Thursday, July 24, 2014

35 and Pregnant


Here's how pregnancy usually works around here:  Mike changes jobs, I change OB's,
 and whammo! I find myself with child.  
Typically, we're going through a few major life changes at the time as well, 
just to make things interesting. 

This pregnancy was no different, except for this time around my OB/GYN is Bette Midler.  

And I turned 35 in the middle of it. 

Now, I know there are people who, like, plan their families and stick to a timeline.  

There are also people who still think 30 is old. 

I don't fall into either of those categories, but my (former) OB does, at least about the latter.  

No sooner do I get decked out in the paper towel at the confirmation appointment, than she starts dropping "Advanced Maternal Age" bombs like the Enola Gay. 

Whatever.  I have bigger fish to fry, like a full-time job and graduate night classes to finish.  But, the fun doesn't end with her looking at me like I'm a naughty child.  

"Well, your eggs are old," I'm told, "We need to schedule an appointment with the Crypt Keeper  expired eggs specialist."

 I'm cool with it because it means I get an extra ultrasound, so we put it on the schedule,
 and I walk out through the casting call for Teen Mom/waiting room. 
(Hmmm... I'm the high-risk one?) 

Fast-forward 2 weeks, and I'm back in a doctor's office, but this time we're going to talk about how my eggs are expired and my ovaries are wilted.  

Or something.  

First up is the ultrasound, and I see my little seahorse just a-bouncin' around in there, blissfully unaware of us.  By the way, why are ultrasound techs so darn cool?  We had a grand time discussing third children, surprises, and career changes 
until it was time to wipe the goo off and meet with the MD.

I'm led into an artificially "comfy" room to have a seat on the couch across from the cross-legged, grey-faced doc.  This guy is about as warm and fuzzy as Hannibal Lecter, with all the charm and sparkling wit of the Grinch.  The whole setup smacks of a psych evaluation 
(So, tell me about your secret stash of empty toilet paper rolls and glass jars, Mrs. Brown.), and my hackles are up.  
Crypt Keeper launches into a description of the various tests they can run on me and the baby, blah, blah, blah.  I take notes so I can report back to Mike, 
but all I'm thinking is, "None of this is going to change anything."

At the end of this little tete-a-tete, as I gather my things and say goodbye, Dr. Keeper gives me a probing look and says, "That's the first time I've seen you smile.  How are you feeling about this pregnancy?  I wonder if you might be a little depressed.  I could refer you to somebody..."

Oh, no he didn't.  I round on him and curse the fact that I don't wear earrings,
 'cause I'd be taking them off for a fight right about now.

The man met me 15 minutes ago and he has that kind of GALL?!

"No, I'm not depressed.  I guess your sunny bedside manner and the super-cheery, *light* topics we were discussing didn't really bring out my bubbly side.  
You want to know what I'm really like?  
Talk to your ultrasound technician.  We are done here."

I wish I had said exactly that.  
Mostly I tried not to stutter or tear up in rage 
(because I'm an angry crier) 
and just got out of there as fast as my Hoveround could go.

Thanks, doc, but I'll pass on your tests and consultations.  
You can keep your advice and your sour looks, and STOP CALLING ME OLD.


So, how am I going to wake my elderly self up in the night with a newborn? 

I guess I'll just have to sleep in my hearing aids and 
make sure my walker has brand new tennis balls.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'Merica!

What an awesome long weekend we just had!

Based on our experiences this spring, expectations were pretty low.  I mean, at this point, if nobody goes to the hospital, then I'm pretty content.

But, the stars were aligned, the weather was ABSOLUTELY gorgeous, and Mike didn't work for three straight days. Translation: I actually had time to enjoy and be nice to my kids.

We kicked off the weekend with an end-of-session picnic on the lawn of Sarah's camp. 
Boys.
Why, Teddy, what big eyes you have!
In addition to performing camp songs (one of which was a song I learned when I was a camper), each team performed skits of their own creation. Now, Sarah told me that she was responsible for coming up with the idea for her team's skit, but I was a little skeptical.
But, after seeing her confidence and commitment to her role as Merliah the Mermaid, I'm thinking she was right on.  I also did NOT expect to see my girl so sure of herself on the microphone, but she seemed to be totally in her element. 

After the skits and ice cream sundaes, the night swimming s'more-making, and glamping camping got underway.

Groggy, tired, and sore, we woke up the next morning only to face round 2 of super summer festivities in the form of July 4th.  After everybody enjoyed some post-swimming naps, we were ready to carpe the diem out of this Independence Day!

Will enjoyed removing the training wheels from his bike and practicing riding in the grass.
Does it get more 'merican than this?

Homemade red, white, and blue sno-kones were a hit!  (Thanks, Aunt Sarah.)
My mom wanted pictures of the offspring in their flag tees, so we took a stab at that on full bellies.
Score! 
Nobody has blue lips, but that tattoo of Sarah's is a stubborn one.

Then, it was off to see the fireworks from atop a hill.
(Almost) perfect view of the city.
The obligatory hill-rolling commenced, with Will as the reigning champ.
I even rolled down the hill myself.

Teddy's pretty serious about his nighttime routine,
and this is his "quit dragging me around - I just need my bath and my crib" face.

Will settled into his fireworks-watching seat.
And so did Teddy and I.

Once the sun set,  glow sticks and necklaces were in order.
Turns out, Dollar Tree glow sticks break really easily.
In the spirit of "making lemonade", the kids gave themselves glow-in-the-dark face paint.


Teddy was pretty impressed with the fireworks display.
 
And we all tumbled back in the car tired, happy, and a little bit itchy from the hill-rolling.

I guess the days of my kids falling asleep with glow-sticks clutched in chubby fists are over, at least until Teddy's old enough to carry the torch.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How to Survive in the Wilderness

 Finally, FINALLY, I went camping with Sarah.  Outside.  In an actual tent.  All night, on the hard ground.

I am woman, hear me roar!

This was seriously roughing it: four females, one tent, on a country club soccer field. 

The only light came from the tennis courts.  Oh, and a penguin Flashlight Friend (As Seen On TV!  Only $19.99 plus shipping and handling!).

We had to survive 10 hours under brutally mild conditions, with only one stick to roast our marshmallows and dwindling Hershey's bar provisions.


Let me set the scene for you a bit.  Our foray into wilderness survival began with a family night closing out two weeks of day camp in Belle Meade.  The people who run the camp sent out a standing invitation for any campers and their families to camp on the soccer fields of the country club, nestled between the tennis courts and the pools.  I started getting a little nervous, once I found out we'd be the only moms camping, and only one of six tents out there.  The weather was just spectacular, in spite of many prayers (and possibly a sacrificial animal) for rain on mine and my friend Kathleen's part.  Even though my halfhearted attempts to locate a tent on FB failed, Kathleen came through with a snug 4-person job that fit us quite nicely. 

It felt a little like a game of chicken, seeing which of us would be the first to brave the tears of our daughters and bow out of the challenge, but we saw the whole thing through.  

 Sarah and I performed purely decorative and comic roles during the tent set-up, but we came through with flying colors on the marshmallow-roasting.  My marshmallows resembled charcoal briquettes in taste and consistency, while Sarah hovered so far outside the reach of the flames that her s'mores were positively sushi-grade.

After that, those crazy girls did a little night-swimming while us moms shivered and watched their lips turn blue while they insisted the water felt great!
Finally, it was time to hit the sack.
It turns out that the six-year-olds are pretty hardcore about their beauty sleep.
These two shushed us moms until we stopped chit-chatting.
Night-night.
We made it through the night, with the only major challenges posed by heavy dew and a lot of stairs up to the bathroom.  I don't know if camping will be a regular thing for us in the future, but my girl seemed satisfied with this lite version for now.


















Thursday, July 3, 2014

Four Month Stats: They See Me Rollin'


This guy.
Wow.  I never thought I'd say this, but I want time to slow waaaay down with him.  Because this - THIS is why people like babies.  Happy, flirting, talking, cooing, exploring - this guy is into it all. 

Earlier this month, littlest dude took a trip down to Daytona and was the only one whose sleep schedule remained uninterrupted.  Among other things, he actually SLEPT IN THE PACK-N-PLAY, an unprecedented occurrence in our family heretofore.  Believe me, Mike and I wept with joy celebrated at that major milestone.
Lest you think all is sunshine and roses, there have been a few hiccups along the way.  
That glorious sleep we've been experiencing almost from his birth? 
It's been interrupted.

Because, sometimes a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

Like waking up at 1:30 am to practice rolling.

And chatting.

And flirting.

Mommy doesn't feel super-flirtatious at 1:30 am.
Anyway, he's perfected that particular skill and refuses to stay on his tummy or back for any length of time, now, so, perhaps I'll get back to a solid 8-hours every night.

Height: 24 inches

Weight: a slim 14 pounds

Teddy's on the low end of the whole percentile thing, except for head circumference.  And, presumably, calf circumference.  I think he inherited my legs (and gourd-shaped head) so maybe we have ourselves a future soccer star?  Not that squash-shaped heads are required for aptitude in soccer.  Or that I was very good at soccer.  But soccer players have big calves.

Anyway.

Turn-ons:  Being sung to (Tina Turner and Three Dog Night really get a smile out of him); his exersaucer; prompt service; having his hands and feet "eaten"; blowing raspberries; talking; baths; his crib; and his honeycomb toys.  Playing fetch with his humans is a particularly fun game.  He's chewing everything and drooling all over himself, so he's gnawed on some cantaloupe and carrots a bit.  Though the taste of produce is preferable to his siblings' knuckles, he prefers his own hands or my knuckles.
 Teddy is so nosy, he hates to be carried facing in, trying to escape whatever infant carrier I have so cruelly subjected him to.  One time, he tried to crawl out the side of the Ergobaby, but his usual escape route is over the top.  Literally.

 However, we have found a solution in the Baby K'tan.
I give you: the Adventure Position.

As uncomfortable as this looks, littlest man doesn't seem to mind.  He rode like this the whole way around Cheekwood recently, enduring everything from giant bugs to an Andy Warhol exhibit quite happily.

Turn-offs: Shots; wet/dirty diapers; being misunderstood; wedging his head in a corner of the bed (too much rolling); carrots; his car seat; lack of independence; the Ergobaby.
Teddy's newest favorite song is "Yankee Doodle", and I'm sure he'll be hearing it on heavy rotation this long weekend.  Hope it's a great one for you!

Happy Independence Day!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Two-Dimensional Adventures

Have you ever wished you could mail yourself somewhere?  I've often thought that vacations would be less work and more relaxing if I could just ship our family via UPS.  
Alas, it's illegal to ship actual humans, but I've found the next best thing!

This post has been about a year in the making.  Not because it's just that awesome or anything, but because I couldn't figure out the best medium in which to present the information.  
And because this past year has been crazy with a capital "C". 

But it hasn't been crazy just for our family, it's been exciting for Mike's whole family.  Since last July, 2 of Mike's brothers have gotten married and 3 baby cousins have been born (including Teddy). 

I've been intrigued with the idea of sending the kids on a "Flat Stanley"- style adventure, ever since seeing this post.  Well, last summer, I finally got my act together and did it. 

You see, my husband's younger brother was getting married in the Phillippines, and we were not able to attend.  I thought it was a fantastic opportunity to teach my little Ugly Americans (and myself) about other parts of the world, but how to go about it when the pupils in question are 5 and 3? 

That's where the 2-D versions of the kiddos come in.

See, at this age, they're very concrete thinkers.  
They also think the world revolves around them. 

So, if I want to get them to look at and be interested in pictures of people and places on the other side of the world, I have to put my little peeps IN the pictures, too. 

And it worked!  

Is there somewhere you'd like to go this summer, but can't actually get there?
Do you have relatives far away that you aren't able to visit?

Send yourself or your kids in the mail.

Here's what I did:

1.  Take a variety of full-length pictures of the subjects in question.



I took a variety of poses, and ultimately chose one silly and one serious.

2.  Blow up your image to your desired size.
I just wanted my kids to be the size of a regular piece of printer paper, so I printed them on a full page.

3.  Laminate the images.
Laminate before you cut, so you're not cutting twice.

4.  Cut closely around just the bodies of your "Stanley"s.

5.  Stick those suckers in an envelope and mail them to an unsuspecting (or suspecting) relative or other such good sport. 

6.  Watch from the comfort of your own home as the aforementioned relatives gallavant across the globe, taking your "kids" along on their adventures. 

We sent our Stanleys to Sarah and Will's Papa and Nana, and they took the idea and ran with it.  I really didn't expect them to have so much fun with these little figurines, but they went way above and beyond all of my expectations.  It was such fun seeing what adventures Flat Sarah and Will 2-D were having as the posts came up on Facebook or email.  In fact, they took so many cool pictures, it was a challenge  to compile them in such a way that was accessible to kids and adults alike. 

In the end, I used my current favorite teaching medium: PowerPoint. 
I set the slides to one of the kids' current favorite songs, and voila!

They've watched that thing over and over again, and giggle at the antics of their alter egos. 

My plan was to post the PowerPoint presentation on the blog to share with you, but Blogger wouldn't let me.

So, I made a YouTube video (see below).  The music is different, but the spirit is still the same.  

Come follow along as Nana and Papa Brown take Flat Sarah and Will 2-D across the globe!  
Our journey starts in the airport, heading to Hawaii for a few days of touring Pearl Harbor,
 relaxing on the beach, and enjoying the aloha life.  
From Hawaii, the g-parents head out to Manila, where they meet up with the bride's family and the rest of the brothers (Mike has 4, in case there's someone NOT related to us reading this blog). 
 After the wedding,
the newlyweds took the Yanks on a tour of Manila, including a cruise to some of the islands.    
  
Then, it was back to the States and a little more aloha before touching down in Miami once again.

My in-laws said they had a blast with this, taking on the challenge with their typical joie de vivre.
 Mike thought it'd be kind of a pain for them.  I figured we'd get a picture or two. 

In the end, I managed to snag about 50 of the shots that they sent via email or Facebook. 
So, here they are.  Enjoy!









Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gimme a D!

Y'all, it took me EONS to find out what #tbt meant.  Like, I had to pose the question on Facebook after somebody tagged me in some photo circa 1997 or something.  It turns out, there's a whole world of hashtags out there that I know nothing about. You really haven't lived until your mom tells you what #ootd means.  Or, for that matter, your 5-year-old teaches you how to get a movie from Redbox.  But, I digress. 

I've been wanting to join in the throw-back fun, but I don't get real jazzed about photos pre-kids.  Of course, now that I have children I am the bane of everyone's existence: blogging about them, printing out, texting, emailing, or posting photos of them on my wall (real and virtual). 

Anyhoo, this picture is relatively unknown to everyone but me and Mike.
 It was one in a series of photos I took as a gift for him for Father's Day, when the kids were almost 3 and 18 months.  I'd never done a "photo shoot" and considered the term to be reserved only for studios, waif-like models, and somebody holding up a weird reflector thing.  My shoot was timed right after nap and a cheese stick, and my models were paid in Pez candies.  Our studio was the backyard, right next to the hydrangeas from our wedding in full bloom. 

I had to take pictures fast, dancing around like a monkey and nipping any potential for drama in the bud.  Sarah kept hunting for pine cones and getting distracted by bugs, while Will tried to pick his nose with the letter "A".

This might be against #tbt rules or something, but below are a few of my favorite shots. With Father's Day coming up, it's important to remember the main men in our lives.  Just like with Redbox, the littles have to spell it out for us:



I've done a shoot like this every year since, and I tend to think they go easier than this first one.  Even so, these pictures are some of our all-time favorites, second only to this year's photos with baby #3. 


(I'm linking up with The Mom Creative for her Throwback Thursday Stories, so check it out!)


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's Not a Bad Thing...

...to fall in love with T. 

Sorry for ripping off your lyrics, JT, but it's true.  At three months old, our little loveable TJ has changed my opinion of babies altogether. 

Not only is this guy the happiest kid ever, but even 3 months out of the womb his comedic timing is spot-on.  During the meningitis ordeal, after 2 blood tests, a catheter, a spinal tap, and an IV, he fell asleep in my arms with his hand resting against his cheek, his middle finger the sole digit pointing skyward for all to see.  As the doctor walked in to tell us they were admitting us, I told him, "That's what Teddy thinks of spinal taps."  Doc and I laughed together, and remembering my tough guy's silent message to the world was the only bright spot over the next few days.
Just yesterday, time was slipping towards the witching hour and we were all sniping at each other, trouble bubbling toward the boiling point.  Teddy sliced right through the tension with a huge toot and an even bigger grin, sending us all into a fit of giggles. 

So, let's get down to brass tacks.

Hair:  Ever lighter.  He and Sarah seem to share the same coloring from head to toe, but we'll see.

Eyes:  Blue and very serious.
Length:  22 inches, and longer every day.

Weight: 12 pounds.

Sleep:  9 hours every night.  I promise I'm not lying. We are so lucky.  Sleep is glorious.
Duds:  Little dude skipped right over 3 months sizes and went straight to 6 months and up. 

Turn-ons:  Everything.  He's busy and nosy and so darn frustrated that he can't quite be in the middle of the fray just yet.  Teddy still loves ceiling fans, but he also cracks a lopsided grin whenever his big brother and sister come around.  My little bear loves to hold hands, tries to stand at every opportunity, and sings along with anything from Beyonce to Old MacDonald.   

Sarah came over while I was holding Big T, and we were giggling about what a drooler she was as a baby.  I showed her how she stuck her tongue out all the time, and she stuck hers out too.  We heard some coos, and looked at little bro, who was watching intently and sticking his tongue out too.  Goofball.

Turn-offs: Hospital stays; laying still; being palmed in the face (yes, it still happens sometimes)

Language:  Lots of "Goo".  He gets so excited when you speak to him in Goo.  I swear we did a duet to "All the Single Babies (Ladies)" the other day.

Activity:  He's grabbing at everything these days, and rolling from front to back every once in awhile.
So, here's to three months and a whole lot more laughs!