Monday, December 31, 2012

Earth's Best End of Year Wrap-Up

As you know, for the past six months I have partnered with Earth's Best to bring you product reviews, product giveaways and to give you a better understanding of the company.  Although I no longer will be writing for Earth's Best, this is a company I will forever be faithful to.  It has truly been a pleasure to partner with a company whose highest priority is making quality products for the littlest people in our lives.

Just yesterday I was speaking with my sister-in-law.  She is a new mom to my beautiful four-month-old nephew.  Last month it was discovered that her little guy has a diary allergy and when it came time to start him on cereal, Earth's Best was the recommended brand from her pediatrician.  He told her many of the other popular baby food brands out there use dairy fillers and that Earth's Best was her safest bet.

This is just one example of how Earth's Best uses the simplest and purest ingredients in all their products.

I hope you found my posts about Earth's Best both enjoyable and informative.  And if you find you have any questions about the company or any of their products please don't hesitate to reach out to me.  I can put you in touch with the right person to find the answers you're searching for.

Thank you all for your participation in discussions and giveaways.  And don't forget about the last giveaway.  You still have four days left to enter!

Happy New Year!

*Earth's Best has provided me with product samples for review purposes.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Friday, December 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes [12.28.12]

1. I have two posts sitting in my draft folder just waiting to be published.  One about Bobby's birth and another about our best Christmas ever.  Until I get those out this little post will have to make do.

2. Today Bobby is already a week old. The days simultaneously seem to drag on and fly by.  I can't decide if Christmas vacation is a help or a hindrance to this transition.  The big kids are getting bored, for sure.  They've been playing with their new toys and out in the snow and watching plenty of movies.  We can't easily have a family outing yet so all the days start to blend together and our jammies are getting plenty of wear.

Brian has loads of flexibility at work this time of year.  And that has made all the difference in the world this time around.  For whatever reason, it seems with our past babies that Brian has always had to rush back to work just days following their birth.  He was home all through Christmas Day and then has been working mornings until noon the rest of this week.

So far things are going well.  Manageable.  Much better than I would have thought.  We have moments of chaos.  But it isn't all chaos all the time like I thought it might be.

3. One upside to having a baby so close to Christmas is that it is generally frowned upon to start one's postpartum diet immediately.  Meaning that yes, I'll have another cookie and how about we just do apps for dinner again?

4. Time, so far, has been plentiful.  Mostly because we have nowhere to be.  But I've been trying to put together some sort of a Christmas/New Year's/Birth Announcement card which means I've also been trying to get a decent shot of Bobby which means at some point he has to not be nursing which is only 5% of the 24 hours in a day.  So there's that.

5. William and Lucy are IN LOVE with their little brother.  It's fun to see what a difference a year has made in Lucy.  When Katherine was a newborn last year, she really didn't seem to care.  But this year she prances around the house singing, "Baby Bobby! Bobby Baby!"  She begs to hold him all the time and I'm constantly scolding her for trying to steal kisses on his forehead after I've just gotten him to sleep.

Katherine, on the other hand, is skeptical about this whole Bobby boy.  When he cries she scrunches up her eyebrows wondering who this intruder is that seems to never go away.  I've been trying to give her ample amounts of my time because she is, after all, still a baby herself.  It's been nice to cuddle her close without my huge belly in the way.

6.  Brian scheduled a chiropractor appointment for me this afternoon and I'm so excited.  My postpartum recovery has been a breeze but my back and hips are aching.  Now that we know just how big that baby was that I was carrying around, I think we know why I'm so sore.

7.  And finally, before the end of the year comes to a close, Earth's Best is offering my readers a chance to win one final giveaway.  The winner will get to choose three of the following products for their prize pack:

Veggie Crunchin' Crackers
Happy Snax
Nursery Wipes
Fruit & Grain Puree Pouch
Greek Yogurt Smoothie Pouch
Sunny Days Snack Bars

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  Deadline to enter is Friday, January 4 at Noon Central.  Good luck!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Number Four!

Bobby (Robert Francis) Nash arrived on Friday, December 21 at 10:47 in the morning just a half hour after we arrived at the hospital. He weighed in at a hefty 10 pounds, 7 ounces! We opted for an early discharge this time so everyone is already home, happy and healthy. We are all eagerly excited for the arrival of Christmas, a day which will be spent at home with just the SIX of us.

More to come on Bobby's birth story.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birth Story: Part 1

Don't get too excited.  I'm still pregnant.  But a lot went down this weekend and the whole thing is a little confusing so I thought I should write an update.

A warning to readers:  Much of what you are about to read contains words that have to do with the female anatomy.  If you're not up for that, stop reading now and move on.

Saturday was Brian's birthday.  We had nothing planned.  It was the perfect day to have a baby.  And apparently my body thought so too as I started experiencing regular contractions.  They were intense enough for me to notice but still not at a point where I knew I was nearing the end.

But not wanting to be in a situation where we were racing in the car to the hospital, we called my brother over to watch the kids.  We called the midwife and upon realizing how far progressed I was at my last check-up (5 centimeters dilated) she thought it was a good idea for me to come into the hospital.  Soon after this news, my mom decided it was time for her to leave and make the two-hour trip to my house.

At the hospital I was hooked up to the contraction and heart rate monitor.  My midwife checked me and found me to be 7 centimeters dilated.  She said it was a good thing I came in when I did and thought, in the two hours she had left of her shift, she'd be catching my baby.

I met with my awesome nurse.  Filled out some paperwork.  Answered some questions.  Then she filled the bathtub for me and I got it.  It was then that contractions started to slow down a bit and I began to wonder if this was really "it."

"No, no!" All the midwives and nurses said.  Any minute, they told me, things were going to turn a corner and I'd be pushing out a baby.  So I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.

I just couldn't shake the feeling that things weren't moving like they had with the rest of my births.  But all the numbers and signs were telling the hospital staff that there was no way I wouldn't have a baby in arms any minute now.

By 11:00 that night a new midwife was on staff.  And I was getting very tired.  She checked me again and found me to be 8 centimeters dilated but with a very posterior cervix.  (Meaning my cervix was back toward my tailbone instead of moving up to the front to allow the baby to come out.)  To complicate matters, the baby was very low and his/her head was in front of my cervix instead of on top of it.  She gave me three options: (1) Break my water, if possible, to see if that moved things along.  (2) Give me a shot of morphine to help me sleep through the contractions.  She also said sometimes the morphine can help kick start things because it allows all the muscles to relax.  Downside is that sometimes it make women really groggy for a very long time. (3) Do nothing.  See what happens.

I chose option 3, not wanting to intervene unless there was a real reason to.

As it turns out, I fell asleep and awoke after midnight to realize my contractions had completely stopped.  But because I was so far progressed, they wouldn't let me go home so I was told to get some rest for the remainder of the night and we would reassess in the morning.

At 7:00 the next morning I was greeted with a spunky new midwife.  She was Cuban, in her 60s and probably no more than 5 feet tall and 100 pounds.  I could tell right away this woman knew what she was talking about.  She had caught a lot babies and there probably wasn't a single situation she was unfamiliar with.

When she checked me that morning she said, "OK, this is unusual.  But not abnormal.  I've seen it one other time."

She said that my labor the day before was real and that my cervix was completely ready.  But the baby's head was very low and was sitting in front of my cervix.  She had to reach under the baby's head to get to my cervix.  This meant there was no pressure on my cervix.  Which is why my labor stopped.  This posed two problems: (1) Because my cervix was so ripe, I was basically a walking time bomb.  As soon as that baby's head moved into position s/he would be out in no time.  (2) Because of the baby's position, there was no safe way for her to break my water without also risking nicking the baby's head.

At that point she told me she couldn't send me home because she didn't think there would be any way that we would make it back in time. She gave me some exercises to encourage baby to move and told us to take a walk around the hospital.

Later that afternoon, after exhausting all the ways to get baby to move, it was clear that this baby was staying put.  So we had a real conversation about what to do.  I couldn't just stay in the hospital for eternity, and my midwife knew that.  She did offer pitocin but neither of us was too keen on that idea.  There was no danger to me or the baby, just a giant inconvenience.  And inconveniences aren't worth the risk to intervene, in my opinion.

In the end we decided to take the risk of having a possible homebirth or highway baby and go home to be with the kids and my mom.  My midwife warned that Brian cannot go to work.  And my mom cannot go home.  When this baby decides to come we will not have time to make childcare arrangements.

So here we sit, in limbo.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  Oh Number Four, you are going to be an interesting one.

Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Quick Takes [12.14.12]

Updated to add: I think it should be noted that I wrote today's post prior to hearing the devastating news coming out of Connecticut.  It now seems quite selfish and petty to be complaining about having all three children at home when the most severe emotion we'll experience is being a little stir crazy.  Perspective is everything, my dear friends.  Hug your loved ones.

  Oy!  Today is going to be a tough one.

a.) William has strep.
b.) I have all three kids at home, inside, without the possibility of venturing out because of previously mentioned item.
c.) I'm still pregnant.

2.  William woke up yesterday morning not feeling well.  He was achy, had a sore throat and a slight fever.  I gave him some ibuprofen and by the time it kicked in he was insisting he felt OK to go to school.  I did not believe him.  But he wouldn't budge.  "Mom! I'll miss all the projects!"  We're raising a school nerd, folks.  What kind of kid fakes being well so that he can go to school?  Ours.

I gave him strict instructions that if he didn't feel well during school he needed to tell his teacher right away and I would come get him.  I waited for that phone call all day.  It never came.  When it was time for dismissal I watched for his patrol line out the window like I always do.  When I saw him at the front of the line, head hanging, not goofing around with the other kids like usual, I knew he was really sick.

He came in the house, white as a ghost and burning up.  I sent him up to bed with another dose of pain medication.  At first my heart sank.  I knew we had a real doozy of an illness that was about to strike our entire house.  But the more I thought about it -- sudden sore throat, high fever, no other cold symptoms like a runny nose or a cough -- the more I wondered if it could be strep, a sort of rite of passage for every kid entering school for the first time.

I was a strep child growing up.  It was something I got 2-3 times a year.  Finally, I got my tonsils out at age 20 and haven't experienced a strep symptom since.  He was showing all the classic signs.  And that voice he was using.  It was the same back-of-the-throat voice I used to have whenever I had strep.  I called Brian at work to see if he could ditch out early to take William to the Minute Clinic.  Half an hour later they were walking out with a positive strep test and a bottle of antibiotics.  I heart Minute Clinics.

Now before you start feeling bad for me that I've got a strep child and a baby coming any minute, you should know that strep was the best possible outcome here.  We don't have to wait days for a virus to run its course.  Once antibiotics are in the system, strep symptoms begin to fade dramatically.  Yes, he has to miss school today until he's been on his medication for 24 hours.  But step in my house for one minute and you would quickly realize this child is no longer feeling down in the dumps.

3. It was before 8:00 this morning and William and Lucy were already driving me crazy.  I sent them down to the basement to play so that I could sip my coffee in peace and maybe catch a few news headlines.  They weren't down there for five minutes when I heard a certain door slam.  I ran down there and sure enough the Present Closet door was wide open.  I can't win.  Luckily, the presents are intermixed with a whole bunch of bags of baby clothes so they didn't even notice.  But still.  Close call, right?

4. I'm really, really, really hoping to have this baby this weekend.  I confessed to Brian last night that I thought I might be standing in my own way.  Yesterday I was experiencing a lot of lower back cramps and some painful contractions here and there.  But every time I felt one coming on, I wished it away.  The problem with having two pregnancies close together is that there isn't enough time to forget the pains of childbirth.  And even if I wanted to cut myself some slack and take the epidural with this baby, I know that's not really an option for me because my labors go way too fast.

So, because I think there can be a psychological component to going into labor, I had a serious talk with God last night.  I'm feeling much more confident in letting go and getting this baby in my arms.  So this weekend...let's get this party started.

5. Speaking of this weekend and parties, tomorrow is Brian's birthday.  It's normal for his birthday to get washed up in the preparation for Christmas but this year there's the added factor of a new baby on the way.  I haven't even begun to think about what we should do tomorrow.  Mostly because I hope to be in a hospital bed.  But the glorious thing about Brian is that he really doesn't care.  Throw him a six pack of a craft beer he's never tried or a good bottle of Scotch and he's a happy man.  Love that about him.

6. Since today is an indoors day, we'll be spending it with our favorite Christmas movies on rotation.  Our top five include: Elf, Home Alone, Home Alone 2, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  My kids could win a movie line contest if the contest included only those movies.  Seriously.

7. And now that I've run out of things to say, I think I'll go pay bills just to make sure I've got all my I's dotted and T's crossed before this baby makes his/her debut.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Name Game

File this under the "don't" column for any expectant father.

Last Friday, out of the blue, I received the following text message from Brian:

I'm about 90% sure on our girl name.

The thing about Brian is that he always exaggerates, just a little, to make me feel better.  For example, he'll say, I'll be home in five minutes.  In reality, he's 15-20 minutes out but in the moment, trimming it down to five minutes just sounds better.

So when he told me he was 90% sure on the girl name, I knew it was actually less than that.

Now, here's what you should know about us and names.  We've always gone into the hospital with two set-in-stone names; one for a boy and one for a girl.  Boy names have always been a breeze for us.  William was always going to be William.  Lucy, had she been a boy, would have been Henry.  When I became pregnant with Katherine we threw out Henry (we knew too many people who were using it) and replaced it with another name that we have grown to love.  This is still our boy name for this baby.

But after we had Lucy, girl names have always been a challenge for us.  Even Katherine's name was a fourth quarter Hail Mary.  The other names we had in mind just didn't seem to fit and I kept coming back to Katherine.  I mean, you can't really go wrong with a Katherine, can you?  Katherine Nash.  Kate Nash.  It all sounds great.

So when I found out I was pregnant with our fourth, I put the girl name decision on the back burner for as long as possible.  We even considered finding out the gender at the 20-week ultrasound with this one.  If we knew ahead of time that it was going to be a boy it would have saved us a lot of raised eyebrows and rhetorical you can't be serious questions as we tossed names back and forth.

Finally, around my seventh month of pregnancy, we settled on a girl name.  And when Brian thought of the perfect middle name to go with it I knew the deal was sealed.  Or so I thought.  Until that dreaded text message beeped on my phone just a week before this baby is due to arrive.

I could have been the wife who said too bad.  Too late.  I'm the hormonal pregnant one so I get the final say.  But the thing about names is that they're kind of important.  They last forever.  Unless you become a huge pop star and decide to change your name to Gaga.  I didn't want Brian to be in a position where he cringed every time he heard or mentioned his daughter's name.

So we went back to the drawing board.  After the kids went to bed we sat in front of the fireplace with our glasses of wine (even me!) and each wrote down five girl names on a slip of paper.  We then placed all ten names in a basket.  We picked a name out, one by one, and discussed it.  We each had three vetoes and those slips of paper then went into the fire.  We slowly narrowed it down to three names.  Then we ranked those three names separately and compared.

And guess what, folks?

Our number one name is the same damn name we had in the first place.

It should be noted, out of fairness to Brian, that we do have a brand new girl name that came in as a close second.  In fact it's still on the drawing board as a very slight maybe.

In Brian's defense I know that sometimes you just have to work through these things to confirm what you knew all along.

I'm glad he feels better about the name.  But I would be even glad-er if this baby were a boy!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Baby-Less Snow-Filled Weekend

Sadly, I did not have a snow storm baby this weekend. While it probably would not have been the most ideal situation, it definitely would have been an adrenline-enduced come-to-life drama rushing to the hospital on snowpacked roads. What a great story to tell! But alas, no dice. This baby appears to err on the side of caution.

We got a foot of snow this weekend. Our first snowstorm of the season and at least three times the amount of snow we got during any single storm last year.

As I watched the glitter begin to fall in the light of the streetlamps,
And while I watched Brian light the fireplace beneath the stockings and mantle garland,
I was thinking that I really could never begin to understand people whose hearts don't dance with joy at the thought of a December snowstorm.  A real snowstorm.
As a born and bred Minnesotan, I'll never understand how it's possible to feel the coming of Christmas without some flakes.
Sometimes, when I sit in my 90-year-old home, and see the balsam wrapped around lightposts and branches glazed in white, and more pedestrians on foot and in sleds than in cars, I could almost swear we are living in a Dicken's novel.

A few weeks ago, when we were cleaning out the garage, Lucy spotted our sleds and she asked what they were.  I wept for this child whose life has been too short to remember the last real snowfall.  How can she be from Minnesota and not know what a sled is?!  It was a real travesty.
But we remedied all that this weekend.  Snow angels, snowmen, snowballs and sleds.
We were able to hold them indoors long enough to finish their breakfast before they went digging around the house for all their gear.  Three hours later I was serving up lunch and they all went down for killer naps.

Because my generous (or maybe just powered machine-loving) husband insisted on snowblowing half of the neighborhood, we went to the last possible mass offered at our church; 5 p.m. on Sunday night.  And because the snow was still falling, I'm hoping that God will forgive our appearance.  "A" for effort?

We arrived via sled because it was easier than carrying the baby all bulked up in her pink snowsuit.  And we trudged in wearing our boots, sweatpants and dripping coats, hats and mittens.  But we were there and we smiled when the second candle was lit knowing Christmas is that much closer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Lists - Ages Newborn to 6 years

Did you hear that?  It was me.  Sighing.  A huge weight lifted off my shoulders as I just submitted a massive order with Amazon and thus wiped out at least 75 percent of my Christmas shopping.

I'm trying to keep the reason for the season and all that.  Believe me.  We are.  We're doing a lot of special gift giving to those who really need it because this year, in particular, we feel especially blessed.

But I'm also being practical.  With a baby due any day now I'm not about to be bothered with fighting the holiday crowds.  Or having to get dressed.  Or get off the couch.

I'm so in love with Amazon with its endless selection, great prices and FREE shipping.  You just can't beat it.

We try to keep gift-giving for the kids very simple and focus on quality rather than quantity.  (Which is another reason I love Amazon -- great user reviews!)  It can be hard, I admit, not to get wrapped up in the commercialism of it all.  But as soon as my mind starts to think about the clutter that will ultimately gather, I'm instantly brought back down to my simplistic ways.

Here's a sneak peak at some of the kids' Christmas gifts.  Shhhh....don't tell.

William - 6 years

A set of golf clubs -- He took to golfing this summer with Brian even though he had no real clubs of his own.  I didn't go too crazy on price, he is only six after all, but I got a decent set that will last him for a few years at least.  He hasn't even thought to ask for these so this will be a real treat when he opens them!

A maze game and a giant puzzle -- William has never been a big toy kid.  He likes the thrill of a new toy for about a total of ten minutes.  But I see him constantly returning to games and puzzles again and again.  He needs things to stimulate his brain and I hope these deliver!

Lucy - 3 1/2 years

Cinderella dress-up gown -- This is totally Lucy.  She's all about dress-up and dramatic play.  She currently only has generic dress-up gowns and they're getting a little tattered.  I know she'll love this one.

Stringing Bead Set -- I'm going out on a limb here.  I may regret this one with all its small pieces.  But I was looking for an activity that we could do together while William is in school.  Piggy-backing on the dress-up theme, I think she'll enjoy making necklaces and spelling out her name.

T-ball Set -- I never feel guilty about spending money on outdoor toys.  They rarely go to waste in our house.  Our old t-ball set was cheap and it broke last spring.  So this is me, giving Lucy a chance to love t-ball.

Katherine - 1 year

Cash Register -- We've never had one of these and her little fingers are really into anything that has to do with putting things in slots or holes.  The kids love the vintage one at my mom's house!  This was the closest thing I could find.

Stack & Sort Board -- Same idea as above.  We'll have a lot of time at home this winter and she's so good about sitting on the floor and working through these types of toys.  I love that this is a wooden set.

New Baby

Jellycat Monkey -- I loathe stuffed animals.  But there's just something about Jellycat that makes my kids (and me!) latch on.  They are so soft and such great quality.  They wash up great time after time.  Lucy never sleeps a night without her bunny and Katherine is never in her crib without her elephant.  I particularly love introducing these in the early months because it quickly becomes a cue that it's time for bed.

In addition to all these items we usually get the kids about three books each.  Like outdoor toys, I never feel guilty about buying books.  But I do like to check the used bookstore before I commit to buying new on Amazon.  Just a few titles I'm looking at right now are Scaredy Squirrel, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, Animalia, and various board books.

As for their stockings, we usually stuff those with a fun toothbrush, a tree ornament and a package of their favorite candy.

How about you?  Do you keep things simple or do you go all out?  What types of things are on your kids' lists?

Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes [11.30.12]

1.  Thank you all for your comments on my post yesterday.  It made me feel not so alone and that maybe, just maybe, I'm not so crazy after all.

After that rant I spent the entire afternoon in the basement and completely UNLOADED the storage closets.  Nothing was safe.  And it was awesome.  Then I got all giddy when I realized the Good Will donation center was open until 8:00 that evening and that Brian would have time after dinner to make the trip.  Our backroom is now a storage space for only three categories:

1. Baby gear (swing, Bumbo, jumper, etc.)
2. Holiday accessories (Christmas decorations, Easter baskets, Halloween buckets)
3. A few sentimental items (college diplomas, kids' memory boxes)

I'm a purger by nature even when I'm not pregnant so my standards for sentimental items are quite high.  I don't save every drawing or piece of schoolwork that comes home.  I don't save locks of my babies' hair or the little hospital cap they came home in.  It has to pass the will they care about this at all when they get older test.  If not, it's gone.  And then I breathe clean, open, fresh air.  And all is well.

I also painted my toes after taking a bath last night.  I was hoping the pretty color would distract from my extremely swollen cankles.  It's amazing what just a few little clean-up and self care tasks can do for your overall mood.

2. We received some disturbing news from our school yesterday that there was a possible attempted abduction just a few blocks from our house on the day before Thanksgiving. And then the same individuals and van (why is it always a van?!) were spotted at our very intersection again on Wednesday as the school patrol line walked home. The story is a bit hazy so it's hard to know the real facts and if this is even a cause for worry at all.

I'm equal parts trying to not make a big deal of it and also slightly freaking out. I'm less concerned about William walking to and from school (because he's in a large group) and more concerned that we frequently let our kids play outside by themselves. I want to be smart about this but I also don't want to become a crazy helicopter parent.

Our neighbors are amazing at being cognizant of anything that seems off and our police force is always wonderfully responsive. So I know an actual incident will be rare. But still. I'm thankful the colder months are upon us and the kids' outdoor time is limited.

3. Lucy's recovery from surgery is coming along quite nicely. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. The two-week no-bath rule came to a close on Monday and now some of her stitches are starting to fall out which is making hair doing and combing a whole lot easier. And I have to admit, I'm a bit obsessed with it. Is anyone else a scab-picker? Stitches give you that same kind of high. It's all a little sick, I know. But also weirdly gratifying when I find one poking out and it slides out clean and easy. Sorry to be grossing any of you out. Moving right along...

4.  Who heard about our favorite college football team, Notre Dame, this weekend?  Katherine did!
Cinderella story. Unranked at the beginning of the year. Perfect, undefeated season. Number one in the country. Going to the National Championship.

A few games in and we knew it was going to be a special year. But now that it's all over and they didn't disappoint, it feels a little like postpartum baby blues. Now what? Now we wait for more than a month for the final championship game where they could get a possible whooping from Alabama and flush the whole hype down the toilet. Or not. You never know.

I realize there are about two whole readers who are still reading this so I'll move on once again...

5. Have you started Christmas shopping? Have you put up your tree? Or any decorations? Have you baked any cookies? Aside from a wreath on our front door, I have done nothing. I don't feel too guilty about this, considering my condition, but I still know it has to be done at some point. We're going to attempt the tree tonight and some decorating tomorrow. I'm hoping that puts me in the mood to make out lists for the kids and start crossing things off. Is it ever OK for Santa to take maternity leave?

6. I put the word out on Facebook but I'll also mention it here. I would be eternally grateful if anyone out there has an Ergo infant insert that I could borrow until about April. If you aren't local, I will pay for shipping. Also, to all Ergo users, how important is the infant insert? If I don't find one, could I just as easily roll up some receiving blankets? The online pictures don't make it look worth the $20.

7.  And finally, I have a small giveaway for anyone who made it to this seventh entry.  If you comment on this post you will automatically be entered into a giveaway for a free package of Earth's Best Toddler Biscuits, perfect if you have any teethers!  Deadline to enter is next Friday, December 7 at Noon Central time.  Good luck!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

End of Pregnancy Insanity

I'll never understand why women become certifiably insane in the final weeks of pregnancy but it happens.  Every. Single. Time.

Theoretically, it should be the easiest time.  The days are numbered.  You have arrived.  The long 40 weeks are finally coming to close.  Nobody expects much of you.  You can sit in your house in your tattered yoga pants and eat ice cream directly from the carton and not a single person will dare to roll an eye at you.  Who cares if they're only agreeable because they fear you'll punch that eye right out of its socket if they so much as look at you funny.

"Your body is ahead of the curve."

That's what my midwife told me at my appointment on Tuesday.  I'm so far progressed that this baby is nearly falling out of me.  The problem is, this happens to me every single time.  And I get all excited slash nervous that this baby is going to come early. Except they never do.  Well, my first did but that was the only pregnancy I didn't care about going early.  Go figure.

So technically I have two weeks left.  But when my midwife says "any day now" those two weeks turn into 336 excruciatingly long hours.

Yesterday I went on a tirade.  All these things on The List that seem so quick and simple have gotten pushed by the wayside.  They all seem like easy last-minute items.  But when they pile up, suddenly it's one big giant project of little things.

I started opening dresser drawers and closet doors and found myself unable to breathe.  All this stuff!  It had to go!  Purge, purge, purge.

"We'll do it on Saturday," Brian said.

No! Now!  I wanted to scream.  How important can that conference call really be?  Not nearly as important as getting rid of this old lamp, I bet.

I told him I was suddenly feeling overwhelmed.  That I simultaneously wanted to cry my eyes out while punching someone in the face.

"I know.  I could tell this morning," he said.

And then I told him he needed to work on his empathy skills.

He's just in the line of my fire.  It's not his fault.  Well, I mean, kind of it is.  I didn't get pregnant all by my lonesome.

You see?  Certifiably insane.

Once that baby is in my arms I know I'll wonder what all my fuss was about.

But until then, this is where I'm at.  One giant hormonal beast who will donate anything she finds in her path to Good Will.  Watch out Nash Family.

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Embarrassment of Riches

Thanksgiving was quite pleasant this year.  Mostly because I didn't expect too much of myself being that I am in my ninth month of pregnancy.  We spent all day Thursday at Brian's parent's house.  The cousins had a grand ole time and the adults laughed until our sides hurt well into the early hours of the next day.

And then Katherine and I went home on Friday while Brian stayed on with the older kids.  I just needed my own bed and tad less chaos in order to get through the rest of the weekend without a hormonal meltdown.  Everyone understood.
Before the turkey was carved, we sat all the grandkids down to get a picture.  We are missing two: a newbie from Chicago and the one in my belly.  That's a grand total of 12.

This is what I think when I look at this picture: We have an embarrassment of riches.

One recent weeknight, after an especially difficult bedtime routine, Brian and I sat on the couch daydreaming about what life might have looked like had we decided not to have kids.  We'd sip coffee every morning at the finest cafes.  I would write all day.  He would play music.  Then we'd hit up happy hour at the local pub.  And we'd finish off the evening with a sushi dinner.  We would travel wherever our hearts desired.  And we'd live in a posh brownstone in the finest part of St. Paul.

We sat for a little while thinking of what could have been.  And then Brian broke the silence.

"Well that would have been boring!"

And it's true.  As much chaos and headache as the little ones bring, I know deep down they are the true treasures in life.

At Christmas I remember my Grandpa, now gone for seven years, used to sit in a recliner on the porch watching all his relatives come and go.  He just sat there and took it all in.  He'd partake in conversation from time to time but mostly he just sat there with a smile on his face.  Sometimes I'd wonder if he was sick of it.  Were we invading his space?  His routine?  Did he want us all to leave so he could go back to reading the newspaper or the latest bestselling novel?

But no, he didn't.  He was at the end of his life.  And he knew it.  Instead he sat there in awe of all he had created.  His children.  The spouses they found.  The children they birthed.  And then the spouses they found.  And the children they then birthed.  All of them.  All there because he started it.

I shared this story with Brian the night we daydreamed about our hypothetical kidless lives.  I told him how one day we would be there.  Free of responsibility.  Just the enormous privilege of getting to behold the fruits of our labor.

"And that," Brian added, "must be why old people are so grace-filled at the end of their lives."

I hope you had the happiest of Thanksgivings wherever you were and whomever you spent it with.  And I hope each and every one of you can also say you have an embarrassment of riches in your life.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

William Nash, Age 6

Dear William,

You are both my easiest and hardest child to raise.

You are easy-going. I didn't know what a tantrum was until your sister was born. You take life's disappointments as no big deal are always content with "maybe next time."

You sleep like a dream. From five weeks of age you were sleeping through the night. To this day you sleep 12 hours every night and still find time for a nap somewhere during the week. A wrecking ball in the side of your bedroom wall could not wake you.

You love people. Transitions have never been an issue for you. You leaped into preschool. Sprinted into kindergarten. Eager to please. Excited to learn. You've never looked back.

You make friends with strangers just walking past our house. You think everyone wants to play with you all the time and have a hard time understanding why they wouldn't.

You are constantly seeking my attention. You do not like to be alone. Ever.

You always need something to do. You always need something to talk about it.

It is difficult for you to finish a meal in a timely manner because you are perpetually in conversation.

You like to be close to people. Your cold feet drifting over under mine when we're under the covers in the morning. Or insisting on practically sitting on top of your sister on the couch.

You love superheros. And Star Wars. And football in the backyard.

You adore school. You are reading now and it makes my heart pitter patter with joy. Last week you read The Cat in the Hat from cover to cover to me all by yourself. It comes so easy to you.

You like to ask questions. SO MANY QUESTIONS.

Mom, why did God make lying?

Mom, how do you know when it's time for the baby to come out?

You are a horrible joke-teller. We need to work on that.

You are a great helper. Helping Lucy with her shoes. Carrying Katherine away from danger. Opening the garage. Fetching me items from the basement frig.

Love doesn't even begin to describe how you feel about your sisters.

But you still desperately want a brother. When I ask you how you might feel if the new baby is another sister you casually say, "That's OK because then the next baby will a boy."

I found myself not being too sentimental about your sixth birthday. You are so ready to be six. It feels like you've already been six for the past few months.

Tonight, the night before your sixth birthday, I tucked you in to bed. I blew you a kiss and you caught it and then you blew me a kiss and I caught it just like we do every night.

And then, ten minutes later, you were out of your room.

"MOM! DAD!" You exclaimed. And you opened your hand to reveal your first lost baby tooth in the palm of your hand.

And just like that I got sentimental.

Because that little tiny tooth that lay there, dead in your hand, I remember feeling that for the first time when my finger swept across your baby gums for any signs of teething.

The little tooth that emerged when you were sixth months to remind me you were growing up. And now the little tooth that fell out when you were six years to remind me that you're growing up even more.
William, I am so proud of who you are becoming.  You play your part in our family as the eldest boy with such perfection.  You never get enough of my time but you are always near to my heart because you were my first.  I am so delighted to call you my son.  And so honored to get to be your mother.

Happy sixth birthday, William.  Today is your day.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Giving The Best We Have

Our neighbors are hosting a Turkey Party tonight for all the cute little kiddos in the neighborhood.  The invitation asked that everyone bring a food shelf donation.  Great idea right before Thanksgiving, right?

I'm embarrassed to admit that whenever there was a call to donate to the food shelf, I used to rifle through the cupboards for any boxes or cans of food that I no longer wanted.  Which really means, I would donate the stuff that I knew my family wouldn't eat.  Perhaps a BOGO item that sounded like a good idea at the time.  Or maybe an old can of veggies before I switched the family to all fresh or frozen.

The underlying message is not a good one: If you can't afford to buy your own food, then you can have my family's scraps and nothing better.

As most of you know, I've partnered with Earth's Best for the past few months to sample their products and post reviews right here on this blog.  What this means is that every month I get a big box of Earth's Best products delivered to my doorstep.  It's a great gig because I really love Earth's Best and truly believe they put out quality items for babies and kids.

Inside my pantry cupboards I have a plethora of their baby food pouches and boxes of their infant cereal.  Katherine has outgrown this stage of food but, of course, we've got another one in the hopper who will be eating solids by next spring.

I was saving all this food for the new baby.  Until I began to think about it.

It's no secret that Earth's Best is not the cheapest baby food on the market.  You get what you pay for and when you feed your baby quality, organic food, it's going to cost more.

I wondered how many food shelf patrons had ever had the privilege of feeding Earth's Best baby food to their babies.  Probably not many.

So I've decided to donate every last jar, pouch and box of Earth's Best baby food I possess to the food shelf.  I'm hoping there's a little baby out there who will get an extra punch of nutrients all because I decided to give up my stash.

Do you regularly give to the food shelf?  What do you typically donate?

*This post was inspired by products I received from Earth's Best.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Day At Home & Simply Shimmer Giveaway!

It's a cozy day at home today.  We didn't go to our early childhood class.  I need to go to the grocery store at some point but decided to go when Brian gets home from work instead of trying to get the girls out of the house.  I just don't think I have it in me.  And I'm not sure how Lucy would do anyway.

She's mostly back to normal but every once in a while will start complaining that her head hurts and then we know we have to keep up on her pain management.

Have you ever tried to keep a three-and-a-half-year-old still just after head surgery?  It's nerve-wracking enough to send this mama into labor.

"Hey mom! Watch this!" As she jumps from the second to last stair on the staircase.

"LUCY!" I scream.

She looks at me as if I'm crazy.

Later I found her stacking bins of toys and then climbing on top so that she could reach something up on a hook.

ACK!  I'm going to go insane for the next two weeks until this thing is healed.

To keep her still I downloaded some new interactive books on the Kindle Fire.  We love the Sandra Boynton books and both the Halloween and Christmas Charlie Brown stories.  Any other recommendations?
Staying at home today means I have a lot of extra time to spend on the computer.  Well, let me rephrase that: Staying at home today means I have more than the usual amount of time to spend on the computer.  Once I've read through the daily news and my Facebook feed and all my favorite blogs, the next logical time suck is to start shopping.

Which brings me to my next topic.  I have a super fun giveaway!  It's mostly super fun because of the person I get to work with.  Remember this post way back in April about getting together with Brian's freshman roommate?  Well, his wife, Allison Mayer, has opened her very own shop on Etsy.

I love the Mayers.  They are a fun, down-to-earth, holy family.  But mostly I love them because they have four kids that are closer in age than ours and they still have their wits about them.  And their sense of humor.  And apparently a knack for entrepreneurialism!  How does she find the time?  She gives me hope!

Allison has opened a lovely little shop on Etsy called Simply Shimmer selling customized products.  She has everything from Christmas platters to teapots to wedding accessories.  She also has an adorable collection of handmade Halloween costumes for kids that you should absolutely keep in mind for next year.  And pssst...if you click over to her shop you'll be able to see pictures of her adorable kids modeling these costumes!

I think any of these pieces would look lovely on a Christmas table.  And if you're not hosting, perhaps a hostess gift?

A Giveaway!
Allison is offering a $25 credit to her store for one of my lucky readers.  To enter the contest you'll need to follow these two steps:

1.  Go to the Simply Shimmer Facebook page and like it.
2.  Leave a comment on this post.

Deadline to enter is Friday, November 23 at noon (Central Time).  Good luck!

*This contest is now over.  The winner is commenter #2!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Lucy Update

First I want to thank everyone for their kind words, thoughts and prayers both yesterday and today.  I got a ridiculous amount of text messages, Facebook comments and emails.  If there's just one positive outcome of this new age of instant communication, it's times like these.  Knowing you're not alone and that others are thinking of you is a very powerful thing.

I also want to apologize for not being able to respond to every single voicemail, comment or email.  It's all been so overwhelming and, of course, our first priority has been tending to the needs of our family.

All in all everything went well yesterday.  The surgery was a success and there were no complications to speak of.  That said, the process was a lot harder than I thought it would be.  To be fair, I set myself up for this disappointment by quickly brushing off anyone who tried to act like this surgery would be anything more than minor.  But we all know the only person having minor surgery is the person not having surgery at all.

When we woke up yesterday morning, Lucy was nervous.  Up until that point she had been excited to get to have a sleepover at the hospital.  But suddenly she kept telling me she didn't want to have surgery anymore.  And as a parent, having to have that conversation just plain sucks.

When we were all checked in to our pre-op room, Lucy was very quiet; quite uncharacteristic if you know her in real life.  She was pissed off about the gown she had to wear telling me that it was very itchy and that she had brought her own princess nightgown to wear so why did she have to wear this dumb bear one.

The staff at Gillette's was amazing!  The anesthesiologist was a dream to work with.  And the child life specialist was especially helpful when she let Lucy play games on her iPad and pick out a chapstick flavor for later use in the OR.  (They let her smear the bubblegum chapstick all over the gas mask and then have her take deep breaths to smell it.  Genius, right?)
Dad all scrubbed up for the OR.  Lucy much too occupied with her TV and iPad to look at the camera.
When it was time for her to go into surgery, one parent was allowed to go with her into the operating room until she fell asleep.  I felt that I was just too hormonal to be of any use so I passed that responsibility on to Brian.

When it was time for me to say goodbye I knew I was walking a fine line.  On the one hand I wanted to shower her with hugs and kisses and let my emotions fall all over the floor.  But on the other hand I didn't want to scare her by not acting like my normal self.  So I gave her a quick kiss and happily said, "I'll see you in a little bit!"

She smiled and waved and continued giggling about some antics the nurses were putting on for her.  I watched them wheel her away and I knew that if I thought about it too much I would fall apart.  So I quickly grabbed my phone and pretended I had some majorly important emails to tend to.
Off to surgery.  Dad on the left.
We were away from Lucy for about a total of two hours.  But the surgery itself was only about half that long.  Her doctor, Dr. Wood, came to talk to us after he was finished. He told us the hole was much larger once he opened her up.  That was actually good news.  It meant that the surgery really was necessary.  The incision is about eight inches on the top of her head and follows the same scar line as her first operation.  He used a synthetic bone paste to fill in the holes and then put in an absorbable plate.  The plate should dissolve on its own in about 9-18 months.  She did not need a drainage tube or a blood transfusion as she did during her first surgery.  Great news!

After speaking with Dr. Wood we still had to wait another half hour before we could be reunited with her in the recovery room.  The recovery room was probably the hardest part of the whole day.  When she started to wake up she was not happy.  It was hard to tell if she was in a lot of pain or if she was just agitated from everything.  Lucy tends to get really angry when she's out of sorts (i.e. waking up from a long nap).  To complicate matters she was attached to a thousand and one wires and tubes and she kept wanting to turn this way and that.  Her face, especially her eyes, was swollen and that itchiness was bugging her as well.

The recovery nurses kept pushing the morphine until she felt comfortable.  At one point they told us they couldn't believe she was still awake with the amount they had given her.  That, my friends, explains Lucy to a T.

Dad gave her a few ice chips and she started to calm down somewhat.  I told the nurses that I bet once she got up to her room and settled in, she would be fine.  So we started to wheel her up to the patient rooms and as we did she finally started to give in to those drugs and shut her eyes.
Morphine-induced sleep post surgery.
She slept in her room for a couple of hours and then, much to my surprise, was quite pleasant when she woke up.  No screaming, no crying.  She asked to watch The Muppets so we turned that right on for her.
Popsicle and The Muppet Movie
The nurse brought in a popsicle for her but she wasn't very interested in it.  At about 5:00 she started to get restless and agitated again so I tried laying next to her in the bed.  And then she promptly threw up that popsicle all over her bed, narrowly missing me.  The long clean-up process followed and when she was all cozy again she shut her eyes a bit.

Brian brought William over to the hospital to see Lucy and she really like that.  But William was a little nervous about the state of his sister who is usually his equal to all things that include being loud and rough-housing.

While Brian stayed with Lucy, William and I went to the Ronald McDonald room to eat dinner.  Volunteers had made an entire turkey dinner for the families of all the patients.  Don't ever pass up the chance to donate to Ronald McDonald.  They do some serious good stuff.

When I came back to the room Lucy was eating dinner.  Nothing like puking only to be eating a turkey sandwich an hour later.  She had obviously found her appetite because she wasn't complaining about a belly ache at all.

At 8:00 William and I went home.  Brian spent the night with Lucy.  I knew my 8-months-pregnant body would get little to no rest on the pull-out bed so once again Brian stepped into the role that is usually reserved for mothers.

When I got back to the hospital this morning they were already in the process of discharge.  The only item left on the to-do list was for Lucy to take a shower and she vehemently refused.  I nearly had to get in the shower with her to get the job done.  And even then I wasn't able to give her incision the good washing it needed.

Which brings me to my next topic.  One that is of much less importance but noteworthy nonetheless: Her hair looks like total crap.  Mangled and tangled and so far beyond what would be required to call it a rat's nest.

We didn't have this dilemma to deal with the first time around because at six months of age she barely had any hair to speak of.

If I could just give it a good soak in the tub I think it would be fine but doctor's orders say no tub soaking for TWO WEEKS!  We need to find her some good hats.  Every time she gets a glance of herself in the bathroom mirror she freaks out.  "Why does my hair look crazy?!"

Crappy hair or not, we're home now and all is well.  She's sleeping soundly in her own bed.  William will be home from school later this afternoon and together he and Brian are going to pick up Katherine.

One thing I think is often forgotten about parents of hospitalized children is how much they ache for the time lost with their other children.  I know it will be total chaos once we are back together under one roof but at least it's familiar.  And totally normal.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Middle One

She had a blood draw this afternoon. A prerequisite to her surgery on Monday. I was not looking forward to it. Maybe even less so than the surgery itself. If any of your young children have ever needed a blood draw, and I'm not talking about a little finger poke, you know how awful these things can be.

Katherine had already been shipped off to Nana's through the surgery date. And William had a birthday party. So Brian, myself and Lucy had a date with the hospital lab.

I didn't tell her what we were there for. Only that it was a checkup before her surgery on Monday. She bounced in with her pigtails and twirly pink dress and smiled broadly at the receptionist.

"I like your pumpkin," she said, pointing to the leftover Halloween decorations on the desk.

"Oh, Mom!" she exclaimed, "Look at that girl! She has a cupcake hat. That's so silly!"

She looked right at the little girl. "I like your hat," she said.

She pranced down the hall to the elevators and pressed the down button.

The lab was empty. The technician seemed confused about us being there. I started to feel my annoyance level rise. If this was any indication of how the blood draw was going to go down I was not going to be happy.

After fifteen minutes of waiting for what, I'm not really sure, we were ushered back to a private room. She sat in the big lab chair and I sat next to her.

"OK, Lucy," said the tech, "We need to get some blood from you."

"OK," she said, not really knowing what that meant.

"When we get blood from you there's a little bit of an owie but it's really fast and then it's done and then the owie is gone. OK?"

"OK." Her voice quivered a little more this time. She was nervous now. And my heart ached. Mostly because she was putting on such a brave face.

They tied the rubber band around her bicep. Brian got out my phone to distract her with Instagram pictures. But she kept looking at her arm.

"Look at the pictures, Lucy," said the tech, "I don't want you to see this."

Why would you say that?! I wanted to scream!

Of course, now she wanted to look.

The needle went in and she yelped. And then she cried. But it wasn't the big screaming dramatic cry I had expected. It was a small whimper of a cry with big huge tears streaming down her face.

All at once I felt as if I had betrayed her. I turned her head into my chest and pressed my lips against her forehead.

"I'm sorry honey," I whispered, "It's almost over."

When they took the needle out and put on her Scooby Doo BandAid, she cried a little more. Softly. With a big pouty lip.

Then I pulled that big three-and-a-half-year-old onto what is left of my lap. And I held her close. Because sometimes all the character BandAids and M&Ms and stickers in the whole wide world aren't enough. Sometimes you just need your mom.

She was a lot more apprehensive when we walked back out into the hall. Before we got onto the elevator I knelt down and looked her right in the eye, "Lucy," I said, "No more owies,OK?"

"OK." She said. But not really sure.

"I promise, that was the last one." And this I know for sure because any IVs or other pokes for the surgery will happen after she's already asleep.

On our car ride home we talked about The Muppet Movie. And her new carseat. And how William will like her Scooby Doo BandAid. And we talked about stopping at Panera Bread for takeout dinner.

And then suddenly, she declared, "This is the best day ever!"

Of course, it wasn't. But to her, always stuck in the middle, always competing with an older brother and a baby sister, this was her shining moment. She had us all to herself.

When we got home she noticed Katherine was not there.

"Hey Mom, where's Katherine?"

"Remember? She's staying with Nana until after your surgery."

And then, much to my surprise, she started to weep. "But I love her. She's my sister and I'm her sister and I want her here with me."

I never even knew these feelings were inside her. Sure she likes Katherine. They get along and everything. But I never knew how deep her love for her baby sister really went. Her profundity never ceases to amaze me.

Lucy's surgery takes place on Monday morning. Prayers are much appreciated. If all goes as planned she should be home by Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's a Glamorous Life

I'm at the point in my pregnancy where I choose not to blog a lot because all I really want to do is complain and whine and bellyache.  And you don't want to hear that.  And I don't want to do it.  I'm healthy.  Everything is going smoothly.  I have no right to complain.

And yet, I know I'll look back on this time in my life and wonder how the heck I got through it.

Brian says I need a nanny.  I say I need a clone.  A nanny is great when I need to leave the house by myself but I'm not the kind of person who relaxes when there are other people in my home, even when they are there to help.  I want things done a certain way and when they aren't, I get more stressed than I would have without the help.  And besides that, I can't seem to ever shake the need to entertain someone who is here outside of our family.  I'm constantly wondering how they are doing.  Are they hungry?  Thirsty?  Bored?  Annoyed?

You see?  It kind of defeats the purpose of hiring help.

It could be argued that I have issues with control and letting people help me.

But carrying on as if I'm not pregnant, as if I don't also have a one-year-old and a three-year-old and a six-year-old, well, it's taking its toll.

The thing tormenting me the most these last couple of days are my children's bathroom troubles.  (And I realize this might be the point where you would take me complaining about my pregnancy over the topic I'm about to dive into.  If so, feel free to stop reading now.)

The kindergartner forgets to go to the bathroom enough at school and comes home hopping like he's got ants in his pants.  He almost never makes it to the bathroom in time to avoid his uniform needing a good wash.

And the three-year-old, whose total number of accidents since she has been potty-trained can be counted on one hand, has now decided that she too would like to wait until the last possible second to go the bathroom.  And if she's wearing tights or leggings or some other piece of clothing that takes a couple of extra yanks to pull down, forget it.  It's already all over the floor.

That brings us to the one-year-old.  The one who has it coming out the sides and up her back and in all sorts of glorious crevices you didn't know existed.

Clean-up is a constant around here.

Yesterday was not a great day.  In general I was just feeling overwhelmed.  I made homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches and the kids loved it.  So there was that glimmer of happiness.  But I went to bed with raging heartburn, a condition I only experience during pregnancy, and a general attitude of just not feeling good about myself.

This morning I had to get ready for a prenatal appointment and after the big kids were off to school I decided I was going to turn my 'tude around.  And I did it by curling my hair, spending a little more time on my make-up and wearing my fancy tall black boots.  My midwife would never notice the difference but I sure would.  When I was all ready I looked at the clock and realized I was going to be early for my appointment.  Total score!  I was rocking it!

I grabbed Katherine to walk out the door and decided to check her diaper before I left.  Uh-huh.  You see where this is going.  We're back to that other topic.  It was so bad it was coming down her leg and I had no choice but to leave her at home to fend for herself while I took my glammed-up self to the clinic for a little me time.

What?!?!  You left her at home?!?!

Of course I didn't.  But don't you think for a second that I'm too good of a mother that the thought didn't cross my mind. 
What I meant to say was that it was so bad that I had no choice but to give her a bath.  Which of course made me late rather than early to my appointment.

To add insult to injury, I noticed, as I was leaving the house with Katherine in a new outfit, that there was a bit of poop smeared on the right knee of my leggings.  Just a subtle little reminder from the heavens that this life I lead is not a glamorous one.

But I checked out my hair in the rearview mirror as I was pulling out of the garage and it still looked amazing.  So there's that at least.

Friday, November 2, 2012

7 Quick Takes [Halloween Edition]

1. Here are the obligatory Halloween photos from Wednesday night.
Notre Dame cheerleader, lion and transformer.
2.  And now check out these amazing pumpkins from my artistic husband.
The Notre Dame logo got a lot of comments from trick-or-treaters.  Lots of Irish Catholics in St. Paul.  But seriously, how about the Fighting Irish?  I've remained surprisingly mum on our house team on the old blog.  And there I've probably gone and jinxed the whole thing.

Lucy was a Notre Dame cheerleader this year which was awesome.  Way more awesome than the princess she was pushing for before I planted the cheerleader seed.  My sister-in-law's nephew went as Manti T'eo and I'm a little bummed I didn't think of that costume for William earlier.  Such a great role model for little boys.  I think even the ND-haters can agree on that one.
3. Does anyone else think Halloween night is one of the most stressful nights of the year?  Quick! Eat dinner.  Quick! Get everyone's costumes one.  Quick! Get your hats, mittens, scarves.  Quick! Light the pumpkins.  Quick! Get the perfect picture.  Quick! Get the candy hand-outs ready.

It's just such a whirlwind of excitement.

We had a ton of trick-or-treaters this year.  So many, in fact, that I had to call Brian to have him run home and refill my hand-out bucket with the kids' candy.  I assure you, they did not miss the candy they had to regift.  Obnoxious is the word I would use to describe the amount of candy they gathered in.

4. Lucy was really into the trick-or-treating this year.  I was unsure how long she would make it because she stubbornly refused to nap that day even after I made her stay in her room for almost three hours.  Brian, William and the neighbors walked at least a mile that night and Lucy carried her own like a champ.  Brian said he didn't hear one cry of complaint.

The next day Brian and I took the girls to noon All Saints' Day mass and at one point we looked next to us to find Lucy laying down on the kneeler falling asleep.  When we got home I got her out of the car and then went on the other side to get Katherine out.  When I came back around I found Lucy completely spread out on the floor of the garage trying to catch some shut-eye.  I put her to bed even without lunch and she fell asleep instantly.  The trick-or-treating finally caught up with her.

5. Last night, after the kids were asleep, Brian had his head stuck in the kids' candy bag.

"Wow," he said, "I forgot how good candy really is."

I laughed so hard.

"Seriously," he said, "I mean, when was the last time you had Nut Roll?!  Or a Butterfinger!"

It's true. I can't remember the last time I bought a candybar.  And if I did, those two would not be first on the list even though they are delicious in their own right.  Have you found any long-lost treasures in your kids' stash?

6. Speaking of candy stashes, I tried something new this year.  I combined the kids' candy into one bag and instead of hiding it or keeping it out of reach, it's sitting on the floor in our dining room.  They each get one piece after lunch and two pieces after dinner.  But if they "steal" one before the meal, then they get nothing.  It's worked out surprisingly well.  I'm finding out that they seem to like digging, sorting and choosing the candy almost as much as they like eating it.  And by keeping it out in the open, it's lost the "forbidden fruit" effect.

The candy is also a great bargaining tool.  For each behavioral misstep, I warn that Dad and I are going to pick out a piece of candy from their bag to put into our bag.  And when Dad and I pick, we like to take the full size pieces.  Such terrible parents.

7. With Halloween coming to a close it means we're officially into the Holiday season.  I hate even thinking about Christmas before the turkey's been carved but this year, with a baby due smack dab in the middle of December, I feel have no choice but to get a jump on it to save my sanity later on.  We also have Lucy's surgery and William's sixth birthday to squeeze in as well as all the other normal things like doctor's visits, chimney sweeps, happy hours and playdates.  Amazon is my best friend.

Do you start your Christmas shopping now or does it make you feel icky like it does me?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Because [Blank] Happens - A Giveaway!

I decided to go to Target on Saturday which is pretty much like agreeing to play chicken across any of the country's major interstates.  I figured if I went early enough I would miss the weekend crowd and still find the shelves well stocked with the staples on my list.

It was kind of like a vacation where the vacation includes no kids, shopping and Starbucks.  Halfway through my trip I got a text from Brian.

"$#!& everywhere."

I knew right away it was Katherine.  She was still sleeping when I left and, be it vaccines, teeth or just an upset stomach, she had been plagued by diarrhea the past few days.

By the time I got home Brian was already on to his next task of the day: raking.  Katherine was all bundled up in her pink fuzzy snowsuit and smiling widely in her stroller.  Brian had already given her a bath, cleaned up the room and put her bedding in the washer.

The only thing left for me to do was to put sheets back on her bed.  And before I did that I decided to wipe down the entire crib because, you know, ick.

I decided to use the Nursery Wipes I received from Earth's Best.  They're chlorine-free and made of all-natural material so I don't have to worry about Katherine ingesting any scary chemicals when she uses the side of her crib as a teething toy.

And, as a major bonus in this particular situation, the wipes have a lovely lavender and lemongrass fragrance.  Because, let me tell you, it smelled ripe in there.  Next, I suggest Earth's Best add to their home care line and use this scent to make air fresheners or candles.  Mmmmm...

A Giveaway!
Earth's Best is offering one canister and one travel-pack of their Nursery Wipes to one of my lucky readers. To enter, simple leave a comment on this post.  Deadline to enter is Monday, November 5 at noon (Central Time).

* Earth's Best has provided me with Nursery Wipes to review and to giveaway. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.
* This contest is now closed. The winner is commenter #1!

Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes [10.26.12]

1. "I think I'm going to quit my blog."

I tell this to Brian roughly once every couple of months. Things stack up. Life gets overwhelming. And blogging seems like just another to-do on my ever-growing list.

Of course, I haven't quit. And I don't think I ever will. At least not in the near future. But my comments to Brian still illustrate my constant battle with deciding whether to blog or change a diaper. Blog, or make dinner? Blog, or take a nap? Blog, or go to the bathroom? You catch my drift. Life is busy.  And exhausting.

This week Rachel at Testosterhome wrote about quitting her blog and she hit the nail on the head for me. This is exactly how I feel about blogging.

2. In case you didn't hear, we had a pretty big birthday around here this week. Here are some of my favorite photos we took of the day.
Katherine trying to steal a kiss.  Lucy trying to steal a lick of frosting.

3. Celebrating Katherine's first birthday means that I will officially not be having Irish twins.  But it still doesn't stop people from doing a double take when I walk into a room with a huge belly and a baby on my hip.

Just this week a man with a thick Italian accent stopped me at Trader Joe's.  "Are they all yours?" He asked.  "Pretty sure!" I replied.

"God bless you!" He exclaimed and motioned the sign of the cross in front of me.  (I guess all Italians are pope-like?)

He caught me in a moment of having extremely well-behaved children.  So as not to get too egotistical about the whole thing I opted not to explain to him that I had yet another child who was in school at the time.

But just to make sure I didn't get all cocky about how awesome I was at breeding and caring for young children and having the super power of being able to bring them all out in public without making a spectacle of ourselves, there were some major meltdowns by both girls when we got home and they realized they were both long overdue for lunch and naps.  There's always a humbling moment just around the corner, isn't there?

4. If our clinic had a frequent flyer program I would be platinum status.  Just this week I was there on three separate days.  A prenatal, a well child and pre-op physical.

Katherine had four shots and a finger poke.  Poor thing.  I'm not sure who cried harder, her or me.  Then Lucy went in today for her all-clear before surgery in a few weeks.  I also opted to give her the flu shot.  I'm more lax about the flu shot some years but this year I'm making it mandatory for all who live in Casa de Nash.  We can't afford for any severe illness to strike us before surgery and I also want to keep that newborn safe who is set to arrive in just seven weeks.  The flu shot isn't a  sure bet.  Not by a long shot.  But I'll take all the help I can get.  Does your family get flu shots?
5. Yesterday William brought home his school pictures.  I've never laughed so hard in my life.  School pictures are just priceless, aren't they?  For starters his hair is kind of a disaster.  Half of it is combed to the side and the other half is just kind of limply laying there.  And his smile.  If you can even call it that.  He's biting his lip like someone just told him something funny but he's trying to stifle a laugh.  I just can't believe the photographer saw the proof and said, "Yep! That's perfect!"

When I showed the photos to Brian I asked if he thought we should do retakes.  "Absolutely NOT!" He replied.  "We are going to want to remember this for sure!"

And so it remains.  His kindergarten photo forever.

6. Tonight Brian is playing in a band at a local bar for happy hour.  It's a band consisting of him and three of his coworkers.  The ages of the band member range from late 20s to early 60s.  Funny, right?

I take advantage of almost every opportunity I get to tease him about this band.  I feel only a little guilty about this.  The thing is, there's nothing really funny about Brian's musical talent.  The guy is awesome.  I'm the first to admit.  But there is something funny about the band itself.  It feels a little Office Space meets Wild Hogs.  And then there's the fact that Brian, the member who plays all parts except drums, is the father of four young children.  The last time he played in a band was at the on-campus eatery at our college.  All of that was before there was a ring or kids.  We both took it very seriously back then.  I was 100% committed to being his band's roadie.

I grabbed a sitter for tonight so I can go watch him play.  I'm feeling a little silly about the whole thing.  Like, who am I kidding walking in looking like I do?

But don't forget to remind to pick up glow sticks on the way.  Oh, and a package of diapers on the way home.
7. That's it from me!  See more Quick Takes here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kate the Great [Is One!]

I can hear you, but I can't see you.  You are in the porch playing with your older sibling's toys.

You crawl over to me at the dining room table.  You are chewing on something in your mouth.  I don't panic.  I even take a second before I go in to fish it out.

I can hear you playing in your crib.  You should be napping.  But you are talking.  Sometimes shrieking.  Sometimes banging on the wall.  I stay put.  I don't go in there to restart the lay-down process.  You are content, sleeping or not, and I don't mess with it.

You've had peanut butter since you were seven months old.  And loved it.

You never used a bottle.  Never drank formula.

You sleep in a drop-side crib.  With bumpers.  And a pillow.  And lots of blankets.

Our staircase has no gate.

Our cabinets have no locks.

I let your five-year-old brother carry you up the stairs so I don't have to.

You don't own a pair of shoes because it's too much extra work to find them, put them on and demand that you keep them on.

On outings you stay put in your stroller.  Enjoying the sights and sounds from your perch.

You are a third child indeed.
Today you are one. But you are still The Baby.

And even though you will technically forfeit that title in a couple of months when your younger sibling is born, I know that instead you will collectively become The Babies. Because I'm just not ready to let go of your babyhood. Not yet.

Everyone who spends time with you agrees you make all other babies look bad because you are just so, so good. Always content. Always smiling. Always happy to just be.

Your favorite toy is the television remote control. Or Lucy's princess piano.

Your favorite possession is a blue Jellycat elephant which you snuggle close every time he is within reach.

Your favorite book is One, Two, Three! by Sandra Boynton.

Your favorite thing to eat is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat bread. And much to my surprise, you don't really have a sweet tooth.

Speaking of teeth, you have four. Two on the bottom since you were six months old and two on the top that cut just days ago.

Your favorite time of day is bathtime.

You are crazy, ridiculously strong. But that petite frame of yours. You should be a gymnast. You hover at the third percentile in all areas of measurement.

You are thisclose to walking. But have yet to utter a single word.

Instead you communicate by waving or blowing kisses. Or giving real kisses. Wet ones. Open mouth with full tongue. You silly goose.

Let's talk about your hair. Is it a burden or an asset? I have yet to decide. It's been a conversation point since the day you were born.

When we say prayers before dinner you clasp your hands together like you've been part of this family forever.

Was there ever a day you weren't here? I can't remember.

Sometimes I want to cry. That's how much I love you.

I still have guilt. When you wake in the middle of the night and the baby in my belly is kicking the baby on my lap. This isn't right, a voice in my head demands.

But somehow it is anyway.

You are an extraordinary piece of our family, my dear, sweet Katherine. No matter your place. No matter the time. No matter the demands of everyone else. You are still a part of me and you are eternally loved.

Happy first birthday, baby girl!
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