill began to police up our kids. That's when I realized I hadn't seen Jenny for a while. I recalled that she had been a little cranky that afternoon - a sure sign of tiredness - and I was in the process of sending Katie upstairs to see if she had fallen asleep when I saw that closed bathroom door again. Sure enough, she was in there waiting for help.
And sure enough, she was tired and had fallen asleep. On the toilet.
The girl's got a great sense of balance. I suppose it helps make up for an inattentive mother.
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
Here's a fun quiz made up especially for bloggers. The rules are easy. Just post the quiz on your blog and answer the questions, then pass it on to five other bloggers, and link to them in your post. Be sure to link back to the one who sent it to you.
1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo? I think I only learned what Novus Ordo meant about two years ago. I did just learn the Sanctus because I'm using Prima Latina for my 4th grader. That took us 5 weeks. So, at that rate, I'll be ready to attend a Latin Mass in about ten years.
2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there? N/A
3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be? A Hundred Percenter
4. Are you a comment junkie? If I weren't to some extent, then I wouldn't have them turned on at all.
5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on? I try to remember to.
6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog? No.
7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on? Barb's response pretty much sums me up, too: I read a lot of blogs in Bloglines, and doing that partly keeps me "honest" in terms of blogroll. I can't see their blogroll and be all obsessive over whether I'm on it. I'm terrible about updating my own, as well.
8. Which blog is the first one you check? Usually Danielle Bean or Eric Scheske.
9. Have you met any other bloggers in person? Yes! Barb, Denise, Cris, The Kitchen Madonna, and Sarah.
10. What are you reading? Chosen and Cherished by Kimberly Hahn for a Bible study I'm attending. Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor to the kids.
Bonus Question! Has your site been banned by Spirit of Vatican II? No.
If it has, who do you think Father Tim really is? Only banned sites can guess?
I pass this quiz on to: Everyone I named in question #9 not already tagged, plus Kat and Barbara.
Monday, October 01, 2007
One New year's resolution was to bake a pie every month. I managed to keep that one until July. In July, I actually made two pies (two different blueberry pies, yum yum), and so I guess I considered myself off the hook in August. But then September came and went, and no pie. So, I am finally concluding that I am done with this year's resolutions. I may, or I may not, make some more pies. But I'm through with trying to keep that resolution.
And this is why I like the new month's resolutions so much. I still think the long-term goals are good to have, but short, tangible goals are a good thing too. Perhaps it could be a new habit that I want to try to develop, but most often it is simply what I need most for right then.
This month is baby month. There are some very mild housekeeping chores that I want to get done (putting away Oktoberfest decorations, for one). And I need to wash, dry, fold and sort my baby clothes and supplies - not an overwhelming task. And we need to play musical chairs with the car seats and move everybody around to their new spots and wrestle in the infant carrier. But that's all I have to do.
I resolve that this month, if I don't have to do it, I won't do it. The boxes and boxes of photos that I've been vowing to sort through and maybe even scan? Not this month. Those Army stockings all cut out and ready to be sewn together? Not gonna happen. The closet that needs to be organized? Maybe next month.
Instead, this month, I will rest as much as possible both before and after this baby is born. I'll take frequent baths. I'll try to take daily naps. I'll try to put my feet up often, and I'll try to involve myself in the lives of some fictional people either by watching mindless movies or reading mindless novels. And I resolve to not feel an ounce of guilt for such idle behavior.
Do you have a new month's resolution?