Sunday, December 27, 2009

I made it past Christmas

My last post was on November 30. Between then and now, I worked frantically on finishing Christmas presents. Maybe next year I won't sign up for so many, though I'm already thinking of things to make for people.

What I can remember that I made for Christmas this year:

- amigurumi spider
- amigurumi tiger
- amigurumi zebra
- amigurumi manta ray
- amigurumi cupcakes
- amigurumi cat
- amugurumi bunny
- pair of socks
- two dishclothes
- two mitered hanging towels
- 5 coffee cup sleeves
- 10 crochet snowflakes
- 2 toddler fleece bathrobes
- 3 mens large fleece bathrobes with flannel lining
- 2 silky pillowcases
- 3 fairisle hats
- two butterfly dolls
- one necklace pendant
- one necklace
- cable toddler cardigan
- toddler cardigan with crochet flowers
- one lace shawl

I think that is it. No wonder I've been busy! I'm sorry, though, that I don't have pictures of everything... That would make for a much more interesting post, but as one of my aunts says, "Oh well!"

Now I've started a sweater for me and a baby blanket for a friend.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Me and Oona

I love this picture of me and Oona. She really likes being held upside down and when she's fussy, sometimes that's the only way to cheer her up.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

From Owlishly's Sleepy Sarah pattern.

For a friend's first birthday. I'm really happy with how they turned out. If I was inclined to sell what I make, which I'm not particularly mostly because I have way to many things I want to make to focus on making things to sell, I would make these.

The Story of an Elephant

A super cute elephant, who I couldn't part with.

He started as a gift for a friend for his birthday. Sorry friend... :(

I'm not sure where he'll end up, but for now he is staying with me.

Someday I'll learn the mystery of picture taking and light and backgrounds, etc.

Pattern from Lucinda Guy's Crochet Designs for Kids. She introduced the pattern as quick and easy which was why I attempted it. Ha! Lucinda Guy's quick and easy is not my quick and easy. But I love him.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

my lap at nap-time

Knitting, baby and cat. Days are so much better when Oona naps and how bad is it really to sit and knit with a baby asleep in your lap...

I just got Oona down for a nap and she semi-woke up and then all of the way woke up. I really really really hope this isn't one of those days where she thinks a five minute nap is enough.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

the why's have it

You know how development happens overnight sometimes? I've been wondering 'why' Gemma hadn't started the 'why, why, why' part of toddlerhood yet. Most of her friends are already in that phase and have been for awhile. Well, the why's have started with a vengeance this morning. It's gone from almost no why's yesterday to everything why today. Each baby/toddler/kid develops at it's own pace, right? That's something I have to remind myself of constantly. I tend to be so proud of the things she's ahead on and worry endlessly about the things she's either on track or behind on. Now, that is just nuts. I need to give that up.

In other news, I finished one hat yesterday. It turned out pretty good, though hopefully blocking will help. I guess I don't have to worry about Christmas knitting too much, then... I cast on for hat number two and will start it today. I'm doing the raglan decreases for Gemma's cardigan. I'm going to make some irish crochet roses like these. I hope they're not too big... I'll get to pictures one of these days.

And I'm on day two (again) of no sugar. I failed last attempt. So now I'm on a six week challenge and am thinking of doing a small prize at the end. Wish me luck. The challenge will go right through the holiday season. But maybe my waistband will be a little looser...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sitting and knitting

It is a good thing I have a lot of Christmas knitting to do. Separation anxiety is full steam ahead chez nous. Oona seems to cry the least if I sit in a corner of a couch, knit, and stay put. The second I move, even if to just go to the bathroom the fussing, whining, tears and screams start. I really love being a Mom, but sometimes I want to walk down the hall unimpeded by cries and little hands and feet that insist on being attached. Time to get the velcro out...

Speaking of Christmas knitting... I never used to do any but now my to do list is hopefully possible. I finished the shawl for my MIL except for blocking it. I'm half way done with hat one out of three. I have 6 little amigurumi dolls to make and one big one. And a sweater for Gemma. Plus, I have fabric to make bathrobes for Eric, Jack and Pat. It's over a month away, right? I can do it? Hopefully? See, it really is a good thing that Oona is insisting on me sitting on the couch and knitting. :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

baby quotes

"Poop" (poop)
"Poop" (spoon)
"Ow-ee" (is she hurt, is she not? not sure?)

"Stupid man! What's his problem?" (Hmmmmm, did I say that???)

Gemma: "Mama, you need a coat on."
Me: "That's okay, I'm wearing a warm sweater."
Gemma: "Mama, you need a coat on."
Me: "That's okay, I'm wearing a warm sweater.
Gemma: "Mama, you need a coat on."
Me: "That's okay, I'm wearing a warm sweater."
Gemma: "Mama, what is Gemma telling you?" (What I say to her when she doesn't seem to be listening to me, except, you know, I don't refer to myself as Gemma.)
Me: "lol. Gemma is telling me that I need a coat but I'm telling her it's okay because I'm wearing a sweater and because I'm the Mama."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

eric's birthday cat

I had a lot of fun making this cat for Eric for his birthday. His birthday was a month ago so this is a bit of a belated post. The pattern came from this book. I changed the colors to ones that remind me of Eric. And some bling as an impromptu addition made this Hep Cat into a religious bohemian scholar, complete with purple pants. The only thing I would change would be to find blue cat eyes instead of the green, which is what they had at Joann's. Originally he had a black nose but I thought that looked bull-dog-ish, so I added the pink. Have you ever seen a white cat with a black nose?

I feverishly finished it in one week. Phew! Hand cramps!

Gemma was really excited about Daddy's cat and almost spoiled the surprise.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

bye-bye cake

I just threw away half of a birthday cake. Wow. That was very hard to do, and to see it's sugary deliciousness sitting at the bottom of the garbage can. Sigh... I was very proud of myself, though. Throwing that cake away was an important step to going sugar free for at least the next while. My tightening waist band agrees with me. In the past month, with three birthdays, I got to toxic sugar levels. All I wanted to eat was sugar for breakfast, sugar for snack, sugar for lunch, for snack, for dinner, for snack. It's no wonder my waist band isn't so happy with me. So here I go, cold turkey, no sweets. I know I'll feel more human in two weeks. I forget how much sugar bothers me and affects my mood, etc. Then I go toxic and I remember. Then I have to repeat the hard work of going off sugar and I start marvelling at my new found levels of patience. Today, of course, patience levels are still very low. But past experience tells me I'll feel better soon...

The birthday cake was one thing. Add Halloween candy and baked goods gifted to us by a friend who got the baking bug and my powers of resistance are being sorely tested. Oona keeps eating half of a piece of candy, saying all done, and handing the rest to me. So far, I have won out and have thrown those away. They're kind of slobbery anyway...

So here I go. One minute at a time but very much looking forward to feeling better in a couple weeks.

Friday, October 30, 2009

inner nerd

A ways back, maybe a couple years ago, I read an article by Martha Beck in the Oprah magazine that was about perfectionism. Do you know any perfectionists? I sure don't. (clears throat) Anyways... In the article, Martha Beck suggests you put your inner perfectionist in a corner when she gets to be too much. I liked this idea - a humorous way to detach and put your perfectionism in perspective. Last night, I decided I needed to do that with my inner nerd - the voice in my head that harkens back to middle school and high school and into college and possibly beyond. This is the voice that admires a quality in somebody else, wishes I also had that quality, and if I don't have it, my inner nerd reminds me how "uncool" I am. It's quite funny when you write it out. So my message to my inner nerd is to go back to middle school and get over yourself, seriously. Embrace your good qualities and if you admire a quality in somebody else so much, either adopt it for yourself or don't. If you don't, that doesn't mean that the person with the admirable quality is cool and that you're still just a middle school nerd. My inner nerd also needs to be reminded that she doesn't have to be good at everything. She seems to be pretty good friends with my inner perfectionist. Anyways, haven't you realized that nerds are the cool people by the time you get to adulthood?

So I'm sending my inner nerd to sit in the corner to ponder the bigger questions of life. She's a bit awkward with glasses and frizzy hair and not quite the right clothes. She's quiet and unsure of herself. Sometimes I love her and sometimes, she needs to go to the corner and be quiet because she's not being very helpful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I love watching sisters being sisters, except of course when they're fighting like sisters. But when sisters are being nice to each other and are being sisterly, I get the warm fuzzies all over...

Friday, October 23, 2009

remarkable oona moment

Just now, Oona was taking spice jars out of the cabinet. I told her "We don't play with those. Can you put them back?" And she did it with no fuss or anything. I was very impressed. Every now and again, kids do things that really surprise and impress us, don't they? Other moments, though... a bit less remarkable. Like right now, Oona is fussy fussy and pulling on me and falling over and crying. What is it that she needs? If only I were that psychic, eh? Amazing how they can be so good one minute and so not so good the next.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

naked baby

I wish I had a picture and I wish I was better at taking pictures more frequently. I'm standing at the stove stirring brown sugar and butter together in preparation for making Brown Sugar Bars, a bar cookie from my childhood. I look over, and there is Oona standing very proudly half naked with her diaper off, taken off like big-girl underwears, and her pants off. And she's saying poop and looking at me hopefully, pleadingly. Surely she'll get a gummy bear for going poop like Gemma gets a gummy bear when she puts her pee or poop in the potty. I stand there not knowing how to react - a glimmer of hope that Oona will potty train easily and effortlessly and early (you can hope, right?) and also fear that I'm going to be cleaning up pee and poop from the carpet ad nauseum and wanting to laugh my head off. And wondering if I was doing the right thing by letting Oona have a gummy bear when she tells me she has poop in her diaper. Surely she'll get the connection some time, right? And she's sooooo jealous of Gemma for getting gummy bears. Which brings us back to the endless question of whether I'm being a good Mom or doing the right thing or or or...

BTW, we're all healthy for the most part again. And are staying warm with our functioning pellet stove. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

still have a fever

The boys are back at school. Oona went to daycare yesterday. Gemma stayed home but seems to be on the mend. Eric still hasn't gotten sick in spite of high stress levels and sleepless nights. And I still have a fever. That is pretty much my only symptom besides a minor sore throat - no cough, I can breathe through my nose, no headache. Just a fever and I'm really really frustrated about it! How long can a fever last for? Today is day 9.

Monday, September 21, 2009

sickness update

The boys are back at school today with no fevers. Patrick had a bit of a weird cough this morning but no fever so I let him go. Eric still hasn't gotten sick and I'm extremely envious. Oona has a mildly drippy nose and no fever. Gemma woke up with her eyes glued shut and a very very green goopy nose, though no fever. She has a doctor's appointment at 4 pm. And I still have a fever - day 7. I asked the nurse at the pediatrician's if I should make an appointment for me at my doctor's if I've had a fever for seven days and she thought I really should. So I have an appointment at 3:15 at the same place my husband has gone for his annual blood work checks. I don't have a doctor outside of my ob/gyn, though I guess I do now. Maybe I'll get my cholesterol checked, etc. I usually don't go for what western medicine has to offer and am generally healthy anyways so haven't had a primary care doctor. But if you need antibiotics you need them and I'm half hoping that I need them just because I want to feel better already.

I just so want to return to real life. I was feeling better yesterday and was absolutely convinced that I would wake up with a normal temp this morning. I was so sad when I read the thermometer this morning. It was almost normal yesterday afternoon. But I've been shivery and hot and then I feel fine and then I feel awful. It is very strange. And I'm pissed off and depressed and annoyed and sad. I want to knit with my friends. I want my girls to be able to play with their friends. I want to go to work. I want to clean my house. I want to be able to go to the grocery store. I want to go for walks. I want to be healthy! Please?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The family that gets sick together, stays together, right?

I started to write about when we had which colds or sicknesses this month but I don't think I could keep track of it all. I know there was a weekend where all six of us had a cold and we sat around our increasingly messy family room and watched movies. Then this past weekend and this week we've all, except for my husband, been hit with Influenza A which is assumed to be the H1N1 virus or in other words the Swine Flu. I'm still confused about whether Oona and Gemma had a cold last weekend or if they had the flu or if they're getting the flu now but their cases are more mild than their brothers which could be the case since they're both taking Tamiflu. Both Oona and Gemma went to my friend's house to be babysat last Saturday, in spite of the fact that Gemma had a goopy nose and Oona had a low grade fever all weekend. Nobody in my friend's family have gotten sick which makes me think Oona and Gemma just had a cold. But then even this week, their fevers haven't been as high as their brothers who have had fevers up to 102. Anyway, the general report is that this flu is like a flu but is not that big of a deal and though we all feel gross, we're not close to needing to be hospitalized or anything. The boys got sick on Sunday and have been out of school four days. We spent $100 in co-pays at the doctor with all four kids at the doctor at once in one room (an adventure, let me tell you...) on Monday and then another $200 in prescriptions - Tamiflu for all six of us, cough syrup with codeine, and Oona also had an ear infection and wheezing in her lungs so she got antibiotic and nebulizer treatments. I've cancelled two days of work. And we've watched The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Shrek, Shrek 2, Princess Diaries, Monsters Inc, Incredibles, etc, ad nauseum in an attempt to get healthy - resting in front of the TV. I'm looking forward to swallowing without it hurting. But other than that, could be worse! And we have had a lot of family bonding time...

Also, I finished a cowl (knitting) and a wrap/shawl (crochet). Sorry I don't have picture yet. I already gave the cowl to its recipient and the wrap/shawl needs some serious blocking before pictures will do it justice.

Best in health to all and if you do get the flu, fluids and rest and vitamin c and tylenol so you can sleep and medical intervention if necessary. I think the news reports have been really scary about H1N1 but from where I'm sitting, it's not so very terrible, not worse than the regular flu, and now I'm getting immunity which is a good thing.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

turns in the road

We are drowning, or at least swimming, in, excuse the grossness, snot. All six of us (still boggles my mind that the number is six) are either sick or recovering from being sick right at the moment. I think I might hit a world record on number of tissues used between me, Gemma, and Oona. My recent project of fall cleaning - deep cleaning the whole house, yikes - is on hold until I feel better and we're existing in a very messy room with a movie on the TV. Thus, I'm writing on my blog, which has been sorely neglected of late.

We have also had new beginnings here. Jack started high school - a freshman - this year. Patrick started middle school. Gemma got a new teacher at her preschool/daycare. Oona has completely weaned (mostly a really good feeling, a little nostalgic and missing it but not too much.) Eric officially began as Associate Professor (a promotion). And I, Gretchen, started my first class in my planned very long journey towards becoming a craniosacral-doing-mid-wife. It will most likely take about ten years to accomplish that goal which is okay because then the girls will be old enough to understand when I'm not home in the middle of the night. I do have some hesitation about that part of the job. That and the giving shots part and having fellow students learn how to give shots with me being the guinea pig. I'm a bit squeamish about getting shots. But that has mellowed a lot since I've had babies. Anybody else noticed how having babies changes your life?

I had my first day of class yesterday. I got there early as did a whole bunch of other students. Nobody looked at each other or spoke. Everybody stared towards the front of the classroom, notebooks out, pens at the ready. That was a strange experience making me wonder what age people learn to strike up conversations with people around them and I also had flashbacks to being that age and not feeling comfortable talking to strangers, even if they were my peers. Strange. I wore a recently purchased backpack which helped me blend in. I don't think I looked obviously old. Of course, when I gave my husband a kiss, I felt like I had to explain that he wasn't having an affair with an undergrad - he's just married to one... Something about having that backpack on made me look and feel fifteen. I look young for my age anyway but that backpack was a clincher. The department head of the History department, who we've had to dinner at our house, didn't even recognize me as I passed him in the hallway. All of this brings on a bit of an identity crisis with how to be an older student at a school with students mostly in their late teens and early twenties. I'm good at identity crises though, having had many, complete with the question of "What do I wear?" How many times have I had the recurring dream of going through my closet and not finding anything to wear. For some reason when I'm trying to figure out how I fit into a new role, this time being an undergrad again, I start with wondering what in the world should I wear? What kind of clothes will overlap being a wife, a mother, a massage therapist and an undergrad student and will still somehow reflect me?

Life really does seem like an endless stream of transitions. I, for one, haven't felt like I go in one direction long before there's a turn in the road. I wonder when the next turn will be...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I've been thinking about weaning Oona for awhile. She's 16 months old - too old according to some and too young according to others. She's always been a bit of a chomper and nursing has been more uncomfortable/annoying for me than it has been great for the past couple months. Teeth indentations, you know. The question has always been when and do I have energy for the fallout. Well... She just went to sleep without nursing. Maybe this is the time? Thinking that makes me feel sad about already having had our last nursing session (four in the morning this morning) and then I remembered how grumpy I was at four this morning only wanting to be asleep. Is it time?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

on a lighter note

I heard Gemma say "Damn it!" the other day. Must watch my language! I have to fully admit that I am not alwas PG. Better start saying Fudgesicles! Schneikes! Darn it! Oopsadaisy! and one my Mom and Dad said "Heavens to Mergatroid!" My Dad said it comes from his Father. But looked it up on-line and it's actual origin is:

A humorous alteration of the idiom "heavens to betsy." Popularized by the '60s cartoon character Snagglepuss, who was a regular on the Yogi Bear Show. "Murgatroid" is sometimes spelled "murgatroyd" or "mergatroid." (from

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

who's who? some first and early day pics

The first three are Oona and the second three are Gemma. Interesting to see Gemma crying and alert and moving and Oona so quiet and spacey and tired.

birth story/stories plus

I have been meaning to write Oona's birth story for quite a while now. She is almost fifteen months old. Every time I start, though, the beginning of the story gets pushed further and further back in time because so many things lead up to the girls' birth and reflect the choices I made.

This is going to be a really really long post. Feel free to read or not to read as you so desire.

Before I ever thought of getting pregnant with Gemma, I was worried about my fertility. In 2000, I discovered that I had a mass on my left ovary that needed to be surgically removed. It was about the size of a tennis ball and was diagnosed as a fibroma being mostly calcified material though there were some teeth in it which is like a dermoid cyst. The surgery was pretty traumatic for me. I was the first person in my family to have to have surgery and somehow I thought this was a personal failure. Also, my ex-husband wasn't able to be all that supportive through it. I also got pneumonia while recovering. And I've had quite a bit of pelvic pain ever since that surgery. So surgery on my ovary plus pelvic pain equals worry about my fertility.

Fast forward a couple years, my ex and I split and I met Eric. I had been on the pill since I was seventeen. I went on the pill because I had two and a half week long cycles and because I wanted a reliable form of birth control. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the wisest decision to go on the pill, but hey, I was seventeen. Fast forward again, my older sister found out that she had Factor V Leiden which is a genetic clotting factor. If you have this factor, being on the pill isn't the best idea. I didn't have health insurance so couldn't afford to get tested so decided to try the progesterone only pill as a precaution. Estrogen in the pill is what effects clotting. I felt AWFUL on the progesterone only pill so after awhile decided to go off the pill altogether. I felt even more awful after going off the pill. It took me three months to get my cycle. I got a hemorrhagic cyst on my right ovary which, let me tell you, is very very painful. I couldn't even stand up straight. That precipitated my elopement with Eric so that I could get health insurance. Then my ovary pain was a pre-existing condition so I couldn't seek treatment for it for six months. I had three different pelvic exams that came back as normal with nothing wrong and nothing to explain the pain which was very frustrating to me. I had heard about Dr. Fern and what a good doctor he is but he only takes doctor to doctor referrals for new patients. So I went to another doctor (clear pelvic exam once again) and he ordered an ultrasound. I had a polyp in my uterus so he referred me to Dr. Fern. At the first meeting, Dr. Fern could palpate where my pain was and said it was from scar tissue and thought I might have endometriosis and he would recommend a laparoscopy for that and a hysteroscopy to remove the polyp. The polyp could prevent pregnancy in the same way that a IUD does. Yikes, surgery, been there, done that, was NOT fun. After lots of thought, though, I did decide to go ahead with it. Being a massage therapist and also believing in a lot of alternative medicines, I didn't make this decision lightly because I had had so much trauma from my first surgery. Ultimately, what I felt from my gut was that even though I knew I could most likely heal completely with alternative medicines, having a second surgery with a doctor I trusted and with a supportive husband would actually help heal the trauma from the first surgery and I would also know what was causing the pain. For me, knowing that I have endometriosis and that is what causes all the pelvic pain has been comforting and has helped me have more direction as I seek alternative treatments for it. No more wondering why and what and wherefore. The surgery did cause more scar tissue but it balanced out the scar tissue I already had and it seemed to take the emotional charge and trauma out of having surgery in the first place. So now, I have no polyp and fewer adhesions and all of this should help my chance of getting pregnant, though I'm not quite ready to try. My second surgery was summer of 2005.

Fast forward again to winter of 2005. We decide to try and see what happens. I get my period and am disappointed and am worried because endometriosis and surgery on your ovaries can cause infertility. I know in my head that is only one month, but I still worry. My twin sister calls and tells me that she is pregnant on the first month. She had assumed it would take her awhile to get pregnant and it doesn't so the timing is a little stressful for her. I burst into tears at the news (not the best reaction and did I mention my twin sister and I were barely on speaking terms at this point in history?) Little knowing that I was already pregnant, two weeks later I had the positive pregnancy test. I was on top of the world. I had felt this little girl soul calling to me telling me that it was time for her to be born. And here I was pregnant. I didn't know that she was a girl yet and even at the first ultrasound when she was old enough to be able to tell, she kept her legs together and you couldn't see anything. Now comes the question of whether I continue using my gynecologist as my OB or find a mid-wife. I like my doctor quite a bit. He has even done a c-section using acupuncture as the anasthetic so I know he isn't closed to natural childbirth and if something were to happen, I would trust him to handle it and he explains things well and has an excellent bedside manner. Plus I want to keep him as my gynecologist and he's hard to get into. The easiest path is to have him as my OB. His one drawback is that he is conservative about inducing and doesn't like his mom's to go far past forty weeks gestation (as confirmed by ultrasound.) I decide on hypnobirthing and natural childbirth in the hospital. I never really seriously considered home birth at the time. Partially because I like my OB. Partially because I don't want to labor in front of my two step-sons, our relationship especially at that point didn't really allow for that kind of intimacy. And partially because my safe place, like a cat or other animal who finds their place to birth, is the hospital. I'm very clear in my birth plan that I don't want any intervention unless it is medically necessary and is clearly explained to me. I do find comfort that if something does happen, I have medical support.

Pregnancy with Gemma - we move to our new house in early pregnancy. There were mice and the smell really got to me. I was really exhausted throughout the first trimester. I never threw up but sure felt like it. I could not eat eggs or black pepper at all. The second trimester was much better. I had more energy and unpacked more boxes and got the house set up. I continued to work at my job as a massage therapist. Acupuncture helped a lot with heartburn and nausea and everything like that. Third trimester, I find out I have gestational diabetes but that I can control it with diet. Because of the gestational diabetes, Dr. Fern really doesn't want me to go too far past term but will let me go to 41 weeks. At 34 weeks, Gemma drops (I have learned that she is a girl by now and we're pretty sure what her name is) and I'm having five to ten minute mild contractions but don't think anything of them because they're mild. They must be Braxton-Hicks. I see the nurse practitioner and I have some softening and effacing of the cervix. She sends me over for a non-stress test which monitors babies heart beat which should go up a bit every time they move. This is a precaution for mom's with gestational diabetes which can be a stressor on babies and they want to know how the baby is handling the blood sugar issues. Turns out I'm having five minute regular contractions (Braxton Hicks contractions don't show up as contractions on the ultrasound monitors) and since my cervix has softened, they count it as pre-term labor. I have to have the awful shot to stop labor but they do let me go home. My doctor puts me on Procardia which makes me feel absolutely awful and gives me really restless legs. He puts me on another medicine to stop the restless legs. So I'm on bed-rest for two weeks which is not easy when you're used to working, even if only part time. At 36 weeks he takes me off the meds but recommends that I rest for another couple of weeks. Somewhere in there, I think that since I was considered to be in labor at 34 works and the contractions are the same as they were then, then I must be in labor now. We go to the hospital as a false alarm and it was not a fun experience. The nurse who checked me was not gentle. It just wasn't a good experience. After that, I was determined to stay at home as long as possible and my doctor said to wait until it was difficult to walk through my contractions. At 38 weeks, I start moving around and start going for walks, etc. My twin has her baby October 18. I pass the forty week mark. How in the world can I be going past-term if I had pre-term labor? I get acupuncture. I have sex. I do nipple stimulation. I eat spicey food. I notice that the right side of my uterus is contracting harder than my left so I get some bodywork and visceral manipulation which helps balance my uterus. I go on my hands and knees to effect the position of Gemma's head. I get acupuncture again. My sister comes to help with the baby who isn't born yet. We walk, we go grocery shopping, we talk, we walk some more. I try a small dose of blue cohosh and a little castor oil (not enough to cause intestinal distress). This whole time, since 34 weeks, I've been having five to ten minute contractions and have been about two centimeters dilated for about a week. The day is October 27 and I'm scheduled to be induced November 1. At the grocery store they become a little stronger. We have dinner. We're sitting and watching a movie and they're kind of a little stronger and I squeeze Eric's knee every time I have one. I decide to go up and take a shower. They get stronger and closer together (like three minutes or so.) I want to lie down. My sister sees me and suggests that I might want to head into the hospital. She stays with the boys which was awesome because I didn't have to worry about the boys at all. The more serious contractions started around 7 pm. We get to the hospital at 8 or so. NO cervical change at this point which I find disappointing and have a moment of panic about being able to do this for how long? We do our hypnobirthing and put Steven Halpern music on the cd player. I get in the tub but get overheated and am not comfortable. I mostly sit on the bed and rock which suprises me. I thought I'd be able to lay on my side and really relax. I have to go to the bathroom a couple times. I have a really supportive nurse who likes natural childbirth. My contractions are really strong and right on top of each other - every minute and a half. I don't get to rest between contractions but that's okay. I focus on how effective they're being at opening my cervix. I'm fully dilated at 11 pm, my water breaks and I'm ready to push. The doctor isn't there yet and they've called the on-call guy. I don't care if the doctor is there or not. I'm pushing. I remember a pause in contractions and just resting for a moment. And a couple more pushes and she was born at 11:30 pm, about ten minutes after the doctor got there. They gave her to me right away. I was on top of the world. I had done it. Hypnobirthing was wonderful. I had a beautiful baby girl. I couldn't wait to do it again. She was beautiful and perfect and high apgar. She stayed in my room with me and we nursed and nursed and nursed (she was a cluster nurser so would nurse for a really really long time and then sleep for a really long time.) Her blood sugar was low when she was born and she had a little bit of formula but barely any. Eric stayed in the room with me. The only problems I had was that I had second degree tearing and I couldn't adjust to the difference in fluid pressures and so passed out whenever I stood up. I distinctly remember hearing the roaring in my ears. So I couldn't go to the bathroom and they were worried about my bladder being too full which can cause too much bleeding and I had lost a fair amount of blood already. So they did a catheter which kind of worked. And ultimately I laid on a bed pan. My uterus was firm enough, too. So I just stayed up most of the night watching my baby and loving every moment of it. Gemma Winifred. Winifred for my great grandmother. Gemma for St. Gemma and also a name that starts with g like her Mom and her grandmother and also Eric's great grandparents were John and Emma and my grandparents were Gerald and Irma and if you mush all that together you get Gemma.

So that is the Gemma portion of the story. I return to work when she is four months old, two days a week. She does fairly well in daycare. I enter into the most bizarre of all bizarre conflicts with my boss at work and ultimately decide to leave that job. I felt that I had to love my job and the work situation enough to make up for leaving my baby at daycare and after that conflict and foreseeing the future effects of the conflict, it just wasn't enough. That was really hard for me because I had truly loved my job. But the relationship with my boss and where she was heading, just wasn't the right thing. I worked out of my home for a bit. I knew I wanted a second baby so that Gemma wouldn't be like an only child, being ten and twelve years younger than her brothers. And I knew that I didn't want to work really hard to build up my practice then go on maternity leave again. My work life was on hold. So Oona's conception was wrapped up in that conflict - the conflict between my work and being a mother and finding a balance between the two. And it was pushed a little ahead in time because I left my job and was in limbo. If things had been different, we would have waited a bit longer. Gemma was about nine months old. I planned on tandem nursing. I had had a few cycles and we went ahead and went for it. I could also sense Oona out there waiting for me to be ready though she wasn't quite ready yet. Then she was and I was pregnant and my milk dried up and I had to wean Gemma because she would not take a sippy cup at all and I did not have any milk left. I was excited to be pregnant and happy about having another baby. But it wasn't the top of the world. There was some compromise there. I had absolutely no energy. I did a couple massages a week, got Gemma food, changed her diaper and that was all I could handle. I couldn't clean, cook, do laundry. I was a mess. My Dad came out, even, because he wasn't employed at the time and helped do laundry and take Gemma for a couple walks so I could REST. Second trimester was better. I cooked a lot of double meals and put the extras in the freezer. Then right before Christmas at 22 weeks pregnant I started getting regular five minute contractions that wouldn't go away until I had rested for several hours and they started up again if I did any activity. I did NOT want to be on the meds again so put myself on partial bed rest. Gemma and I read a lot. I knitted and crocheted a ton. It was one of the hardest things I ever did because you don't feel that daily sense of accomplishment. You succeeded in incubating a baby for one more day which is huge but doesn't feel huge when you're in it. We rented the series Monarch of the Glen. The boys had to help out a ton, vacuuming, dishes, you name it. Eric had to do a ton. I would see Eric for about twenty minutes a day as he was trying to keep it all together. And I would sit on the couch and watch it all go by. Knitting and crocheting saved my sanity. I also did some homeopathics which helped a lot. My doctor let me do daily blood sugar tests instead of taking the awful sugar tests. I had gestational diabetes again and this time, it couldn't be diet controlled and I went on meds, though not insulin. Having gestational diabetes makes your pregnancy considered to be high risk. I had considered switching to a mid-wife if I had a low risk pregnancy but with my history and with my pregnancy being considered high risk, I decided to stay with my OB. It was a hard winter with a lot of snow and I went a period of six weeks without going further than my front porch except to go to the doctor's office. My friendships from my old job weren't strong enough to withstand not seeing each other regularly at work. I was really completely isolated. I make it to 36 weeks. Yay! I made it! I take myself off bedrest because I don't want to go post-term. I start moving and walking, slowly. I start to dilate and am three centimeters dilated. I have so much false labor it isn't even funny. I try homeopathics, walking, sex, nipple stimulation, spicy food, acupuncture, blue cohosh (which doesn't work this time). I did visualizations. When I did my visualizations I saw this darkness blocking Oona from being born. During acupuncture, this cleared but she still felt really hung up to me. Something was happening that was keeping her from fully engaging the cervix. Finally, I hit the day where I'm scheduled to be induced, April 25. I'm so disappointed. I thought there was no way I could have gotten to this day with all the contractions I had and being dilated for so long. But I showed up at the hospital. The only thing I question is whether I could have pushed Dr. Fern to let me go longer. They don't want to break my water because her head isn't fully engaged and there's a chance the cord could fall through and cause problems for the baby. So they start the IV. I do my self-hypnosis. I have contractions and they get really close together but they were nothing to write home about. Dr. Fern comes in and wants to break my water and almost gets there and it's really uncomfortable and I say no, it doesn't feel right so he doesn't push it. I go to the bathroom. I walk around the room. I get bored. I fully expected things to take off because that is what my sister experienced and because Gemma's labor was so fast. I sit on the birth ball and focus on engaging Oona's head with my cervix and envisioning my cervix opening to help things move along. Oona's heart rate dips quite a bit several times and the nurse comes in and wants to put a monitor on her head. We try some different positions and with my laying on my side, Oona's heart rate is fine. I lose it and become super emotional. All the natural birthing books say that not being able to move makes labor stop so I feel doomed. I have to lay down to keep the baby safe and now the nurse wants to put a monitor on the babies head to make sure it is doing okay. I'm doomed, this is horrible, I can't handle it. I cry, I try to get Eric to understand, he doesn't seem to get it. Finally, Dr. Fern comes in and explains it to me and I do better. I say no to the monitor unless Oona shows more signs of distress and he is fine with that. I have to continue to lay down to keep Oona from showing signs of distress. I finally let him break my water. I'm getting really tired from the drama of the day at this point. The contractions automatically become five times as strong as before they broke my water. I can't relax into them and this is when the effect of the pitocin became too much. I couldn't relax and I couldn't anticipate the contractions as well because something from outside of me was controlling them. I very clearly in my mind knew I needed an epidural. I couldn't relax and I was getting exhausted. It was very matter of fact and I asked for one and the anesthesiologist happened to be right there and she set me up and I lay down on my back for it to take effect and was able to relax and in that space of time my dilation completed and Oona was in the birth canal. The nurse put in a catheter and drained my bladder which I was thankful for. I pooped on the table - geez, I thought I was already empty but nothing I could do about it. I still had enough feeling that I felt the poop come out and could feel my contractions and that Oona was in the birth canal but I kept quiet. The nurse wanted to put the monitor on Oona's head and went to do it and Oona's head was right there which really surprised the nurse. She called Dr. Fern and I got ready to push. Maybe four pushes later, her head was out and Dr. Fern told me to stop because the cord was pretty tight around her neck. He cut her cord then which tells me it was too tight to unwrap without cutting it. And then she came the rest of the way out and the cord was around her wrist as well. No wonder I felt like she was hung up. She was! A nurse practitioner said she was accessorizing which helped me laugh about it. She was born at 5:56 pm after twelve hours of being at the hospital. I held her right away and nursed her but could tell something was off. They tested her blood sugar and it was really really low and they took her to the NICU and put her on an IV. I was stitched up for slight tearing and had a mole that had gotten really big removed from down there and then I got settled in a room. They took me up in a wheel chair to NICU and I nursed Oona. The NICU doctor told Eric that if I insisted on nursing exclusively that Oona would be in there for two weeks. It can be hard for babies to regulate their blood sugar if their mom had gestational diabetes and glucose feeds their brains so their brains can be starved if their blood sugar gets too low. But I nursed her for as long as she wanted every three hours and her blood sugar stabilized in two days and she didn't need to be supplemented at all. Thank goodness for that. It was hard to have Oona in the NICU instead of with me. It delayed our bonding and Gemma couldn't meet her and the boys couldn't meet her. And it was really hard to have been induced. When I ask whether it was in my best interest to be induced, I get a decided "no." But when I ask whether it was in Oona's best interest for me to be induced, I get a decided "yes." I have grief about how Oona's birth went, but deep down, I know it was what she needed and I have learned to trust my gut.

I have had it come up that Oona only had low blood sugar because they didn't let me eat at the hospital. I did eat a really big breakfast before I went (in spite of being told not to) and they did let me have some soup. I think it did make her blood sugar lower than it would have been but Gemma also had low blood sugar and I had had a full meal five hours before she was born and wasn't hungry during the labor at all. Then it came up that she only had distress because I had pitocin. Well, yes, the pitocin probably added to the stress but maybe her cord had something to do with it. There are babies who are born with the cord wrapped around with no ill effect. It just depends on how tightly the position of the baby and the shape of the mom's pelvis and location of the placenta and everything else. I chose the care I chose to help protect my baby and myself and if I were to do it again, I would make the same choice, even though the outcome wasn't exactly what I would have hoped for for myself and for Oona. I believe that it was right to take the gestational diabetes seriously, especially in Oona's case because I couldn't control it with diet and almost had to go on insulin in the end. Gestational diabetes isn't that big of a deal if you can control it with diet but if you can't, it can cause serious problems for the baby. Contracting a lot before term without any cervical change could have been no big deal but it also could have been pre-term labor and a preemie baby which can be a really big deal. I think the precaution of resting and listening to my body and keeping myself from having frequent contractions was a wise decision. The only think I would have done differently is ask the doctor for another week. But I didn't because I thought it was impossible for me to go post-term when I was already dilated so much and having had sooo many contractions.

Oona Cecilia - Cecilia for Eric's Dad's aunt who was killed in an airplane crash and Oona because we were trying to find a name that went nicely with Gemma and when I read the name Oona to Eric and he said it back to me, there was a bubble in my stomach like Oona was telling us that was her name. She came home Sunday afternoon and slept in her car seat and spent time with Dad while Mom and Gemma had special time together and Gemma cried and let her Mom know she was mad that she had been gone and then went and brought an interloper in. After Gemma got it all out, she did really well and loved her baby sister. My Mom came the next week and Eric took off for a couple conferences. And we all adjusted to being a big family now - four kids.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Pat is vacuuming and did it without anybody asking him to. A huge huge huge help and I am so grateful. And it's so very very cool that he just started doing it. I was about to do it grumpily and out he came with the vacuum cleaner and away he went and cheerfully, too. Some lady in the future is going to be very lucky. And a lesson to me how good it feels when somebody cleans up and is cheerful about it - which is a particular challenge of mine. Well, both are challenging - cleaning is challenging for me and cleaning cheerfully is almost impossible. Something to practice, though, because it does feel really nice.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the welcome home of all welcome homes

On arriving home from work last night, both babies started crying. Gemma took a break and gave me a big hug and showed excitement to see me. In the end, I just laid down on the floor and had two screaming babies crawling all over me. I figured they were mad about something and who can blame them when I've been gone all day. It's not the most relaxing way to end your day, though.

Three nights ago, I decided to do an experiment and put the side of the crib back on Oona's crib. The first night she was up for about a total of three hours. And then the same thing happened the next night. Last night, I took the side of the crib back off and returned the crib to the side-car position and Oona did much much much better. I, of course, start wondering when I'm ever going to get to sleep in my room with no babies in it. I mean Gemma was sleeping by herself in her crib next to our bed when she was Oona's age and moved into a toddler bed at the other side of the room shortly thereafter, so why can't Oona do the same thing? I guess this is another reminder that just because they're sisters doesn't mean they're they same. And sleep is a precious commodity so you do what you do to get the most possible. I'm really really really really really looking forward to when Oona and Gemma will share a room and my room will be my room once again. In that way, it's the same as being pregnant. By the time the baby comes out, you're really ready and don't care about being in labor. So by the time it's time for Oona to go into her own room, I will be really ready so won't be so sad, though I'm sure I'll be a little sad.

On another note, we're excited to get visitors this coming weekend. My sister and her family are coming as a mid-point in a quite ambitious camping trip.I'm going to make sure my camera batteries are charged and hope to get some good pictures. It will be really nice to see my sister.

Friday, June 26, 2009


In the fairy tale about Rapunzel, Rapunzel's mother sees rapunzels in the witches garden and must eat them or she will surely die. I am feeling that way right now about chocolate. If I don't eat chocolate, I will surely die and wither away into nothing. Rapunzel's mother wants rapunzels so badly that she ends up trading her baby for them. Rapunzel then belongs to the witch who locks her away in a tower. What is the price I would pay for chocolate right now? Good question...

and so the wheel turns

I think the girls are transitioning into daycare pretty well. Gemma's teacher told me that Gemma will hold onto her necklace when she's stressed out. Yay! I'm really glad that that idea worked out so well. Both girls seem a little over-stimmed at the end of the day but other than that, they seem to be having a fun time overall. And with them in daycare, my practice is starting to take off. I don't have an opening right now until July 9! I'm doing my best at believing/hoping/trusting/praying that this will continue. I love the work I do, I feel like I have a gift for it and feel blessed that I am able to do the work, even if only part time. And from a purely material perspective, it will help hasten our debt elimination program if I continue to stay full.

More transitions, I almost feel in no-mans land amongst all the changes going on. Jack will be a freshman in high school this fall (yikes!) and Pat will be in seventh grade. They are growing like weeds. Jack regularly eats an obscene amount of food (as in five whopper juniors in one sitting or two dozen doughnuts in one weekend) and is as thin as a rail. Pat is debating about cutting his hair. I don't think he should because I have very clear memories of him getting so upset when it was time for a hair cut. His memory of that is a bit fuzzier and all he can think of now is hating his curls. I think they're awesome. How often do you see a half-Japanese with curly hair? Gemma keeps sneaking off and sneaking in binky time and jumping half out of her skin when you catch her doing something she knows she shouldn't be, lol. And Gemma is starting to talk more. It's still quite difficult to decipher what she is trying to say, though. Oona is so different from Gemma. She's becoming a real toddler and is into EVERYTHING. Gemma was content to look at the pen in it's entirety. Oona needs to pull the cap off and see what it does and what it tastes like, etc. Oona is also experimenting with saying words which Gemma did not do at this age. Basically, Oona is an experimenter and Gemma is an observer. I was lucky Gemma wasn't this way since I was on bed-rest at the same age Oona is now. I saw myself in the mirror and looked pregnant to myself. If it was likely that I could have an easy pregnancy, I wouldn't be so freaked out by the thought. My cycle is still weird since I'm nursing Oona. I'm also hoping that that transition smooths out soon.

Another current favorite time is coming home from work and being smothered and covered in little girl/baby kisses. :) wish I had a picture of that. And little things you observer, like Oona walking around saying something that sounds like poop and blowing raspberries on my arm or cheek. And Gemma asking questions and then saying "wow..." And the girls playing together - and fighting with each other. And how instantaneously they stop crying the second I pick them up. They must really love their Mama.

and so the wheel turns...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jack's picture

Sharing an art project of Jack's. I thought it was pretty cool. It's supposed to represent Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.

Transitions and other stresses

It has been quite a few days. I was just trying to get Oona to go to sleep and in complete frustration and exhaustion, I gave up and put her in her bed by herself. She isn't crying. Will this work???

Yesterday, we took Eric to the ER because he got hit in the eye with a strand of ivy while weeding. Who knew you should wear goggles while weeding? The eye is just bruised but bruised eyes (bleeding in the white of the eye) look way worse than they actually are. Poor guy. Also, took the babies with us to the ER because the boys are not ready to babysit for an indefinite period of time. You never know how long it will take at the ER - three and a half hours in our case. Having the babies there and trying to keep them entertained certainly added to the stress of the visit. And did I mention this trip happened during lunch and nap-time? Schedules got a bit re-arranged.

Gemma had her first big girl haircut on Friday. What a milestone! Also, at her daycare, they don't want her to have her binky. Why should whether she has a binky or not be determined by her daycare? It shouldn't. But at the same time, she is getting old enough that it is a bit of a social taboo to still have a binky. None of the other kids at daycare wear their binkies and they can't bring security blankets/animals/etc, either. So since this was adding stress to an already stressful situation, Gemma being at daycare in the first place, I decided to take Gemma's binky away except for bed-time and nap-time. Since her binky is her security and she feels naked without it, I came up with the idea of making her a crocheted necklace to wear instead. The transition is overall going well though she is having more melt downs and is peeing in her diaper more instead of in the potty. But that seems normal to have a bit of backwards progress when a stressful transition is being made. Another contributing factor in deciding to take Gemma's binky away is that she is a bit slower than some in speech and being able to say what she is thinking. Hopefully she'll talk more and be easier to understand with the binky gone.

Here's a picture of the necklace.

And just in case you were wondering, Oona didn't fall asleep by herself and started crying and now I'm holding her and she's still not going to sleep and I'm getting ready to pull hair out, my own hair that is.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I survived the first day of daycare

And I think the girls survived, too. Gemma was a little shell-shocked. Both were incredibly clingy at the end of the day, Oona especially. I kept wanting Gemma to give me a big hug and tell me about her day but she's not verbal enough yet and I think she was still just a tad mad at me for leaving her to fend for herself amongst the wolves. Bath time was melt down time so I climbed in the bath with them and they both sat in my lap and cuddled in the bath. That was nice.

I worried all day and felt like I couldn't get enough information out of my husband who picked them up or out of Gemma who wasn't talking. I did go to nurse Oona at nap-time and heard one cute story. Both Gemma's class and Oona's class were playing outside at the same time and Gemma came over and patted Oona on the head and then ran off and started playing again. So that comforts me a little bit - evidence of sisters hanging in together and of both girls playing and enjoying themselves. I think they had some melt-downs, too. In Oona's class, all the babies were so excited about a new baby, they swarmed her and Oona got a little overwhelmed. In Gemma's class, they didn't swarm her and kind of ignored her. They all knew the routine and followed it and Gemma didn't so felt a bit lost. I guess she didn't eat any lunch, poor girl. Eric said Gemma seemed a bit shell-shocked/stressed out in the afternoon after he picked the girls up. But Gemma tends to be a cautious, shy little girl. She's not one to jump into the fray. But she'll be fine once she knows the routine, or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

To my girls: I'm so sorry to send you to a scary new place and then leave you there. I'm trusting that the resilience of childhood will keep you in good stead. Thank you for going through it, as it gives me the opportunity to do work that I truly love to do though it cannot compare to how much I love you. I hope you make friends and learn a lot. And I'm really glad I get to be with you the other five days of the week.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

philosphical "deep" thoughts

Been thinking about questions of whether there is a right and wrong, truth and falsehood, black and white. If you go too far in one direction, everything is true and good, everything is right even in its' wrongness and nothing is black and white, all is in the gray zone. But if you go too far the other way, your definition of what is true becomes so narrow and rigid and ignores the different faces of truth. There's a story of a group of blind men defining what an elephant is. One says it's like a fan, another like a tree trunk, another like a rope, another like a hose and another like a wall. They're all correct in their perception but they're not entirely correct because they're not "seeing" the whole elephant. Since we are all blind in one sense, we can believe that what we perceive is true, but we must also acknowledge that we might be missing the other side or end of the elephant.

I'm reading Madeleine L'Engle's book "Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art." She talks about how she believes that atheist artists who produce true art can be closer to God than some artists that profess to being Christian which makes me think (in my own round about stream of consciousness) of the saying "all roads lead to Rome." I talked to my husband about this (who is WAY more knowledgeable about this topic than I am and is a clearer thinker and has thought about it WAY more than I have) and he says, yes all roads lead to Rome which means you can't judge somebody for being on a different path than you - the gray zones of everybody is right - but that they all do lead to the same place which indicates that there is an absolute truth of some sort - the black and the white - that we're all striving towards. So how do you wrap your head around there being one absolute truth but an infinite number of ways of arriving there. There is some paradox there. Which brings me back to the elephant and the blind men. I fully acknowledge being blind and often I go in circles, seemingly endlessly in my quest to reconcile this rope I feel on one end and this hose I feel on the other.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Money - the funnest topic to discuss...

Today is day two in the spending no money plan so that we can get rid of debt Dave Ramsey style. We're doing the Total Money Makeover. We couldn't do much about our basic bills but our variables like groceries, gifts, clothing, extras are very variable. I was pretty shocked when I pulled up how much we spent on gifts last year. We're pretty generous with ourselves and others relative to our income.

The idea for this plan mostly came from my husband. I was mostly content to float along month to month, make ends meet, and consistently pay off the debt at a monthly rate. Most of our debt is what most people consider "good debt." We have a home equity loan, student loans, mortgage and a very small smattering of credit card debts (which were going to be paid off by the end of the summer anyway.) My husband, on the other hand, hates being in debt and spent most of his adult life debt free with money in the bank. My first reaction to the plan was mega-stress thinking "I can never buy fill in the blank (yarn, clothes, books, extras, vacations) ever again." I made some last minute yarn purchases so feel better in that regard. I have a lot of yarn. Once I get it all in the mail, I'll take pictures and post them so that I can be reminded of how much yarn I really do have. Anyway, now I'm used to the idea and am looking forward to being on the other side of it. It will be hard but after seeing where we were blowing money and where we can cut corners, it is feeling more and more possible to be debt free. Our monthly bills for student loans combined adds up to $650 a month and it would take another fifteen to twenty years to pay them off. I think we'll have a party once those are paid off.

One thing I like about the plan is that you pay off the smallest balances first instead of focusing on the highest interest loan. You do this because it gives you the feeling of success sooner which makes it easier to keep with the program and not slide back into old spending habits. Our highest interest loan is our biggest and is my student loan from the Conservatory. Thinking of working on paying that loan off is emotionally paralyzing and is probably why trying to pay that one down first has never worked. That loan represents a mass of emotional confusion. I try to persuade myself that it wasn't a complete waste of money. That having a Masters Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in French Horn Performance has enriched my life somehow in spite of the fact that I rarely pick up my French horn and have no real plan to be really active as a musician, though it might be fun to play some down the road. Then I feel really guilty about bringing that kind of debt into my marriage. So every time Eric and I have talked about paying off debt in the past, the focus has been on that student loan and I've become a puddle of guilt and the weight of failure and waste and wrong choices regarding getting that degree which I really don't use all paralyzes me emotionally and makes the thought of paying off that debt hugely overwhelming so I go shopping to cheer myself up (convincing myself that I'm only buying stuff I need or that doesn't cost very much) and lo and behold we don't have any extra money to pay extra on the loan. Funny how that happens. So now we'll get our momentum going on less emotionally stressful loans and I'll feel like it's possible and we will make that loan go away and will save a ton of money on interest. Just think what we could do with an extra $650 a month!

I think this is another "welcome to being a grownup" thing, learning and practicing self-denial now so that we can have more money to spend in the future. Our culture is not very good at delayed gratification. We deserve it, why wait, we'll have enough money to pay it off. The long term of this money plan we're doing is that we'll only buy cars with cash (which boggles my mind) or pay cash for home improvements. Every purchase will be made with money that we have. Isn't this what we try to teach our kids by having them save up their allowances? They can't buy their coveted toy until they've saved enough money. Well, now to hold myself to that same rule. It's going to be hard but gratifying.

Friday, May 29, 2009

because my sister is awesome....

My sister Anne makes, in my opinion, way cool tea pots, vases, etc. They're whimsical and fun and beautiful. She just put up a web-site so here's a plug.

And my cousin, Becky, designed the web-site.

All my other sisters, Colleen, Molly, and Helen are also awesome. :)


Since, I've been especially whiney on my blog of late, here's a non-whine post. I finished Eric's socks and they turned out quite nice. I love wearing hand-knit socks and so does Eric, but they're not my favorite thing to knit in the world. But I was determined to finish these. And I'll have to continue to be determined if I want to wear hand-knit socks in the future. :)

These are the Caesar Check Socks from Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks book. I used Knitpicks Essential Navy and Blue/Brown twist. The color contrast isn't super striking but I think it's nice for a man's sock. And Eric brought them on his trip with him to wear so that is a good sign that they will be enjoyed.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

poop on the floor continued

Guess what... Gemma can take the special nap time diapers off by herself... She wasn't supposed to be able to do this. This means the poop on the floor problem is still a problem. And I know Gemma is stressed about it because little-miss-regular-poops-at-least-once-a-day is going every other day. Sigh.... So far potty training is not very high up there on my favorite parenting tasks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

more poop on the floor

And this time she stepped in it. Oy! I don't know why I neglected to put her "nap-time diaper" on. The nap-time diapers are cloth diapers with snaps that Gemma can't undo on loan from Sarah, a friend. I had some crazy thought that she would call me when she needed to poop or call me when she pooped in her diaper. Silly me! She pooped in her diaper, took her diaper off, poop rolled on floor and then she stepped in it, though I don't know the exact timing of these events. So she finally started crying because she had poop on her foot. I guess I can be thankful that she didn't walk around her room with poop on her foot. I guess?

I think everybody in this family woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning. I haven't been able to complete one single task today without somebody crying, fighting, needing something RIGHT NOW, whining, fussing, arguing, making inappropriate jokes. I haven't helped matters because my patience has been zilch, my temper short, and frustration level high.

Thanks for listening. Sorry to vent. Oh, and there is Oona crying yet again. Poor girl, she is teething. Wish I could have a chocolate martini and watch a dumb movie. Alas, Eric has class. I'm doing bath time by myself and then I'll collapse into bed and pray the boys survive until their Dad gets home to supervise.

Tomorrow is another day and thank goodness for that!

Over and out.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I excel at pity parties...

Yesterday I was thrown into a full blown pity party for one, the kind where I miss "me," the pre-baby/kid me that had time to relax, was skinny (though I didn't think so) and had a clean and controlled apartment (I was the only one making a mess.) This was all triggered by the enormity of work needed to be done around the house and frustrations with that (like a toilet with broken innards) and by my waist and hip measurements being more than my self-image allowed for. With our house, I usually keep blinders on and I just ignore a lot of what needs to be done. With Eric home more during the summer, I try to get more done because the babies can hang out with him while I do things like scrub the sink or tub or organize something (or write a blog entry.) Our house was a rental before we moved in and has been neglected for a very long time. We chip away at it but... So that makes me wish for the controlled environment of my little apartment with only me making a mess. I could clean and it would stay clean. And if it got messy again, there was nobody else but me to blame. On to reason number two for self-pity party, I had a sewing lesson with my friend Meghan yesterday and measured my waist and hips to see what size I needed to make. I'm making myself a very lovely skirt and hope it turns out as lovely as I picture it in my head. I used to be anorexic and less than a hundred pounds back in college days. I know in my head that I'm not fat in the least but I get caught in the "I know I'm not fat but I'm fatter than I want to be" trap and can very easily fall into not wanting to eat so that I can be skinnier - something I watch and guard against. So seeing my waist and hip measurements being more than several inches bigger than they used to be and seeing the number 20 for my size (even though I know that sewing pattern sizes are way different than store bought clothing sizes) just made me fall into the old trap of negative body image and eating disorder crapola. So I sit and writhe and squirm in self-pity and self-criticism.

And then I remember that I wouldn't have this house or this figure if I didn't have the girls and that doesn't even compare to living in an apartment by myself having self-pity parties because nobody loved me (except my family and they didn't count.) I must be unusually gifted at self-pity parties.

So now to get over it and love my house and my body in spite of their faults. What good do pity parties do anyway? Well, I guess they can be a reminder to be grateful but it would be better to remember to do that before starting the whine-fest.

Ten things I'm grateful for (not in order of importance):
1) A little girl named Gemma and
2) a little girl named Oona, neither of whom I can now imagine life without.
3) A home that I will eventually make exactly how I want it.
4) a husband who stretches me to be a better person than I ever would have been otherwise.
5) A teenage boy named Jack and
6) a tweenage boy named Pat who teach me about boyhood and about being popular and being nice, which I had always thought were mutually exclusive.
7) Knitting and crochet and now maybe even sewing - great hobbies where you can make beautiful things and that fulfill so many purposes like relaxation, meditation, creativity, excitement.
8) Friends - I feel very very lucky and blessed in my friends right now, especially my Mom friends.
9) A reasonably healthy body which if I treat right will be even more healthy.
10) A career path that is flexible enough that I can be there for the babies and have time away to follow my own goals.

See, I really am quite lucky and blessed.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Poop on the floor

As any parent of toddlers and babies knows, poop is a common topic of conversation. "So, honey, did junior poop today?" "You would not believe the amount of poop that just came out of that baby!" You know what I mean. Non-parents would wonder why in the world would somebody blog about poop?

Enter Gemma's room after quiet time. Blankets, books, clothes piled all over the floor, pulled this way and that by a restless two year old who doesn't want to nap. Potty chair sitting on the floor, lid open, empty, purposefully left there by Gemma's Mama, namely me. Gemma laying on the floor with the chair cushion, removed from the chair, as a pillow and a blanket covering her. Gemma is wearing a shirt and two dresses, one on top of the other. Next to Gemma on the rug? Poop, a complete turd and a partial turd, thankfully not stepped on or otherwise disturbed or at least seemingly so. What else is on the floor? A removed diaper which has evidence of pee in it. On the chair cushion and soaking through her dresses? Pee. Smeared on the inside of her dress? Poop.

How in the world do you potty train a two year old who takes off her own diaper, refuses to sit on the potty, refuses to put her pee or poop in the potty and when asked where her poop and pee goes calmly replies "in my underwears?" How do I stay sane while trying to explain in no uncertain terms that pee and poop do not go in underwear (or on the floor for that matter) and that they need to go in her potty? All of this just reminds me of the fact that you cannot control the uncontrollable, least of all a willful two year old, and that fact is very extremely frustrating!

She won't be pooping on the floor when she's eighteen. Right?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

in shock - in a good way

I was so prepared for night weaning to be extremely challenging. This was Oona, you know - the baby who woke up at 9, 11, 1, 3, 4, 6, 7 like clockwork for months and would squirm and cry and hit me in the face if I didn't comply and let her nurse. Our night last night - and just to remind you that this was only the third night of our night weaning program: Oona went to sleep around 7:30 after bath and nursing. She fell asleep with me holding her. I put her in her crib (side-car to our bed). I woke up at 12:30 completely shocked that she hadn't gotten me up yet. I went back to sleep. Oona woke up and nursed at 3 am. I put her down and she went back to sleep by herself. Then she nursed again at 6 and again went back to sleep - by herself (even more shock!). Gemma woke up at 8:20, also waking me up and Gemma and I woke up Oona a couple minutes later. I haven't had this much sleep for I can't even remember how long.

Now, I hope that I didn't just jinx myself, knock on wood! How sweet it would be if.... Must not get my hopes up too high, it was just one night.... But oh, am I so thankful.

Friday, May 15, 2009

night weaning night one

We had our first night of night weaning last night following the on-line article by Dr. Jay Gordon. I was fearing the worst and though it wasn't easy it wasn't nearly as hard as my fears built it up to be. (Thanks to all thinking of me - it must of helped!) Oona only cried for a couple minutes each time so I didn't have to listen to a screaming baby. (Big sigh of relief...) She definitely was mad, but seemed to get over it quickly. I did have to hold her hand while she tossed and turned trying to fall asleep and that took a lot longer than nursing her and cuddling her to sleep ever takes, but... it was only half an hour at a time instead of hours at a time like I feared. I also have to blame my exhaustion today on not sleeping well because I was worried about Oona and her hating me for the rest of her life and because I had too much decaf coffee and that makes my legs jump at night. I know, I know, what kind of person can't sleep after decaf? I inherit the caffeine and sugar genes from my mother so I both have somebody to blame and somebody that sympathizes. :)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

the joys of vacuum shopping

This is the story of a vacuum cleaner, or actually several vacuum cleaners. Back in the day, Eric and I both had vacuum cleaners. We joined households and he kindly allowed me to keep mine (possibly a mistake?) and we got rid of his. He had a canister vac, mine was an Eureka upright. That vacuum died shortly later. Eric prefers canister vacs and we had quite a bit of hardwood floors in our last house. We had a vacuum demoed at our house and loved it, but not the price. Enter next player, vacuum player number 2. Since we couldn't afford the cadillac vacuum cleaner, we opted for a Hoover canister vac available at Costco. This one worked well overall. It was a bit tricky to get bags, though. You couldn't hop over to your nearest hardware store or Wal Mart but either had to go to the Hoover store or order on-line. Jack, age 12 at the time, started vacuuming as one of his chores and several times neglected to tell us that we needed new bags (which was a PITA). Jack was also not very kind and gentle to the vacuum as he was rushing to get his job done and the vacuum broke - where the head joined on to the wand, the plastic snapped. Enter vacuum number 3. Since we didnt' want to pay an arm and a leg and also didn't want to buy a vacuum cleaner that would make us really mad if it were broken, we got a Dirt Devil bagless vacuum. After our experience with bags with the Hoover, bagless seemed perfect. Then the belt broke. Then it didn't do a good job. Then the switch to make it stand up broke. Okay, lesson learned, right? So my sister got an Oceanblue Vacuum and loved it. Rainbows are essentially the same. Enter vacuum number 4. We couldn't afford the full price of a Rainbow but found a less expensive one on ebay - a floor model. We nervously ordered it and were very excited about it. We used it. It was so great. Then it stopped after one hallway. The guy who sold it to us offered to fix it free (including free shipping). I had since read some Rainbow reviews which are very mixed - love them, hate them. But we got it fixed anyway, thinking if it worked, we'd be out only time, not money. We got it back. Two weeks ago, I used it and it worked great. It did get hot, but it was fine. Eric used it today and it stopped working ... again. It is packed in its box to be returned. So now we have three vacuums in our house and none of them work. We still want a canister vac because Eric prefers those and they're good when you have a mix of hard wood and carpet. So today, I run to Sears in between work and nap-time and we pick up a Kenmore Canister vacuum. They have reasonably good reviews on-line. My favorite were the Miele vacuums but they're twice the cost of the Kenmore ones. Also, a lot of people love their Dyson's but I've read on-line that they end up in the repair shop frequently because of clogged filters, etc. So now we have a not too expensive Kenmore canister vacuum from Sears (you buy bags and do repairs there) which I pray continues working for a very long time and that this will be the end of the vacuum saga. Who knew vacuums could be so stressful? Welcome to being a grownup.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

potty training

At Mama's group the other day, I asked for advice about potty training Gemma. I got a bunch back, some helpful and some less helpful. It's hard to give advice when it's different for every kid. It's turning out to be an interesting process. In fact, just as I started writing this post, Gemma started taking her diaper off - while she was peeing, thus getting pee all over the place. Obviously, she's starting to get it but she has yet to put her pee in the potty. When I suggested she sit on the potty this morning (night time diaper completely dry) she refused and cried really hard. When she knows she needs to pee, she asks to put a diaper on. She pees in her diaper, takes it off and then hands it to me. But then three days now, the first day being the day I was asking for advice, Gemma has put her poop not in her diaper. She made it in the potty twice and on the floor once. Progress, right? Let's hope so. I was so proud of her with the first poop. Something tells me, though, that once she gets it, she'll get it and have few accidents. This girl does not fit the typical mold, that's for sure!

Here's a picture (word picture that is) of our morning. Tired (exhausted) Mama sitting on a green plastic chair on the deck in the woodsy and messy backyard, crocheting a hat - a project she's not particularly enjoying but wants to finish nonetheless. Two teenage boys having a pine cone war, pine cones flying every which way and boys dodging, throwing, jumping, running. Two and a half year old wandering around eating Saturday candy, repeating the same things over and over again, taking pants on and off, sitting on the potty, getting up again and finally putting a poop in the potty (yay, Gemma!). One year old wandering around, crawling some, taking a few steps here and there, never straying too far from Mama but having fun playing in the dirt. Eric upstairs steadily grading finals - graduation tomorrow, grades due early next week. I sat there thinking that I'd like to remember this moment and noting how I felt like a still point amongst the chaos.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Oona took her first real steps today - ten little tiny ones and completely unassisted. I think she'll be fast once she really gets moving. She still likes to practice walk, holding on to my hand. It's sweet, she's been holding my hand and then Gemma insists on helping out by holding her other hand. As long as Gemma doesn't go too fast, it works out very nicely and is super cute to watch.

Gemma is really working at potty training. Our nap-time adventure was her taking off her poopy diaper by herself, trying to find something to wipe herself with (also getting poop all over her dress), putting on a pair of shorts - with no diaper - and peeing in them. One of these days, I'm hoping way sooner than later, she'll figure it out and put her pee and poop in the potty.

I have registered for my first class in the fall, philosophy 101 at 8 a.m. This is the first step towards becoming a Certified Nurse Midwife. Am I sure I'm doing the right thing? Can you ever be sure that you're doing the right thing? I know I'll combine it somehow with the massage work - craniosacral, etc - that I already do but don't have a clear picture of what that will look like. I have ten plus years, though, to figure it out.

Oona and Gemma will start at their new daycare in June. I really hope I'm making the right decision to have them go there. And Pat will start middle school in the fall and Jack will start high school. And Eric is promoted to associate professor in the fall. New beginnings for all.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Teenage boys

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how strange it is to have two teenage boys. I'm one of five girls and we grew up in neighborhoods where we were really the only kids. Boys were strange. I never understood them and was scared of them and uber shy around them. I had one date in high school (admitting to being a complete nerd, I know) and didn't have a real boyfriend until college. So interacting and observing teenage boys is kind of like observing a completely different species. Add to that I'm their step-mom and was sixteen years old when Jack was born and eighteen when Pat was and it gets even more interesting. I act as their Mom because we have them full-time but it is definitely not the usual set-up. At least it's not like I'm their step-mom and the same age as they are. I would imagine it would be very strange to have your parent married to someone your same age. Actually, I don't really want to imagine that, especially if the kid is still young enough to really need a full-time parent.

I started thinking about it because I just went through a two hour on-line shoe shopping experience with them. Who knew boys could be so picky! Jack, especially can be very very very picky. We finally found a web-site that met all their requirements (cool shoes) as well as mine (reasonable-ish prices, free shipping and one site where both boys could find shoes they liked and one that sold helmets because Pat needed one.) I would never in my life have imagined shopping at The House Boardshop, a web-site I would never have visited if I wasn't step-mom to the boys. And here are the shoes they finally came up with. The black ones are Pat's and the others are Jack's. $40 was my limit so Jack is using his own money to cover the extra. The shoes better be good ones and they better last!

the reason

Now I know the reason why I've been a complete mess. PMS. Holy crampola! I've never ever had cramps this bad. Back pain, almost nauseating, can't move or function, also can't go back to sleep, been sucker punched in the belly cramps. Yucks. So far I've taken a couple Advil which usually (as in used to) do the trick. We'll see. Maybe a trip out to try some Motrin later? As I need to be relatively functional because Eric is away at a conference.

Friday, May 1, 2009

I think I can (or I'm trying to persuade myself that I think I can)

These are all signs that I could be doing better.

1. I'm typing this instead of changing my 2 1/2 yr old's poopy diaper because I don't want to have to deal with wrestling her or persuading her that I need to change her diaper now. I've already told her three times that I need to change her diaper. Surely that is enough.

2. Yesterday I made frosting - the crisco kind with vanilla, almond, and butter flavorings in it - and ate it with a spoon. I also had frosting and graham cracker sandwiches (1/2 inch of frosting on each sandwich).

3. At Costco I bought Ghirardelli Chocolate ($10 worth) and a box of individually wrapped Rice Krispies Treats. And yes, I've already eaten some of them. And these are Costco size packages. I'm going to try not eating them all in one day, though no promises for the weekend.

4. I keep snapping at all four kids (babies and teenagers) for the smallest annoyances. Okay, some of them are not so small but the annoyance/amount of snapping or yelling ratio is a bit off.

5. I don't feel like I have anything to say except to whine. And who wants to be around a whiner? Hey, I don't even want to be around myself.

6. On the way home from Costco, I neglected to buckle Oona into her car seat. I got half way home and realized this. I stopped right away and buckled her in and I was incredibly grateful that nothing happened. But it is scary when you do something like this.

7. I've been having quite a bit of pelvic pain but my fertility signs are not clear. What in the world is my body trying to do?

8. I keep distracting myself by spending hours on ravelry or just on the internet aimlessly searching for something, anything, that will keep my interest long enough to be able to ignore all the housework, etc, that needs my attention.

I am in desperate need of the following: sleep, an infusion of patience, my hormones to figure themselves out, and for everybody to do what I think they should do exactly when I think they should do it. Just kidding on that last one. Seriously though, the sleep and hormone issues are being really problematic. Sugar isn't helping but it's so hard to stop when you're hormonal and exhausted. I really really really wish Oona would just be one of those babies that just slept through the night through no effort of mine. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case. Two more weeks. I can make it two more weeks. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Jack's poem

Have I mentioned the challenges of parenting teenagers? This poem is awful and wonderful at the same time. It's clever and well written and made me chuckle. And it's just sooo teenage boy. And I can't believe that Jack wrote it - both in a good way and a he should get in trouble way. Charming, isn't it? (special note: Jack is actually quite respectful of girls and women and this poem is meant to be funny and does not reflect his feelings - just his sense of humor.)

Love Poem

You think you're hot
You're not
You have the eyes of a doll
The ones from Chucky, that's all

I love how you carefully look for your dog, the mutt
I say, "hey look behind you, lady; it's stuck on your butt."
Smothered in poodle urine is thy handbag
It could probably make a maggot gag

The greasy, flea bitten scalp of thee
Harbors all of the demons of the sea
I really don't care that your pits could do with a few good prunes
What bothers me is the mushrooms

The way your stretch marks are all in a bunch
It really makes me lose my lunch
You say you're a chick
But I know you have a


Monday, April 27, 2009

babies and computers

Should not be mixed! I left my blog up on the computer earlier today and had to do something across the room and Gemma started clicking away at the mouse. I was busy with Oona and half-heartedly told her to stop. It was kind of cute how she was trying to be like her Mama. Then I went and looked at my blog and all the links and everything were in a different language - Arabic or Persian or Hindi or something, I don't even know. I was NOT happy and I couldn't figure out how to change it back to English. Every time I looked it up on the help menu, I got the answer back in the language I could not read. Not helpful. I finally found something on the help forums but couldn't figure it out because it involved changing something that I couldn't read to know where it was. It is finally fixed! After hair pulling, cursing, yelling etc., Eric is on Blogger so we compared his to mine and figured out which button I needed to push and my blog is in English again and all is well with the world. At least with the blog world. I will never be so nonchalant, though, about babies clicking away with the mouse or typing on the keyboard! Lesson learned... times two hundred.

Teenage boys and how they torture their younger sisters....

Don't worry. They got in trouble....

Happy Birthday, Oona!

Oona got to go to the zoo for her first birthday and though her older sister and brothers probably enjoyed it more than she did, she also had a good time.

She also loved her birthday cake! (note: hotel rooms are impossible to keep tidy with six people in one room.) In the process of eating her cake (no high chair), I became covered in frosting.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And I thought I was exhausted yesterday! - collapses on floor laughing and crying at the same time. This is as bad as when I last had Benneditos Pizza. I am very unhappy with whoever (Gemma?) fed Oona cheese or something else with dairy in it.

Somehow I'll make it through the day. And the boys are in love with night driving because they did that with their Dad a lot when they were little. So I'm compromising and have agreed to leave at 5 am for our road trip tomorrow morning. Which also means I have to have everything packed and ready tonight and travelling with babies is no mean feat!

I'm looking forward to those days of whine and chocolate! lol... Right now, I'd go for a martini. A chocolate martini, or that really yummy ginger amaretto one I had that one time.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sleep troubles

I am pretty sure that Gemma fed Oona cheese yesterday. You want to know how I know? Flailing limbs connecting with various body parts the most painful of which being the boob and the face, squirming, fussing, and a certain baby named Oona wanting to be up seemingly non-stop to chew my nipples off. There is something up with her latch. I don't know if it's because she has a small mouth or if I'm being lazy or what. I try to get her to open as wide as she can. And still I end up with teeth indentations every time I nurse. Oh, I am so tired... I hear my Dad's voice in my ear saying "quit your moaning..." So I apologize for using this blog merely to complain.

My friend Ivory is going through night-weaning with her little one. Her blog cites this article. I am getting absolutely desperate for sleep and plan on joining her in using the sleep plan described in the article. I've even calculated when the first opportunity to try it will be. Eric needs to be done with finals and have his grades turned in because I don't know if I can do it without his support. It will also have to start on a Thursday because I work Tuesdays and Thursdays. So the magic day is May 14. And that seems waaaaaaaaayyyyyyyy to far away. I swear, when you're in that desperate I need to sleep now mode, every movement and whine and fuss feels like a wire rasping on the side of a gong. You have the irritation of the rasping sound but then it reverberates throughout your entire being and it is so incredibly hard to keep your patience. Did you know telling your baby loudly and firmly, allright, yelling at your baby, GO TO SLEEP, is not an effective way to soothe your baby to sleep? Luckily, in spite of Eric's absolute exhaustion, he took Oona for a couple hours and I slept on the couch - with no flailing limbs around to keep me up.

This morning my entire body aches. I'm so thankful for those couple hours of sleep because otherwise I wouldn't function at all, instead of only semi-functioning.

On the docket for the day... Meeting at a daycare we're hoping the girls will be able to go to. (Guilt alert, guilt alert. Do all Mom's feel guilt over leaving their babies at daycare? The boys went to daycare and they're fine. And it is only for two days a week. And it will allow me to work and to take classes one at a time.) Then it is off to Wally world (more low level guilt for supporting a big-box store) to get a new car seat for Gemma (Wal Mart does have the lowest price I could find and my pocket book thanks me) and materials for our upcoming car trip. We've decided to turn Oona forward facing for our trip so she will be using Gemma's old seat. She turns one on Saturday and is more than twenty pounds. I know you're supposed to leave them rear-facing as long as possible but she really is growing out of the infant car seat and I think she'll be a lot happier forward facing (thus making the driver more alert and happy). That is how I persuade myself that it is a good idea, anyway. Wow, you would think I was a tad neurotic or something, wouldn't you? What with all the anxiety about "am I doing the right thing?" I really hope I am. It's so hard to know for sure. And maybe it is completely unavoidable to have your grown up kids talking about how awful you were/are to their therapist and night weaning was just the beginning...