Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Day in the life, Fall 2013.

MJ is a recently minted 4-year-old. Greta is nearly 15 months old. I am nearly 7 months pregnant (that sounds terrifying). I had meant to do this all week, but every day I realized at about noon that I had forgotten to document anything. So I chose the last possible day, Sunday, October 21st. On Friday we drove to Menomonie, Wisconsin, for the wedding of some friends. MJ had the time of her life, and she followed the bride around all. day. long. Thankfully, the bride is a sweet bride (as opposed to the other kind) and didn’t mind that MJ appeared in probably half of the pictures taken that day. The girls were up late Saturday night; Greta fell asleep about 9, and MJ didn’t fall asleep until 11, thanks to a late afternoon nap.
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Husband and MJ.  At one of the points in the night when she was actually sleeping.
7:15 a.m. Kids are up. Really, Greta is up, because MJ was up off-and-on all night long. I think every time I got up to pee (which is often these days) she woke up and wanted to chit-chat. And she seems to chatter in her sleep, which I hadn’t realized, so that there never seems to be an end to the talking. I don’t know how pioneers did it, with one room cabins. Two nights in a hotel room with 2 kids, a drunk husband (not judging, it was a wedding after all) and a dog and I’m spent. So I talk husband into taking them down for breakfast through a very grumpy half-haze. My whole body aches, and my hips are particularly sore. 10 minutes later they’re gone and I actually manage to fall back asleep. Vito doesn’t even whine for once (though I discovered later that husband had taken Vito with and I hadn’t even realized it).
8:15 a.m. The crew is back in the room. You can hear the stampede coming down the hallway before they even get to the door. Husband comments that I’m the one that looks hungover, and I know he is right. I feel hungover. Two days with little sleep due to MJ has me worn out. I thought Greta would be the problem child, but I was wrong. MJ woke up at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and never went back to sleep, and then didn’t fall asleep until 11 p.m. on Saturday night. At any rate, I get them dressed for the pool and husband takes them down. Thankfully, he’s being very helpful (if a bit begrudgingly, but I’ll take it). I grab some breakfast downstairs and chat with some of our friends that are also staying at the hotel. Our friends 21-month-old son managed to clog their toilet with T.P. which makes me laugh.
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Yep.  7 months pregnant, in all my glory.  The detritus of a weekend in a hotel room behind me.  Greta dashing through the frame.
8:45 a.m. We meet up at the pool. I watch MJ swim and marvel at how good she’s gotten. We’ve had her in swim lessons for about a year-and-a-half, but this is totally new. Even two months ago she still couldn’t swim comfortably on her own. Now she is swimming, underwater, back-floating comfortably. I feel like everything has clicked within the last month or so, and it’s exciting to see. After watching her for a while, I take G upstairs.
9:00 a.m. I rinse Greta off and commence packing. As expected, I spend as much time keeping G from unrolling the toilet paper, eating the dog food and climbing on (falling off) the bed as I do packing.
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G wearing an unnecessarily fancy dress because I forgot to pack her normal clothes.  Dashing around while I try to pack.
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The bouquet that MJ charmed out of a bridesmaid.
9:20 a.m. Husband and MJ return. There is so much screaming. Mostly happy screaming. Some frustrated screaming. Some fighting over a doll. A moment when the door opens and every animal in the room escapes. We chat with some friends in the hall; I’m thankful to know that everyone we might be disturbing is at least already awake. We herd everyone back inside to finish packing, and I do my best to not be frustrated with them all (but know that I fail). We finally finish packing, husband carts it all to the van.
9:40 a.m. We are all in the car and on the road. I am so happy to return home. It has gotten cold, there is a threat of snow and it feels like winter has hit. The dreariness is disheartening, compounded by the fatigue, but the promise of home is comforting.
10:00 a.m. I take advantage of the long drive to chat with my Dad. He has just sent an e-mail that airplane tickets have been bought for an upcoming visit, and MJ is psyched. MJ is quiet in the backseat watching the iPad and G seems to be asleep, as I haven’t heard a peep from her. That makes for an early nap, and I’m not sure how the afternoon will play out. The husband and I have an unnecessarily long discussion about what to have for lunch. He wants Pho, I want anything but. We settle on picking some things up at the grocery store.
11:00 a.m. We arrive at Kowalski’s. Greta wakes up with a smile plastered across her face, a nice contrast to everyone else in the family. Shortly after walking in, MJ starts sobbing about an accidental scratch I give her and I realize she will likely need a nap; this is the curse of allowing her a nap the day before. It’s hard to break the nap cycle because it messes with her sleep so much. The cold of the grocery store makes my boobs hurt so badly I have to leave while Aaron checks out; this is a weird phenomenon I’ve had with every pregnancy. One that I won’t miss.
11:30 a.m. We all arrive home and drag everything inside. We turn the furnace on, which we have avoided until now. This truly means winter is on the way. We also turn the (gas) fireplace on, thankful for some instant heat while the radiators clang away. MJ instantly starts playing bride, singing at the top of her lungs and prancing around with the bouquet she swindled (sweet-talked) out of a bridesmaid the day before. I need a break from the prattle! The never-ending talking wears me down more than anything. G starts digging through the diaper bag for food and I talk her out of an apple.
Noon. Husband and I start working in the kitchen, making lunch for the girls. Tuna for him and MJ, grilled ham and cheese for G and I. We start putting groceries away, going through the mail, trying to tidy up the chaos of our Friday departure.
12:30 I send MJ upstairs to nap. On the rare occasions when she naps these days she likes to sleep in the guest bed. I guess it’s a treat for her, and it makes it easier to convince her to nap. Even so, I hear her stomping around upstairs and she comes down 5 minutes later complaining she can’t sleep. She gets sent back upstairs and all gets quiet pretty quickly. The husband and I have settled in for a lazy Sunday. We read the paper, G plays, happy to be back among her toys, I think. The house is finally starting to get warm and it puts everyone in a better mood. I can no longer dissuade her from the apple, and she sits in her little Ikea chair to eat it. I am shocked when she understands “You have to sit down if you want to eat an apple”. The things she understands continue to surprise me these days. She loves apples and it’s about the only thing she’ll sit down for an extended time for. When she’s done, she discovers a hilarious game, where she puts her teether in my mouth and her mouth and we play tug-of-war. She can’t stop laughing, and there’s something about a toddler laughing that leaves anyone powerless to not laugh.
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MJ post nap.  
1:45 p.m. We wake up the big girl. Specifically, husband wakes her up. She’s such a daddy’s girl, which works well for me, as it frees me for the other one (and the upcoming one). She comes downstairs half asleep and immediately says “I couldn’t fall asleep” which makes everyone laugh. Seeing our two cute kids causes husband to again make the argument that we should really have 4 kids. This is something I never thought I’d have to talk him out of. I think a 3rd might break me, and a 4th most definitely. MJ asks what we’re going to do for the rest of the day, and we both say “Nothing”. We leave the baby gates open and G roams around the house for a while, which is pretty new territory for her. She’s good on the stairs and generally safe, but I generally like to keep her pretty close. Meanwhile, we put a chicken in the oven for dinner. MJ “makes” the guest room bed, which really means she has piled all of her toys and blankets and our pillows on it. I do a sub-standard job of not being annoyed by this.
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The well made bed, shortly before disassembly.
2:45 p.m. After Greta melts down for no apparent reason I put her down for a nap. It is apparently a day for weird sleeping, and I hope this doesn’t mess with her bedtime. She’s pretty good about going to bed regardless of her nap situation. MJ, husband and I all help pick up the house. I have a hard time bending over these days and I usually task her with getting stuff on the floor, even though it’s usually (mostly) G’s fault. Thankfully she’s great at helping and hasn’t yet objected to the inequity. I guess she has, and I pointed out that I help pick up her things, make her food, etc., and I’m asking for her help with Greta. That has been as much complaint on the subject as I’ve heard (other than just general grumpiness about picking up). She also puts away everything she has piled on the guest bed. I allow MJ to get my heels from my closet since she helped pick up. She picks some black ones but is dissatisfied with the heel height (i.e. they are too short) and she is unsure why I would have such small heels. Some other heels are much more to her liking, and we play Cinderella, wherein she puts my heels on my feet. After a bit, we take Vito for a short walk. It’s raining outside so we make it quick, but it’s nice to get a chance to walk around the block with just MJ.
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These apparently have an acceptable heel height.
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A game I can get behind.
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Her chosen footwear.  Sparkly, of course.
4:10 p.m. Come back from Vito’s walk and wake up G. She’s pretty easy to wake but not that happy to be awake. It becomes apparent pretty quickly that she’ll still sleep later. We feed her while we all cook in the kitchen. We make pumpkin soup, mashed potatoes and stuffing to go with the roast chicken. It’s total chaos, but nice to have everyone together. MJ insists on helping so I teach her how to peel potatoes. She’s too slow so I peel them and then give her one to practice on, which pacifies her. Despite my caution I know she will inevitably cut herself, but it seems like as good a time to learn as any, and the cut won’t be bad. After not too long, she of course cuts her finger, which leads to much crying and drama, but quickly turns into her singing a song of her own making titled “I am tough”.
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Have you ever seen a more forlorn look?  
5:00 p.m The cut is still bleeding because MJ keeps messing with it. She refuses to just apply pressure and not “check on it” I’m tired, so husband finishes dinner while G and I play peek-a-boo on the couch. She has a diaper induced meltdown.
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Another picture of G, because this is one of the rare days when I realize I’ve snapped barely any of her.  Girlfriend loves the pumpkin.
5:15 p.m. We all sit down to eat. Everyone chows down, even G who has already eaten a fair amount. MJ eats more than I’ve seen her eat in a long time. Lately we’ve been almost forcing her to eat because she just hasn’t been hungry much, and then she’ll devote her little bit of calorie consumption to snacks or dessert if given the opportunity. I want her to have a healthy association with food, but I also don’t want her to think that fruit snacks pass as food. During dinner she announces that she wants the tooth fairy to visit, and I explain that the tooth fairy won’t come until she’s older and loses her teeth. So she immediately starts whacking her teeth with her spoon, attempting to knock them out. I am alarmed at this plan of hers and quickly explain that the tooth fairy only comes when your teeth fall out naturally. She looks at me and says that it looks like my teeth will fall out soon, since I’m old.
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She’s become 3-dimensional of late.  She drags the stool around and climbs on things when we’re not looking.
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Sometimes I think we’re looking cuter than we really are, and I ask husband to take a picture, because I want more pictures of myself with the kids.  At least one of us is looking cute.
5:50 p.m. MJ returns to peeling her practice potato and finally finishes! She is so proud of herself. I am proud that she didn’t give up on peeling it after cutting herself. She is disappointed that it’s too late to make it into the mashed potatoes but vows that next time it won’t be.
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The finished potato.
6:00 p.m. Bath time! The division of labor is usually that husband takes them upstairs for bath time and I clean up from dinner. I know he gets the easier task, but the quiet is a nice reprieve. G is not doing so well, lots of crying, and I hope that she can make it until bedtime at 7. The house is such a disaster, and I am so tired, I’m not sure where to put my time. I wipe down the dining room table, feeling like it must have been a week since that has happened. I replace some bulbs in the dining room chandelier, since it’s darker outside now, and instantly the brightened room is nice. The girls pile back downstairs for a bedtime snack of cheese and crackers. I started instituting a bedtime snack a couple months ago, to get MJ to not wake up so early and to get G to sleep through the night. Often we eat at 4 or 4:30, so it makes sense, but on a night like tonight? It seems a bit silly, but they eat regardless. I often worry that my oldest is being underfed and my youngest is being overfed. Hopefully neither are true.
6:55 p.m. Bedtime. Finally. I’ve been dreaming of this all day. Jammies. Bed. Stories. A short discussion about going to the library the next day, since we need some new reading material. I give Greta a bottle of milk. I’m not sure she still needs this, but she often drinks 6-8 ounces so I’m reluctant to cut it out. I convince myself that since she doesn’t fall asleep while sucking on it she isn’t destroying her teeth too badly. Still, I know it’s something we need to stop sometime. Husband and I take turns reading, G crashes around the room. We end with lights out, a bit more bottle, and tuck in. The girls are quiet quickly.
7:10 p.m. I head back downstairs to finish picking up. Husband picks up all the toys off the floor so I don’t have to bend over. He heads back upstairs. I don’t have the baby monitor because I haven’t unpacked it yet, but I assume he’ll grab me if needed. I finally finish at 7:40 and head back upstairs; I instantly hear G screaming. Why did he not come get me? He said she’s been upset for a while, and goes down to get another bottle for her. He gives it to her, and after a bit more fussing she falls asleep. Perhaps over-tired? I don’t know. Long day, long weekend. I stay up to read and play Candy Crush (which I’m determined to beat so-as to rid myself of this addiction). I stay up much too late (as I usually do) and don’t go to bed until 11.
(But p.s. I don’t stir until 5 a.m. I don’t remember the last time I slept 6 hours straight without even needing to pee. I go back to sleep and MJ sleeps until 7:30. She plays by herself for a while and G doesn’t wake until 8:30. Thankfully, no one had to be anywhere first thing so we all got to catch up on sleep. Nice way to end the weekend).

    Thursday, October 10, 2013

    29 weeks and a lifetime awaits

    2.5 months to go.
    I could have sworn I wrote a post a week ago. Or 2 weeks ago. Or something. But I guess I only wrote that post in my head.
    In 4 months time I will have a 1 month old. Oy.
    My most overwhelming feeling is panic. Kind of a “Holy crap, what have we done” sort of feeling. (Baby boy, I have no doubt that someday that feeling will be replaced by love and joy, so don’t hold this against me.)
    I’m up about 25 pounds, so it should come as no surprise that I’ve also started to get the “You sure there’s only 1 in there?” jokes that every middle-aged man thinks make him funny. I’ve also gotten some of the creepiest belly rubbing I’ve had with any of my pregnancies, enough to scare baby boy into staying put for a while, I’m sure.
    I have been trying to get our life sorted. The girls have been sharing a room for about two months now (did I ever mention that?) and I’m finally trying to get their room all organized. The room sharing is going shockingly well, apart from the past few nights when G has woken up screaming because she wants me to come play with her at 3:30 a.m.. Part of what is difficult is when we don’t have anywhere else for MJ to sleep when G is having a difficult night. I am determined that G will be as close to a perfect sleeper as possible for when the newborn arrives, so I haven’t been very indulgent of her wakefulness and she has been figuring it out pretty quickly. But I’m certain we will need overflow sleeping when the newborn arrives. Somebody is guaranteed to have a bad night or need to sleep away from the chaos, and I think we’re going to put a twin mattress in our family room (which is basically sealed off from the rest of the house) for just those moments.
    I’m sorting through all their clothes. Giving away baby girl clothes. Deciding to give away maternity clothes. I guess this is my commitment that this is our last, mostly because I simply can’t imagine that I am a sane or calm enough person for any more. But then I look at our babies… how could I ever face the possibility of no more babies in the house? I’m not sure how I’ll ever make peace with that, but maybe I’ll be too busy to have to make peace with it and I will only realize it once my ovaries are shriveled raisins. That seems like a healthy way to approach this.
    Even the hubs looks at our amazing kids and claims he wants one more after this one… I think he just says it to mess with me, but… I know it’s going to be hard to say goodbye to this phase of our life. Having babies, starting families, building our clan… it has been such a monumental, life changing phase. What is the next life-changing phase? Retirement? That sounds depressing.
    G has been amazing lately. So much work but so much joy. I was counting up her words today, those which she uses with regularity. We’ve got Mama, Dada, Nana, dog, bye, hi, no, and uh-oh (that she verbalizes) and milk and more (that she signs). But words she understands include cracker, pear, diaper, ball, shoes, night-night, Vito, and many more that I realize every day. She will even help in her little ways by putting things away when I ask her. But she will also get a devilish look in her eye before she attacks the dog, pulls her sisters hair or throws a jar of paint down the stairs. With MJ I found myself looking forward to when we could have conversations, and with Greta I am sort of enjoying that we can’t. The non-stop 3-yr-old jabber, while developmentally appropriate and signifying a healthy curiosity, makes my skin crawl. I seek quiet in my every day, and 3-yr-olds are anathema to that. So anyway, I am enjoying our limited word exchange.
    MJ has also just been amazing. Starting to get absorbed in things. So much calmer than she used to be, so much easier to talk to and reason with. So much easier to explain “No, we can’t go play with the neighbors, even though you see them, because I have to make dinner.” Whereas before that would be so difficult for her to accept, she now understands the reality and the necessity and doesn’t rebel so much against the inevitable. I love talking about her interests. And fairies. And unicorns. And reading chapter books with her before bed, long enough that they have a real plot and real characters and she gets invested. I love hearing about her friendships at school, and who she played “House” with, and who was hogging all the crowns.
    But this is supposed to be about you, little boy. I guess it will never be all about you, it will always be about how you fit into this little family. About how you’re the same, or how you’re different. I was so nervous before G was born about how she would fit in to the family, if she would get along with MJ. But she has fit so well, as though her presence was simply inevitable. I look forward to seeing how you fit. What niche you make for yourself. How your sisters will look out for you, because I know they will. How your poor future girlfriends will never be good enough for their baby brother. How they will paint your nails and dress you in heels. How they will someday have crushes on your friends.
    Every day, I alternate between never wanting these sweet little moments to pass and between fearing that if the day doesn’t end soon I will lose my mind. I feel the same about this pregnancy. Much like a freight train, though, there is no stopping it. And much like growing up, I wouldn’t want to. But I can still be terrified about it all.
    (p.s. Once I have this third kid, proof reading will be history. Let’s start practicing now.)