Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 in Pictures and in Goals

2012 ended up not having quite as much time in it as I needed.  There are still so many things I wanted to get done, so much more I wanted to accomplish.  So thank goodness the Mayans were wrong, and I still have time.

Part of not having enough time is that I am going to combine two posts here.  It may make for the longest post ever, resulting in boredom half way through, but that's the way it's got to be.

I love looking back on all the photos I took over the last year, reminiscing about all the things we did, how much the boys have grown, all the places we went. I then choose a handful of pictures that are my favorite or best represent that year.

Also, it's time to reveal how I did on my Project 52 goals, a list of 52 things I wanted to accomplish in the 52 weeks of 2012.  Granted, some of my goals were derailed by a certain little person, but it has absolutely been worth it. 

So here we go: my accomplishments, randomly intermixed with my favorite pictures.

1. Find one drawer/closet/cupboard to clean out each month. Done (not necessarily each month, but the equivalent number was accomplished.)
2. Get to know my neighbors. Umm...not really
3. Finally overcome my blogging insecurities, and submit posts for SITS. No. I'll do this next year. Maybe.
4. Visit Chicago again. Twice! Spring Break and over the summer.

5. Plan a great spring break vacation. Nothing says awesome like waterslides.

6. Get a rain barrel. Nope.
7. Start posting my menus on my blog.
Yes.  They are on my side bar if you didn't notice.
8. Share some recipes.
I did this here.
9. Get a plant for inside my house.
I have a lovely ivy in the kitchen, and some bean plants from Monkey's first grade class.
10. Visit three new places.
Minneapolis, Wisconsin Dells, and a couple of local places.

11. Get serious about finding a job. I have a job!

12. Break out the oil paints and put brush to canvas. Nope. But I painted a room.
13. Cook with an ingredient I have never used before. Do this three times.
14. Do the Couch-to-5K program. 
I started, but didn't finish, due to my pregnancy.
15. Make a bedtime and stick with it. 
We're getting better.
16. Make new chore charts for the boys.

17. Send a handwritten letter to 5 friends.
18. Do something special for turning 30.
Well, I turned 30.
19. Donate money to something.
20. Get through my anesthesia question book twice.
21. Introduce my boys to art.

22. Get my boys in the kitchen cooking with me. Yes. They can now crack eggs and measure ingredients.
23. Get a pedicure.
This is now my favorite thing.
24. Make bread.
Ha, ha, ha.
25. Go to a drive in movie theater.
Yes.  It was awesome.

26. Go ice skating.
27. Ride a train.
Does the little train at the park count?
28. Read a parenting book.
Done. I highly recommend 5 Love Languages for Children.
29. Learn to take a compliment.
This is an ongoing issue.

30. Do three home improvement projects.
Yes.(Notice, it did not say finish those projects.)
31. Plant a garden.
I tried to plant tomatoes.  Dang raccoons.
32. Make maple syrup.
33. Visit two museums.

34. Volunteer at the school.
This didn't happen this year.
35. Start family sharing at the dinner table.
36. Get a better handle on our finances.
Slightly better, but still not complete.
37. Write at least 10 blog posts a month.
Ha. No.  
38. Dance in the rain with my children. Yes.  And splashed in puddles.


39. Make a baking soda-vinegar volcano. Yes
40. Work on the boys (not so) baby books.
No, but we did look at the one I started.

41. Print some of my pictures.
Well, if my printer didn't suck so much...
42. Clean the garage.
43. Ride my bike to work at least 10 times.
This was put to a halt due to pregnancy.
44. Visit family.
How about have family come and visit?

45. Invite friends over for dinner.
46. Let go of the clothes that don't fit.
Well, now I would have to let go of everything...


47. Buy myself flowers twice. Yes. It was lovely.
48. Surprise Hubster with a date night.
Yes.  Well, it was more of a date afternoon, but still.
49. Sew something.
How about two things! A quilt and a tent!
50. Sign the boys up for swimming lessons.
I tried.  Tennis lessons instead count, right?
51. Go camping three times.
We went twice. That's good enough, right?

52. Get my passport. Again, no.  But then I have no immediate plans for leaving the country.

That is 29 goals completely done, 3 things started or some what done, leaving 20 things I didn't do. And I had a baby! This actually may have been my most successful year (goal wise) so far. I look forward to carrying that momentum forward into the next year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Things I Want to Remember: Monkey 2012

Dear Monkey,

Looking back over pictures of you, trying to find just the right ones for this letter, I realized something. You have lost the full, rosy cheeks of toddlerhood, you have lost that darling baby plumpness, you have grown taller and leaner.  You have become full on boy.  I'm sure that this change has been happening gradually, imperceptible day to day.  But with the ability to focus on the subtle often lost with hectic schedules and the abundance of dirty dishes and laundry, it seems that it happened very suddenly.

I want to remember how much I adore this age.  Yes, you still are perfecting the art of picky eating, adding ketchup, mushrooms, and pickles to your list of forbidden foods.  Yes, you are still more likely than not to spill your drink at dinner.  But those are minor, not even blips on the radar compared to how much fun you are.

I want to remember this boy that slept in a tent in his room for 3 months.  And when you were not sleeping in it, you were filling it with all your stuffed animals, any extra blanket or pillow, and sheets of bubble wrap, flashlights, and large blocks of Styrofoam.  You call it your workshop.

I want to remember how you really learned to read this year.  For the last 18 months, you have been right on the cusp, recognizing words and getting through simple books. But this year, you can actually read. 

I want to remember how "boy" you are.  You are always trying to get your brother to smell your feet, or your armpit.  You celebrate after each burp.  Mud and sticks and rocks and bugs are all fair game.  Legos occupy nearly every free moment you have.

I want to remember all the silly things you say.  I'm frustrated with myself for not writing them down, thinking that they are so funny, of course I'll remember them, only to have them lost in the clutter of my mind.
                -"What are Justin Beiber colors? Pink?  Purple? Glitter?"
                -"Oh, I'm such a loser!"  "No, Monkey, you are not a loser."  "Yes, I am.  I've lost Dog and my  yo-yo."
I want to remember how much you still like to snuggle. 
"Mom, I'm a snuggler, aren't I?"  
"Yes, you are." 
"Do you like to snuggle with me?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you want to snuggle right now?"
How could anyone say no to that?  Combine that with you asking me to sing "You are My Sunshine" to you nearly every night, and this mommy heart just melts.

I want to remember that this was the year where you learned to ride a bike, found a love of the Green Bay Packers, became a big brother, and started insisting that you needed a puppy.

I mostly want to remember how much you make me happy.  I need to remember to let you know all the time, even on the hard days, where refusing to eat mushrooms and spilled juice suddenly seem like big deals. Because you do.  You and your big smile, you make me happy, every day.


Friday, December 28, 2012

The Things I Want to Remember: Bug 2012

Dear Bug,

This has been a growing year for us.  And I don't just mean the extra inches that necessitated an entirely new wardrobe for you this last summer.

I have to keep telling myself that you are only 10.  Only 10.  Already 10.

I want to remember how you (almost) never need reminding to do your homework.  The moment you walk through the door, you pull books and folders out of your backpack, sit at the kitchen table and go to work.  You are excelling at school.  Your teachers love you.  You've become so dedicated and responsible that it actually worries me just a little. After writing a book summary, your teacher wrote, "Nice work!" on the paper.  You were so delighted with this that you said you were going to work even harder on the next one.  And then you could barely conceal your disappointment when there was no note from the teacher on your paper, just full marks.

I want to remember that you've really started showing pride in your accomplishments, and are finally sharing them with me. Previously, getting you to share anything was a challenge, resulting in single word answers at best. Now, you let me read your book reports, you tell me your scores on your tests. The pride you take in doing well, all on your own, without my nagging, is beautiful.  And my darling, it is only setting you up for further success.

I want to remember that this has been the year of reading for you.  You fly through books almost as fast as I can supply them (although you are still vetoing several books I provided - mostly because I told you I loved them when I was a kid.) I love seeing you curled up on the couch or on your top bunk with a book.  I love it because I'm seeing literature come alive for you.  And I love it because (I'm sure you don't want to hear this) it reminds me of myself at your age.  You might get that a lot.

I want to remember your little group of friends at school that you play four square with.  I've stood back against the school, before you've noticed me there to pick you up.  I've watched a kid playing, a kid that I didn't know, one who is silly and outgoing and confident in front of his peers. At least during a very competitive game of four square.

I want to remember how kind you are.  The number of times your little brother begs to sleep on the top bunk with you.  I can see your reluctance, that you would rather just have your bed to yourself.  But you still say yes.  At least most of the time.

I want to remember that we still read together every night.

I want to remember that this was the year you learned to swim, caught a frog on your own, perfected rock skipping, and rode your bike without hands.

We've had our good moments and bad moments this year.  Being 10 and being the oldest isn't all sunshine.  But I like to think that we are ending this year on a high note.

At least, that's how I'm going to remember it.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Snapshot

It's taken me a while to post about Christmas.  Between my ongoing struggle to juggle my growing family and some very frustrating issues with my external hard drive (where all my thousands of pictures are stored), blogging hasn't been exactly feasible.  Because I can't blog with one hand or without pictures.

Christmas was lovely.  This is the first Christmas of residency that I didn't work either the day before or the day after or the day of.  Having the holidays truly off and away from the hospital is a glorious thing, a thing a person could get used to.

The boys woke up at 3 am - I was up feeding Duck, so I could hear their little feet running up and down the stairs, checking the clock to see if it was finally 5 am, the appointed time at which they could open their stockings.

Normally, I have dozens of pictures of all the details of Christmas.  But not this year.  This year, I held my baby and just enjoyed the absolute magic of Christmas morning. 

There are a few pictures.

Christmas Eve and the boys in their Christmas pajamas (isn't Bug getting so handsome!).

A blurry Christmas morning that captures how excited Monkey was.

The Christmas aftermath that was left alone until the next day. 

Other highlights of the day:

Hubster and I buying each other the same gift.  Again.

Monkey hugging me in delight with each gift.

Getting thoroughly beat by my boys at Mario Cart.

A fabulous fancy dinner, complete with place mats, fabric napkins, and my nice stemware, eaten in our pajamas.

Flowers from my sister.

 Really, I got every thing I wanted for Christmas: snow, a good book, hugs from my children, a baby in my arms, and magic all around.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Yesterday, we got our first snow.  The snow arrived in typical Midwest fashion, with freezing temperatures, winds gusting to 40 miles per hour and zero visibility.  Not that any of this stopped Bug and Monkey from going outside. 

I'm just grateful that it's going to be a white Christmas.  The lack of snow last year made me a complete liar to my children ("Oh, I'm sure there will be snow by Christmas...").  It's easier to feel all holiday-ish when it's white outside and the windows are frosted.

One of my favorite holiday activities is making paper snowflakes.  I remember as a very small girl, one who didn't really know how to use scissors, sitting by my mom, attempting to fold white paper into triangles and then cut out designs.  I always thought that no one made paper snowflakes as pretty as my mom did.

Every year growing up, we made paper snowflakes.  We made dozens and dozens (which is probably a little easier to do when you come from a very large family.)  Our paper works of art plastered the windows and walls and hung from the ceiling.  We occasionally laminated ones that we were particularly proud of.

Nothing made it feel more like Christmas than when we had our own scissor made snow storm inside, including the zillions of paper scraps littering the floors.

Now that I have my own little family and am making our own traditions, let's just say that not much has changed.  (Although I'm apparently the only one who understands how to fold the paper to get a six sided snowflake, so I'm always relegated to paper folding, and don't actually do much cutting.)

I watch Bug and Monkey carefully cut out their designs.

They oh and ah over each other's creations, telling each other what a good job the other one did.

We hang them on the windows, on the doors, and from the ceiling.  I get the same feeling that I had as a little girl, that now it's the holidays.

And while I'm glad the ground is white outside, I'll admit that this type of snow is much more my speed.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Getting ready for Christmas has been exceptionally hard this year.  Christmas is my absolutely favorite time of year, and I adore everything about Christmas.  But I'm going to be completely honest, it can be a little stressful.  Trying to find gifts for everyone, making sure everything is mailed off on time, getting every gift wrapped, all the holiday parties, making sure I do enough activities to make it a festive time for the boys - there's just a lot to do over the holidays.  Add a newborn baby and the fact that I haven't slept more than 3 hours in a row for almost a month, and that Hubster just finished finals and is taking boards in less than a week and has been studying nonstop - add all that to the mix, and I'd say this has been a very challenging holiday.

But I'm still trying to enjoy every minute.

Hubster, Bug, Monkey, and my mother made the trek to the tree farm and selected a beautiful fir tree (Duck was only a few days old, so we stayed home.)

The tree is up and decorated, almost exclusively by Bug and Monkey.  My beloved cardinals are in place on the branches.

The stockings are hung on the mantle, waiting for Christmas Eve to be filled.

The Advent calendar is filled, each day a different activity (that I may or may not have been successful on getting to.)

Reindeer were visited.

Paper snowflakes have been made.

Gingerbread houses have been decorated.

Christmas cards and presents have been mailed.

Chocolate pecan fudge was made and then consumed.

Nearly all the presents for our family are wrapped and sitting beneath the tree, continually tempting Monkey to shake them, just to see if he is getting the Legos he keeps asking for.

Look closely, and this holiday is much simpler than previous ones.  The gift wrapping is less elaborate.  The Christmas lights are a little more sparse. There are not plates of cookies.  But there are still nights by the fireplace, reading The Polar Express and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  There are still sleigh bells on the front door, ringing happily with each entrance and exit from the house. The tree is still beautiful.  There is still magic.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

There is Nothing Like a Newborn

There really is nothing like a newborn.  I find myself saying this multiple times a day, to anyone who will listen.  Which is usually Duck.

Okay, there are the 2 am (and midnight and 5 am) feedings.  There is the ridiculous amount of laundry.  There is the absurd amount of stuff I find myself carrying from room to room: a blanket, a burp cloth, a tub of wet wipes, a changing pad, diapers, the nursing pillow, and the baby.  Seriously, how can something so small need so much stuff?

But that is not what I mean.

There is nothing like a newborn.  The wrinkled skin covered in soft, fine hair.

The tiny, uncalloused little feet.

The soft fragile head, the silky baby hair.

The amazing smell of their head (yes, I love newborn smell.)

Their sweet bleating cry.

All the tiny, perfect features.

The simplicity of their needs: to be held, to be fed, and to be loved.

Yes, I'm tired and my days feel completely unproductive.  I tend to choose just holding Duck and staring at him, marveling over his dark eyes and impossibly small fingers and toes instead of doing laundry, dishes, or my licensing paper work. It always feels like the right choice.

This time will pass much too quickly.  Already, he is starting to fill out, and loose the gentle wrinkleness of being a newborn.  His expressions and noises are already changing.

So I will take every opportunity to enjoy the uniqueness that is this fleeting age, the beautiful, temporary moment that is a newborn.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hello World

I have not been missing in action for the last two weeks.  I have been very much in action.  I have been spending the last ten days basking in the complete delight of this...

My little "Duck," was born on Thanksgiving Day, at 2:40 pm, after a nearly 24 hour long induction of labor. This  precious little boy is my smallest baby, weighing 6 pounds 14 ounces and measuring 20 inches long.

I am blissfully happy.  Happy to have the opportunity to be a new mommy again.  Happy to have the chance to experience another newborn.  Happy to have him here safely.  Happy to no longer be pregnant.

I would like to warn you in advance that, for a little while at least, there will be a flood of baby posts.  It would be impossible for that not to occur.

I should also warn you that the rest of this post is my birth story and may be overly long and may contain too much personal information.  Reading this is optional.  Writing this is not optional.  I must write to remember and to cherish.

When I went to my last regularly scheduled OB appointment on Wednesday, November 21, I took my time walking over there.  I didn't want my blood pressure to be high from a power walk from the OR to the clinic.  My blood pressure had been elevated on my last two appointments.  However, rechecks had been normal.  I strolled over and arrived with plenty of time to sit, relax, and rest my massively swollen feet and legs.  Despite this, my blood pressure was still elevated when I was checked in, so my urine was checked for protein.  This had been done two week earlier, and the result was normal.  This time was different: my urine came back positive for protein.  With high blood pressure and  proteinuria, the concern for preeclampsia, the diagnosis that had just been a whisper of a concern, suddenly became a real possibility.

My OB came in to discuss the results.  She gave me two options: head over to Labor and Delivery now for an induction, or undergo a 24 hour urine collection to arrive at a definite diagnosis and then have an induction. The only reason she was really giving me an option was because the next day was Thanksgiving. She said that if I were her sister, she would take me to L&D now, and bring me turkey later.  I looked at Hubster, almost feeling numb.

"Let's just be done,"  he said.  I nodded and mumbled my assent.   The OB left the room to arrange for my admission and induction.

I wasn't quite sure what to think.  I wasn't ready.  Yes, I wanted to not be pregnant anymore, almost more than anything.  The swelling that had been a mild nuisance was now significant, going up to my mid thighs; it had been a while since I could fit into normal shoes and my face and hands were now swollen. My heartburn was still raging, despite twice daily medication.  My mild hip and back pain had turned into distracting sciatica.  So yes, I wanted to be done.  But I still had pictured going into labor on my own.  I had undergone an induction with Monkey and had been hoping to avoid it this time around.  That was not going to be the case.

As Hubster and I walked over to Labor and Delivery, I called my mom, who had arrived in town on Sunday and was currently watching Bug and Monkey. I then called my friend who had offered to watch the boys so my mom could be present at the birth. I felt guilty with every phone call, feeling that I was ruining Thanksgiving for so many people. But not a single person complained.

I checked into L&D, changed, had an IV placed.  I then received a medication to help "ripen" my cervix, since I was only dilated to 2 cm.  Now, there was nothing left to do except wait.  Hubster returned home to get my carefully packed hospital bag.  He brought my mom and the boys to the hospital to visit. The boys then went to my friends' house for what we sold to them as a sleepover.

Playing on iPhones is apparently much better than actually visiting.

The rest of the night was spent waiting, having the external monitors constantly adjusted.  Around 2:30 am, the irritating Braxton-Hicks contractions I had been having started becoming more uncomfortable, waking me out of my already poor quality sleep.  At 5 am, when they rechecked me, I hadn't made an cervical change, and a different cervical ripening medication was  placed.  At this time, they also took the monitors off so that I could shower.  That may have been the longest shower I have ever taken, since it felt wonderful to be out of bed, off monitors. At 8 am, the monitors went back on.

I became increasingly uncomfortable with my contractions.  Also, the baby's heart rate, which had looked perfect most of the night, started showing some dips, or decelerations.  These were mild enough and short lived enough that no one was really concerned.

At 11 am, I was no longer able to talk through (or really breathe through) my contractions, and I had an epidural placed (ah, the glorious epidural!)  Finally having my contractions stop hurting, along with my back and hips, I was finally able to get some real sleep.

This lasted only an hour, because the decreases in the baby's heart rate, which had been mild, had become more pronounced.  I was placed on oxygen.  The nursing staff moved me into a different position every 15 minutes.  I was given more IV fluid.  All was in an attempt to make the fetal heart rate tracing look better.

This is the problem with being a patient and being medically educated.  I kept looking at the red tracing of the baby's heart rate, and I knew the zig-zagging line was showing variable decelerations.  Every time the entire team of doctors came into my room, I knew how worried they were, despite their calm voices.  After so long, we have all learned to keep our voices calm despite our concerns.

I was still making very little cervical change.  The OB team was worried that anything to speed up my labor might make the baby do worse.  He already wasn't dealing well with my own contractions, so adding Pitocin to make them stronger might hake things worse.  The decreases in his heart rate could also be from compression of the umbilical cord, and breaking my water could make that worse.  Finally, the team decided that we were at a stand-still and something had to be done and decided to break my water.  When they did, the amniotic fluid contained meconium and blood.  At this time, the concern became that I had a placental abruption, or bleeding behind the placenta, making it less effective at providing good blood flow to the baby. And then the talk of a Cesarean section began. Fetal scalp monitors and intrauterine pressure devices were placed.  The OB decided to try an infusion of fluid into my uterus to see if it would help alleviate the stress on the baby before taking me for a C-section.

Around this time, I started crying.  I help Hubster's hand tightly and quietly cried among all the activity around me.

This was not how this was supposed to go.  This was my third baby.  This was supposed to be easy.  Everyone kept telling me how easy the third labor would be ("Oh, that baby will probably just fall right out."  "So-and-so only had 5 contractions and pushed once with her third baby.")  I wanted this to be the perfect labor, where I got to really be aware of everything, to be in control.  This, what was happening, this was not my perfect labor. This was anything but perfect.

When they broke my water, I had been measuring 4 cm.  10 minutes later, when they came to start the amnio-infusion, the last intervention before taking me for a C-section, I was at 10 cm.  The baby's heart rate tracing was still not looking better, but since I was complete, the OB decided to have me push.

"You are going to get a lot of aggressive coaching," she told me.  "You have to push hard.  You have to have this baby right now."

It felt that there were 20 people in the room yelling at me to push (Hubster says it was closer to 10).  Around that time, my clear picture of what was happening became less clear.  Everything felt more intense, more fuzzy.  Each memory became a mere snap shot.

Pushing, and feeling the pain of each contraction through the epidural.
The OB's expression changing and the vacuum delivery unit being rapidly assembled.
The vacuum popping off twice.
Someone shouting that they needed the pediatric team in the room now.
Hubster voice in my ear, telling me his head was out and to keep pushing.
The physical relief of the baby being delivered.
The backs of the peds team facing me.
The cry of my baby.

My own sobbing, both of relief and pure joy.
Hubster, snapping pictures and become tearful himself.
The OB attempting to explain to me what had happened: a profound decrease in the baby's heart rate, necessitating rapid delivery with the vacuum.
My whole body shaking.

Everything was blur, up to the moment until they placed my new baby boy on my chest, all pink and perfect.

There is this moment, when your child is born, that the universe tilts, shatters, and realigns around this new person. All the concerns and preoccupations that I previously had, those no longer mattered.  Missing Thanksgiving, inconveniencing people, having the "perfect" labor: none of that mattered.  The only thing that matters is the tiny, fragile, damp haired baby in my arms.

Eventually, after everything settled down, Hubster left to get Bug and Monkey to meet their new brother.  Looking at them holding him, commenting on how small and cute he is, made me feel so complete.  This is my family.  

He is here, my little Duck is finally here.

Ready to head home

And he is perfect.

Hello world.