Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Academomia's Guide to Feeding Your Baby

1. Be sure to re-up your Vicodin at least thirty minutes, but no more than one hour, before feeding time.

2. Have husband change your already-hungry baby's diaper. This will get him good and mad and ready to go.

3. Grasp baby's head firmly in your hand, being careful not to fold his ears in half with your fingers or leave permanent marks. Hold the baby's body close to your body with the elbow of the same arm. Do the Hokey Pokey and You Turn Yourself Around, clap clap cla-clap clap clap.

4. Using your other hand, grab the boob with four fingers underneath and your thumb on top. The exact configuration will make perfect sense when the lactation consultant is standing next to your bed arranging your fingers for you, but will elude you every single time you feed the baby after you leave the hospital.

5. Take slow deep breaths and go to your happy place for a moment while you wait for the baby to stop opening and closing his mouth like the clown at a miniature golf course.

6. Get a towel and dry off all the milk that dripped onto the baby's face while you were waiting that he is now licking off in lieu of doing the hard work of sucking.

7. Repeat Steps 3 and 4

8. Lose patience and try to force him to latch on, whereupon he will bite the hell out of you and resume the miniature golf clown mouth routine. Clench your teeth and try not to scream "HOLY SHITBALLS" loud enough for your in-laws to hear from downstairs.

9. Fondly remember the days when they sent mothers home from the hospital with a big bag of formula samples.

10. Repeat Steps 3 and 4. Indefinitely.

11. If you wait long enough, the baby will tire of toying with you and open his mouth nice and wide. This is your signal to DEPLOY! DEPLOY! DEPLOY!

12. While simultaneously doing something very important with the boob hand that I can't remember for the life of me and holding the baby's bottom close to your body with your elbow, use the other hand to fling the baby's head towards you in such a way that his mouth lands in the correct position on the nipple. This will take some practice, as you will have about four-tenths of a second to complete the maneuver before the baby clamps his hungry little mouth closed again. It will help if you have previous training as a sniper for the CIA. Or a ninja. Repeat until the baby relaxes and begins swallowing milk. Or until he begins frantically gulping it down because he is starving after the twenty-minute delay caused by Steps 2-11.

13. Evaluate pain level. In the words of the LC, "Stabbing ice pick nipple pain means there's a problem with your latch." If you are experiencing "stabbing ice pick nipple pain," begin again with Step 2. If you are experiencing only "dull old bruise ache," then you are on the right track. Note that it will hurt either way. Feel free to complain to your spouse. Then ask for a glass of water and a cookie, pretty please.

14. Repeat every three hours around the clock for several months.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

And to all a good night!

That's how Charlie sent us out of his room after we tucked him in tonight. He's a little excited. Fortunately, I'll already be up feeding James when he's up rattling the baby gate at 5:30.

Back when I had two kids I bought adorable matching plaid flannel shirts for the three kids we would be taking to Christmas Eve church. I was quite proud of myself for being so prepared and even blabbed all over Facebook about how adorable they were going to look.

Then reality hit and today found Ryan and me leaving the kids strapped into the van in the garage (engine off) after a bilirubin recheck appointment for James that ran longer than expected and a last minute Target run (when we realized the kids would probably wonder why Santa didn't leave anything for James) while we frantically (five minutes, at the most) changed into nice-ish clothes for my aunt and uncle's annual Polish Christmas Eve supper, which was beginning in twenty minutes at a house thirty minutes away.

Instead of changing the kids into their Christmas outfits we grabbed three Christmassy looking sweaters out of Charlie's closet that they could throw on with the jeans they were already wearing and changed them in the car in front of my aunt and uncle's house. We had a lovely time at dinner and then went straight to church with James back in his pajamas after a diaper accident and a large borscht stain on Charlie's pants. Also, the big boys' jeans were soaking wet from mid-calf down because they couldn't resist jumping in a giant puddle on the way up the sidewalk. Special memories!

At the kids' service the kids get to choose a part in the Christmas pageant and go participate when their character is up. These two wanted to be shepherds.

Shepherds

We got James a shepherd hat too, but he had other plans. Namely, nursing in the cry room for forty minutes (He's asleep here, not nursing. We have yet to make that a beautiful, natural-looking experience, so no pictures.).

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Then we let Charlie handle fire.

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And then we went home for some traditional frozen pizza and baking of cookies for Santa. Charlie thoughtfully wrapped the cookies in foil and left his note nearby for Santa's perusal.

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Wes was too mad about not eating the cookies to have much fun during this part of the evening, but I think a good night's sleep will help.

Now it's magical Santa time for Ryan and feeding time for me. And hopefully we will all get some sleeping time tonight!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poke poke poke

We have a baby! His name is James William, he was born at 10:00 this morning after an uneventful induction, and he weighs eight pounds and seven ounces. Or at least he did before he spent most of the last nine hours nursing.

The boys were very excited to meet their brother. They even remembered to pat him gently with one finger, just like we make them do when petting animals.

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We're so glad to finally meet him!

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And now I'm off to sleep!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I am still pregnant, do not get your hopes up

It might be a minivan, but under the right conditions Ryan can drive it like a Ferrari. Those conditions include me casually admitting that I'd been having painful contractions for the entire one-hour duration of church. But only after he'd taken me through the Dunkin Donuts drive-through for what I thought might be my last meal for a little while (egg and cheese croissant, chocolate cake donut, strawberry donuts with sprinkles for the kiddies).

Mid-way through the sermon I started to feel more uncomfortable than normal. It was a wild symphony of violent baby-kicking, low blood sugar, and some kind of slightly more intense than usual contraction. I also had to go to the bathroom. I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on, so I told Ryan I was feeling weak and hungry and we ducked out at the end of the sermon and went to get me something to eat and some water.

Once I was done with my snack I dropped the bomb about the contractions. And then Mr. Fifty-in-a-Fifty-Five was suddenly doing seventy on the highway. By the time we were driving into our neighborhood I was making plans on where we would leave the kids and who would call who. And also trying to keep my body in a perfectly straight, standing up position without taking off my seatbelt. Charlie asked if he could have fruitcake after lunch and I said "Whatever Grandma and Grandpa want to feed you is fine with me!" before gritting my teeth as we drove around a bend in the road.

Ryan started running stop signs when I told him the contractions were five minutes apart, but never really went away completely. He looked at me incredulously and when we got home sent me upstairs to lie down while he gave the kids their lunch. He joked that I should get out very gingerly so as not to douse the new car with amniotic fluid. He needn't have worried because by that point my entire midsection was seized in the never-ending contraction and there was no way out of the car except very, very carefully.

I picked my way up the stairs, changed clothes, and got in bed to time the contractions while Ryan gave the kids lunch. The first one came at 1:05. And then I fell asleep waiting around for the next one. I woke up at 1:40 with no more contractions.

The walk back down the stairs was mortifying. Ryan greeted me hopefully and reported that his camera and phone were nearly done charging, the kids had eaten, and everything was straightened up. I skulked to the toaster and made myself a bagel with cream cheese and tomatoes then sat down in my butt print on the couch and vowed not to move again until it's time to leave for the induction tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Last Hurrah

The night before Wes was born we took Charlie out for dinner and then walked around an outdoor mall listening to live music and enjoying the warm night. When I found myself in labor the next morning we joked that it had been our "Last Hurrah" before Wes was born. And it was the last thing we did for a long time that felt that relaxed. Wes was a unique newborn. I hope.

Today both kids took long, late naps so it was the perfect chance for a Last pre-Taco Hurrah.

When you let the kids pick the restaurant you go to Freddy's for hamburgers and chocolate milk. Ryan and I miscommunicated the order because Charlie was yelling about having to go potty RIGHT NOW BEFORE WE ORDER BECAUSE I CAN'T WAIT THAT LONG so Wes ended up with a burger instead of chicken nuggets and to my surprise he ate almost the whole thing, mustard, pickles and all.

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After dinner it was time for Stupid Human Tricks. Charlie is the master of sucking bits of french fry through a straw. The best part is that it doesn't look at all like he's doing lines of cocaine off the table. We're so proud.

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Then Wes joined in and it all became a little too Animal House for my sensibilities, so we loaded everyone back into the Swagger Wagon to go check out a tasteful little Christmas light display that someone in a neighboring town sets up at his house every year.

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They put on a whole show set to music and the trees flash and blink along with the songs, which you can play on your car's radio. Ryan-the-Electrical-Engineer always chatters the whole way home about how he could do something similar at our house. Charlie asked him to do just that tomorrow while he is at preschool.

The boys loved it and we stayed through several shows. Wes watched with rapt attention, occasionally shrieking "WOOK at DAT!!" or "COOOOOOOOL!!" Initially uninterested, Charlie passed the time by yelling non sequiturs out the window at passers-by. My favorite was when two teenaged girls walked by and Charlie yelled "We can open our doors from the inside!" Fortunately, the magic was enough to win over even a too-cool four-year-old after the first show.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

A new kind of cool

Seeing Ryan's dream car in the parking lot of the restaurant we frequent for breakfast tacos provided a poignant contrast on the day we were planning to go finalize a deal on a minivan.

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I may never drop a hundred and forty grand on a car, but my kids think I can fly like Superman!

The car we chose is one we had looked at a couple of weeks ago. Ryan found it on Craigslist and it had everything we wanted (Me: Eight seats. EIGHT. And an iPod port. Ryan: Good mechanical condition, reasonable mileage, yawn!).

We took it to a mechanic for a checkup, thought about it for a few days, then Ryan and the owner negotiated over the phone and settled on a price. I didn't tell the kids where we were going when we went to pick it up because Charlie's been begging for "the right minivan" ever since we started looking and Wes asks every night if tomorrow we could go "wook at cars?" We've been riding around in the van for twenty-four hours now and I think Wes still thinks we are car shopping. He's probably waiting for us to take him to Starbucks so he can drink chocolate milk while Ryan and I have a really boring conversation with lots of spelled words.

I got to tell Charlie the good news while Ryan went inside the house to sign the paperwork:

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Wes was unimpressed:

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After all the papers had been signed we spent an awkwardly long time milling around in the seller's driveway getting the car seats in the van and calling the insurance company to add it to our policy (seriously, sometimes it's like Ryan is the only adult in this family).

And then we drove both cars straight to Sonic. It's a family car-buying tradition. The kids wanted Ryan to sit in the back with them (Wes was not still asleep, just not cooperating). Ryan had to get out just before the food came for some reason and I had to throw Charlie's hamburger to him.

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Then the wind changed direction and it started to get cold, so I turned the key to close the windows and NOTHING happened. I fiddled with the shifter and pumped the brake a few times and tried again, also with no success. Weird! I guess the mechanic wasn't just being alarmist when he said we would need to replace the battery almost immediately. Ryan had planned on doing the battery that afternoon anyway, so he took the other car to go get some tools and a new battery while the overtired and now very bored kids and I stayed at Sonic. He returned thirty minutes, one spilled lemonaide slush, and four-thousand empty threats later and heroically installed the new battery to a chorus of little boys chanting "Yay, Papa! Yay, Papa!"

It started right up with the new battery, so I drove it home and installed the infant seat in the middle row, right next to Wes's seat. And then Ryan and I stood side by side in the driveway staring at all those car seats. I can't believe there are going to be PEOPLE in all of them very soon.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Charlie has been begging to dress up like a beautiful angel for the outdoor church Christmas pageant (with REAL! ANIMALS!) for several days. I'm so glad we made it again this year (Even though, you know.).

The pictures never disappoint:

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(I kind of love that Wes had to wear his wings like a backpack)

(Wes handed me his halo halfway through the show and and said "All done, Mama, want cookie now." Because naturally, they had been thoroughly bribed to ensure good behavior.)

I also dressed up like an angel because someone had to facilitate this magical experience and Ryan wanted to be a shepherd. I made a very round angel. People laughed involuntarily when they saw me.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

As in, I am afraid I will be spending Christmas confined to the hospital with a bunch of grouchy nurses and support personnel. Because progressing from a fingertip to ONE FARKING CENTIMETER in TWO WEEKS is NOT GOING TO CUT IT.

The NP tried to make a joke out of it and suggested I carry Charlie around the block a few times, sort of implying that my recent frenzy of baseboard cleaning, mopping, and stairs vacuuming wasn't enough to move things along. I did not laugh. I thought about all the mean things I wanted to say. And then I planned my fifteen dollar Starbuck's drive-thru order as I lay helplessly on my back like a turtle trapped beneath a fifteen pound baby and waited for her to help me sit up so I could take a deep breath.

And then I put my clothes back on and called Ryan so I could spread the warmth and cheer of the holiday season with someone legally bound by God and the State of Texas to love me until I die. When I told him through gritted teeth about my "progress" he said "but I brought my camera to work today, just in case!" Then he suggested I go get something special to eat on the way to work. He gets me.

We're supposed to talk about "our" options at my next appointment, which is on Wednesday. The only options I want to be talking about on Wednesday involve which chair IN MY OWN LIVING ROOM is the most comfortable for nursing. And what kind of wine would I like with dinner.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Feathering

OK, so those of you who teased me yesterday about nesting because Ryan and I did six loads of laundry and I baked pumpkin bread and sugar cookies shaped like candy canes and made a big pot of chicken soup for dinner? And I scoffed that all of those things NEEDED to be done! The laundry was backed up because of the leaking washing machine! It's BAKING SEASON! That is practically liturgical, certainly not hormonal.

Well judging by the undeniable urge I had this afternoon to attack my kitchen with a dishtowel and a sinkful of Pinesol, you may have been onto something.

This morning I folded the last of the six loads of laundry and put some of it away and was ready to call it a day. But then Charlie decided to take a nap (miracle!) and Wes decided he'd rather watch Thomas the terrifying Tank Engine all afternoon, which I was juuuuust fine with me since it meant I could still carry out my naptime plan of doing absolutely nothing. But then I ran out of blogs to read and ate as many cookies as possible without Ryan coming home and thinking "what the heck happened to all the cookies?" and I thought "I'm just going to straighten up the lunch dishes and run the dishwasher."

An hour later I had scrubbed the baseboards and walls AND mopped the floor and 409ed the counters and cleaned the sink and started the dishwasher. My kitchen is GLEAMING my friends. Also, we are disgusting pigs for letting it get so bad.

And then I started to worry that I hadn't heard from Wes in a while. I went to check on him and found this:


No nap INDEED. I think I'll make these next!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

By Candlelight

Wes got excited when we all started changing our clothes after dinner tonight. Unfortunately for him, it quickly became clear that someone was going out and someone was staying home.

Brothers

That's because Charlie can handle long, solemn church services that begin an hour after bedtime. Wes isn't quite there yet.

Charlie and I went to the Lessons and Carols Advent service at my school. I have looked forward to it since last year's, which I spent in the lobby of the chapel following a not-quite-walking Wes around. I crammed myself into a pair of tights and my goin' out (and church and girls' night and Thanksgiving and eating at a restaurant with no clowns) dress even though 30 Rock and the comfy butt print I've made in our couch were SERIOUSLY calling my name.

Ready to go out

When we settled into our pew in the beautiful chapel I was so glad we'd made the effort. Charlie was pretty psyched about the candle they'd given me at the door but was oddly nonplussed by the choir who assembled in the back then processed singing "Once in Royal David's City" in a beautiful a capella. It was stirring. I will never know how I got so lucky to have found this school.

All ready for "Candle Church" (Lessons and Carols)

I was totally enthralled by the scripture readings and the hymns, which were chosen to compliment the different parts of the Christmas story, but by the third lesson and carol, bedtime caught up with Charlie.

He didn't make it past the third Lesson

He finds sacred music very soothing.

I was sorry he wasn't awake to experience the service, but it was so peaceful and cozy all snuggled up with the beautiful music and the solemn pace of the readings and responses.

And then we sang Joy to the World. I knew it was almost time to light the candles so I tried to wake Charlie up. He was out cold and nothing I could do discretely was waking him up so I let him sleep. We lit our candles and began singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing (my favorite!) as the choir began to lead the congregation out, starting with the front pews, everyone holding their lit candles in the darkened church. Charlie slept by my side through Hark the Herald and Silent Night as everyone filed out of the church. When I looked up from trying to gather our coats and figuring out how I would get him back to the car I noticed that the choir was standing right in front of us and we were the only people left in the chapel besides a couple of ushers and the chaplain.

Awesome

They sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful", sometimes accompanied by the pipe organ, sometimes a capella. All by candlelight. It was other-worldly, like a dream. Unbelievable.

And then when it was over someone broke the stillness with a silly little "whoo" and the spell was broken and the magical choir turned back into the scruffy college boys with the haircuts only a mother (or a mother of still-baby boys with ever-scruffy hair) could love. I somehow got Charlie to his feet and led him wearily out of the chapel into the cool night in search of a hot chocolate and a warm bed.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Days like this

Don't you hate it when your toddler is lying on the floor screaming about not wanting to get in the car so you leave the front door open while you strap the slightly more compliant preschooler into the car and while you're doing that your idiot dog runs out the front door and jumps on the neighbor's dog, whom your kids adore, and they both begin snarling and jumping around all ferociously, so you have to abandon the preschooler and run as fast as your poor overloaded pelvis can carry you and grab the dog and then when you turn around again the toddler is running out the front door still screaming, but now over the dog trauma, and heading for the driveway, so you have to throw the dog in the front door and run after the toddler and all the while you're yelling like an idiot in front of the whole neighborhood and now both kids are crying and asking if Rossby hurt the other dog, whom they love?

Yeah, I do too.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NoNoCompMo

I'm so proud of all my friends who have written 50,000 word novels this month as part of NaNoWriMo. And while I didn't even set myself to that kind of challenge this year, I do have a few accomplishments I'm proud of this month that I would like to share with you now.

1. I managed to not miss one afternoon nap, thanks to the PBS Kids afternoon line-up and a handful of DVDs from the library. Bonus: Charlie learned to operate the DVD player, which is on a shelf above the TV, about five feet off the ground. Those kids sure are resourceful.

2. I have let my poor, hardworking husband get up with the kids every single morning this month (I think. I may have slipped a couple of times during the really intense wall-building times), if only to allow myself an extra fifteen minutes to heft myself out of bed without the chorus of "Mama mama mama mama mama!"

3. Against doctor's orders I have picked up and held both of my enormous children when they've needed it, pretty much every day in November. I figure every one of those booboos and perceived injustices is good for at least an eighth of a centimeter of dilation, amIright?

4. I didn't go one day in November without complaining about part of my body hurting.

5. I have thought really hard about finishing up slash starting the three papers summarizing my dissertation work every single day this month. Not surprisingly, I have not followed through.

6. Ditto the NSF proposal.

7. I have wondered every day this month whether I'm doing the right thing by teaching next semester.

7a. I have thought "I should really get around to applying for some full-time jobs" around four o'clock every day.

8. I ate at least 6000 calories every day in the month of November. I couldn't have done it without you, Starbucks drive-through and Ryan, who made three delicious Thanksgiving pies this year.

I'd say all-in-all it's been a very productive month. And that I am an absolute joy to live with, clearly. Now, I've got some very important procrastinating and complaining to do. And eating. Let's not forget the pumpkin pie calling my name in the fridge.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Moving Day

Yesterday I took the kids out for breakfast tacos and a holiday parade and lunch just to get them out of the house so Ryan could FINISH the WALL. When we came back it was ready for moving in. Charlie was beside himself. There was jumping and shrieking. And then he sat on his bed and directed us where to hang all of his flags and pictures.

Our former junk storage/baby changing/ironing area...

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...has come a long, LONG way.

Charlie's New Room!

Here's part of the actual wall, constructed by Ryan, my husband who BUILDS FREAKING WALLS. He's so cool.

Charlie's New Room!

Charlie is so proud. This morning I was haranguing him about coming downstairs and putting on his shoes because we were late for church and when I went upstairs to see what was keeping him I found him painstakingly making his bed because he wanted his "new room to look beautiful." That kid kills me.

Ryan is also very proud--as he should be. He did a beautiful job and it matches perfectly with the existing walls. Expect to be dragged upstairs to admire it yourself if you visit us anytime in the next year.

Charlie's old room now features a crib (now with clean sheets!), a changing table, and a bag of the teeniest little diapers I've ever seen.

Friday, November 26, 2010

This doesn't mean I'm going to start wearing a visor

Ryan has been secretly jonesing for a minivan ever since I called him at work from our half-bathroom and shakily explained to him that we would, maybe, possibly, definitely be having another baby. You might remember that we bought a car not too long after Wes was born to replace my little Neon, which was fast becoming totally inadequate to carry around two kids and all of their accessories.

That would have been a great time to buy a minivan. And I kind of wanted to, but someone reasoned that we didn't need the third row because there was no way in hell we'd be adding anyone to our family, like ever. Not if there was any chance he'd nurse every two hours around the clock for six straight months like Wes. But then Wes got really cute and I finished my dissertation and, well, plans change.

I joked nervously to Ryan that we should have gone for the minivan instead of the perfect and cute little SUV. He laughed and said he "thought this might happen." I was slightly incredulous, since HE was the one who had talked me out of a minivan in the first place. No matter, I thought. My mom fit two kids in a Pinto, I can fit three in a RAV4. And I'll look really cool doing it. We don't need a minivan! I will not conform! And look! We had my niece for the weekend and it totally worked!

Cousins

That was the plan. Then Charlie grew past the LATCH-able forty pounds, meaning he would have to be next to one of the doors and Wes would have to be in the middle. And then Wes started doing stiff-baby every time I tried to put him in the car and he and Charlie learned to kick each other while strapped into their seats and every trip out of the house no matter how short turned into an exercise in LOSING MY MIND.

After they learned to kick each other I fessed up to Ryan that I was having doubts about our car situation. He was delighted! He had been doing research and thought the Toyota Sienna was the car for us! He told me all about how the seats fold flat into the floor, it gets reasonable fuel economy for a car its size, and you can fit like six pieces of sheetrock in it WITH THE TAILGATE CLOSED OMG.

I was still dubious. In my family, you do not replace a car until you have to sell it for $200 cash and arrange to have it towed to the new owner's house. The red car is still so new and pretty!

But Ryan's enthusiasm and the promise of side-curtain airbags swayed me and today we went out to look at some minivans. The first one we looked at had ninety-five thousand miles on it and no iPod port and still I thought Ryan was going to have to physically drag me from the car to take me home. Charlie clambored in and ran to the third row where he bounced on the seat on his knees and shrieked "I'M SITTING IN THE WAY BACK!!" Wes took the seat behind me next to the door, just like in our current car. I sat in the driver's seat and asked Ryan to go get the carseats. We would be test-driving this puppy. All of us.

It was awesome. So awesome. The carseats went in easily and it drove so nicely you'd never know you were hauling an extra half-car around behind you. Charlie seemed very far away, but no one was fighting or complaining. I was dizzy with the prospect of all those potential seating configurations. I mentally laid out the trunk--stroller goes here, groceries go here, emergency diaper stash goes here, work bag goes here. Dream car. Truly.

Charlie complained cheerfully but loudly about the next three cars we looked at because they did not have power doors. "I want to go back to the silver MINIVAN with the automatic door!! The door with the BUTTON, Mama! I want to be in the SILVER CAR." Those cars also did not have carseat tether hooks behind the third row, so they were out anyway, but he will not be present for the final negotiations. Neither will I. Nothing about pulling up to a car dealership in a RAV4 with two kids and practically ready to deliver a third puts you in a good bargaining position.

After a hot chocolate and potty stop we went to another dealership to test drive an Odyssey, the King of the Suburbs around here, and a reasonably sized and priced Mazda MPV. The only Odyssey they had was the thirty-three thousand dollar Mafia Cruiser, complete with a sunroof, fake wood detailing, a DVD system, and a black leather interior (and a generous cargo area suitable for transporting dead people, I noted). I was turned off immediately, but drove it anyway to confirm what I already knew. Charlie's silver MINIVAN (!!!) was the car for us. The MPV was too small, the Odyssey was too big, and the Sienna was just right.

I'm enjoying my last few weeks of small-car smugness, but I sure am going to enjoy those sliding doors when we have them.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The good news is Ryan has drywall experience!

Like three weeks ago I had some friends over for dinner. One of them offered to get something out of the pantry/laundry room off of our kitchen and I almost threw my body into her path to keep her from going in there. Our laundry room STINKS. And at the time, I had no idea why. I'd washed everything, so it wasn't my original suspicion, which was a moldy, yogurt-covered dishtowel waiting to be washed. It was totally gross. And with my heightened gag reflex, I avoided going in there when possible, which wasn't very often considering we do a LOT of laundry and all of our food is stored in there.

I finally got sick of it and decided to find the smell. I emptied the trash can and found a very old stinky diaper wrapped up in a Target bag. AHA!! I carried it triumphantly out to the outside trash and threw it away. The laundry room smelled better! I was the queen of home maintenance. Nevermind that it took me two weeks to find a dirty diaper in an open trashcan in our laundry room.

The laundry room smelled better for about five days. A couple of days ago it started to stink again. It smells BAD, you guys. I keep the door closed and the fan on and carry all the laundry out to the dining room to fold it because it is GROSS.

Today, I am out of clean clothes. Mostly because I have about two shirts and one pair of pants I like to wear. So I gathered some things and was preparing to wash them when I decided to peek behind the washer and see if a dirty diaper had managed to fall behind the washing machine. I had no idea why a diaper might have been in a position to do that, but it worked before, I figured it would work again.

There was no diaper. There was water. Standing water and a bunch of partially decomposed Cheerios, lint balls, and a moldy sock.

GAG. GAG GAG GAG GAG.

Also, NOOOOOOO. I cannot think of a worse possible time to have a washing machine malfunction. I really can't.

As usual, my solution was to call Ryan, who had been at work for all of fifteen minutes, to complain. Like he can do anything about it. He did not like my solution of just sliding the thing out from the wall so I could dry up the water. I suggested maybe if I just kick the crap out of it and yell a lot, that might fix it, but he was dubious. He said "The good news is you can't do laundry today!" Like YAY, doing laundry is so much more of a hassle than taking two kids to Target to buy underpants for the whole family. I have never wanted to do laundry more in my life. Had I known I would be stranded with no washer today I don't think I would have used my last load to wash tablecloths and sheets.

I have a feeling this project won't be nearly as upbeat and fun as The Wall, which should be done by the weekend and, for Ryan at least, is becoming less upbeat and fun by the minute.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Perfect Saturday Morning

A jammies breakfast picnic...



A recipe mistake and three weeks worth of gingerbread pancakes.... Bananas... Coffee...



All you can eat gingerbread pancakes, really...



Lazy cartoon time...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And now I will go change my shirt

As most of you readers with babies are familiar, the first step to every prenatal appointment is a little test of skill in which you have to provide a urine sample. At your first visit, it is not a complicated task. But by the time you're hauling around eight pounds of placenta, fifteen pounds of "maternal fat stores", and five pounds of precious miracle, trying to reach down there with the little cup, let alone aim a notoriously unreliable urine stream into that cup, is a task on par with the midair refueling of a Joint Strike Fighter.

And so it was today when I showed up to leave my offering at the altar of protein and glucose screening. I carefully spelled out my last name and first initial on the side of the cup, sat down, got the cup as in place as it could possibly be given my limited range of motion and inability to see around very, very large, round corners, and prepared to whiz all over my hand, my weekly contribution to "the humiliating things we do for our children."

After I'd gotten what seemed to be an adequate amount of fluid in the cup, and maybe a little more since Ryan was home this morning and I actually got to finish my entire cup of coffee, I was preparing to put the lid on when it started dripping. All the hell over the place. Figuring I had just gotten a little on the sides, as is wont to happen, I held it for a moment, waiting for the dripping to subside until I could put the top on and wipe everything up with toilet paper.

Except the dripping didn't stop. Quantities of urine which surely violated the law of conservation of mass were dribbling all over the floor in front of the toilet.

It didn't stop because it was coming from a GIANT CRACK IN THE BOTTOM OF THE CUP.

Naturally my reaction to finding myself holding a leaking cup of my own urine was to fling the whole thing into the nearby trash can and in the process slosh pee far and wide all over the tiny bathroom AND MY SHIRT.

This did not phase me as much as it should have.

Feeling more inconvenienced than grossed out, I sighed, got another cup, CHECKED IT CAREFULLY FOR INTEGRITY, wrote my name AGAIN, got as much of a sample as I could, put it in the little cabinet, mopped up as best I could with toilet paper and paper towels, washed the everloving heck out of my hands with the yellow institutional hand soap, zipped my coat up over the wet spots on my shirt, and headed back out to the waiting room to mentally mock all the advice in the new baby magazines.

Five weeks till the due date. I'm hoping for three.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A world of your imagination

The boys and I were on our way home from a birthday party last night when I heard a POP followed by the sound of chocolate candy rain exploding all over the car. Then Charlie laughing so hard he could barely breathe.

And then, oh no, crunching. Nothing but crunching.

Oh jeepers.

"Charlie?" I asked tentatively "What was that noise?"

"Wes's bag got a HOLE!" more hysterical laughing.

They had been possessively clutching their goodie bags when we left the party and I was too exhausted to insist the candy ride in the front seat with me. I foolishly let them ride the twenty minutes home with only a thin piece of plastic between their hot little hands and approximately twelve servings of M&Ms.

Crunch crunch crunch.

I evaluated my options. We were flying down the highway at sixty miles per hour in twilight. Not a great time to pull over. I blindly reached one arm behind me and felt around until I hit paydirt. When I jammed my hand between Wes's leg and the side of his carseat and came up with an entire handful of candy. The crunching continued, so I did it again, filling my cup holder with enough sugar to propel Wes into the magnetosphere half an hour before bedtime.

Charlie was hooting hysterically and I heard the distinctive ping ping ping of M&Ms popping out of a goodie bag.

"NOW MY BAG HAS A HOLE TOO!!!" Charlie was alive with nervous excitement.

I peeked over my shoulder as I slowed to turn onto another road. It was like Willy Wonka's magical factory in my back seat.

Captain Obvious shrieked "IT SMELLS LIKE CHOCOLATE IN HERE!!"

Wes crunch crunch crunched. Charlie laughed maniacally.

We were now driving down a four lane highway with no median in near darkness. There was no place to pull over. I was tired. The situation WAS kind of funny. Especially since I had no idea if we had anything at home for dinner. Why not M&Ms?

I gave up.

All three of us crunched our way home. Wes from his car seat, Charlie from his goodie bag, and me from my cupholder. We were giggling like a trio of potheads when Ryan came out to greet us in the driveway.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy News for Wes

You are not going to BELIEVE what Ryan found this morning.



In the foreground, Wes has "Bride of Smelly" or "Smelly II" or simply, "Blanket."

Over his other shoulder? FREAKING SMELLY.

Ryan was looking for one of Charlie's beloved bouncy balls and found Smelly UNDER THE OVEN. Of course. It's always in the last place you look.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Taco will be teaching from now on

This morning I had a crazy anxiety dream that I was supposed to go to this concert with a friend and I was really looking forward to it, but couldn't find anything to wear. Not in a "I have nothing to wear!" pouty kind of way, but in a "There are no clothes to cover my massive abdomen kind of way. Everyone was in the closet with me, making suggestions and talking over each other and I was so frustrated and stressed I just wanted to cry. In the dream I finally found some ill-fitting floral dress in a bag of hand-me-down maternity clothes and threw it on even though it wasn't clean or my taste and still made us forty-five minutes late to the concert. Then I woke up coughing uncontrollably from the lingering cold and acutely aware of the mountain of work I had to do before my lab started at two-twenty (that didn't get done earlier because of the croupy kid in the well-child waiting room). Just how I like to ease into the day.

Combining this last trimester of pregnancy with caring for the kids and teaching my two labs has been harder than I ever expected it to be. I thought since lab will be over right before Thanksgiving Break that I wouldn't have any pregnancy issues to deal with during the semester. I waved off many offers of help after I announced the pregnancy because I really thought it would be FIIIINE. I would still have a good three or four weeks to go by that point! No problem! You'll never even know!

I was not expecting the sciatic nerve pain to be this bad. Or the way my whole pelvis hurts so bad that I have to stand up for a minute or two before attempting to walk. I somehow forgot how hard it is to bend and reach for things once you get huge. And somehow I also overlooked how physical my job really is. Just the long walk from my car to the building is enough to make me really grouchy, especially the other day when the Homecoming "courtesy" golf cart passed RIGHT BY ME picking my way along and then drove straight to my building, completely empty. WTH?

And then there's the whole issue of clothing myself appropriately. Dresses are better because there's no risk of what my friend A calls "low belly exposure". But the only place to sit down during lab where I can still see everyone is on one of the lab benches. And since I can't cross my legs, sitting on a lab bench with my knees approximately eye level with the students is a recipe for disaster. This isn't often a problem because I spend most labs walking in slow circles around the room like a prison warden, my shoes clack clack clacking on the tile. But lab is usually two hours long and that starts to hurt after about thirty minutes. Like HURT hurt. It will be coming up at my next OB visit because obviously I'm not going to be able to avoid walking for the next month.

These are minor, temporary problems that are all part of getting something great (a baby, not an epidural, but that too). I am lucky to have such a supportive family, supportive coworkers, not to mention great students who fling themselves to the floor to pick up a dropped pencil if they see me starting to go after it. But man am I ready for next week to be over so I can spend work time sitting in a soft chair planning lectures (Preferably with easily accessible food and drinks. Taco is a snacker!) instead of pacing around the lab room for two hours (or sitting on a lab table fantasizing about getting put on bedrest). My missing ankle bones wish the same thing.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

And now I know that we need three humidifiers

Last week at Charlie's well check there was this croupy, snotty kid in the waiting room with us. In the "Well Child" waiting room. The one clearly marked with a happy face and a sign indicating children with ANY SYMPTOMS AT ALL in all caps belong twelve virus-killing feet away, across the hall in the sick child waiting room, the one with the sad face and the thermometer my kids think is a medicine dropper because they have never seen a mercury thermometer.

I glanced over (discretely, of course) at his mother every time he let out one of his lung-rattling cough-barks, but she seemed totally oblivious of the fact that she had brought a dirty bomb into the Lysol scented sanctuary known as the Well Child waiting room. My whole plan was foiled. First appointment of the day? Check. Two healthy kids to ensure admittance into the Well Child waiting room? Check. FOLLOWING OF THE RULES BY OTHER PEOPLE? NO CHECK.

Not surprisingly, Wes started honking sometime in the night between Saturday and Sunday. He also woke up about ninety seven times and required one of us to be in the room to even consider dropping off to sleep again. Magical.

He seemed A-OK when he got up on Sunday so we went about our usual routine, but then Charlie started sounding stuffy about midway through the day. And then *I* woke up Monday morning around 3:00 with a sore throat and stuffed up nose. Oh, no no no no no no. Monday Wes was full-on miserable, I sneezed so many times in a row I was afraid I would have to pull the car over for safety, and Charlie was definitely sick.

We did the most natural thing when faced with the rhinovirus trifecta, we drove forty-five minutes into downtown because we needed The Good Cinnamon Rolls. And I needed a giant, cold glass of iced tea with tons of ice to scrape the layer of yuck off the inside of my throat. We really had a lovely time.

Then we came home and watched TV for fourteen hours straight. I may never stop hearing the Caillou theme music in my head, but at least everyone was relatively content.

Last night was when things really took a turn for the disgusting. It all came to a head this morning when I picked a sobbing, miserable Charlie up at 5:30 and he spit up phlegm all over my shoulder. You are welcome for that. Several hours of TV, donuts, and unlimited bananas later Charlie had a fever and winced in pain when I gently wiped yogurt off his cheekbones and nose. So, since we didn't have preschool to worry about, we headed back to the doctor's office to rule out a sinus infection.

He doesn't have one. Yet. Then I got in trouble for giving him the six-month old prescription decongestant we had from the last cold. I did not tell Pediatrician Man that he's lucky I'm not selling that stuff on the street because do you even KNOW what kind of reactions I get when I tell people Charlie and Wes have their very own, under five approved, decongestant?

The BEST PART was when Pediatrician Man told me that, given the fact that Wes has not yet had a fever and has some symptoms that Charlie doesn't have (A diaper so disgusting I had to open all the windows after changing him this morning, for example), that they *might* have DIFFERENT VIRUSES and if I'm not careful, they could recover from their original virus, then SWITCH and be sick for another week to ten days. OH BOY.

I let Charlie pick out dinner because they were both so pitiful. He chose ham, mac and cheese, and cinnamon rolls. So that's what we're having. And I will continue my regimen of compulsive handwashing until everyone is in the clear. Which will probably be in April sometime.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Oh dear

Charlie was milling around the downstairs today during Wes's nap, not doing anything in particular, when he started to ask me for some oddly specific items. First he brought the toilet paper out of the bathroom and said "I need this tube." So I found him an empty toilet paper tube. Then it was "I need a piece of white paper and no crayons." Interesting. Then he wanted a glass of water. I started to get him a plastic cup and he corrected me. "No, I want a GLASS of water. In a glass cup!" So I got him a GLASS of water.

By now I was getting curious, so I followed him. He led me to the kitchen table where he had set up this refraction experiment all by himself. "I want to make a rainbow," he explained.

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He said he'd seen it done on Curious George. Unfortunately, the LED flashlight we had didn't work as well as an incandescent would have, so we tried to find Ryan's Mag Light with no luck.

If this is where he is at four I may need to rethink some of my "first science fair" ideas.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

For nerds only

Ryan and I are watching our beloved Red Raiders tonight, even though they have completely fallen apart at the seams this year (Yes, I'm still angry about the change in leadership). After a particularly mystifying long pass into an empty area of the field several yards from the closest receiver the announcer said "Looks like Sheffield and the receiver weren't on the same page there, heh heh heh."

Ryan and I responded at the exact same moment. I said "They're not even in the same book!" and Ryan shouted "It's like Sheffield was in the 340's and the receiver was in the 580s!!"

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Veni Veni Adventus

I have a secret.

No, I do not come home from preschool dropoff, strip down to nothing and clean my house like that lady on Oprah we talked about at Girls' Game Night last week. She's crazy. Or maybe she just lives in Texas and can't stand sweating in her own house. Trust me, I've been known to sit on the couch with my shirt pulled up so my belly could get some freaking air from time to time, but fortunately our overnight lows have been in the forties and I think we're done with that for a little while.

My secret is different. But it does involve preschool dropoff.

After I drop my kids off into their world of Pilgrims and Native Americans and turkeys fashioned out of little tiny festively colored hand prints, I get back into my car and crank up my Kings College Christmas CD so loud it's like I'm standing right there in the cathedral with them. Possibly louder than that even, because the English, they are a reserved people.

And then I sing. Loudly. In harmony. In Latin. But since I can't harmonize and don't know Latin it comes out sounding a lot like Wes when he was singing "Glory Days" by Bruce Springsteen into a measuring spoon the other day. I don't care, though, because I am alone and the music (coming from the CD player, that is) is so beautiful.

I am eagerly looking forward to the season of Advent this year. More than other years, even, I am looking forward to the season of looking forward. I can't wait to get out our Advent wreath and read through the verses together as a family after dinner on Sundays before we have our special cookies and eggnog. I can't wait for the Hanging of the Greens at church, the Live Nativity and associated dressing of the children like tiny shepherds that we will undoubtedly lose track of during the performance only to find them gleefully feeding the animals in the manger. It's partly because the boys, especially Charlie, are at a new level of understanding, but mostly because through it all, our family will be anticipating the arrival of our fifth little member. The one we never expected, until one day we both just knew someone was missing. Someone who already had a name!

So I guess the early Christmas music is serving a nobler purpose than, say, Target's insistence on blasting Christmas pop music through the store the day after Halloween. Like putting all the little annoyances into perspective. Sure I don't really have any interest in eating something that's not wrapped in a tortilla, but at least I don't have to ride a donkey through the freezing desert day after day. And as painful as it was to watch the election returns on Tuesday, I think we can all agree the Tea Party is probably less scary than King Herod (probably).

Now to drum up some enthusiasm for Thanksgiving. The whole point of Advent is the sweet anticipation of Christmas, after all. I'm pretty sure "sweet anticipation" does not refer to buying eggnog while you still have your pilgrim statues out on the dining room table.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another tranquil birthday morning at my house

After a lovely night of cool weather and gentle thunderstorms, Charlie's birthday was heralded in much the same way every morning is greeted in this house: a slamming toilet seat, a flush, and Charlie's door snapping shut as he went back to bed "until it's daytime." Little did we know after glancing at our alarm clock, which read "5:50" that it already WAS morning, the birthday boy having changed the clock's time zone unbeknownst to us sometime yesterday. Twenty minutes or so later I padded down the stairs groggily to frost the sugar cookies we would be taking to Charlie's class, so proud of myself for allowing enough time to get everything done. That is, I was proud until I reached the bottom of the stairs and both the clock on the microwave and the clock on the wall read 7:15. OH SHIT.

"RYAN GET THE KIDS DRESSED IT'S SEVEN-FIFTEEN NOT SIX-FIFTEEN! I'LL MAKE THE LUNCHES! HURRY HURRY HURRY WE HAVE TO EAT SOME CUPCAKES QUICK!"

People started trickling down the stairs around 7:30, demanding licks of icing off my spoon and complaining about being hungry. We were finally all assembled at 7:40, ready to sing Happy Birthday to Charlie and eat some cupcakes and bananas.

We managed a fifteen minute period of calm congeniality while everyone ate his cupcake--even Wes wished Charlie "Happy Day, Chah-weee!"-- but then we were off to the races again. Ryan was only twenty minutes late to work and I managed to slap together a respectable enough outfit in about forty-five seconds then get us all to preschool on time with no trouble, though I did miss out on the usual parking lot chit chat that forms the basis of my social life.

After I dropped the boys off I went to the sanctuary to wait for chapel to start because birthday kids get to go up on the STAGE and get a ribbon. He looked so proud and grown up up there.


He wore his new Charlie Brown shirt, his morning birthday present. He may never take it off.

I stopped at the store on the way home for my forgotten breakfast and caffeine then picked up one of everything in the kiddie sporting goods department at Target, including the bat and ball Ryan requested "covered in foamy stuff so they can't kill each other with it." Wes scored a new mini basketball because I was feeling guilt and sensed that we will need something to distract him when Charlie starts unwrapping the big boy choking hazard Legos.

I just hope he remembers HE asked for a grocery store cookie cake tonight after dinner because after three birthday parties last month, Halloween, and the cookies for his class (which I made at 10:00 last night after meeting with another professor for a crash course in geology for the course I'm teaching in the spring), the bakery is CLOSED.

And also, wasn't this picture taken like, last week? Seriously. We have to stop giving him so much milk!

He seems to like the bouncer
Charlie, fresh from the hospital, when I still knew everything there was to know about raising babies.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

The most overstimulating time of the year

A few weeks ago Ryan said "If the Rangers go to the World Series would you mind if I went to a game?" I didn't think it would actually happen so I didn't really look up from what I was doing at the time to say "Sure, why don't you take Charlie?" then mentally added "because I'm sure as hell not sitting on a metal chair outside for four hours watching everyone around me drink beer."

As it turned out, they just kept winning. Yay! And then Ryan's dad surprised him with two tickets to Game 3. Double yay! Last night found Ryan and Charlie and Ryan's family here:

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It goes without saying that taking Charlie to a World Series game was a pretty cool moment for Ryan, a lifelong baseball fan. Charlie asked to look at the tickets every day last week.

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I watched the game on TV and tried to pick a couple of quiet moments to call and make sure no one had been trampled, lost, or hit with a ball, but apparently there are no quiet moments when there are 54,000 people gathered to watch a team in its first ever World Series appearance. From what I could piece together, they were having a really, really good time.

I still can't get a lot of detail out of either of them other than "ITWASSOMUCHFUNOMG!" And Charlie had a hot dog and some nachos and learned how to do The Claw. Charlie pretty much hasn't slept in two days but is hanging on admirably.

Wes and I stayed here in South where we played with cousins, went to church, and oversaw the spraying of texture on The Wall. The texture is done, so all we have left is paint, baseboards, and doors. I am very, very excited about this.

Ryan and Charlie came back today just in time to suit up the superheroes and head out with my family for some candy.

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The Super Brothers.

Wes continues to try and kill me with the cuteness. He had no trouble picking up on the whole Trick or Treating thing. After accepting their offer of candy, he walked right into the foyer of the first house and was headed for the kitchen when I finally got his attention.

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Cute little backs.

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This one I think we should definitely have printed so we can hang it in the living room.

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After trick or treating we gathered at my house for lasagna and cupcakes then Ryan threw the children in bed so "we" could watch/yell at Game 4. So far it looks like it's good they went last night, lest Charlie learn some colorful new language to pass along to his preschool friends. A really great weekend all around. And now I'm going to go raid the kids' candy for some of that rock hard gum that only tastes good for two minutes because I've been thinking about that stuff for three days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Something Doesn't Smell Right

We have a problem. Smelly is missing. I noticed that he was gone on Monday when we were leaving for the Community Center and Wes didn't have him. Wes takes Smelly everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I swore he had him at breakfast, so I figured the blanket was in the house somewhere and felt relieved that for once I wasn't going to have to keep track of our de facto third child while we were out. When we got home Wes started asking for Smelly. And I started looking. And I've been looking ever since.

Ryan and I (mostly me because I have lost all sense of perspective in this matter) have torn the house APART trying to find Smelly. I've looked under mattresses, in all the couch cushions, did all the laundry hoping he was stuck in some pile somewhere. Ryan even searched the trash before putting it out for the truck this morning. Wes better thank us for this in his valedictorian speech.

Thank GOODNESS that after a brief period of asking for Smelly and rejecting other, similar blankets, my late night trickery, in which I tucked Smelly II in with Wes once he was asleep, paid off. He jumped out of bed this morning, grabbed Smelly II, balled him up, held him close to the right side of his face, and stuck his thumb in his mouth, just like he has with Smelly I for the last twelve months or so. I was so relieved. Relieved doesn't even begin to describe it, actually, after a night of totally irrational anxiety dreams about a damn baby blanket. Yes, I've lost sleep over a freaking twenty-four by forty-eight piece of blue fleece, friends. I think we can thank Taco and the pesky hormone-emitting placenta for that one.

But, really, Smelly is so much more than a scrap of extremely dirty synthetically produced blue fabric. Smelly was the only thing that comforted Wes when he was an infant. It was the perfect size and stretchy-ness to do a really tight swaddle. He's taken Smelly on airplanes to far off destinations where it was the only familiar thing. For a kid who loves routine as much as I love refined carbohydrates, Smelly is a Very Important Lovey. Especially on trips. Smelly joined us at the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., our trip to New England this summer, his first HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY day of school and the first time he was apprehensive about school. Smelly has comforted him through many a thunderstorm, new tooth, and fever.

Today, I finally gave up on Smelly being in our house. There is really nowhere else to look. So I called the restaurant where we had brunch with Ryan's family on Sunday. Wes carried Smelly all over the playground, dragging him through the sandbox, up and down the slide, held him in his left hand while he ate his pancakes with his right hand.

"We had lunch there Sunday and my son may have left his blanket behind, you haven't seen it have you?" I asked. "Was it really dirty?" she responded. I knew it was Smelly. "I found that blanket and I knew someone would really be missing their lovey!" she said. My heart leaped. "Let me just go upstairs and check the lost and found. No one would have thrown it out." She happily chattered all the way up the stairs about the lost and found and all the strange things they find. And then her tone changed. Smelly was no longer in the lost and found. She took my name and number and promised to ask around.

So now instead of cleaning up my house and prepping dinner for my six dinner guests before I have to spend the afternoon teaching, I am listening to Christmas Carols on YouTube and trying not to be sad over this ridiculous situation. And yes, I do realize how ridiculous I am being. But did we really have to lose the last piece of Wes's babyhood just weeks before he's officially not a baby anymore?

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