Thursday, December 16, 2010

Four months

Dearest Lucy,

I'm exactly 2 weeks late getting this written. Scandalously late, but what's been keeping me from getting your letter written? Why, keeping up with you and your brother, of course! We've been so busy with our everyday things but also with Christmas-ing. We put up our tree and while Will is absolutely fascinated by the lights and ornaments, you're mostly just ambivalent about it. That's okay -- Will was the very same way his first Christmas! I think you're just too young to really notice that it's anything all that different.

We've also been shopping a few times and every time we're out, I breathe a little prayer of gratitude that you and Will are just so good in stores. Neither of you fuss at all, unless we've simply been out way too long. I think you are both "people-persons" -- you both love to watch activity go on around you. From your vantage point in the stroller, you basically watch Mama the whole time we're strolling about, and we smile and giggle at each other and I tell you what we're doing and what we're going to do next. You like to keep up with the plan. ;)

You've been growing and changing so much. It never fails to astonish me how quickly a newborn baby begins to turn into a little person with personality traits and abilities and preferences. You began trying to sit up at the beginning of this month and just this last week, we put you in the Bumbo seat and you sat there like you'd always been doing it. You play with your hanging toys with such fervor -- we actually call you "Miss Intensity" because you are so determined and well, so intense! Once you get ahold of something, we have to pry it out of your fingers to get it back. This can make diapering and changing your clothes something of a challenge, because you like to grab the fabric of your clothes and the tabs on the diapers! Speaking of which, you're still in a size 2 diaper but you're starting to get too big for some of your 6-month clothes. Just yesterday I pulled out a 6-9 month outfit and it fit you well. You're growing too fast for Mommy to enjoy all your pretty clothes for a reasonable amount of time before I have to put them away!

I think you're actually in a growth spurt right now... You're usually such a good sleeper at night, only getting up once, and then, going right back to sleep once you've had a bottle. You're typically calm and even happy, but lately you've been fussy and upset and you attack your bottle like you're starving, crying quite loudly if the nipple falls away from your mouth. You seem afraid that we're not going to feed you enough! Poor baby. Daddy and I decided it was time to try a "ricey bottle" on you, so we added some rice cereal to your formula and you seemed to really like it. The cereal sits heavier on your tummy and you've been sleeping better since we started this. You're just a growing girl with a good appetite!

You still love to nap with Mama. We will often share a pillow and I will sleep with a hand on or near your pacifier to keep it positioned in your mouth. More than once I've heard you sigh in perfect contentment to be cuddled up with me (you also hang onto my hand with both of yours), and it just melts me into a puddle that you love being with me so much! Sometimes this can be a bit of a hindrance, though... we visited Daddy at his office yesterday and some of Daddy's coworkers wanted to hold you. Well, when I handed you off and you saw that I was moving away, you screwed up your little face into this miserable grimace and let out a tearful holler! Of course I took you right back and had to reassure the people wanting to hold you that it wasn't them, it's just that you and I are really close and you like to be near me!

Let's see... you also had your first Thanksgiving, which you mostly slept through, although your great-Grandpa and great-Grandma both got to hold you, which they were so pleased to do. Also, your Aunt Sarah rocked you to sleep and it looked like you both very much enjoyed that bonding experience! You're about to have your first Christmas and Mama and Daddy already have all your presents bought and hiding in Mama's closet. I can't wait for you to open them, and further, I can't wait until you're big enough to play with them (with me!). We're going to have so much fun. But you know, every time I think this, I always tell myself, "Wait, slow down, this is going too fast as it is." I look forward to experiencing lots of life's good moments with you, Lucy, but I also want you to enjoy each minute along the way, and I certainly don't want to hurry you along. In fact, if you could slow down just a teeny bit on this growing thing, that would make Mama super happy. :)

I love you, baby girl, and I'm so proud of you!
Mama

p.s. Your eyes are still a stunning powder blue, but that hair of yours... we honestly don't know if it's blonde, red, brown, or a mixture of all three. I think you're going to keep us guessing as to its ultimate color!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

so much for daily blogging

Such is my life, such are the results of a host of good intentions I have. I've been so busy dish-washing and diaper-changing and clothes-folding and tree-decorating and car-playing and baby-rocking and storybook-reading and kid-bathing and toddler-cuddling and husband-loving and bill-paying and Facebook-statusing and floor-sweeping and catalog-perusing and bottle-feeding and Tylenol-administering and potato-mashing and...(are you weary yet?)!

I will be back soon. I have to post Lucy's 4-month letter, put up some recent pix of the bebes, and then I'll be back with gusto at the end of December/beginning of the New Year. For my birthday, I'm gifting myself a blog makeover. I hate the template and I'm tired of trying to teach myself blogging things; I would so much rather plunk down a few bucks and buy a great template with lots of bloggy extras already built-in! So, be looking for a whole new "Domestic Bliss" come January-ish.

Love to all, and I hope you're all busy Christmas-cheering!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Monday Daybook

(Has it really been since June that I did one of these?)

Outside: Gray and drizzly, but in a soft and comforting way. "Will's tree" (right outside our loft windows) is still hanging on to some orange and rust-colored leaves. It's gorgeous.
Thinking: About all the things I need to get accomplished before we head off for Thanksgiving celebrations in Indiana this weekend (staying the whole holiday week). The list is always massive to try to get 4 people packed (especially 2 babes) and leave a clean house. Feeling overwhelmed.
Thankful: For so much. Things in my life are so far from perfect, there are times I just want to weep. I know I harp on it all the time, but the distance from family and friends is so wretched. But really, other than that, my life is swell. Busy and chaotic and crazy at times, but truly swell.
Reading: Tim Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making It Work. Destined to be a classic. I *heart* Tim Gunn.
Hoping: To be able to catch up to this blog. I want to write a little every day. In order to do so, I have to let go of my perfectionist tendencies. I usually pass on writing because I don't have time to make it perfect. But there's no time for perfect in a life with 2 under 2!!!
Hearing: Cars on the wet pavement. Cartoons. Lucy cooing. Will trying to make "vroom-vroom" kinds of noises for his cars. He's really into sound effects -- and anyone who will take the time to make them for him!
Favorite things: Dunkin' Donuts coffee. Lucy giving us the (very) occasional sleep through the night. Clean sheets. Pulling out new outfits from Lucy's wardrobe for her to wear. Will's face when he hears Daddy's key in the lock. Discovering new art/artists, like Brandi Carlile (spelling correct there). You must listen to her song "The Story."
Will: My Puppy is endlessly curious and I just love it. Even though sometimes that means I clean up messes, I love to watch him finger an object for the first time, turning it over and over in his hands, trying to figure it out. He still doesn't verbalize a whole lot, but we know his vocabulary is growing by the number of things he can identify. His latest favorite? Birds.
Lucy: My girl is getting so big, so fast. She is trying to sit up now! I'm considering pulling out the Bumbo seat already. Also, no matter how much I bundle up this child, she constantly has cold hands. I hate it, although her pediatrician says it's fine and normal.

p.s. Thanks to Kate for the idea to have Will and Lucy categories. I'm shamelessly copying!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Three Months

On your changing table...you love to stare at the brick wall behind you!


Right now, you are definitely a mama's girl, and I love it!

In your crib (I know you love your Shabby Chic pretties as much as I do)...you started noticing the camera so any straight-on shots come out very deer-in-the-headlights. Maybe next month you won't mind so much?

Dearest Lucy,
Again, Mama is a few days late writing and posting this. Life as the mommy to you and your big brother sure does keep me hopping busy at all hours, it seems!

I'm glad I'm a little late, though, as I'm able to record that you gave us a full-on giggle-into-belly laugh on Monday evening, November 8th. You've been working so hard on getting the giggles to materialize and it just didn't happen before your official 3-month mark, but you were so close so I say it counts! What made you giggle? Well, I did, actually. You see, I often hold you close to my face and kiss your cheeks softly and I think the feathery sensation is funny to you. I also often tell you in a silly voice that you're a "pwetty pwetty pwincess" and this will generally elicit cooing from you, but combined with the cheek-kissing, laughter finally erupted! You are such joy and sunshine, little girl. Even at 4:00 in the morning, when I and your Daddy are so tempted to be cranky from being awake, your smiles take the edge off and remind us why we are so glad to be parents in the first place, but especially YOUR parents and your brother's parents. We are so blessed, it's unspeakable.
How else have you been changing this month? Well, much to my chagrin, you officially grew out of anything sized 3 months. You are mostly in 3-6 month-sized clothes, and some straight-up 6 months. This astonishes me. I know all moms must feel this way, but you honestly grew so fast it made my head spin. And it's spinning still! I don't feel TOO badly, though, since you have an armoire full of the darlingest clothes in the 6-month range, and I'm having a ball getting them out for their first wear. At your 2-month appointment with Dr. Estes (which you had late, because Mommy still has a hard time keeping pace with the calendar), you weighed 12 pounds, 10 ounces, and were 23 1/2 inches long. You're averaging along the range of 75th percentile in nearly all measurements, which is good -- healthy but not quite as robust as your brother (who still seems to be in the 90s every time he gets measured!).
You still have a roses-and-cream skin tone and complexion, and your eyes are more powder blue than ever. Your reddish hair is headed back toward a more blonde color, so you keep us guessing as to what it's ultimately going to do. Sleepwise, the 8 hours you gave me a few weeks back turned out to be just a fluke. The longest you'll go is about 6 hours, and your favorite time of day to do this is late afternoon into evening. Not that you do this every day! Sometimes I can get you to do this at night, but inevitably we're up at least once with you during the night, if not twice. You have a bath every evening and start out the night in your bouncy seat, which we place in your crib in the nursery you share with your brother. You'll wake us up sometime in the early wee hours, and most of the time we get to you before you also wake up your brother! You'll have a bottle (or sometimes I'll nurse you) and a diaper change, and then you'll either finish the night in your Snuggle Nest in our room or you'll go back to your crib -- it just depends on how "out" you go!
What else? You started playing with toys this month! We bought you a jungle play mat with bright, colorful jungle animals like a toucan and butterflies, a cute elephant, and so forth. The arch on the mat has a light show that totally captures your attention, and you reach to "bat at" the toys hanging below it. You're very interactive for a girl your age, baby-doll! You also "found" your hands and will often stare at them/chew on them for several minutes at a time. It's so cute because you really do seem fascinated that they are attached to your body! Your other favorite thing in the world -- besides your Daddy, and that's a whole other story -- is to watch your brother. Whenever you catch sight of Will, an expression of absolute adoration comes over your face and you smile from ear to ear. Will isn't exactly your biggest fan yet, but I know it's coming.
Lucy-girl, we can't wait to see what you do next! We love you, Sweetheart!
Mama

Monday, November 1, 2010

Bad Mother Confessions

A couple nights ago, I finally had a chance to watch "Sex and the City 2" (thank goodness for DVDs, because let's face it, otherwise I'd never see movies). I loved the movie -- not because of anything specifically great about it, but because it's simply another adventure with the girls -- and I especially loved one scene in particular. In this scene, Miranda wants Charlotte to loosen up a little about what's bothering her, and her efforts turn their time together into an impromptu drinking game of "bad mother confessions." Miranda is thankful that she's a working mom, Charlotte is thankful to get away from her kids for a few days, they're both thankful for live-in help (and wonder aloud how other moms do it on their own, ha!). They both admit these things with tears and guilty laughter, and I admit to laughing along with tears in my own eyes. SO MUCH of motherhood is guilt. Neverending, unrelenting, always-whispering-in-your-ear kind of guilt. So as a bit of catharsis, here's my own list of bad mother confessions (drink along if you want):
  • If my kids don't develop perfectly on schedule according to a consensus of childcare books and what the Internet says, then obviously I'm failing as a mother. Even if my pediatrician tells me otherwise. And says the Internet is wrong.
  • I don't record every waking moment of their lives. I read some blogs where moms write down everything. And I mean, everything. I get exhausted just reading the blog posts, so I have no idea how these moms do it.
  • I don't have my kids (namely, Will) involved in 800 community and kid's events and programs. I don't even have him in 1 program. Because, honestly, I live in a crappy community, I don't know anyone here, and oh yeah, I have a 3-month-old that I'd have to drag along. But these facts don't assuage my guilt.
  • My children live far away from their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. And even though we're trying desperately to change this situation, I still feel worse than pond scum when we drive away from Indiana after a visit. Like I'm somehow in control of the situation! But this doesn't make me feel better.
  • I feel bad about letting Will watch "too much" TV (what is that, anyway?). I feel bad about feeding Lucy formula. I feel bad if we don't get outside every day. I feel bad if I spend "too much" time with Lucy and "not enough" with Will. If I'm spending time exclusively with one child, then that means one child is getting the shaft (if that child happens to be awake). And this makes me crazy with guilt.
  • If Will finds a crumb on the floor and puts it in his mouth, then I have obviously failed to provide a clean environment for my child. If Will stumbles on something or pinches his finger in something, then I have obviously failed to provide a safe environment for my child.

I was semi-joking with Marty and Jessie last night over dinner when I told them that, sometimes, Will looks at me like, "I'm on to you, Mom. You've never done this before, have you?" And I just want to crumple up and shout "YES! It's true, I'm a complete novice! I don't know what the heck I'm doing! I'm just trying to survive here! And keep you guys safe and clean and fed, and I can't manage anything beyond that most days!!!"

Clearly, I need to loosen up myself. I know this. I envy those moms who seem to roll with each skinned knee and tantrum and poopy blowout. I'm not there yet. And to help get me there, I've decided to take a bit of a hiatus from blog-reading and Internet searches on child development and just all the other things that drive me crazy with feelings of inadequacy. I'm even thinking of taking a break from Facebook (too addicted) and email (too neglected anyway). I need to hunker down and really find some new focus, and learn to allow myself to be the mom that I want to be, not the mom that I feel I should be in comparison to others. And give myself a break! I had 2 babies in less than 13 months, so I think I deserve it!!!

I've promised to write so many posts here and I still intend to write those posts. And I've promised myself to get caught up in a zillion other areas. And I will. But it's time to take a deep breath. Life has been a whirlwind and I need to stand still, get my bearings, and forge a clear path ahead, unhampered by outrageous expectations of myself. Wish me luck! (And if you'd like, come pour me a drink and share a confession or two of your own!)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Two months


Dearest Lucy,

You are now 2 months old, and you have changed quite a bit in the last month! On September 9th, you smiled in recognition of me for the very first time and I was hard-pressed not to melt into a puddle on the floor as a result! Since then, you have been smiling more and more every day, and when you are full and dry and feeling wakeful, that's all you do -- smile, smile, smile! You are just our little sunshine. On the night of September 15th into the morning of the 16th, you slept 8 hours straight -- through the night! I was astonished at this feat. I can only see it as a sign that you love sleep as much as your Mama does, and in that case, thank God! Your brother still fights sleep with all his might, so having at least one of my children be a sleep-lover is a huge relief.


I'm a few days late in writing this, and just this week, you've begun some transitions. You're no longer fitting so well into your 0-3 month clothes, so I started breaking out your 3-6 month duds. They are still very large on you, but not so large you can't wear them. You're growing WAY too fast! We somehow missed a doctor's appointment for you, so I'm not sure of your weight and height, but measuring the old-fashioned way (holding you on the scale here at home, then weighing myself and subtracting the difference), you weighed roughly 12 pounds, a big girl! We also just bought your first box of size 2 Swaddler diapers. I could hardly believe it when I was loading it into the cart. You're also still nursing (and doing much better than you did as a newborn), but you also take formula throughout the day when I need a break. You go from bottle to breast with absolute ease and this is a big help to your Mommy!


I have to say, you're an absolute Mama's girl at this point. Sometimes you cry and nothing seems to fix it for you until I hold you, and then -- not every time, but often enough -- you will just magically be better. You and I take naps together on the couch, all cuddled up, and I find it just as relaxing as you seem to. Daddy got a cute picture of us doing this; I will post it here very soon!
Your eyelashes are really coming in now and your red hair is my pride and joy. You are going to be so beautiful, with your fair complexion and big blue eyes. I also pray often that you will be just as beautiful inside, and give of your beauty to the world! Lucy-girl, we love you so much!


Love,
Mama

Saturday, September 25, 2010

This week's menu

This may be my most domestic post yet! I'm considering doing this every week -- planning my menu and going grocery-shopping, then posting it here to see how I do. On tap this week (Monday through Friday menus):
  • Parmesan chicken and mashed butternut squash (Barefoot Contessa recipes; this will be my very first experience cooking with butternut squash!)
  • Pot roast and wild rice
  • Baked ziti with spinach
  • Vegetable beef soup
  • Asparagus quiche (recipe courtesy of Kate)

Wish me luck!

Absolutely random

  • I run my dishwasher at least twice a day, sometimes three. I feel like a raging environmentalist might target me for punishment. But it is the only way I maintain a clean kitchen and a pile of clean bottles for both my kids. And this, my friends, is sanity. (Of course, my hands are nearly raw with chap from rinsing all those dishes and washing after a zillion dirty diapers...I could use a good recommendation for lotion, and don't tell me Eucerin because I despise the stuff.)
  • I would give serious money to be able to bottle up a smell; namely, "eau de Lucy's neck." She has that milky-sweet smell that all new babies have, yet it is also somehow uniquely her. I must kiss her neck a thousand times a day.
  • Will and I had a great day today. Basically, I let him toddle around, emptying drawers and cabinets and playing with their contents (closely supervised). He thought this was the greatest thing ever. I had a blast just watching him enjoy himself so much. (Why is anything more fun when it's usually off-limits?)
  • I browse a lot of blogs. I haven't been able to do this very much in the last few weeks (for some reason or another, *snort*), but since returning to my usual blog reading I've been struck more than ever by the disparity of experiences out there among women my age. The separation in financial blessing is perhaps the most shocking -- there are a few girls who truly have more money than sense -- but also the differences in life circumstances. Some seem to be virtually problem-free whereas others are struggling with situations that are beyond my comprehension in levels of pain and suffering. My takeaways are usually the same -- first, "Becky, don't judge." You just never know what a person may be hiding. I hid a horrible marriage for years and years. Made everything look dandy and kosher on the surface, yet in private, hurt very deeply. Second, "Becky, don't compare." I've found that comparison breeds envy faster than rabbits have babies. And envy opens the door to so many other nasty feelings: self-pity, greed, discontent. Yuck to all. Which leads me to my third takeaway: "Becky, be thankful." God has blessed me beyond my wildest imaginings. I once thought my life was an irredeemable wasteland but God made beauty from those ashes. And it's so important for me to always keep this perspective!
  • I made an observation to a dear friend the other day that brought me up short: in commenting on her busy life, I rather absentmindedly observed that besides my husband, kids, and home, I have no commitments. I was shocked to realize this! I've always had my fingers in various inkwells -- coffee dates, yoga classes, Bible studies, family activities, etc. But here in Tennessee where my social network doesn't extend beyond my four walls, neither does my life. Part of me is extremely thankful for this; a host of other commitments would surely drive me to the looney bin (well, faster than I'm headed there now, anyhow). However, a girl needs to do something outside her domestic duties! The only thing is, I've tried branching out socially and all attempts failed. So I'm wondering what I could do? I'm contemplating freelance writing, if anyone would publish something I write. It's worth a look-see, in any case. Anybody have any other ideas?
  • I'm obsessed with Pottery Barn. I swear, in the last few catalogs, they have really upped their game. A couple years ago they seemed to be veering toward more American styles, which is absolutely not my taste. Lately, however, the products seem to be more and more European-influenced. Seems like every other item is Provence-this or Tuscany-that! YES, please!!! I told Marty that he's going to have to find a way to support my Pottery Barn habit. Right now I'm confined to mere window-shopping and that ain't gonna cut it!
  • I hear Lucy waking up so that's all the randomness from me for the moment. Happy weekend!

Friday, September 24, 2010

She's a Lucy, alright

Please meet my daughter, the redhead:

Lucy's paternal great-grandfather was actually known as "Red Conway" for his hair; I think she is definitely a throwback to him! When she was born, her hair was light brown, almost blond-ish, but with each hairwash her hair turns a little more red. The hair at the nape of her neck is darker, so I'm not sure which way she's going to go -- auburn or strawberry-blond. In any case, she's a Lucy alright!

(p.s. This explains a lot about the drama involved in my pregnancy with her and her birth.)
(p.s.s. And yes, this is Lucy's serious face. She furrows that brow trying to figure out her world!)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

One month

My dearest Lucy-girl,

Today you are one month old. A mere 4 weeks ago today, at 7:54 in the morning, you drew your first breath and started your life's adventure. I can't tell you what a privilege it is to be your Mommy, to be one of the honored to nurture you and love you along your way.

You are my real-life baby doll, and I'm still tickled pink to get to dress you in tiny dresses and hairbows. I call you my "pretty pretty Princess." I also call you "Squeaker" because you often make squeaking noises in your sleep and as you're coming around to wakefulness (and the realization that you're hungry!). Daddy calls you "Lucy Beth" and your Aunt Katie calls you "Lulu." It's funny how fast a person garners nicknames!

Your cord finally fell off yesterday -- I think 29 days might be a record! That thing was bothering me, but it was a powerful reminder of the fact that until very recently, I carried you in my belly. My pregnancy with you was one of the hardest things I've ever experienced, but the reward of having you here makes every one of those tough moments infinitely worthwhile. Anyway, you now have the cutest belly button; it's sort of an innie and an outie, if such a thing is possible. I referred to it as a "noutie" and made your Pa-Pa laugh.

Speaking of Pa-Pa, we are here staying at Nana and Pa-Pa's house for a few weeks, so Mommy can rest and recover from your birth. Daddy is back at home in Tennessee, working hard to take care of us, but he misses us so much and can't wait to get here on weekends.

I can't believe how fast you're already growing and changing. Your face is filling out, as are your little thighs! You've definitely put on some baby fat, though you're still so tiny and light as air (Daddy says you're "light as clouds"). You have such soft, downy hair and I confess, I love to stroke it. After it's washed, it looks almost strawberry-blonde, so we're very eager to see what coloring you will have! You still have electric-blue eyes, a darling button nose, and a rosebud mouth. You are, quite simply, a gorgeous baby.

You are starting to be a little more wakeful, and seem quite curious to take in the world around you, especially those who happen to be holding you. You study faces with such a serious expression, as if you are intent on learning your loved ones. You are more easily soothed (with the help of a couple raspberry-colored soothies that Nana bought you!) and prefer to be swaddled tight and have your bottom patted for the first hour or so after nursing or taking a bottle. You seem to really know me and respond best to my voice and touches, and I admit, I love that you are so attached to me! Your brother Will is still just mildly curious about your presence in our lives. He giggles at your movements and only occasionally displays some jealousy. I think the two of you will be great friends and happy playmates.

I pray for you every day, my little Lucy-girl. I pray that you will be kept safe and that you will grow big and strong. Your Daddy and I love you so very much, and we are so happy that you have joined our family.

Your Mama

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Birth pictures

My beautiful girl


Could they have put a rattier hat on her???

And so we meet!

I'm telling her how much she is loved...

"Wait, now who is this?"


The resurrection of The List (August)

For those who used to follow me on my blog "A Peaceful Life," this List will be familiar. For those who are new here, this is just a list that I created to encapsulate some of the daily doings in our life. I've resurrected it to help me focus some of my thoughts, which, due to sleep deprivation, are pretty darn scattered!


What I'm reading: Believe it or not, I'm actually finding time to read. Of course, it's usually after midnight when everyone's asleep...I run a hot bath and relax for awhile. I look forward to it all day! Anyway, I'm reading The Virgin of Small Plains, the second book I've read by Nancy Pickard (first was The Scent of Rain and Lightning). She is one of my favorite new discoveries and I hope all her books deliver such great stories as I've found in these.


What we're watching: We are finally watching "Mad Men." We kept hearing about it and reading about it as buzz circulated gearing up for the fourth season, so we decided to get Netflix again and watch from the beginning. We have been fascinated watching life in the 60's, as portrayed in this show, although we joke that we're going to get lung cancer from all the smoking! The main character, Don Draper, is utterly compelling because he's so mysterious and complex. We would certainly recommend it, but FYI, there's a definite overtone of sexuality in the comments and dialogue, and sometimes in the action as well.


What we're spending on: We have been resisting for quite some time, but we're finally going to break down and buy a double stroller. It's simply necessary, considering the ages of our children. They are just SO much money, though, so we've been loath to spend it! I think we're going to get the Chicco Cortina "Together" stroller, as it's compatible with our infant car seat. Also, trying not to spend too much money on clothes for our ever-growing toddler-man! I can't believe how big he is...needing size 24 months/2T clothes as a 13-month-old. In my quest not to spend too much money, I scoured clearance racks at a local department store for about an hour and a half and scored a dozen items for less than $100. I was pretty happy with that!


What we're saving for: Moving expenses and first month's rent or a house down payment. More on that in a minute.


What I need to do: Start Lucy's photo book, keep going on her baby book, order her birth announcements, write her birth story. Pack up Will's 12- and 18-month clothes. Get Tennessee title for my car and do a good spit-and-shine clean on it. Pack for a couple weeks away from home (keeping to the tradition established with Will, the babies and I will be spending a couple weeks with Nana and Pa-Pa so I can get some rest/help; Marty will come up on weekends).

What I'm thinking about: Home. Even though we're Indiana-bound next weekend, it's not enough to erase this incredible feeling of homesickness I have. A visit will no longer suffice; I'm just plain tired of living here in Tennessee without a friend or a family member within hundreds of miles. I've really tried to make a go of it but I don't want to raise my kids here. Marty is liberally dropping his resume all over pertinent places in Indy and we are hoping and praying hard that he gets a job offer very, very soon.

Things I've learned this month: That I am actually capable of caring for both my children on my own. It's the hardest job I've ever had, bar none, but I can actually do it.

What I'm happy about: That Lucy is growing and thriving. That Will seems to be taking her presence in stride. That my baby weight is coming off quickly. That diet Coke is readily available. That Marty is just as addicted to Starbucks now as I've been for years.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Hospital shot

More pictures, birth story, and life as mama-of-two details coming soon!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lucy is Born!

Welcome,

Lucy Elizabeth

8 lb. 6 oz., 20.5 inches
born Monday, August 2, 2010 at 7:54 a.m.

Becky is feeling okay thanks to good nurses and good pain management.... Lucy is temporarily in the NICU until her oxygen levels rise enough to breathe on her own. When I talked to Becky just now, Miss Lucy had ripped her oxygen off herself - I think that's a good sign!? Becky will feel a lot better when she can hold the baby and be the mommy without restrictions!
Photo coming soon, I hope. I'm sure Becky and Marty would so appreciate prayers for Lucy's quick recovery!

Love,
B's friend Kate

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Ghost of Becky Past

There she was. Standing in the vestibule with us on the second floor outside the OB/GYN's office, waiting for the elevator. I always talk to strangers given the opportunity (because really? The only other option is to mutually stare at the fake potted tree.), and she was no exception. Especially when I noticed perhaps the cutest Coach bag I'd ever seen. I complimented her on it with some enthusiasm, and she responded in kind. "I know, right? It's one of my favorites. I have a collection of about 10 or 12, but this one always seems to work." Ah, my kind of girl. Not just chatty, but also willing to share her obsession with hand bags with a complete stranger. As in, not shy. As in, just like me. The elevator arrived and we stepped on, whereupon she got a really good look at Will in his stroller and started exclaiming over him, "What a doll-baby!" She engaged Marty in conversation for a few seconds while I subtly glanced her over. Dark hair in a perfect and trendy angled bob. Great makeup -- probably M.A.C. if I had to guess. Adorable A-line, knee-length sundress in black and bold colors; again, totally something I would wear because we brunettes tend to look pale and ridiculous in pastels. Finally, her shoes were casual and breezy flip-flop flats but sported whimsically large black flowers. Mentally, I gave her an A+ and only then did I think, I wonder what I'm wearing?

I almost groaned aloud. I remembered that I'd barely jumped out of the shower by the time we had to hit the road to make it to the appointment without being egregiously late. I'd given my face a token once-over with a makeup brush, and I knew I'd devoted at least 30 seconds to mascara and eyeliner, so not a total loss there. But then, those precious seconds seriously cut into my usual time with the blowdryer, so I'd had to pull my hair back into an elastic band and tried to tame my bangs with a headband. I knew without looking that I was sporting some major frizz up-top. Ugh. Then I looked down...oh heavens. Beat-up silver flip-flops purchased from Target about 3 years ago? Of course. My go-to shoes that stay by the front door, thus the reason for wearing them now. Black maternity shorts that have been worn and washed so many times, they're kind of a charcoal gray now. A raspberry t-shirt that the maternity clothiers probably intended as a pajama top, but which I was wearing now as street clothes. I thought, please don't let her look too hard. Especially at the hair needing a cut, color, and highlight, or the nails in desperate need of a mani/pedi. And oh my gosh, did I at least shave my legs?

I had all these thoughts in the space of an elevator ride. At the main floor, we all disembarked and cute Coach bag girl was teasing Marty about getting me pregnant twice in a row, and how he owed me a pile of Coach bags in gratitude. We all laughed, then she looked at me and said, "In all seriousness, are you a member of Coach online? Every once in awhile you get a 20% off coupon, plus you can use it at the outlet mall in Sevierville." I said, no I wasn't, but golly, thanks for the tip! She said "No problem, and good luck!" and walked away with a little spring in her step toward her white SUV. That's when I was really struck. Hey, I have a white SUV! I have a Coach bag and cute shoes -- somewhere! Hey, I USED TO BE THAT GIRL!

I got into the car and told Marty, "There goes the Ghost of Becky Past." I told him how, during the height of my successful career days when I worked in downtown Indy, I used to walk to Nordstrom on my lunch hour and shop clearance racks for actually affordable designer labels. How I used to have a whole collection of shoes: sexy boots for winter and oh-my-stars, the tiny little sandals and espadrilles I had for spring and summer. Three years, about 5 moves, and 2 straight years of pregnancy have forced me to shove said shoes in some storage corner or another. Along with my clothes -- half of my closet is devoted to dresses in dry cleaner's bags. My cute dresses, the dresses I may never fit into again -- that is, if they're even in style anymore by the time I'm brave enough to rip open the bags!

But while I thought about it, it wasn't just the wardrobe that I saw -- and recognized -- on cute Coach bag girl, it was the lifestyle. I knew without looking that girlfriend had her cell phone handy, ready to call a friend on her way home, or to Target, or to Starbucks, where she'd pick up a latte in the drive-thru and chat about her day. She might pick up her dayplanner and see what she had going on tomorrow, or the weekend, and try to fit in an eyebrow wax and a lunch date on Saturday. She might even try to get away for the weekend to visit her best friend, so they could go shopping and watch movies and lay around for hours perusing magazines and just talking. I know these things. I know, because I USED TO BE THAT GIRL.

As we drove home, I wondered why I was being so nostalgic. I continued to wonder over the next few days and slowly I've come to a couple of conclusions. First of all, and most obviously, the lifestyle that I was remembering was EASY. And it was FUN. But then, I remembered, it was also very LONELY. I could talk for hours here about the bad marriage, but suffice it to say that home was the loneliest place of all, so I did what I could to keep myself busy elsewhere. I secretly regretted not knowing true love. I not-so-secretly ached for a baby to hold and love and raise. There was so much missing from that life, and I have to be fair about the memories and remember ALL of it.

Second, the lifestyle that I'm living now is HARD. Okay, it is hard for ME. There's just no two ways about it. We didn't plan on having two babies so close in age, but it happened and here we are. (Lucy, when you read this in about 20 years, you must know that I'm ecstatic to have you and that "accidents" don't happen.) Gone are the dresses; I spend my days in maternity pajamas, the only garb I find not completely uncomfortable. Gone are the lattes; I barely swallow half a cup of hot coffee in the morning. The phone doesn't ring because I live far away from every single friend I have. I don't have free time to watch movies; I watch The Backyardigans with my little boy and wake up with its obnoxious tune in my head. I heave and heft my 25-pound child on my hip while carrying his 7-pound sister inside, and my limbs and muscles just ache at the end of the day. And this is all with Lucy still unborn! I know life is only going to get more difficult and challenging before it begins to ease up, and that alone is a hefty burden to bear mentally. I know I will need fortitude and strength -- and HOPE -- in the days ahead.

Which brings me to conclusion #3. I saw the Ghost of Becky Future. It occurred to me that it's possible, and conceivable, and achievable, for me to somehow merge the memory of the lifestyle that was and the reality of now. I know that once I'm no longer pregnant (what's that like?), Becky will get her groove back! And when that happens, well, this is how it's gonna go. I'll pile into my white SUV. After buckling in both my kids into their carseats, of course. We'll hit the Starbucks drive-thru for a latte. I may have Bible songs blasting from the stereo instead of P!NK, but we'll be there. We'll drive to the mall. I'll unload my kids and half a ton of stroller gear and paraphernalia, but we'll sail into Von Maur, dressed in nothing resembling pajamas. We'll visit clearance racks to search for affordable designer labels. And by golly, I'll be pushing my kids around and someone will stop me at the elevator to exclaim, "That's just the cutest Coach bag I've ever seen!"

And I'll smile and say thank-you and share about online coupons, and be grateful for the inspiration that cute Coach bag girl/Ghost of Becky Past gave me, once upon a time, in an elevator.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Calvin

I know that blog readers are often inundated with requests for prayer about special situations concerning people they don't know and will probably never meet. I know because I'm one of those blog readers. I eventually had to start tuning most of it out, because it was just too much for me to handle -- taking on the burdens of strangers when I should be busy praying for those people I actually know. I believe God puts people in our spheres of living for this exact reason; we can't take on the problems of the world but we sure can pray for our friends and neighbors and loved ones -- name them by name, see their faces in our minds, and lift them up accordingly. Then maybe pass along the request to the other people we know and let God take it from there.

With this in mind, I would like to ask for prayer for a special friend of a friend. I met Kara through Kate quite a few years ago now, before she was a mama. Now she is a mama of 4, and her youngest, Calvin, who is 8 months, is facing dire prognoses and the whole situation is just heartbreaking and truly unfathomable to me as a parent. I won't share anymore here because I know that there are many who may not be able to handle the burden. But please, if you can, and if you feel led to open up your heart to their situation, visit Kara's blog here. Please pray with me that Kara and her husband will be guided appropriately in the days and weeks and months to come, that they will experience peace and comfort, and that mercies will fall upon them like gentle raindrops, easing their hurts and sorrows and pain.

Kara, you and your precious boy are in my thoughts. May you know the peace that passes all understanding. This is my prayer for you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Woman Nearing Birth: She's a Strange Creature

At least I am.
  • Miss Chatterbox (yours truly) goes silent. I did this very thing with Will, too...in the last couple weeks, I've really withdrawn and become extremely introspective. I can't seem to communicate very much or for very long. Of course, the physical act of talking is quite uncomfortable, as Lucy's head is lodged somewhere in my right rib cage (yes, she's going to be breech to the end, my little drama princess)! I run out of breath almost as soon as I begin a sentence and well, I just know it's a futile effort. I don't want to talk and I don't want to pant for breath, either. So...silence it is. Even email is a huge mental effort for me. Which means that once again, I'm backed up on email messages from at least a month ago, and if I don't get caught up in the next couple weeks, I don't even want to think how tardy I will be in responding. If you are waiting for a message from me, don't give up!
  • I'm having some pretty extraordinary dreams, good and bad. My favorite was the one from a few nights ago, when Marty and I traveled to England and we were about to board the Chunnel, bound for Paris. I was wearing a scarf. Marty was wearing a smile. We were hand-in-hand and alone and so focused on each other and having a good time. And I was so giddy to be doing something I've dreamed about forever and forever. I honestly think my brain is so taxed from being a mama and a mama-to-be that it just gave me a break for a night.
  • I'm a nesting FREAK. I'm not just running the Swiffer duster over things or vacuuming floors. No, I've completely organized our entire book collection, something that hasn't been done in our nearly 2 years of marriage. It took me a weekend (this book fiend married a fellow book fiend) and now, our bookcases are a wonder to behold. I look at them and am comforted like you wouldn't believe. Of course, Lucy won't know a book from her right pinky finger, but her mama will be able to look up from the couch and smile at her organized books! I keep promising that once the loft is completely organized and settled (this is now a 6-month process and counting) that I'll share pix. I might just get there before the birth and be able to!
  • I'm getting a little scared. I've even wondered if Michelle Duggar gets scared before giving birth each successive time? Marty comforts me with the fact that I won't have to labor this time, that I won't be going through 16 hours of hell just to wind up on a freezing-cold OR table anyway. Dr. Pickler assured us that scheduled C-sections are quite different. In her words, "We go in, I take out your baby, and I leave you an hour later in your room, holding your baby. You have coffee and I have coffee and life is good." Golly, I do love that woman. And it's true, she did an excellent job on my C-section last time, but I had this horrific hour or two postpartum in which my nurse and the anesthesiologist could not get my pain managed/under control. I'm allergic to morphine so I have to use alternatives, and they tried a couple before landing on one that worked. Putting it mildly, in that period of time I experienced pain at a level I could never have imagined. I felt the incision, my cut muscles, and every little stitch. I even passed out twice from the pain. Dr. Pickler went through the hospital records and found the painkiller that worked, and she's promised that those in charge of my pain management will be armed with it. But even if that's taken care of (which it seems to be), I'm still a little scared. Of the "X" factor. I had no idea how things would go last time, and even as scheduled and determined and organized as things are this time, I still fear the unknown. I'm sure this is normal...right?
  • I wonder if this is true for all second-time moms: do you feel guilty about what you're about to do to your first kid? I was rocking Will to sleep the other night and one of his habits is to hold a couple of my fingers while he drifts off. I looked down at him and just marveled at how much he's grown, but also saw how very much he is still my little baby, with a pacifier in his mouth and curled up in his favorite blankie. I don't want him to think that by bringing Lucy home, that he's not my baby anymore!!!
  • Weirdest of all, I'm still "craving" various smells (NEVER had this with Will). I would give real money to be able to smell "musty basement." The closest I get is the first few seconds of running the AC in Marty's car -- there's a bit of a musty odor that comes out and I inhale it furiously to feed my craving. I'm also very needy of the smell of freshly upturned dirt. And wouldn't you know it, I live in a second-story loft apartment. Perhaps we should run to Lowe's and open a bag of topsoil so I can stick my face in it. Talk about a strange creature!
On one final note, perhaps the funniest thing that's happened leading up to Lucy's birth is the fact that, on the way home from Indiana a couple weekends ago, we edited Lucy's name. We are Exhibit A of why couples should choose a name midway through the pregnancy and use it often so as to make sure it really fits your family and your tastes. After a brief discussion, we both admitted that we didn't really want the "-Anne" on Lucy's first name. We're not even sure why we initially wanted it that way -- perhaps just overzealous getting to name our first daughter? In any case, our baby girl's name is now and will officially be, the sweet and simple "Lucy Elizabeth." We love it. We hope she does, too.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Operating instructions for Will

Make him happy?
  • Sips of water from Daddy's glass
  • Dora, Diego, Sid, or George
  • A warm bottle around 7 a.m.
  • Letting him "help" fold laundry
  • A bath with his new boat and Little People person that Daddy named "Captain Tenille"
  • A pacifier in the middle of the night
  • Stuffed monkey
  • His 4th of July pinwheel
  • Saved YouTube cartoons on Daddy's iPhone
  • Being greeted/picked up from his crib in the mornings
  • A drawer full of bibs and washcloths (for removing and throwing everywhere)
  • Music
  • Bananas
  • A room full of cousins
  • Any toy with wheels
  • Naming objects that he points at
  • Remotes
  • Daddy's baseball caps
  • Blankets with satin edging
Make him unhappy?
  • Diaper and clothing changes (no patience for them)
  • Gates (when he's bored of the toys inside)
  • Orajel (but I think he hates the throbbing gums more)
  • His highchair when playtime is interrupted by meal time
  • Daddy leaving
  • Road trips/being in his car seat after an hour or so
  • Having his hair brushed
  • Being told "no"
  • Loud noises
  • Being left alone in a room (when he's aware of it)
  • Being given table foods (though we are making progress with the help of muffins and crackers!)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Daybook


Outside: Have barely noticed. I'm running around like a headless chicken preparing to go to Indy tonight -- by the way, Indy friends, Will and I will be staying in town for the whole week! Call my cell if you want to get together!
Thinking: Of all things, about this new (furniture) love of my life:


I love it in red but I think I'll get it in black (always elegant, and as I like to say, "black is the denim of the furniture world"). I'm planning a whole dining room around this one piece, because I'm so in love with it! I've always wanted a big china cabinet, a big trestle table a la French countryside, and several Parsons chairs with a collection of slipcovers that I can change out with my moods. I've never liked matchy-matchy dining rooms and when I saw this cabinet in Pottery Barn, I knew it would be my dining room "anchor." However, it costs an arm, a leg, and my first child. Seeing as I can't spare these, I'm going to stalk it on the Internet for a drop in price and simultaneously save our slush-money pennies. Have I mentioned that I LOVE this cabinet???
Thankful: That today is my last day at work. I'm so relieved to be done. And so ready to focus on my husband, babies, and home.
From the kitchen: Nothing from my kitchen! I'm running the last dishes in the dishwasher and taking out the trash in preparation to be away. Coming from my Mama's kitchen, though, is another story...I'm about to go get culinar-ily (is that a word?) spoiled.
Creating: I'm taking Puppy's baby book and all my chicken-scratch notes and emails to myself about his milestones and funny anecdotes. I'm going to get his baby book caught up before I have to start a new one in August!
Reading: The Scent of Rain and Lightning by Nancy Pickard:


I've absolutely loved this book and will be reading more by this author.
Hoping: For an easy, safe trip to Indy. Once we're there, my mom is going to take Will at night when he wakes up, at least for a couple nights so we can catch up on sleep. Not to dive into a whine-fest, but let's just say that I was in tears at 3:00 this morning, after having been dealing for a couple hours with the child who will not sleep. Marty and I really are at our wits' end. We have tried EVERYthing suggested to us and nothing is working. If anyone can offer any advice, we would love to try something else. (Please note: we can't do the cry-it-out method. Our kid can vomit at will and will do so if he's left in his crib to cry it out [which we hate anyway]. So, that's not gonna work.)
Hearing: My dryer buzzing. Second-to-last load is ready to fold. Gotta go!
A favorite thing: A perpetual welcome at my parents' house, to stay as long as I like. Love that. Half-Price Books, which I'm going to visit while home. The most enormous (TJMaxx) Home Goods store I've ever seen, on the north side of Indy, which I'm also going to "visit" while I'm home (by "visit," of course, I mean "shop every corner searching for brilliant little fun things for my home!"). A chance to see friends who I miss like crazy!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My best friend is a Shark

Actually, I have two new best friends, and they are both Sharks. Meet Shark #1:

This is the Shark stick vacuum. I believe we got it for $69.99 at Target just a couple weeks ago. I have all hardwood floors in my apartment with just a few area rugs to break up spaces, so I needed a light vacuum made for hard surfaces, and man-oh-man, I LOVE THIS THING. The only downside is it uses a rechargeable battery, so sometimes if you're on a cleaning spree, your battery will run down and you will have to wait to recharge it to get going again. But this isn't a big deal, as I usually get all my work done before I lose the charge. Everything else about this little wonder is great: super light-weight, gets everything on the floor, isn't even that loud. You do have to dump the canister full of cruddies when you're done, but I keep grocery-store plastic bags about for just this purpose. Sooo much better than a broom and dustpan! I use it every couple days, especially in the kitchen and around Puppy's highchair.

Meet my second new best friend, Shark #2:

This is the Shark steam mop, which was $99.99 at Target. Again, I wanted an alternative to the yucky old mop and bucket. I had a Libman mop for awhile but I hated having to dump dirty water and squeeze out the mop into a sink, because then I'd have to turn around and clean that sink! With the steam mop, you use the removable cloth pads and just throw them in the washer when they're dirty on both sides. The water you put in the small tank evaporates into the steam that's used to clean the floors, which only stay damp for a few seconds (just long enough to see where your next stroke should be). The hot steam REALLY cleans up, too, and makes hardwood nice and shiny. This mop is easy to use, and like it's stick-vac sister, is very lightweight and small. Together I store them right next to the washer and dryer in the laundry closet. I use the mop about twice a week, though I would probably use it less if I didn't have a son who had hands and knees on the floor all the time, as he's crawling everywhere these days.

Just a note: I'm getting no money for endorsing these products (though I wish I was!). This is just friendly little pass-along from one domestic diva to another. I love a good product recommendation and I love giving them, too. Does anyone have a cleaning product/accessory they'd like to recommend? Please share in the comments! Thanks, dolls!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Will's thoughts (or Mommy's attempt at guessing them)

Busted! But is there anything better than pulling things out of drawers?

Aww, look at that. Mommy pulled out the camera again. I'll humor her and give her a nice little pose.

Coming in for a closer look...Mommy, I don't think you're doing that right.

I wonder what kind of mischief I can get into now...

Oh for heaven's sake, Mommy, STILL with the camera? (See, Nana and Pa-Pa, the "schnooty face" is alive and well.)

Mommy, do you mind? I'm trying to climb a lamp here.

And by the way, how could you ever enforce a bedtime on me?

Fine. I'll give you one more smile, and I'll even throw in a bonus of a shot of my teeth. Silly Mommy with her camera!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rest in peace, Miss Rue

I'm positive I'm going to get mocked for this, but I was deeply saddened to hear today that Rue McClanahan (of "Golden Girls" fame) died this morning.

Yes, it's probably weird that a Gen-X'er such as myself has seen every episode of the Golden Girls, which originally aired back in the 80's and was a favorite of my grandparents. For some reason, I've always found comfort in watching the old re-runs...Rose would always be getting into some scrape or another through her naive, guileless, trusting behavior; Dorothy would always be snarking about it; Sophia would contribute her usual humorous, Italian-inspired two cents; and Blanche -- Blanche would be floating through a room wearing one of her organza robes and patting her coiffure while offering up some obscure Southernism in her fabulous Georgia accent.

I'm sure you can guess who was my favorite! These girls were the original Sex and the City, weren't they? They showed that dating -- at any age, 30-something or 50-something, and in any city, Manhattan or Miami -- is full of emotional landmines and potential heartbreak, but that at the end of the day, your girlfriends will always be there for you and will share your burdens over cheesecake or cosmopolitans, even if Mr. Big or Mr. Right never does show up. I loved them all, but Rue's performance as Blanche always stole the show, in my opinion. She made growing old(er) look fabulous and even fun! Now that's talent.

Rest in peace, Miss Rue. You will be missed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Daybook

Outside: An overcast day with rain in the forecast. I hope the skies really open up and we have a huge thunderstorm like we did last week. I love watching thunderstorms (from behind closed, secure windows!).
Thinking: About spiritual things. About faith and religion and the difference between the two. Also thinking about my blog-friend Sarah, who will be delivering her twin girls this week. Reminiscing about those first few precious hours and days with my baby Will, and how quickly they go by!
Thankful: For my friend Kristen. Her birthday is Sunday and I am missing her so much! Happy Birthday, dear friend!
From the kitchen: So I bought couscous. I'm going to experiment this week. Wish me luck! Also, I made an amazing pot roast yesterday; Marty declared it to be in the top 10 meals he's ever had, WOW! My cooking skills have certainly come a long way. I can't wait to practice even more.
Creating: Lucy's side of the nursery. Her furniture is being delivered tomorrow and I'm geeked-excited about it!
Going: to the doctor's tomorrow. I'm already to the point of biweekly visits. I could hardly believe it when they didn't schedule me for a month ahead, but rather 2 weeks ahead, at my last visit. I looked at the nurse with absolute incredulity and she just blinked and said, "Well honey, you'll be 30 weeks, won't you?" Holy cow. It seems like it will never end and then suddenly, the end is in sight!
Reading: The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. I asked for book recommendations -- more specifically, I asked for a book that would knock my socks off -- and Kate recommended this one. And it has definitely delivered -- I even had dreams about it last night!
Hoping: to finish my enormous to-do list in the next 68 days. One of the major items on the list is Will's first birthday party, only a month away! I've got to get my tail in gear on that one.
Hearing: Jessie playing stacking cups and blocks with Will while they watch Clifford. Puppy is in such a good mood today, giggling at everything. He's so cute, he's edible.
A favorite thing: A pristine, sparkling kitchen. Pottery Barn items to save for and dream about having one day. A work agenda that suddenly features no projects after June 11th! Yahoo!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Hello, Domestic Bliss (aka, the "big" announcement)

This morning I made a huge change in my life, effectually ending a lifestyle of a dozen years. It might sound like I'm being melodramatic, but in absolute truth, this is HUGE for me.

I quit my job. I haven't NOT worked since my college graduation, and of course, I was working long before then, from the age of 17 (and even before that, I filled up summers and weekends with babysitting). But I have worked professionally for 12 years, with only a brief interim here and there taken between finishing employment somewhere and beginning somewhere else.

Today marks the end of that. I've quit a job with absolutely no intention to seek employment anywhere else for quite some time -- if ever again. It is a fulfillment of a lifelong dream to become a full-time stay-at-home mom to my kids, in addition to being a full-time wife and homemaker. However, it is not without fear and trepidation that I enter this stage! First, there's the obvious: the end of my paycheck. And I was awfully proud of that paycheck -- I worked HARD to get to this place in my career and it's not easy to walk away! With that also comes an absolute dependence on my husband, and thank God he is who he is (and not the person I used to be married to; that is not a gripe, it is sincere gratitude) because he takes his obligations toward his family very seriously and even worries about it more than I'd like for him to.

Second, and most importantly, this is unchartered territory for me. I mean, give me a nastily written journal article and I can make it shine like the top of the Chrysler building. I'm used to this, used to emails and meetings and schedules and editing, editing, editing. Yes, I've done it in my pajamas for the last 2 years, but I've learned that the world of working is the same no matter where you log in (and in what state of dress!). Because of this responsibility, though, other things in my life will get the shaft and I often don't feel guilty about it. So the dusting didn't get done -- oh well, I worked 40 hours this week! With the job, though, go the excuses. And that's what I'm afraid of...I almost feel that if I don't present Marty with a perfectly clean house and perfectly behaved children and perfectly coiffed hair at the end of the day that I should get fired!

However, this is not the attitude with which I want to enter this new period of life. I want to cast off the perfectionist tendencies and ridiculous self-expectations and truly embrace this as the greatest adventure yet. I want to wear aprons! I want to explore the produce section and not stick to bagged lettuce and bunches of bananas! I want to cook with things like couscous! I want to wear mascara every day! I want to take Will to the puppet show at the library! I want to know where to find the bandaids in my house! I want to sing A-B-C's with Will while changing Lucy's diaper -- and LOVE every second of it! I want to start a weekend with clothes in drawers, not in piles on the floor! And yes -- I want to get the darn dusting done. Maybe even while wearing one of my aprons, and hey -- let's go crazy -- maybe even pearls!

So hello, new life. Hello, Domestic Bliss. I'm ready for you!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

And the itch goes on

Despite the fact that I do NOT currently have ICP! I was told today that my "bile acids are within normal ranges" so for right now, I'm in the clear. Of course, if my itching continues, I'm going to push for re-testing along the way, since the doctor told us last week that if I were to be diagnosed with ICP, it would be a very early catch. I don't want this possibility discarded if it could "become true" at some later point in time.

Not that I'm borrowing trouble...no, I'm just still ITCHING. Honestly, I haven't been this miserable since first trimester. I almost hoped to get the diagnosis of ICP so that we could have an early C-section and end this troubled pregnancy sooner rather than later. Is that terrible? I hope I'm not a terrible mom because truthfully, I want what's best for my baby, regardless. I just also happen to want to function again. Every hour of every day, I have to choose severe itching and some limited physical ability and clarity of thought, or relief from itching and an absolute surety that I'll be zonked out for several hours from taking the medicine. I don't want to have to choose, and I also really don't want to feel like choosing between my baby's safety and my sanity.

In other news (and I crave other news...messages and calls and just anyone willing to get me thinking on other things for awhile), our good friends Preston and Misty had their baby girl, Abigail, last night. She's a healthy and LARGE 9 pounds, 6 ounces! I love sharing this because Preston is the person who urged Marty to open an eHarmony account, so you can see why exactly I adore Preston. What's even better is that when he saw how things worked out for Marty, Preston got himself an eHarmony account and met Misty a few weeks later, and a few weeks after that, they eloped!!! So it's very special to share the arrival of another "eHarmony baby," along with our Will and soon, Lucy. Have you seen the commercial that says 1 in every 5 relationships now begins online? It's a new age, kids!

In yet other news, I'll be making a pretty big announcement later this week or early next. I'm excited to share it but some things are still in the works. Stay tuned!

Thank you to everyone who has been praying with us. Please keep doing so. I need strength and endurance to make it to August. Love to all!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Greetings from the Land of the Itchies

While I'm temporarily un-itchy and unmedicated (there's a brief window like this every day), I thought I'd quickly post about a couple of things that I need help with.
  • My cousin is graduating from high school on Friday. We can't make it to her open house, but I want to send her a gift. What do you give 18-year-old girls these days??? I've already been on anthropologie.com looking around, but I've had to dismiss all items there as too quirky and/or too personal. I really don't want to do a gift card, because I can remember burning through those when I graduated and couldn't tell you now who gave gift cards. I DO remember, however, the gifts. A big basket of Bath and Body Works soaps and lotions for going away to school, from an old friend of my parents' (actually the lady who set them up on a blind date!). Oh the things you remember. In any case, I want to give a gift that Leeann will use, love, and of course, remember that I gave her. :) HELP?
  • When do you introduce a pillow into your child's sleeping routine? I've been using a makeshift pillow (of folded sheets) under Will's crib sheet for aiding him through nights of yucky congestion, but now I'm wondering if I can just get him a really shallow pillow? When do you do this?
  • I need any/all advice for introducing table food to a child who's a champion gagger. Anything with any texture beyond the most pureed of pureed foods seems to gag Will and this is frustrating for us, because I'd love to get him beyond baby food by the time Lucy comes, so we can cut out that expense and simply feed him what we're eating for dinner, at least.

I will probably hear from the doctor tomorrow concerning the blood/liver bile test results, so until then I'm just trying to keep busy and not worry. That is, when I'm not passed out from the effects of prescription-strength antihistamine or so itchy that I can't sit still or think straight!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Please pray

Hello friends,

I've shared with some of you how I've been having horrible itching of late...well, it's worsened considerably in the last 2 days (to the point where I've slept very little, even on full doses of Tylenol AND Benadryl). We just got back from the doctor's -- they ran tests on my blood to check for this crazy liver issue called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). Its only symptom? Chronic, all-over itching in the third trimester. Anyway, we won't know for a few days yet and in the meantime I've been given a prescription antihistamine. Hopefully I will be able to sleep at night while we wait for answers. Once again, we're concerned about an issue with this pregnancy. I feel very much on a rollercoaster ride, since my pregnancy with Lucy has been difficult from the first moment and I just really need to reach the finish line with no more problems. I'm discouraged, exhausted, and trying not to worry.

If I do have this ICP, well, I'll let you know then the plan that we discussed with the doctor. In the meantime, just please pray with us that all is well and I just have really annoying itchy skin.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Calling all girlfriends...

It's bad enough being so far away from girlfriends where we currently live, but sometimes it gets REALLY bad. Case in point:Therefore, I am sending out a girlfriend's 911: PLEASE oh PLEASE, would someone come visit me the evening of May 27th and/or come for that weekend so that I don't have to go alone to see my beloved Carrie Bradshaw all by myself? Or drag dearest Hubby along? I will even pay half of a plane ticket!!! (BTW: this is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill, nor am I joking. I really want a girlfriend to go see this movie with me. In case you haven't picked that up by now.)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hallelujah!

  • My first bit of news for the day is that, according to the doctor we saw this morning, Lucy has a "lovely" aortic arch! Both the doctor and the CNP found it, saw it, took a picture of it, showed it to us, etc. Lots of checking and double-checking and reassuring of tense parents...we were so pleased with the thoroughness and vigilance of this office team. SO VERY different from our last ultrasound experience (vague and disturbing to say the least!). Lucy was again a bit of a little stinker in that -- of course -- she was laying in the vertex position with her head wedged into a corner (if there is such a thing) of my uterus, with her hands and feet all squished up by her head. She loves to be cozy, this little girl! Both folks who took a turn at scanning her had to shake my belly a bit to get her to move positions, and she did NOT like that one bit. She showed her displeasure by sticking out her tongue and even making a little fist! The doctor thought that was hilarious and I had to laugh too because she is definitely high-maintenance, this one. In addition to being reassured about her cardiac health, we also learned that Lucy is currently 2 pounds, 7 ounces and is measuring only 4 days behind her due date, which is perfectly normal (there's always a slight variable on that, apparently). She was also checked for all the other developmental markers and she passed with flying colors! We're just so happy. And so very, very, very relieved. Thank you, God, for a healthy baby girl!
  • And the second bit of news is almost as joyful to report: Will slept through the night last night!!! At 6:00 this morning, when I heard his voice on the monitor and realized he hadn't made a peep since 9:30 last night when we put him to bed, I almost did a set of cartwheels. I can't even begin to express the triumph of this occasion for us. I have half a notion to go find Dr. Maria at our pediatrician's office and give her a big fat kiss on the cheek for diagnosing seasonal allergies in Will and prescribing the children's Zyrtec and cool-mist humidifier. I don't know if it's one or the other or both, but something has changed and it is working, and I couldn't be more thankful.

Ahhh, good news all around today! Thanks to everyone who prayed with us for a good report on Lucy's heart and overall health. We are so grateful to you all and want you to know that! (And a HUGE thanks to my sister Katie for pitching in this week and letting me and Marty get some sleep. We feel like human beings again!)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Adding it up

  • First doctor's visit on Saturday, co-pay: $25
  • Antibiotic for baby's ear infection: $5
  • Generic-brand children's Tylenol: $7
  • Second doctor's visit today, co-pay: $25
  • Children's Zyrtec: $8
  • Probiotic powder (to ease effects of antibiotic on baby's tummy): $23
  • Cool-mist humidifier to help with congestion from newly diagnosed baby allergy symptoms: $40
  • Starbucks decaf 2-pump toffee nut latte with whip so Mommy can cope: $4.22
  • Surprise visit from sister Katie who is coming to help with Puppy so Marty and I can get a bit of sleep? PRICELESS.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Dear Lucy,

Mama is so excited to be carrying you. Every day I get closer and closer to finally having the chance to hold you, and I might not ever let you go because it seems when I put your big brother down, he grows up at lightning-speed! So maybe if I hold you 24/7, you won't grow up? Anyway, I'm just thrilled that your arrival is a mere 3 months away and then we'll begin our journey (on the outside) as mama and daughter.

Just one favor until then? Could you please flip head-down? Maybe, pretty-please? I love that you are practicing your tap-dance moves, but you have to understand that Mommy feels this on her bladder. It might sound crazy, but I'd rather feel your kicks in my rib cage. It's true. I just can't keep running to the potty like this! Oh, and if you'd go night-night when Mommy goes night-night, that would just be the cherry on top.

I love you, Lucy-Anne! (And I'll still love you if you don't do as Mommy requests, but you know, it would be really, really nice...)

Love,
Mommy

Sunday, May 9, 2010

musings on Mother's Day

As you read the following list, please know that before my mommyhood days, I was a champion sleeper, shopper, and girlie-girl extraordinaire. I never left the house without sporting a great outfit, complete with accessories, and never saw another person without the perfect makeup, down to matching lipstick. Slush money meant trips to Macy's or TJ's, always a trip to the Starbucks drive-thru, and lots of trips to restaurants to hang with girlfriends. Free time meant shopping, reading, watching movies, and oh yes, sleeping. In my current mommyhood days, though...

  • I have watched the sun come up for the last two mornings in a row, rocking my son who is ill and irritated and fussy. And that's after being up at midnight and 3 a.m., too.
  • The minute I get settled in bed with my enormous pregnant belly balanced just-so on a pillow and my back in the least-painful position, my daughter starts kicking me like she's practicing some new self-defense techniques and sleep eludes me.
  • My living room is never clean. There are always toys on the floor where Will drags them to and fro in his crawling adventures. If only I could bend myself down to pick them up without sending my lower back into spasms!
  • I have stepped on many a toy in the middle of the night and had to squelch the urge to utter an "ouch!" because I'm carrying a (finally) sleeping baby back to his crib.
  • I have had the thought many times in the past few days to be thankful that my kid is not a projectile vomiter. When he spews, at least he does so semi-neatly, right in front of him or even on the bib when we're really lucky.
  • Laundry time for me means going through baby clothes with my enormous orange can of Shout, spraying various pureed food stains, spit-up and puke, and my favorites, the accidents that sometimes happen during diaper changes.
  • I sometimes forget to eat, I practically live in my pajamas, and my personal bathing routine is completely random, but my son always eats on schedule, is always as clean as I can keep him, and he wears the cutest clothes I can find for him.
  • When I go to TJ Maxx or Target, I no longer immediately head for my-size clothes. I go straight to the 18-months' boy clothes or the 0-9 months' girl clothes.
  • I make coffee in the mornings but sometimes don't get to it until it's gone cold. I drink it anyway.
  • I sit down to watch a show maybe once or twice a week. But I can sing you the themes to "Dinosaur Train," "WonderPets," and "Go, Diego, Go."
  • I get so excited thinking about planning Will's first birthday party and all the birthday parties for our kids in the future. I spent my last birthday in my bed, in the miserable first trimester of pregnancy, trying to keep down a popsicle.
  • Marty and I spent the first 9 months of our relationship long-distance dating, and all we did was talk, talk, talk on the phone. Now our conversations often consist of our son's diaper activities and who gave the last dose of Tylenol and when. Then exhausted silence follows. When we were alone last weekend, we couldn't shut up, we were so geeked to be able to TALK!
  • I used to take time off from work to go on vacations. Now I take PTO in hourly increments here and there, to cover well-baby appointments, sick-baby appointments, prenatal appointments, ultrasound appointments, etc.
  • When planning our grocery budget and list, I no longer plan for a couple nice filets or a bunch of tulips (although I must confess, those occasionally come home with me). Instead I add up how many dollars we need for diapers, wipes, formula, boxes of cereal, tubs of baby food, and so on. And it's a LOT of dollars!

I could go on, listing a million more examples of how my life has radically changed since becoming a mother. Some of the changes are great fun (raspberry-type kisses on my cheek, my son's delighted face to see me in the mornings), and of course, some are not so fun (the 5-ish hours of sleep I average per night).

But today is the first time in my life I get to celebrate being a mother on Mother's Day. There is nothing like it in the world, and no amount of sleep or great clothes or free time could ever compare to it. I wouldn't go back to my former life for anything.

Thank you, Father, for my babies. May I always be grateful, even in the hardest moments of mommyhood!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Somewhere in my youth or childhood...

I must have done something good.

(And now you'll hate me for putting that tune in your head.)

I must have, because my parents are coming down tomorrow for a long weekend visit, and they're sending me and Marty off to go have time to ourselves for a couple days!!! It took us all of 5 minutes to decide to go to Asheville and spend some quality time here:

The Biltmore Estate is one of our favorite places in the world, not only because the house is so magnificent, but also because they're constantly offering new exhibits and changing up displays, especially seasonally (and spring is just glorious there). In addition, Deer Park restaurant is on the Estate grounds and they have a famous Sunday morning brunch, which we've enjoyed many times, including on the first day of our honeymoon. The mountains, the flowers, the ambience, the food, the beauty of it all!

Marty and I also have several favorite haunts in Asheville that we're going to visit, too. Not that we'll be constantly on the go -- oh heavens, no. Because neither of us has had an uninterrupted night's sleep since...???...we're going to spend quality time snoozing, too. Just the thought of not having to drag myself out of bed in the middle of the night is enough to make me weep in joy!

Puppy just loves his Nana and Pa-Pa and I'm sure they'll have a marvelous time (and I'm equally sure my mom will get Will to sleep through the night for her -- mark my words -- she has a way with these things!). I will probably obsess for a few minutes here and there over how Puppy is doing, but I think I'm just tired enough and need this enough to be okay with being absent from him for 48 hours or so.

So thank you, Mom and Dad, for offering to spend the weekend with Will so we can get away! I must have been a good kid, because "nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could..."

Asheville and SLEEP, here we come! Yee-haw!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lots more random

Because I'm so sleep-deprived (see random bullet #1 below), I've apparently been stripped of all ability to write in coherent posts or even paragraphs for that matter. So random is what you get.
  • BAD. My child refuses to sleep through the night. And is now getting up every 2-4 hours, just like he's a newborn again. It is killing me and Marty, even though we take turns. We are trying everything we can think of and we are taking suggestions, too. Basically, Will is in the throes of teething (his 2 bottom teeth are almost completely "there" now and he will move his jaw like he's chewing gum at many points during the day, like there's more gum activity going on and it's driving him batty) and I think it's just messing up his sleep cycles and restfulness altogether. New technique to try for tonight: cereal right before bedtime. Puppy refuses to take a bottle at bedtime but I haven't really ever seen him turn down actual food. Also, per my mom's suggestion, a jar of meat (ICK) at dinner. Has anyone else gone through this? Do you have any help to offer two very exhausted parents?
  • GOOD. My amazing husband has insisted that we go ahead and buy the desk I've lusted after for over a year from Pottery Barn. Marty says I've "had to hodge-podge it long enough" and I certainly deserve a "real" desk after all the months of pregnancy I've gone through. He's even hinted at more presents, per the children contribution I have made (hmm...maybe I will have more kids after this!). So we ordered her last night. Here she is:
    I didn't get the hutch/organizer thingey on top, nor the chair. I'm opting instead for a slipcovered Parsons chair from Ballard Designs. Oh yeah, I get to order that, too!
  • INSANELY COOL. My friend Mary won second place for her "Paranormal Romance" novel in the Chicago-North Romance Writers of America 12th Annual Fire and Ice Contest. I am simultaneously ridiculously proud and ridiculously jealous. Mary hopes to get her novel published and I'm certain that this award will open plenty of doors for her; fingers crossed, my friend!!! You rock my world (and give me hope that, like you, I can be a mom of 2 kiddos AND be a writer)!!!
  • GETTING THERE. Once upon a time (in December), this girl and her Hubby and Baby Boy moved from a 3-story townhouse to a loft apartment (downsizing by 1 bedroom and 1.5 baths, and also losing a very large storage room). A lot of things went to a storage unit, but a lot of things (too many things) came to the loft. Just before Moving Day, this girl and her Hubby discovered that Baby Girl was on her way. Ultimately, this girl helped move in some boxes, cleaned a countertop or two, then promptly collapsed into bed with "The Illness" that claimed the next 2 months of her life. During this time, Hubby took over primary care of Baby Boy while this girl attempted to nourish herself and Baby Girl (rather unsuccessfully at many times). Nothing got accomplished and many things went undone. We were in survival mode. Around the beginning of March, this girl began to emerge from "The Illness," looked around at the mess and the unpacked boxes, and almost went BACK to bed in defeat. Instead, this girl somehow managed to find the courage to promise to herself to do at least a little bit each day until it got done and the loft was not only liveable, but decorated and clean and comfortable and cozy -- and ready for its 4th occupant come August! What has transpired in the 2 months since that time has been countless hours of very hard work: lots of purging, lots of organizing, lots re-thinking and re-organizing. And I am proud to say that we are almost there. Almost. I wanted to take a break from the loft last weekend but our plans fell through, so I ended up doing even more, and I'm now within just a few hours of finishing. And because I want to be accountable to a deadline of some kind, I am hereby promising to post pictures when all is complete. My desk needs to be delivered, we need to make a couple more storage unit and Goodwill runs, and a big, final clean needs to happen before then, but I promise, I shall post pictures of the finished product, hopefully in the next month or two. Wait for it.
  • UPDATE. We will be having our follow-up to the follow-up ultrasound on May 13th. Please say a prayer with us that Lucy's heart is perfectly visible to this doctor. We would very much appreciate it.
  • RANT. Why did baby clothing manufacturers decide that if a baby is over 20 pounds, he is no longer entitled to go to bed in sleepers anymore? (Yeah, I'm talking to you, Carter's.) Personally, I think as long as a baby is still in diapers, a onesie-type shirt with pants or what-have-you is more appropriate than 2 pieces, whether it be play clothes or sleeping clothes. We have a few 2-piece pajama sets but I end up using a plain white onesie with the pajama pants because otherwise, Will ends up sleeping with his tee shirt rumpled up under his arms! So I've been on the hunt for larger-sized (12, 18, 24-month) sleepers and have only found moderately expensive and very expensive brands. The former is Hanna Andersson, and we just ordered 2 sleepers at $25 each from there. I choked on the price a bit, but not nearly as much as when I bought sleepers in the latter brand category (very expensive). That would be you, Kissy Kissy. The children's boutique just a few doors down from us sells this line, and I coughed up the money for a couple of these sleepers (starting at $33 apiece!), but then immediately began looking for alternatives. And I'm still not finding anything cheaper than Hanna Andersson. Does anybody know of any other brands that offer sleepers in larger sizes?
  • OTHER. You know, I had other random items floating around in my head but I'm just going to stop here because my brain hurts from the sleeplessness. Please leave a comment if you have any helpful hints to offer on any of the above!