Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So! Christmas!


I started this Christmas post earlier today during "nap" time but now I'm sitting here at my desk with both hands free for the first time in I don't know how long because Wesley is ASLEEP in his freaking BED. I KNOW! We'll see how long it lasts because Ryan is putting Charlie to bed right now and it sounds like there is an entire NBA team up there doing agility drills. But so far I haven't heard a PEEP on the monitor. NO PEEPS. All this is possible, by the way, because the other day I did a little redecorating and moved the crib into the guest room which has a door that closes. Totally worth the effort it took to remove the door from its hinges, shove Ryan's desk out into Wesley's former sleeping alcove, disassemble the crib, shove it into the guest room, reassemble it, and then re-hang the door (by myself). If you ask me. Now. I will continue to enjoy this free time while it still exists. And I am fully aware, this not being my first rodeo, that there will be many, many, false starts on the path to sleep training. And also that the first time Ryan goes on a business trip they will likely both mutiny/develop ear infections and refuse to sleep. But for now, typing, with two hands.

Back to Christmas!

Christmas was FUN! (because how many posts can you write about how little sleep you are getting, really?)

We went to church Christmas Eve. Charlie was a king and Wesley was an angel. Charlie got to go up to the front and stand in the choir loft with all the other little kings to listen to the Christmas story. Wesley got to stay with me and eat.

Angel and a King

More proof that he can sleep through anything besides night time. Wesley was not as impressed with his stocking as Charlie was with his. But you can see how cozy and relaxing he finds my side of the bed. And also that he is getting really cute.

Wesley stocking fun

Santa brought Charlie a FLASHLIGHT! He brought Ryan one too so he wouldn't be jealous.


And TRAINS! He couldn't believe it! Let that be a lesson to you, Santa is listening. Even if you clam up when you finally get the opportunity to ask him for more trains.

More trains!

I finished Wesley's blanket around 11:30 Christmas Eve. As you can see, it was a huge hit.

Wesley's new blanket

And the cousins got coordinating jammies for Christmas.


Then we had Christmas dinner at my aunt and uncle's. Charlie got to sit by his all-time favorite family member, Sarah, who gave up her usual Christmas plate and cup so Charlie could use it this year. Charlie didn't completely understand and repeatedly gestured at his mug and said "Mama coffee! Mama coffee!" That was a proud moment for me. This picture was taken about fifteen minutes before the meal. They were hungry.

Heads of the Table

And finally, Wesley was overcome by the excitement of the day and the large meal and had to lie down. I like to imagine him with football on in the background and his pants unbuttoned.

Pretty in Pink Wesley

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Irony can bite me

Wesley is not what you would call a good sleeper. Most nights he goes down between 9 and 10. Every night I think "Tonight's the night! He's going to skip a feeding tonight!" as I collapse into my bed. And every night I wake up to feed him at 1:00, 3:00, and 3:25 before finally giving up and bringing him into bed with me so I can hook him up to the all night drive up buffet. This pleases him greatly. He snuggles his warm little body into me and sighs contentedly before drifting off to dream-and-non-stop-eating land. It's cozy and idyllic for about ten minutes before I either get really really cold because I'm afraid to pull the covers past my hips for fear of smothering him or really really hot because I am cuddling with the human equivalent of a nuclear reactor. Fortunately I am so exhausted by doing this night after night for the last month or twelve that I usually don't have any trouble sleeping this way. Until he wiggles and grunts and pretends he's about to wake up. Which happens a lot.

So you can imagine my elation when I woke up last night at 1:15 to discover that he was STILL ASLEEP. Tonight! Is! The! Night! I was just about to fall back asleep when Charlie's cry jolted me out of bed. I ran down the hall to silence him before he woke Wesley up. I found his pacifier and Phent, settled him down and went back to bed. 1:30, more crying. This time Ryan and I both went to his room to find him standing in the middle of the floor pointing at a blank spot on his wall and wailing "Scary! Scary! Scary!" I picked him up and held him. I reassured him that there was nothing there. I bent over to lay him in his bed and he dug his little fingernails into the backs of my arms and started crying again.

I sat on the edge of his bed holding him and said to Ryan "REALLY? Wesley's going to sleep through the night and I STILL don't get to sleep? REALLY?!" I mean COME ON Universe!! Give me a $#@%ing break!

Charlie could not be consoled so he came into our bed where he made it clear that he was too scared to go back to sleep. Eyes half open I whispered to him that once he woke up the bad dream was all gone and it wouldn't be there if he went back to sleep. He allowed Ryan to take him back to his room whispering "Bad dream all gone" all the way. But he would only stay in bed if Ryan laid next to him on the floor.

Finally it seemed that Charlie was asleep. It was 2:30. I went to sleep. Then. "WAAAAAAAAAH!!!!" Charlie again. 3:00 I heard Ryan get up and close Charlie's door. Then I heard shuffling and grunting coming from Wesley's crib.

So I brought him into my bed. I wasn't able to get him back into the crib until 6:00. He woke up again at 7:30. We had plans at 8:30.

[sound of head pounding on desk in frustration]

Angel and a King
Partners in crime on their way to Bethlehem to honor the Newborn King

[By the way, Christmas was very very special and I will post about it as soon as I can focus my eyes again]

Monday, December 22, 2008


Since I (like you) have tired of looking for supporting examples and want nothing more than to put on some Christmas music (I'm looking at you Harry Connick Jr., oh yes I am) and drink egg nog with Charlie and Wes while we create beautiful Christmas decorations from Cheerios and discarded paper towel rolls, I will give you some pictures of our latest Magical Childhood Experience. As you know, a Magical Childhood Experience qualifies as such by ending with one or more participants crying, high as a kite on sugar, or dirty. Charlie was good and sugared up and ready for a bath after both nights of our cookie making.

Roll out the dough
First you roll out the dough and require several reminders that the rolling pin is not a musical instrument OR a weapon.

Mmmm, flour
Don't forget to eat plenty of flour.

Cutting them out
The fun part, making the shapes!

The really fun part, decorating! The more enthusiastic the sprinkling, the better, apparently.

The really really fun part, EATING!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Science Corner

A sentence I just found in my dissertation:

"These histograms add to the similarities that have already been observed between the five data sets. FIND SUPPORTING EXAMPLES!!!!!"

Uh, it's the thought that counts, right?


Also, don't tell my committee, but I just downloaded "Womanizer" by Britney Spears. I think it might put my PhD cantidate status in jeapordy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The temperature climbed out the thirties yesterday so I was able to take a break from scratching tally marks on the wall above my bed and do some Christmas shopping. Hobby Lobby and Target weren't enough to send Charlie into a raging tantrum, even after getting stuck TWICE behind People Who Don't Speak English But Have A Million Questions And Are Oblivious to the Crying Children in your Cart (I'm not being snarky, this woman truly did not speak English, it was like Saturday Night Live), so after his nap I decided we should head to the outlet mall to look for coordinating pajamas for the entire family (the kids in the entire family...I will likely sleep in my clothes Christmas Eve having collapsed in a heap of tissue paper and tape and gift receipts and a half-finished dissertation homemade blanket for Wesley).

Everything was fine until it was time to depart from Gymboree (of the endless Thomas the Tank Engine video) for the second time. Charlie had been getting whinier and whinier (and even managed to convince me that he had dropped his bus, one of his favorite toys, in The Children's Place, despite me swearing that he had left it in the car. No bus and I still have no idea what he was talking about) and being ripped away from the TV for the second time that day was more than he could handle. I could tell he was disappointed, but he was handling it well, so when he showed interest in a coin operated firetruck outside the store I thought "What the heck?" and plopped him into the driver's seat, deposited the last of my toll-road quarters and pushed the button.

Immediately, he was The Happiest Toddler in the World. Pushing the siren button. Giggling. Beaming angelically up at me.

Then the ride stopped and he hopped out and headed for an airplane nearby. "Another one!" he said cheerfully as he started to climb in.

"Oh, sorry buddy, only one ride today!" I said I as I picked him up and put him back in the stroller.

It was as though I had slapped him. Huge, fat tears sprang to his eyes. He wailed all the way back to the car.

As it was happening I was confident that he was just overtired and hungry and having a tantrum. And it was a tantrum of sorts, but not the type of thing I was envisioning when I thought about The Terrible Twos. He wasn't being bratty, he was just crushed that he didn't get to go for another ride. CRUSHED. And that thought made me sad.

Obviously, I would never give in to such a display. And of course totally losing your stuff over a coin operated airplane at the mall is totally inappropriate behavior that should be discouraged. But he is only two! And once the initial smugness of knowing that I was maintaining calm and being firm just like Super Nanny says wore off, I started to feel kind of bad for him. Once he started to calm down I said "Did you have fun on the fire truck?"

"Yes" he said sniffing.

"You wanted to go on another ride, didn't you?"

"Yes" more sniffing.

"Well, riding the firetruck is a very special treat. You only get one ride. Maybe you can go again the next time we come here. Maybe you could show Papa the firetruck!"

Quietly, "Special treat".

Even though I know I wouldn't have changed anything about my reaction, I felt kind of bad about the whole thing all evening. Then this morning while he was eating breakfast Charlie said "Rode firetruck!"

"You got to ride a firetruck?"

"YEAH! Push button! Woo woo woo woo!" (there was a button to run the siren)

"Wow, that sounds like fun!"

"FUN!!! Rode firetruck! Button! Woo woo woo woo!"

I think he got over it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Wonderland? Pfft.

Ironically, we took advantage of the near seventy degree weather on Saturday to take Charlie ice skating. There is a grocery store downtown here that has a rink on their roof and that sounded so much more idyllic than going to the indoor ice rink. For some reason I was picturing Rockefeller Center as we got into the elevator in the parking garage. The rink wasn't quite as grand, but it served our purposes nicely. Ryan laced up Charlie's (tiny, adorable, double-bladed) ice skates and reminded him over and over that "These special shoes are hard to walk in and you're going to have to hold Mama's hand very tightly, OK?" I stood up and held out my hand and Charlie stood up and took off towards the ice by himself. Walking was not a problem. I stopped him just short of the ice to make him put on his bike helmet. Ryan thought I was being silly, but I have a very vivid memory of whacking the heck out of my head on ice when I was a little kid and it hurting for a long time. Sure enough, after a few laps Charlie fell and bonked his helmet-clad head on the wall on the side of the rink and laughed it off thanks to his over-protective mother.

We took turns holding Wesley while the other one took slow laps around the ice hunched over holding Charlie's hands while he slipped and slid and occasionally (very occasionally) actually skated. Every time he fell he said "COLD! COLDCOLDCOLD!!" and laughed. He loved it. So much fun.

Prepping for a triple-toe-loop

That was not a low-cut top when I left the house. It must have been feeding time. How many family holiday memory videos now feature my boobs, do you think?

Anyway, it's good we got out when we did because we now have three runny noses and with temperatures in the upper twenties and thirties with winter weather advisories (whatever that means) for the last two days we're not going anywhere. Not even Sonic! I haven't even gotten dressed yet and it's almost noon. Charlie went back to bed shortly after breakfast and Wesley and I dozed (and nursed, always with the eating, that kid) on the couch in front of The View. Ryan just called and he is bringing us lunch because we are so pitiful with our sniffing and sneezing and general moping around not getting dressed and not able to take anything for the congestion because we are all either under the age of five or breastfeeding.

Brothers in jammies
"Send help! We are prisoners of winter!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Away in a Manger

Saturday night we dressed the family in Old Testament garb for our church's annual live nativity. Ryan was Joseph, I was Mary, Wesley was Jesus, and Charlie was a shepherd. The plan was that we would sit together in the manger with five or six live goats while a narrator read the Christmas Story and played music.

To summarize: Charlie, live animals, fifteen long minutes.

Because an entourage is not mentioned in any of the Gospels, we decided that Ryan, Wesley, and I should go out first, like in the script, and then Charlie should come along with the shepherds when it was their turn. Fortunately one of the other shepherds was a friend of mine and she agreed to keep an eye on Charlie.


So, Ryan and I went out there holding Wesley and sat on a bale of hay. As instructed, Ryan and I smiled and looked at each other or at Wesley. Finally the shepherds came into the manger, Charlie with my friend, walking nicely. They were to stand and adore the baby for a few minutes while the narrator continued the story then walk back and sit on the side of the stable. Charlie broke free from my friend and walked around the stable performing important shepherding jobs like petting the goats and feeding them hay. One of the other shepherds retrieved him before they left the manger and I lost track of him for a while.

I went back to doing my Mary jobs: gazing at the baby, smiling lovingly at Ryan, and nodding at the Three Wise men and the Three Kings who came to visit the newborn King. And also, firmly holding the pacifier in Wesley's mouth. Apparently they didn't do nursing tunics in first century Nazareth. I started to wonder what Charlie was up to and when I discretely broke character for a moment to look for him I found him wandering around in front of the stable petting the goats, holding out huge handfuls of hay for them, and playing with some Christmas lights on a fence in front of the stable. There was nothing I could do (nowhere in the Gospels does it say Mary threatened one of the shepherds with a time out and loss of Curious George watching privileges) so I was relieved when one of the other shepherds snuck out and led him back to the group.

Wesley is in there somewhere

Fortunately he was pretty mellow for the rest of the show and didn't actually try to EAT the hay until later when my mom took him to the petting zoo area. He washed it down with some hot cocoa and was as good as new. When my mom asked him how he liked being a shepherd, Charlie said "Sheep soft! Eat grass!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to get yourself taken out for donuts, a guest post by Charlie

1. Lay groundwork the night before by secretly slipping your younger brother espresso or other stimulant immediately before "bedtime"

2. Drink the last of the milk so Mama can't have coffee at home (This is the most important step)

3. Coordinate fits of hysterical crying for no reason with brother for 7:45, 8:13, 8:39, and 9:17

4. "Help" unload the dishwasher

5. "Help" sort the miscellaneous kitchen tools in the drawer

6. Compose, rehearse, and perform Tupperware and Wooden Spoon symphony in the middle of the kitchen floor

7. Feign autism when asked to help clean up

8. Plug in the Christmas tree

9. Lose Phent approximately eleven thousand times

10. Help younger brother "get cozy" by covering him with warm blankets. Multiple warm, adult-size blankets.

11. Help younger brother prepare for the rigors of space travel by enthusiastically pushing the swing

12. Become entrapped in younger brother's bouncey seat, scream as though missing a limb

13. Stick hand down pants, look innocent, report findings--"Poop?"

14. Suddenly begin behaving adorabley, play quietly and independently for several minutes, then find Mama and ask "Hug please?"

15. Stand by door to garage repeating "Special treat please? Special treat please?"

Ready to Go
Partners in crime.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Exhaustion and Dehydration

Wesley is sick. He has RSV, which is just a fancy name for ass-kicking cold with cough and the inability to sleep for more than four consecutive minutes. There's nothing they can do to help him so this not-sleeping, barely-eating, hacking, gagging carosel of fun should last until Wednesday at least, at which point you will find me wandering in the street half-dressed and trying to bite my own ear (Also, soaked from head to toe in spitup. He may be small, but he's got a projectile spitup that could put out a house fire). He is miserable, the poor little guy.

Also, I have found the absolute bottom as far as mommy-guilt goes... it's thinking about your sick infant "Would you please just go to sleep so I can finish these stupid revisions and get on with my life?" Speaking of revisions, I better get right on that. Because I need to finish this ridiculous project even more than I need a shower, or rest, or fun of any kind.

In summary: Blurgh.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Making it (Also, could I have mentioned comfort food more times in one post? Probably not)

One time during undergrad I was sitting in a lecture for my Control Theory class (scintillating!) when the professor stopped mid sentence, looked right at me, and said "You look very weary." I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I think I had just returned from a 2-week field project for my research job and was spending every waking minute trying to catch up on all I had missed. Usually this meant sacrificing one class for another, turning in a whole problem set in one class and half in another one week, then reversing that the next week, carefully balancing the work so I could get the best possible grades in all of my classes. It meant living in the computer lab where I worked, coming home at two o'clock in the morning to fall into bed only to wake up at 7:30 to do it all over again. It helped that most of my professors knew me well and I had spent the first three years of college building up a good enough reputation that I could engage in a little professor-sanctioned class skipping when things got to be too much. Usually I spent this time doing self indulgent things like taking a shower or finishing my homework for my next class (while eating my favorite snack in the Student Union--a chocolate doughnut and a huge cup of OJ with ice, how did I not weigh nine-hundred pounds?). As usual, I was probably overcommitted, but in those days I knew all I had to do was keep up the frenetic pace until Christmas or Thanksgiving break when I could go home to my parents' house and be taken care of for a week or two.

After travelling for Thanksgiving with a sick toddler, and spending a week at home with a sick toddler and a sick infant and a husband who is here as much as humanly possible but who has a huge deadline at the end of December and having a huge deadline at the end of December myself, I am once again feeling (and looking I'm sure) very weary and wishing sometimes that I could leave it all behind for two weeks at Christmas Break. But that would mean missing out on taking Charlie to "Breakfast With Santa" tomorrow at church (He's going to ask for more train tracks. Or he might become overwhelmed and start sobbing like last year, it's a coin toss).

Fortunately, I am being well taken care of. Ryan encouraged me to go sneak in a shower Wednesday night and when I came downstairs he had set up the Christmas tree, turned on nice music, and poured me a glass of egg nog (that was one long shower). He has promised to eat cookies and watch White Christmas with me on Saturday like I used to do with my friend Godmother before we moved. My dad comes over several days a week to watch Wesley so I can work; today he even brought coffee cake. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family (and also: the Folgers).

Now, dissertation time... and I can type with TWO HANDS.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A real cry for help of a blog post

This worked so well getting Wesley to calm down:

Whatever Works

That I thought I'd try it on my grumpy toddler:

Not to be Outdone

It did not have the same effect. Although apparently the washing machine makes a very satisfying noise when it is kicked repeatedly (by Charlie, I only kick it after everyone is in bed).

Anyone want to come over for the two boy production of "Les Miserables"? Not the epic French novel set during the Revolution, the epic WHINING FEST that began at approximately 6:30 this morning and has not stopped yet.

Someone needs to tell Charlie the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf so that next time he bumps his head hard enough to give him a bruise I respond accordingly instead of chirping "Oops! OK, into the carseat! We're going to storytime!!"

Did I mention that Ryan is working late today? Until after bedtime? Lucky %$@#ing bastard.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A little too excited about seeing the Snoopy balloon for the 28th year in a row

Is there anything better than watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade sitting on a couch with a sleeping baby in your lap, a toddler snuggled up next to you on the couch with his Phent, his pillow, and his "covers"?

Yes, sitting on a couch with a sleeping baby in your lap, a toddler snuggled up next to you on the couch with his Phent, his pillow, and his "covers", and a piping hot cup of Starbucks coffee in your hand. Thanks Ryan!!

The coffee was an especially welcome treat after Wesley woke up the whole fam-damily at 5:30. We rolled Charlie's Pack and Play into the bathroom and loaded it up with toys, but we could still hear him. "Water? Mama? Papa? Water? Please? Books? Help? Help please? Uh oh! Help! Help!"

Ryan took him to McDonald's for some Thanksgiving pancakes while I dozed in bed with the Wes-man until about 7:30 when Ryan returned and we took advantage of Ryan's parents' unconditional love of their grandkids and put both boys out into the hallway and closed the door. We woke up just in time for the parade to start and I watched the entire thing in my pajamas, as is my tradition.

(Actually, the dog show is on now, so it's really time for me to take a shower already. Good grief.)

Am I the only one who still gets a little vaclempt when Santa arrives in Herald Square? My goodness I love this parade. Even more now that I have the memory of Charlie dancing along with the Rockettes in his winter wonderland jammies. He had to take a nap before Santa arrived, but he was quite enchanted with the Sesame Street float and the Snoopy balloon (in a shrieking, pointing, jumping kind of way).

Ryan and I have much to be thankful for.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Eat a piece of pie (or three) for me!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

OK, yes, we need to get out more

Friday night my sister came over to hold down the fort while Ryan and I went out for dinner. All afternoon I carefully got everyone in their pajamas, put the bottles out, filled the bottle warmer with water, and gave Charlie some dinner. I fretted endlessly about my outfit, finally settling on a pair of brown wool pants and a sweater. I opened my mouth to complain to Ryan that I was "dressed like someone's mom" but then remembered that I am someone's mom, two someones' mom in fact and figured that my old pants actually buttoning was good enough for tonight. Besides, it was too cold for my Inappropriately Short Skirt and I lacked the matching Inappropriately Low Top to turn it into a "going out outfit".

When Katie arrived we shot out the front door like the house was on fire. I barely remembered to summarize Charlie's bedtime routine and show her the bottles Wesley was supposed to eat. I forgot to tell her where we keep Wesley's diapers and he fell asleep half dressed while she went looking for one.

Ryan held the car door for me and then spent the ten-minute drive to the restaraunt reminding me to calm down, that we don't have any small hungry children with us, that it was not a bad idea to go out on a Friday, that who cares if there is a long wait because then we will just have more time to relax together, and please stop appologizing and glancing anxiously into the back seat. The sight of a completely full parking lot and a patio filled with well dressed people enjoying drinks around a warm fire set off my panic alarms again as my subconsious flashed through images of entertaining a fidgety toddler and angry infant through a long hungry wait.

The never ending cries for food make you tense, you know? I didn't realize just how tense until I was in a situation supposed to be relaxing and pleasant.

At the hostess station we had to wait behind this annoying couple with lots of questions. I think I behaved appropriately but my inner foot was tapping and I may have rolled my eyes at Ryan a few times. Finally the hostess took Ryan's name and told us the wait was forty-five minutes and I yelped "OH THAT'S NOT BAD!" Ryan ordered me a glass of wine and we found a table right next to the fire outside. I'm sure if I hadn't asked for a glass of wine he would have suggested it anyway, given the way I screeched at him in the parking lot for passing the Mercedes SUV in the close parking space with it's backup lights on and sat hyperventilating and tugging on my seatbelt as he calmly turned around and went back to claim the open spot.

While Ryan was at the bar I saw another couple who was waiting for a table, standing unspeaking side by side, she angrily clutching their pager to her chest, and decided that I was going to relax and start having fun that second. Because anxiety? Is not an attractive emotion. Plus, Charlie and Wesley were in great hands, had days worth of food, and most importantly, THEY WERE NOT AT THE RESTARAUNT WITH US.

If not for the great looking menu we had perused during the wait I would have been a little disappointed when our pager went off and we had to leave our table by the fire. I could have sat there all night hanging out with Ryan, speaking in complete sentences, interrupted by nothing except a waitress asking if we needed more to drink or anything to eat. From our table we were facing a wall that had exposed metal beams sticking out of it. My first impulse was "Forehead stitches. Someone's going to run into one of those and need forehead stitches" despite the fact that they were about fifteen feet off the floor. Those beams were very distracting until our waiter delivered our chips and three types of salsa (all delicious, I liked the green one best) and then it was all about the food.


The salsas were fantastic, and then the waiter brought us freshly baked cornbread, which was amazing. And then our entrees came and they were SO GOOD. I told Ryan as much after (and during) every single bite.

We were out until 9:00 and then our car turned back into a pumpkin so we went home. Wesley celebrated our arrival by wanting to eat and I was in bed (sleeping) by 9:45. The boys gave us a little present by sleeping until eight o'clock Saturday morning (with a 4 am snack break for Wes, of course) when Charlie kicked down his baby gate and ran into our bedroom and climbed in between us for a snuggle and told us how much fun he had had the night before. That was nice too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You lookin' at me, Pilgrim?

Places Charlie has worn this hat:


-out to play in the culdesac
-the grocery store
-out for breakfast
-pajama shopping

I've had to tape the band back together twice.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Catching Up

At my six week checkup on Friday I learned, much to my delight, that I am now four pounds below my pre-pregnancy weight. As it turns out, rolling up some turkey lunch meat and cheese and eating it dipped in mustard while standing over the sink is just not providing me with the calories I need to both maintain my weight and give Wesley the twenty-three feedings a day he requires. Woot! Also, Wesley makes a really great free weight. In a fit of motivation the other day I made several laps around the living room holding him and doing lunges. It felt great and he went to sleep! And then I had to run upstairs to get a diaper and my legs nearly gave out halfway up. I haven't exercised since then. It's safer that way. Now if I could just figure out another way to get rid of this delightful spoon shape I have before the summer so I can wear a bikini while vacationing with my sister who runs marathons.

Dr. Advisor asked me to have my next draft ready by the end of the year. It feels a little like when you want to buy a new couch and they tell you you can finance it and not make any payments until NEXT YEAR and you're all "Wow, that's great!" and then you feel a little sick when you realize that next year is a month and a half away. In January we will gather the committee and run through it all one last time before a February defense. I'm hoping it will go better this time than last time (I just read all the posts around that one and WOW, I was quite the delusional little optimist then!). I've been working steadily since I got my revisions back and now I'm through all the grammatical corrections and wording changes and am left with the more meaty corrections... like "The analysis [in this section] yielded results that were opposite of what I expected... additional discussion is needed if this is true." Fan-freaking-tastic! I'm saving that one for last.

Charlie likes us all to cuddle up on the couch and watch the Nightly News with Brian Williams at 5:30 before Ryan comes home. He asks "Watch news? Watch news?" until I sit on the couch and pull him up. Then he asks for "Pillow?" then "Two pillows?" then "Covers?" Yesterday we both wore our pirate hats. And I wore my inappropriately short skirt, as you can see (I wore that skirt to a playdate to show how together I was only seven weeks after birth and then spent the whole time finding creative ways to get green playdoh off the wood floor without bending over).


Wesley is growing into quite the little cutiepie. He's wearing size 3-6 months and is getting difficult to hold with one arm. He regularly smiles at the ladies who teach his nursery class at church and has occasionally even smiled at me, the grumpy, unshowered zombie who feeds him twenty-six times a day. He loves to go outside, hates the car, and did I mention he likes to eat? Because he loves it. Which explains the 3-6 month clothes (and my insatiable appetite for carbs). But he really is cute. Today in the culdesac he layed in my lap, calm as can be, and I saw a glimpse of how it will be when he is a little bit older and not so needy. And Charlie does things like kiss Wesley gently on the head when he's going to bed...I love being a family.

They both looked so nice on Sunday I had to make them pose for a picture in the front yard.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Big Love

A conversation in the car today...

Becca: "Can I have a nanny for Christmas? Wait a minute, I don't need a nanny, I need a wife!"

Ryan: "My friend at work says where he is from, Pakistan, if you have enough money you can have as many wives as you want. I told him you've been asking for a second wife for years."

B: [dissapointedly] "I don't think we have that kind of money."

R: "I don't think I could attract a second wife anyway. I still don't know how I got you."

B: "What are you talking about?! OF COURSE you could attract a second wife! Not that I would want to share YOU. Just the childcare and housekeeping."

R: "And since you'd be the first wife, you'd be in charge."

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Holy Cow I Applied for a Job

I just hit "send" on an email that contained a CV, teaching philosophy statement, and references to Big Scary University South. The university which houses the very department which terrified me so completely I didn't even submit an application to attend as an undergrad despite their convenient location twenty minutes from my parents house. Maybe I was just feeling heady because I got both boys to sleep at the same time. Or maybe I was afraid that if I didn't send it soon I would get caught up in all the story reading, nose wiping, boo boo kissing, snack making, and evening news couch cuddling (Charlie loves this for some reason) and never send it. Or maybe I am COMPLETELY INSANE.

Already today I have done a load of laundry, split a scone and a triple espresso with Charlie (kidding on the espresso, he prefers black coffee), helped set up for the church yard sale, driven through Wendy's on a mad dash to get home and get everyone fed and in their beds before a scheduled phone call with Dr. Advisor Re: The dissertation and why I probably shouldn't make any career plans for the next fifty years, fed Wesley during the entirety of that phone call, got thrown up on during the phone call, burped Wesley during the phone call (with his head RIGHT NEXT to the phone, of course), settled Wesley into his swing "just for a minute" where he then went to sleep ALL BY HIMSELF (cue angels singing, parting of clouds, beam of light from heavens) during the phone call, discussed my dissertation, planned the next two months, and high fived myself when Dr. Advisor marvelled at how much I've gotten done since Wesley was born (thanks Papa!) since he "knows what it's like" (Um, no), returned a phone call to a friend, removed all references to the last job I applied for from my cover letter and teaching philosophy statement, changed date of expected graduation from August 2007 to May 2009 (awesome!), stressed about my application email, stressed, stressed, stressed, finally hit send already...

...and now here I am.

And both boys are still asleep.

You want to know something? I kind of enjoy the juggling. It is exciting to have a foot in both worlds. It is challenging in a different way than staying at home full time or working full time is. Today has been a good day. Although I still have to dream up something inexpensive, nutritious, and tasty (in that order) for dinner.

(I've checked my email six times so far. I am sure Big Scary University department chairs spend more than nine seconds considering job applications, but I just want to be sure I didn't miss anything. Behaving rationally has never been my forte)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Best laid plans

So. After vascilating all morning about whether to make the schlep to storytime or not, I finally decided with about ten minutes to spare that we ABSOLUTELY HAD TO GO.

While sitting on the floor stuffing enough Bum Genius diapers for Wesley to make it through the next several hours (because we have to make cloth diapers work again), I made Charlie take off the flannel pajamas he insisted I put on over his clothes this morning (well, I was only successful in removing the pants, resulting in a sort of grunge toddler look--athletic shorts and a t-shirt, with a flannel shirt on top, sort of Kurt Cobain meets Thomas the Tank Engine), and crammed his shoes on. I picked up Wesley from the kitchen where he was screaming in his car seat when Charlie came in carrying some toy that was too big to take with us. I told him to go put it back and turned to take (screaming, despite being recently fed, burped, and changed) Wesley out to the car. Charlie walked under Wesley's carseat and bonked his head, hard. Determined to get Charlie to storytime, the pinnacle of wholesome magical and intellectually stimulating childhood fun, I chirped "Ooops! I'm so sorry that happened, Buddy!" then unceremoniously stuffed him into his carseat with a perfunctory kiss on the general area of his head where he was gesturing.

We pulled out into the rain and headed up the street. The crying stopped (from both parties) and I started to feel proud of myself for getting out so fast. I even considered driving all the way to the "good" storytime downtown with Ms. Elizabeth (lots of songs in English and Spanish, sign language, books, bubbles) instead of the less awesome, more punative local storytime where they shut the door right at 10:15 and don't let anyone new in (where I could barely concentrate on the story for all the mothers talking to eachother). "This isn't so hard," I thought, "I am just as fun as I used to be." Even more fun maybe, since I now frequently remove my shirt in public.

We arrived at the library with ten minutes to spare and I found a parking spot right next to the door. Woo hoo! I was about to get out of the car when another mother gestured at me. I smiled politely and waved back. She waved more forcefully and said something I couldn't hear. I waved back. Finally she came to my window and told me that the library was closed for Veterans' Day. Awesome.

Charlie was whining "Books? Books? Stories?" as I pulled out of the parking lot. He didn't fully recover until I took him out for a pancake brunch on the way home.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Dissertation Schmissertation

Ryan read my last post and today he took me out for a lovely breakfast and then sent me off to the coffee shop to work on my project while he oversaw things back at the nut farm. When I left Charlie was in time out for going into the garage alone. Wesley was in that lull in neediness he has between feeding/diaper change and needs to fall asleep but cannot unless he is swaddled, pacifiered, and held correctly.

I am looking forward to dinner at my parents' and another exciting football game (last week's last second win over the #1 team in the country was so exciting Ryan and I both screamed and leapt off the couch. Wesley found this not a little terrifying and we were up very very late. It was well worth it).

And now onto item number two million on the list of concerns Dr. Advisor provided me with for my dissertation revisions. Don't worry, I'm not going in order. You'd know it if I'd already addressed the first one-million, nine hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine-hundred ninety-nine items.

(inconsistent use of hyphens, BIG RED X)

I just hope Charlie and I can sit together when we are both hooded in 2035.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Inevitable Freakout

"Could I borrow two eggs?!" I shouted out the window of my car to my friend standing in her driveway. I was GOING to make a cake to commemorate the election. A bundt cake, O shaped for Obama. I had already bought the cocoa powder, the toffee pieces and the chocolate chips. I had the recipe. But I had forgotten to buy eggs and after enduring a fifteen minute ride home from day care with a screaming infant in the back seat, and occasionally a whimpering two year old, there was no way in hell I was going to attempt the grocery store. Not after pausing in the daycare parking lot (before picking Charlie up) to wonder aloud why in the [explitive] he was still crying after being held and nursed continuously ALL DAY LONG.

Aside: Oh my gosh he just puked on me AGAIN. I really am going to lose my mind.

She brought me the eggs and I immediately felt guilty for being rude and explained that Wesley had pretty much eaten all day and when he wasn't eating he was screaming and my house was a giant pile of shit that was never ever going to be clean. She said "Oh, I'm sorry you had such a tough---" She stopped herself when she looked into the back seat where Wesley was fast asleep and Charlie was smiling angelically. She gave me a knowing smile and said not to worry about the eggs.

I came home and made my cake with Wesley screaming in the Snugli, the straps sliding down around my shoulders, Charlie taking all the cereal boxes out of the pantry and helping himself to huge handfuls of Cheerios and Frosted Mini Wheats. After feeding Wesley and getting him settled in the bouncer I was starting dinner when Charlie fell off of a chair I had asked him repeatedly not to climb on. He cried "Papa work! Papa work!" between sobs. I am no longer the comforter of choice, apparently.

By the time Ryan came home everyone was behaving nicely and I was making Rachel Ray's Sour Cream and Onion Turkey Burgers (highly recommend) for dinner. Charlie was hiding in his "fort" under the sink with Phent, eating Cheerios and Wesley was in the bouncer. Of course they turn into perfect little Stepford children the second Ryan walks in the door!

Some nights, like tonight, I think about how I'm going to go to bed, wake up twice to feed Wesley, and then it is all going to start all over again. And my throat starts closing up in panic. And then I feel guilty. And guilt makes me think about my dissertation and how I am not working on it and my career and how I'm not going to have one. Ryan asked tonight if I wanted to apply for positions outside of South. It would pretty much be the only way I could have a job appropriate for my degree. But I don't feel qualified to do the work required by my undergraduate research position, let alone a faculty job. I don't feel qualified to do ANYTHING right now except dole out time outs, change diapers, and make sure we don't run out of milk (and we're almost out of milk, FAIL). We will never move for my job anyway because if one of the boys needed me home full time for some reason I would quit my job without a second thought. I don't even WANT to move. I like our lives here (today notwithstanding).

And as much as I hate to cut off a good rant, this discussion requires much more thought than I have the ability to give it right now. I better go to bed. I'm sure everything will seem less impossible tomorrow (hahahahaha).

(Actually all I want to do is curl up in bed with Charlie and appologize to him for being such a stressed out, impatient shrew who wouldn't let him stop to look at the fishtank at school today and tell him what a wonderful, polite little boy he is and how much I love him and reassure him that our house will not always be this chaotic. But two awake boys would not help my mental state one bit right now so I will settle for sitting on the floor next to his bed, making sure he is warm enough and that Phent is within reach.)

"I think I finally pushed her too far!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Election Day

Not as good without the pictures

I planned to have adorable pictures of Charlie and Wesley sitting next to an Obama Biden sign ready for posting today, but I just got around to taking the picture this morning and I think Ryan took the camera's cord to work. Santa has promised me a new digital camera to replace mine (which I'm sure stopped working only because it was seven years old and not because I've been encouraging Charlie's budding interest in photography... anyone need fifteen pictures of Charlie's shoes?), but that's not until December, or until I finally lose it from not being able to find the camera or cord when I need it, whichever comes first.

We voted early, last week. I was giddy as I explained to Charlie "We're going to go VOTE!"

"Tugboat! TOOT TOOT!" he replied.

"No, VOTE!"

"Papa BOAT! Papa BOAT!"



"Right! Vote!"

"Tugboat? Toot toot?"

I hope he wasn't too disappointed when we walked into our community center and stood in a boring line so I could play with a boring computer that he wasn't allowed to touch. One of the election volunteers took Wesley for me and by the time Charlie and I finished voting he had attracted a small crowd of retirees. It took so long to get out of there that I was almost late to my church Moms' group, which is where I talk about grocery store coupons and potty training secrets for two hours in exchange for free childcare and coffee.

(it's actually very nice and I have made lots of friends there)

To commemorate the actual election day we went to the polling place and took pictures with the signs. As we were driving there I said to Charlie "Today everyone in the country writes down which cantidate they want to be president and whoever has the most votes wins and gets to be president for the next four years!" He was quiet for a second and then said "Yeah" thoughtfully. Then he got distracted by a passing train before I could get into the discussion I'd planned on the Electoral College and the two-party system.

After the polling place we went to Krispy Kreme to get our star-shaped, red, white, and blue donuts THAT THEY HAD RUN OUT OF. I tried not to let the dissapointment at the derailing of my election themed morning show. I think Charlie was too busy coating his entire body with glaze to notice.

Tonight I was going to make an election themed dinner for us to eat while we watch the returns on TV. The only thing I've thought of so far was GOP Elephant Burgers, but given Phent's position of importance in our family I think that might end badly. Any ideas?

UPDATE: Ryan brought pizza home. A new election day tradition maybe?

Saturday, November 1, 2008


There are no words to describe what a wonderful little boy you've grown into this year.


Happy Birthday, Beautiful Boy.

Trick or Treat!

Halloween Cousins
Charlie and Wesley with their cousin, Sibley.

Wesley Chick
Wesley's chicken suit.

Trick or Treat
Charlie and Sibley.

Trick or treating was a big hit this year, since Charlie understood the twin principles of "candy tastes good" and "people give me candy" much better than last year when all he wanted to do was be allowed to crawl around and play with the leaves on the driveway. Once I showed Charlie what his plastic pumpkin was for he didn't let go of it until we pried it out of his hands so he could go to bed. It is now on top of the refrigerator, loaded with treats, and he stands on the floor pointing at it and whining "Bucket? Bucket? Treat?" pitifully. Once we got home, though, he dissolved into tears the first time Ryan gave a piece of candy (the candy we bought to hand out, not Charlie's candy) to another kid who came to the door. Once Ryan explained that it was the other kids' turn to get candy (and that his candy was safely inside) he was off and running. He spent the next half hour standing on our porch holding a Hershey bar in his outstreched hand saying "Kids come? Kids come? Kids come?" He has a lot of love to give.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Under the Wire

This morning's fit of productivity would be all the more impressive if it didn't involve planning a birthday party for a birthday that is on Sunday and mailing a gift to a baby who was born three months ago. Maybe next I'll hang our flag out front for Fourth of July!

I am quite proud of myself for deciding to have Charlie's birthday party at the grocery store. What better place when you are spread as thin as I am? "Did you remember the forks?" "No, I'll just go by some!" "Cokes?" "I'll get those too!" It's ingenious. (It's actually at the park NEXT TO the grocery store with a duck pond and playground and a large deck with picnic tables. There will be no Musak. Or price checks) I hope it's not freezing, I do have trouble remembering that November means cold weather what with it getting all the way to 82 degrees yesterday.

I also started Wesley on cloth diapers and thought really hard about starting a load of laundry.

And then I read Dr. Advisor's "We need to talk about your dissertation. I will call you later this week" email three hundred times to see if I could glean some sense of his mood from the syntax. I was unable to do so and have now defaulted to freaking out. It's like in undergrad once when a professor returned an assignment with the dreaded "See me" scrawled in red letters across the top. I didn't hear a word of the lecture, but instead scrutinized every inch of the paper, looking for the egregious error I had committed to deserve the "see me". On the verge of tears I approached my professor at the end of class where he said "Oh hello! I just wanted to know if your last name was of Scandinavian origin." And then I almost threw up on his shoes. Why would you ever do that to someone? Seriously. (Ultimately he was one of my favorite professors. He and his wife attended our wedding) But anyway, in the mean time I'm supposed to be working on the revisions that HAVEN'T COME YET. I will continue to suffer mini-strokes each time the FedEx truck comes down our street.

Here's Charlie in his Halloween costume at the church's Fall Festival yesterday. You can tell by his clean face that this was taken before he won the cake walk and jumped in the Moonwalk.

Peter Pan

Friday, October 24, 2008

Will you accept pictures?

I started a funny post yesterday about how our neighbor's lawn guys showed up with their leaf blowers approximately five minutes after I got both boys to sleep and laid down for a nap of my own, but I was having trouble conveying the apoplectic rage I felt at the time. Wesley woke up. I calmed him down, put him back in the crib, and got in the shower for a very long time. And when I came out he was asleep. So there really wasn't much to the story and I thought that a post filled with $#@%#@^$#'s would be tedious to read.

And then I was going to write about SLEEP! OH GOSH SLEEP! Who is and who is not sleeping! (I'll give you a hint... NO ONE IS SLEEPING). Because yesterday and last night? Were a little much. The reality that I am the only way he can eat and the fact that he needs to eat approximately every seven minutes were turning me into a panicked frustrated mess. The good news is that my prepregnancy jeans now fall off when I walk. Yay nursing on demand. But then I got over the little bug I had and now that I am not dehydrated anymore he is eating and then sleeping contentedly for almost three hours. Soooooo, oops! Sorry for starving you and then getting mad about your attitude, kid.

More good news about all that nursing is that I'm all caught up on the issues of Newsweek that I let pile up during that last dissertation push. Did you know that the world economy is in a crisis brought on by irresponsible and risky lending practices? Huh.

So, here are some pictures so you don't give up on me.

Charlie took this one. He brings me my camera and says "Charlie picture?" Other new phrases he uses regularly are "Wesley milk?" and "Mama coffee!!" This is not surprising as the two phrases Charlie hears most frequently are "Just a minute sweetie, Wesley needs some milk" and "Just a minute sweetie, let me pour some coffee."

They took a bath together. Charlie thought it was hysterical. When Charlie gets excited he bounces and splashes a LOT. It was a little scary for Wesley, but now that I think about it, it made him sleep for a really long time. That was the last time I felt rested. I think it was 1973.

Here he is wearing an outfit that swallowed him up while we were still in the hospital. It's almost too small now. At his two week checkup he had grown an entire pound and added three quarters of an inch of length from where he was when we were released from the hospital. Which is why my jeans fit but also why my abdomen looks like someone let the air out of it.

In summary, other than the house being a giant mess, we are making it. I can't believe he's almost a month old... and not in a "My BAY-BEE is GROWING UP" sniffle sniffle kind of way. More of a "SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT AND PLAYING TRUCKS HERE WE COME!!" kind of way. Harder to believe is that in less than two weeks we will have a TWO YEAR OLD. Which reminds me, I need to get on that birthday party thing in a hurry. And my revised dissertation should arrive in the mail today or tomorrow. "Mama coffee!!" indeed.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Who knew?

I started working again today. It was only for a couple of hours, but I kind of liked it. It felt good like exercise feels good after a few years months away--tiring but challenging and motivating and right. Don't tell anyone. This is terrible news for the part of my brain that has been procrastinating writing an inquiry letter to a former advisor for two months because if I want a job in January, I'm going to have to, like, find one. And to do that I'm going to have to drum up some professional confidence and some ability to have a conversation beyond "What does a cow say? Good!!"

Admittedly, two hours by myself, with my shirt on, is really a huge luxury anyway these days, whether I actually enjoyed the work or not.

Of course, coming home was pretty awesome too.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It's a different world

Saturday night we loaded up the family and went out for ice cream. As we approached the ice cream shop, me crammed into my REAL jeans and a nursing camisol, pushing a stroller loaded with two kids, we were forced to weave our way through a crowd of about twenty teenagers dressed up for a Homecoming dance (AND THEIR PARENTAL CHAPERONES hahaha). Another little family was coming the other direction and shot me a knowing and similarly exasperated smile as they navigated their Bob Revolution through the cloud of hormones. When did teenagers get so loud and shrill?

Anyway, we had a great time. Ryan and I shared our ice cream with Charlie (Ryan had pumpkin and I had Mexican vanilla with sprinkles) who gleefully shrieked "Ice cream! Ice cream! Ice cream! Ice cream!" as we left the restaraunt and wove our way back through the teenagers to a bench outside.

Charlie, ice cream

Wesley had fun too.

Wesley out for ice cream
Pay no attention to the half painted toenails. I have no excuse.

After ice cream, we went into a bookstore to change Charlie's diaper. Ryan took both boys into the men's room and I stood nearby reading a book I grabbed randomly off the shelf. Ryan emerged from the bathroom nearly twenty minutes later holding Wesley over his shoulder with one hand and pushing the stroller with the other. Wesley was MAD and Charlie was strapped into the stroller with Wesley's blanket over his lap. Poor kid had a HUGE blowout.

"They both pooped," Ryan said in an unamused deadpan "Charlie's pants are in the bag. He's too big to not wear pants."

As we left the store Charlie chanted "Wesley's turn! Wesley's turn! Wesley's turn!" (for a diaper change, presumably), Wesley cried, and I laughed so hard I cried. The irony was not lost on me-- as we passed the teenagers again I wanted to say "This will be YOU in fifteen years! Two kids, one screaming, one pantsless... poop covered pants in the diaper bag. Mwahahahaha! Was anyone planning on having SEX tonight?!"

Then as we were leaving the parking lot I had to stop short to avoid a pedestrian and my car stalled. I was laughing nearly to the point of choking by this point by this point because really, could our life be more of a sitcom? Ryan got out to push it into a parking spot but then decided we should try to push start it instead. He rolled it down the aisle of the parking lot yelling "Pop the clutch! Pop the clutch! I can't push it any faster!"

It reminded me of a childhood memory of my mom trying to start our 70's era Ford station wagon one snowy day and her encouraging us to help by yelling "COME ON BETTY!!!"

The car started and we treated ourselves to a ride on the toll road on the way home (mostly to avoid stopping at a light and having the car stall again).

The evening is one of my favorite memories of being a family of four so far.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another disaster averted by pure dumb luck

Last night Ryan and Wesley and I went to the New Member Dessert Fellowship for our church. It was at the pastor's house and we brought Wesley with us (because of his unpredictable and demanding feeding "schedule"). After dessert and coffee, as we sat around the family room getting to know each other, Wesley started to fuss. He was chomping on his pacifier, which usually means he's hungry and is onto our little game, so I took him into another room to feed him. He dozed off after one side, so I put my shirt back together and rejoined Ryan and the rest of the group.

About half an hour later, for some reason, I grazed my boob with the back of my hand and noticed that I didn't feel a nursing pad. I can only imagine the deer in the headlights look I had on my face at that moment.

Assuming that it had just moved out of place while I was getting settled I stealthily felt around the area to see if I could find it and slide it back into place. No luck.

Now I started to panic a little. If it wasn't in my bra then where the hell was it?

I checked Wesley's blanket, it wasn't there. I felt all around Wesley's clothes, it wasn't stuck to him either. I peeked down the neck of my shirt to see if it was stuck someplace else, no dice. I discretely checked the back of my shirt and the lap of my skirt and the floor around my chair, nothing.

All of the other new members were busy listening to the most bizarre personal introduction stories I have ever heard (I don't think our pastor was talking about detailing your chronic medical conditions and troubled marital history when he said "Take a few minutes to tell us about yourself") so I hope no one noticed me getting to second base with myself in the corner of the room.

So then I was trapped. No nursing pad if I started leaking, which was a minor problem. And no idea where it had gone, which was a bigger problem. I couldn't gracefully leave the room to look for it because someone had just started talking about how their mother had congestive heart failure and her husband asked for divorce while she was in town caring for her. What do you say? "Wow, tough break. I think there may be a sopping wet nursing pad on the floor somewhere in the other room. I'm just going to go look for it before the cat drags it off somewhere."

I poked Ryan on the arm and hissed "We have to go get Charlie soon." He checked the time and smiled. "We still have half an hour" he said, squeezing my knee affectionately, "do you want something else to drink?"

The conversation continued on a (thankfully) more upbeat topic, the Methodist theology concerning the book of Revelation (I have no idea how it came up, Methodists aren't generally End of Days kind of people. I was quite relieved that the pastor had a reasonable line of thought on the topic) and I relaxed, telling myself that I had probably just forgotten to put a nursing pad on that side before we left our house. I carefully pushed thoughts about its likely wherabouts and who might have already come across it out of my mind.

After an agonizing twenty or so more minutes of this, it really was time to go pick Charlie up. I said thank you to the host I shot out of the room to look for the missing nursing pad. It was sitting right in the middle of the seat of the chair in the living room where I had fed Wesley. I shoved it into the diaper bag and left quickly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Even scarier than the thought that I now live with a nighttime cluster feeder

To: Becca
From: Dr. Advisor
Subject: Re: Dissertation Plan


I plan to read your dissertation in its entirety next week. I will FedEX my written comments to you. You should receive them about 10/21 or 10/22.

Dr. Advisor



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The calm before

Today is my first day with both boys home alone with me. Ryan woke up and said "Give me Wesley, go take a shower." When I got out of the shower he said "Go make yourself a cup of coffee." Then he came down and cleaned up the kitchen while I drank my coffee and read blogs (and ate the last piece of birthday cake). When I asked him why he was being so generous he said "Because you have a hard-ass day ahead of you."

He also said that if he came home to find Charlie locked in the playroom and Wesley crying in his bouncer and me drinking a beer on the back porch that he would never mention it again and it could be our little secret. What a guy!

"Send help!!"

Sunday, October 5, 2008

One week and counting


We're all still alive. I'm going to go take a nap now.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day 3: Making it

I have lots to tell you but not much time before this guy--

Checking out Charlie's truck

--will want to eat again. Charlie was the poster child for the three-hour, twenty minutes on a side schedule. Wesley takes a more free-form approach. Sometimes he goes three hours, sometimes five, sometimes 0.5. And I'm not talking about some kind of nursing on demand overreaction when I whip out the goods at every whimper. I'm talking about some serious rooting, complete with nearly successful attempts to latch on through my shirt. No vague hand mouthing or smacking sounds here. It's really amazing how such a small, helpless baby can root so forcefully. He could go to the rooting Olympics. And then he nurses for periods ranging from two minutes to an hour and a half. I'm sure this will settle down eventually. It has to right?

He is also quite cute. And if the only complaint I have is that he is such an enthusiastic nurser, then that is not a complaint at all.

I am feeling better every day. The boobalas are quite engorged, which angers Wesley very much. I dragged my feet on buying new parts for my breast pump, so now I am trying to learn to milk myself like a cow to relieve some of the pressure. Sunday I was pretty sore owing to the fact that my first exercise of any kind in more than two years was childbirth, which as it turns out, is quite strenuous. The worst is over now, though and all that is left is a small hematoma (as described by my doctor), which is Latin for "holy s#$@ pass the frozen peas". A Vicoden/Motrin cocktail and an assortment of creams and sprays have been keeping the pain at bay nicely, when I stay on top of things. Tomorrow I may be able to sit in one of the kitchen chairs (probably not).

Charlie is a wonderful big brother... I am so proud of him. I will tell you all about it in another post, but I just don't have time to do it justice right now. He can also point out Earth and Mars in his planet book. He is so freaking cool.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Look who's here!

Bravo has arrived!!

Wesley Thomas
8 lb 3 oz
20 inches
11:00 AM, Sunday, September 28

8lb 3oz, 21 inches Wesley Thomas

My water broke when I got up on Sunday morning at 6:30 so we headed to the hospital, handed off Charlie, got an epidural, and had a baby. It really did seem that fast! Everyone is doing well. Wesley nurses like a champ... a really pinchy, hungry champ.

Small feet
Charlie thinks his feet are HILARIOUS.

More later...

Friday, September 26, 2008


As we speak, I am cooking a pot roast. It's in the crock pot. It smells like adults live in our house. In fact, I was very confused when I woke up from my nap that somehow I woke up at my grandparents' house, in Maryland, in 1987.

I think I will greet Ryan at the door wearing heels and pearls and carrying his favorite cocktail in one of those heavy, smoke colored Old Fashioned glasses with the diamond grid on the bottom and a ship etched into the side. Then I will shoo a freshly bathed and impeccably dressed Charlie off to play quietly so Ryan can read his paper while I put the little white hats on 'the roast' before serving. Where do the little white hats go? This particular roast has nothing sticking out of it that looks particularly hat-worthy.

Or maybe (like last night) I will hand him Charlie fresh from a time-out then flit back into the kitchen without so much as a peck on the cheek muttering appologies about the huge mess and the fact that dinner won't be ready for another half hour before asking him if he would mind running out after he gives Charlie a bath because I forgot to buy milk.

At any rate, nesting has taken a tasty turn in this house.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Communication Breakdown

Driving to our church's mom's group this morning I turned around at a red light and saw Charlie chewing something.

"Charlie," I said "What are you eating?"

"Cheerios!" he replied.

We were having an actual conversation, it was so cool! Then I asked (because I couldn't remember the last time we had brought Cheerios in the car)

"Where did you find the Cheerios?"



Charlie did great at my OB check today. He exclaimed "MAMA POTTY!" as I undressed for my exam. He was very curious when we listened to Bravo's heartbeat. He politely turned the other way when I shook my fists at the heavens upon learning that not only am I STILL at 1 cm, Bravo's head isn't low enough to do anything productive.

I think Bravo knew I wanted to watch new episodes The Office and ER tonight.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I feel like I should be knitting hats or something.

On Monday I caused quite the stir when I described to the nurse on the phone the doubling in size of my ankles and hands that occurred over the weekend and got myself my very own nurse practitioner's appointment.

While I was getting ready for Church on Sunday, Charlie saw me trying to cram my feet, which looked like something you'd buy at a bakery, into my cute little crossed-strap Mary Janes and encouraged me to "PUSHHHHHHHH!!" I can take a hint. I wore my sneakers. Converse All Stars to be exact. The laces provided just enough mechanical advantage to get them tied. And then I sat through an hour-long Sunday School lesson completely unable to move my toes before saying to Ryan "We have to go home. I can't go to church. I am very uncomfortable."

So I called the nurse on Monday and said "I'm sure it's nothing, but my feet and hands were about twice as swollen over the weekend as they were on Friday..."

[urgently] "Can you come in at 2:00?"

Uh, OK.

My blood pressure and protein were fine, but I had managed to gain four pounds in three days, which concerned the doctor who said it was all from fluid (this made me want to go buy a big box of Hostess Cupcakes immediately because fluid! It's all fluid! Nothing I ATE made me gain all this weight!). So I was sent home with orders to sit around with my feet up as much as possible and to drink 8-10 glasses of water a day (I complained about the water part to Ryan because a "glass" is hardly a standard unit of measure and therefore it is not possible to know whether I am having enough water or not. Also, more water means less sitting around and more waddling to the bathroom).

Sensible advice, but I still had to run some errands, pick Charlie up at daycare, then stand in the sun in the culdesac with my friends for an hour while the kids played, then wait another hour for Ryan to come home before I could start following it.

I was disappointed when the doctor didn't say "You're fine, but I think we should induce immediately... just to be safe."

So here I am... still giant, hot, not sleeping, caffeine restricted, puffy... but certainly drinking more water. I have another checkup tomorrow. Charlie will be there, so I don't have my usual hope of being asked to go straight to L&D (although what a GREAT story that would make! "Here's my birth partner. He's two!"). I'm thinking animal crackers and our garage door opener will provide enough distraction (he has, after all, just reached the age where he will think it's HYSTERICAL that Mama's taking off her pants in public), but it will be during naptime so let's hope it's FAST.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

C is for Cookie. But T is for Terror.

We took an nice little video the other night because Charlie was enjoying Elmo on YouTube so much (that's the first part). Things took an ugly turn when Cookie Monster came on singing "C is for Cookie".

Remind me of this when I complain about spending our retirement savings on Charlie's therapy bills.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Looks like I am the proud mother of a healthy 7 lb fetus who is perfectly comfortable right where he is despite my repeated pokes and jabs and injunctions to "Move baby! Mama has an borderline clinical anxiety disorder!"

(He usually retaliates by kicking me in places no one should ever be kicked. Although he is vertex, so it's probably more scratching and punching than actual kicking)

I also learned that he is still a boy before we had to discontinue the ultrasound when I started seeing little shiny gnats flying around and my hands started to go numb. I felt better, and very silly, once I was allowed to sit up. I felt a little bad for the poor ultrasound technician, who was obviously some kind of morning person, who had me, definitely not a morning person, especially after only five and a half hours of heartburn and teething toddler filled sleep, as one of her first patients for the day. She was very nice. I was very 2nd pregnancy please hurry no need to look for his face again that's very kind, but I can't feel my hands and I can't see and I'm going to throw up.

Most people don't respond to "Let's see if we can see your baby's face!" with "I think I'm going to throw up."

Most people also don't threaten physical violence against their doctor out loud in the waiting room to their husband if she tells them that they are anything less than three centimeters dilated.

I really need to calm down.

Ryan assures me that I was very polite, but I think he is scared of me. The cankles create an illusion of strength.

Based on my exam, my doctor estimates I have at least a week left. "Still about one centimeter!" she said brightly before dashing off to deliver her FOURTH baby of the day (at 9:00 am). "Oh good!" I said, muttering something nonsensical about that being better for Charlie anyway, you know me, I hate to complain. She struggled to understand my logic, but it was hard, seeing as there wasn't any. Unless another week of boring, grumpy Mama is just what Charlie wanted for Christmas.

So now I am now at home consoling myself with donuts and Christmas music. Dr. Advisor IMed me to see if I could take on some consulting work and I had to turn him down because of all the really important waiting around I have to do instead. The idea I had while pregnant with Charlie of placidly working on my laptop in the hospital (post-epidural, of course) while in labor was a little optimistic, I now realize.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Forgive me if this post doesn't make any sense, I've mistakenly created a toxic cloud by mixing the fumes from Windex, 409, and Pledge.

I don't think nesting has anything to do with some ancient biological urge to prepare one's home for the arrival of a new baby. I think it is a more 21st century phenomenon caused by being confined to one's messy messy house during those last few, incredibly cranky and impatient, weeks of pregnancy. When everyone encourages you to get off your feet and relax but instead you fly into a near pre-eclamptic rage when you walk into the kitchen and simultaneously step on a pile of Cheerios, trip over your flip flops, and send an avalanche of junk mail sliding to the floor from the kitchen counter.

Suddenly, the thought of adding some burp rags, takeout containers, and nine hundred members of your extended family to your usual level of chaos make you wish they still knocked women unconsious during labor and delivery. And that they could do it this afternoon.

So I've been doing a little straightening up. Getting rid of clutter, sweeping, wiping down the kitchen counters (which required a blow torch and pneumatic pressure washer).

I washed the freaking WINDOWS. Even the one where there was a scorpion stuck between the glass and the screen that I was positive could find a way to sting (read: kill) me through the glass if it really wanted to. I did not realize (but probably should have) that getting a dog and having kids would mean twice-weekly window cleaning would be necessary. (Although I still don't clean them twice a week, I like to wait until I can see the nose/tongue/finger prints from the car as I am pulling into the driveway before taking care of it. I was recently spurred to action by my friend who cleans the windows and vaccuums the stairs every single day. Ask me when the last time I vaccuumed the stairs was... I think it was the fourteenth of NEVER. Which is why it looks like we chose to carpet the stairs in dog hair).

As a special bonus, with all the walking around, reaching, and squatting required to get things just right I'm sure my cervix has taken a pounding. I'm hoping for 3 cm by Friday. Or ten. Ten would be even better.

And also? All those Papa John's coupons that have been falling off the fridge and driving me CRAZY for the last few weeks? Are expired. Time required to put them in the recycle bin? Two seconds. Go me.

And now it is time for my reward--for cleaning TWO ROOMS in my house plus the windows, which still took all morning as I had to take frequent breaks to catch my breath and check my email--lunch at Pot Belly, whose deli mustard I could eat with a spoon.

Monday, September 15, 2008

We all knew it would come to this...

Because everyone who blogs about their kids ends up talking about poop at some point, right? Tonight, Ryan was putting Charlie to bed and I was downstairs "relaxing" on the couch when I heard Ryan exclaim "YOU POOPED! GREAT JOB! YOU POOPED! GOOD BOY!"

We are not potty training right now, but let Charlie sit, pantsless, on his potty or on the big potty when he is interested. He particularly enjoys using toilet paper and flushing. He doesn't realize yet that as a boy, neither will really be expected of him until he gets married one day.

Tonight he asked Ryan if he could sit on the potty, so Ryan got him situated and HE WENT POTTY. They then came downstairs, Charlie diaperless in his pajama pants, so we could all celebrate together. Charlie was a little overwhelmed, but later Ryan was getting him ready for bed and Charlie related the experience.

"Poop! Potty! Papa proud! Mama proud! Grandma proud!"


This afternoon I finished the nursery alcove. I found the cute crib bedding on Craigslist and we went to pick it up last night (in the middle of NOWHERE from this hippy lady who was expecting her second and had decided to cosleep and talked to us for several minutes with her shirt pulled up around her boobs stroking her tattooed belly). It came with a crib mattress which we are using as Charlie's crash mat to go beside his bed (he hasn't fallen out in a while, though).

Ryan and Charlie's reading corner:

And of course, the giant mess of a changing table with TWO sizes of diapers on it. (Ryan on Sunday: "Why did you buy all these tiny Pampers?" Me: "I know right? They're for the BABY who's going to LIVE HERE in TWO WEEKS. I was surprised too.")

The nursery completion was spurred by the huge number of BH contractions I had all day. There were like three an hour, including ones that occurred during the walk around the culdesac, the shower, and the nap that the nurse said would make them stop if they were not real. But they are still quite irregular and weak (ish, there have been a couple of doozies). I don't expect any action soon, but I will keep you posted.

UPDATE: Heh heh, THAT WAS WEIRD! No babies yet. Contractions have left the building!

Friday, September 12, 2008

He knows

So. Now that I am on a brief hiatus from freaking out about my dissertation, I have lots and lots of time to think about other things. Like, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE OMG I NEED TO FIND A JOB BUT NOT A FULL TIME JOB CHARLIE'S STILL SO LITTLE HE NEEDS ME HOW CAN WE BE DOING THIS TO HIM WHAT IF I DIE DURING CHILDBIRTH AND NEVER GET TO SEE HIM AGAIN HE WON'T REMEMBER ME AND HE NEEEEEEEDS ME AND I'M GOING TO HAVE A PULMONARY EMBOLISM AND THEY WON'T BE ABLE TO HELP MEEEEEE. Completely rational, you see. Also, completely un-fun at three o'clock in the morning.

When Ryan comes out of the bathroom after his morning shower, he greets me with "Good morning, sweetie! Did you sleep well?" I respond "I need to find a job TODAY. And if I die will you still keep the house nice for Charlie? Dammit I need a bowl of cereal" then spend twenty-five minutes hoisting myself out of bed, picking my way gingerly down the stairs (avoiding putting any weight on my pelvis, hips, knees, ankles, or feet), and bumping around in the kitchen muttering about how damn hard does it have to be to find a damn cereal bowl and a damn spoon and why are there so many damn toys on the damn floor damn damn damn.

Then Charlie gets up and I manage to pull myself together for long enough to get him wherever he needs to go where he then helps me by affecting the Posture of Great Sorrow as soon as he realizes we are at day care and he will be staying there. The quivering lower lip, the moist eyes, the limp arms and legs. I kiss him goodbye, tell him I love him, and assure him brightly what a great day he's going to have then walk out to my car and try really hard not to cry (and usually fail).

This mommy-phase he's going through is particularly ill timed and severe. At breakfast with my parents the other day the only place he wanted to sit was straddling my belly with his head on my shoulder. At the pool yesterday after thirty minutes he got out, asked for his towel and then asked to be wrapped up and held, content to rest with his head on my shoulder on a lounge chair instead of splashing around in the baby pool. When I go in his room after a nap he pats the bed next to him and says "Mama?" so I lay down with him and he pretends to sleep. He refuses to let Ryan help him eat, instead waving the spoon in my direction pleading "Mama help? Mama help? Mama help? Mama help?"

It also doesn't make any sense. I am hardly the fun parent right now. I am grouchy and make funny noises when I try to get onto the floor to play with him. I tell him he has to wait for Ryan to come home to play outside or ride his bike because I can't handle being outside for long when it is so hot. I only let him ride the elevator once at the library. I don't let him eat the sushi samples at the grocery store that have been sitting out all day. Yesterday it finally cooled off enough to go to the pool and we stopped for a Sonic slush on the way home. Charlie was happy and relaxed, I was happy and relaxed. It was great. But then I had to use my serious voice when he kept taking the top off his drink while I was driving us home. And then he dropped the drink by mistake and grape slush was leaking out of a huge hole in the side and he was crying and I was trying to explain that I wasn't mad, it was just an accident and I would fix it, and I did--I found another cup to put the damaged cup into and gave it back to him--but he is so sensitive. When we got home he asked for hug after hug after hug and just wanted to sit with me quietly while I watched the news.

Ordinarily I would just enjoy the extra hugs and cuddles, because really, what could be better than that? But because I know that my attention is going to be split in a few weeks, it is really killing me right now.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How did that happen?

A couple of weeks ago I divided my dissertation into two parts because having the large file open on my laptop kept causing it to crash. I've been focusing on revising Chapter 5, Results and Discussion for a week, improving it before Dr. Advisor had a chance to read the old version and summarily dismiss me from the program.

Finishing Chapter 5 (~65 pages) on Sunday morning before church felt really really good and I made a point to send it to Dr. Advisor at 9:30 so he'd know I was up and working as much as I could.

Yesterday afternoon and today I wrote a four page Conclusion and Recommendations for Future Work chapter that I'm really hoping at least approaches what it is supposed to be because after Googling "science dissertation conclusion chapter" and finding nothing useful I winged it and used a sort of hybrid format between my last publication, Dr. Advisor's thesis, and my own imagination.

Once in undergrad I stayed up nearly all night to finish a Heat Transfer final project and at three o'clock in the morning I declared it to be a work of genius and went to bed. The next day when I proofed it right before I had to turn it in I found that not only was it not genius, it was barely written in English (I got an A. It was a miracle). I am hoping that I won't have the same experience with this chapter. Especially because I sent it off to Dr. Advisor this afternoon.

Which means that Dr. Advisor has a COMPLETE FIRST DRAFT (the one I sent a few weeks ago, we both understood, was more of a draft to the first draft, thus my ambivalence about sending it to him. Ambivalent, of course, except for the panicking). Somebody hold me.

So anyway, it was still divided into pieces, so I was hazy on the actual page count. After I sent off the last chapter, I put the two halves back into one Word document and SHAZZAM, 120 pages! So that's like fifteen-ish pages in a WEEK? Thank goodness for figures, is all I have to say. Big, beautiful, half-page figures.

Apparently I work best with very concrete deadlines. Charlie's induction nudged me into completing my qualifying exam. And while my fellowship running out was not enough of a kick in the pants, the impending birth of our second child was just the thing I needed to get me over the hump, so to speak.

I was very surprised to learn that the first draft was done. I will spend my time now outlining my defense presentation (deep breaths) so it'll be ready to go post-Bravo. Trying to defend in the first three weeks of Bravo's life is more than I want to put my family through, but maybe I can sneak something in between that and the six week growth spurt, or at least before Charlie's first day of kindergarten. Or law school. Whatever.

For now I just have to wait for Hurricane Ike to make landfall to hear from Dr. Advisor.

I can has Cheerios?
"I have to forage for my own food while my mom finishes her dissertation."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

You may be seated...

I'm not going to tell you exactly how Ryan and I spent our evening, except that it involved homemade chocolate chip cookies, this website, and the United Methodist Hymnal. Also, it's good we don't live in an apartment.

I promise we really are more normal than we sound.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

House Appreciation Week Month

We're done! Except for, you know, the giant mound of stuff that we moved into Bravo's "room" while we were working on the other rooms and have not since touched since we've been spending our evenings busy with our Blue Bell ice cream and all the yelling at the TV that has to be done when the only thing on is the RNC.


If I had known how nice it is to not climb into an erupting volcano every afternoon when it's time to go get Charlie I would have done this a LONG time ago. Also, Charlie gets to push "the button" twice every time we go out. This makes him very happy. On the way home he starts asking for "the button" about half a block away. Then when he pushes the button and the door goes up he gleefully shouts "UP UP UP!" from the back seat, marvelling at his power.

If you squint you can sort of see the SECOND CAR SEAT behind the driver's seat. Holy mother of pearl we're gonna have TWO KIDS.

Here is "Ryan's side" of the garage, heh heh.

Have you ever seen so many wheeled things in your life? Eleven of those wheels are inflatable and frequently flat which keeps Ryan busy with his compressor and patch kit. I contribute by rolling the jogger through the park and picking up thorns. Only in Texas can thorns at a children's park puncture TIRES. Gee, whattayathink that would do to a tender little 2 year old knee?

Next up, the guest room! Remember what it looked like just after we moved in. Fortunately none of our guests have developed PTSD after waking up being patted to death by an army of pastel colored clowns. Remember how I said I hated painting? Turns out I hate it just a little bit less than I hate pastel colored clowns.

Baby Bravo's Room

Doo doo doodoodoodoo doo doo doodoo. AAAAHHHHH SCARY SCARY CLOWNS!!!


OH MY GOSH is this house inhabited by ADULTS? (Well, adults who still haven't bought pillow cases to go with the new quilt. But rest assured, if you come visit us, I will find some pillow cases. And you will not be attacked by circus folk). Not pictured: framed art that will go over the bed. That "limit your color palatte to two main colors" advice they are endlessly spouting on HGTV is SOLID GOLD. I won't go into how much our old house looked like a nursery school.

Also, our bedroom has curtains and the stairs have a baby gate, which makes the post-bath hysterical naked running around (Charlie, of course) a lot safer (and less visible from the street).

(My parents came over this weekend and helped us start and finish all these jobs. Also? They brought Congo Bars. Big thanks. HUGE.)