Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Reflections on Becoming a Mommy of Two Boys

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how things will change once I have two boys. On June 9th, I am having a baby, and Nick will no longer be an only child. Nick has doted upon since he was born, and we have about a million pictures of him. To tell you the truth, I have a folder of videos and pictures from every month, and during an average month I might take 200-600 pictures, most of which feature him.

The pictures in this post are from the one sunny day we had last week, when I took Nick to the park to run off some energy. He was desperate to get out in the sunshine, and headed straight for the slides.

I took a ton of pictures of Nick at the park, as usual. For example, I probably have several hundred pictures of Nick playing at various area parks. (See also here, here, and here, and here, and here.)  Will I be too busy to reflect on my boys once there are two of them? I guess I'm not so worried about the first few months, but once this new baby starts crawling, I think I may be in some trouble, with two little boys to chase.

I've said before that I blog mostly for myself, so that I won't forget what life was like as a mom of young children. I'm under no illusions that my life is terribly fascinating, but it is my life, and this is how I express myself. Some days I have to force myself to sit down and go through pictures and write, but I'm always glad that I did. I love being able to go back and remember things when Nick first started to crawl, videos of some of his first words, and pictures of making St. Patrick's Day Cookies together.

My worries, of course, aren't just about keeping up with photographs and blogging. I've been thinking about how I'll spend quality time with each of my children. I think I'm going to have to plan time alone with each boy regularly, so they each feel appreciated and special. This will get more complicated, because I may be working as many as three jobs at a time, in addition to being a mother. (I work full-time as a teacher, I will be teaching graduate school as an adjunct instructor, and I do freelance writing projects. Oh, and I'm tutoring this summer.) I have to say, though, that I feel like my working life makes me a better, more fulfilled parent. I'm lucky enough to enjoy my work, even though it makes me frazzled sometimes.

I am definitely looking forward to the birth of this child, despite my stress levels. This little boy was very wanted, and I know he's going to be a great addition to our family. I think Nick will make a great big brother, and we're working on getting him ready. I'll write more about our plan later this week.

On a whinier note, there are also the not-so-fun parts of being 38 weeks pregnant that I'll be glad to leave behind. Frankly, I'm just about done being pregnant. I just checked the weather forecast, and temps will be in the 90s this week. I work in a school with no air conditioning, so I'm a little concerned about how I'll be feeling. I was pretty miserable today.

No matter what, though, very soon I'll have two children. The thought of that makes me scared but also excited. Kind of like standing at the top of a very tall slide, getting ready to take the plunge.

Nick, at least, has me to hold his hand while he comes down.   : )

Monday, May 30, 2011

Rain, Rain Go Away: A Gardening Update and a Blueberry Story

This has truly been a crazy spring. I feel like it's been way more rainy and cold than usual, and I've spent hardly any time outside. This weekend, it rained most of the day Saturday and Sunday, so we had to stay inside. Poor Nick was pretty desperate to get outside Sunday evening after being cooped up for two days straight.

We made him finish dinner before running around, which is why he's shirtless. Nick refuses to wear a bib anymore, so I just stripped him, because we were having soup. I'm not sure what the bushes on the side of my house are called (the ones with the bright pink flowers), but they're certainly blooming despite the lack of sunshine. My clematis actually survived, and the flowers are gorgeous this year. I bought it as a rather sad looking clearance item, and planted it rather hopefully next to a metal thingie to climb. It climbed.  On a side note, the name of this flower always makes me giggle. More than once, I have mispronounced the name as something like "Chlamydia."  Yup, I know. They're not the same thing. Still makes me giggle.   : )

I have most of my herbs and random other plants on my front patio. They were all grown from seeds (Seed Savers Exchange) under my light table. In the box above, I think I see parsley (or cilantro, I can't tell the difference), sage, basil, a tomato, and a pepper plant. Last year, my herbs took over, so I have them planted in pots this year. My front porch gets enough light, I think. Hey, they haven't died yet, so that's a good sign.

Above you can see the other side of my patio. The peas are overcrowded, I think, but the peppers and tomatoes look decent.

You can see Nick checking out the tomatoes in the octagonal planter. He kept banging that plastic shovel on everything, including my bunny fence. The tomatoes are doing very well, considering. The two boxes on the left have cucumbers, squash, and zucchini, which is why there is so little green. My spinach is in the box to the far right, and it really varies in size. I cannot figure out why some of the spinach plants are so big and some so small. Maybe it has something to do with the weather, because they were planted at exactly the same time.

The broccoli and peas are surviving, though I think I may have planted the peas too closely together. Oh, well--you live, you learn. The carrots are in the upper left hand corner and are doing okay. Sigh. At least nothing is outright dead. I feel like that is an accomplishment in itself.

My strawberries seem okay, though I seem to remember more flowers last year. Nick liked the way the baby strawberries felt. He said they were bumpy. I hope we get a good harvest. . . although I may not be capable of going out and picking strawberries myself. I seem to recall that the strawberries were ready for harvest right around the beginning of June. I'll be a little busy in the next few weeks. My birthday is next Sunday, and then my wedding anniversary is on the 8th. Finally, I am going into the hospital first thing on June 9th for my c-section, and I'm not sure how long I will be in the hospital, let alone when I'll feel up to gardening. Hmm.

That brings me to the peonies. Yes, I know that they need to be tied up. We'll try to get on that right away tomorrow. I've been using the peonies as a kind of gauge for when this new baby is coming, and these peonies are getting huge and round, just like me.

A peony is an odd flower. I don't know that I would choose to plant them, but the three healthy bushes came with the house. They are gorgeous, if you can catch them on the three days of the year when they're blooming. So when the peonies bloom and then promptly get wet and fall over into a nasty pile on the sidewalk that looks like wet tissue paper, I should be giving birth. I probably won't look so hot, either, but I bet I'll be in better shape than the peonies.

The crowning glory of my garden this year is my three brand new blueberry bushes. They were a gift from my husband and son for Mother's Day, and there's a story behind them. Back in 2007, during the first summer I spent in this house, I bought myself three very expensive blueberry bushes from a nursery ($40 a pop). I did a lot of research about how to combine soil and peat, choose the ideal location, and ensure that the blueberry bushes survive.

I spent four entire days digging deep holes for my bushes. It was really hard, because I was digging through sod and grass, and I'm not terribly strong. I was very proud of those bushes. They actually did pretty well that first year, at least until my husband got to them. . .

That first fall (2007), Greg asked me one afternoon which plants he could cut down for the winter. I had him trim down the rosebushes, peonies, my autumn joy, and many of the wildflowers. I showed him exactly what to do with all of the plants in the front. But he got carried away. . . .

Greg decided to trim all the plants all the way around the house, without asking me how to do it safely. He trimmed my blueberry bushes right down to the dirt, effectively killing him. I actually cried when I found out. In his defense, he had never done any gardening before. But I had put my blood, sweat, and tears into those stinking bushes, and I never even got to taste one blueberry. (It is normal to have to wait a few years for a real blueberry harvest.) Last year, he bought me a raspberry bush to make up for it, but it was not the same thing at all.

This year, when Greg asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day, I immediately brought up the blueberry situation. Greg bought me three beautiful looking blueberry bushes from Costco, called JULIE to make sure he wouldn't hit any gas or power lines, and then spent several hours digging holes deep and wide enough to plant my new favorite plants. He was not pleased when he realized how much work went into planting them. I then reminded him that I had done the same thing that first summer, and I believe he now knows why I was so devastated when he destroyed those bushes.

This evening, while we were having our dinner out on the porch, one of the neighbor's children threw a ball into our yard, bumping one of the bushes. Greg, who usually is not confrontational about things like this, stood up and shouted, "Hey, cut it out!" at the kids in a rather agressive voice. He now understands my position on blueberry bushes, and both of us will protect the darned things with our lives. Let's just hope they survive.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Rainy Day Festival, Part Two

Yesterday, I wrote about the GR2011 Sustainability Festival in Joliet. Nick and I went just to get out of the house and give Greg some time to get baby stuff done around the house. I'm glad we went, though, because I think Nick learned a lot. He especially liked the hands-on exhibits from the forest preserve. Here, Nick is using a dropper to explore pond water.

Nick was trying to chase a baby dragonfly swimming in the water. I do believe he paid attention to the pond water more than I've seen him focus on one thing, ever. He was mesmerized.

They filled a baby pool with water from the pond behind the library, and let the kids go crazy with little nets and cups with magnifying lenses on top.

I was impressed that Nick remembered the word "magnifying glass." He has one at home, but that's a pretty hard word for him to say. He loved looking at the tiny squiggling things in the pond water. I think the idea was to show the kids how alive pond water really is, and how clean a pond can be, if it's healthy.

Then he dumped pond water on his shoes. Sigh. Good thing pond water is clean. Ah, well, he learned a lot of ecology, anyway.
Oh, and the reptiles. He loved those. This guy is an iguana.

Nick got to pet him, although I didn't quite get a good picture of that. I was busy trying to protect the poor iguana. "That's an iguana?" Nick kept asking. Then, when we left to go see something else, he'd ask again, "Where is the iguana? Want to see that guana!"

Nick also got to try using a fishing pole. I haven't done this in years, so I cast the line totally wrong. One of the ladies from the forest preserve helped Nick with his turn, and he was really excited.

I thought this festival was a great idea. There were organic food samples, information about the local CSA farm (we're thinking of getting a membership), and lots of things for kids to do. Nick is one of those kids who will eat anything, so he adored the samples. I thought it was funny that even at a sustainability festival, all of the food (and most of the samples) were processed foods. They were processed organically and all, but still. I guess it would've been nice to see some more fresh foods.

They gave away free energy saving lightbulbs and I got some great used books at the library sale.

I didn't let Nick explore the compost pile or the giant pile of rotting logs, mostly because it'd started to rain again. Maybe next year.   ; )

Rainy Day Festival, Part One

Last Saturday, I decided to take Nick to the GR2011 Sustainability Festival in Joliet. Nick's Grandma Toni had heard about it during a library trip, and it sounded like fun. Also, Greg desperately needed time to get stuff done around the house, and Nick is a terrible distraction. So, despite the threat of rain, Nick and I decided to have a day to ourselves.

It started out pouring on us as soon as I got Nick strapped into the stroller. We got completely soaked. We ran to the library and dried off for a bit. Then, when the rain stopped, we went to the petting zoo.

Nick loved the animals, but he had a hard time staying still long enough to pet them. He got so excited, he'd run around in circles and scream with joy. "Sheep!" he shouted as he ran, full-force towards the animal. I don't blame them for running in the other direction.

Nick had the funniest reaction to the animals. He would scrunch up his nose and screech hysterically. I wonder if it was their earthy odor?

Either way, he had fun. The animals didn't seem too perturbed, though I kinda felt bad for them. It must really be no fun to be a petting zoo animal.

Nick did not know what to think of this patchwork cow. He was intimidated by it and kept looking at it sideways. It was at a table taking donations towards giving families in third world countries livestock. (Yes, we donated before messing with the cow statue.) My son is seldom intimidated by anything, but this cow bugged him for some reason.

He got over it when he saw the kayak. "Boat!" he declared loudly. I corrected him, and then let him take his turn sitting in the kayak and holding the paddle. "I go on the water," he insisted. That, however, was not an option. So he tried to paddle his way to the river. No luck with that one.

More to come tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

An Evening on the Riverwalk, Part Two

I love taking walks, especially on warm spring nights. We've had way too few of those this year, but last Friday was a gorgeous night. Greg, Nick, and I spent maybe an hour walking around the Riverwalk. I love this picture because it looks like Nick is trying to grab the light.

Do you see how nicely Nick is holding his daddy's hand in the picture below? I was impressed as I huffed and puffed twenty feet back. As soon as I have this kid, I need to get in shape. I miss having the energy to walk miles at a time without getting tired.

The fountains at the Riverwalk are a favorite with Nick.

We walked for awhile, looking at the ducks and playing in the fountains. Nick loved running around and around this fountain. He would have gone swimming if we'd have let him.

When it was time to go, Greg went to get the car and I let Nick run around the pavillion. It's a pretty enclosed area, so he couldn't escape. He ran the entire time, and loved looking at the ducks and geese.

Nick looked up, at one point, and saw birds nesting at the top of the pavillion. "Are we in the birdy's house?" he asked? This boy likes birds.

Nick also kept referring to this large red abstract sculpture. When we walked past it, Nick tried to climb on it, and Greg read the sign to him. "This sign says, "Get off the sculpture." Signs must be important to Nick, because he left it alone. Then, when we were on the pavillion, he kept pointing to it and calling it by what he thought was its name. "That is the "Get Off Sculpture!"" he announced. Yup. It is. That sculpture has a new name.  :)  It will henceforth be known as the "Get Off Sculpture."

Monday, May 23, 2011

An Evening on the Riverwalk, Part One

On Friday, just for a change, Greg and I took Nick out to dinner and to the Riverwalk. We had dinner at Ted's Montana Grill, and enjoyed buffalo burgers and fries. Nick's favorite part was the shake. He shared a chocolate shake with Greg, and it was all he could talk about. "I eat my shake now?"

I love the buffalo burgers there--I've been craving meat lately, and a medium-rare buffalo burger is about the best kind of protein I can imagine.

After dinner, we walked around a bit and saw the sights. It was a lovely, warm night. We haven't had many of those this spring, so it was pretty crowded. There was a guitar player on the sidewalk, and Nick loved dancing to the music. We practically had to drag the boy away. I think we're going to be shelling out for music lessons in a few years. Nick was asking for a guitar repeatedly.

I love the way that toddlers dance. They're completely un-selfconscious, in a way that most people can only be after they've had a few drinks. Nick dances with such joy.  :)

More tomorrow. . .

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pregnancy Update: 36 Weeks

Yup, I'm full-term now. This baby is coming out in 17 more days. I think I can make it. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can. . . . .

I had my mother-in-law take this photo for me after I got back from a job interview last Thursday. Do you know how difficult it is to find appropriate interviewing clothes when heavily pregnant? I had originally figured to put a blazer on over my blouse, but none of my blazers fit me, even when unbuttoned. I'm not sure how my shoulders got bigger, but there you have it. I went with a cardigan sweater, instead. Incidentally, I got the job. It's just a part-time teaching gig, one night a week starting in late summer and continuing next school year. I'll be an adjunct instructor, teaching graduate school ESL endorsement classes for a local university.

Look at the above picture again. Do you see anything cute? How about the little man in the window? He couldn't figure out why Grandma Toni was taking my picture instead of his. Nick is very used to being the center of attention. He's in for some changes very soon.  :)  I think it will be good for him, though.

This is probably the last ultrasound picture I'll have for this little boy. The next picture you'll see will be from the outside.  You can see his face in profile, with his forehead in the upper left hand corner and his eye and nose below it. I think that's an arm or a foot squished up against his face. The doctor estimated that on this day (May 10th) he weighed 5 lbs., 3 ounces. His guess is that his final weight will be in the 7 pound range. Not too shabby.

Alright, so here's what is probably my last pregnancy update. I'm scheduled for a c-section on June 9th, which should be a nice birthday for this little guy. My birthday is June 5th, and our wedding anniversary is June 8th, so June will always be a busy month for us.

Weight: (From starting weight) +26 pounds. I feel pretty huge, and I'm a few pounds bigger than I was with Nick. The difference, though, is that I gained over 40 pounds with Nick and never lost it all, so I started out heavier. So I feel pretty sucessful that I didn't put on another 40 pounds with this pregnancy. Gotta celebrate the small things, right.  ;)

Movement: He has been more active lately, though still less bouncy than Nick was at this age. My students were watching my belly bounce up and down last week. "Freaky!," one of my 5th graders commented. Yup. But also interesting and awesome, in its own way.

Exercise: Actually, more this month than last. I love to get outside when it's nice, and so I've taken every opportunity to go out lately. On Friday we took Nick to Riverwalk and took a little walk. Chasing him is excellent exercise. Yesterday I spent hours and hours in the garden, doing very hard physical labor. I also took Nick to a festival and walked around the grounds for a few hours. I feel pretty proud of what I'm able to do at this stage in my pregnancy.

Cravings: Iced tea, all the time. I could drink a gallon of it a day. Actually, I've been craving dinner food, even at breakfast. Forget cereal, I want leftovers of dinner the night before, even if it is 7 a.m. I dream of meat and cheese and all things protein. Oh, and I've been having a bbq chicken salad from Panera (substitute spinach for lettuce, add tomatoes) at least a few times a week. Chocolate, of course, is still an ongoing craving, though I'm not sure if that counts as a pregnancy craving. I always crave chocolate.

Sleep: My hands hurt from the way I've been sleeping. I'm still using 5 pillows to prop myself up at night, and waking up a bunch to use the bathroom.

Oh, and I have had some extremely weird dreams. In one of them, I dreamed I was having an ultrasound, and the doctor told me that the baby was healthy except for one thing--instead of a baby human, he was a baby giraffe. It's weird how anything seems feasible in a dream. I remember being totally freaked out and explaining to the doctor, "But, I don't think I can take care of a baby giraffe. What do they even eat?" When I woke up, I actually had to go peek at my ultrasound picture to reassure myself. It was 3 a.m. and I couldn't get back to sleep for quite awhile.

Then, today, I was at a shower for my cousin, who is also having a baby boy in just a few weeks. She got one of these adorable giraffe baby teethers. It brought back that dream, vividly. I think I'll have to get one of these for the baby, just because. Then, whenever I am frustrated because the baby can't sleep or is crying, I can look at this toy and breathe a sigh of relief because I have a baby human and not a baby giraffe.

Medical: I am very anemic, and I have funky looking bruises in places where I don't remember bumping into anything. I've been going to the infusion center for IV iron weekly. I think it's finally starting to kick in, three weeks later, because some of my energy has come back. I'm still tired, but I don't feel like I want to lay down and sleep every second of every day.

On the other hand, my blood pressure has been excellent, even low sometimes. My asthma isn't bothering me too badly (except for when I run to chase Nick), and I'm able to get around okay. I know it could be much worse.

Mood: Upbeat, if a little cranky. I've been telling everyone who asks, "How are you feeling?" the same thing. "I would be perfectly happy if my water broke right this second. I am done being pregnant." Several people have commented that I'm waddling. Sigh. I suppose that is normal.
However, my mood has been better as my delivery date approaches. Something about knowing that the end is near makes pregnancy a little more bearable.
Symptoms: Other than waddling? His little feet are in my ribs, and he keeps pushing them out. I'm slightly worried that he's going to crack one. My uterus is up so high now that I can't eat much in one sitting. I have been eating my dinner in stages lately. I'll have maybe 1/3 of it, and then come back for more later.
I'm having some swelling, too. My ankles and feet are slightly swollen, but my fingers are really bad. My ring finger is usually a size 7, and my wedding rings are a 7 1/4. During one of those really hot days a few weeks back, I almost couldn't get them off. I took both rings off for good and found a cheap ring in my jewelry box to wear on my left hand. It's a size 9!
The pregnancy horomones are giving me acne, and I am hot and sweaty even when everyone around me is chilled. Greg didn't like that I'd turned the A/C to 72 degrees. He said he was cold. I said, "I have twice my normal blood volume circulating through my body. Plus, there's a five pound human inside of me. Get a damned sweater." Perhaps my sympathy for the comfort of others is not so strong right now.  ;)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Keeping Himself Busy

I'm up to a minimum of three doctor's office visits per week now. I have two non-stress tests, one actual obstetrician visit, and one iron infusion every week. Sometimes I have to bring Nick with, and he finds quite interesting ways to keep himself busy.

Nick went with me on Tuesday, and he was quite entertaining in the waiting room. Our doctor's office has these neat kid-sized chairs, and Nick wanted me to to come and sit by him, on the teeny tiny chairs. I told him that I wouldn't fit, but that he could come sit by me. Nick decided that he wanted to bring a chair over. Then he brought two, and three, and so on. . .

Pretty soon, Nick had lined up every children's chair in the waiting room. He made a line going all the way to the door.

There were three or four ladies waiting with us, and they laughed at his antics. Nick talked the entire time: "I'm going to get another chair. We need another one. I am strong. Urgh!" (grunting).

Since we had to wait awhile, this kept him busy and gave him a little workout. I did make him put all of the chairs back when we were done, though.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Daddy's Little Helper (Kind of)

This weekend, Greg did a lot of furniture moving and assembly, all in preparation for Baby 2.0. I found this cool shelf at Target--it has nine square holes that can fit fabric boxes. My goal is to use it for Nick's clothes and some of his toys and books. Nick helped put it together. . . in a way. He used his toy hammer to bang on it while Greg hammered in the nails.

We've been working on getting the boy's room ready to fit two boys. Actually, the closet in the boys room is for three boys: Greg and both kids. I am lucky enough to have the master walk-in closet all to myself. Greg and I decided when we bought this house that sharing a closet might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back, so we've never gone there. Instead, there's one closet for the males and one for the females. I think it's a pretty fair deal.

By the end of this weekend, our goal is to finish the boys' room and get as much as we can ready for the baby. We have a to-do list that is really, really long. Good thing we have a little helper.  :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mother's Day Plant Stakes

The drive to come up with something creative to give the grandmas for Mother's Day--that's what led me to wander the aisles at the Hobby Lobby a few weeks ago, waiting for creativity to strike.

We found these wooden flower pokes back by the paint. I figured they would at least be recognizable, no matter how Nick painted them.

 I've also learned my lesson--we only paint outside nowadays. But Nick has really learned how to paint. His strokes aren't terribly even, but he totally got how to use the brush to get paint on the flowers.

My boy also knows his colors--and he had very definite opinions about what colors each flower should be. Nick has learned the names of every color, and he can even differentiate shades. He said he wanted to paint one flower purple, and when I went to open the little paint cup, he shouted, "No, Mommy! Dark purple. Want dark purple!" I limited him to two colors for each flower, or else all of the colors would've melded together into an unattractive shade of brown.

In the end, I think he did a pretty good job. I had to even out some of the gloppy spots, but the painting work was all Nick. Not bad for a 29-month-old.    :)

Inside each flower, I put a picture of Nick that my sister took a few weeks back. The plant stakes turned out very cute--I stuck each plant stake into pots of gorgeous peace lillies that Melissa from Costa Farms sent me, and gave them along with the plant stake and a card that I made using the pictures of Nick painting.

Here's what the final product looked like:

I wasn't sure about the construction paper leaves. I did them for two of the flowers and then skipped it on the rest. I wasn't sure if they were too cheesy, plus I knew they'd fall off. The plant stakes, however, are forever, because I sprayed them with this spray coating that makes them waterproof and fadeproof.

Before I was a mom, choosing Mother's Day gifts was easy--nice card, perhaps a dinner out, flowers and maybe something sweet to eat. I'm not sure why, but since having Nick, I feel the urge to be creative and have him make presents for holidays like Mother's Day. It's tricky to have a kid who is only two make something useful or attractive for an adult, but it can be done, usually with a lot of intervention from me.

Either way, Nick enjoys the process. Soon there will be two boys for me to make creative gifts with--two boys at very different ages. I'll have to be even more creative to make that work.

I think I'm up for the challenge. I've never been afraid of a mess.   ; )