Sunday, November 30, 2008

So Long NaBloPoMo

Well in the end November went by more quickly than I'd anticipated. I still feel full of things to write about. With our birthday celebrations and Thanksgiving behind us, I think it may not be too difficult to keep this blogging up right into December. Not every single day in December, but I'm going to try to flow with this momentum.

I'm starting to regret the whole holiday CD contest. . . I'm about 2/3 to 3/4 of the way through putting my Christmas CDs into iTunes and there are already over 400 songs on the Christmas play list. How on earth will I narrow that to 20 or so to put on a CD??? I am going to have some very specific questions for the winner, which will hopefully help me figure out which version of Jingle Bells will suit her/him best.

I thought this would be as good a time as any to write a few follow-up thoughts to guessing game from a couple of weeks ago. Owning a ferret was the untrue item. I have never personally owned a ferret. We did have ferrets in the nature centure a couple of summers at the camp I worked at/attended, which is where I came up with the ferret idea. So I have held, played with, and even named a ferret, but never had one of my very own. And, while the camp ferrets were fun we also had rats at camp and I have no desire ever to own either!

I realized, after the fact, that the bungee jumping was kind of a freebie because I listed that on a six (or seven?) things meme a while ago. So many of you guessed that I wasn't a risk-taker, or life-risker, and I have to say that those weren't bad instincts. I went bungee jumping with my dad during a family vacation the summer I was fifteen. I remember because I used that as my something interesting during classroom introductions in our high school public speaking class. I enjoyed the bungee jumping and I think at one point you might have even convinced me to jump out of an airplane. HOWEVER, I would probably not do either of those things now that I have children. Not that they are any less safe than they ever were, but I feel a little differently toward them these days. Maybe when the kids are grown I'll jump out of an airplane or go bungee jumping to celebrate, but probably not.

It's sweet that so many of you didn't find the poem thing hard to believe. When I was fourteen or fifteen (I think) I had a poem published in Teen magazine, which may not even be a magazine anymore. They published readers' work every issue and I actually remember reading the poems and thinking they weren't so impressive. I fancied myself more of a serious and dark poet (ha ha ha, ahem) at the time. The poems were all kind of gooey love poems (Love poems by teenagers, great!) and I recall thinking that I could probably write a poem they would publish. So I did. And they did. The poem was called, "The One." Doesn't that just ooze originality? Ugh, gag me.

I'm pretty sure I have a copy of the poem somewhere, but I am equally sure I no longer have a copy of the magazine. I think I got rid of it when I was cleaning my room out, without realizing I'd thrown away that issue. Despite the less than stellar poem, it was pretty cool to see my name in print like that. I save EVERYTHING (found a sixth grade volleyball trophy when recently cleaning out the basement) and I can't believe I don't have that magazine.

So, um, if anyone has back issues of Teen magazine from the early 90's, let me know!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Conversations with a 4 Year Old

We went out to lunch today with Matt's mom and sister. Harper had spent the night with Matt's parents, having a pajama party with her Aunt Meaghan. We were discussing ham because Harper had eaten some with her breakfast.

Matt said to her, "You know what? I like ham and you like ham, but Mommy doesn't like ham."

To which Harper replied, "I don't know what's up with her!"


I was eating dinner with Harper tonight. Somehow we got to talking about mistakes and how it's okay to do something wrong before you know it's wrong, but then you try not to do it anymore. And we were also talking about bad words, like "stupid" which is a bad word for our purposes, and how sometimes we might read a book or watch a move that uses one of those words. I told Harper it's okay (especially when "stupid" is the kind of bad word I'm talking about) to watch/read those things, as long as we know enough not to repeat the words when we speak.

She looked at me very seriously, put a hand on my shoulder, and said, "But sometimes grownups forget, right Mom? And they use a bad word? Because one time we were driving in the car home from Nana and Dziatku's house and you said, 'stupid,' remember? And that wasn't a nice thing to say. But that's okay Mom, you can always try again not to say it. Just don't say that word again, okay?"

Friday, November 28, 2008


I accompanied a friend of mine to a surprise birthday party this evening, returning home a few minutes ago, and just now realized that I hadn't written a blog post today. And now I'm tired. Blah. I can't believe I almost forgot about this. Here are a few items of business:

1) People in my immediate family can stop entering the Christmas CD contest - silly gooses. CALL ME and I will just make one for you.

2) There were many good questions asked earlier this month when I didn't know what to write about, as well as many intriguing questions in recent comments - I do intend to post about those things, but not on nights that I'm still at the computer at 11:30.

3) I have a new question for you tonight. What would you want for Christmas if money were no object? Something for yourself that you would love and use, but that is too expensive for current practical purposes. And let's just assume that the world is perfect and no one need answer like a beauty pageant contestant and say they only want world peace. (I think we can all agree that world peace is on the top of the list.)

If money were no object I would hope to wake up Christmas morning and find a brand new minivan (with all the bells and whistles) in my driveway. Honda Odyssey, I covet thou more than diamonds.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Tonight I am grateful for a happy and successful Thanksgiving shindig, right here in our own home. There was eating, drinking, merriment, and a wonderful family to be thankful for. The only difficult part was not being with all my other family members in Wisconsin. I have to say, it isn't a bad thing, when you have small children, to be the holiday host because they can so easily be whisked off to their own rooms when necessary.

I have to give a lot of credit to Ann, mother-in-law extraordinaire, for bringing the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and a cheesecake. While I did contribute plenty of other foods to our feast, I felt that she had all the high pressure menu items and I did not sweat my apple pie, jellos, or veggie sides too much.

The only pictures I managed to take were these of Harper "playing" Pictionary. She was drawing Rudolph.

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

How About a Giveaway?

We put up our Christmas decorations early this year - normally everything goes up the weekend after Thanksgiving. In fact I usually abide by a very strict no Christmas before Thanksgiving rule. However, this year, we're hosting Thanksgiving and we decided it might be festive to have the house decorated already. We don't usually have guests over the Christmas holidays and we thought it would be fun to share the decorations with someone! Also, Harper heard us talking about putting up the Christmas decorations and there was pretty much no turning back.

Pulling out the Christmas decorations also means pulling out the books and movies and music that are part of our holiday tradition. This year I decided to import my Christmas CDs (of which there are, um, many) into iTunes so I can have a Christmas mix on the iPod. Importing the Chrismtas CDs got me thinking that it would be fun to give away a Christmas mix. So I'm offering a Christmas CD package - one grown-up CD and one for the kiddos, should you want a kiddo version. I will attempt to customize the grown-up CD for the winner, if the winner is willing to answer some questions about his/her taste in holiday music.

This is not necessarily a pay-it-forward contest, but there are plenty of opportunities to share during the holiday season so you could certainly pay-it-forward in spirit anyway. To enter just leave a comment on this post. If you don't know what to say how about letting me know what your favorite Christmas song is and if there is any holiday tune that you absolutely cannot stand (even if it is only a specific version of one song).

I'll leave this open until noon, December 5. I'm thinking I could choose a winner and get CDs out by December 10.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Here are some of the things that are making me laugh lately:

Things were suspiciously quiet earlier today. I called Harper into the room where I was feeding Michael and asked her what she was doing. She said, "Don't worry Mom, I'm not doing anything naughty!"

Auntie M gave us some extra Christmas decorations last year, including a very durable nativity set and some small Santas. Harper has the pieces on her bookshelf. She is having trouble remembering the word nativity so she'll say she is playing with her Jesus stuff, or her church stuff, or her activity set. One of the Santas opens on a hinge at the waist. Today she showed me that one of the nativity set sheep fits inside the Santa. Then she said, "That Santa has a bad case of goats in the belly!"

I can't remember if I've shared these already, but Harper still has a few words that she reliably mispronounces. One is "flavor," she says, "flavorite." As in, "I really like the flavorite of this lollipop!"

She also misses "usually," and says, "lusually." As in, "I lusually like to eat crackers in the morning." It is pronounced exactly the same as usually with an l-sound added to the beginning. We try to get her to say it as often as possible.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Short and Sweet

Tonight I am grateful for:

- Great shopping deals. (50% off deals + 20% early bird discount + 15% off coupon = Christmas presents for practically nothing!)

- Bright white Christmas lights in a dark room.

- This conversation - go on and add your two cents, please!

- The chicken casserole we had for dinner.

- These two (and the fact that they're sleeping):

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blogging About Blogging

I will wait a couple of days to share the answers for the last post, go ahead and guess if you'd like to!

So today I have some questions about blogging for all of you. Here are questions I've been thinking about:

1) How do you decide which blogs to read? Do you read (regularly) every blog written by someone who comments on your blog?

2) How do you decide when to comment?

3) Do you ever email a blog-writer to say something you don't want to say in the comments?

4) Do you plan what your blog posts will look/sound like ahead of time? Do you just sit down and wing it?

In fairness, here are my answers:

1) I read some blogs because they are just so well-written I can't resist, even if I don't personally know the author. I read others because I've come to know and care about the people they feature. I do not necessarily read every single blog of every single person who ever comments here. I'm trying to keep my blog-addiction under control. I'm afraid to count how many blogs I now have in my Google reader and I have to feel strongly compelled to add to the list.

2) I comment when I really have something to say, but I often DON'T comment if I feel like I can't properly formulate my thoughts on a particular subject. I also try to leave pretty regular comments on blogs I read all the time, even if I don't have sometime earth-shattering to say. I feel like I want to let people know I'm reading. Sometimes I feel badly about leaving those sorts of comments because I worry that it will seem like I don't really CARE about what the person was writing about. I also tend not to comment on blogs that receive LOTS of comments on a regular basis. I guess I figure that it might not matter what someone says, after you've already read 50 or more comments. (Not that I would know!)

3) I do occasionally email a blog's author if I'm uncomfortable sharing something in the comments. This is usually because I feel silly about the comment I want to leave, or I want to share something personal, or I have a question to ask.

4) This is probably obvious, but I usually wing it over here! I do often find myself "composing" blog posts in my mind throughout the day, but I rarely remember those eloquent musings when I actually sit down to type. And I'm often too lazy to reread my own posts for typos - which is why I so often find misspellings or poorly chosen words in old posts. Argh!

Your turn. . .

Friday, November 21, 2008

Game Time

I've been bungee jumping.

I've owned a ferret.

I've had a poem published in a national teen magazine.

Which two are true???

(I've often thought of doing something like this on a regular basis, maybe once a month, on this blog. However I think I would too quickly run out of interesting/weird things I've actually done.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"It Snowed for Real!"

That's what Harper said about the lovely snowfall we had today. It snowed a little last weekend, when we celebrated her birthday. I asked why that wasn't real snow. Her answer? "Because it was too early." Oh, okay dear.

I"m hesitant to post anything new today, in fact, if it weren't for NaBloPoMo, I wouldn't because I am having too much fun reading everyone's comments on the Santa post. So if you haven't shared there yet, will you please go and add your two cents? Pretty please?

Since I have to post something today, here are a couple of shots of the dusting of snow.

What will we do to keep ourselves occupied during the long, snowy winter?

Well, apparently our self-portrait skills could use some work:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jolly Fat Man in a Red Suit

So I'm pretty sure there aren't any young children reading here. . . and so I feel safe writing a little bit about Santa Claus. I know it isn't even Thanksgiving yet, but I have been thinking a lot about holiday gift-giving and when you have small children Santa naturally comes to mind.

Here are some things I remember about my childhood Santa experiences:

1) After about the second grade it was a big deal knowing who did and did not believe in Santa. I believed until the summer after third grade, which was a pretty long time. I remember the distinct disappointed feeling I would have when I realized another of my friends didn't believe. In fact I think I really knew the truth for a while, but I still wanted to believe. With each friend that didn't it was more difficult to hold on to that belief.

2) I remember driving home from my grandparents' on Christmas Eve and watching for Rudolph's nose out the window of the car. I remember listening for sleigh bells. Most years I thought I saw Rudolph and heard sleigh bells. I remember the cold feeling from leaning my cheek against the car window.

3) I remember that my sister was scared of Santa and had to sleep in my bed on Christmas Eve. (BTW this was also true for Easter.)

4) I remember asking my mom repeatedly (as I got older) whether Santa was real, and she would always respond by asking me, "Do you really want me to tell you?" I still think that was a great response because I didn't learn the official truth until I was really ready to hear it. Good job, Mom!

5) I remember how important and exciting it felt to keep the secret, especially from my brother, who is nine years younger than I am. Once my sister and I both knew it was like we were part of the most fun conspiracy ever. I'm glad that Harper will have the feeling of being in on that great secret someday.

6) I remember that a chimney sweep came to our house when I was old enough not to believe, but I think my brother and sister still did. He "found" a scrap of cloth from Santa's suit in our chimney and gave it to my brother. I get a little choked up thinking about how great that was.

7) We always asked my parents if we'd be allowed to open our gifts on Christmas Eve if Santa had already been to our house by the time we got home. They always said yes. And there was such an exciting moment when we'd walk into our dark house and I would imagine shadowy presents under the tree. Obviously Santa had never come, but I held my breath a little every year.

Do you have a favorite Santa memory? Do you remember how old you were or how you "found out" the truth about Santa? Is there anything special (besides bringing gifts) you help Santa do for your children? Are your children believers?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I wasted no time using my massage gift certificate and I had a massage tonight. It was wonderful! I'd been going pretty regularly since Harper was about one, but I realized this evening that it was only the third massage I've had this year. I'm officially reshuffling that further up the priority list. I had almost forgotten how great it makes me feel.

If any of you are in our area (I think you'd know who you are) and you need a recommendation I will happily refer you - you won't be sorry!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Four Years

Dear Harper,

Today you are four years old. We spent much of the past weekend celebrating your birthday with close friends and family. Your dad and I were worried that you would be disappointed with today, the actual day of your birthday, because your party and gifts would be behind you, and because you kept insisting that even more people! were coming over to celebrate today. Instead we climbed in your bed to wake you up by singing to you, then you got to eat a cinnamon roll for breakfast, you took little goody bags to school, Nana and Dziatku picked you up and took you to lunch, and Daddy and I surprised you with a trip to the movies tonight. So I would say your day was pretty special despite the absence of a second party. Oh, and you got to eat the whole vitamin today - an entire cartoon character. Such a thrill after two years of eating separated heads and torsos to supplement your nutrition.

You had a ball at your birthday party. You were funny and charming and appropriately thankful for all the wonderful gifts you received. Once all the gifts were opened you got to play and play and play. I love the way you throw yourself into your play. At one point you had your stuffed dog and your Fancy Nancy doll arguing over whether or not ice cream could be purchased from a My Little Pony. As the evening wore on you invented a game called driving lessons where you stuck pretend keys into your corn popper (yes, it's a baby toy that you still love to play on), "paid" with a credit card, and had one of the adults tell you where to drive to and what obstacles to avoid. When Aunt Meaghan's boyfriend, Stephen, told you your card had been declined you asked for clarification. He told you there was no money left on that card. "That's okay!" you declared, "I have another one!"

We had an early afternoon meal the day of your party, with gifts opened promptly afterward. You had hours to play with your new things, but still protested bedtime, crying out, "I only played for one second!" The days are just not long enough for all the fun you hope to have.

Three was an interesting age. In the beginning three felt a lot like two, I have to say there were a lot of months during which you failed to exhibit any resemblance to a reasonable human being. The good news is that the closer you grew to four, the more the unreasonable parts slipped away leaving a whole bunch of delightful behind. The age you are now is one of my favorite yet. You are such a distinct personality. You are sensitive and funny and smart - too smart for your own good I sometimes fear.

We still have plenty of oil and water moments, you and I. I don't know if that is a mother-daughter thing, or a result of our stubborn oldest-child personalities clashing. We exasperate and frustrate one another, but we also laugh and dance and sing and hug. I know you know you are loved, and that is one of my proudest accomplishments as a parent.

You life has been turned upside down in the last year. One year ago, as you turned three, we announced to our family that we'd be adding a brother or sister into the mix. My pregnancy grew complicated and I ended up spending the better part of a month in the hospital and on bed rest. It was a scary and lonely time and it was awful being away from you. I hated knowing that I wasn't there to fix your pigtails and read to you and hear your stories and make your dinner. And even after Michael was born he was in the hospital for a month, a month that I spent recovering from surgery and getting sick and pumping milk and visting him. It was almost like having another month away from you and it was one of the most difficult times of my entire life. You weren't even able to meet your brother until he was almost a month old. We were so fortunate to have family and friends who dropped everything to fill in the gaps and lovingly cared for you when Daddy or I couldn't. How strange it must have been for you, that I suddenly disappeared and sometimes Nana was there and sometimes Mugga was there and then there was this brother that you heard about but couldn't touch or see. I'm sorry it happened that way.

Good things have happened too, this last year, because despite all the difficult times, you became a big sister and there is no one better suited for the job. You love your brother fiercely. And he loves you, too. In fact you are fond of informing us that Michael loves you best because you can always make him smile. I think you might be right. You play with Michael and sing to him and kiss his pudgy cheeks. He is a lucky one, that Michael, lucky to have a sister like you.

In the last year you also started school and you are flourishing there. You love being with other children and you come home just bursting with songs and stories of play dough and paint. It was an excellent decision, sending you to school. You were ready for the world outside our walls. I am so proud to watch you making your way. You amaze me Harper.

Being your mom is both the most difficult and the most rewarding job I have ever had. It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of our days and move from one thing to the next without stopping to appreciate each other. But I want you to know, for the record, that I am honored to be your mother. I am pretty sure I already learn more from you than you do from me. While it is a little scary, how fast these years fly by, it is thrilling, too, because I so enjoy watching you grow.

I love you Harper, maybe more than you'll ever fully understand. I can't wait to see what your next year will bring.


Sunday, November 16, 2008


I keep trying to write a post about what this past year has been like for our family. But each time the wheels start spinning and I think back it makes me feel a little sick to my stomach. I mean we have all arrived relatively unscathed on the other side, but it most of it still feels to raw to recap. I feel like I need to write about it in one big chunk, if only for myself, but I'm stuck. It will come when it comes.

In the mean time I would like to thank all the friends and family who found nice ways to recognize my birthday while we were busy helping Harper celebrate hers. I turned, gulp, 32 yesterday. And I'm officially old enough that I have to stop and think about it when I'm asked my age. Tonight I celebrated my birthday with my husband, kids, and in-laws. We just relaxed, ate party leftovers and enjoyed some football. I received some great gifts this weekend: CDs, DVDs, a massage certificate (for an entire hour!), and -my new guilty pleasure- a Nintendo DS Lite and some of the brain games. Pure fun. My family takes great care of me.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Without a Hitch

Here are some of my favorite photos of Harper's birthday celebration:

Harper got all shy about being sung to.

Things were better once she was able to lick the frosting off of some candles.

We pushed our luck, leaving the dog unattended too long, and he ate all the frosting off one end of the cake. Fortunately this was after the singing and blowing out of candles. I lobbed the end off and there was still plenty of cake to go around.

I love this photo of Harper with her new Fancy Nancy doll, what a riot!

Harper doubled her collection of My Little Ponies today, as well as getting some outfits for them and a My Little Pony Ice Cream Cart. I strongly suspect their numbers will grow again in about forty days.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Birthday Cake Retrospective

How about some evidence that I ought to take a cake decorating class?

Here are photos of Harper's birthday cakes. We cannot order professional cakes for her because I have not found a peanut safe bakery in our area. So we talk about what kind of cake she wants and I do my best.

The first year was a dog. I'm actually pretty proud of the first one, things sort of went downhill from there.

Year number two brought a fish. I was supposed to use vanilla wafers to create the scales. This didn't really work as intended and I ended up slathering a whole bunch of extra frosting to cover them. So half of that cake had about a pound of frosting on it and a suspicious layer of cookie in between the cake and frosting. Kind of gross.

Last year Harper wanted a butterfly. As usual this cake was sooooo much cuter in my imagination than it turned out. Harper liked it, but man, it really failed to live up to my vision.

This year she wanted a ladybug cake. She's been talking about her ladybug cake for MONTHS. And all week long, at every opportunity, she's been reminding me, "Mom I want a ladybug cake. But instead of red between the spots I want pink." That sentence has been uttered so many times I think I will hear it in my sleep for another couple of months. I decided to use Thin Mint cookies (the kind in our area are peanut safe) for the spots and decided that chocolate cake would be better than my usual yellow cake. I have a huge problem with crumbs when I frost, despite all the tricks I've tried, so I ended up putting two layers of frosting on the ladybug, to keep it from looking speckled. It kind of worked. We'll all be in sugar shock tomorrow afternoon though - I'll need to remember to cut little pieces!

Harper helped me bake the cake, but I only just finished the frosting so she hasn't seen that yet. I hope she'll like it. Fingers crossed!

Edited to add: We did actually remember to take Rebound to the groomer, renewed my vehicle registration, and had unbelievably good luck with the pictures. Also several family members have safely arrived in town. Yay!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the Fly

The next couple of days will be insane! I will fulfill my NaBloPoMo commitment, but posts might be light on content. Tomorrow we're going to get family pictures taken. Michael is sick and Harper is all wound up about her birthday celebration so that should be interesting.

We also have to register my car at the BMV, remember to actually take Rebound to the groomer, clean the house, cook some turkey and bake a ladybug cake. Matt took the genius move of using one of his vacation days tomorrow. I keep working myself into a panic over getting everything finished, then I remember I won't be flying solo and I relax just a little. At least if we end up needing to head to the doctor, we can divide and conquer.

Oh, as for yesterday's post, I really do wish I could come over and help you all organize toys and things. Actual deep cleaning is not my forte, but give me a few rubbermaid bins and I'll set the world to rights. Maybe when the children are older I'll find a way to make money with those organizational skills, who knows?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


On Saturday we are celebrating Harper's fourth birthday. Which means our home will welcome friends, family, and gifts. . . This time of year (birthday time tumbling into holiday time) is always exciting and a little overwhelming. Lately I've been itching to get to some of the cleaning out/organizing projects that we've been neglecting. If I frame it the right way, Harper is still at an age where she is excited to help and old enough that she actually can be helpful.

We have this horribly ugly wall of paneling in our kitchen. In the past I have disguised it by scotch taping Harper's art all over the thing. This week we took down all the old artwork and created a slightly better look by attaching a few lengths of chain to the wall. Now we can hang her work with clothes pins. I'll have to take another picture when the wall is covered with art. For now I captured the beginning of the alphabet letters she's been working on in preschool

We had a collection of Little People toys taking over a huge amount of real estate in our toy closet. Harper rarely plays with these sets anymore and Michael is a little young for them. We arranged each set on the table, took a picture which included all the pieces, and then placed each set into its own bin with the picture on the outside. They are being relocated to the basement. This way we could still bring a set up for Harper if she asks for one, or she can take them apart and play downstairs, and will be able to sort them back into bins on her own.

We use the small front hall area of our house for Harper's kitchen and doll stuff. She has a set of bins in there which hold all the food, dishes, baby blankets, etc. Harper is famous for getting nearly every little piece out and then freaking when we make her clean it up because it seems like such a big impossible job. Over the weekend I had her help me re-sort all those items into their bins. We took pictures of each bin's contents and taped it to the outside of the bin so she can remember where everything goes. It's been three days and so far, so good. No more complaints about cleaning up!

We also did a big toy box clean out. Harper helped reunite toys that belonged together. While she wasn't looking I squirreled away a few toys she really has outgrown and threw away some broken items. I now feel like we have some hope of getting reorganized after the birthday/holiday whirlwind.

We're on a roll, anyone want me to come over and organize your toys?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

500 Posts Old!

Whew - yesterday's post was kind of a downer, huh? Thank you for all the wonderful and supportive comments. I sometimes question my right to be sad about anything, given the two wonderful children we have. It was nice to find so much understanding in the comments section - I really like you guys! And it is good to know that our child-bearing status is "out there" so, if I get to feeling weepy about it in the future I can talk about it without having to explain everything. (But this doesn't mean I won't be answering Swistle's question about baby names we might have considered for other children, because naming children is fun, especially on a day when you aren't sad about not having more of them!)


So this blog is 500 posts old today - sometime back in October was the third blogiversary of Midwest Mom, which is mind-boggling, if only to me.


This weekend Michael turned 8 months old. Yikes! Here are his 8 month photos (you can revisit the 7 month ones here):


Back when I was worried I'd run out of things to write, one of the questions Tracy asked was about Harper's current career aspirations. We discussed this as I was putting her to bed tonight and here, in no particular order, are the things Harper would like to be when she grows up and what she said about them:

- firefighter

- mermaid ("You can come visit me in the ocean, Mom.")

- pediatrician ("You know, a doctor for kids.")

- veterinarian ("So I can check on people's pets.")

- swimming lessons teacher

- physical therapist ("So I can help babies to do some exercise.")
(She pronounces it physical ferapist - hilarious!)

- Old McDonald's worker ("Because I would sell people happy meals.")


- angel ("So I could look into some people's windows for God.")

Oh how I wish I had tape recorded that conversation!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Knowing It Could Be Worse. . .

. . . doesn't always make it better.

Labor Day weekend I was fortunate to be able to spend a couple of days with my best friends from college. It was an amazing weekend with a perfect mix of just hanging out and going out, and lots of good food and time for catching up with each other. During our reunion one of my friends asked me a question which made me realize that there is a big part of my hospitalization/Michael's birth that I haven't talked much about. She asked me when we might think about having another baby. Through no fault of her own that question caused an uncomfortable silence and I realized only about half the people in the room knew that we'd been told not to have another baby.

When Michael was born, via c-section, the operation took about twice as long as normal, apparently due to the amount of scar tissue from the c-section I had with Harper. Apparently the combination of the complications I had with Michael's pregnancy (no one knows why it happens, but it is likely to happen again if it has happened before) and the trouble they had with the surgery led the doctors to urge us not to get pregnant again. One of the doctors came over and told us this while I was still being operated on! And I heard it repeatedly before I was discharged from the hospital.

We have been told not to have any more babies and it makes me feel terribly sad.

Even though I have two beautiful, healthy children. Even though we may only have chosen to have two anyway. Even though we could certainly look into adoption down the road. I'm still sad.

I'm sad that I'll never be pregnant again and I'm sad to loose the possibility of another child. I think I would feel that way no matter how many children we had. There would always be a last baby. Michael may very well have been our last baby.

But for me, for now, the difference between choosing not to have any more children and being told we can't have any more children is a big one.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Let's Review

Okay, I know most of you know this, but just in case there are any newbies reading here is a little review.

Back on March 9th, Michael was born at 31 weeks gestation, weighing 4 pounds, one ounce. Look at his spindly little arm:

For the last two months or so I have only been nursing him first thing in the morning, so he is getting four bottles a day of Neosure, which is higher in calories than most formula or breastmilk. Now he looks like this:

And his unofficial weight (obtained by my weighing myself, then weighing myself holding Michael, and then doing some math) this week is nearly 18 pounds. Holy cow! My preemie, who is only six months adjusted age, now weighs as much as his sister did when we celebrated her first birthday. Here's Harper, circa November of '05:

I think we're finally going to get the all clear to switch to regular formula. And my guess is that he'll actually show up on the chart for height and weight when we have his nine month visit.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pay It Forward: Winner!

I got on the computer this morning and suddenly remembered that I needed to choose a winner for the pay it forward contest. So I hopped on over to and used the random number generator to generate a winner. And the winner is Laura!

I am so excited that Laura won, for many reasons. . . She is a blogger that I've gotten to know over the last couple of years. Her sister-in-law's sister is a friend of mine from college and I originally found her blog by clicking through the other two.

Back in March, when Michael was still in the NICU, a wrapped gift for our family showed up at his bedside in the hospital. It was from Laura! Now remember, this is a woman I've never actually met. Inside the huge box were perfect little gifts for Harper, thoughtful pampering items for me, and some wonderful newborn sized clothes for Michael. Can you imagine? A huge box of extremely thoughtful, perfect gifts from a stranger. Oh, but not a stranger, and any of you reading this probably understand how she was not really a stranger. Because she has been poking around in my life and I in hers, through these blogs of ours, and now I am so happy to feel as though I'm paying her back with something other than a thank you note (Which, incidentally took me FOREVER to write, back then, and she was super gracious about it.).

I get all sentimental thinking about it, how much I love this little online community, and thinking of all the support I draw from it - all the time, but especially this past spring when things were so, so difficult. All those comments and well-wishes were like little tiny life boats and flares, offered up to help us get through. Thank you.


I bought Michael a new outfit from The Children's Place the other day, hoping for something that would work in the family photo we're taking next week. Yesterday I made him try it on, to make sure it would work. Harper saw him in the little button down shirt and said, "Michael is ready to go to work, all he needs are pants and a tie!" If the drool factory was hiring he might be able to earn a pretty nice wage.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Love to Go Around

The observant among you may have noticed that the words beneath the blog title have changed, here's why:

A couple of weeks ago my brother Jamie and his girlfriend Molly came over to have dinner with us and join in our family night movie watching. A couple of evenings later, as we sat at dinner, Harper told us that she loved Molly, that Molly was her new best friend.

"What about me?" Matt asked.

"I love you too," said Harper.

"What about me?" I asked.

"I love you too," said Harper. She thought for a moment and then added, "You're warm and cozy, like a blanket!"

Then she leaned over and hugged me, leaving dinner-prints all over my shirt.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


This morning I took Michael to his six month follow-up appointment with the pediatric eye doc. Preemies are susceptible to all sorts of eye problems and most are watched closely for a period of time after birth. I am happy to report that Michael got a clean bill of eye health today. As we were finishing up the doctor commented that he was the most cooperative baby they'd seen today. And he really was wonderful, didn't fuss at all, even when they put the dilating drops in his eyes. In my heart I know that Michael's level of cooperation was mostly due to fortunate timing and really didn't reflect at all on my abilities as a mother, but it still made me feel proud.

The first time we went to the eye doctor Michael was mere weeks old. Maybe five weeks? And I had no idea what to expect. We had not reached his actual due date yet, most of the time, if he wasn't eating, he was asleep. When they called us back to put the drops in his eyes, and then told me we could go back out and wait for another half hour, I almost lost it. I was not expecting the appointment to be so long, hadn't brought a bottle, nor had I brought anything to do. Half an hour seems a long time to sit in a waiting room without a book or a Sudoku puzzle, especially since Michael was asleep. You see I have never had an eye exam, at least not that I can remember, and I had no idea about the dilating and the waiting.

There is a fish tank in the waiting room and, as Michael slept, I pass half an hour assigning personality traits and back-stories to each of the fish (there are about 1/2 a dozen). It was oddly fun to visit them again today and remember the things I had decided about them. Could I be a bigger dork? This time the waiting wasn't so bad, I knew enough to bring some things (which I didn't end up needing, of course), and Michael could enjoy the fish with me. I would have told him all of their life stories, but we weren't the only people in the waiting room.

Now it will be another year before we go in to get his eyes rechecked. I don't think about it quite as often as I did when he was first home with us, but getting past this eye appointment was another in a long series of little items checked off the list of potential problems. We are so fortunate. I still feel like I'm holding my breath sometimes, waiting for the other shoe to drop, for some hidden complication or difficulty to arise. And then -check- another worry eliminated. And don't think for a moment that I'm not grateful for every single one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Using My Voice

Okay, first of all, I have to respond to the comment Carrie left yesterday, about having my act together. . . the part I left out of the story, because I hadn't realized my mistake yet, was that I totally forgot that I was supposed to take Rebound to the groomer yesterday. I was so preoccupied with worrying about how voting would go and then so relieved it was fine, that the note on the calendar on the refrigerator (which I look at approximately 1,000,000,000 times a day) about taking Rebound completely failed to register. OOPS! Of course they are closed on Wednesdays, so I've had an entire day to stew about how I hate it when I mess up like this (rare, but it happens)* and worry about what will happen when I call tomorrow to beg for forgiveness and another appointment. Sigh.

Yesterday I used my voice when I exercised my right to vote. Today I was able to express my opinions again, but in a completely different manner.

Last week I got a phone call from an audience studies group asking a couple of questions about my television viewing habits and then inquiring whether I'd be willing to view a DVD and answer some follow-up questions. I've participated in product surveys before, but nothing quite like this.

My DVD and packet arrived on Monday. I was to fill out the paperwork and watch the DVD on Tuesday (Yes, I had to take a break from election coverage to do it, poor timing!), then answer questions over the phone today. There were two "prize packets" I was supposed to fill out, one before I watched the DVD and one afterward. In the packet there were groups of products - shampoos, soft drinks, laundry detergents, etc. - and I was supposed to indicate which brand I liked best. After filling out the first packet, I watched a horrible half hour sitcom, complete with an odd mix of very old and new commercials, answered five extremely general questions about the program, and then filled out the other prize packet, which was almost identical to the first. Gee, I wonder what they were really trying to find out?

Today I got a phone call and ended up spending nearly an hour answering highly repetative survey questions, which were 95% about the commercials I'd seen. The worst part of the survey was how the woman would ask me three or four questions in a row, about the same commercial, which were really the same question just worded slightly differently. I don't know how anyone can answer these questions without feeling like an idiot because I was saying the same exact thing over and over and over again.

How do companies actually learn anything from these surveys? Half the time none of the answer choices I was offered aligned well with what I thought, which left me prefacing every answer with , "I guess it would be. . . " How's that for convincing research?

For all I know, the survey had nothing to do with neither the television show, nor the commercials. I was probably participating in a study titled, "How Confused and Uncertain and Uncomfortable is it Possible To Make an Educated Person Feel Over the Phone?" They were probably using complicated audio equipment to measure stress levels in my voice. (Note to self: stop watching crime/investigative dramas on television).

This has been a rambling and rather pointless post - I wish I could to a better job of conveying to you just how bizarre the phone interview was. Oh well.

Have any of you ever done this sort of thing?


*Please don't miss understand. . . I mess up all the time, but I usually manage to keep my appointments.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Day

My friend Tracy asked to hear what my voting experience was like. I had braced myself for a possible long wait at our polling place. I packed a couple of snacks, a water bottle, a stack of books, and a card game for Harper, along with all the wipes, diapers, and burp clothes that Michael might need. I stretched Michael's morning schedule to feed him as late as possible before heading to pick up Harper. The plan was to pick her up from school and go immediately to vote. I made Harper go to the bathroom when I picked her up from school. Matt waited close to 45 minutes to vote before heading to work this morning. I figured, if need be, we could manage up to a two hour wait. The gorgeous weather didn't hurt either. We could survive a line that snaked out the door. Our polling place is less than a mile from our house, if the parking lot was full I figured I'd just drive home, load up the stroller, and we'd walk there.

It was almost, almost, disappointing when we pulled into a nearly empty parking lot and I realized there wasn't going to be an epic wait before I'd be able to vote. Then I remembered I had two small children with me and sent up a quick prayer of thanks for our luck!

A woman approached me in the parking lot with some information about two of the ballot issues and several of the local candidates. She asked if I needed the information and my first response was, "Am I allowed to take it in there?" Really I should have just said no thank you, because I already knew how I was planning to vote. But all the coverage about possible election problems had made me really paranoid about doing something to jeapordize my vote. I don't know what the rules are, but I was kind of surprized that woman was allowed to be in the parking lot, handing out those materials.

Once we entered the building I saw that there was no wait whatsoever! I signed the book, got my card for the voting machine, and took the kids over to the next available touch screen. I had to wait all of about 37 seconds for one to become available. Michael was content in his stroller, but Harper wanted to be lifted up so she could see what I was doing. I propped her up on my left hip as I made my choices. I explained to Harper that I had to touch the boxes to show how I wanted to vote. Then I explained the computer was showing me the choices I'd made. Finally I pointed out the place where the paper representation of my vote was going into the machine. I said, "When the voting time is over people will count all the votes, including mine, and we'll find out who won."

Harper looked over with this huge grin on her face, hugged me, and said, "I hope you win Mommy."

There was literally a collective, "Awwww!" from the other people in the room. It was hilarious, and very sweet.

I got a little choked up as I voted today. No matter which side you're on, no matter who wins this election, something historic is about to happen. I know that we live in a country which is far from perfect, but less than 100 years ago I wouldn't have been allowed to vote. I am woman, who stays at home with her children because that is the choice we have made, not because there aren't other choices for me. I am a woman who walked into her polling place without feeling any kind of pressure or fear. I cast what I feel was an extremely important vote and I have every confidence that it will count. I used my vote to shape what will happen in my local community and in our country. I felt empowered.

We took some pictures outside afterward (Harper refused to open her eyes because the sun was so bright), because I want both of my children to know they went to the polls during the first presidential election of their lives. I want them to know that voting is important to their father and I. I want them to know that they will be expected to exercise their right to vote. By the time they are 18 I want them to be excited to cast their very own votes in local, state, and national elections. I hope they vote because they are proud to have the right to do so.

After casting my vote, Harper collected voting stickers for the three of us. They said, "I made a difference, so can you. Vote."

Monday, November 03, 2008

Long Walks on the Beach

You guys ask great questions! Although now I feel a little like we've been set up on a blind date and I'm trying to provide background information without talking too much or giving so much information that there will be nothing for us to talk about later. Go ahead and keep the questions coming, if you have more, it's not as though I won't be blogging after November. I think I'll stick to simple questions tonight, because I'm so incredibly keyed up about this election that I'm having trouble concentrating on anything.

I needn't have worried about the interview I did at my grad school today. It turned out to be a little bit of a let-down. In my nervousness I had actually prepared by reviewing my comprehensive project and looking over the program standards and assessments. I was imagining some kind of formal panel asking very direct and specific questions about my program. Instead it was one gentleman who was rather causally asking things like, "Would you recommend this program to someone?" This scenario is a good representation of most of my academic career - I never felt I had prepared or studied or worked enough and then I usually wound up being just fine.

Swistle asked what colors I like. . . My favorite color is purple, without a doubt, but I only choose purple for specific things. For example I like purple pens, markers, paper, stickers, etc. I have a purple clip board. I like purple clothes on Harper. I enjoy the occasional purple accessory (although, truth be told, I'm not much of an accessory person). But I rarely wear purple and I rarely decorate with purple. If I ever had my own home-office, a room that was really only for me, I might make some part of it purple. For home decorating colors I lean toward sagey greens and blues and beige tones. I always feel happy when I see other people have chosen purple for wearing or decorating. There is a cottage-looking purple home in a neighborhood not far from here and I love driving past it. I would probably choose a purple theme for this blog, if one existed, but I'm too lazy to change the colors one by one to make it purple.

And now for a couple of gentle reminders:

1) Don't forget to vote tomorrow!

2) There's still plenty of time to enter the new pay it forward contest!

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Here we are, the second day of National Blog Posting Month and I'm drumming my fingers on the desktop trying to decide what to write about. . .

This week is going to be crazy, by our standards anyway. There's only one evening that Matt will be home and bedtime is really a hassle if we can't go one-on-one with the kids.

Tomorrow I am going to be interviewed for a portion of the accreditation process at the grad school I attended. Suddenly I am exceedingly nervous about this because I loved my program and want to represent it well. However, after spending the better part of four years conversing mainly with children all day, I often find myself floundering when asked to articulate anything more complicated than a Curious George synopsis.

We had Michael re-evaluated by a physical therapist and we are receiving weekly visits, at least temporarily. It is a good thing, jumping on a problem before it becomes too big a problem, but it has made me exceedingly stressed about the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of my house - especially since this nice lady comes and basically sits on our floor for an hour. (And yet, am I cleaning right now? Obviously not!)

On Friday I was on the parent side of a parent-teacher conference for the very first time. Harper is doing well in school and I didn't hear anything that surprised me, which made me feel good. I think she behaves in school pretty much the way I imagined she would. I felt oddly validated - like I really do know my own child well. Her strengths and weaknesses have played out predictably in the school setting and we came away with some good ideas for ways to help prop up her weaker areas - which mostly boil down to patience and fine motor skills. We also learned that Harper would prefer to play games/do things her own way - can't imagine where that comes from! I think there's a little bit of oldest child syndrome there.

When leaving the conference, I did find myself wondering if Harper's teacher likes her. Not every teacher likes every child - sometimes the chemistry just isn't there. Harper loves school and is learning and doing lots of fun things. I have no concerns about whether she is being treated well or anything like that. But I hope that her teachers are enjoying her, at least a little bit.

So there's a little random brain dumping for this fine evening. I'd better start keeping a list of ideas for posts or November is going to be one l-o-n-g month!

Anything you'd like to know about?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

We Survived Halloween!

I'm so relieved that Halloween is over. I really don't like the holiday much to begin with and it is one of the worst holidays for peanut allergies. At one point Matt suggested we take a pass on the whole trick-or-treat thing and start a different family tradition for trick-or-treat night, unfortunately Harper is already old enough to desperately want to go trick-or-treating. . . And they don't celebrate Halloween at her school (thank goodness!) so trick-or-treat is the only time she gets to wear her costume.

Last year we had her trade her unsafe candy for candy from our safe stash. She only collected about 20 pieces anyway, so that worked out fine. This year we decided to develop a points system and let her trade candy for other stuff. Harper had so much fun going door-to-door this year. I'm glad we decided to let her participate - we can always adjust down the road if we find that we need to. After all was said and done she had some safe candy, primarily from Nana and Dziatku, and Auntie M, a Tinkerbell DVD, and a new Dora book. Not bad.

Do you see the ribbon-festooned headband? Those are guilt ribbons. Things have really gone downhill in the costume department since Harper's first Halloween, when I over-compensated for my dislike of the holiday by sewing her costume. The second year I was way over the "starting from scratch" and I just added some ears and a tail to a gray sweatsuit - instant cat! Last year I was pregnant, but no one knew it yet, and way too tired to be worried about Halloween costumes, so a hand-me-down ladybug worked just fine.

So this year, when I did what I said I'd never do (BUY a Halloween costume), I decided I had to add a personal touch at the last minute. So I tied some ribbons onto a headband, which had absolutely nothing to do with Ariel, to make it more costume-ish.

I'm not sure they had the intended effect, but both the headband and the mermaid costume are resting comfortably in Harper's dress-up bin, so all's well that end's well.

I did decide to attempt to blop, by the way. Though it may be a bad sign that I was thinking about getting ready for bed and almost forgot to post tonight!

Don't forget to set your clocks back, and remember to enter the new pay it forward contest.