Friday, December 30, 2011

I'll do my thing and you watch your football

...directly quoting myself from just a few minutes ago.

'Tis the season for much football watching and football discussing and much much much reviewing plays with the DVR and much much much much much attempting to get me interested in the football on the screen.  I resist, naturally. 

One of my favorite football discussions in our house goes like this----
Whimsy: When is that going to be over?
Chip:  There's only ____ minutes (insert number here, could be anything like 9 minutes or 2 minutes or 27 minutes, etc) left in the ____ (quarter, half, game, etc).
Whimsy:  Which means that this will be on for another ____ minutes (wherein Whimsy does a quick calculation and multiplies whatever number Chip gives her by FIVE to account for the many inexplicable delays in this even more inexplicable game).


I sound awfully cranky about it, don't I?  I'm not really that cranky.  It's just the post-Christmas doldrums magnified by Intense Pregnancy Crazy, which is not a pleasant situation.  I also counted approximately how many Saturdays we have left before this baby makes his entrance into our world and HOO BOY if I had not already been feeling the nesting insanity then I am surely in the throws of it now.

You know the most shameful Nesting Crazy Thing I forced Chip to do last time around?  (this deserves all caps, as you'll see) I ACTUALLY MADE THAT POOR MAN CLEAN THE EDGES OF ALL THE BASEBOARDS WITH TURPENTINE...WITH (wait for it.....) A Q-TIP.  True story.  When I recalled that tidbit a couple of weeks ago, I laughed until I CRIED.  And then I gulped and realized that, at the time, it seemed a very reasonable suggestion (demand) to make in order to clean up any paint or glue splotches left over from installing our hardwood floor.  Which means that I am RIPE for some homebrewed CA-RAZY soon.

Stay tuned, I'll see what I can do about seeing through the fog and telling you all about it.

For now, I'm frantically cleaning out closets and inventing new projects for myself that have nothing to do with cleaning.  Nice.

Oh, and also: I'm working on a photo for you guys, but a photo requires me to pose in front of a camera and I haven't been doing a lot of that lately.  The closest I've come to that is when Alice put every hat she could find on my head, finished off with some fabric bags, called me a birthday cake and then asked me to take a picture of her creation.

For those of you who have been pregnant, what was the craziest thing you did in the throws of THE NESTING?




...Let me also add that today is my mother's birthday, and although this post has NOTHING to do with her or her birthday, I'd like to wish her a very happy one.  Filled with lots of cake and ice cream and time to do whatever she wants.  I would not recommend cleaning out closets, mom, more along the lines of naps and such.  Happy birthday, I love you.  I'm nuts and you should be very glad that you're not here with me right now.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

introducing Holiday Pregnant Whimsy

Say hello to (almost post)Holiday Pregnant Whimsy.

Holiday Pregnant Whimsy drops things.  On the floor.  On the kitchen counter.  In the sink.  On her small girl-child.  On her enlarging belly.  On other people's floors and tables and couches.

Holiday Pregnant Whimsy drops dishes, especially heavy casserole dishes as she's putting them away in the lower cabinets, straining for all she's worth while making very attractive grunting noises.  Super pleasant!

Holiday Pregnant Whimsy is absent-minded.  This is a nice way of saying she forgets.  Everything.  She forgets where she put her keys, what she agreed to do five minutes ago, and where in heaven's name she put certain Christmas presents. 

Holiday Pregnant Whimsy is a mess in the kitchen, specializing in Disastrous Holiday Baked Goods.  While making cookies for friends, she adds too much flour to the sugar cookies, resulting in her having to make a double batch.  When making Susan cookies, she adds the wrong kind of butter.  And while making the Cursed Chocolate Cake, she manages to put in baking powder instead of the required baking soda.  A move that, most definitely, makes a HUGE difference to the cake - as it simply bakes to form a quarter-inch tall pancake instead of anything resembling actual fluffy cake.  When she and Chip bring it to a dinner party, they insist everyone just call it sheet, instead of sheet cake.

Holiday Pregnant Whimsy writes blog posts, dates them, and then simply doesn't ever press the Publish button.  Later Holiday Pregnant Whimsy wonders where those blog posts went and why they aren't up at The Creamery.

Heaven help Holiday Pregnant Whimsy, and you too, if you should run into her.


In other news: how was your Christmas?  Ours was smashing, despite myself.

Monday, December 19, 2011

just in time for christmas

I need your help.

Everything I've ever heard about a child giving up their nap goes like this:
- The child has a hard time sleeping during the day
- The child drives their parent crazy with the NO SLEEPING during the day
which eventually leads to
- The child no longer naps during the day

That is not what is happening at my house.

What is happening at my house is this:
- The child (Alice) sleeps perfectly well during the day
- The child (Alice) takes lovely two-hour naps during the day and I am able to get some stuff done and reset for the late afternoon slog
But...
- The child (Alice) has a HORRIBLE time falling asleep at night
- The child (Alice) drives her parents crazy with the number of times she requests bathroom / water / back scratches / toe nail clippings until an unearthly hour of the night


We've tried everything we could think of to explain what's happening, and the one I keep coming back to is that this weird behavior is her way of giving up her afternoon nap.  That if she didn't take that lovely luxurious blissful 2-hour nap during the day, she'd put that sleep into the evening hours instead.

But I'm not 100% on this theory.  And quite frankly, I don't want to be right.  I want to be WRONG.  I want her to do BOTH: sleep well during the day AND the night.  Maybe I'm hoping for too much, since she'll be four in March and most of her friends have stopped napping.  But tell me what you think, and give me your best advice.  And if this really is her way of giving up the nap, how do I still maintain that little bit of daytime peace?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

checking in while checked out

Um.  If I could post a mindless bunch of vowels and random consonants, I would.  Because my current level of tired is so...  off the charts of tired that it can't be measured.  It's, like, stratosphere tired.  Immobile tired.  Can't lift my hands tired.

All these metaphors aren't helping me feel better.

So I'll say that we had a great time with my parents, and Alice ATE THEM UP.  I don't think she stopped talking even once.  That's six days of straight talking, folks.

Now I'm trying to find the energy and motivation to finish off the Christmas prep, including mailing off packages.  Which, if I don't get that done tomorrow, I'm in trouble.

Whimsy out.  But I'll be back - got to clear out the cobwebs.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

visiting a famous person




My parents are flying in this afternoon for a pre-Christmas visit.  I don't know if Alice is more excited about Grammy and Grampy coming or Christmas. 

A note about the skirt Alice is sporting in this picture: it's her Christmas skirt and you'll be seeing more of it.  Plus it's fluffy and sparkly and has red AND pink, so basically I knew she'd love it.  And she does.  Which is nice for me, because we've hit the age of Let's Assert Our Clothing Independence. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

what might have been

I would have liked to name her Alba.  Or Violet (if I could have ever convinced Chip).  She would have had the deepest darkest chocolate chip eyes, and glossy chestnut hair to match.  She would have idolized her older sister, wearing her shoes and tripping over her hair ribbons.  My girls - that's what I would have called them, and each time my heart would have melted to welcome such softness, such femaninity into our home.  I would have relived Alice's babyhood, watching another sweet girlchild inhabit Alice's clothes - but with every new dimple and smile, discovered a world of differences between them.

The journey of motherhood has hammered home this lesson: that with every turn of the road, you leave behind another possibility of what you imagine.  When you have a boy instead of a girl, when you have a c-section instead of the other, when you bottle feed---- hundreds of little things that close down the What Might Have Been to tell the story of What Is.

This is not to say that I am sorry for anything that has happened to give us this moment.  Every small detail of our lives is how it should be - and for how it's going to be, I'm willing to be surprised.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black friday, simple and belated

More of an explanation later, but our Black.Friday was short and leisurely. A family affair. How was yours?

Belated and trunkated black friday 8:18am

A different sort of Black Friday Assault, revised and shortened because our next door neighbor's place was burgalerized yesterday.

More later.

with more spelling mistakes, if you're lucky.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

third thankful post and i think this is officially a creamery tradition

This year I am thankful for:

My body with it's ability to heal, grow, change, move and hold this new baby in it and speaking of this baby - yes: this Polly baby who has snuck into our lives and consciousness in such a way and hardship and trouble (you heard me right) and my parents who have been such an amazing support and Grammy Dawn and my sister and the little brother and Coach Curtis and all that these siblings have taught me and music that gets me through the hard days and the easy days alike and silly Alice and sweet Alice and spunky Alice and creative Alice and quiet Alice and sleepy Alice and even cranky Alice because it's always just Alice and she was the baby that made me a mother and I love this life with all it's quirks and problems and lovely little bright gifts that have come because of this Alice creature and computers and Fergus and Phoebe with all their nonsense and Chip Chip Chip who is my very best friend in the world - even so much more than I ever thought possible and The Last Homely House and dear Texas Alicia and meeting lovely Kate in that birthing class so long ago and scraped knees and bumped heads and good movies and sewing and fantastic fabric and artists who create that fabric and my lovely computer and Matt and the beautiful time we were able to spend with his family this summer (so very special) and Buddy with all that he had to teach me in such a short time and stretching and naps in the middle of the day and teeny tiny baby onesies waiting for an occupant and Amanda and chocolate and warm sweet milk with a splash of vanilla and good medicine and fresh squeezed orange juice and Chip's hash browns and being in touch with my sweet old friends: Stacie and Chad and Karen and Sharon and Samia and the friends I have here in my life who forgive my mistakes and do their best to understand me and the faith I have in God and my church and the opportunity I have to work with small children and our preschool co-op and chalk and a large driveway and emails from friends that make me smile and Kathleen and Harry Potter (sounds like a personal friend) and while we're at it: JRR Tolkien and let's just say great writers who inspire and dream and ice cold water and modern electronics and Fergus' stripes and central heating and a warm jacket and seeing Alice in her sparkly purple Converse and the opportunity I have to be home with Alice every day and employment and my dear friend and boss John and potty training (so glad it's OVER) and the dearest of dearest Minions who comment here and visit at The Creamery--- you've become my friend-friends even if I've never met most of you (and normally I would then list each of your names because you really ARE friend-friends and one should mention friend-friends by name, but quite frankly this year I'm worried that I might miss a few of you because the pregnancy memory loss has hit hard 'round here and I'd hate to miss any of you because then feelings would be hurt so can I just say that I am grateful for YOU and you'd know that I'm talking directly to YOU?) and caramel Rice Krispie treats and while we're at it chocolate susan cookies and delicious chocolate Texas sheet cake and oh so many delectable pieces of sugary yumminess and peaches (can you tell I'm pregnant?) and seasons that change and rain even when it's falling like there's no tomorrow and the smallest things, I guess that's what this year has come down to: the smallest things that give me faith for tomorrow--- small things that make this world spin.  I'm giving thanks for all these small things, and more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

where I've been

In bed.
At home.
In the living room, watching mindless television.
Attempting sleep.
To the doctor.
To the pharmacy.
In Alice's room at her bedside.
Trying to help her cope.
Wiping lots and lots and lots (and lots) of bogies.
Sitting on the floor with Alice on my lap as she takes in a breathing treatment.
Reading books to a sick girl.
Stumbling around the house like a zombie.
Blowing, blowing, blowing my nose.
In silence, ears blocked.
Coughing until my ribs ache.
Climbing the walls.
In a sleep-deprived glaze.
Watching Chip sacrifice time and energy and much-needed shut eye for his family (bless that man).

And finally, finally, finally---- watching this from the other side, feeling better, feeling hopeful, feeling like I can once again join the living.  As is little Alice, while she's a few days behind me, she's sleeping quiet again - and actually sleeping with a depth and comfort that I haven't seen in days and days.

See you tomorrow for The Creamery's annual Thankful post. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

how we see things

Hello.  I write to you from the semi-reclined position as Alice stumbles around the living room watching television.  We are both sick for the second time in less than a month.  I know I sound bitter.  I kind of am bitter.

Except, when I think about all that I have to be grateful for this year - and especially at this time of year - I can't be that bitter.  I mean, sure, we don't live in a huge rambling house or have every physical creature comfort we'd like to have (I'm looking at YOU, sciatica)---- but I think it's all in how we see things.  And when I try to see things as they really are, with the plenty we enjoy and full bellies and a happy Alice and a healthy Polly and I get to have Chip home every night with me, I can't be bitter.  Just grateful.

But I am still sick.

Let's see what tomorrow holds.

Friday, November 11, 2011

surviving a food rut

Since Chip started his new job, we've all had to make sacrifices and improve our game, so to speak.  Before, with him traveling four or five days out of seven, Alice and I could easily eat cereal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with nary a complaint between the two of us (we love our cereal).  Now my big guy is here, living and sleeping and breathing our air every night of week.  And while that is awesome, it has also meant that cereal for dinner is in short supply.

I've come to realize that I feel comfortable cooking about seven different entrees.

And seven different entrees isn't enough to happily satisfy this family, week in and week out. 

So here's what I am proposing, my dear Minions: let's help each other, yes?  The beauty of my food rut is that it's not your food rut.  So I can share my revolving recipes without having you think THIS AGAIN?  Which means that you, too, can share two or three recipes that might be on your food rut list and they'll be entirely new to the rest of us.  I'm looking for things that are pretty quick, pretty simple, and pretty delicious.  A remodeled recipe exchange, hosted here at The Creamery.

I've posted a few of my stand-by's below, the ones that we can eat over and over (and have), but don't require so much work that they're impossible to pull together at 4pm on a Thursday night.

Feel free to use and abuse.  And your job, if you don't mind, is to post one or two (or three or four) recipes that YOU love.  Either in the comments, or on your blog (comment with a link, pretty please), or even shoot me an email and I'll repost it here.

Please help me.





Our top three dinners at the Whimsy house, in no special order:



Mom's Meatloaf (posted before because it's DEE-LISH-US) - made with either ground turkey or ground beef.  Sometimes topped with french fried onions during the last couple minutes of baking.  Yum.



The next recipe was originally gleaned from The Little Red House.  I adore Sheena - she is simple and delicious herself.  Love her.  And we LOVE this chicken & salsa dish.  It's so easy, she doesn't even have the recipe indexed on her site.  So I'm listing our version of it.  Usually I'll throw it together mid-morning on a Sunday and we come home from church to a house that smells amazing, and a dinner that doesn't need much more than some extras thrown on the table.

Salsa Chicken
Place three or four frozen chicken breasts into a crockpot set on low.  Add one can of black beans (drained), one cup of your favorite salsa, and a few sprinkles of onion salt.  Place lid on the crockpot and let cook for at least five hours.  When complete, shred the chicken mixture.  Serve with chips, sour cream, guacamole  OR serve the meat wrapped in tortillas and all the fixings.



And because I can't walk away from the whole breakfast-for-dinner thing entirely, every couple of weeks I put it together, with varying items in the Starring Role.  After some testing, our favorites are: this pancake recipe (so much better than the pre-made stuff), this easy waffle recipe, and recently when we're feeling really fancy, this french toast recipe - but I skip doing any of the brulee business and just enjoy the amazing custard-y french toast sans crunchy topping. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

necessary introduction

Let me introduce Pregnant Whimsy.

Pregnant Whimsy forgets things.  She hands Chip the remote control and then promptly says WHERE DID I PUT THE REMOTE CONTROL.

Pregnant Whimsy is accident-prone.  She locks herself out of the house while Alice is napping inside it.

Pregnant Whimsy is slow.  She takes twice as long to complete any task and is mystified that she's so tired at night.

Pregnant Whimsy has cravings.  Chocolate.  Especially plain Hershey's Kisses.  The richer and more milky, the better.  Toast, thick with butter.  Apples.  Mostly Gala, or Honey Crisp if she can get them on sale.  Chilled cold in the 'fridge, and sliced.  Tall glasses of cold water.  Deep bowls of cereal.  Milk, warmed until almost hot, with a scoop of sugar and a splash of vanilla.

Pregnant Whimsy might be disgusting.  She says might because her husband is particularly appalled by the recent hot-milk addiction, but it's so delicious that she can't be sure that this is a craving she'll later regret when she is no longer pregnant.

Pregnant Whimsy is tired.  Wait - Pregnant Whimsy might have already said that.  Pregnant Whimsy advises you to see above re: forgetful.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

holding on to what's important

Alice has lately been exclaiming.  Her chosen exclamation is this, shouted at the top of her three-and-three-quarter-year-old lungs: OH MY GOODNESS OH MY SOUL.

It makes me laugh.

She makes me laugh alot, except when she is busy exploring her three-and-three-quarter-year-old self and she switches from charming imp to BEASTLY TYRANT.

If you have ever spent vast amounts of time with a three-and-three-quarter-year-old, then you know exactly what I mean.  And if you haven't, I'm not sure there is anything I can tell you in preparation except that you should be afraid, be very afraid.

We've been wondering and worrying over it.  And every time I let my focus shrink to the size of just my living room, I get really concerned.  Because when I'm just looking at my own personal preschooler, the view is nothing less than terrifying.  I worry that she is going to be stuck in this impatient, freaked-out, overwrought, tantrummy place forever.  That I'll be talking her out from under a table when she's eighteen and her date has just offered to help her with her calculus homework.

A three-and-three-quarter-year-old is vicious rocket fuel and the sweetest clover honey.  She is lightening that will arc and burn without regard and then a few seconds later, cool to something so unfathomably wonderful and precious.  There are days when the whiplash is so bad, I wonder if I'll ever recover.

When I let my view widen onto the world of three-and-three-quarter-year-olds, I settle down a little.  People who know tell me that this is something of a challenging age, and that if we hold on - if we are consistent - if we do our best to teach her to do the right thing and treat people with respect - that she'll pull out of this and become a functioning member of society.  Or something like that.  What's the equivalent of a four-year-old functioning member of society?

In the meantime, I try to remember OH MY GOODNESS OH MY SOUL as much as I can.  Especially when she's absolutely losing her cool because I told her we didn't have any Kix cereal.  Or when Chip tells her he can't sing the ABC song in Elmo's voice for the 40th time in a row.  Or when it's the end of the world, to a three-and-three-quarter-year-old.

Oh my goodness oh my soul, indeed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

a strange and unexpected call for advice

I've been wondering lately... about a lot of things.

Like how one talks a three-and-a-half-year-old down from a crying frenzy.
Like if the truth is boys are easier or harder than girls and what exactly that means anyway.
Like what is the magic formula for dealing with these time changes with kids because the change just kicks my TRASH every time.
Like are there any Thanksgiving movies (this one was a point of discussion with Chip yesterday and we couldn't think of any except for the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving cartoon).

Things like that.

And it's not that I'm really truly worried and freaking out about any of the above--- but I'm curious if any of you have any advice or thoughts.  Or just general comiseration.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

when you know



There are a lot of women who can tell you that they knew the gender of their baby in advance, knew it so deep down that there was no question, and when they're looking back on that pregnancy the truth becomes something even more concrete, something even truer, like a fact that was made before the baby was even a sliver of thought.

When I think back on my pregnancy with Alice, I feel a little like those women--- making myself into a fortune teller more sure, someone who knew she was destined to have that spark of a girl in her life.  Meant to be.

But really, I'm not quite so sure.  Now that I've lived and breathed her air for nearly four years, her existence is so concrete, so viable---- the line between what I knew then before Alice's slender white form moved on the ultrasound screen, and what I know now with her here, the who and what and why of her--- everything I thought about her before she came laughing into this world is fuzzy and unfamiliar.

So much has been different with this pregnancy.  And the sense of what's to come, the feeling about the baby we were going to inherit, it is even stronger.  So strong, in fact, that I've known the gender of this baby long before it came to be---- long before any humming thumps on a heartbeat doppler, and long before a small white form moved across an ultrasound screen.  In fact, last November my mom and I were shopping at the thrift store and I fell in love with a tiny one-piece romper that I promptly bought.  It was a purchase of faith, really.  Knowing that something would be coming our way in some murky blue future - a future I wanted to come to pass even as I feared what it might mean.

And even as I still worry and wonder, as I've worried and wondered since the mysterious two pink lines appeared on a test I was surely taking only as a joke--- things are coming more into focus, and the faith that surged and fired in my heart when I bought that romper is helping me to quiet my worries.

So even though I feel totally unprepared,


I think it's going to fit him just fine.
 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

a brief message from olivia



Olivia says that Halloween was a blast - even with her parents swapping out the dangerous nut-laden candy for Tootsie Rolls.

She would like to know how you fared with your Halloween festivities, and if anyone else's ears tended to flop over their eyes a little bit?

And lastly, she would like to suggest that you tune in to The Creamery tomorrow for a bit of News.  Because besides a fabulous Halloween, Monday was also the day when the Whimsy family found out the gender of the little Polly creature.  And on Wednesday, Whimsy herself will reveal the findings here, along with various details of personal reactions from Chip and Alice.  Would anyone care to hazard a guess for Boy or Girl?




Monday, October 31, 2011

celebrating chip's birthday in three easy steps



Step 1: A cake of requested frosting color.
(No really - this is what he wanted.)





Step 2: A cake of requested cake color.
(No really really - this is exactly what he wanted.)




Step 3: Enjoy.




Friday, October 28, 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

that I might not ruin her

It's like that, sometimes: the only thing you can say, the one thing you can hope for with fervent whispers under your breath.

Because to hope that you'll inspire greatness is way too far above the mark - especially when you worry too much, when you push too far, when you try too hard to do and say the be the right thing.

So this is what you're left with: a mantra to just not do it so wrong that any of her inherent wonder is scuttled into nothingness.

A prayer to just avoid a complete implosion of self.

Yes, exactly that, please.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

floating




It's a new bath pasttime for Alice: the creation of flotation devices for her tiny buddies (as the group of them are known).

I've seen a water-skiing Donald.

And a Goofy suspended upside down into the bath: some kind of new preschool water torture?  I have no idea what he did wrong.




I think I've taken turns feeling like each one of them in recent weeks.

Where are you right now?  On top of your game, or deeply under water?





Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the art of disappearing

I think I could write something about it, how to do fade from this space.  Though when I try to form complete sentences, things are garbled.

My recent absence wasn't intentional, or even significant.  I didn't go on a trip or suffer any losses.  It's just life... life happening in gulping doses and I am struggling with the balancing act.  It's really not a big deal.

My daily list of To Do's --- nothing ground breaking or even terribly complicated --- have worn down to the most basic items, and my goal is just to see the light at the end of that list.

The coping mechanisms are simple: I do my best to say No when saying Yes would be detrimental, and I stick to that To Do list.  Unfortunately, blogging has fallen to the bottom of the list.  I think it has something to do with a lack of things to actually say.

  

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

a time capsule for the dark days




 I love stumbling through the archives of these pages.  Especially when it's been a rough day, a cranky day, a no nap day.

I love coming across reminders of bright spots that happened once upon a time.




These pictures are evidence of one such bright early autumn day - a day last week when all three of us escaped to the park to enjoy the last of Seattle's sunshine.







I made Alice laugh until she spit out a mouthful of Cap'n Crunch.




And after we had talked and whispered and laughed until our stomachs growled, we escaped for dinner on the water.
Watching dogs jump into the chilly waves as they chased water-logged sticks.



Alice and Chip took turns throwing rocks into those same waves.





And I counted myself lucky, so very lucky.




Monday, October 3, 2011

pulse

I remember the sound of running: the thwack thwack thwack of sneakers on pavement, my breathing working in syncopated measures.  I remember listening to passing sounds of lawnmowers, cars, the smack of a storefront door slamming in the distance - and I remember how these noises seemed to fill the spaces of my own running melody until it was a symphony of my own making.  And even later, when I'd walk through my front door exhausted and sweaty, the steady beat of that music worked its way into my life: something to live by, to breathe by--- a steady drum tattoo that kept time with the blood pumping through my veins, a rhythm I could call my own.

The rhythm of my life and ways has changed dramatically since those days of solo runs and eating chinese take-out in front of the television.

Those first six months of Life With Alice were so full of stops-and-starts, the search for some kind of drum beat that would work for us took far longer than I ever would have imagined.  And in the past three years, the beat itself has had to suffer through the small adjustments that all veteran parents know: teething and sickness and potty training and sleeping in a big-girl bed.

I'm not talking about a schedule.  This is not about a schedule.  I'm talking about the pulse of our lives, the measure of breaths we take as a collective we, the silent but palpable tick of our family's clock.

A month ago, Chip and I listened to little Polly's heart for the first time.  We waited while my doc maneuvered the doppler to first hear the strange sea sounds of my internal workings, and for a breathless few seconds worried when we couldn't find Polly's own beat.  But then it was there: a thumping steady badow-badow-badow-badow-badow at 155 beats per second.  The sound of it filled our senses with this very new rhythm, one we're already trying to work into the sounds that we know and love, knowing that it's going to change everything come some unknown day in March.

And now, after two months of having him as a daily presence in the house, Chip is going back to work.  It's a bittersweet experience for all of us: Alice will miss him something terrible, as will I.  And Chip, dear Chip---- I venture to say that he's making the biggest sacrifice of all.  I know that the rhythm we know will skip and stutter for a while, that it might suffer mindless abstractions of disruption while we look for new things that will work for us.

A change of routine.  A change of sound.  A change of method.  A change.  Lots of changes.

But I think if we try, if we have the faith to keep putting one foot in front of the other, we're going to find the music in it.  And it's going to be great.

   

Thursday, September 29, 2011

schooled





One of the places I've diverged from others: the schooling of Miss Alice.  We are seriously considering the pros and cons and wherewithal of homeschooling this small firecracker.  There is reading and praying and lots and lots of talking involved.  I come to the topic in fits and starts, which is why I have yet to tell you about it much at all.

In the mean time, I've joined a small group of women in a preschool co-op.

We take turns each week, teaching the children.

It was my turn yesterday.  The letter B and number 1.  Have I mentioned that our preschool is comprised of three boys and Alice?

They all did so well, even though I was terrified.

We sang songs, talked, pretended to be honeybees, ate a snack of Bread and Bananas, and made stripey Bumble B's.


It was kind of awesome.





Tuesday, September 27, 2011

the best offense

I'm tired of opinions.  Everyone has one (or several).

We do a lot of things that seem to generate opinions from other people.

I'm not sure why they feel the need to share with me.

I've heard about schooling and sickness and deadly nut allergies, bed times and discipline and the spacing of additional children.

In every case I'm citing, the opinions weren't favorable ones.  And in most cases, they weren't even kind.

Is there something about my face that welcomes people to tell me that I'm doing it wrong?

I've been wondering about that quite a bit.

So, dear readers, I'm turning to you for advice.  What do you do when someone offers an opinion about how you're living your life that you don't like, or even worse, is based on erroneous assumptions that make you want to punch the opinion-offerer in the nose?  I'm guessing you don't throw any punches.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

strange and mostly about television

Nothing connects these things, it's what happens to my brain these days when not regularly exercised.


- - -


The paci removal project is done and gone, as far as I'm concerned.  We're actually able to talk about pacifiers around Alice without her getting upset and weird about it, asking me to get hers back from the store.  My feelings about the experiment follow:

1. Having Alice give the paci's to a completely unconnected stranger (aka the clerk at the pet store) was exactly what we needed to do.  If it had been Chip or me taking them away, she would have seen us as an enemy.  This way, whenever we talked about it afterward, especially when she was asking about where they were and suggesting that maybe we get them back, I was able to say that they were at the store and then discuss her awesome fish.  A nice deflection, there.

2. Speaking of the store clerk, it turns out that we gave her a once-in-a-lifetime experience, because as we were leaving, she told us that she'd never had someone pay with pacifiers before and couldn't wait to tell her friends about it.

3. I should have considered more deeply the fact that I would become the Designated Fish Caretaker.  I'm curious how many of my goldfish and hamsters that my mom was feeding, caring for, and when I wasn't in the room--- watching?  Because the other thing that I wasn't expecting is how mind-numbingly entertaining they are.  Or, at least, how one can spend an HOUR in front of the aquarium in slack-jawed awe.

4. They're all still alive, btw.  And of course, now that I've said it out loud and now that our two-week warranty is up, I'm expecting a dramatic fishy death any day now.

5. Also, despite my best imaginings, no new baby fish either.

6. One side effect of the paci removal is that Alice is now strangely worried about losing everything.  I'm answering this question on a regular basis: Can I keep ___?---- as in, Can I keep my toothbrush?  Can I keep my blanket?  Can I keep Olivia the Pig?


- - -


I think it's a product of brain calcification that I'm THIS excited for a new season of Super Why to have started on Monday.

On that note:
1. Has Super Why jumped the shark since they added a cuddly talking dog to their group of Super Readers?

2. It would appear that Wonder Red has a new disturbing hip gyration in her rhyming dance.  Has anyone else noticed this?

3. And further, either the kid doing the voice for Pig is going through puberty, or they've recast the dude, because: TOTALLY DIFFERENT VOICE.

4. Lastly, I think the writers are actually trying to age Baby Joy - because the baby who was merely crying and laughing and had barely any hair at all for several seasons is now sporting a flowing mane of toddler hair and talking up a storm.  It's weird, is what I'm saying.


- - -


Do you think it's weird that Alice runs around the house at 7pm singing WHEEEEEEL --- OF --- FORTUNNNNNNE!!!!!!!!!!!!


- - -


I'm not ashamed to admit that I watched All My Children yesterday, and plan to do so again tomorrow and Friday.  It's the last few days of an institution, after all.  Plus: Sarah Michelle Gellar talking about vampires!


- - -


I miss milk.

When I'm pregnant I can't consume milk in ANY form without serious consequences.  No more needs to be said about the particulars.

But I really do miss milk, especially in the frozen dessert form.




 

Monday, September 19, 2011

From the bottom to the top

I write to you from the exotic locale of flat on my back.

The reality of New Pregnancy, Whole New Realm of Pregnancy Symptoms hit a few weeks ago. It started with some twinges of pain at the back of my leg... Thought it might be muscle spasms or something. Then in the days following, it grew and grew until I could barely stand.

Now I have a diagnosis under my belt and a sincere pain in my... Um.

Let's just say, I am looking for any and all suggestions y'all might have to deal with sciatica. I have a prescription for physical therapy-- which I am going to (begrudgingly) pursue, but tell me whatcha got.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

navel gazing of the second part

(I'm not sure what happened, but this entire post was hijacked by EXTREME CAPS LOCK USAGE, and I'm just going to apologize for it here.  Carry on.)



As something of a long-time blog reader (I stalked people LONG BEFORE I ever had the guts to introduce myself or put this little old Creamery out on the internets), I consider myself a pretty decent source of truth when I say the following:

BLOGGING CONTENT OF SECOND OR THIRD OR FOURTH (you get the idea) PREGNANCIES IS BORING.


I don't mean any disrespect to any of y'all who are busy blogging about the belly when it's not the first time around - but I know what I know.  When it's your first time, there's all this awesome discovery of the heinous and weird and completely unbelievable crap that your body goes through.  It's funny.  And horrifying.  And also strangely touching, in the best way possible. 

But those second babies---- well, there isn't a lot said about them.  The strange discoveries are done and gone, and while it's still awesome, the being pregnant stuff--- there is clock-watching that just doesn't make for a good blog entry.

Be that as it may, I promise I won't be totally silent over here (if ever - ha!).  And I feel bad that I haven't said much more about little Polly.  But I get it, I get it in a visceral way that I didn't before: I don't have the same sense of intense focus on this belly that I did with Bean.  How could I?  Bean herself is doing so much to keep my attention focused outside of myself --- I'm doing a preschool co-op with some friends that starts next week (more on this later), and until very recently I felt like every day that I actually spent upright was a TOTAL WIN, which meant that my personal expectations were down to LET'S CELEBRATE THAT WHIMSY GOT DRESSED TODAY and LET'S TOAST WHIMSY THAT SHE MANAGED TO CLEAN THE BATHROOM.  It didn't leave a lot of room for writing navel-gazing missives about my hopes and fears for Baby Whimsy #2.

And now that I'm here, on the other side of First Trimester Sickfest, the intense view of WHAT HAVE I DONE fades into smoke and I'm feeling...  optimistic.  And even... excited.

Which means that I can say, as if I'm discovering it for the first time:
HOW CAN A SINGLE PERSON PEE THIS MUCH? 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

through several lenses


Hello.  I am officially reporting from the other side of Operation Paci Removal.  It's a surreal view so far, and a little too soon for me to say much about it except that we all survived.




Including the fish (at least so far).

Each of us has some opinions about the fish.

A few of those opinions are shared:
1. The pineapple house is fantastic.
2. The tank needs some greenery (which, after these photos were taken, we went out and bought a small plastic plant that's just perfect).
3. Having fish is strangely entertaining.
4. Their food is smelly.
5. It's really hard to take a good picture of fish.




The rest of our opinions are best represented this way:

According to Alice:




According to Whimsy:




According to Chip:




According to the Fish:





Thursday, September 8, 2011

on transitions and change: the view from the pacifier bowl

It is late Wednesday evening as I write this.  I am listening to Alice over the room monitor.  Her first night without a pacifier.

So far we have gone in there for trips to the bathroom (notice the plural), to find specific buddies (little Elmo, Grover), to answer questions, to take clothes off a buddie (it is unacceptable that Elmo go to bed in corduroy pants and flannel shirt), and to deliver a tiny book about cats that Alice is convinced she cannot sleep without.

During the last Alice pit stop, Chip decided to stay.  He is now hunkered down on her bedroom floor, hoping that his presence will soothe her into dreamland.

I don't think that Alice is the only one who really misses that paci.


- - -


We've been working toward this for months.  She hasn't been allowed to use one for more than actual sleep in a year.  And in the last six months, we've tapered off her even holding more than one at a time.  Meanwhile, I have been thinking hard about what motivates this girl, and after some serious deep thinking, I came up with FISH.  Which sounds weird, I know.  But she wants a pet, has wanted a pet to call her own for a long while.  And she's allergic to anything with hair.  So we have fish.  And you know, with enough build up and visits to the pet store: fish are EXCITING.

It turns out, according to Alice's parents, fish are also EXPENSIVE.  So expensive, in fact, that they can't be bought with money.  The pet store will only take paci's as payment.

Two days ago we bought a small fish tank and several fish tank accoutrements to Alice's liking.

And today, we walked into Petsmart, picked out three little colorful fish, and Alice paid for them with a bag full of pacifiers.


- - -


She named them Spoonjab (phonetic spelling), Annie, and Miss Hannigan.


- - -


After getting the trio set up in their new digs, we had a family picnic in Alice's room because she couldn't bear to be away from her new fish.


- - -


The reality of Life Without Paci hit dear Bean as soon as I was done reading her bedtime story.  When she asked for a paci, and I reminded her that they'd been left at the store, she sort of just looked.  Blinked.  And then said, "But I need something for my mouth!"


- - -


I usually resist writing anything when I'm still in the middle of it --- it's like trying to describe the ocean while swimming neck-deep in it.  The view obscured to a straight blue line, small bobbing things far off in the distance.

And it's just as true in this instance as in any: I can't tell you what it's like on the other side, only tell you that her pain and frustration and worry is real. 

Here's hoping for better nights to come.




How have you handled transitions at your house?  How long does it take you or your kids to get used to the change?  Have you ever gone back to an old way of doing things because the transition was too hard?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

the summer of alice





In the way of a three-year-old, every day has been a possibility of wonder.  While others of us have been preoccupied with questions of future employment and a healthy baby and finances and what in Heaven's name we'll be eating for dinner when the cook feels like she's been peeled off the bottom of a shoe--- sweet Alice has been thinking about play, amassing more treasures for her treasure box (already full-to-the-brim), how many  hats she can jam on her head, the sandbox, and new ways to convince her mother that ice cream is an important food group.



I don't ever want to romanticize my life here in this space - there's plenty of that out there on the internets without me joining in, but it's hard not to dip the Alice stories in dreamy gauze.


 

The other day I was feeling so sick, and so tired--- which of course helped me to take the small step into Complete Self Loathing quite easily.  As I lay hopeless on the sofa, a thought struck me that not only was I a horrible housekeeper, a useless wife, and a terrible friend - I had FAILED in my motherly duty of Historian and hadn't taken any pictures of Alice all summer.  I tried to think of any single event or funny thing I'd caught on film and my mind went blank. 

Imagine my surprise when I checked the camera last night to find several snaps of Alice in Summer Glory.



Sometime in my mid-elementary school years, Winston was laid off.  I remember it being early summer, or nearly so.  And we had just started to remodel our house.  Suddenly Dad was home all the time, and wearing his grubby clothes, carrying a hammer and spending his days building a second story on our house.  It's strange what sticks in the memory, I think: how arbitrary our brain is when it chooses to keep one faded image over another.  But the truth is, I don't remember being scared or worried or the least bit fazed over dad's unemployment.  That summer, the summer of drill bits and two-by-fours - the sawdust in our hair and the smell of fresh-cut wood - was one of the best summers of my life.





I can't imagine that this summer will quite compare for Alice, in scope or depth - to that far-off clutch of months in my childhood, but I can hope that this was at least a sweet one for her.




  

Monday, September 5, 2011

the story behind the story




It is incredibly FREEING to have that little secret out in the open.  Writing anything for the past couple of months has been so weird - with so much of what I've been experiencing colored by the fact that we're going to have another baby.  ANOTHER BABY.  I will now tell you some of the other fun details that I left off previously:


1. We found out we were pregnant two days into our GRAND SUMMER FIVE STATE 25-DAY ROAD TRIP EXTRAVAGANZA.  There was me, a test I'd just thrown into my bag for kicks, and the funny feeling I had waking up that morning.  I figured I'd just take the test... as a test.  For the future.  Because we'd decided that we were going to get started on Alice's future sibling.  In a million years, I wasn't expecting a positive test.  Let alone, a test that showed its results not in three minutes, but THREE SECONDS.  My first reaction?  I laughed.  I just couldn't believe it.

And neither could Chip, but this time around, he didn't make me take an additional five tests--- just to make sure, just in case.


2. I have been through every shade of opinion and worry about Alice as Big Sister.  She is going to be amazing, I know this.  But my worries have been mostly centered on her COMPLETE HORROR over finding me holding another baby.  In this case, it was her baby cousin Carter while we were visiting the Little Brother in Utah.  Alice howled, just howled - and then literally begged me to give the baby back.  I don't think that even early pregnancy symptoms could outweigh the overwhelming desire I had to vomit right there on the spot, feeling like I was betraying this sweet little Bean-girl.  But she has been full of surprises - and as we've talked to her about the joys (and the realities) of having a sibling, she has somehow come around.  And when we actually told her the other day that she was going to have a baby brother or sister, she was excited.  Truly excited.

Let's not discuss the fact that so far she seems to see this future sibling as some kind of a pet--- and has actually asked for a "little cage, like for a hamster, to put him in".  Which, also to point out: she has made clear that she will only accept a baby brother.  There is no discussion or even glimmer of a possibility of a sister, just brother.  So.


3.  I'm due March 20.


4. I have been sick and queasy and exhausted for weeks now, but I am feeling the first inklings of Second Trimester Return to Normalcy.


5. And last, but most certainly not least: thank you all for your wonderful well-wishes and sweet notes of confidence.  There is a lot more to say about my worries and hopes for this little tadpole baby.  And rest assured, I'm going to talk your ear off about all of it.  Because dude: BABY.  But speaking of which, so far the only name that has stuck, relatively speaking, is Polly.  There's this song that Alice loves to listen to from the Bare Naked Ladies' album for kids, called Pollywog in a Bog.  And, well...  when we saw that first ultrasound, with P's arms wiggling there by his head, it just stuck.  And yes, I said HE, even though we have no concrete idea, and won't know until late October, but I have a feeling, and so does Alice...

Friday, September 2, 2011

what if





What if it turns out to be the most expensive thing we have ever done?

What if we don't have enough money?

What if we are unprepared?

What if I get really sick?

What if Chip gets really sick?

What if I can't do it?

What if everything that's happened, up to this point, is a fluke?

What if it just breaks Alice, like right in half?

What if we fight all the time?

What if there is heart trouble or brain trouble or some kind of physical cataclysm?

What if there is mental trouble or pharmaceuticals or constant doctor's visits?

What if there is heartbreak and sadness, loss and grief of a kind that weights us down until we can't breathe?

What if we unbalance the scales?

What if we break the surface of this beautiful life we've built and it's terrible--- just terrible?

What if we are absolutely miserable?



And what if it works? What if it's a bliss that can't come in any other way than through the tempering strength of pain? What if everything else is true: the misery and worry and heartbreak and destruction--- and what if there, under the surface of all that darkness lies the gift of the life we are meant to have; that in the crucible of this experience, we find something we didn't know we were ever missing?














Are you ready for this ride?