Life is Good

on 29 June 2015

Oh hello.

Sorry about that delay...we've been busy trying not to melt.  The summer is brutally hot, we haven't been hiking, not once, not yet anyway.  I keep watching the weather and hoping for a slightly cooler day to take the kids out, and there are hopeful signs for this week.  In the meantime we've been trying to finish up with school (we took a long break when my wee-est arrived, so we're trying to catch up from that).

My big accomplishment of the week?  I made some decent pictures of my lovelies...



The wee one looks a little worried, but she always looks a little worried when her siblings hold her.  I usually just kiss her and remind her that siblings build character.


Saturdays

on 29 May 2015

I thought you would all enjoy seeing what Saturday mornings look like in Burnstopia...


Children?  check! 

Bed Sweet Bed?  check!

Everyone in their jammies?  check!

Mama?  Only one that's up for the day?  CHECK.


8 Weeks

on 25 May 2015

Holy Moly, t'other Girl is already 8 weeks old!  Wowza did that go fast.

She's already up to 10 pounds and is smiling, which makes her super fun.  The big kids still love her, which is nice, though I sometimes wish they loved her less--my Girl is particularly aggressive in her affection and desire to be helpful.


Chris was trying to get some smiles, but they move faster than high speed technology.  


She screamed herself purple over the shots, and spent the whole day pretty much as you see her.  Crashed out right next to Mama.  

My days are just a blur, and it's incredibly frustrating.  I find myself having to say no to things I don't normally say No to (like, Mama will you read to me? and NAPS).  I keep hoping that it's just this stage, that once she's on a schedule things will get marginally easier, but that hope is wavering.

 ***

I often wish that I could give my children a better world to live in.  A safer world.  So on this Memorial day I'm thinking a lot about the brave men and women who are actually out and doing something about that wish.  Thank you, keep up the fight.

Eleven

on 01 May 2015

So I've been thinking about the Anniversary in Burnstopia lately, and all I can hear is that guy from Spinal Tap saying, "ours go up to ELEVEN."  I don't know why, I'm pretty tired, so maybe that's it.

This year marks 11 years that Chris and I have been married.  Or as he so romantically puts it, "that I have been putting up with his crap."  Which is true, but still makes me laugh.  What really cracks me up and exasperates me all at the same time is his superhuman ability to SNEAK enormous things into our house without me noticing.  I went down to clean up the basement on Monday, and there was this huge storage cart on wheels just sitting there.  I called him to come down and said, "Dude.  What is THIS and how long has it been in our house?!"  At which point he laughed and said, "I didn't want you to think I was taking advantage of you being incapacitated post-c-section."  At which point I laughed and said, "But you totally WERE!"

Anyway...

We've been having an Honest Week around here, wherein he and I are probably a little too honest about our levels of stress, lack of sleep, frustration and discouragement.  But for all that, it usually brings us closer and makes us appreciate each other a little more.  I have to say, he's much more persistent and tenacious than I thought he was when I married him.  Maybe that's why I expected him to leave me for so long.  I figured, Life would get hard and he would leave.  But he hasn't.  And I haven't.  We stay and we keep working and we keep trying and after 11 years we've built a life together.  Some days it feels like it's built out of straw and the big bad wolf could come along any minute and blow us to smithereens, but I also know that if that happens, we'll dust each other off and build the Life again.  Which, now that I think about it, is what marriage is all about.


I tried to find a picture of us together, but there really aren't any.  All of our pictures are of the kids, or one of us with the kids.  Which, in a very genetic sense, is a picture of us together.


A very long day

on 06 April 2015

So I've been putting off telling the Tale of t'Otherest's Birth because it's not terribly dramatic, just a long succession of annoying things that didn't go quite right.

I knew from the beginning that I was heading for another c-section, but when you give up all hope of ever having another baby, you pretty much don't care how they arrive to you when a great miracle happens.  And while I fear and loathe the c-section (for I dislike needles, and there are MANY needles involved, and I really dislike having my skin cut open as well, and that's sort of an integral part of the process too...), I just accepted that it was the way in which we get to have her, and we were so over the moon that we get to have her that we wrote off everything else as inconsequential.

So back in January, my doctor scheduled the c-section and thus began The Dread.  I think scheduled c-sections are probably easier than emergency c-sections, but that doesn't make them easier psychologically.  I knew everything, EVERYTHING that was coming and I had nothing to do for 8 weeks but DREAD it.

Luckily, those 8 weeks were REALLY busy, chock full of dog-sitting and editing work and school with the kids and massive amounts of cleaning and baking in preparation for being out of commission for a while.

The weekend finally arrived and I carefully packed up my two big kids to spend the week with their Nana, and then carefully packed up my own stuff.  My kids went home from church with my sister and Chris and I headed to the hospital for pre-op, then back to pack up our dog, then up to my sister's house for a birthday dinner to fete my nephew who turned 18 this year.  It was a really, really good meal and the perfect way to spend the anxious evening before major surgery.  We talked and laughed and ate and huddled close to each other.  I was so, so grateful to have my family all around me.

Chris and I packed up and headed home to our quiet, childless, dogless house.  We got ready for bed, and I wandered the rooms, straightening and making up beds and putting away laundry and just fidgeting in general, until I could put off  bed no longer.  I didn't expect to sleep at all, but after the busy-ness of the past couple of weeks I sank reluctantly into sleep.

I got up and got ready for the day and Chris and I headed to the hospital.  We were the first case of the day, so we had to be there early.  The night nurse spent a tremendous amount of time finding a good vein for the first of many, many needles, but she did such a great job, I didn't even bruise much from that one.  A long succession of doctors and residents and nurses and nursing students came in and chat with me about the procedures, which does NOTHING to alleviate the nervousness.

Finally, the took me back into the OR for the anesthesia.  And here's where things went weird.  Normally, for c-sections they choose a spinal block, occasionally they'll do a spinal with an epidural combined.  My doctor wanted the combination for my section because he was anticipating an excess of scar tissue that he was going to have to clean up, and he thought he might need more time.   So the resident started trying to place the epidural first.  He poked and poked and poked and I could feel something trickle down my back, which I thought was maybe just some of the medicine, but which turned out to be blood.  Yeah, they pricked a vein and I was bleeding pretty profusely (being a redhead, we're prone to that...).  After 40 minutes the resident (poor guy, he was really nice too) finally gave up and the attending physician took over.  They had also stopped talking to me and were just whispering amongst themselves.  Thank Heavens for the nurses, they talked to me about literature and books the entire time so that even hearing the whispers wasn't as upsetting as it was later on when I told Chris about it.  Even the attending couldn't get the epidural placed, so she ended up placing the spinal, so that we could just get on with it.  It took them an HOUR.  Poor Chris was a nervous wreck by the time they let him come back.  And the reason I know that is that he held my hand the entire time and talked to me.  That's right.  Christopher actually focused on ME in an operating room.

My doctor did a great job with the section.  He asked me before hand what my expectations were and I said, "Well, I really just want to survive the day.  And I really want my baby girl to survive the day.  Otherwise, I have no real expectations."  He chuckled and said, "Setting the bar nice and low there, I think we can do that."  So he worked and worked, and I heard this faint gurgling cry, which was troubling and I looked at Chris and said, "Is she ok?  She's not crying very loudly..."  Chris went to check her out and said, she was just fine.  The nurses gave her good scores and then asked me if I wanted to hold her.

Wait, what?!  They've never let me hold one of my babies during the section before!  So, um...YES PLEASE.

They wrapped her up and brought her over to me and laid her on my chest and I cried and cried and cried.  I had worried over her and prayed over her for so long, and here she was, in my arms, breathing and fine.  It was such a relief that the whole room full of people faded into the background and it was just me and her and Chris and by miracle after miracle we were all ok.

My doctor got me all reassembled and they took t'Otherest and handed her off to Chris so that they could get me back into the recovery room, then I got to have her back.  She and I cuddled and nursed while the nurse took the opportunity to teach her student about breastfeeding, which was fun.  Chris and I were all on our own for this part, for the first time.  Usually, I ask my sister to be there--she's sort of my good luck charm--but I felt that at the ripe old age of 39 it might be time to let go and have a little faith.  We took pictures and sent text messages and made phone calls and otherwise just mooned over our tiny little daughter.

***

This recovery has been positively arduous.  More intensely painful than I remember.  But Chris stayed with me the entire time and that was really nice.  We got home after 4 days in the hospital and the recovery just got harder.  We have entirely too many stairs in our house.  I've been trying to take it easy, but I am really NOT good at taking it easy.  After 4 or 5 days I began to despair that I was permanently broken and would never feel good again.  But after 10 days I started to feel better.  At least now there's some hope that I might eventually feel like myself again.



My other Girl continues to be wonderful (well, both of my Girls are wonderful).  She's happy as long as she's being held, and being an unexpected gift, she is held almost ALL of the time.  The Girl is absolutely in love with her, which is heartbreakingly sweet.  The Boy likes her well enough, but is less enchanted with her than my Girl.  Juggling the three of them is hard (she says, as the Girl comes dancing into the room singing the Star Wars theme song), but it was hard to juggle the two big kids with the longing for one more.  At least now, she's here and we're all together. 


The Week in Review

on 30 March 2015

We're 1 week into having 3 kids and so far so good.  Of course, I didn't get home until Thursday, and I'm in copious amounts of pain, so mostly we do a lot of this:






I need to tell you the story of Her Birth, it has some harrowing moments, but I'm really tired.  I was worried before she was born that I couldn't remember anything about taking care of a newborn, and now I know why.  Because you never get to sleep, so you can't remember anything once it's over.  I promise I'm getting there.

Introducing...

on 23 March 2015

Miss Margaret Alice.



She was born at 9:17 after a long toil on the part of the anesthesiologists.  It's a thrilling tale, but not for the faint of heart and so I shall skip it.  For now.

They let me hold her while they were...um...reassembling things.  I didn't get to do that with my Boy or Girl, so of course I laid there and cried and cried.  She's our tiniest daughter tipping the scales at only 7 pounds 9 ounces, and of course she lost close to a pound in the hospital before my milk came in and we came home.  So none of her clothes (or diapers for that matter) fit her.

But she is an absolute joy.  The Boy and the Girl are already in love with her.  And I can't stop mooning over her.  So please forgive me if it takes a while for me to share...


Growing a Miracle

on 20 March 2015

I've really struggled with this story.  I'm still not quite sure how to tell it, and maybe it's one of those things you only learn by doing, so I'll just try.  I'll probably hate it, but I'm going to try all the same.

Why try?  Because infertility is one of those things that is so deeply personal and painful that no one really talks about it, but strangely, the more others talk about it, the more reassuring it is for the people going through it.

Some background:

Chris and I have what is known as secondary infertility, which means that we were fine getting pregnant with the Boy, but something shifted after his birth which pushed us into Infertile Grounds.  It took us about 2 years to get pregnant with the Girl, and then more than 2 years to get pregnant with t'other Girl. 

During my Girl's delivery, the doctor made note of an excess of scar tissue all around my uterus and fallopian tubes, and it was significant enough that he mentioned it to us in recovery.  He recommended that we not wait for so long before seeking medical attention, there were tests that could be done and minimally invasive procedures that might help. 

So we concentrated on our two darling babes and tried not to worry too much about the future.

Time passed, about a year and a half, and I started to worry more because I'm not gettin' any younger over here.  So in the fall of 2013, I finally screwed up my courage to go to the doctor.  I started with my OB/GYN and she referred me to the Fertility Clinic (because they're the people with the necessary equipment to run the requisite tests etc. etc. etc.).

Then came January.  January of 2014 was when things started to fall apart.  My Grandma passed away on the 21st, and then 2 days later I had to go to the Fertility clinic for a decidedly unpleasant HsG. 

Let's not talk about the specifics of that particular procedure, but rather the results.  They got some lovely images of just how messed up I am on the inside.  It was a banner day for my self-esteem, let me just assure you of that.  And with those images, came rather concrete proof that statistically we weren't likely to ever have any more children.

And when we met with our physician, he expressed a considerable degree of surprise that we had ever conceived our Girl, which is nice.  We already saw her as a miracle, and to have that confirmed by a fertility specialist is nice.  But it's not very reassuring when you're hoping to have more children.  Chris and I stepped on to the elevator to leave the clinic and I cried and cried and cried.

We had consented to have a laproscopic procedure to "attempt" to "restore anatomy" (I revised it to "Fix or Evict") to my ineffective tubes in the hopes that they would indeed be able to make them functional again (or at least not painful).  It was scheduled for March 20th.  And because Chris is occasionally crazy, he used our credit card reward points to book us on a cruise the weekend BEFORE that charming procedure.

So we spent the weekend in the Caribbean, and then came home and I had that little surgery.   

After the surgery, the physician (whom I have come to think of as my own personal Dementor, because he sucked all the hope and happiness out of me) informed us that they were NOT able to restore anatomy, but rather had to remove the offending tube.  The other tube was in tact, but whether it was functional remained to be seen.  He was very honest about the likelihood that we would become pregnant without IVF or some such other intervention, but the odds were absolutely against us.

Now, Chris and I have no moral problem with IVF, or other treatments for infertility.  We just didn't feel like they were good choices for our family.  So we resigned ourselves to our small family, we tried to be grateful for the two amazing kids that we have, and we tried to let go.  I sank into a funk of fairly epic proportions, that wasn't helped by packing up our entire apartment and shifting it into a storage unit and then shuffling around to various locations all summer long.  But oddly, it was helped by Chris' decision to reapply to med school.  It gave us this Big Thing to work towards together.  It focused our attention and gave us a measurable goal to work towards.

And then at the end of July, I was trying to organize everything for our mortgage, and trying to keep my kids from making my sister and her kids crazy, and I was weird.  Grouchy, depressed, tired, anxious and just...weird.  My sister asked me one morning, "Are you pregnant?"  And I scoffed and snorted and said, "Not likely."  But then realized that my period was 4 days late, and I'm never late.  But I chalked it up to stress and took the kids hiking in the hopes that fresh air and dirt and rocks and trees would clear my head.

Two days later I bought a test because...well, I needed to know.  I didn't feel particularly pregnant.  I knew that statistically, it wasn't likely, but also not strictly impossible.  We were taking care of Hogan, so I got up early one morning and took it, and then couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry that it was positive.

***

I know that everyone believes different things, but this is my blog, and my story and so I'm going to do something that I don't often do.  I'm going to tell you outright that there is no other word for this particular pregnancy, than a Miracle.  I know there are people who don't believe in God, or if they do, they don't believe that He works miracles any more.  And to those people, I say, I have some lovely pictures of what my insides look like and the testimony of people who have gone to school for 15 years to study pregnancy and childbirth and they say this Baby wouldn't couldn't shouldn't happen.  And yet.  She did.   We've known from the very beginning that she is a miracle.

***

This pregnancy has been a strange burden to carry.  We moved a week after we found out that we were pregnant, and I've never moved pregnant before.  Sherry kept bossing me around and telling me not to lift anything, not to carry anything, to sit down, to take it easy.  And she could tell you, women in my family don't take it easy gracefully.  So I had some issues early on and we worried that we were miscarrying, but then things got better. 

And 12 weeks later we heard her heartbeat.

And a couple of weeks after that, they told us we were having another daughter.

I kept waiting for the anxiety to dissipate, to feel confident that everything would be fine, but I never have.  I have been more anxious and fearful through this pregnancy than I was in either of the others (and that's saying something because I'm a rather anxious person).  The only explanation I can think of, is that we're so aware that her existence is a miracle, I feel this weight of responsibility to NOT screw this up.

It is a strange thing to be so aware that you're carrying a miracle under your own skin.  And believe me, we know enough about the fragility of human reproduction to believe that all of our kids are miracles, but with cold, hard photographs of what we're working with, she's just different. 

I find it strange that she's due the week after the year mark of that sad, little surgery.  It's been such a strange year, such a strange journey that we've been on.  In some ways I feel like this Girl has already made our family a stronger and more unified force, which is strange since she isn't technically HERE yet.

I fully expected Chris to be distant and uninvolved in this pregnancy (he was absolutely convinced with the Girl that something or everything would go wrong and we would lose her.  To the extent that it wasn't until the delivery room that he said, "Holy cow!  We're going to have TWO kids!"), but he hasn't been.  He's thoroughly enjoyed talking to her and feeling her move.  He loves to come home at night and poke and prod her to wake her up and get her moving and then he laughs at her acrobatics.  Acrobatics that are becoming increasingly painful for the Mama since space is limited in there.  He loves to tease the kids and throw out these truly strange names and ask them if that's what we should name their baby sister.  And they laugh and say, "NO!"

The kids are so excited you would think that Christmas has come all over again.  The Girl shouts (at least once a day), "MY BABY SISTER IS ALMOST HERE!"  She loves to remind me of all the things she's excited to share with her sister, her stuffies and lollypops and cookies and blackberries.  (I try to gently remind her that it will be a while before her sister will need ANY of those things.) And my Boy tells me all the things he's going to do for her, things he's going to teach her and ways he's going to look out for her.  It really is the sweetest thing.

I'm still worried.  As painful as her acrobatics are, I'm grateful for them because I know it means she's still alive and ok.  I want to see her.  I want to hold her and watch her breathing in and out.  I want to know that she's ok.  I want to know that we'll get to take her home and watch her grow up.  And I think part of what makes me so anxious is that, I can't know those things.  Love is a gamble.  It's always a gamble.  Sometimes it works out beautifully and it transforms who we are and the life we lead and the choices we make.  And sometimes it destroys everything in its wake, it breaks hearts and bones and lives and homes. 

For now, I'm trying to breathe deeply and have faith.







The Hero of the Day

on 09 March 2015

We've been taking care of Hogan lately.  The kids really love him, and after such a long winter, they're happy to get outside and run around in the afternoons.  It's just me that's really tired.

We have access to the house via a garage door opener that I keep in my car.  Now, usually, when we go in the afternoon, I get the kids out of the car, lock the car (because I leave my wallet and cell phone in the car) and then put my keys in my pocket.  But last Thursday, for some reason, I set my keys down on the table, while I went to get some food for Hogan and tried to expedite the process so as not to give the kids a chance to trash Ned and Ginny's house.

Hogan was dancing and wanting to walk, so I grabbed his leash and shepherded everyone out through the garage, hitting the button on my way out.  Once the door was down, I patted down my pockets only to discover (to my HORROR) that my keys were NOT in my pockets. 

I ran (well, as best as a 9 months pregnant girl can run) to the car, hoping I had left them in the door (I've done that before).  But no keys, and all doors locked up tight. 

The kids were running around picking up sticks and rocks, meanwhile I was totally and completely FREAKING OUT. 

I stared at the house, almost certain that I had left my keys on the kitchen table, but wondering what on EARTH I was going to do, and how I would get them back.  Chris has a spare key, but Chris was at work and my phone (with his work number in it) was locked in my CAR.  We have a spare key for the car, but it was 5 miles east back in our house, and I had no house key to get IN to my house.  And so I stood for a moment utterly lost in panic.

Then I remembered something.

In less dignified moments, when Chris has found himself taking care of Hogan and locked out of the house, he has...per necessity, crawled into the house through the doggie door.  It's a tight squeeze, but he can manage it.

I am 9 months pregnant, I'm pretty sure I CAN'T manage it.

But I know a 6 year old boy who would fit just PERFECTLY.

So I called the kids back to me and herded everyone into the back yard (fortunately there's a gate), and talked the Boy through crawling through the doggie door and where to find my keys, and to please, please, please listen to Mommy and do exactly what I say to do.  The Boy tried to insist that he would NOT fit through the doggie door, so I told him that DADDY has crawled through the doggie door and Daddy is a lot bigger than You and so I assure you, YOU WILL FIT.

My sweet boy obediently hunkered down and crawled through the doggie door, walked over to the table, found my keys and brought them back to me.  I then opened the garage door and let him out and when I had hugged and kissed on him to within an inch of his life, we all went to walk Hogan. 

I declared him the Hero of the Day and promised to make him whatever he wanted for dinner that night.  This Boy, this boy who cracks me up and breaks my heart and saves the day asked for Macaroni and Cheese.  I teased and cajoled and begged him to let me add some chicken or some broccoli or some hot sauce, but No.  He wanted it PLAIN.

The sweet thing?  He held my hand through the whole walk and periodically stopped to wrap his arms around me and assure me that everything was ok. 

At least once I day, I wonder who is the teacher and who is the student in our household.  I feel fine teaching him grammar and reading and history and some days I feel fine teaching him math, but most days he's the one teaching me about life and love and how to take care of people and what to do when you accidentally lock yourself out of someone else's house.

What is Wrong with Me?

on 05 March 2015

 So when Chris and I bought our townhouse, we grudgingly accepted the fact that we would have to belong to an HOA.  We really didn't want an HOA, but we convinced ourselves that maybe it would be a good thing.  If Chris was going to med school, then maybe it would be easier for me to have a 3rd party to fix things like the roof and the gutters.  And so I have paid my dues, not cheerfully, but in the hopes that it would be worth it in the end.

And then I had to battle with the HOA about our roof.  They were fine paying for the roof repair, but they adamantly refused to do anything about the ceiling, even though the ceiling wouldn't have been damaged if not for the leaking roof.  But that is (sort of) beside the point.  Last night was the first HOA meeting since Chris and I have moved in.  I vaguely wanted to go because I believe that one should Know Thy Enemy, but with Chris at work, I didn't really want to fight the kids to sit through, what promised to be, an incredibly boring meeting.  So I wasn't planning to go.  Then I got this bullying email from the HOA saying that if we couldn't attend we had to submit a signed piece of paper giving the board permission to act on our behalf.  Well, of course I hadn't signed the piece of paper, so after feeding and walking Hogan, the kids and I ate cereal for dinner and headed over to the HOA meeting.

It was just a colossal waste of TIME.  First of all, in NONE of the emails did they say that in order to object to anything you had to have 51% of the owners in attendance, and because there were only 6 owners there, everything is automatically ratified.  So what IS the point?!  If no one is going to come and object to anything or change anything, what's the point of the bullying emails?!  In the HOUR that I wasted there we talked about the budget (that we couldn't change because there were only 6 of us present), we talked about the overflowing dumpster problem, my roof was mentioned (in less than 5 minutes), and then they talked about the Dog Poop Problem.

First of all, there aren't that many of us owners that are actual residents.  Most of the townhouses in our community have been rented out to graduate students, med students or residents.  Most of whom are absent, busy, or don't care.  And most of whom have dogs.  Off the top of my head I can think of probably 15 dogs that live in the neighborhood, and there are probably fewer than 5 that I've seen picking up their dog's poop.  As one of those owners that doesn't pick up her dog's poop (we take Molly down into the game lands or to an abandoned lot to do her business because we don't want to pick up her poop).  I confess myself completely mystified by people's obsession with poop.  Dog poop will BIODEGRADE!  What is people's problem with POOP?!   The guy who owns 2 and doesn't live here, he suggested the DNA sampling thing, and I nixed that one right off the bat as EXTREME, surely there's a middle ground to be had.  And the Control Freak's complaint was that there are people who live across the street and who walk their dogs into our areas to do their business and then the HOA is out the money for that test since none of those people will have registered their dogs.  It was just SO RIDICULOUS.  But it's in the covenants, that all common spaces must be kept sanitary, how one is expected to keep GRASS and DIRT sanitary, I don't fully understand, but that's what the LAW says.  (In order to appreciate the absurdity of this situation you should know that there are NO picnic tables, benches, play ground equipment or even PATHS through any of the meager green spaces in our community.  It's literally just a STRIP of GRASS that we're talking about preserving as SANITARY.)  At every turn I wanted to smart off to them that there are REAL problems in this world and some of us have bigger things to think about than where our dog POOPS.

 More time was spent talking about the dog poop problem than the TRASH problem and to my mind the trash problem is a far bigger deal!  The dumpster is always full to overflowing and there are never enough recycling bins for everything that people want to put in them, and then you add to that the fact that the recycling bins are all mis-labeled, it makes the whole trash disposal area...well...a  mess.

Anyway.  The Control Freak was vaguely defensive when they mentioned my roof problem and The Inept Manager mentioned our roof problem and that she suspected there would be other units with the same problem and the Girl burst out with "There was water coming in EVERYWHERE in my ROOM!"  It was pretty funny because Control Freak shifted around and mumbled something about how it's never been the business of the HOA to fix internal damage and I just glared at him and the Inept Manager because heaven FORBID our communities be invested in doing the RIGHT thing, let's do the CHEAP thing.  He kept coming back to this point that these are people's HOMES and they OWN their HOMES so they should fix things themselves.  Which, I agree with, people should fix things themselves, but then that would render the HOA totally irrelevant, so let's vote to disband that and stop paying dues all together then.  That way, Chris and I can save that money and fix our property how we want.  (We have homeowners insurance, a home warranty AND an HOA...that seems like a LOT of bureaucracy for one medium sized townhouse.  I'd be happy to do away with the resentful, irrelevant and useless one in favor of the two that will actually HELP me.)

It was evident fairly early on that I was not well rested enough to be civilized, so I kept myself largely silent until I got the kids in the car and then I ranted a little bit about 1rst world problems and people not having enough to do with their time if they can CARE this much about POOP.

So my question is this:  What is wrong with me?  I have to work incredibly hard to be a nice person.  To be polite and gracious and to keep a civil tongue in my head.  I stood through that meeting, literally biting my tongue to keep from saying all of the spiteful, mean, vindictive things that kept coming to my mind.  I tried really hard to watch the kids and think Christian thoughts, but I'm telling you, it took every ounce of control I had not to open up a napalm can of MOCK YOU NOW on those people.  And these are my neighbors!  I had to leave early because if I held in those zingers any longer I was just going to EXPLODE.  As it is I came home, put the kids to bed and called my Mom to vent and relieve the pressure!  I'm inclined to think that I was just born to be mean-spirited and that if God made me this way, then maybe He has a use for mean-spirited people and instead of stifling my true nature, I should just let that Mean Girl be free. 

I got up this morning to feed and walk Hogan and then go to my last doctor's appointment before my Girl is born, and discovered that I was STILL mad.  Poor Chris had to listen to me MOCK them all over again because it is ABSURD that ADULTS care this much about dog POOP.

Snow...week

on 26 February 2015

Two winters in a row!  What will I do with myself? 

You all know how I love snow, and winter, and all things COLD.  And yet, I live in the South.  I live in the South because I love beyond all reason a deeply southern man.  A man who is so much a part of the south, he may as well be one of those ancient, gnarled old oak trees that are covered with Spanish moss.  So North Carolina is our compromise.  I couldn't live anywhere further south because I would melt in the heat, and he probably couldn't live anywhere further north because the frozen depths of winter would probably kill his soul.

So the last two winters where we've gotten actual SNOW have been positively delightful.  Of course, snow is a lot more fun when you aren't hugely pregnant, but who's complaining?  The kids had a BLAST, and the fact that Chris stayed home from work (there was a car skidded out and blocking the exit to our little neighborhood, so no one could get in or out) and played with them just made it all the better.

Get this...the three of them built their first ever snowman.  My 35 year old husband had never built a snowman before.  It might have been the sweetest thing I'd seen for quite some time.




We shall not discuss the laundry...

Back to the Beginning

on 20 February 2015

Did you think I had forgotten about you?

No, no.  But I have been sulking.

I have not blogged about Christmas eve, or Christmas Day, or my Girl's 3rd birthday, or my own birthday, or this pregnancy, or Chris' birthday, or his interview at UNC's school of medicine, or anything that's been going on.  And I'll tell you why...

My boy, my first born, the child whom I love beyond all reason, hacked into my phone and RESTORED FACTORY SETTINGS.

Let's just let that sink in for a few moments.

Chris and I got new phones last JULY, and I had all of these wonderful pictures of my kids at my sister's house, and in our new house, or with Chris' parents and opening their Christmas presents and blowing out birthday candles and I had not backed ANY of them up ANYWHERE. 

(So yes, I totally deserved what I got.  Let this be a lesson to you, BACK your stuff UP.)

But it doesn't change the fact that I have been absolutely heartbroken at the loss.  I haven't taken a single picture since the Unfortunate Event occurred. 

My Boy was properly contrite and even cried himself to sleep that night because I was in tears myself, and he hates to see me cry.  But the whole thing has thrown me so far out of my own loop that trying to get back into the swing of things has been nearly impossible.

But I am resolved.

Before my third child is born this blog will be current.  It may not have fantastic wit or detail, but it will be CURRENT. 

The News

on 09 February 2015

Poor Chris.  He carries all of his stress in his stomach.  After 10 years of marriage I've learned this:  the first thing that goes is sleep.  And this from a man who could sleep through a TORNADO, when he stops snoring, I know he's worried.  The second thing that goes is eating.  He goes from eating sort of normal meals to 1 meal a day and then his stomach goes all rancid and he grimaces a lot.  I resort to baking only white bread and trying various kinds of soup to appeal to him.

The physician he interviewed with had told him that notifications would be made in 8 weeks.  So we knew we were looking at right before Baby Girl was expected to arrive.  But we were still really hopeful it would be BEFORE that so that we could start financial aid paperwork, and well, so that Chris could go back to eating and sleeping like normal.

Now, Chris doesn't usually call me from work.  He's been short-staffed for a year, so I know that he's always incredibly busy.  Normal techs that work during the day have 4-5 operating rooms that they are responsible to clean, stock and service in the course of the surgical case.  On second shift, IF they happen to have adequate staff that number goes up to 8-10.  For the past year, Chris has regularly had the responsibility for 12-16 operating rooms.  TWELVE to SIXTEEN.  It's absurd.  So our habitual sharing of information usually takes the form of me emailing him updates as to what's going on at home, and IF he has a spare moment he'll email me back, but that really only happens when he has sufficient staff.

So when he calls me from work it's a big deal.  And we had a pre-arranged deal that he would CALL me if he heard from UNC while he was at work.  So the week of his birthday when my phone range and it was him, I got really excited.  Alas, he was just calling to ask me to double check on something for him.  I told him that I loved him very much but he was not allowed to call me from work again unless he heard from UNC.  I just about had a heart attack.  He chuckled and apologized and went back to work.

Fast forward a week.  I was reading to, cuddling with and tucking in the Babies.  The Girl was already snug in her bed, and the Boy and I were settled into Bed Sweet Bed reading Harry Potter.  (He and I have been wending our way through the entire series at bed time since last October, and we were up to the exciting conclusion of Book 6: The Half Blood Prince.  The Boy was hiding his head under a blanket on my bed because I do all the voices and can be quite scary sometimes.)  When my phone rang.  Now, generally speaking, I don't answer my phone when I'm doing school with my Boy, or bedtime with either child.  But it was CHRIS and he was calling from WORK.  So I picked up on the second ring.

All he said was "Check your email."  And I said, "Um, not so much, TELL ME NOW."  So he said, "I got a voicemail and an email from Dr. R________.  I'm in.  They let me in!"  And I took a deep breath and told him how very, very proud I was of him.  Hearty Congratulations!  I told the Boy who came out from under the blanket and cheered and yelled, "Good job, Daddy!"  I told him how much I loved him and then he went back to work and I hung up the phone and tried not to cry.

I know, it's horribly selfish, isn't it?  All Chris has every wanted to do is practice medicine in some capacity.  And I am super happy for him.  It's been TEN years in the making.  He's tried to do other things, tried to work in other fields and explore other options, but there was this constant pulling at his gut that wouldn't be satisfied or put off until he had accomplished this particular goal.  I've seen him work and be miserable and unsatisfied and unhappy for years now, and more than anything, I just want him to be happy.

But...he's my best friend.  I don't mean that in the trite way that a lot of couples say it.  I mean he really is my best friend.  Because he works evenings, I don't get to go out at night with the girls and do fun things.  So I don't get to cultivate friendships like I did before we had kids.  I'm not complaining, I have my sisters and my Mom and a few girls at church, so I'm ok.  But Chris really is my very best friend.  I tell him everything and always feel better when he's near.  So the prospect of him entering into this incredibly arduous course of study and THEN disappearing into a residency holds very little appeal to me.  My parents raised me to be tough and hard working, so I'm not at all worried about carrying the bulk of the domestic life of our family, but I really am going to miss him horribly.


But it's still 5 months away.  So I'm trying to enjoy him now...in addition to putting him to work.  The real JOY from this news came the next morning, when we both woke up and lay in Bed Sweet Bed and talked about how we don't have to worry about a lease this spring, we don't have to pack and move for at least 4 years, we can really settle in where we are and enjoy our house now.  So Chris is painting the Boy's room, and we still have to fix the ceiling in the Girl's room, and set up some more bookshelves so that we can unpack the last of the boxes.  Then, I might go so far as to hang up curtains.

In Which Chris gets Older

on 06 February 2015

Chris' birthday was as low key as mine was.  He took the day off of work.  We were really hoping that we'd hear something from the school of medicine, but alas, we did not.

The kids made him cards and woke him up bright and early because they take delight in cruel things like that.  

We learned our lesson from my birthday.  We left the kids with my folks and headed back out for lunch.  It was much more relaxing and just as delicious.  I swear they put crack in those steamed chicken dumplings.  YUM.

I made him a birthday pie, as per his usual request, and mostly we just hung out.  Trying not to gnaw our arms off in anxiety about med school.

We had a big family dinner the next day to celebrate Chris, but also just because we hadn't had a family dinner in a long time.  It was so nice to be all together.  And I genuinely love how much my family loves Chris.  He's a really good guy.  He deserves the Love.

***

We've both been feeling old this year.  I think it's probably just because last year was so hard that it really wore us down, and between that and the nerves about med school, we just feel old.  But I have to say, I'm grateful to be growing old with him and not someone else.  He laughs at my jokes...most of them.  He listens to me as I ramble about knitting or books or odd facts from history.  He humors me when I tell him, "I read about this thing on the INTERNET and I want to tell you about it just to see the look on your face!"

The Big Interview

on 15 January 2015

I'm sure that most of you have read this news on Facebook, but Chris had a big fancy interview at UNC's school of medicine. 

Let's review:

He came up with this crazy, hair-brained scheme to try for med school one last time, last June when we were effectively homeless.  He had applied for 6 different jobs in 3 different states, all of them out west, and I wanted to be anywhere but HERE for a variety of reasons, and so I was desperately hoping one of them would come through.  And one by one the rejections came in, and Chris had this series of serendipitous and very encouraging conversations with various physicians that he works with.  Which meant that one night he came back to the house where we were house-sitting and sat down on the bed beside me and told me that he wanted to retake the MCAT and reapply to med school.

I honestly couldn't decide if I was going to laugh or cry.  But I try to be a good wife, and I whole-heartedly admit that I am very good at that part of my job which is to see in him the very best of himself.  So the next day I ordered him some MCAT study books and set about taking the kids out of the house, or at least away from him every single morning so that he could study before going in to work that night.

We revised our house-hunt from "small house out in the country where M can have a big fat garden and some chickens" to "small townhouse no more than 20 minutes from UNC and no yard to take care of" since UNC was our school of choice.  I continued to try to protect his study time and I'm sure he would say that I nagged and quizzed him within an inch of his life, and in the meantime, we found our townhouse and I learned the hard way how to organize the requisite paperwork for a mortgage. 

Chris sat the MCAT at the beginning of September and I was so nervous for him that I felt sick the whole day.  THEN, because the administrators of the MCAT are cruel overlords, we had to wait a MONTH for the results to come back in.  They finally came back, he did ok on the biological sciences, the physical sciences could have used more study time, but he got a perfect score on the verbal reasoning section.  It was quite funny because everyone he told about the results was impressed by the verbal score, and he would hang his head and admit that he felt a lot of pressure to do well on that because if he hadn't, his wife would likely take all of his Fun Books and make him read nothing but Classics until he brought it up.  (And he was right.)

So then he began working on his applications, now, Med School applications are expensive because you have to apply in 2 phases.  They charge you an initial fee and then the individual school decides if they want to see more of you and then they charge you another fee for another application.  I was all in favor of JUST applying to UNC, but Chris was reluctant to put all of our eggs in 1 basket, so he put together a list of 5 schools and I told him that would be his entire Christmas so he should enjoy it.

Then he set to work on the secondary applications that came in.  Of the 5 schools he initially applied to, we did 4 secondaries.  Once those were in, we had nothing left to do but wait.  That was all right before Christmas, so by "nothing left to do" I mean just on the med school front because we still had Christmas to deal with, a leaky roof, and another human being to grow.

Of the 4 schools that we submitted secondary applications to, we got exactly ONE interview, and that was with UNC.  So all of our eggs ended up in one basket anyway.  (And I would just like to go on the record as saying that I was RIGHT and we could have saved a lot of money if he had just listened to me to begin with, but that could also sum up the last year of our life together.)  Chris got a call about mid-January from UNC to set up an interview and the kids and I danced and whooped around the basement while he set it up.  Chris couldn't decide if that was funny or sad that his family was so anxious to be rid of him.  I smiled and said it had nothing to do with being rid of him, but rather with his being HAPPY.

The end of January came and he headed to campus for his interviews.  May I just say, the hardest part about marriage isn't the living together, it isn't the finances or parenting or time or any of that.  The hardest part of marriage is that my life is so bound up with him, and I live and die by his successes or failures, and there's nothing much I can do about any of it.  Oh, if wishing made it so, I would have gone to that interview with him, sat quietly to one side and then told them in no uncertain terms that HE WOULD SUCCEED.  Because he is smart and hard working and awesome in ways that standardized tests don't measure.  And also because he has me and when he is tired and discouraged, I look at him and say, "well, we suck it up.  Let's get back to work.  We're scrappy, we can tough it out."  But I can't go with him.  So I took the kids to my parents' house and tried to hide from the stress.

He joined us once the interview was over and he was so happy, it was positively infectious.  He felt really good about it, he felt like he did his best to address any concerns they might have about him having been out of a classroom for so many years, or his MCAT scores, or having a family, or whatever.  So all we had left to do was wait.

They told him it could take up to 8 weeks to hear about acceptance or not, which I thought was cruel and unusual punishment (and said so).  But there was nothing else to do, so we waited.


In which I get Older...

on 09 January 2015

My own birthday was a quiet, creamy affair this year.

Since I have this policy of making my children MY favorite cake (my Mom's marble cake) for their birthdays, we had celebrated the Girl's birthday with my family and marble cake the week before my own birthday, so Chris and I felt at liberty to branch out a bit this year.

He gifted me with a new cookbook for Christmas that's entirely different kinds of Pie.  Since Pie is pretty much his favorite food on the planet, it was sort of a gift for himself, but we decided to go ahead and celebrate my birthday with a Pie extravaganza. 

I had this awful cold that pretty much everyone in my family had had at some point during the holidays, so it was hard to care about much.  Chris took me out for Thai food for lunch, we took the kids.  That wasn't very relaxing, nor did they enjoy it very much.  (They have no appreciation for good food, they'd just as soon eat chicken nuggets or hot dogs, and WHY when they could have Pad Thai, or tempura fish with chili sauce, is beyond me.)  Anyway, for dinner my folks joined us for a big pot of soup and our Festival of Pie.   We made 3 different kind:  butterscotch cream (a family favorite, and proper butterscotch where you burn and candy the sugar before hand), my Mom made me a chocolate pie, and then we tried a new one from the book:  Custard...oh my.  It was so good. 

I am moderately embarrassed to admit this, but the 4 of us ate 3 whole pies in 3 days.  A PIE a Day.  It was a really good weekend.

Since I was sick, I had no qualms whatsoever about spending the whole weekend in my nightgown and watching a long Lord of the Rings marathon.  Which, in hindsight, was maybe a little bit scary for the kids...but which was thoroughly enjoyable for Chris and I.

And I tried not to think about how many years I have lived on this planet.   This pregnancy has me feeling very, very old. 

3 Years with my Girl

on 03 January 2015

My darling daughter turned 3 this year.

I really wondered if we would survive her second year.  I also wondered if I would be sending her off to college still in diapers because she was...shall we say, RELUCTANT to potty train.  (She's far too busy to stop for the nonsense of using the toilet, especially when she's wearing a super absorbent, oh so soft, cloth diaper.)

Fortunately, we did survive her second year, and she did eventually see the value of using the toilet.  If you're wondering what did the trick, it was lollypops.  Turns out, she'll do anything in the world for a lollypop, which, if you're her mother, is really good to know.

Life with her continues to be hilariously funny, most of the time.  Her motto is still Go Big or Go HOME.  She either loves you or hates you.  Actually, that's not entirely true, she either loves your or doesn't have the time or energy to care about you at all.  She has her Nana and Popper absolutely wrapped around her little finger. And from what I witnessed at Thanksgiving, I suspect that she has her Mee-Maw and Aunt Jen-ji wrapped around the other little finger.  She totally charmed them in a matter of minutes, it was comical and endearing all at the same time.

In anticipation of her being a Big Sister, she's transitioned into a proper bed and a booster seat instead of a car seat.  It's still strange for me to see her looking so...well, Big.  She's a proper little girl, not a baby at all.

(My beloved laptop was dying a lingering death, and so we replaced her, but I don't have the software I used for my slideshows anymore, so here's a quick collection of my favorite pics from the last year with my Girl.)

(I'm still trying to figure out the new machine...I'm not sure I like it.)