Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cuteness in motion

Christmas week Elizabeth came out of her newborn haze and became very interactive. She now coos and smiles and laughs, which the kids think is just wonderful. They all spend lots of time each day talking and singing to Elizabeth. Even Campbell gets in on the act. In the video, you can hear Campbell correcting me when I call Elizabeth by her name. He's convinced her name is "BeeBee" and we're not allowed to call her anything else when he's around. Ella is the one doing all the singing.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The magic is still there

I was a bit worried about Ella and Santa this year. One day after school she announced that a boy in her class had said that Santa was really kids' moms and dads. I started preparing an explanation about how yes it was parents but big sisters have a responsibility to not ruin it for their siblings or else there would be no presents. But I stopped myself and asked Ella what she thought. Ever the pragmatic child, she said, "I think if you don't believe in Santa, he won't bring you presents." I agreed with her and breathed a sigh of relief.

Christmas morning, Ella hit our bedroom door with a thud at 1:00 am. She burst in yelling, "He came! Santa came. And he ate the cookies and brought a scooter and a pogo stick!" I told her to get back in bed and go back to sleep. "But I'm too excited," she wailed.

When I got up to give Campbell his morning milk at 6:00 am, Ella was peering at me over the top of her bunk bed rail, her brown eyes open wide. I told her it was still too early, and she groaned and rolled over.

The girls were so thrilled when they were allowed out at 7:00. Santa had eaten the cookies they had left and given them new cookies as a replacement. They thought that was the best thing and told all the relatives about it later in the day.

What with the new baby and all the medical bills we're dealing with, it was a modest Christmas. It did my heart good that the girls didn't notice in the least and were happy with the presents they got. Poor Ella doesn't weigh enough to use her new pogo stick -she needs at least another 20 pounds - but when I suggested that maybe we see if we could find a way to trade it in, she protested. "It won't be the one Santa brought me, and it won't have a red bow on it!" So it's sitting in the garage, unused. Since Ella was such a good sport about the pogo stick, I found a scooter on sale at Target last night and got it for her. She was so excited that I wanted to cry. She gave me the biggest hug and drew me a thank you note.

Lily got a scooter from Santa and a new princess dress and is in heaven. My mom also gave the girls each a little canvas bag from LL Bean, and Lily has been toting hers around all week. It has ner new spy kit and note pads and lotions and all sorts of flotsam in there.

Campbell wasn't sure who this Santa person was, but he did love the presents. In true two-year-old fashion, he'd open one toy and be so excited about it that he'd wander off to play, ignoring the other gifts in his pile. It made everyone laugh that he was just as excited about his new "shooz" as he was his new trains, which he spent much of the morning playing with while wearing his shoes.

It was a good Christmas, but I'm glad it's done.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Better late than never

To say that I was having a rough time in the weeks before Christmas would be a bit of an understatement. I was completely overwhelmed by just about everything in my life - kids, house, work, battles with insurance, preparation for Christmas - and I was barely holding myself together. The seven days of sick kids right before Christmas was the final straw for me. I didn't have much Christmas spirit at all, which was a shame, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. I love the lights and the tree and giving presents and baking cookies. But not this year; it was just one more thing on a long to-survive list.

But now that Christmas is over, I'm enjoying the aftermath. The kids are playing with their new toys and reading their new books. My parents are still here, and having two extra people to help manage the chaos has been wonderful. I don't feel quite so panicked on a daily basis now, mostly because I don't have any sort of deadline looming.

It's a shame I missed the fun before the holiday, but I'm glad I can enjoy it afterwards.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Same song, different verse

I thought we had finally beaten back the plague. We'd gone more than 24 hours without anyone throwing up. We'd been forcing the kids to wash their hands every five minutes. We'd been using copious amounts of hand sanitizer. I thought life was returning to normal, whatever that is.

I thought wrong.

At about 9:00 last night, I was in the office catching up on blogs, my sister was in the living room, and B was on the back porch. The kids were all tucked into bed and sound asleep. Peace reigned.

And then my sister yelled from the living room that someone in the girls' room was throwing up. It was Lily, and it was a disgusting mess. I'll spare everyone the details.

I felt awful, both because Lily was sick and because she had told me her stomach hurt before she went to bed. I patted her on the back and tucked her in, ignoring her complaints because she's been claiming that her stomach hurt all week. She's been desperate to be sick like Ella so she could lie on the sofa and watch cartoons and drink ginger ale. I figured her complaints last night were more of the same. Boy was I wrong.

Lily ended up sleeping on a pallet on the floor in our bathroom, just in case she threw up again, which she didn't. She came out this morning looking rather bewildered. It turns out she has no memory of last night's events, which is pretty funny.

So now she's on the sofa, watching SpongeBob and drinking Gatorade, and I'm back to washing a mountain of sheets and towels.

Le sigh.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This is getting old

So it's been a disgusting week here at chez hok. Everyone but Lily and Teeny has been sick.

Campbell kicked things off on Monday by throwing up lots. He woke up Tuesday all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like he'd never been sick, but I kept him home from preschool anyway. We did go in for an hour so he could attend his class Christmas party, not that he cared about it in the least.

Wednesday morning I left him with a sitter while I went to Ella's class party with Teeny in tow. After lunch I took Campbell and Teeny with me to Lily's class party, which was held in the library at school. We had been there all of 10 minutes when Campbell threw up all over me and the library. I was mortified. Fortunately, several mothers helped me round up a plastic bag to put Campbell's vomit-covered clothes in and paper towels to clean up his mess. After that, I said a quick good-bye to a disappointed Lily and bolted for the door.

Campbell was droopy the rest of the day but didn't throw up again until about midnight. Fortunately, B was on duty at that point.

I woke up at 5:30 to feed Elizabeth and then started throwing up. I woke up B at 6:45 so he could get the girls off to school and then collapsed back in bed. B took care of Campbell for the morning and the girls when they got home from school as I staggered out once in a while to check on things.

Ella started complaining that her stomach hurt at bedtime, so we made her a pallet on the floor in her room with a puke bucket to avoid the splatter fest we had last time she was sick. According to B, she threw up tons in the middle of the night. So much so that he made her a nest on the floor in the bathroom so that she could rest between bouts. B, being B, took a picture. Somehow I figured Ella would be in college before we saw a picture of her passed out on a bathroom floor.

B was sick all day Friday and hid in bed while I held down the fort despite a migraine - only one parent at a time can be sick. It turns out grandparents aren't readily willing to babysit vomiting kids. Ella was droopy all day and took a long nap on the sofa, and Campbell was a horrible crank.

I figured today would be better, that maybe we'd all be on the mend. Turns out not so much. Campbell was horribly fussy this morning, and just as I picked him up to get him to stop crying, he threw up again. Sigh. Immediately afterwards he started begging for food. The poor little guy is so hungry, but I'm afraid to give him anything except toast.

Lily desperately wants to be sick so she can lie on the sofa and drink ginger ale and watch cartoons all day. B, Ella and I keep explaining to her that being sick means throwing up, but she seems to be willing to pay that price. I'm not sure how she hasn't gotten sick yet. Maybe she'll be lucky and avoid it all. I'm praying to the FSM that she does.

I'm at the end of my rope, which was pretty short to begin with. I'm doing load after load of laundry and spraying the house down with Lysol and scrubbing surfaces with bleach. I've left the house twice in the past three days, all for stupid errands - like buying more laundry soap.

I may not recover from this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Middle Child

Lily has been having a bit of a tough time adjusting to the new family dynamics. She's not the oldest, she's not the baby, and she's not the only boy - she's really the middle child.

We haven't seen any overt jealousy, especially not aimed at Elizabeth. But, as when Campbell was born, Lily has reacted by becoming even more whiny and clingy. She cries about EVERYTHING some days - her shoelaces are tied wrong, she doesn't like her cereal, she doesn't want to clear the table, she can't find the right color of marker. You get the idea.

She also wants to be in my lap or next to me all the time. And she begs me to pick her up in a baby voice that is like nails on a chalkboard. When Campbell was born, I figured she was begging for the extra hugs and snuggles because she needed reassurance, so every time she asked, I'd pick her up or put her in my lap, figuring that it would reassure her that I really do love her and the clingyness would dissipate. Turns out, not so much. It just made her clingier.

When we went through this after Campbell's birth, I discovered that the best thing to do when Lily said, "Me want to sit wif yooo," was to make her repeat the request in a big-girl voice and then give her a hug and kiss and send her on her way. I also learned that giving her unsolicited hugs and kisses and snuggles helped a lot too. I think my giving her love at unexpected times really helped her feel more secure.

We're working our way through her clingyness again, and I'm worried that I've permanently scarred my daughter by making her the middle child.

One thing that Lily really loves is to hold Elizabeth, and it turns out that she's really good at getting the baby to settle down and fall asleep. Lily pats her back and sings little songs, and Elizabeth conks right out. So now, when I'm making dinner or folding laundry or something and Elizabeth wants to be held, I give her to Lily, which makes Lily feel very special.

Lily held Elizabeth for me the other night while I made dinner, and the scene was just too sweet. I had to take pictures.

Elizabeth reached out in her sleep and grabbed Lily's nose, which Lily thought was very funny. After I took the picture Lily moved Elizabeth's hand so she could breathe.

Ella and Campbell have a pretty strong bond; she is definitely his favorite big sister, which upsets Lily from time to time. I'm hoping that Lily will be Elizabeth's favorite so that everyone is evenly matched.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It all went downhill from there

Yesterday morning started out reasonably well. The girls got up and ate breakfast without too much fuss. I only had to fight with Ella over her clothes; Lily calmly put hers on, perhaps learning from her sister's mistakes.

After I got the girls out the door and Campbell and Elizabeth settled with B, I went out for a run and froze my a$$ off. It had gotten colder in the two hours since I had been out to send the girls to school.

Even though it was cold, I'm glad I got the run in, because everything went to hell as soon as I walked back in the door. Campbell came running up to me, wrapped his arms around my knees and barfed all over my legs. While gagging, I managed to get him cleaned up and dressed in new jammies - fortunately the mountain of laundry that I hadn't managed to fold yet was still in the living room. I shucked off my barf-covered running pants and grabbed some pajamas for myself while yelling to B for backup.

Campbell threw up a couple more times during the morning, on me each time. Fortunately, I managed to keep him from throwing up on the furniture. But my pile of laundry grew exponentially during the morning as I had to keep cleaning up messes.

Elizabeth added to the fun by deciding that she needed to be held ALL.DAY.LONG. And only by me. B didn't count.

By the time 6:00 p.m. rolled around, I was sitting on the sofa in tears, with Campbell crying to be held and Elizabeth fussing in my lap. At that point I gave up and turned on the dreaded Dora to make Campbell happy.

Fortunately, things are off to a better start today. After refusing to go to sleep until after 11:00 last night, Elizabeth slept through the night. The girls got out the door without many problems, and Campbell seems to have made a full recovery.

I'm knocking on every piece of wood I can find in hopes that it lasts.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

It did not go well

I've been wanting to take pictures for a week, but I had to wait for the latest bruise on Campbell's head to mostly heal and for Ella's snaggle tooth to finally fall out. Today it seemed like the stars aligned for me.

First, I started with just the big girls, who loved getting into their fancy dresses, which they picked out themselves.

Then we added Elizabeth, who cooperated by sleeping.

Next, we tried to get Campbell into the picture. Even with the singing snowman, he wanted no part of the proceedings.

So I joined the group even though I was dressed in ratty jeans and a t-shirt. My hair was a mess and I wasn't wearing make-up, but I was willing to take one for the team if it meant a picture of all the kids. Campbell kept crying, so we gave up and went inside for snacks.

We made another attempt later in the day, with the singing snowman still in tow. I think this is our winner - everyone but Elizabeth is looking at the camera, and no one is crying.

When Campbell started running around, I gave up.

Friday, December 12, 2008

All she wants for Christmas

Is her three front teeth.

After several weeks of having just one front tooth hanging down, making her look like a cute little pirate, Ella finally lost her other front tooth. It was a tremendous ordeal; the tooth was so loose that it was just hanging there. I offered Ella $10 on top of whatever the Tooth Fairy brought her to just pull it out alreadym but she didn't go for it, which puzzled me. She pulled out the previous six loose teeth without any help from us.

One night Ella wiggled the front tooth so much that she bled all over the place, and she still wouldn't just pop it out or let either of us do it.

Wednesday night the tooth came out in her sleep, solving the problem. Fortunately, Ella didn't swallow the tooth while she was sleeping.

Thursday night she set out her tooth pillow with a Christmas letter for the Tooth Fairy and another sheet of paper asking for a note back, "Pleese." The Tooth Fairy, in her best swirly cursive, wrote her a little note back and dipped her wings in the cup of water Ella left out, turning the water slightly greenish. Ella was so thrilled when she woke up and saw evidence of the Tooth Fairy's visit that she didn't even think to check for the four quarters the Tooth Fairy left behind.

I love that the magic is still alive and well in our house.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watch the video

Really, you have to watch the video I posted below. Lily and I had a lot of fun making it, giggling wildly the whole time. I love the expression on Elizabeth's face - I picked the perfect picture of her.

My mom made one of my dad, but I think he might disown me if I post it.

Elf Dancing

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


There's a saying in Texas that goes something like, "Don't like the weather? Wait a minute, it'll change." Yesterday was a prime example. We had a high of 81 in the afternoon, and then at 9:00 pm, it snowed. In between we had incredible wind and thunderstorms.

The kids were delirious with excitement this morning when they saw the snow/ice on the cars and the back porch. I don't envy the teachers at school today - they have 200 kids thrilled that it snowed. They were all a bit wild in the halls before the bell rang.

We don't get snow here very often, maybe every other year, and it rarely amounts to much. So we have to enjoy it when we can.

Ella and Lily hustled through their morning routines so they could go out and play before we left for school. They each made a little snowball.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Yay Teeny Bit!

Elizabeth had her check-up this morning, and the news is all good. She now weighs 8 pounds, 12 ounces, which means she has gained more than four pounds in the 8 weeks since we brought her home from the hospital. She weighs enough that she is on the regular growth chart for weight now, not the preemie chart.

Unfortunately, she had to have her shots, which she did not like one bit. I haven't heard her scream that hard since was in the hospital and the nurse was putting in her feeding tube. But once the shots were over, Elizabeth calmed down pretty quickly. Now she's asleep in her car seat, recovering from this morning's trauma.

Monday, December 08, 2008

I'm back

After successfully completing NaBloPoMo without any problem, I suddenly got hit with a bit of writer's block last week. I just couldn't think of anything to write about. But I think it's over. There are plenty of posts brewing.

Poor B is having a hard time with the BCS game line up. He went to UT, which has a long-standing rivalry against Oklahoma, so he can't possibly cheer for them. And after 14 years of making fun of my alma mater, UF, he can't possibly cheer for the Gators. He's decided to just not watch the game. He's not the biggest football fan, so it's not a huge sacrifice for him.

But all the kids will be getting new Gator shirts in their Christmas bundles this year.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Things I've done

Becca at Forward Motion posted this meme, and I thought I'd steal it.

Things I've Done (In Bold)
1. Started my own blog (two, in fact - this one and my book blog)
2. Slept under the stars (as long as camping counts)
3. Played in a band (no musical ability whatsoever)
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower
6. Given more than I can afford to charity (In the wake of 9/11 and the Indonesian Tsunami)
7. Been to Disneyland/world (When you grow up in Florida, it's pretty much required)
8. Climbed a mountain (Sleeping Beauty Mountain in the Adirondacks, twice, and Stone Mountain in Georgia, but I'm not sure that counts)
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (see number 3)
11. Bungee jumped (no way in hell)
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea. (We used to go to the beach to watch storms)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (I was five or six, and my dad took me to the top. At first I refused to look out because I was scared.)
18. Grown my own vegetables
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon (Two)
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset (there were times during my coaching days when I saw the sun rise and set on the same day)
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community (But I have seen Mennonite communities)
36. Taught myself a new language (Provided HTML counts)
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (briefly, in my 20s)
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David (Not the original - The Ringling Museum in Sarasota, where I grew up, has one of two original casts made from the statue)
41. Sung karaoke (Again, see number 3)
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight (many, many times)
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted (actually a pencil sketch)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud
54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie (No, but my mom has)
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business (my own freelance business)
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (I believe the technical term was "downsized)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone (collar bone as a child)
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (And I was terrified the entire time)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car (Three years ago, for the first time)
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper (I used to row competitively, and my crew was on the front page of the Statesman for an article about a local regatta)
85. Read the entire Bible
86. Visited the White House (Outside, and I shook my fist at the current occupant)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating (but I witnessed my grandfather's dead animals being dressed)
88. Had chickenpox (Never had them, and now thanks to the vaccine, I probably never will)
89. Saved someone’s life (While running a summer swim lesson program, I fished a little girl out of the pool. Her instructor had turned her back on the child, who went under. When I pulled her out her lips were blue and she vomited all over me.)
90. Sat on a jury (I really, really want to, though)
91. Met someone famous (David Sedaris, and I was so star struck I almost couldn't talk)
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby (Four, actually)
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee
100. Rode an elephant (as a child, at Busch Gardens)

There, 54 out of 100. It's obvious that I need to travel more.


Elizabeth spent most of Thanksgiving asleep in someone's arms. This was one of the rare times that I got to hold my own baby.

I wanted a good picture of Elizabeth in her matching hat and sweater. I tried propping her up on the sofa, but she kept sliding sidewards.

Elizabeth is now 8 weeks old. I've decided to take a picture of her next to Lily's Bitty Baby doll each month to mark her growth. When we brought Elizabeth home from the hospital, she was smaller than the doll, but now she's finally bigger. No more sharing clothes, I guess.
I weighed Elizabeth in a highly non-precise fashion the other night. I stepped on our scale, which is wildly inaccurate because Campbell likes to use it as a trampoline, while holding Elizabeth. Then I weighed myself without her. She's approximately 8 pounds - the little chunk. She's got little rolls on her legs and wrists now and a double chin. She's obviously faring well.

Monday, December 01, 2008

The first run

When Elizabeth was born, I set December 1 as my "First Run" day, and I managed to pull it off. After I did carpool duties, I left Campbell and Elizabeth with B and headed out for a short run. It wasn't pretty or fast, but I managed to run/walk, with more running than walking, for a mile and half. I even managed to do strides at the end.

I'm a long way from being in shape, but I have to start somewhere. At least I didn't fall flat on my face like I did on my first run after having Campbell.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Christmas Lists

My sister wrote about our strange family tradition of hanging our letters to Santa outside on Thanksgiving weekend for the elves to pick up, and it reminded me that I needed to get the girls going on their lists. We're lucky in that the girls have yet to figure out that they're supposed to get lots of loot for Christmas. In past years, they've each gotten two or three presents from us and a few presents from Santa, plus some easy stocking stuffers like tape, which is usually their favorite gift each year.

They just brought me their Christmas lists, and they're very funny.

Here's Ella's

Harry Potter CD
Pogo Stick
Nancy Drew costume
Nancy Drew books
Harry Potter clue game
Math for Smarty Pants book
The Dangerous Book for Boys

I love that she mostly wants books for Christmas - not video games or Hannah Ray Cyrus clothing or movies.

Here's Lily's list; it's a bit more varied

Dorothy shoes
Belle costume
Christmas dress
Two-wheeled scooter
Toy computer
Remote-controlled car

Santa will pick two or three items from each list and be done with it. I've already got some presents stashed away. I think I'll be doing most of shopping online this year to avoid having to drag the baby to the store.

Tonight we'll hang these lists out for Santa's elves along with a piece of bread - in case the elves are hungry.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Yarn Snob

It's official - I'm a yarn snob.

Thursday evening, after everyone had finished Thanksgiving dinner and we were all sitting around chatting and eating dessert, I pulled out the scarf I'm knitting for Aunt A as a thank you gift for hosting the meal. I've been knitting every chance I get on this thing, trying to get it finished before Thanksgiving, but I wasn't successful. I can't imagine why not.

Anyway, as I was knitting, one of the women at the table asked what kind of yarn I was using. I told her it was a brand called called "Wool of the Andes" from a place called KnitPicks, and it was Peruvian wool. Another woman asked, "Don't you just get your yarn from Hobby Lobby with a half-off coupon?"

I'm not proud of this, but I actually gasped and said, "Oh goodness, no."

Then I tried to recover and sound not quite so snobby, but everything I said just made it worse.

And while I'm talking about knitting - I was watching "Pushing Daisies" the other night and burst out laughing. One of the characters - Emmerson Cod - is a knitter, and he had an automatic swift and ball winder going in the corner. It was a nice little touch that only a knitter would understand. Someone on the show's staff is obviously a knitter.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Such a good Thanksgiving

For the first time in four years we didn't host Thanksgiving, and it was lovely. We lolled around in our jammies until noon; the kids all took rest time/nap; we only had to make a ham and a pecan pie.

B's cousin and his wife, otherwise known as Uncle T and Aunt A to the kids, invited us to their house for Thanksgiving, along with B's parents, who are divorced. It can be a wee bit uncomfortable to have them in the same room together, like they are at our house during the holidays. But with almost 30 people at dinner, the level of discomfort was greatly reduced.

Aunt A went above and beyond with the meal. She had tables for 30 set up, with flowers and centerpieces and linens on all. She spent the whole week cooking in preparation, and the food was amazing. I went back for seconds on everything except sweet potatoes - because ewww.

B's other cousin was there with her family, and the girls were beyond thrilled to have cousins to play with. They learned the basics of touch football, and Ella upset her 7-year-old boy cousin by being able to outrun him.

We hung out long after the meal, visiting with B's dad's side of the family, whom we don't get to see very often. I found out that B's girl cousin has her own jewelry company - Bright Eyed Designs. I think I'll be ordering some Christmas presents from her this year.

While enjoying the good food and good company, I did take time to think about all the things for which I am grateful:

  • Elizabeth - After a shaky start, Elizabeth is positively thriving. She's eating and sleeping like a champ, and if you watch her for long enough, you can see her grow.
  • Ella, Lily and Campbell - I have three happy, healthy kids who make me laugh, when they're not making me tear my hair out in frustration.
  • B - I feel so lucky to have found him. Things aren't always perfect, but there's no one I'd rather be married to.
  • My family - I have wonderful, helpful, supportive parents and a cool sister who help keep me sane. I just wish they lived closer.
  • Our friends - We've built a network of good friends here who are a large part of why we love our life here. It really does take a village to raise a family, and we've found ours.
  • My work - Given the current job market, I'm glad I've been able to maintain my little freelance career. It's just enough work to let me focus on something other than kids for a few hours a day, which helps me maintain my sanity.
  • No Thanksgiving ER visit - Unlike last year, no one was injured.
  • Uncle T and Aunt A - They're really cool people whom we love, AND they hosted Thanksgiving, which gives them double points.

Happy Love Thursday, a day late. I hope you all had a good day with your loved ones.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Follow me!

So I've taken my little adsense widgets off the side column because in the 18 months I've had them there, I've earned a whopping $38. Google ads only sends a check when you reach $100, and at the rate I'm going, Elizabeth will be in kindergarten before I see a check.

In place of the ads I've installed this little Following widget. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but blogger keeps telling me I should have it. And since I tend to follow directions, I signed up. It's over there on the left, below the NaBloPoMo image - only three more posts to go, thank the baby jeebus. If you click on the links, blogger will tell you how to get all signed up.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Tomorrow I'll do my post of thanks. I'm too tired and stuffed with pecan pie to write anything that would do justice to all the the things I'm thankful for.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Not quite a post

Any other month I wouldn't be posting today, but there are only 4 more days until the end of NaBloPoMo, and I hate to give up now. I have a blinding migraine and feel like someone has driven an ice pick through my right eye AND hit me in the side of my head with a shovel. I'm out of Imitrex and can't get any until I see my new neurologist on Monday. Fortunately, I had a refill of the pain meds my OB gave me for migraines when I was pregnant.

Now that I've written my post, such as it is, I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Just put on your pants

Most of the time I take a pretty relaxed attitude about what the girls wear to school each day. I buy all their clothing, and I don't buy them anything that isn't appropriate for school. Ella doesn't really care about what she wears, as long as she can hang upside down from trees and monkey bars without showing her panties. Lily likes skirts and things with ruffles. But that's about the extent of their clothing preferences.

So on the mornings when Ella comes out with plaid shorts and a striped shirt, I shrug and figure that at least she's dressed. There are bigger battles to fight than whether her clothing matches.

Some days, though, I do put my foot down. Today was one of those days. Ella's class is going on a field trip to the San Antonio Zoo, which is a big deal for the kids. They're even riding on charter buses.

This morning the temperatures were in the low 40s, and today's high is supposed to be in the mid 60s. Ella came out dressed in shorts with her required "field trip shirt." I sent her back in to put on long pants. Five minutes later I found her on the floor in her room sobbing because she wanted to wear shorts.

Now, on a normal school day I would have let her wear shorts because they don't spend much time outside. But today she'll be outside all day long, and I didn't want her to be cold.

I tried reasoning with her, but I wasn't successful. So I resorted to yelling, "Just put on your pants!" Probably not my finest parenting moment. But I was willing to have her be angry at me if it meant she wouldn't spend the day freezing at the zoo.

Fortunately, by the time she left for school the excitement about the trip had helped her forget her clothing woes. She and her best buddy from next door were excitedly talking about who was going to sit where.

I just hope it doesn't get too warm. If she ends up being hot wearing her pants, I'll never hear the end of it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Crashing to a halt

I had an incredibly productive morning, a surprisingly productive morning considering my allergies and lack of sleep.

I got the big girls up, fed, dressed and out the door on time. Then I got a wild hair and cleaned out and reorganized the entire pantry. I hate our pantry - actually, I hate our whole kitchen - and it's been driving me especially insane lately. It doesn't have a door, so my disorganization is on display for anyone who is in the kitchen. Also, when we moved in, Ella was in full-blown toddlerhood, so things like snack food and cereal got put on the top shelf, where they have stayed ever since. I've been meaning to move them into reach for the kids so that they can help themselves, and today I finally did it.

I pulled everything out of the pantry, cleaned the shelves, sorted out the old/expired/disgusting foods, and put everything back neatly in new places. It looks beautiful.

Then I cleaned up the kitchen, vacuumed the house, did some laundry, went to a work meeting, and went to the grocery store. Phew.

Campbell and Elizabeth both fell asleep in the car on the way home from the store, so I tucked them into their bed and crashed into mine. Three hours later I woke up. Fortunately, B was home, so the girls didn't end up sitting on the porch waiting for someone to let them in after school.

As my mom would say, I guess I needed the sleep.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Book blog

Amazingly, I've been managing to read before passing out asleep each night, and I've actually finished a number of books since Elizabeth's arrival. I've written about them over on my book blog at Plenty More Books Inside.

And now I need to stop reading and concentrate on my knitting. I've set myself an ambitious list of projects to finish before Christmas.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's not FAIR!

As the girls and I walked home from school on Wednesday, Lily asked if she could eat a lollipop she had gotten from her music teacher. Normally I don't allow candy until they've had a healthy snack after school, but the day was beautiful and I was in a surprisingly good mood, so I said yes.

When we got home, the girls left immediately for a playdate at a friend's house, so Ella didn't have a chance to get a piece of her Halloween candy. That night, after the girls cleaned up the kitchen, Ella asked B if she could have a piece of candy since she didn't get one after school. B told her that she and Lily could both have a piece of candy.

"But that's not fair!" wailed Ella. "Lily had a piece after school, and if she gets another one now, then she got two and I only had one." B told her the choice was up to her - either they both got a piece of candy or no one got candy.

"But that's not fair! If we don't get any candy that means Lily got one after school and I didn't!"

B again told her the choice was up to her - either they both had a piece or no one did. The stress of making that decision turned out to be too much for Ella. She*t - all over the house.

After giving her several opportunities to stop screaming and settle down, B declared that Lily got a piece of candy and Ella didn't. More hysterics ensued.

I was in the bedroom listening to all of this, staying out of the fray. I knew Ella wouldn't like either of the options because of the unfairness of it. Ever since Lily came on the scene, Ella's main goal in life is to make sure everything between them is exactly even. She doesn't get upset like this with any other person in her life - just her sister.

Another example? Several weekends ago, Ella had a playdate at a friend's house. She spent four hours at this friend's house while Lily had to stay home and play with me and her brother. Later in the day, after Ella was home, a friend dropped by with her daughter, who is a year younger than Lily. Lily and M took off into the back yard to play, leaving Ella behind. Ella promptly started pouting, and I knew exactly what the problem was - Lily was playing with a friend and she wasn't.

When I pointed out that she had played with her friend all morning, she said, "Yes but Lily wasn't there watching me have fun with H. I'm here having to watch her play, and it's not fair."

My friend and I cracked up at that - she was really having to search hard to find the injustice. I told her to go climb a tree or something, which she did, pouting the whole time.

Poor, poor Ella.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Melt my heart

I handed Elizabeth to B yesterday morning so I could get dressed. I came back five minutes later to find this.

Happy Love Thursday, a day late.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One word meme

I'm tagging myself from Cathy at the Clothesline because I liked the meme. Here it is, me in one word.

Where is your cell phone? car
Where is your significant other? work
Your hair color? mousy
Your mother? knittergran
Your father? runnerdude
Your favorite thing? beach
Your dream last night? nightmare
Your dream/goal? serenity
The room you’re in? living
Your hobby? knitting
Your fear? anxiety
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Austin
Where were you last night? home
What you’re not? outgoing
One of your wish-list items? books
Where you grew up? Florida
Last thing you did? nursed
What are you wearing? jeans
Your TV? small
Your pet? dog
Your computer? laptop
Your mood? anxious
Missing someone? Nona
Your car? Hyundai
Something you’re not wearing? shoes
Favorite store? Target
Your summer? hot
Love someone? lots
Your favorite color? azalea
When is the last time you laughed? lunch
Last time you cried? today

There you. Play along if you feel like it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuckered out

Preschool is HARD! Campbell was sitting next to me on the sofa after preschool and got suspiciously quiet. I looked over, and he was sound asleep.

If you look closely, you can see his latest black eye. He fell while running around at his grandfather's and donked his head on the corner of a wrought-iron chair. Poor little guy.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Three on the needle

A year ago, when I knit my first sock, if you had told me that I'd reach a point where I'd have three projects on the needle, I'd have laughed at you. I wasn't sure I'd even knit another pair of socks, let alone anything else. Now I'm on my 9th pair, in addition to two other projects.

This is the sweater I started before Elizabeth was born. I think I might get it done before she's big enough to wear it. All I have to do is knit a few more inches on the bottom, add ribbing on the neck and seam up the sleeves.

This is my 9th pair of socks. They're out of Noro sock yarn that my mom gave me last year for Christmas. This is my third attempt at them. The first time I messed up on the math and cast on half the number of stitches I needed. The second time they turned out huge. I had to rip the sock out completely and start from scratch. This time my gauge is spot on, but the sock still looks elephantine.

And finally, I'm working on a hat. This is the first time I've ever tried cables, and I'm rather proud of how well I'm doing. The pattern is from KnitPicks. It will be a Christmas present for someone, provided I can get it finished in time. I need to do 21 inches of the cabling, and I'm only half way there.

I also have an order of yarn from KnitPicks due to arrive any day now for scarves and little felted snowmen. I'm just itching to get my hands on the new wool. I think I'm officially addicted. Unfortunately, I have a draft paper on genetics due on Friday for one of my clients. I'd much rather be knitting than researching and writing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Monkey Girl

This past weekend B took Ella and Lily to Louisiana so that Ella could compete in her first rock climbing competition. She was supposed to go to one in Dallas last month, but it was the weekend after Elizabeth was born, and we were a tad preoccupied.

Ella has been so excited about this competition that I though her head would explode if she had to wait another day.

She did a great job climbing, placing second in her division. I'm still not sure exactly how the competitions work. The basic explanation is that they have a set amount of time to climb as many "problems" as possible. Each problem is worth a certain amount of points, and they get scored by the total number of points the rack up. Ella's final score was 8,000.

B said that Ella climbed as many routes as she could, but that there were some she couldn't manage because she wasn't tall enough. Another six inches of reach, and she'd be fine. He also said that other climbers and spectators would gather to watch her climb and to cheer her on. While watching the video of her climbs, I could tell she was a bit embarrassed by all the attention.

Here's a clip of one of her toughest successful climbs. I think Lily may have been doing the filming, which is why it's so unsteady. And B is the one spotting her.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A weekend of quiet

I have had a pretty nice weekend, all things considered. I haven't gotten much done work-wise or house-wise, but I'm OK with that.

B took Ella and Lily to Louisiana for Ella's first rock climbing competition, and Campbell spent Friday night with B's mother and last night with B's father. So it's just been me and Elizabeth at the house. I've done a lot of napping while she slept.

I also went to the monthly runners' breakfast and was actually able to visit with my friends since I wasn't chasing kids around. And I had a girls' night in with several friends.

Campbell's home and napping, and Elizabeth is sleeping, too. I think I'm going to take one last nap before everyone else arrives and normal life begins again.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Seven Random Things

I was tagged by Cathy at the Clothesline to d a list of 7 random things about myself. I've been pondering this list for a few days now, and it's harder to come up with 7 things than I thought it would be.

1. If our bed doesn't get made in the morning, I have to make it before I can get in at night. There's just something about getting into nice crisp covers.

2. Like a toddler, I tend to eat one food at a time during meals. I can't start on the next food until I've finished the first. It takes a conscious effort for me to not eat that way.

3. We only have one television in the house, and it's a 19 incher that we bought at Target 9 years ago. However, we have four computers, none of which are for the kids to use.

4. I've lived in Austin longer than I've ever lived anywhere else in my life.

5. I secretly covet my daughter's American Girl Doll, and if we had the spare money, I'd be really tempted to buy lots of the accessories.

6. Speaking of dolls, I have a HUGE dollhouse in storage at my parents' house in Atlanta that I'd love to have here, but we don't have the room for it. It's woefully underfurnished, and I can't wait to have space to have it here and to buy furniture for it.

7. I just watched Casino Royale, and now I'm totally in love with Daniel Craig.

I hate having to think of people to tag, so I'll just say that anyone who wants to play along should leave a comment. But knittergran, I think you should do this, just because I'd love to see what you list.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Elizabeth is 5 1/2 weeks old, and the sleep deprivation has officially kicked in. I'm a wreck.

Not only can I not get my kids' names correct on the first try - Campbell even gets called by his sisters' names - I can't get words right. I actually shouted this yesterday, "Ella, Campb, I mean Lily, pick up your shoes, no books, no backpack BACKPACK. Pick up your backpack!" The girls think my inability to talk is hysterical.

Yesterday morning my good friend H picked up Campbell for preschool at 9:00. I did a little bit of work, and at 10:00 I fed Elizabeth and tucked her into her cradle. Then I climbed into bed, intending to rest for an hour. THREE HOURS LATER I snapped awake in a panic. H arrived a few minutes later with Campbell. I was mortified - I was still in my PJs and the breakfast dishes were still on the counter.

It got worse last night.

I collapsed in bed after feeding Elizabeth at 9:00 and basically passed out. B said that when he came to bed I bolted straight up and started asking him where each of the children was. "Where's Elizabeth? Ella? Lily? Campbell?" B said that I didn't settle down until he had assured me that everyone was in their proper bed.

Elizabeth woke up at midnight and three, and then Campbell woke up at 6:00. When I staggered out into the kitchen to get him his morning cup of milk, I noticed that the coffee pot was on. I stood next to the counter trying to figure out what was going on. I knew I hadn't left the coffee pot on, nor had I left the cream out on the counter. I opened the coffee pot and discovered that it was still hot. At that point B came in from the back porch, and I just stared at him. I had gotten out of bed without even noticing that he wasn't in it. B steered me back to our room and into bed. He said he came through, took a shower, got dressed and packed his suitcase without my even moving.

I'm hoping to catch up on sleep tonight. B and the girls are on a road trip, and Campbell is with my m-i-l for the night, so it's just me and the baby. I can sleep when she sleeps without worrying about three other kids. Yay.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Elizabeth's future

My aunt, who is an excellent seamstress, is making Elizabeth a quilt. She had the idea of having the kids draw pictures on this special paper that transfers the image to fabric, which she could then include in the quilt. While my mother was here after Elizabeth was born, she supervised the drawing process.

Ella drew very elaborate pictures with lots of hearts and flowers and colors. Campbell scribbled all over his piece of paper, just happy to be set loose with the normally forbidden markers. Lily drew this picture . . .

which elicited a gasp from my mother when she saw it. The picture is Lily throwing Elizabeth up in the air. Elizabeth's mouth looks like she might be screaming in terror, but Lily explained that she's saying, "Wheee!"

Brandon and I are now keeping a close eye on Lily whenever she holds Elizabeth just to make sure she doesn't start flinging her into the ceiling fan.

And Lily wrote her name backwards because the transfer paper reverses the image when it is ironed on to the fabric.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Campbell and his "BeeBee"

This morning I had Elizabeth on my bed so that I could take a picture of her next to Lily's Bitty Baby doll, and Campbell decided he needed to be involved. Poor Elizabeth is in danger of being loved to death by her big brother. He just has to kiss and hug her, and he's very gentle when he does. Unfortunately, he has the bad habit of sitting on her to do it. We're constantly saying, "Gentle, Campbell! Gentle!" To which he always responds, "BeeBee!"

Here's a tip: If you want your toddler to look huge, put him next to a newborn.

Elizabeth is the same size as Lily's Bitty Baby doll. Perhaps they could share clothes.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lesson learned

Last Christmas my mother, also known as knittergran, gave me a lovely skein of Noro sock yarn, which I promptly lost. I ransacked the girls' room hoping it had been stashed in a craft bin or toy bin, but no luck. It's driven me nuts that the yarn had just vanished. But then last month, when B was cleaning out the closet to make room for Elizabeth's cradle, he found the yarn. It had gotten crammed in the closet somewhere.

Once I finished knitting a hat for Elizabeth to match her Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket, I cast on a pair of socks with the Noro yarn. At first, the stuff drove me insane. I pulled from the center of the skein, and the yarn, which is single strand, tangled horribly. At one point, when I was trying to loosen a huge knot, the yarn broke. Grumble. I solved the problem by pulling out the ball winder and winding the skein into new balls. Now I love the yarn - the colors are lovely and there are no more knots.

However, I have learned an important lesson about gauge. The pattern I'm working with called for 76 stitches at 8 stitches an inch on size 3 needles. After knitting about five inches, I realized that something was horribly wrong - mainly that I'm knitting a sock that would fit an elephant. Here it is next to some other hand knit socks. The second sock on the left isn't the best example because I had just been wearing it, and it was a bit stretched out.

So I consulted with mom, who consulted with her knitting books, and we decided that I need to frog it all back and start from scratch with 72 stitches on the larger size 3 needles.


The lesson I'm taking away from this isn't necessarily to knit swatches for gauge, but rather to check my gauge before I'm five inches into a sock.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Copying Edward

Last week Barb wrote a post about some knitting setbacks. In the post, she included pictures of her cat Edward sprawled on the couch next to her. I laughed at the photos, but then I looked over at Elizabeth, who was asleep on the sofa next to me, and realized that she was in pretty much the same position as Edward. See . . .

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Do-over birthday

We had to cancel Ella's birthday party because of Elizabeth's early arrival. The party was originally scheduled for the day after I came home - I was in no shape to host six 8-year-old girls so soon.

So last night we had the do-over, and it was a big success. We hosted an outdoor movie night with some of Ella's school friends and a few neighbors. B got his hands on a projector, and he set up a movie screen on the back of the porch. He also rented a big popcorn maker and set up a little concession stand of sorts (I wouldn't let him charge for the popcorn, candy and drinks). I can't claim to have come up with the idea on my own; friends of ours hosted an outdoor movie night for adults a few years back, and it was a blast. Of course, we were all drunk by the end of the movie, but that's a different story.

Once it got dark, B fired up the dvd player and showed "The Muppet Movie." Ella and Lily were the only ones who had seen it before, but all the kids in attendance LOVED the movie. I was inside feeding Elizabeth at one point and heard shrieks of laughter from the back yard.

There's no school tomorrow for the kids (dammit), so we're letting the kids have another movie night since they don't have to be in bed early.

B manned the concession stand. The highlight of the night for him was when one of the kids told his mom that the popcorn tasted "just like the stuff at the movie theater."

It's getting harder and harder for Ella to blow out all of her candles at once (sob).

The movie crew. It got fairly chilly as the evening wore on. By the end of the movie, the kids were in one big pile under blankets.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The closet baby

Even though we live in a fairly small house, we have a ginormous closet off the master bathroom. It's bigger than my bedroom in my first college apartment - my roommate will vouch for me on that. This is one half.
And this is the other half. Notice the baby in the cradle? That's where Elizabeth sleeps these days. The other day a grown-up asked Lily where Elizabeth slept, and I winced knowing what her answer would be - "In the closet." And as always happens, the adult looked at me for confirmation.

Lily is actually the original closet baby. She was a noisy sleeper and would wake me up dozens of times a night. I'd think she was wanting to eat, but really she was just scooting around and making noise. So we moved the cradle into the closet, which turned out to be the perfect place.

Elizabeth has turned out to be even noisier than Lily ever was, so after two weeks in our bedroom, she's been moved to the closet to sleep. It's through our bathroom, which means it's far enough that we don't hear every little squeak or grunt, but it's close enough that I can hear her when she's really awake and ready to eat.

Lily was the closet baby for about three months - she outgrew the cradle. I'm guessing that Elizabeth will be in the closet for at least that long. She's so teeny that she'll fit in the cradle for a long, long time.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Tears of Joy

Thanks to post-partum hormones and sheer exhaustion, I've been crying a lot lately. I'm not normally a teary person, but that changes in the months after I have a baby.

However, most of the times I've cried this week have been from joy. I cried when the election results were announced. I cried the next morning watching the footage of President-elect Obama's speech and again watching him and his beautiful family. I cried watching the news footage of the spontaneous celebrations breaking out around the country - celebrations filled with faces of all colors. I cried hearing Jesse Jackson and Andrew Young, both civil rights pioneers, talking about just how much this election meant to them.

What an amazing week, one filled with hope for so many people in this country. It's been too long coming.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Phantom Tollbooth

I'm cross posting this from my book blog. I'm still looking for an address to send it to.

I have learned that the surest way to get my oldest daughter not to read is to recommend a book. So I've left a pile of my favorite childhood books on one shelf of the big bookshelf in my room, and I've let Ella discover them on her own. I was thrilled when she came out last week with The Phantom Tollbooth, which was one of my favorite books as a child. Ella loved the book, and last night she came out with a letter she wants to send to Norton Juster. Here it is, sic all:

Dear Norton Juster,
I really liked The Phantom Tollbooth. My friend M and I both have read the book. I really think that you are a good auther. M and I have wanted to ask you to write another book of Phantom Tollbooth. Some of my favrite chapters were 3, 9, 17, 18, 2, 19, 14 and 15. On the map you can follow along ware you are. M and I want to be Rhyme and Reason for Holween next year. I thoght that in point of view was funny how people grow down. I never really thoght about ware numbers, word, and colors come from until now. I wonder how did you get the idea for Phanton Tollboth?


I was very concerned last night that perhaps Mr. Juster was no longer alive and that I'd have to break the news to Ella, who would be crushed. Fortunately, according to his publisher, he's still alive, and he published a book in 2005. I'll look it up when I'm at the library today. I still need to find an address to send the letter to.I think I'm going to leave my Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie books where Ella can find them next.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's a beautiful day

Four years ago, the morning after the election, I went for a pre-dawn run with two of my best friends, and the election results dominated most of our running conversation. At one point I said, "I went to bed when I realized that not even Jon Stewart could make what was happening funny." They both agreed with my assessment.

Last night was so different.

I refused to believe the initial results until CNN officially called the election. I was watching Colbert and Stewart, and they relayed the results. I was amazed to see Colbert actually tear up and have to take his glasses off.

This morning I'm so proud of our country, and, for the first time in 8 years, I'm hopeful about our future. President-elect Obama has a tough road ahead of him, and the job won't be easy. But I have confidence that he will do his best to do what is right for our whole country, red and blue.

It is a beautiful day indeed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Teaching civics at an early age

Because Elizabeth arrived prematurely, I didn't have to do early voting. I was able to continue my streak of voting on Election Day. I lugged Elizabeth along with me, hoping against hope that I wouldn't have to stand in line for hours with a newborn, but I was prepared for it.

Fortunately, the line was small and fast moving. I was able to walk right in and vote. The election workers all oohed and aahed over Elizabeth. Even if she won't remember it, she can claim to have been going to vote since she was a month old.

I was just happy to finally be casting my vote. This election cycle has been so long and so nasty that it will be nice just to have it over with. I also left the polling place feeling hopeful about the outcome of the election. It's been a long eight years since I've felt that way about an election. I just hope that my optimism isn't mistaken.

Four extra weeks

If Elizabeth had played by the rules, I'd be at the hospital having her right now. But no, she decided she needed to greet the world a few weeks early.

I view the past four weeks as a gift. We've had four extra weeks of Elizabeth in our lives. And despite the sleep deprivation and chaos of a new baby, they've been pretty wonderful.

Happy almost birthday baby girl. I'm glad you're here.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The many faces of Elizabeth

I love watching the many faces babies make. I took these pictures in the space of about 60 seconds.
Looking for her thumb

Big yawn


Quite concerned

Looking for that thumb again

Sunday, November 02, 2008


I am not the biggest fan of Halloween, as I've said in the past. I especially don't like having to come up with costumes. Fortunately, the girls are content to raid their dress-up bins and put together their own get-ups.

Ella went as Hermione Granger for the third year. It was warm enough that she decided not to wear her very nice Hogwarts cloak. I kept trying to convince her to wear it by saying no one would know who she was, but she didn't care.

Lily was a princess, of course. It's what she's been ever since she was three. Prior to that I managed to dress her as a ladybug for two years, but that was the extent of my involvement. While Ella trick-or-treated as long as possible, Lily bailed out after two blocks in favor of passing out candy at home.

I said Campbell was a cowboy, but B disagreed and called him "Farmer Ted." He says that next year he's getting Campbell boots and a six-shooter and a real cowboy hat. Campbell didn't go trick-or-treating with the rest of the crew because there was no way he could have kept up. Instead, he helped me hand out candy and freaked out every time someone with a mask came on the porch. Later in the evening B took the kids to their aunt and uncle's house, and Campbell learned about getting candy from Aunt A, who filled his bag for him.
All in all, I'm glad Halloween's over. Now I just have to fend off repeated requests for candy all day long.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Ready, set, GO!

Today marks the beginning of National Blog Posting Month, and I've signed up again. Last year I didn't quite publish a post every day for the whole month because I signed up 3 days late. But this year, I'm ready . . . 30 posts in 30 days. I've been saving up topics to write about to make sure I make it through the month.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A blog worth reading

I know there are a lot of blogs worth reading out there, but this one is my current favorite. It's called Margaret and Helen, and it's written by Helen Philpot, who is 82 years young. She is an uppity, outspoken old broad, and I agree with everything she has to say. She says what I'm thinking much better than I could ever say or write it.

So go check her out.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Campbell now has his first black eye. The kid is running through more injuries and ER visits than his sisters combined, and he's only two.
I have no idea how this one happened. I was in the living room nursing Elizabeth, and Campbell was in his room playing. The next thing I knew, I heard a huge crash and Campbell started screaming. When I got in there, he was on the floor, halfway under the guest bed, with the donk on his forehead and scratches on his nose and under his eye.
Between his face and Ella's snaggle teeth, people are going to wonder about us.

Monday, October 27, 2008


I am far too sleep deprived and frazzled to write anything close to coherent today. In addition to a newborn, I'm dealing with two sick kids home from school. I'm learning that with four kids, there's always something going wrong.

If there's anything sweeter than a sleeping baby, I don't know what it is. B insists on swaddling Elizabeth with both of her hands tucked in the blanket. She always manages to get one free, though.

I love when babies sleep with their arms over their heads like this. Elizabeth is wearing the Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket my mom knit for her. I'm working on knitting a matching hat out of the leftover wool. Not surprisingly, I'm having a hard time finding opportunities to knit.

Elizabeth rarely cries - usually it's because I've done something mean like changed her diaper or given her a bath. Here she was crying because I had changed her diaper and then tortured her by taking pictures. I wanted to get a picture of how she still curls up her legs against her chest, but she was kicking and flailing instead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

NICU Nurses

Having Elizabeth in NICU for seven days was stressful and hearbreaking all at the same time. During my first visit to NICU (I'm not counting the one right after I had her because I was still hopped up on morphine), I sat next to Elizabeth's warming bed in my wheelchair and held her teeny hand and sobbed uncontrollably while trying to ask questions. The nurse couldn't have been more kind and patient and understanding. She patted my shoulder and held my other hand and waited patiently for me to stop crying long enough to sputter out my questions, all of which she answered calmly and thoroughly.

It turns out she wasn't the exception. Every nurse we dealt with was amazing - each one was calm and compasionate. They made the whole situation remotely bearable. When I left Elizabeth to go back to my room or back to the house, I did so with full confidence that she was being well taken care of.

Our favorite night nurse, Sally, stuck a bow on Elizabeth's head as soon as her cpap was removed. "I want her to look like a girl," she said. Sally also made a beautiful name tag for Elizabeth's bed. And when Elizabeth no longer needed the warming bed, Sally found this adorable quilt, made by Threads of Love, for Elizabeth's bassinette.

When we were struggling to get Elizabeth to eat enough either from a bottle or by nursing, another favorite nurse, Stacy, did everything she could to get Elizabeth to eat enough that she wouldn't have to be tube fed. Stacy knew that Elizabeth had nursed enough to not be hungry, but at that time the doctor still wanted Elizabeth to eat a certain amount from a bottle. If she didn't take it by mouth, we had to feed her by tube, which no one wanted to do. Stacy's efforts weren't successful, but I appreciated that she took the time to try.

One other nurse, Heidi, told B that she had been working in NICU for 15 years. Even though she had been working with babies for so long, you could tell that she still really loved the job just by the way she talked to the babies - even the teeniest ones.

Throughout Elizabeth's seven days there, NICU became a sort of refuge for me. It was always so calm and peaceful, despite the beeping monitors, and the nurses were a large part of it.

I need to call the hospital and get the name of the NICU director so that I can write a letter commending Sally and Stacy and Heidi and Mary Lou and Alida for their kindness and compassion. They all made a difficult situation bearable for us.

Happy Love Thursday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hug her and squeeze her and call her George

Lily just loves, loves, loves Elizabeth, and we have to stop her from smothering the baby with affection many times a day. She asks to hold Elizabeth at least 10 times before breakfast, and if I say no because Elizabeth is sleeping or eating or having her diaper changed, then Lily has to smother her with kisses and hugs. If I'm holding Elizabeth, Lily will pull on my arms to be able to reach the baby. I've almost dropped Elizabeth because of Lily.
B and I are walking a fine line; we want Lily to love her sister and not feel any more resentful or jealous than necesary, but we can't let her flatten the poor thing with attention. It's a tricky balancing act.
On the other hand, Lily isn't mother-henning Campbell quite as much, and now he actually seeks her out to play with instead of running away when he sees her coming. We've been praising Lily to the skies for playing so well with Campbell, and I think our positive reinforcement is having some effect.
It's always something.
And . . . Elizabeth went for a check-up yesterday, and she's gained five ounces since Friday. Our doctor was hoping for half an ounce a day, so she doubled his goal. She now weighs five pounds, 2.5 ounces. Yay Teeny Bit!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In praise of B

These past few weeks have been incredibly stressful ones around here, understandably so. And each day I remind myself how lucky I am to have B as a husband. Honestly, there's no one else I'd rather be going through all of this with than him.

He's done an amazing job of holding down the fort, especially during the five days I was in the hospital. One of the bad things about owning your own business, particularly in real estate, is that it is incredibly hard to just drop everything and take a week off on no notice. There are clients who still need to be taken care of, closings that still need to be attended, new agents who need their hands held, and inspections that still need to happen.

So in addition to taking care of three kids during that week, he managed to also keep working to get business wrapped up so that he could take some time off. Granted, he had help with the house and kids from his mother, but he still did a tremendous amount of work, both at the office and at home. I know it wasn't easy for him. I'm able to arrange my work around nap/school hours, but it's harder for B to do that - when a client calls, the client must be dealt with. He managed to take care of everything here and still spend time at the hospital with me and Elizabeth.

Once I got out of the hospital, things didn't get any easier for B. Not only did he have a helpless wife needing to be waited on, he had to drive me back and forth to the hospital twice a day for an hour each time. And when we were home, he still had to take care of the kids, especially Campbell, who didn't understand why mama couldn't pick him up like she always does.

Things are slowly getting easier, especially since I'm more mobile, but B is still having to do a lot. He hasn't been to the office in days, instead working from the house so he can be here to lift Campbell in and out of his crib and tote him back in the house when he refuses to come inside.

So even though these 2 1/2 weeks have been scary and stresful, I'm very grateful I've had B by my side and on my side. I wouldn't have made it otherwise.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Odds and ends

My mom, knittergran, knit this adorable jacket for Elizabeth. Check out her blog for more details on the knitting of it - it's called the Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Jacket, and the surprise is that it is knit in all one piece. I took a picture of it next to a book so you could get an idea of how small it is.
As small as the jacket is, it's still much bigger than Elizabeth. But at the rate she's eating, I'm sure she'll grow into it in no time. And after watching my mom knit the jacket, I'm tempted to make one, too.
The poor guys - they are so outnumbered. B knows he is; Campbell hasn't figured it out yet.
Ella's top three teeth have been loose for ages. The tooth to the left of her front teeth fell out last Sunday, and she looked really goofy. But it got worse last night when her right front tooth fell out while she was at a slumber party. One friend's father said it looked like Ella had been in a fight. Ella was mostly just excited that the Tooth Fairy found her at the slumber party and left her a dollar. I'm just happy that the party Tooth Fairy pays the same rate for teeth as the normal Tooth Fairy.