Monday, February 28, 2011

Crying over the grocery list? The depression post

So, I had a bit of a setback this weekend. :) To be perfectly honest (and blunt) I think it can be summed up as this:

Hormones are a bitch.

In this blog, I always strive to be funny, but most of all, I strive to be honest and straightforward. Writing about life's journey is only interesting to other people if it's *real.* And the real truth is that this usually very happy-go-lucky girl, who never suffered from depression a day in her life, struggled mightily with postpartum depression after the birth of my son 5 years ago. For about a year, I felt like a heavy blanket was over my head, and despite my strong desire, I simply couldn't shake it off. It's a humbling and frustrating feeling. Since then, it's been a lot better, but every so often I go back to that dark place, and I hate it so much I can't fully articulate it. I'm better at coping with it now. I do not take anti-depressants (don't feel that I need them, although I know a number of people who benefit strongly from them), but I know that physical exercise, keeping myself distracted, and not isolating myself are key natural remedies to dealing with this horrible malady. Those things always work, but sometimes it takes a day or two to fully pull myself up out of the morass. As you can imagine, pregnancy or postpartum hormones can really exacerbate this problem.

So, Friday evening, I started feeling a bit "off." A number of things could have contributed to this. As you may have saw from my post on Friday, I was starting to feel panicky about the coming discomfort of the third trimester of pregnancy. I was trying to downplay it a bit, but it was a very strong feeling of fear. I had a bit of a rough time of it in that part of my pregnancy with Henry, and naturally I'm bracing myself for the same type of experience. Lately, I'm feeling very visibly pregnant and vulnerable. I miss my "old self." Plus, (and this is going to sound ridiculous, but that's just how I am sometimes :) ) I noticed that I'd lost a blog follower (as well as a few in Google Reader) and for whatever reason that nearly brought tears to my eyes. What was that? Right, hormones. Anyway, I take a lot of pride in my blog, so naturally I fretted about how maybe I'd lost my blogging mojo and wasn't engaging my readers anymore. I see this blog as a personal form of ministry for me, and it means a lot to me.

So, I got home from dance class Friday in a bit of a funk. Feeling preetttyyy darn sorry for myself. I didn't sleep well (also deadly to the depression issue), and finally dragged myself out of bed Saturday morning. And that's when it hit me. Even though I had just blogged happily about how my sciatica wasn't nearly as bad this time, I noticed that suddenly, my entire butt ACHED. I did some stretching, and that helped. I hoped it was just a temporary flare up. Well, that would be a negative. My sciatica is officially back, and it's angry. Especially as the evening rolls around, anytime I get up from sitting for any length of time, I'm feeling it BAD. That was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back. I was officially miserable. Well, I'd also gained 2 lbs overnight. That hadn't helped either. It's not merely a vanity issue; more weight means worse sciatica.

Early Saturday afternoon, after a lengthy trip to the grocery store to fill up on supplies for the week, I went into the cupboard to get something. Mike found me, about 5 minutes later, weeping at the kitchen table.

"What's wrong?!"

"It''s... the ZIPLOC BAGS!!!!!!!"

Yes, I was THAT devastated about plastic sandwich bags. Remember the hormones?

"We forgot the Ziploc bags, and I've had them on the grocery list for WEEKS! I need them for lunches, and then at the store, I didn't have the list in front of me *hiccup* and I forgot, and..."

Well, it wasn't a happy scene. I knew the dark feeling, and it was hanging over me like a rain cloud with a real mean-looking face. It scared me a little. I'm going to be home all summer with a newborn, a 5 year old, and my postpartum hormones. I need to be able to cope better.

All day, I dragged my pathetic self around. I couldn't even pray my daily rosary. I was constantly on the brink of tears. They spilled over only 1 additional time, when Henry finished a poo resisting effort on the potty and I needed to do butt wiping duty. Mike and I often joke about when the day will come that we will not have to wipe anybody's butt but our own. I think that day is officially a LONG way off.

Yesterday, I felt a smidgen less horrible, but still not great. Going to Mass helped. We also kept ourselves busy with cleaning out the storage and getting Henry some much needed new clothes. I made one of Mike's favorite dinners, which kept me busy in the kitchen for a time. And later, I read my new birthing book and we watched Nature on PBS. Lately, they've had several shows about animals with their young. This is a real soft spot with me right now.

" I feel such a kinship with that mule deer/grizzly bear/whatever mammal is featured that week!"

I really do enjoy watching how some wild animals instinctively birth and care for their young. We, after all, are mammals too, just like them. Unfortunately, their motherly instinct does not extend to *other* animal's young. They'd stalk and eat somebody else's cub in a heartbeat. Not so pleasant.

Anyway, this morning on my way to work, I was listening to The Catholics Next Door with Greg and Jennifer Willits (the podcast version) which was about emotional hurt and healing. I'm definitely feeling a bit better today, and the topic of this show really resonated with me and gave me some ideas.

First, I need to stop focusing on the negatives and focus more on the positives. This is not a physically comfortable time, but whining about it is not going to help me one iota. It's quite selfish and vain, truly. I'm going to try to do better. I'm not beating myself up over it, I'm human too and there are areas in which I am weak. This is one of them. The primary positive is that my baby is healthy and well. After that, my pregnancy is 2/3 completed, and only the home stretch is before me. 12 weeks will pass quickly, and to the extent I can, I'm going to try and enjoy them. At 36 years old, I don't know if I'll have another pregnancy. Of course, it's entirely possible, but it's not a given. Why rush this precious time? Feeling my baby move inside me; expectantly awaiting that time in 3 short months when I'll be meeting this new person for the first time; knowing how amazing that first moment is when you see their little face:

So it was *you* who was growing under my heart for all these months!

I'm certain that next year, when I'm feeling much more back to myself, I'll be all weepy because I'm *not* pregnant. Hormones.

Second, when I'm weak, I need to not rely on *myself* to try and fix everything. I'm going to get down sometimes, or feel overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, and I need to realize that only God can fix that. And, it's *good* to be weak sometimes to allow God to work in us and teach us new things. For quite some time now, I've focused my life on God and tried to be open to let Him work in me. But I know that I often fail, and that I try to shoulder everything myself, all the while telling myself that I'm "letting go and letting God." Lately, I have not been. That wasn't my intention, but that's in fact what I was doing.

With Lent approaching, now is the perfect time to focus more on my spiritual life and let God take care of my emotional life. How are things going to go this summer? Will Mike get a job? What will happen in the fall when I need to come back to work? I have absolutely no idea. And that's absolutely fine. We'll do our part. Me, by keeping up with the small, natural remedies that I know contribute to a healthier mental outlook. Mike, by applying for jobs and working on his resume and cover letter, as he's already begun doing. But the rest is up to God. Worrying about it ahead of time is not going to benefit any of us.

Besides keeping up with my daily rosary, I can incorporate some new spiritual practices in for Lent (and hopefully, beyond). Some short daily prayer time, some time in adoration when possible. Attend daily Mass more. I have some specific ideas, which I'll blog about this week. But I feel better now that I have a plan. And that plan is letting God take the wheel.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tired belly dancer, and other random musings

After a week off last week for my birthday dinner, I'm back to dance class. My pregnant shape has caused me to modify my dancing a bit, but I have to say, so far it's been pretty decent.

When I'm pregnant, I have to be honest and say that my body feels like a bit of an alien lifeform to me. It's not my own. I'm not complaining, I know that it's only temporary, but I'm just callin' 'em like I see 'em. :) I'm reading Stephanie Meyer's The Host right now for my book club, and that's sort of egging on my host/parasite feelings just a tad bit. The main difference being that Baby CL is a very much loved and wanted little parasite.

And while it's very much worth it, I totally understand what one woman wrote about on the other day: feeling "trapped" in your pregnant body. That kind of looks like me, at least the face does, but who is this large, swollen creature?! In both of my pregnancies, my body didn't change too much until 20 weeks, so that's only 20 weeks total of the alien thing. But still, that's 5 months of looking like a pseudo-you. It's kind of weird.

If you can believe it, I am actually still circling my way back to dancing. This is also what it's like to talk to me in real life. The train gets derailed sometimes, but it always gets back on track... Anyway, I'm only now starting to get more uncomfortable, and by this point, I have a mere 12 weeks left. I can do it! On Monday, I begin THE DREADED THIRD TRIMESTER and I'm bracing myself quite nicely. I know what it's like, I know the challenges that lie ahead, and I'm up for them.

I remember taking a shower after delivering Hank, looking down, and nearly weeping with joy at being able to see the tops of my thighs, and you know. "Other things." I'm not saying those other things are normally all that exciting, but how nice to see them again after such a long hiatus! They certainly hurt enough, so I knew they were still there, and although my belly was still very much weaker than it's pre-pregnancy state, I looked much more like *me* again. It was a wonderful feeling.

And as a word of encouragement to all expectant mothers on their first baby: your body *will* recover. It may not look *exactly* like it did before you conceived; I mean, how could it? But it will look GREAT! I promise. Give your uterus time to shrink back down, and your hips and all that to move back. It takes everyone different lengths of time depending on many factors (including genetics; totally out of your control), but if you dedicate yourself, you *will* get back down to your pre-pregnancy weight. You'll look like you again, a new and improved you. And remember: stretch marks fade with time. I promise. They're genetic too, sigh.

Anyway, with this pregnancy, I actually feel a tad better than I did with Hank at this same stage. With Hank, I gained 29.5 pounds. As an average weight woman, that's a perfectly acceptable amount. With this little babe, so far at nearly 28 weeks I've gained 16 pounds. I'm on track to gain 25-30, so very similar. But overall, I feel less sluggish than I did with Hank. Granted, I'm not in the evil zone yet. That's still another month away. However, my sciatica isn't nearly as bad as last time, and my legs are definitely stronger. I credit dancing with that. Dancing! See! I knew I'd come back on track.

Dancing has really helped me this time. Aside from fighting tiredness come class time, I've kept up real good. I can tell that my abs are stronger too. When I undulate, I can actually pull my whole belly right up inside. :) I'm praying that this muscle memory is helpful come delivery time... But we'll see. So, I'm glad that I'm dancing tonight. People also tell me that my "butt hasn't gotten bigger!" Don't you just love the comments on your personal anatomy? Someone actually told me last time that my butt *had* gotten bigger. I wanted to slap that person. I mean, you do need more fat in your lower half in other places besides your belly to support your new frame, it's just a biological fact. And personally, I think a curvy butt is a heck of a good thing. Some women exercise to *achieve* this enviable butt, so there rude person!

Maybe not by a lot, but I'm certain that I've got a bit more junk in the trunk than usual, and even though I'm loving my dancing legs, they're not as thin as they usually are either. And that's just a part of being pregnant. How many weeks? Right. 12 WEEKS TO GO. I can do it. And I'm once again publicly belly dancing, this time when I'm 8 months pregnant. No bare belly this time though. Not that it isn't cute, but this time, it would be *way* too distracting. I'm a bit crazy in my belly dancing ways, but I love it. And it's helping me hang in there this pregnancy. Can't ask for any more than that.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Charlie Horses in the night...

Sounds ominous, but of course, anybody who has been pregnant knows that I'm merely talking about cramps. Despite not having a monthly cycle for the duration of a pregnancy, "cramps" take on a whole new meaning during these 9 months. There's the mysterious ones right at the beginning. The ones that turn ugly right at the end. And then the little seizure-like ones that grip your calves and toes while you're peacefully trying to sleep.

The other night, I innocently shifted position in bed, and in that instant, a cramp so sudden and agonizing gripped my calf that I actually cried out and accidentally woke up Mike. The next morning, it was still sore. And my toes! They're a mess. I've often been afflicted with toe cramps, even when not pregnant, but they've upped the ante recently. I especially get them a lot when I dance. Very annoying. Don't we suffer enough indignities while pregnant? I should think we earn a cramp-free 9 month pass.

Last night, the charlie horses stayed at bay, but for the love of all that is holy, my STOMACH. I complained about this early in pregnancy, and it has not decreased one iota. I had to get up twice just to deal with digestive issues (I'll spare you the details), and then couldn't fall back asleep. Each time I walked by his room, I peeked in on Hank and kissed his little head. He's such a good sleeper now. Goes down by himself and sleeps from 7:30-6/6:30. It reminded me that I will soon have a child that won't sleep even half that amount of time in a single stretch at night, which depressed me a bit. :) Ah well. I'm going to give up complaining about pregnancy woes for Lent.

Baby CL is getting so, so big though. He or she was so active last night, they actually contributed to my inability to fall back to sleep. I have 12.5 weeks to go until my due date. Sweet due date!

Ok, so, this morning I was reading Baby Bargains over breakfast. One of the few things that we didn't retain from Hank's infancy is a diaper pail. Last time, we had the Diaper Champ. We use disposable diapers. What we loved about the Champ:

(a) that you could use regular garbage bags in it and didn't need special inserts
(b) that it was easy to toss the bags into our big trash bin rather than have to deal with a "diaper chain." Not exactly a pleasing mental image.

What we didn't love:

(a) yes, it sealed in the odor, until you had to actually open it. Then, LOOK OUT! The wall of odor that would smack you in the face could cause unconsciousness in seconds. That entire *floor* of the house would stink for hours.
(b) the little rotating top with slot for diaper placement was an inevitable draw for Toddler Hank, who would put little toys and other belongings in there to twirl around into the can. Not good.

Baby Bargains claims that the pain in the you-know-where insert pails, like the Diaper Genie, are actually better (counter-intuitively enough) because they seal in the odor better and can hold more diapers. Fact or fiction? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Preparing for my upcoming maternity leave...

In preparation from my maternity leave, which will extend from mid to late May until late August, I've been a busy bee preparing work assignments so that I won't be behind come fall. One of the items on my to-do list is to prepare a "help document" for the one tutorial that I coordinate for the library. I handle it mostly solo, and it's actually a graduation requirement for undergraduates here, so it's important that someone is able to adequately cover the duty for me while I'm off. There are lots of little content and administrative nuances. It's nice to feel needed. :)

At any rate, I started the document on Monday and thought it would be fairly easy. I prepared a list of frequently asked questions and scoured my mind to be sure I had put everything down I thought would need answering while I as off. When I was satisfied that I'd thought of everything, I started constructing answers to the questions. I was optimistic that it would take me 2 days to finish tops, and that included editing and formatting. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

Well. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, but this sucker has taken on a life of it's own. I'm almost afraid to open it each morning for fear it may drain some life blood from me. "Pregnancy brain" is affecting me pretty heavily these days, and this project was no exception. I was typing along happily when I realized that I needed to add another question. And then another one. And then another one. Microsoft Word's automatic numbering feature is recalcitrant to work with under normal circumstances let alone when I'm pregnant and extra prone to be testy. If I wanted to add a question up in an area where I'd already completed some work and added subsequent subsections, Word was not cooperating. At one point, I swear it gave me the finger.

I was finally *approaching* the bottom of my list when I realized that I'd predictably forgotten about at least a half dozen other things and the entire document was going to have to be re-organized. I took it in stride, figuring I could add the content now and try to do a total overhaul of the format later, so that then the questions would flow in a logical order. This made me feel better until I realized that some of the things I'd "remembered" to add had actually already been covered above, and I could simply modify the previous entries. Why is this bad?

I used to be a practicing attorney, and my training hasn't totally been expunged from my memory or habits. Pretty soon, I found that not only did my sections have subsections, but my subsections suddenly had sub-subsections. The first time I wrote:

"...for instructions on this variation, please see #6(d)(iii)..."

I knew I was out of my cotton pickin' mind. I mean, SERIOUSLY. I'm a LIBRARIAN, and I work with OTHER LIBRARIANS. We're a peaceful, introverted lot. There's no need to be so anal about this.

But I can't help it. I'm now plotting a table of contents with subheadings to organize things by main topic and logical flow. Maybe I can even place internal links with anchors so that they can jump right to the needed question and answer?

Someone rescue me. Especially if I try to use the words supra or infra in context. And if I never see an id again, it will be too soon.

EDITED TO ADD: I've reached a new low. I just added a sub-sub-subheading. Kill me now.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nesting progress

Leading up to this past weekend, I made a grand announcement to my husband, with tornado-like energy emanating from my very pores:

"There are only about 12 usable weekends left until the baby arrives. I'm going to begin nesting IN EARNEST."

I was so dead serious, he couldn't help but crack the smile that he reserves for the times he thinks I'm doing something he labels "especially cute."

"Does this mean that you're going to be flitting around the house even more then usual coming up here?"

"YES. And I'm going to need you to move the heavy things."

I mean, nesting during the week simply isn't possible. After working all day, and coming home to make dinner and clean up, I truly don't have the energy to rearrange rooms, even with my super human nesting instincts on FULL POWER! like they are right now. So, on Saturday morning, it began.

Mike was prompted by yours truly over to a local discount chain to select a new bookcase for our bedroom. What does this have to do with the baby? Well. In order to create a nursery, we need to move the office furniture out of that room. To move the office furniture, we need to make room for it in the current guest room. To make room in the current guest room, we need to move at least some of the books that we have down there up to our bedroom. So you see? Terribly simple. :)

We found a nice, large 5 shelf one for a price so low I was convinced the cheap pressed wood would splinter before we even got it home. Mike got it together with a minimum of swearing, and shockingly, it looks pretty darn good for being so cheap. I spent the rest of the afternoon hauling and rearranging books. I have to say, the end result is much more appealing than our previous arrangement. Before this, I had these multiple cheap bookcases that fell apart every time I moved them. Which has been 3 times since we got married. It's nice to have everything consolidated. And this way, I was able to arrange by subject a bit. My own personal slice of the Library of Congress classification system.

Even though this seems like small progress, it's huge in my book. I was a little frightened that we weren't going to ever fit the office furniture in that guest room. This has cleared up a bunch of space. I also re-located some of Hank's toys that we kept in there, and since he has a nice-sized bedroom, the transition was seamless.

We still have a wee bit of re-arranging to do in the guest room, but I have hope now that everything will fit, and we're nearly done in there. Then I must face my arch nemesis: THE STORAGE. *shudder of revulsion* This is going to be ugly, and the games begin this coming weekend. But it has to be done.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Babies sleep all the time, don't they?

*unladylike snort*

This is what I thought when I was pregnant with my first child, and I can't tell you the speed with which this notion was cruelly ripped from me when I brought him home from the hospital. I remember when I was still in the hospital, and although I had the baby brought to me whenever he needed to nurse at night, and he was with me for the majority of the day, he was still in the nursery for brief periods of time. What was he doing while he was there?

Well, sleeping of course. At least, that's what I *thought*.

We brought him home, and there commenced the longest year of my life. I remember the first week home so vividly. I cried *every day*. I mean, multiple times a day, *every day*. My mom was 20 years old when she had her first child; I was nearly 31. I couldn't help but think that something was seriously wrong with me that not only did I have absolutely no idea what to do, but I fell apart at the emotional seams trying to enact ANY sort of solution. I remember getting depressed as nightfall came, knowing that the rest of the world was heading toward a solid night of sleep, while I was in for the unknown. At least two, likely more, night wakings, with no idea of when the baby would even fall asleep for me to get a hear start on some rest. I had no clue what sleep deprivation really meant going into having a newborn. Certainly, all of us have lost sleep on a given night or two. But every night multiple months up to a year or more? Lord have mercy. That's tough stuff.

I will grant that some babies do come home from the hospital as good sleepers (by our adult definition). I am already beseeching God that the child in my womb is one of these miraculous babies, believe me. And you will hear stories from people who say that they trained their infants to sleep through the night by 2-3 months. Sometimes, these are formula-fed babies. Formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, so consequently, these babies do sleep in longer stretches sooner. But I breastfeed, so this doesn't help me. :)

This time, I went into preparation/attack mode right away. I was determined to find out more about infant sleep, and if there were gentle ways that I encourage the new baby to sleep longer, sooner for the sake of my own sanity. I'm not a good mommy when I'm an exhausted zombie, it's just a simple fact. Thus, I've learned the following based on my past experience and reading:

Newborns simply need to eat frequently. Their stomachs are just so tiny, and they will need to nurse every 2-2.5 hours. Now if my newborn doesn't wake to nurse in the middle of the night, I'm certainly not going to wake them. :) I will sing praises to the heavens each and every morning that this occurs. But chances are, they will wake, so I will nurse them. And they certainly do need to nurse frequently throughout the day. This is hard, but I understand it now. This won't last forever. (All new expectant mothers remember this phrase: SIDELYING POSITION NURSING. Ask your lactation consultant about it. It will save your bacon with your newborn). By 3 months, they will start going longer stretches between eating.

I'm currently reading The No-Cry Sleep Solution, and I'm getting a lot out of it. What I've learned is that all of us, adults and cute newborn alike, have sleep cycles. You wake up in the middle of the night, right? Usually, we're able to soothe ourselves back to sleep. :) You roll over, fluff your pillow, and are back to sleep shortly. Infants, on the other hand, have this same sort of sleep cycle, but they have shorter, much more frequent cycles. It's an inate survival thing. Thus, they wake more than we do in the middle of the night, and in contrast to us, they usually can't get themselves back to sleep on their own. The book I'm reading provided a very helpful example. What if we went to sleep in our bed, and woke up at 3 am in the middle of the kitchen floor? You'd be startled, right? And would wake up fully, confused and disoriented. This is what it's like for babies. They usually fall asleep nursing or otherwise being held, and wake up in this dark other sleeping place (crib, bassinette, what have you). They don't want to roll over and suck their thumb back to sleep. They cry, because they're frightened and confused. Oftentimes, they're also famished. They want Mommy.

I'm now at the part of the book that discusses things that you can do with babies to try and make their sleep space a non-scary place, and encourage them to recognize it as they're falling asleep, so they won't be scared when they wake up there later. This all varies by the baby's age, since you really should never sleep train a tiny newborn. They really do need to eat that frequently (remember, SIDELYING NURSING. You will be able to both doze *and* feed the baby at the same time. It's a win-win). Once the baby gets a bit older, you can try to get them to fall asleep "drowsy but awake" so that they become familiar with their sleeping arrangement and can learn to soothe themselves if they wake but are not hungry.

I had The No-Cry Sleep Solution on my Amazon wish list and received it for my birthday. I'm going through it pretty methodically. I also have the Sleep Lady's book checked out from the library, and while I didn't read it cover to cover, what I did read was also helpful. Does anybody else have other "gentle" sleep suggestions for infants? I really don't like letting babies cry for any extended length of time. I'm not juding, it's just not for me. :)

Oh, I also saw The Happiest Baby on the Block DVD and thought it was smashing. Swaddle? Wherefore art though, sweet swaddle? When Henry was a baby, I had no idea even how to begin conconcting that little blanket coccoon. I mean, watching how the babies reacted to simply being wrapped tightly in a blanket while someone rocks them and makes gentle shushing noises in their ear was extraordinary. They're used to being in a cramped, loud, moving environment in the womb, and it soothes them to have us reenact that for them. This video in and of itself gave me so much more confidence heading into May. 91 days to go!

I really do have hope that this time, it will be easier. The baby may not sleep through the night sooner, but at least I know why this is happening, and I have active, proven strategies for trying to stretch out their sleep a bit so that I can get more rest. I'm also a lot calmer this go round. :)

A calmer Catholic Librarian = more coherent and understandable blog posts. So you see? This benefits all of us. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Well, today is my birthday

I have to be honest and admit that I don't look forward to my birthdays anymore the way I used to when I was younger. :) Last year, when I turned 35, I took it kind of hard. Suddenly, I'm in a new "age box" on any form that I fill out, and most pertinently, I'm considered "Advanced Maternal Age" for pregnancies, and I knew that I wanted at least 1 more. I don't want to be in my 20's again. But I do wish that I could float between 30 and 34 forever. Hit 34? No problem, next year you're 33 again. :) Ah, well.

This year, it isn't quite so bad. I woke up early because I had a 7:10 am appointment to have my blood drawn. Yes, that's the second this week. So many blood draws, so little time... This one is for my annual visit to my regular family doctor to check cholesterol levels, that sort of thing. So, I got up bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:30 and went to get that taken care of. I made it so early because I had to fast, so afterward I happily crunched away on my peanut butter ball cereal.

After that, I hung with Mike and Hank as they awaited their walk to Hank's school for the beginning of his day. I wanted to get Hank registered at the Catholic school we chose, and the secretary is available for that purpose beginning at 9 am. I made lunches and did some things around the house while we waited. I was feeling a bit weepy and nostalgic for some reason. It's a big change that we're enacting for next year, and I began to fret over whether or not we're making the right decision. Hank's childcare situation will be more complicated next year, without us being able to use our trusty daycare for him when there is no school. I love our daycare, and it makes me sad that his time there will be coming to an end. Their bus drove by Mike and I as we headed back home after dropping Hank at the public school, and it made me even sadder. I started to become anxious about why I was feeling this way. Oh right. I'm now officially "over 35" and I'm nearly 7 months pregnant. That pretty much explains it.

After Hank was safely at school, I made the quick trip over to St. A's. I got him registered very easily, and I felt better after that. We're stepping out in faith a bit, but that's what we're supposed to do.

I came to work, and here I sit, trying to get some work done. It doesn't really feel like my birthday. But tonight... *drumroll* Henry is spending the night at my parent's house, and Mike and I will have the house to ourselves for the ENTIRE NIGHT. Aside from 10 months after our wedding, Mike and I have not had a kid-free night together in all of our 6 years of marriage. Plus, he's taking me to dinner tonight at our local Melting Pot. I'm planning to alleviate my anxieties with lots of melted cheese. I'm very, very excited. And tomorrow morning, prior to Hank's return, we're going to look for a new bookcase so that we can start shifting things around for nursery preparation.

This is a very good day. Life is good.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rescheduled baptism class, and I can't get my bladder off my mind...

So, when I returned to my desk from a marathon meeting yesterday, I had a voicemail from Mike. The deacon running our baptism class had called to ask if it was ok if we moved our meeting from 7 pm to 7:45, since a doctors appointment had come up for his wife. In the back of my mind, I seemed to remember my mom having a commitment after she watched Henry for us, and upon a quick reconnaissance mission, my suspicions were confirmed. My mom had an appointment to have her hair colored at 8:30 pm (0dd, but true) and so the moved back time wouldn't leave her enough time to get back for that. Bummer. It's so much harder when you already have one child at home; much more difficult to be spontaneous. :)

So, our baptism class is now in mid-March. No big deal, since we still have enough time before the baby is born.

Speaking of the baby, I'm now at THAT part of my pregnancy. You know. I eat lunch, use the ladies room, set off for my quick daily walk, and halfway through feel the overwhelming need to use the ladies room strikes AGAIN. *sighs* I stop, use the facilities, and find that the amount produced was not even worth the time it took to scamper out of my way into the bathroom and remove the necessary items of clothing. How can that little trickle carry such a wallop? I always think of the pregnant character of Margie in Fargo:

"Mind if I have a seat? I'm carryin' quite a load over here."

We'll get there. The baby is starting to get really big; I'm starting to feel actual body parts in there when he/she moves around. I can't wait to see their little face for the first time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Busy day...

It's never a good start to the day when I wake up, heft myself over, and glance at the clock to see that the first number starts with a "7". That's very, very bad. So, it was one of those rushed mornings. Despite "sleeping in" I feel tired and sluggish. Luckily, Mike walks Hank to and from school on Wednesdays, so that saves me time in the morning.

Speaking of "hefting", I can feel the tentacles of the third trimester creeping in to try and wrench me from my pleasant and comfortable second trimester zone. Sleeping isn't horrible right now, but I am starting to see the beginnings of the Wall of Discomfort trickling into my life evvveeerrr so insidiously slowly. I can only sleep on my sides, and getting from one side to the other is getting increasingly challenging. My sciatica is beginning to kick in a bit more, and I'm starting to feel just the wee-est bit awkward in my gait and appearance. This is what I have been dreading since Mike and I first started talking about having a second child. The good news is that now that it's here, I can put it behind me all the quicker. 13.5 weeks to go! That's really not that long. Plus, I know how great it feels to deliver and suddenly have 20 + less pounds on your frame overnight, and how wonderful it is to see baby for the first time. I'm trying to keep it all in good perspective this time.

Tonight, we have our baptism preparation class, and I'm actually looking forward to it. The deacon that runs it knows Hank and I from our weekly Mass attendance and volunteer efforts with Liturgy of the Word for Children, and Mike and I are the only couple scheduled to be there tonight, so I think it will be a fairly quick and pleasant meeting. I'll report in tomorrow.

In the mean time, I'm very much enjoying the BALMY 40 degree temperatures we're having here today. I love this time of year. In October, anything below 60 seems chilly, yet in February/March, anything above 25 feels mild, and above 40 downright tropical. I do very much love living in a full 4 seasons climate - you appreciate each one as it comes along. :)

I'm still also heavily channeling spring. Last night, Mike glanced over at me as I innocently crocheted an Easter egg like it was the most natural thing in the world. My hands just can't keep still this year. And despite the fact that Lent hasn't even started yet, I'm already looking forward to Easter. We'll get there.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is that the beginnings of an excruciating pain I feel?

I've been doing lots of childbirth reading and thinking these days. Right now, I'm perusing Pregnancy, Childbirth and the Newborn, by Penny Simkin et al. I'm really honing in on the types of relaxation and coping techniques that I'd like to employ. Basic stuff like changing positions, focusing your mind on a visual other than the pain, music. I'm compiling a "birth" playlist as I type.

Tangent: It got me to thinking about the time *after* childbirth and how totally innocuous items take on crucial new meaning in your life as you recover. Those of you who have delivered a baby will immediately know of what I am speaking. For instance, take the following list:

Ice Pack
Seat Cushion
Personal clothing items made of mesh
Squirt Bottle

See what I mean? To this day, I shudder even thinking about that little squirt bottle. /Tangent

At any rate, I like to think that this time, I'm *more* prepared, although nothing totally prepares one for this experience. I'm preparing for an unmedicated birth, and this time, barring unforeseen circumstances, I think I have a better shot at achieving that since I'm doing my homework ahead of time. I won't be devastated if it doesn't work out that way, but I'm very goal-oriented, and so I have a goal. To work toward this, I will do the following:

(1) Stay and labor at home as long as possible before traveling to the hospital. You are apt to feel much more comfortable in your own space, allowing your body to secrete its needed hormones at the necessary intervals. If you're anxious and feeling like your privacy is being invaded, your labor will slow down.

(2) Eat and drink prior to leaving for the hospital. This time, I know that labor is a marathon, not a sprint. Even if you're one of those women blessed with shorter than average labors, labor is still INCREDIBLY hard work. You need your physical strength to be up for the challenge.

(3) Be upright as much as possible. Lying in bed flat on your back never helped anyone give birth. Have you watched The Tudors? *shudder of horror* Good gracious. Their version of pain relief was stringing up an old bed sheet between the posts for her to grab onto. Getting out of bed was seen as the ravings of a crazy woman in need of immediate intervention. Although maybe not as "ladylike", squatting, standing/walking, and on hands and knees are much more efficacious positions to labor and deliver in.

(4) Bring some focus distractions. My iPod, some rosary beads, maybe some pictures of Hank.

(5) Inquire about the hospital policy on maximizing mobility with regard to IV fluids and external fetal monitoring. Last time, I felt tethered to my hospital bed, which certainly didn't aid my cause.

(6) Use any tool that the hospital provides, such as a tub, birthing ball and squatting bar.

(7) Realize that the pain in labor has a *good* purpose, and that it means that the baby is closer to being born. I've also read up on how long each stage of labor is, to help me mentally cope with them. For instance, transition is typically only between 4 and 20 contractions long. That is what I consider empowering information.

(8) Bring more modest coverings so that I won't feel so exposed and anxious. By this, I mean essentially my old tattered bathrobe. I have no problem with wearing hospital gowns (don't exactly want to expose my cute gowns to the various fluids involved in childbirth) but the "revealment of the backside" issue is plumb ridiculous. I'm asking for two, one for the front and one for the back, with the bathrobe to cover when I want to be on my hands and knees. If I feel exposed, I'm tense. And tense = stalled labor.

(9) Avoid Pitocin. This time, I'm going to trust myself and my body, unless there appears to be a problem I did not anticipate beforehand. Last time, I gave in to the Pitocin right away because I was scared and had no idea what having it would feel like.

I'm going to continue to work on these things over the next 3.5 months. I wouldn't ever take an important exam without studying, or climb a mountain without training, and I'm trying to see childbirth the same way. I'm going to put myself in as best a position as possible to succeed.

Many women tell me that they don't remember the pain of childbirth. That's how, well, they went on to have more than one child. :) But me, I have to admit, I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN. The edge has been taken off of it a bit, since it's been over 5 years, but I have NOT forgotten the physical sensations that led me to get the epidural, nor the helplessness I felt after it wore off and I realized that I had no recourse but to curl in a fetal position clinging desperately to the rails of my bed to deal with the pain. And it went on for what felt like BLOODY EVER. I had a short time in transition and then a nearly 3 hour pushing stage without any pain medication.

It felt 18-wheeler was driving through my abdomen at 90 second intervals. It sounds dramatic, but I remember actually closing my eyes and wishing that I was dead. It was bad.

Does that mean it'll be like that for you? Of course not. Every woman's body is different, and I've had several women tell me that labor was merely uncomfortable for them, not painful. Prepare, prepare, prepare. And try to go without that Pitocin. I really feel hopeful that this time, it'll be different.

I think one of the toughest things about childbirth (whether vaginal or cesarean section) is that no matter how supportive your partner is, no matter how great your doctor is... you have to ultimately go it alone. You have people supporting you, but no one can do it for you. Somehow, you have to step up to the plate and hit that ball on your own. But we do have prayer, and the peace of Christ that surpasses all understanding. Certainly, on the day of battle, that will help. :)

The decision is made...


The decision is final. Henry will be going to Catholic school in the fall for first grade.

*Hallelujah chorus*

I'm going to register him at St. A's later this week. We're all super excited, even Mike.

I am, admittedly, a little anxious about the fundraising, and about the fact that we'll no longer be using our daycare as his after-school care provider; the onsite program at the Catholic school is closed when the school is closed, so you have no care available for your child during winter and spring recess, etc., when you may be obliged to be at work. Right now, with our daycare, they're always open, you just have to pay for those days. But, somehow, we'll work those kinks out. I really think this is the right decision for Henry, and for us as a family.

I'll report in later in the week about the registration process. :)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day..the perfect day for a glucose screening...

I can't tell you how happy it made me when I glanced at my pregnancy ticker this morning and saw that I officially have less than 100 days to go!!! I have a good perspective on the pregnancy this time I think, and realize that 14 weeks is nothing, and is going to fly by. But on the other hand, I have to be honest and admit that already, I'm DYING to have my body back. I mean, DYING. I love my baby, but I long to be the only one inside my skin again. :) It'll come, and of course, it's worth it. Once March rolls around, the end will be in sight. I'm hangin' in there just fine.

On Saturday, the baby and I had our debut as an officially pregnant-looking belly dancer performing in public. I was scared, but I tried on my costume on Friday. I was worried about the skirt, but actually, that was totally fine. I'm still carrying very high, so it fit beneath my belly perfectly. The top on the other hand, well, let's just say that I suddenly have va-va-va-voom-like clevage. I should take a picture. It's the only time it'll look this good. But seriously, the top nearly doesn't button anymore. But it did fit for Saturday, and what I did to mitigate my self-consciousness was take my matching veil and drape it across my belly diagonally, attaching it with a pretty broach at my hip and tying it cutely up on the opposide top strap. It looked darling, and from the front you can't tell I'm pregnant. I figured it just took the edge off the freakish sideshow feeling of "look at the pregnant belly dancer!" I just felt more comfortable.

This morning, I had my glucose screening. I arrived promptly at 8:30 am and was immediately given my glass of toxic orange punch. While we waited for the sugar to absorb, I had my regular monthly check-up, and baby is doing swell. Heartrate is 140 beats per minute, and he/she was moving around quite a bit, all sugared up. My fundal height and weight gain is right on track.

I was wondering when this question would come up, and today was the day:

"are you interested in learning about permanent forms of birth control, like tubal ligation or vasectomy?"



My practice, though far from NFP only, is very, very non-pushy about birth control, which I appreciate. Well, otherwise, I probably wouldn't still go there. :)

After all that, I was released into the wild of the blood lab. Now that I'll have surpassed 26 weeks, my appointments bump up to every 2 weeks.

I went to the blood lab and knit dishcloths for 45 minutes while the baby performed sugar-induced gymnastics in my belly. I got in only a few minutes after my hour was up, and the blood lady made quick work of my vein. Thank God, because I am completely squeamish around blood and hate having it drawn. I've gotten used to it and tolerate it well, I just can't watch while they do it. :)

So, another appointment out of the way. I have lots coming up, including one with my cardiologist, since I have a minor congenital heart defect that they monitor more closely while I'm pregnant. I'm just ticking off all of these milestones to get closer to May. We've actually had some above freezing temperatures here in the past few days and have seen some meltage. Springn can't come soon enough for me this year. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Confession on your iPhone?

So, this week on my Facebook news feed, I saw several posts about this new confession app for the iPhone. At first, I have to admit, I was skeptical. :) The way that the headlines were written made it sound as if the Church had approved a way for people to actually *attend* the sacrament of reconciliation via their phone. This is of course, not the case.

The app is a confession preparation tool, and I learned more about it on this week's Catholic Moments podcast. The designers are devout Catholics, and created it in response to Pope Benedict's call for Catholics to evangelize via new media tools. The app has customized examinations of conscience for all age groups and vocations, and includes the traditional confession prayers to assist those that may have been away from the sacrament for some time. They applied for, and received an imprimatur from their local bishop. I definitely softened toward it once I learned more about it.

This got me to thinking on my way into work this morning as I finished up listening to the podcast: have we veered too far away from a "simple faith?" With all of my fascination with Amish fiction, this issue is often on my mind, and certainly, this is only my opinion. One of our Church's strengths is the diversity that it promotes it expression of faith and worship. I happen to veer more toward a conservative, traditional appreciation of the faith, but there are others that are fed from a different expression of our faith. We all fall under the umbrella of our Catholic Church, and I think that's an important caveat.

For me, I do not have a smartphone, nor do I desire one. I do have a cell phone, and I do have a texting plan, because I find that it is a fun and easy way to keep in touch with my mom and sisters on quick little issues. I keep a cell phone because I do think it's important for me to be able to get in touch with someone if I'm traveling alone and need immediate assistance. But those are the only uses I have for my phone. I often forget to turn it on for days at a time. :)

I don't want to use the Internet on my phone. Why? Because when I am at home, I want to feel "set apart from the world." I don't need to look up things right at that instant. I have Internet access right in my face all day at work, I can wait until then. I also don't want to play games on it, or interact with the device in any way. When I'm at home, I want to focus on my family, and when I have some free time, I enjoy reading and crocheting/knitting. Mike and I do watch television, but to be honest, we really don't watch all that much of it. I'm certainly not criticizing anybody that does any of these things. Everyone enjoys different things, it's totally personal preference.

But I will say this: the Catholic Librarian's *biggest pet peeve of all time* is the following: you are sitting with a real, live human being in front of you, and yet you pull out your phone and start doing something with it. I don't mean, "oh, I'm expecting word from my son, would you excuse me for a moment?" or, we're talking about something specific, and the person offers to look it up on their smartphone on behalf of both of us. I mean, people who just completely disregard regular human interaction to become immersed in their personal electronic device. I honestly think this is self-absorption at it's worst, and is dangerous to our very human need for personal communication.

That was a bit rambly, but it comes down to a very thought-provoking point: Are we really better off now that we have these tools at our disposal? Regardless of how you feel, it's a fascinating inquiry, and I acknowledge that there bound to be many viewpoints on this, all with valid arguments. Just something to think about.

I have to admit, sometimes I daydream and imagine Mike and I living on a farm with no electricity. :0 I honestly think that we'd both manage it ok and would likely enjoy it. But would it be nearly so romantic as in my daydreams? Certainly not. There's the animals factor. This involves lots of critter poo and slaughterhouse implications. Not so idyllic. But maybe someday we won't have a tv anymore. I could actually see that potentially happening. Or at least, us not subscribing to satellite/advanced cable any longer. In the past we talked about just getting basic cable and subscribing to satellite radio. Interesting stuff, no? Things to think about heading into the weekend... :)

The pregnant belly dancer dances on...

I haven't posted on my dance classes lately, and since it's my dance night, I thought the timing was ideal. :) I'll be 26 weeks pregnant on Monday, and I'm still going strong. My turns are suffering due to my center of gravity being shifted, but that's the only major factor aside from THE MUSCLE. That would be the pesky right side groin muscle rearing its ugly head again. *shudder* Happily, this muscle is no longer affecting my daily walks, but it's most definitely impacting my dancing. I'm usually ok for an hour or so, but by time we hit an hour and a half, it starts aching. As well, certain lower body 3/4 shimmies and undulations can trigger it too.

I've just been modifying my movements as the ache strikes. So far, it's ok, but we'll see as my pregnancy advances. I'm approaching the third trimester, and without a doubt things will get more difficult.

Tomorrow night, we have a performance at a charity event, and I have to admit, I'm a bit apprehensive. It doesn't help that we're performing shortly after 8 o'clock in the evening, which by my standards these days is "sorta late." I'll be tired. Plus, I've been terrified to try my costume on. Not good. So far this pregnancy, I've gained 14 pounds, which is completely within the normal range, and I'm actually quite pleased with. But obviously, at 6 and a half months, I have a noticeable baby bump. And I can tell that the relaxin in my body is doing its job and widening my pelvis in preparation for birth. I'm a tad nervous that my skirt isn't going to zip, or else it will zip but be so far below my belly that it will slip down unacceptably. I'm going to try it on tonight before class and pray for the best.

In April, we have a dancer from Canada coming to give a workshop that I'd really like to attend, followed by an informal in-studio hafla. By that point, I honestly don't know about the hafla. I'll have to see how I'm feeling next month. It doesn't start until 9 pm, and I simply don't know if I'll make it that long. My teacher has assured me that I can wear whatever I want, so at least I won't have to worry about squeezing into my costume at 8 months pregnant!

But so far, it's going great, I really can't complain. I'm very grateful to have the blessing of this dance form in my life, and that I've been able to continue it so far this pregnancy. Joy is truly found in the simple things.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My current crafting obsession...

Does your baby need some washcloths? Do you need a dozen or so potholders or hotpads? If so, you've found your woman. *beams*

I get SO seasonally happy this time of year with approaching spring. Ironic, since I really don't care so much for the summer heat. But there you have it. My nesty fingers have been busy every evening knitting and crocheting away, and I just get so excited by spring and Easter patterns at this time of year. They're just so fresh and happy with their pretty bright colors. So, imagine my joy the other day as I prowled on Ravelry and found a pattern collection of Easter cloths, seen at left.

These patterns feature mini knitted cloths with 8 designs: a basket, bunny, lamb, cross, chick and several Eggs. I was in love instantly. The downloadable pattern booklet cost only $3.25 and I was on it in seconds. They are all made from 100% cotton yarn, which is one of my favorites to work with, and that I have a bunch of sitting in my stash.

I've already cast on the bunny and am almost done. I am so completely taken with him as he takes shape that it's utterly ridiculous.

"Look, it's his tail! Oh, oh, I see his FACE!"

So imagine the excitement permeating from my computer when I discovered that the designer of these patterns has AN ENTIRE COLLECTION OF THESE CLOTHS FOR DIFFERENT SEASONS AND OCCASIONS. I thought I'd die of pleasure.

There is a dessert collection, baby, wedding, spring and winter, Christmas and Thanksgiving, summer and the beach, flowers and school, I mean, need I go on? I NEED THESE PATTERNS OR I MAY WITHER AWAY. This appears ever so clear to me.

Each collection is $3.25, so I will have to reign myself in a bit and pick just a few. I think the school collection would be great for Hank's teacher and the classroom aide at the end of the year. I'm dying for the spring ones to mix in with the Easter collection for ideal spring gifts. And I love the desserts.

This is all making me terribly happy. And it's occupying my ever whirling thoughts.

All of the patterns can be downloaded through Ravelry or via the designer's website.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Baptism class, and...Catholic school registration?

Every afternoon when I write these posts, I try to think of what is foremost on my mind, and then make it interesting. Today, it was my to-do list. :) Sorry, tough to make that interesting.

Finally, I called about scheduling Baby CL's baptism. I have to be honest and admit that I've been putting it off because I knew the parish would want us to attend a "pre-baptism class," and I'm not saying I'm opposed to such a notion, I just wasn't particularly looking forward to it. Both Mike and I going out in the evening is a bit of a hassle - my mom has to be free to watch Henry, and I have to drag my exhausted self out at a time when I'd normally be crocheting in my jammies. Plus, sometimes classes like these can be (I'll just say it) a bit painful. But sometimes they surprise you, so why am I being so negative?

So I called. I immediately let the secretary know that this is our second child, and our first was in fact baptized. *halo* Next question:

"Did you attend a pre-baptism preparation class then?"

Sigh. :) No, we didn't, and I'm certainly going to tell the truth. Henry was baptized by the priest that married us, and he didn't require us to attend a class prior to the sacrament. Alas.

So, I signed us up for the class, and the secretary then got the paperwork to fill out as she talked to me. Me being Type A was thrilled to be able to schedule the baptism. I like my ducks all neat in a row.

"Ok, your names?... Great. The baby's name?"

*confused pause*

"Well, we don't know yet."

*other side of the conversation confused pause*

"Oh, you haven't had the baby yet?"

*another confused pause*

"No. I'm due in May."

"OHHhhh. Well, we can't schedule the baptism until after the baby is born."

*unhappy pause*

I did get the go-ahead to request sponsor letters following the class, so that we'd be all set come May/June. But I was a bit taken aback that the parish doesn't even schedule baptism until after the birth. I'm kind of old school - I like to baptize as soon as possible, certainly within 6 weeks. I mean, I'm certain that if there was a medical issue, an emergency baptism would be performed forthwith. But for uncomplicated matters, the assumption was that baby is already here, and following the baptism class plus acquisition of the sponsor letters (which sometimes can take awhile) the baptism will then be *scheduled*. That could be several months, or even longer.

I did what I could right now, and our class is actually next week. I'd like the baby to be baptized in June. Hopefully all will go well.

I also called our Catholic school of choice, St. A's, to inquire about first grade registration. We would simply need to bring in Henry's birth certificate, proof of baptism, his most recent report card, and $60. This will hold his place, and then we can fill out the remaining paperwork at our leisure. My hope is that this will happen next week, and I couldn't be more thrilled. This weekend will be the end of our self-imposed "2 week waiting period" and then I get paid that Wednesday. I'd like to bustle on in and register him. Mike is still on board, so I'm getting very excited. Maybe I'll meet some new Catholic friends too. :) I think this is the right move for all 3 of us.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Creativity overload

I'm not yet able to get too much done on the future nursery (next month, during Mike's spring break, we have plans for painting, carpeting, and furniture moving) so instead of using my nesting energies in that direction, I've turned to knitting and baking. This has been a very harmonious obsessive compulsion if you ask me.

On Saturday, I decided to bake a cake. Now, those of you faithful readers that have read my blog for any length of time know that my baking abilities border on scandalous. I simply don't have the Betty Crocker gene. But lately, I've been trying more. And my precious Henry spotted a particular cake in one of my cookbooks and specifically asked that I make it. I mean, how can I resist that?

It was a nice simple recipe from a cookbook that touts itself as being for the "busy family." The recipes are all designed to be crafted in approximately 30 minutes, great for weeknights. This cake was simply a white cake mix combined with crumbled Oreo cookies, and frosted with a thick homemade cream cheese frosting. I was a little afraid of the frosting, but I figured that if I screwed it up, I could just go buy a can. Sad, so sad.

But at any rate, we embarked on the cake, and as always I immediately got tense. Baking just brings out the worst in me, but I'm trying to fight these demons, I swear. Mixing the cake was pretty easy, and in it went into my bundt pan. I was a little anxious when it didn't appear to be fully done when the allotted time elapsed, but I refused to panic. Back in it went (several times), until finally, my toothpick came out clean.

Then came the frosting. I was brave I tell you, very brave. I popped the cream cheese and milk into the mixer. Hank swirled it about. The texture seemed odd, but that's par for the course with my baking. I slowly added in the heavy cream and confectioner's sugar. Away it spun. And spun. And spun. And once again, my product looked like soup. Delicious, calorie-laden soup, mind you, but soup all the same. The directions said to mix until the soup became "stiff peaks." I won't even tell you what went through my head when I read that.

Dejectedly, I let Hank monitor the soup while I washed out my measuring cups. When I returned to the table, I swear it, a miracle worthy of a saint canonization had taken place. My frosting was FLUFFY and PEAKY. One would have thought I had just turned water into wine based on my reaction.

*angels sing*


I immediately tasted some, and it tasted GOOD! Rather than, I don't know, ODD. I let it spin a bit longer until the peaks became their stiffest, and turned the mixer off to admire my work. I slapped it on the cooled cake, and voila! My masterpiece:

I am super, duper proud of it. Hank loves it, and we all snacked on it during the super bowl. Life is good.

In my other efforts, I've been making baby hats like the apocalypse is approaching and every baby I know is relying on ME for their head warmth. I've been very productive on those. I'm about to start a show stopper baby blanket, more on that later. But once again, I've been bitten by spring fever.

Every February/March, I start to become obsessed with spring and Easter-themed crafts. I mean, I just can't get enough. I'm currently making a shawl in a yarn called "first spring ombre" and just printed off patterns for crocheted Easter eggs and knitted Easter dishcloths. What on earth does anyone need with a bunny adorned dishcloth? I have no notion, but if I know you, you're getting one this Easter. Or would you prefer a lamb? Or an chick? Because I'm going to make those too. I LOVE them, and this seems like a great way to use some of the cotton yarn I have in my stash that I swear on my life is reproducing in my little storage totes. I've got all the spring colors! Variegated too!

March is National Craft Month, so watch out! Lots of coupons at JoAnn's = very dangerous situation for the Catholic Librarian...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Catholic school tour, part ii

Last night we trooped over to St. B's for their open house, and happily, Mike's class was cancelled and he could accompany us. It was an interesting evening. Well, the school tour was. The "poo event" we experienced later with Hank was not, but hey. You can't win 'em all.

As soon as we pulled up I noticed something: this school was MUCH larger than St. A's. In terms of the facility size and the student body, it's about twice as large. We barely got a parking spot, even just as the open house was beginning, and headed in.

Right away, my impression was made. I thought to myself, "Oh, Mike will hate this." :) It was a very nice school, don't get me wrong. But it was very "rah rah," a little bit in your face. Motivational sayings about reaching your full potential were hanging from the ceiling, and everywhere touted the fact that this school has received designations from the state as being a "school of excellence." They really sold that point.

We got a tour guide, which was a good thing, since I think we would have gotten lost otherwise. The facilities were very nice, more modern than St. A's, but it didn't feel as warm or homey. The school did seem to have a strong Catholic identity. Each classroom had an icon of a patron saint posted, and school Masses are held at least twice a month. They offer a few more classes than St. A's, such as both French and Spanish (St. A's has only Spanish), drama and dance. And their hot lunches seemed a tad nicer while being less expensive. The tuition is about $100 or so cheaper per year than St. A's. But honestly, over the course of a year, that's pretty minimal. Anything within a $300 range annually is not a deal breaker.

When we left, I quickly gathered Mike and Hank's opinions. It was unanimous: we all like St. A's better by a mile. The vibe at St. B's, while still filled with nice people, just wasn't as warm and familial. Mike even admitted to liking St. A's from the moment we entered the school. Here, we all had the opposite reaction.

Sooo.... next week I'm going to call St. A's to inquire about how many spaces they have in first grade for the fall and see what information we'd have to bring should we register Hank. They only require $60 at registration, another point in their favor (rather than $150 at St. B's). The following week, we'll then make a decision and if we go that route (which it seems like we will at this point) I'll register Hank that week, well before the end of February. I couldn't be more thrilled. :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pink or blue?

I was home yesterday on a snow day, and my hands were very busy. Besides watching Wallace & Grommit with Hank and doing laundry, I knit baby hats. And at left is the fruit of my labor.

I actually now have *three* hats made for this baby. I made a blue one on size 6 needles, and once again, my large gauge struck. That hat will fit Baby CL (assuming baby is a he) when they are around 6 months old. So, I went out to the craft store for smaller needles (not easy to do when you're looking for 16" circular needles; the smaller sizes are at a premium) and voila! The two masterpieces you see above. :) I wanted hats that I could bring to the hospital with me and then pop on the appropriate color for the big going home photos.

I had fun with these, but my work is far from over. I'm about to start a baby blanket, plus I'm making, yes (don't make fun) more hats. A few for gifts, and I think I'll make a larger hat in another pattern that I have for further down the road. Baby needs to be warm, right?

Speaking of Baby CL, they are getting very big. I feel them move all the time now, and unfortunately nighttime seems to be their time to party. I wake up often in the night (my poor, POOR stomach. I've never had indigestion like this in my LIFE) and Baby CL is having a dance marathon each time. My meeting with him or her is now less than 4 months away, and I absolutely cannot wait. :)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A vast amount of yarn...

With my surge of recent nesting has come (as I expected) the sudden and uncontrollable urge to knit and crochet baby hats and blankets in quantities suitable to clothe the entire free world. Every evening for the past 2 weeks I've been feverishly knitting pink and blue hats. Does the fact that the baby will be born at the end of May give me any pause? Absolutely none. S/he NEEDS A HAT. And since I don't know if the baby is a boy or a girl, I'm making them in multiple colors. I want him or her to come home from the hospital in a hand knit hat. :)

As well, despite the fact that I have two storage containers full of yarn stashed away, I am convinced that I need to buy baby yarn in order to make a fluffy, soft blanket. THE BABY NEEDS THIS BLANKET. It's like a force totally outside of my control is compelling me to make these objects.

Early in my pregnancy, I could not knit or crochet. It literally made me nauseous. I've got all kinds of yarn now stored away that was originally intended to craft Christmas gifts. There's always next year... But at any rate, my crafting mojo is back, big time. I'm bound for AC Moore after work today to pick up some Red Heart Baby Clouds. We may be snowed in tomorrow, and if so, I want to have something to work on. :)