Friday, December 17, 2010

Charlotte's Nursery

Now that we are almost through December, it seems like Charlotte's late January due date is sneaking up!  We've been slowly putting her nursery together for a while.  Although we still aren't finished, here's what we have so far:
Gingham and toile bedding

Crib and chair
Still trying to decide on a table lamp...

French doors and draperies

Small secretary dresser, closet, and name letters above closet
We're still putting on the finishing touches, like the changing table and wall hangings to go above it.  I had my heart set on some antique French Limoges dessert plates from the 1800s to hang on the wall above the changing table, but I lost to an aggressive bidder at the last second of the ebay auction.  The search will resume after Christmas~~

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tricks of the Trade

Now that it is freezing cold outside, we're stuck inside and unable to go on walks, play on the swings, or meet friends at the playground. 

Please, can we go outside???  Please?!
 All of this time indoors is making Barrett....restless.  He has also started a new thing with hating his changing table.  Screams, cries, kicks, the whole nine yards, and NOT like him at all.  Whew.  As you can imagine, a restless baby makes for a frustrated mama.  So, in the spirit of sharing, here's my few paltry tips on making life with baby easier.  I'm hoping that if I share some of mine, you'll share some of your suggestions??  Here goes.

::  I start meal time with the food I expect him to like the least, but that I want him to eat (meat, green veggies, etc).  That way, he gets it first, when he's the hungriest and most likely to eat it.  When he slows down, I'll add something I know he likes (corn, olives, beans, cheese cubes, any kind of fruit, etc) and then he'll eat the parts he likes plus accidentally eat a few more bites of the other foods too.  Maybe everyone was doing this already, but it just recently occurred to me and it works for us.

::  Travel tip: Leaving for a long car trip immediately after breakfast seems to work the best, by far.  If you leave right after a meal, it lessens the number of times you'll have to stop for meals on the road.  Plus, Barrett is also a much happier traveler in the morning.  Also, we only turn on his DVD player halfway through the trip, so he has "new" entertainment when he's bored.  He doesn't get to watch DVDs except on long trips for this same reason...trying to save it so it remains novel.

::  It probably goes without saying, but baby proofing is so much easier than following the baby around saying "don't touch" or guiding little hands away from your pretty decorative items.  Just take the plunge and install those cabinet locks and clear out breakable stuff.  You'll be glad.

:: Whenever I unload the dishwasher and have a set of clean sippy cups, I go ahead and fill them all with milk, so that when meal or snack time rolls around every few hours, I don't have to fix his cup.  It's already ready to go.  I also keep a cup of ice water (always in the blue cup) or juice (always in the purple cup) ready to grab before we leave to run errands, etc.  It's a time saver, but I guess it does take up fridge space.  I realized this for the first time when one of my non-mom friends came over to visit.  She opened the fridge looking for white wine and found six or seven sippy cups all lined up instead.  Imagine her surprise.  My, how the times have changed...

Okay, now please have mercy and share some of your tips and tricks to make life a little easier.

Reindeer Games

In desperate attempt to entertain my busy baby indoors, I decided it was time for another holiday craft. 
We started by tracing Barrett's hands on black construction paper.  If your baby is as wiggly as mine, you can cheat and trace one actual hand and just cut out the other hand to match.

Then, you trace baby's foot on brown construction paper...I recommend tracing the foot with a sock on.  That way, baby is less likely to scrunch up his toes and rip the paper.

And finally, you add eyes (blue, to match Barrett's eyes, in our case), a red nose, and a smile, and....ta-da!

Your very own reindeer ornament.  Don't forget to add your child's name and age on the back so you can always remember exactly how big baby's hands were this Christmas.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

If you know me very well at all, you know that I am crazy about Christmas.  Cannot get enough.  Been known to suffer withdrawals when it is time to put away the decorations and the radio station mercilessly cuts off the carols cold-turkey on December 26th.  

This is really "the most wonderful time of the year," in my opinion, and we are in full swing.  The tree is up and decorated, in all of its glory.  I absolutely love it, though it was too fat to get into the house without scratching the door frames -- even through the french doors, eek -- and takes up too much room.  Can you spot Barrett and Sassy playing tug of war with Mr. Reindeer at the bottom of the picture??

We're trying to implement a "just one finger" rule with Barrett around the tree.  Theoretically, he can touch any ornament or present with just one finger, and therefore, can't hurt himself or inflict damage.  It's a great idea, but I think he lacks the self control to do that all the time.  It's just too tempting.  Maybe next year??
We went to the downtown festival of lights recently, and Barrett had fun taking it all in.  They lit the huge tree downtown and had caroling, ice scating, snowballs, and ornament painting.  Kristopher and I went to this every year pre-baby, but this was our first time to bring Barrett.

Next up, Christmas lights at the zoo!!  I'm hoping it warms up briefly so we can take him one evening soon~~  In the meantime, we're spending our free time in the evenings in front of the fire admiring the tree, while Kristopher enjoys some scotch and I sip my warm apple cider.  Contended sigh. 
I wish it would last forever~~~

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Other New Member of Our Family

In bittersweet news, the time has come for a new car.  This is bitter because I liked my old car and we have only had it for about a year and a half.  It just doesn't make economical sense to switch so soon.  However, my old car was very high maintenance, and apparently, there is only room for one high maintenance member in our family.

Why are you looking at me?!  I could have been referring to Kristopher...

Well, after my dad spent hours researching to find the best new tires (stupid car only takes special order tires, naturally) and alignment deals, and Kristopher's dad spent hours trying to find out what was wrong with the alternator/starter/other stuff I don't know much about, plus a visit to the dealer, and extended stay with a foreign car mechanic, we decided it was time for something else.  Turns out, the car wasn't a lemon or anything.  This maintenance is just normal for that kind of car.  Heavy sigh.

After more hours of research and test-driving -- we don't jump into rash decisions around here, the obsessive research gene runs in my family -- we have an American-made car with even more room than before.  My selfish side marvels at the swift transition from a 2 door car, to a sporty coupe, to a SUV, to an even bigger 3-row SUV, but my practical side understands that it "just makes more sense" for me to drive a big ginormous car.  The quotation is from Kristopher.  If I were to say that in person, I'd probably use air quotes and a mild eye roll.  Just kidding, babe.

It probably seems ridiculous for us to "need" such a big car when we only have two kids (I'm counting baby sister for car seat purposes).  But seriously, its all about the cargo space.  I don't know how we'd fit a double stroller, pack-and-play, bumbo, luggage, and innumerable other pieces of baby paraphernalia without that third row folded down.

So, I'm giving the new car a thumbs-up, although I'm still adjusting to the larger size and working on my terrible depth perception.
Meanwhile, Barrett had his happiest 6h car trip to my parents, ever, in the new car.  Maybe there's something to the whole thing about kids being more comfortable in a bigger car???

But if you see me out and about town, you might want to avoid me because I can't guarantee that I won't accidentally hit you, especially in a parking lot.  Hasn't happened yet...fingers crossed!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Our Little Turkey is a Ham

Barrett is not usually camera-shy.  Maybe he finally realized I was not going to stop taking pictures, so he might as well succumb and give me a smile to make it end sooner.  Except for that time I was trying to take his picture in the front yard, practically doing back flips to get a smile, and three of our new neighbors separately walked up behind me to say hi while I was in the middle of belting out Old MacDonald to induce a grin.  Three.  And always in the middle of the part about animal noises.  Way to make a first impression. 
Anyway, normally he's all smiles.

However, on actual Thanksgiving Day, I failed to get a smiling picture because he was sooo sleepy after gorging on turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, butter beans, corn, pickled peaches, croissants, and his new favorite food -- black olives.  I think he would eat a whole can of them if I would let him.  It seems like an odd favorite food for a baby, but I just love black olives, so maybe tastes are hereditary?  Or maybe black olives really are that awesome and all the olive haters out there are missing out.  I'm looking at you, Jessica. 

So, no big smiling pictures on Thanksgiving.   
Cuddling with Grandmom

Sleepy baby, with Aunt Jessica

But he did eat until he was stuffed, get a little cranky around the family, become drowsy during the football game, and fall asleep after drooling on my sister.  And isn't that what the holidays are all about anyway?? 

One Small Baby Step = One Giant Leap for Barrett

Barrett took his first steps! 
Let me rephrase: Barrett took a whole bunch of steps behind a Lego wagon.  Although not completely unassisted, he was pushing the wagon on his own and was not holding anyone's hands. 
I'm so excited!  Although I haven't been in a huge rush for him to start walking, it would be convenient if he is walking on his own by the time Charlotte arrives, simply because carrying two babies at once, everywhere, might become problematic.  Fast.

Whoa!  I can push this whole wagon by myself!  And walk behind it!

Kristopher supervised as Barrett went up and down the hall with his wagon, over and over.

Barrett applauded along with everyone else when we were cheering his success

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

From the Heart

About 2 weeks ago, Barrett had a pediatric ER visit for an elevated heart rate. 

After an afternoon walk, I was checking him with a stethoscope during a diaper change, per our normal routine.  His heart was racing too fast to count.  Of course, I'm not a doctor and have no medical training, but I do have maternal instincts and a year of listening to his heart rate 8x/day under my belt.  I waited 10 minutes for him to settle down and kept trying to count his heart rate, without luck.  I think I counted it once at 230, but I may have missed a few beats because it was too fast for me to count accurately.  So, I called his cardiologist, pursuant to our "emergency plan," and his PA (who happens to be a sweet friend from college) told me to go straight to the ER.  Kristopher was out of town, but he immediately headed back to meet us.

The PA called ahead so we wouldn't have to wait and could come straight to a reserved room at the ER.  It is simultaneously nice and eerie to have a little special treatment at the hospital; it makes you realize that this is a true emergency.  When we got there, some of the nurses recognized Barrett from previous visits, and I guess from his pictures in the hospital ad campaigns.

I have to say, the pediatric ER is one of the top places you don't want to be recognized for frequent visits.  Although it is comforting to see some of the same sweet nurses who remember How It Was Before and therefore rush to give your baby the best medical attention possible.
Fortunately, he was not in SVT -- the EKG just showed "regular" tachycardia, which is still a too-fast heart rate, but not as scary and life-threatening as SVT (supra ventricular tachycardia -- around 270 beats per minute, causing his heart to tire out and stop functioning).  Crisis averted.  No PICU stay required!!!
Barrett has not had an SVT breakthrough since last October, when he had his last ER/PICU stay.  The cardiologist found a magical balance of heart medicines that Barrett actually responds to -- the regular heart medicines weren't effective for him, so he needed a metric ton of an extra-strong drug, in addition to the regular one.

We always knew that he couldn't be on the medicine forever, due to negative and controversial side effects of the strong drug.  The truth is, Barrett has been off his heart medicine for 6 weeks now.  The half-life of the strong drug is 6 weeks to 3 months, meaning that the medicine is just now starting to be out of his system and we are in the true danger-zone where his heart is unprotected by the same medicines that, just a few months ago during the fever/leukemia scare, the cardiologist described as "the thing keeping Barrett alive."

All of this predictably caused intense emotional turmoil, mostly fueled by the lingering pain and fear from almost losing Barrett a year ago, plus dealing with the feeling that it seems like we have so much more to lose now.  We know what it is like to hold him, love him, hear him laugh -- we've been blessed to be his parents for a whole year.  Without diminishing the pain of losing a child at any point in life, the thought of losing him now feels even harder than before because we would truly understand what we were missing and ache from the type of loss a parent never gets over.

So Kristopher and I decided to keep it between us, and avoid discussion of weaning Barrett off his medicines.  Although I'm not normally an intensely private person (this blog = Exhibit A), dodging this topic is our weird coping mechanism.  It was just too much to handle, even in polite and well-intentioned chit chat from people who care about him.  And forget about fielding questions accompanied by long, meaningful looks.  Although I know all of that comes from people who love Barrett, it is hard being put in that kind of an emotional situation, especially in public.  I couldn't even sit through the CMA awards without sobbing and hiccupping uncontrollably when The Band Perry performed "If I Die Young"

I guess I was living under a rock or submerged in Christmas carols, because I hadn't heard the lyrics to this song before.  Geez!!  I had to leave the room because my sobs were scaring Barrett.  I'm chosing to chalk up that outburst to pregnancy hormones...

Nevertheless, after the latest ER visit, it seemed like a therapeutic idea to finally come clean.  Also, I hatehatehate telling bald-face lies when friends and family ask me how he's doing or when he's coming off his medicine.  The Jiminy Cricket in my head goes bonkers.

"Let your conscience be your guide."

So, that's the latest on Barrett, although we still like to pretend that it isn't happening, aside from compulsively checking him with a stethoscope.  Please keep him in your prayers, especially these next few weeks.

Wearing his follow-up 24h heart monitor at home. 
The results showed that his heart rate was still a little too high, appx 190, but he didn't go into SVT while he was wearing the monitor, which is a good sign.  He was a trooper and didn't seem to mind all of the stickers and little black recorder!  Although, it did require creative wardrobe options to keep an active pre-toddler from accessing the recorder box...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pregnant = Geriatric?

I don't really consider myself old quite yet, considering that I am still safely within my 20s, at least for a little longer.  But I think there's something about pregnancy that temporarily (please, let it be temporary) turns  you into an old lady.  I was prepared for the early bedtime, frequent bathroom trips, propensity for decaf tea, doctors prodding you to wear sensible shoes (I'm not even going to comment on support stockings), and special diet restrictions. 

However, my new hip pain took me by surprise -- this didn't happen last time!  Does pregnancy cause joint pain??  Am I getting old??  The golden years are here already???

Apparently, the baby has settled on my sciatic nerve, which can cause shooting pain into your hip and down your leg (so glamorous, I know).  I had a little taste of this on my left side earlier in pregnancy, but for the most part, it felt like the other contractions I was having related to carrying Barrett around -- he exceeds the weight amount I'm supposed to carry when pregnant, but he doesn't walk yet, so I carry him all the time and put him in and out of his crib/car seat/highchair/etc, its just a reality of life. 

Anyway, this sciatic nerve pain is serious business!  Now that baby Charlotte has re-positioned herself, the pain in my right hip literally takes my breath away!  It's hard to feel like a glamorous, pulled-together mommy when you've developed a slight limp to avoid activating the super-sensitive pain. 

Yesterday, I was half-running/skipping/hurrying to answer the phone when the pain hit me all of the sudden, made my legs stop working, and I fell flat. on. the. floor.  Someone, please bring me the Bengay, a medic alert bracelet, and my AARP application.

And let's face it, the day where Kristopher has to help me up from playing with Barrett on the floor is just around the corner.  Because we all know I'll be stuck there like a turtle on her back.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I'm Going to See a Man About a Horse

A carousel horse, that is. 
Barrett and I visited my parents recently, and my mom had a great idea -- let's take Barrett for his first carousel ride at the mall!  Everything was already decorated for Christmas (which I love) and the carousel looked just as pretty as I remember when I was little.  The ride went pretty well...

"Pretty well" = no tears

We put him on the horse (not one of the wimpy stationary giraffes or frogs for us!) and got ready for the ride to start.  But then, the carousel started going around in circles, as carousels tend to do, and his horse started moving up and down. 

He was a little unsure about this part, but still, no tears, so it was a success!!  Of course, we went for a second ride too and sat in the stationary sleigh this time, which he liked too.

Afterwards, we stopped by Haagen-Dazs for ice cream (raspberry sorbet for me and German chocolate for mama -- the same flavors we've both been getting for the past 25 years).  Barrett loves tasting ice cream, so he was all for taking part in this tradition.

I thought it was so cool to take Barrett for the same carousel/Haagen-Dazs combo treat at the same mall where my mom took me and my sister when we were little.  Pretty neat, huh?

Baby Sprinkle for Charlotte Vivienne

My mom and sisters graciously threw a baby sprinkle for Charlotte and it was so much fun!!! 
(By the way, a "sprinkle" is something we made is a smaller, family-version of a baby shower) 

My sisters, niece, aunts and cousin Jen came, with Jen's two precious boys, plus Grandmom and my mom's BFF since before the beginning of time, Mrs. Elaine (who is like an aunt anyway, so it was "all family")  :)  We had a great time!! 

We had a fancy tea party ~ very frilly and feminine ~ perfect for celebrating a little girl. 

Kim, with baby cousin Andrew

Me with Jen

Charlotte was sprinkled by lots of beautiful pink lovies, booties, gowns, dresses, sweaters, and all the trimmings. 

(excuse the facial expression, but notice that the baby lamb is wearing mascara!)

Seeing all of her tiny beautiful things put away in her room makes it all feel so "real" and I can't believe she'll be here before we know it!  It is amazing to know that I love her already, and it feels wonderful to know that so many other people already love her too, along with all of the sweet babies in our family~~

Taking a walk with Aunt Jessica

Cousin Nathan was very sweet to push Barrett in his jumper-turned-swing

Happy Halloween

When you're getting a 13m old child ready to do something special, especially if it involves a costume or outfit, it is nice to have a dress rehearsal (ie, sorority row trick or treat) before the actual event (Halloween).  It gives you two opportunities to take pictures to document the fun.  I need to write that down somewhere...Because I've learned as a mom, if you don't take pictures, it is as if the event never happened. 

This year, it was even better to give Barrett extra time in his lion costume so he could cultivate his "roar."  Kristopher and I will swear up and down that he can say it, although I don't think he ever said it in anyone else's presence, so we don't have any witnesses. 

In fact, these days, Barrett can say his own equivalent of several words:
::  Hi! and Hey!
::  Bye bye
::  Dada
::  Mama
::  Uh oh (although not always used in the context of something "accidentally" dropped...I think he throws stuff down just to have the opportunity to look up and triumphantly say "uh oh!!")
::  Dog (da)
::  Sassy (sounds like "I see")
::  Alright!! (this one is my favorite, he says it clear as a bell!)
::  Eyes
::  Bath
He can also mimic a slew of other sounds, but I think these are the only "real" words that he consistently says with intention to convey the actual meaning of the word, instead of just repeating it back.  However, don't always expect him to say these things on cue. 
He's like Michigan J. Frog that way...he happily does his song and dance for us...

"Hello my baby!  Hello my honey!  Hello my ragtime gal!"

But, then gets stage fright later. 


Oh well, that's okay~~

Friday, October 29, 2010

ROAR!: A Little Lion Trial Run

When I got the invite from my alumna association, I knew that trick-or-treating on sorority row would be the perfect chance to break in Barrett's Halloween costume and squeeze in some extra fall festivities before Christmas season starts.  Because I am definitely planning to start listening to the all-carols-all-the-time radio station, as soon as it starts up, which I think is before Thanksgiving!  Yay!

Anyway, the sorority row trick-or-treat is great~ the police limit the street to pedestrian traffic and all of the girls at each house dress up and pass out candy to the kiddos.

We loaded Barrett up in his little red wagon and were on our way~
I waaaaayyyy underestimated the crowd -- there were kids everywhere and even a pretty decent "line" to walk up to each house.  Hm.  Mental note to go earlier next year. 
Barrett was overwhelmed by all the swarming kids.  He usually gets shy around children who are older than him and a little too curious about kids that are younger than him -- he can't keep his hands off his baby cousins!

We visited with friends and had lots of fun, even though Barrett was burning up under all that lion fur and we ended up unzipping his little costume to let him catch a breeze! 

Luckily, the lion costume still came out fluffy after the handwash cycle on our washing machine... 
Halloween night will be cooler, so hopefully he'll be more comfortable.  In the meantime, we're teaching him to say ROAR, which is adorable, but rarely occurs on cue at the crucial "trick-or-treat" moment.  Oh well~~

What's in a Name?

Well, after much consideration, we decided not to name our daughter Ida, even though it means we're giving up endless fodder for "I declare" jokes.  I hope no one is too disappointed.

We've been going around and around for months now and I just couldn't settle in on a name. 
Vivienne??  (my favorite secret baby girl name since way before Angelina used it) 
Elaine or Virginia?  (family names)
Madeline or Charlotte? 
Gertrude?  Just kidding, we weren't considering that last one.

It is hard to choose a name for a child -- you want it to grow with them, so that it equally suits an infant, little girl, and future Supreme Court Justice, or whatever career path she chooses.  It must be feminine and elegant, but not too common or cutesy.  Lots of pressure, huh?

This happened to me last pregnancy too.  I am normally very in touch with my opinions and can easily decide what I want -- this skill is very handy when picking out paint colors or other stuff for the house.  However, all of that good sense flies out the window when its time to choose a child's name.  This frustrates me to no end, and I just end up annoyed with myself for my failure to make a decision.  For goodness sake, I have a whole stack of blank baby clothes sitting beside my monogramming machine, just waiting, so it is decision time!!  At the extreme grace of my friends, family, and most especially Kristopher, who all discussed this with me ad nauseum, we've decided:

Charlotte Vivienne

So exciting~ now that I can officially put a name to the little lady who kicks and turns all day, I feel closer to her already :)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Portrait in Pumpkins

Does this look like anything familiar??  No? 
After the pumpkins were all arranged on the front porch, some similarities occurred to me -- Kristopher is the tall pumpkin in the back, I'm the round pregnant pumpkin, Barrett is the little pumpkin, and baby sister is the tiny pumpkin!  See what I mean?? 

Pumpkin Patch

We made the trek to a nearby pumpkin patch with some playgroup friends, and we had so much fun! 

I can't wait until next year when he will be a little older and able to particpate in more of the activities.  Barrett was a trooper, even though he completely missed his morning nap, and it was fun to spend the day with friends~~
There was a petting zoo with Shetland ponies, piglets, cows, ducklings, sheep, and all the rest.

Plus, face painting, tractors to ride, wagons to play in, saddle swings on a zip line (!!), a huge inflatable hill for the kids to jump all over and, of course, lots of pumpkins! 
Picking out his pumpkins~~