Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The ER! The Baptism! A big weekend!

Mary had an exciting weekend!  It started on Friday when she developed a fever, hives, and a cough.  I called the doctor who said she needed to go to the emergency room RIGHT AWAY NO YOU DON'T HAVE TIME TO ARRANGE FOR A SITTER.

I did not know this, but apparently if you are under twelve weeks old and have a fever over 100.4 this is a HUGE PROBLEM.  Mary's temp was 101.1, firmly in "oh shit" territory.

Fortunately for the other two children who were home at the time and the one who needed a ride home from school in forty-five minutes, our babysitter was already scheduled to arrive five minutes after the phone call, so I was able to leave them home.  But, needless to say, it was not the safest drive down I-35 I've ever taken.  I put the car in park before it was completely stopped when I saw Ryan waiting at the door to the emergency room.  He took her in while I parked the car.

They called her back right away for a chest xray, urine sample, and blood draw, all of which she passed with flying colors.  Seven hours later I took her home with a Justavirus diagnosis.  She continues to do well--the cough went away Saturday and she hasn't had any hives since Monday morning, so YAY YAY YAY.  So grateful that everyone is usually healthy because that was Scary.

It's good she was feeling better because Sunday was Mary's Christening!

This not being our first rodeo, we knew not to put her in her dress until four minutes before showtime, so we did a little bloomers and bonnet photoshoot at our house before we left for church.

I LOVE this face. It's like the infant version of "Seriously." Also, hives!

Right before we went inside the church we decked her out in her pretty pink dress. (This happened in the car while Ryan tried in vain to keep the other kids from running around a muddy field near where we'd parked. ONE DAY! I ask you to keep your clothes clean for ONE DAY!)


We took some family pictures.


And then it was showtime.


She was so happy and smiley the whole time. The pastor walked her around the church to introduce her to the congregation and then held for kind of a long time after that while the organist continued to improvise on the lullaby they play for the new babies. It was very sweet. We really love our community.

(Less sweet was the way right after the whole family walked up to the front for the ceremony Wes exclaimed "I have to go potty!" I hesitated for a moment but when I saw that he was about to freak the hell out I told him "JUST GO" and he ran up the center aisle of the church and out the door. A friend's husband went out after him and made sure he came back right after going to the bathroom instead of the normal fooling around with the paper towel dispenser and soap thing he usually does to avoid church.)

Mary spent some time with her Godparents.


And then we went home and had a party. The kind of party where the hosts get out of church late, hit every red light on the way home, and arrive to find half the guests standing on the front lawn. Fortunately we have great friends who also fortunately keep sports equipment in their car so the kids will have something to do while they wait. Later I would put them to work serving mimosas, setting the table, and making the salad.


And of course there was cake!


It was so lovely and crowded with wonderful friends filling our house. Kids running in and out and stealing bites of frosting. People passing babies around. Lots of good food. It was a great way to end the weekend.

(And there was tons of extra cake, which lasted until Wednesday, surprisingly.)

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Academomia's Guide to Bedtime Routines by Birth Order

First Baby:  When putting your first baby down for a cozy night's rest, it is important that your husband leave work early so you can spend the hours of 4:30-6:30 preparing him for sleep as a family.  You should start with a soothing bath using warm water (always test the water temperature using a thermometer) and organic jasmine scented baby wash made by nuns on a dairy farm in Vermont.  After the bath, your husband should dry, lotion, and dress the baby in a clean pair of pajamas while you perform your specially designed relaxation yoga sequence to stimulate milk production and letdown.  When baby is ready (as indicated by the following cues: yawning, eye rubbing, mouthing of the hands), light candles and play soft music, nurse the baby until he is asleep.  Once you are sure he is asleep, gently lay him on his back in his crib, start the white noise machine, extinguish all candles, and tiptoe backwards out of the room.  Check on him fourteen times an hour until you go to bed.

Fourth Baby:  Set older children up with their dinner then carry your screaming infant around one-handed for thirty minutes as you gather dirty clothes for the washer, kick toys into the playroom, and load the dishwasher.  When children are finished, yell over the noise to nag them about clearing the table.  Lay baby on kitchen counter and secure with free hand while you throw handfuls of chocolate kitty cat crackers at hungry siblings like a farmer feeding a flock of chickens.  Scoop baby up, gather a clean diaper, wipes, a pair of pajamas, and a swaddling blanket, shoo older children out the front door to play, then sit on the porch.  Diaper infant in your lap while yelling to your toddler to stay out of the street.  Wrestle extremely pissed off two-month old baby into footie pajamas.  Belatedly remember and call your oldest back inside to go practice piano.  Use scary mom voice to warn oldest child of consequences of continuing to speak that way.  Carry half-dressed baby across yard to physically drag toddler away from the curb.  Continue dressing baby.  Swaddle baby.  Make unsuccessful attempt to visually locate five year old.  Re-swaddle crafty Houdini infant.  Remove shirt.  Greet male neighbor walking his dog.  Nurse baby.  Watch five year old run across neighbor's yard wearing a fairy-princess ballgown and a Darth Vader mask.  Help toddler who has carried a full gallon of orange juice and a cup out to the porch to ask for "Dooce pease?"  Switch baby to other side.  Call down street to ask five year old to stop building Stonehenge out of the neighbor's landscaping rocks.  Baby falls asleep.  Allow chaos to reign around you for the twenty minutes it takes your husband to get home lest you speak and wake the baby.  When husband arrives, carry sleeping baby to crib.  Perform sacred dance and snuff the area with sage to ensure baby does not wake up before midnight because THERE IS STILL SO MUCH CRAP TO DO.  When baby wakes up thirty minutes later, snuggle up in the dark while husband herds loud, stompy, reluctant older children into bed.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Homework "support"

Between school and our two extracurricular activities each week the whole family is just DONE by Thursday afternoon.

Last night was no exception and after Ryan carried a comatose Wes upstairs from the car to be tucked in to bed fully clothed, he put James down while I fed and put Mary down.  Charlie was instructed to spend the twenty or so minutes it took to do those two things "doing his reading for school."

Which is what led to me standing in my pajamas this morning holding Charlie's reading chart and a pen, five minutes before he absolutely HAD to leave, asking him "Please, please, please tell me you read something with actual text in it yesterday?  Anything at all?  A catalog?  A Mo Willems book?  Family Circle?"

Because I am a rule follower and the thought of either A) falsifying his reading folder or B) admitting that we gave him a pass from the homework tyranny for one measly little night when he was so tired he burst into hysterical (and highly out of character) tears at 7:00 because he couldn't go out to play IN THE DARK both seemed like undesirable choices.

He seemed to sense my desperation and told me that he had indeed read several pages of a school book before settling in to "Where's Waldo" for the rest of the evening.

Because I really didn't want to write "Where's Waldo" on his reading chart.  Or maybe I did.  Because I hate that freaking reading chart.  My kid loves to read; most of the time it's Beverly Cleary and Rhode Dahl and Mark Brown.  His teacher has been sending home some very nice and just-challenging-enough chapter books for him.  But sometimes he just wants to chill out and "read" Where's Waldo.

Sometimes he sneaks up behind me and reads over my shoulder and asks me questions like "Why are people so mad about a 'Tea Party'?  It sounds nice to me."

If I can read everything from Virginia Wolfe to Cosmo, why can't he do the six-year-old equivalent?  Minus the sex quizzes, of course.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Beep beep

Fun morning at our house!

I was upstairs getting ready as Ryan left for work when I heard loud honking coming from the driveway.  Naturally I assumed Ryan had finally snapped under the pressure of bringing home the bacon and caring for the needs of four (five counting me?) emotionally volatile children.  To be fair, he once thought the same thing about me when he heard me honking wildly in the garage, but that was because the door was open and I was trying to scare our dog back into the house.

When I looked out the front window I saw him sitting calmly in the driver's seat, jiggling his steering wheel, his engineer's look of concentration on his face, trying to get the honking to stop because apparently the car had a mind of its own.


It was just after eight o'clock in the morning.

"Well we can definitely not complain about the neighbor's car alarm now," I thought, "how annoying."

The honking stopped sometime while I was running down the stairs and when I went outside Ryan was rolling the car down the driveway to leave (the car no longer goes in reverse).  James and I waved goodbye and had just turned to go back into the house when I heard it start up again as Ryan rounded the corner.


Ryan was getting out of the car, horn still blaring, when we made it around the corner from our house.  He opened the hood, muttering something I couldn't make out over the racket, ripped the cover off the fusebox and started messing around inside.  I stood next to him with my hands over my ears yelling over the noise "LET ME DRIVE YOU TO WORK, IT'S REALLY NO TROUBLE" when he ripped a black piece of plastic and metal out of the car and the honking stopped abruptly

 He examined it for a moment, saying to himself "Maybe it's the relay."

Then, turning to me, "Fixed it! Have a good day!"

He was about to get back in the car to go to work with no horn and no reverse when I suggested maybe we should drive him in this time?  Because what if that thing you just ripped out of the car just now does something besides just the horn?

Because while he has three advanced degrees in engineering, he does not have the hormonal anxiety disorder I have that would prevent him from driving on the highway with a mysterious piece of the car IN HIS SHIRT POCKET.

So he drove around the block (no reverse, remember?) and came home and we all took him to work on the way to the Y.

I am pretty sure he is still taking the honk-mobile in tomorrow.  But its days are numbered (Ryan disagrees).

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why even if there is no more room for people in here we can never put the house on the market

You are welcome anytime. But it might look like this. Welcome, friends! Griswolds! Addams! Hecks!

Can I offer you a diaper? A dead plant? We're messy but we're fun!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Attention seeking missle

It must be hard to be a little kid.

One minute, you're pissed off that you didn't get to use the astronaut scale at the grocery store so you dilly dally walking to the car by climbing up the concrete benches and then wrapping your arms around the concrete pillars holding up the awning and then shimmying up, UP, UP.

You're ignoring your mother, who keeps nagging you about staying close in the parking lot because she obviously doesn't understand a single thing about you and keeps blathering on about a hungry sister and ice cream thawing and needing a shower before work.  Totally unreasonable, you think, I just need to climb up this pillar to see what happens, sheesh.

And then your annoying little brother tries to climb up the pillar behind you because he does everything you do, even if he can't, but he's standing on the bench below you trying to figure out how to get up on the pillar.

And you feel annoyed, because of the astronaut scale and because you're tired and because your brother is so loud and insistent and you're a little bored because grocery shopping is stupid.

So you think, what will happen if I just sort of...

And then your mom's eyes start to get really big.

....sort of push my brother a leeeeeeetle bit...

And then she abandons the cart and starts walking fast.

....sort of, push him off the bench onto the concrete...


And then you think to yourself, I am AWESOME.  LOOK AT MY POWER.  I WIN!

But then you get roughly put into your car seat and your brother is the one who gets an ice pack and juice when you get home.

Being five is a drag, man.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Overheard in Charlie and Wes's room, after lights out but before the absolute cutoff for needing to go to sleep RIGHT NOW so I don't get an email from your teacher about your behavior tomorrow.

Charlie: Hey, Wes, you know how when you have to go potty really bad it comes out really fast?

Wes: Yeah! And it sprays out really fast and goes everywhere? [This explains many things]


Charlie: Well wouldn't it be cool if you had to go like really REALLY bad and it shot out--



Charlie: YES!



Charlie [with kindness]: No, Wes, to Charon. Charon is the furthest object from the sun. Even FURTHER than Pluto.

Wes: OH, cool! All the way to Charon! [I can tell by his voice that he is smiling]


As I tiptoed down the stairs I heard Charlie explaining "If you went all the way to Pluto you'd be dead!"

(Barely appropriate church wrestling pictures taken after this morning's service, just before I hissed at them to "stand up and knock it off, we're in CHURCH" and tried not to laugh)

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Middle middle

So Wes turned five last weekend and it just occurred to me that I hadn't written about it yet, which is the story of Wes's life.  Fortunately for him, and all of us, Wes is COOL.  He's up for anything, always ready for fun, and a friend to all the siblings.  He makes up elaborate narratives using his "guys" (pictured), cars, blocks, cardboard boxes, and anything else he can lay his hands on.

He still will not willingly eat anything that was ever grown in the ground (exception to the rule: bananas and beans of all descriptions), but the other day I convinced him a pomegranate seed tasted like a Sweet Tart and he popped it in his mouth with a minimum of convincing.  He spit it out a moment later, but HE TRIED.  That is progress.

He got to join children's choir this year and has the same teacher Charlie had for Pre-K.  All of this makes him feel terribly grown up.  So does tagging along to Charlie's Scout meetings.  He loves other kids and can make friends with anyone.  This summer when we were stranded at JFK for seven hours, Wes had befriended almost everyone at our gate.  Once we asked him how he knew when someone was his friend and he said "When they talk to me, they are my friend."  By that definition, Wes has friends at the grocery store, the airport, at church, at school, at Charlie's school, at the doctor, and everywhere else he's ever been.  He's a friendly friend and I love that about him.



He asked for a chocolate digger cake, just like the one he had last year.  Chocolate cake and chocolate icing with Oreos and a digger.


He even made it "dig" in the frosting a little bit after he blew out the candles.


Wes shares my sweet tooth.  He and Buddy the Elf would get along fabulously.  Yesterday I had to send him outside after he'd sneaked the icing off of a third cupcake (just the icing!).  He's getting so tall we can't always hide things in the microwave like we used to.  He would live on cookies if we let him.  Cookies and beans.  Bachelorhood should be no problem for him.

We gave him a Hot Wheels track for his birthday and when he opened it he began screaming "HOT WHEELS!  HOT WHEELS!  HOT WHEELS!" and ran to Charlie for a huge bear hug before they both went running all over the downstairs screaming.  Charlie is Wes's best friend and they go to each other before even remembering that Ryan and I exist.  Probably because I usually correct them when they sing things like "Jingle fart jingle fart jingle all the way" and brothers just get how hilarious that is.  When we pick Charlie up from school Wes runs at him and hugs him tightly then hangs on and wraps his legs around him.  Charlie secretly loves this.


Sometimes we call Wes our fratboy (because he is so wonderfully wild and carefree and also because he has fallen asleep in front of the toilet more than once) and now when we find things like this now we only smile and shake our heads.


He was so disappointed that we didn't invite friends to his birthday night dinner that he cried and said "I'll NEVER turn FIVE AGAIN!"  He so rarely freaks out about something so personal (usually it's more like "I wanted to put the jelly on my bagel and you did it for me) that I knew we had to plan something special really soon.  So he invited four friends over for pizza and a movie and cupcakes last night.  He was so proud to have everyone over and introduce them to the other kids.  He especially wanted to show Mary off.  This kid.


The other kids couldn't believe they got to eat pizza in the living room with the TV on.  But that's how we do things in our family--what starts as a way to get some peace and quiet on Friday nights for Ryan and me to talk to each other like big people turns into a treasured family tradition.  There's no way to plan these things. Wes's friends are all nice kids too and it was a great time.


Happy birthday to our favorite superhero!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Epilogue: I got the laundry put away after work. Epilogue epilogue: Wine

The crap (sometimes literal) is hitting the having-it-all fan around here, you guys.  I went to Tar-jay this morning because we were out of all of our absorbent materials--Mary diapers, James diapers, and nursing pads--and I needed some purple polka dot skinny jeans for Mary and also some Advil because I pop those things like M&Ms these days.  And I wanted to pick up some goodies for my sister and the kids needed (would perish without) orange juice and Pirate's Booty.

And so we took care of all that and I was exhausted and ready for bed and it was only ten o'clock in the morning.

I set Wes and James up with some Pirate's Booty and OJ at the table (mmmm lunch) and headed upstairs with Mary to take a shower and get ready for work.  And walked into the Dante's freaking Inferno of laundry neglect and despair, also known as Our Master Bedroom.

I'm not sure how I managed to forget the four baskets of clothes sitting on the floor.  Or the unmade bed.  Or the nursing pads flung willy-nilly around the room like someone was playing the world's grossest game of cornhole.

The blinds were also down, which really enhanced the flop house vibe I had going in there.

But what really sent me over the top was the unflushed (not by me) toilet WITH THE SEAT UP and the adjacent overfull trash can and the bathroom counter covered in sticky blue toothpaste.

(Why is there sticky blue Spiderman toothpaste all over MY bathroom counter, you might want to know?  Because the Situational Awareness Brothers cannot possibly brush their teeth in their bathroom without making enough noise to wake up not only Mary, but also the neighbor's children and children in Oklahoma)

I decided the best way to handle the pounding, pressure-y, explod-a-rific sensation in my head was to email Ryan a carefully thought out and professionally worded email at work.

"We need a housekeeper.  This is gross."

Because what every hardworking man wants is to be hassled about taking out the trash at the same moment he is also likely getting hassled by his boss.

I aim to please.

After my shower Mary was relatively content in her bouncer, so like the completely not mentally ill person I am, I emptied all the trash cans and cleaned all the toilets in my bra and undies.

During this time Wes and James drank two quarts of orange juice and ate an entire bag of Pirate's Booty.  I am so proud of their independence.

Finally I put on my skirt and top and then I made the bed and finally threw out all the extra mesh underpants from the hospital that have been living on my bedroom floor for eight weeks.  It's good we saved those.

By then I had twenty minutes before go-time, so I washed the bottles, filled the bottles, cleaned up breakfast and "lunch", gathered my work items from all over the house, nursed Mary, popped some Advil, and found my shoes.

When I got to work I fed Mary the second side and hastily jotted down some things I wanted to review before starting today's lecture.  Except later when I looked down at the list, standing in front of my class, chalk in hand, it did not say "Major ocean basins, marginal seas, passive vs. active continental margins" it said "Mary leggings, wipes, size 1 diapers, orange juice, Advil." 

I win multitasking.

After class I received Ryan's response to my thoughtful email: "OK".  Subtext: "Is there anything sharp where you are?  Because I am concerned."

AND THEN I was out in the hall having a conversation about some upcoming meetings with my department chair when Mary made a noise that sounded like a garbage disposal unclogging itself.  My plan was to keep talking like nothing had happened, you know, like LOOK AT ME BEING ALL PROFESSIONAL WITH MAH GASSY BABY ON MY HIP!", but a split second after the garbage disposal noise there was a loud SPLAT!! as what I assume to be a fairly large volume of spitup hit the floor behind me.

And that is how you know it is time to go home and put your stretchy pants back on.