Tuesday, December 30, 2008

End of the year wrap-up

(2006 is here, 2007 is here)

1. What did you do in 2008 that you'd never done before? Started a Ph.D. program; had a son

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? My new year's resolution probably related to getting back into running and shape after the holidays; it didn't really happen due to my thyroid problems and pregnancy. I think I'd like this year's resolution to be to get a handle on my health and to continue to try to get into shape.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Me, once again. My cousin Lisa had a baby boy, Eli, in March, and my cousin Amy had a baby boy, Jack, in June. Other friends have had babies this year, too. Good year for offspring!

4. Did anyone close to you die? I have been touched by some deaths this year--my friend Bryan Graham comes to mind. I worked with him in Grand Rapids.

5. What places did you visit? Again, Iowa and Michigan. Also visited Massachusetts, Kansas, and Georgia to see schools. Went to Chicago in February for a conference. And San Diego in September for a reunion with my college roomies.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008? A clean bill of health.

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? December 27, Sam's birthday. May 10, the day I found out I was pregnant. June 23, Charlotte's second birthday.

8. What was your biggest achievement(s) of the year? Getting to make a choice about what graduate school to attend.*

9. What was your biggest failure? I can't think of anything, but then I am sleep-deprived!

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Hyperthyroidism, diagnosed in June (but probably going back quite a while). No injuries!

11. What was the best thing you bought? This is kinda dorky, but I love that we have a dining table now. Family dinners are very nice when you aren't hunched over your plate on the couch.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My husband's. What a spectacular father. (Same as before, but it still stands.)

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? That girl ahead of me in line at Wal-Mart today. I'm emotionally sensitive right now and she was a jerk.

14. Where did most of your money go? Moving, rent, and visiting schools.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Eventually, about being pregnant again. About getting my Ph.D. About moving to Kansas.

16. What song will always remind you of 2008? Anything by Kansas, for obvious reasons.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? Both--happy and thrilled about my family of four and my successful first semester of my doctoral program, but sad because of general post-partum blues. b) thinner or fatter? Fatter, but I just had a baby three days ago! Cut me some slack!

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? Reading and sleeping.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Throwing up while pregnant this summer, primarily.

20. How did you spend Christmas last year? On the road between Iowa and Michigan.

21. Did you fall in love in 2008? Yes, and his name is Sam.

22. What was your favorite TV program? Haven't watched much TV this year.

23. What did you do for your birthday in 2008? Once again, I had class. My friend Mindi came to visit that weekend, though.

24. What was the best book you read? This one is hard, as I've read lots of great books this year. I just finished Wally Lamb's latest, and liked that a lot.

25. Who was the best new person you met? So far, Sam is pretty rad.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery? I'm late to this one, but I love the Decemberists.

27. What did you want and get? A healthy baby. Admission to grad school.

28. What did you want and not get? Ummm, more sleep?

29. What was your favorite film of this year? Again, haven't seen a lot of movies. Jeff and I watched Stranger Than Fiction last week and liked that a lot.

30. Did you make some new friends this year? Yes. The people here at Kansas are great.

31.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? I wouldn't have complained if this pregnancy had been nausea-free.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008? Stretchy pants.

33. What kept you sane? Reading and writing. Looking at my daughter's face.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? I don't think I'm going to go into politics right now.

35. What political issue stirred you the most? The election, like everyone else.

36. Who did you miss? I missed my Grandpa Deur this year. I also miss my Ohio friends.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008. With enough work and effort and determination, you can make your dreams come true--even lame academic dreams. :)

*This isn't about me, but Jeff: this year marked the receipt of his Ohio Arts Council Individual Creativity award for poetry. I haven't written much about this here, but I think I might soon, so watch for that if you're interested in Jeff's doings.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I have so much to say about Sam, about this delivery experience, about how enormous Charlotte suddenly seems, but first I really want to take a nice long bath in the huge jacuzzi tub in our hospital room. I promise to write more in the coming days. But I know you're all most interested in photos. In addition to the one above, you can find many more posted to flickr.com (link at right). His facial bruising from his super-quick passage down the birth canal has gone down quite a bit, so he's less purple than yesterday. He's also eating well, as evidenced by his milk mustache in several shots. Enjoy!
Sam's Here

Samuel Scott, born December 27 at 10:58 a.m. 8 lbs 4 oz, 21 1/2 inches. Perfect in every way. The rest of us are doing well, too. More pictures in days to come.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I tried to think of a couple of ways to make this post funny and clever, but to be honest I'm so grumpy and discouraged that I just really don't care. Sorry.

Last night, just hours after I posted the "status quo, still pregnant" message here, I started to have contractions. Jeff and I timed them for an hour; they were coming every 5-7 minutes and were uncomfortable enough that I had to stop talking and breath through each one. After a hour, we called my doctor; she recommended heading to the hospital to have them check me out.

Fortunately, my parents and brother arrived last night, so we didn't have to scramble to find a place for Charlotte. That's the only fortunately I can find in this, though. Ugh, I'm so crabby about it it's annoying. Sorry.

Anyway, we got to the hospital between 1:30 and 2 a.m. On the drive there I realized I wasn't really noticing contractions anymore. I started to think about how moronic I'd feel if I wasn't really in labor.

We spent a couple hours in the family birthing center. The first thing they did was check for contractions and the baby's heartrate. I was experiencing some contractions, nothing really regular, and some I couldn't even feel. Then they checked my cervix and found I was 5-6 cm dilated. That at least made me feel less like an idiot. After they checked me, we walked the halls for about forty-five minutes to see if my contractions did any work to change my cervix at all. I could tell as we were walking that not much was happening. Sure enough, at 3 a.m. I was checked again--no progress. They gave us the option of sticking around and walking some more or going home, and I decided we might as well go home and try to get some sleep.

At this point I really thought I'd be going into more active labor soon. Or soonish. Certainly, by this time. Well, we got home and after some tossing and turning, I managed to fall asleep. When I woke up, near 10 a.m., any signs of labor were gone. And so far, that's how things have stayed.

I'm so irritated right now. I feel like an imbecile for going to the hospital when I did. And I feel like my body has somehow failed me by pretending to go into labor, then, ha ha JUST KIDDING stopping. I don't even have a pithy little phrase with which to wrap up this entry. I'm that upset. Booooo.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Just to reassure you all that I'm not in labor, a post. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas eve, everyone!

I'm about to enjoy a rare movie night with Jeff, so I leave you with this:

Charlotte's Christmas Serenade!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I don't have much to say today. I'm tired out from a day filled with baby-room-cleaning activities. Fortunately, now the space is much closer to being usable.

Today, Charlotte turned 2 1/2. Jeff thought this would be an auspicious day for the boy to make his appearance, but so far, no dice.

I'm a little sad that there are only a couple of days left on our advent calendar. It's become a fun nightly tradition for us to count each little door up to the door that represents that day. I think Charlotte's counting has improved as a result. And when Christmas is past, I won't get to hear her adorable rendition of "advent calendar": "elephant candle." She loves doing the advent calendar; the anticipation is sometimes too much and she starts to freak out about it. Or perhaps that's just how she feels about her nightly chocolate fix. (I stocked each little compartment with a hershey's kiss, reese's peanut butter cup, or rolo).

Tomorrow is Christmas eve. What?! How did that sneak up on me? I guess we're ready, so it's not a big deal. I think part of the problem is that I grew accustomed to OU's schedule--getting out of classes before Thanksgiving and then having a huge long break until January was luxurious. The winter break is much shorter here, but we do finish up mid-May instead of mid-June. It's a trade-off.

Now I'm just typing to fulfill my promise to write every day, so I'll quit. Tomorrow I'm going to try to post a video of Miss C and her holiday song extravaganza.

Monday, December 22, 2008

One of the things I had jotted down on my seemingly endless to-do list was: bookshelves? Just like that, with the question mark and everything. The use of that particular punctuation mark seems a bit ridiculous. It'd be more accurate to write: bookshelves. Or: bookshelves! Or even: bookshelves... Because there's no question about it: we need more bookshelves.

I guess the question mark is a gesture toward the slight embarrassment I feel when I look around our living room and count seven bookshelves. Up in Jeff's office there are three more. Charlotte's room has a shelving unit that has become the book depository. And still we have stacks of books everywhere: on our dressers, desks, dining table, floor.

Each of the kids' rooms got a new bookshelf today. Just a cheap-o three-tier particle board bookshelf--nothing to get too excited about. But Charlotte did get excited about them. "Ooh, my new bookshelf!" she exclaimed as we set it up in her room. And then, without a hint of sarcasm (she is only 2 1/2), she said "Let's put some books on it! How fun!" Then she went to find her pocket protector and hiked her pants up to her armpits. I'm raising a dork.

I need no genetic testing to tell me that this is my child, and Jeff's. One childhood memory that has stuck with me is that of visiting the public library, and getting to check out a paper grocery sack's worth of library books on a weekly basis. That towering stack of books that I'd pile up next to my bed seemed like an endless repository of adventure. I loved to read. Loved. I devoured books. I'm still endlessly grateful to my parents for nurturing this love of reading, as it has led to my ability today to read voraciously, tirelessly, and quickly--a great skill to have as a graduate student.

Jeff's love of books is more that of the aesthete. He is not a speed-reader (and is sometimes very resentful of the fact that I am). His pace could best be described as plodding. But he savors the words he reads, slowly absorbing them and computing and finding depths of meaning in texts that I might miss.

Charlotte has inherited my voracious appetite for books, and Jeff's attention to details and words. She loves to be read to, and will ask anyone she meets to do so. Every week or so she has a new favorite book, one that she'll want to have read repeatedly, even though I know she knows it by heart. (This week's book is "Snow" by P.D. Eastman; yesterday, I heard her "read" most of the book, fairly accurately, to herself. Nothing is cuter). She has learned about rhymes, and will call out when something rhymes (hence another new favorite, "There's a Wocket in my Pocket" by Dr. Seuss). She'll listen to the language and pays attention to the illustrations, noticing emotions on the faces of the characters, or when the dog from the previous page is missing, for example.

One of the things she promises the baby is that "she'll read him her books." I have no doubt she'll make good on that promise. And that's one of the images that made me confident that I wanted a second child, no matter how unpleasant pregnancy might have been: the picture I had in mind of Charlotte and a younger sibling reading books together on the couch. That's about as utopian as I can imagine things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

This morning, we dressed Charlotte in her Christmas dress just in case we don't make it to the Christmas Eve service. Besides, this outfit was too adorable to only wear once. I took advantage of the opportunity to take our family Christmas picture.

Not pictured: Me waddling over to painfully grunt my way to the ground every time I set the self-timer function on the camera; the dozen or so pictures with Jeff's eyes closed (the family curse!); me promising Charlotte a cookie just as soon as the pictures were done...no, not yet, just one more, please, sit still ARGH.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Today I finished my final seminar paper for the semester. Immediately after I realized I was done (save final copy-editing, printing and handing in), I announced the news to Jeff and Charlotte. We celebrated by dancing to some Guns N Roses (I'm serious). Not long after, I crashed. I didn't realize I had been riding an anxiety high for the past...oh, two weeks? I'm exhausted. I need a good night of sleep (not likely to happen at nine months pregnant) and a day filled with anything but analysis of primary sources and critical texts. I need to go to bed at night without the names of the characters about which I'm writing running through my head. I need to spend some time with my family of three before it becomes a family of four.

Now that I'm done, I have feelings of both overwhelming freedom and anxiety about all the non-school-related stuff I've been postponing. I need to prioritize what really needs to happen in the next couple of days and what can wait, so I can actually find some time to relax. One thing I plan on doing is updating this blog every day until the baby's born. It might not be a big-deal post, but you can count on something here from now until the birthday (whenever that might be).

Some reflections on my first semester of my doctoral program:

In many ways, this semester was easier than any quarter I had during my time in my MA program. Primarily this is due to my fellowship, which frees me from teaching this first year. I was free to focus only on my own studies--no course planning, no lecturing, no grading. That was a huge relief.

In other ways, though, this semester was difficult. Because of my fellowship, I took three graduate classes this semester (a normal load with teaching is two). Three grad courses makes for a lot of reading, writing, and class time. At times it was overwhelming, and I didn't think I'd be able to get all the work done. I think I'm most proud to say that I completed every assignment, and that I did so in a way that I can feel confident in.

I'm also really pleased with the final projects/papers I put together for each of my classes. The seminar paper is one of the more difficult tasks a graduate student faces. It becomes more and more difficult to find something original to say about a work of literature, something that engages what has already been said but poses new and interesting questions or ideas about the topic. More than once I thought I had a great topic for one of papers only to find out after further research that Dr. So-and-so already published a paper on that topic in 2004 or whatever. Great...back to the drawing board. But this painful process forced me to come up with what I think were really innovative ideas about the texts, ideas that I can truly call my own. I think that's one of the benchmarks of a scholar--truly original ideas.

Of course, I haven't gotten any of my final papers' grades yet, so we'll see if I revise my feelings about my papers later.

I'm sure I have other things to say about my first semester here, but my brain is on shut-down mode and I think chocolate might be required.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stasis: Noun. sta·sis Pronunciation: \ˈstā-səs\

1: a: a state of static balance or equilibrium: stagnation b: a state or period of stability during which little or no evolutionary change in a lineage occurs

Well, it would be hard to convincingly argue that I'm in a state of stability during which little change in lineage is occurring considering my status as an incubator for a little person. But other than that, things around here are in a state of stasis. Status quo. Holding pattern. Etc.

In addition to continuing to bake a tiny baby in my Dutch oven (uh, metaphor! Not a cannibal!), I also am trying to summon up enough academic creativity and willpower to finish these last two papers. I'm constantly distracted by each little twinge or thump. Last night I spent an hour timing and panicking over what turned out to be indigestion. Then, exhausted by that, I went to bed at 9 p.m. An entire night of writing lost due to my wacky bowels.

To be honest, the task ahead seems impossible. Perhaps that's why I'm so easily distracted. 35 pages worth of coherent academic argument in 3 days? Wait, it IS impossible. Crap.

Things I promise to bring to my faithful blog readers once those 35 pages are under my belt: obligatory pictures of our Christmas tree; video of Charlotte singing Christmas songs; some new Charlotte quotes; more stories about my digestive system. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In the last week, I have:

Assembled and frozen six casseroles for baking post-baby
Purchased and put up a Christmas tree (with Jeff and Charlotte's assistance, of course)
Put up my other Christmas decorations (nothing too elaborate, just the mantel)
Researched and narrowed down topics for three final papers
Nearly finished one of the three papers
Pre-registered at the hospital

Oh, and:

Managed not to have a baby.

Whew. Next up:

Write the other two papers (by next week)
Finish Christmas shopping
Wrap Christmas presents
Bake cookies
Clean my poor neglected house
Wash the baby's clothes that haven't been washed yet
Finish packing my bag for the hospital
Post something more substantial and entertaining to my blog!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Word of the Day: Panic!

Sonogram and doctor's appointment this morning. Sonogram revealed the baby weighs about 6 pounds, 6 ounces. That's how much I weighed when I was born. (Yes, I know weight estimates are notoriously off at this late stage, but still...my intuition tells me this is at least close to accurate as I am feeling GREAT with child).

Then, my doctor checked me (you know, pelvically) and told me I was three centimeters dilated. Uh, beg pardon?

Now, I know this doesn't necessarily mean anything. I was 2-3 centimeters dilated two weeks before Charlotte was born. And it's normal to dilate a litte bit earlier with subsequent pregnancies. So it's not like the baby's gonna fall out at any moment or anything (oh, if only it were that easy!). But my doctor did say she'd be very, very surprised if I make it to January.

Dear Santa: please let me make it until after December 16, when my last project is due for school. Twelve days...that's not too much to ask, right?

Now I have lists running through my head...things I need to buy and do and get and make before the baby arrives. I'm off to devote those things to paper since my brain is a sieve.

Oh, and everything else looked fine with the baby. He obligingly turned his face toward the screen and gave us a nice profile shot. He was also more than happy to give us an obligatory genital view. Still there!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Oh, poor Jeff. Let's get that last entry off the top of the page, shall we?

It wasn't my intention to leave it up there that long, but Thanksgiving weekend travel and school work intervened. Yesterday I flipped open my little pocket planner/calendar thing, and noted that it was December. Then I saw all these deadlines (final papers, exams, presentations, last day of classes, hospital tour, CHRISTMAS) coming up. When these dates were safely on another, unseen calendar page, everything seemed doable. Now, all these really important things are suddenly tomorrow! Or next week! Oh, and did I mention I'm 34 weeks pregnant? That means my due date is NEXT MONTH. Gulp.

But let's not worry about that now! I mean, you don't have to worry about it at all. I'm the one who needs to worry. I guess what I mean is, how about I don't burden you with my panic right now. Agreed? Great.
Instead, I'd like to offer a brief, partial, and belated list of things for which I am thankful: our nice cozy home here in Lawrence; my really awesome classes and professors this semester; the friends I've made here at KU; the friends I miss from Iowa, college, Michigan, and OU; my family, close and extended, who are all really good people who seem to genuinely care about me (and not just because of Charlotte or the baby boy, either); Earl Grey tea; dark Belgium chocolate hot cocoa; cookie dough; the smell of woodsmoke in my neighborhood when I walk to the bus stop; stretchy pants; the smell of crayons and playdoh;

But most of all I'm thankful for these two clowns:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sometimes, when I download the pictures from my camera, there's a surprise (or two, or a dozen) waiting for me. This last time was no exception.

I have no explanation for these photos.

Well, I can tell you that that's a pair of Charlotte's underpants. But that's about it.

Today is Jeff's 32nd birthday.

I can say with complete confidence that he doesn't act his age.

Happy birthday, sweetheart.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Charlotte's First Haircut!


Oh! The curls! WHAT AM I THINKING!?

And after:

Despite the lack of a smile, she declares she really likes it.

And during:

I've been thinking about cutting Charlotte's hair for a while. While I blanched at cutting off her baby curls, the longer it got, the more scraggly and thin it seemed. It was usually a tangled mess in the mornings. She was constantly pushing her hair out of her eyes.

Yesterday, I impulsively asked Charlotte if she wanted her hair cut short. "Like mama's," she said. "Yes, sort of," I replied. "YES! I want a haircut. I want it RIGHT NOW!" I'm not joking...that's really what she said. I hemmed and hawed for a while, but then decided to go for it.

I think I did an okay job. I cut the bangs a little too short, which I'm hoping gives this impression:

instead of this:

It took Jeff a while to warm up to it, which had me weeping and blubbering. "You HATE it!" I wailed. "I RUINED her!" I think we all like it now. I hope.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A few thoughts from my clouded brain:

--I have come to the conclusion that pregnancy is too long. I've heard the old adage that it takes all nine months to prepare for having a child, but as a chronic procrastinator, I'm likely to put off until the last few weeks all those nesting things pregnant women are supposed to do anyway. So I think five months would be sufficient. I mean, I can't believe how long I've been pregnant, and that I still have eight weeks to go.

--Things about the baby that kind of freak Charlotte out: 1. That he's naked in there. 2. That he goes potty in my belly.

I have assured her that we will promptly cloth her brother after birth, but she still seems unnaturally obsessed with the fact that I am a glorified waste containment unit for this child. She did seem slightly relieved to find out that it's only number one, not number two, that's currently happening.

--I can't sleep well. Classic late-pregnancy symptom, I know, but still unpleasant. I have trouble falling asleep, due to a fabulous cocktail of heartburn, leg cramps, and general inability to turn off my brain. And what sleep I do get is light, surface sleep plagued by annoyingly vivid dreams about the things I'm reading for school. Last night, I dreamed I was conversing with the characters in the Faulkner novel I'm reading, in Faulknerese (those of you who've read old Billy F. know what I mean...lots of stream-of-consciousness ramblings using words like effluvium and immobile and repugnant). I kept waking up every couple of hours, at which point I'd once again battle heartburn and leg cramps, only to fall back asleep and back into the same dream. There are dreams you hope to continue after interruption. This wasn't one of them.

--Some Charlotte quotes:

"I'm bigger than many buildings."

"Octopusses have terrible roars."

"Nice haircut, mama. I want some gum."

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm having trouble coming up with anything interesting to write about these days. All my energy is taken up by schoolwork, spending time with Charlotte and Jeff, entertaining my constant stream of guests (not complaining...I love having visitors), and trying to keep up with the sleep my body seems to be demanding. My 31st birthday on Saturday coincided with the beginning of my 31st week of this pregnancy. I'm fully mired in the woes of the third trimester: heartburn, difficulty sleeping yet constant fatigue, aching muscles and joints whenever I overexert myself, needing to be within a five-yard radius of a bathroom at all times, etc. I'm also to the point where I can't get up from a reclining position without some serious acrobatics. Last night while reading in bed I needed to use the bathroom. I flopped over onto my side and executed a dramatic leg-fling-and-roll to get out of bed. Jeff didn't help matters by laughing at me. I got back at him by smothering him with my giant belly.

My birthday was a mellow day. One of the highlights was going out with Mindi after Charlotte was in bed for appetizers and drinks (she got fancy martinis; I got cherry limeade in a martini glass) at the Jayhawker in the fancy Eldridge hotel downtown.

The other highlight happened that afternoon while we were all out for a little drive on the smaller country highways surrounding Lawrence. Charlotte suddenly announced from the backseat that she had to go potty "right now, mama!" We pulled over and out I hopped. I got Charlotte out of her carseat, helped her get her pants down, and then awkwardly held her in a way that I hoped would avoid her peeing on my shoes. I was worried she would think this situation was weird, but she stoically went ahead and let loose. We got back in the car (I was dry, thank goodness) and started down the road again. After a minute, Charlotte said: "It's fun to go potty on the grass!" We all laughed. We passed a farm with cows. Charlotte: "Look at all those three cows! They're stickin' out their buns! They're gonna go potty in the grass!" Pause. "Cows don't have business." (our word for private parts). "Cows do have buns. Cows are people." By this time we were all laughing quite hard. She ended with another assertion that "It's fun to go potty on the grass...and the dirt!"

That's what life is like with Charlotte these days. It's a constant running commentary complete with medleys of song and dance. No topic is outside her area of expertise. It's quite entertaining. She's also gotten very good at entertaining herself for long stretches of time. Right now she's sitting at my desk coloring pictures and listening to music. The entire time I've been writing this, she's been talking and singing. "This girl wears sneakers, just like Charlotte wears sneakers! This kitty has a big, red face! There's a picture of baby Charlotte when she was a bald head!" Etc.

Life with Charlotte is a lot of fun these days. She's sleeping amazingly well (goes to sleep around 7 p.m. after about ten minutes of Jeff or I singing to her every night in her own bed, sleeps until 7 a.m.) considering her history. She plays and sings and imagines and dances and "reads" and "writes." She eats fairly well, at least well enough that I've kind of stopped stressing out about it, even though she's still kind of a pipsqueak. She's excited about her baby brother and is constantly affectionate with my belly.

And I'm managing to balance my school responsibilities, my home life, and taking care of my burgeoning physical self fairly well. We'll check back with that come December, when I'll suddenly really need to start writing all my final papers.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Today is my 31st birthday. I'm celebrating with my friend Mindi, who flew in from Chicago to spend the weekend with us. This morning, Jeff and Charlotte let Min and I sleep in while they finished up a homemade birthday card, upon which Charlotte "wrote my name." Since then I've lounged around in my pajamas, drinking tea and deciding where to go out to eat my birthday lunch.

It's a good day.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I'm supposed to be reading and writing a response to a critical article, but instead I'm procrastinating. So! A "meme," as the kids are calling it. Answers must be one word.

1. Where is your cell phone? Backpack
2. Where is your significant other? Upstairs
3. Your hair color? Blonde
4. Your mother? Domestic
5. Your father? Outgoing
6. Your favorite thing? Charlotte
7. Your dream last night? England
8. Your dream/goal? Doctorate
9. The room you're in? Dining
10. Your hobby? pastime? Art
11. Your fear? Loss
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Tenured
13. Where were you last night? Same
14. What you're not? Sporty
15. One of your wish list items? Books
16. Where you grew up? Iowa
17. The last thing you did? Read
18. What are you wearing? Sweats
19. Your T.V.? Hidden
20. Your pet? Deceased
21. Your computer? Dell
22. Your mood? Hopeful
23. Missing someone? Nope
24. Your car? Subaru
25. Something you're not wearing? Shoes
26. Favorite store? Target
27. Your Summer? Nauseating
28. Love someone? Jeff
29. Your favorite color? Blue
30. When is the last time you laughed? Minutes ago
31. Last time you cried? Can't remember

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Happy Halloween from a little ladybug!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This weekend was KU's homecoming. Charlotte has been sleeping in lately, often until past 8:30 a.m. It goes without saying that we really appreciate this development, but since the homecoming parade started at the ungodly hour of 9 a.m. Saturday morning, we had to make plans to set our alarm clocks and wake up before Charlotte to get ready to go. Because I don't have classes in the mornings, I can't remember the last time I set my alarm. Charlotte's little voice over the baby monitor in the morning is my usual alarm clock.

Anyway, miraculously we all got up and ready on time, although we were running up the 14th Street hill to get to campus as the marching band was parading past. I think they were the first act, though, so we didn't miss much. (I didn't run, for the record. I waddled slowly while Jeff jogged ahead with Charlotte in the stroller). It was a cold, brisk morning, but we were effectively bundled up and enjoyed the parade. Charlotte in particular liked all the candy that was handed out.

After the parade, we headed over to the student union where Jeff had discovered they were offering free bowling in the bowling alley on the first floor. We were worried it would be mobbed, but when we got there, we had the place to ourselves. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had equipment for young bowlers there, and Charlotte enjoyed ramp bowling, even managing to bowl an eight for Jeff's first frame. I bowled the way I usually do: either gutter balls or strikes. It's bizarre.

Sunday afternoon found us heading out to Schaake's Pumpkin Patch. It was mobbed on the last weekend day before Halloween, but we still enjoyed our hayride out to the patch, where Charlotte picked out a little green pumpkin and Jeff and I found a good candidate for gutting and carving. We warmed up with cider and popcorn in a little shelter before paying a visit to the chickens and ducks.

I took the traditional picture of Charlotte among the pumpkins, and later put together this triptych of images. I got a bit wistful thinking about how my baby's all growed up, etc., but got over it when I remembered how she used to not fall asleep until 10 p.m. and would wake up every two to three hours. Now she goes to bed with only a little cajoling around 7:30 p.m. and sleeps in. Life is good. Why do people like infants, again? Just kidding. I know the intoxicating cocktail of baby-head-scent, squashy newborn features, and chubby thigh rolls (almost) makes up for the sleepless nights.

In other news, I'm now 29 weeks pregnant. According to the pregnancy calender I check occasionally, "Your baby is getting fatter and the skin is less wrinkled after filling out. The baby now weighs about 2 1/2-2 3/4 pounds and is about 14 inches long." I forgot to mention that during the last ultrasound appointment, the tech started laughing and pointed out our son's fat rolls, which you could actually see on the screen. Fat rolls already? He's so advanced.

Speaking of fat rolls (sorry), here's a fabulous Charlotte quote. Jeff and Charlotte were talking about the baby boy and my pregnant belly. Jeff said, "Mama has a great big tummy, doesn't she?" Charlotte looked at him very seriously and said, "Like yours."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Real post coming soon. Until then, here are a couple of pictures of me at 28 weeks pregnant.
Here I am this weekend, bowling (which may or may not be an approved activity for a woman in her third trimester):

And at about 29 weeks pregnant with Charlotte, channeling Thoreau:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Last night, after more than an hour of trying to drift off between random, violent leg cramps that caused my right leg to shoot straight out and vibrate in the manner of a person being electrocuted; caustic, burning heartburn that turned into actually throwing up stomach acid in my mouth when I offended my esophagus by daring to cough (excuse ME!); and the baby kicking my right side in a manner less like the precious fluttering of butterfly wings and more like a European football star going for the winning point with my ribcage standing in as the goal; I finally fell asleep.

While I slept, I dreamed the baby was born. I was, apparently, not involved in his actual birth but instead came home one day and there he was, swaddled and laying on the floor. I approached him tentatively, and saw he had Jeff's coloring--reddish-brown hair, brown eyes, plus lots of freckles. The baby, who I addressed by a name that is patently NOT the baby name we have chosen, seemed hungry. I looked down at my chest and realized, oh yeah, that's my job. Gulp.

Then I woke up.

Pardon me while I play junior psychologist here, but I'd say the translation of last night's dream and experiences prior to dreaming indicate that I'm definitely pregnant, but also not nearly ready to be the mother to a newborn yet. So, right on track for 28 weeks.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The last time I posted was October 5, which was not only the day after our farm tour adventures, but also the anniversary of Jeff & my first date. The twelfth anniversary, to be exact.

Spending twelve years as someone's friend-girlfriend-fiance-wife teaches you two things: first, that you get to know a person you see or talk to daily for twelve years pretty well, and second, that no matter how well you think you know a person, you can always discover something new.

One of the more challenging parts of marriage in my opinion is learning to share your life and your home with someone who was raised in a different family. (That sentence sounds like I'm advocating incest...not my intention). And keep in mind that Jeff and I come from relatively similar backgrounds (families with similar values, Midwestern, Dutch ancestry, etc.). Despite the similarities in our upbringings, we are in many ways very different. We do things in different ways, because our families did them in different ways. In my family, dirty dishes that you plan on hand-washing go into the sink, in the side unoccupied by the dish rack. In Jeff's family, they go on the counter next to the sink. For the longest time, it drove me crazy that Jeff would leave his dirty dishes on the counter, particularly in our first apartment which had literally no counter space. I just thought he was being inconsiderate, because every knows that dirty dishes go in the sink. Then I started paying attention to the way things were done at Jeff's house, and I figured it out. This is also how I solved the Mystery of the Rubber Bands on the Doorknob. In Jeff's home, when they would get their newspaper, they'd remove the rubber band from around the paper and hang it in the nearest and most convenient place: around the closet doorknob. For Jeff, this translated to: rubber bands are stored on doorknobs. I couldn't figure out why on earth Jeff was taking rubber bands out of the desk and hanging them randomly on doorknobs around the house. Then I went to get something out of the closet at Jeff's parents' house and felt rubber bands...the rest is history.

When Jeff and I were first married, I had already given him the nickname Captain Distracto. This aspect of his personality manifested itself in many different ways. One good example is what would happen when Jeff got home from work. When I got home from work, I would: kick off my shoes, set my briefcase (back in ye olde days of an office job) by the coat rack, hang up my coat, hang up my car keys, and go to change my clothes. Every day, same thing, same order. Five minutes, tops.

When Jeff got home from work, it was as though he were a man suffering from amnesia who had forgotten what one needs to do to shuffle off the coil of the working day. Frequently, I would find him a half-hour after he got home, still standing by the door, holding his briefcase and car keys, still wearing his shoes and his coat. Other times he would manage to kick off his shoes, but would be wearing his coat or carrying around his keys in his hand hours later. On the occasions he managed to shed all the work-day items, they would rarely end up in the same place twice. We had a key rack, but he'd often forget to hang his keys up there, tossing them into his coat pocket or on top of the radiator instead. His coats would accumulate in a pile on top of an armchair, mere feet from the coat rack.

The evenings with Captain Distracto were funny, but the mornings after were stressful. "Where's my wallet?" he'd ask, worriedly. "Have you seen my keys?" Inevitably, he was running late, and the daily scavenger hunt for his items rarely helped matters.

A couple of days ago, I was reading through a magazine. I came across an article about focusing and concentration. As a student, this is a hot topic for me. The article analyzed several ways in which people lose focus, and offered ways to combat these. It also included a handy little quiz. You were to rate your relation to the questions on a scale of 0-3. As I began reading the questions, I started to apply them not just to me but to Jeff. And since he was sitting right there, I decided to rope him into responding for himself.

The quiz included statements like these: I wander from one task to the next without completing them. It seems much harder for me compared with others to take care of daily tasks. My home and office are cluttered and messy. I tend to run late.

Check, check, check, aaaand check.

The one that made me pause was this statement: I have difficulty developing routines for me or my family.

This is one of those things about Jeff that I've only really learned about lately. Specifically, since Charlotte was born. Because before Jeff took on the role of stay-at-home parent, I really was the partner who developed and tried to keep routines for us, such as they were. I love a routine. I like to go to bed at around the same time every night and get up at about the same time every morning. I like meals to be at specific hours. I like to know where things are going to be.

Jeff, on the other hand, is a routine-breaker. Bedtime one night is midnight. The next it's two a.m. Then he'll to to bed at 9 p.m. the next night. He'll make a sandwich at four in the afternoon because he skipped lunch, and then won't have room to eat dinner at six.

In the six years we were married before Charlotte was born, I learned to deal with this routine-less existence of Jeff's. If I was making something special for dinner, I'd inform him well ahead of time and remind him through the day so I wouldn't be disappointed that he had no appetite. I'd try not to be bothered by the fact that we rarely went to bed at the same time, and, in fact, learned to fall asleep better without Jeff trying to do the same just a foot away.

But after Charlotte came along, I started to realize how this lack of routine might be detrimental. When I went back to school when Charlotte was a couple months old, I was terrified that Jeff would forget to feed her, forget she needed a nap, a diaper change. I made charts, very specific charts with feeding times and nap times and how much to eat and how long to sleep, etc. I would get home and check how much milk was left in her bottle and quiz Jeff about how long she had slept.

My fears might have been a bit overboard, but they were not entirely unfounded. There were times I came home and found Charlotte hadn't eaten anything while I was gone, or that Jeff had forgotten to give her a nap. But for the most part I was only gone for a couple of hours, not nearly enough time to starve her or scar her for life. And usually when I walked in the door, I found them happy and playing, usually surrounded by more toys and child-related detritus than I even realized we had.

Still I would preach the gospel of the routine, of schedule. "Children need routine and order," I said time and time again. "They crave it. It tells them there is order in the world. It's comforting, familiar."

And in many ways, I was (and am) right. When Charlotte's routine is normal, when she gets to bed at 7:30 p.m. and rises on her own at 8 a.m., when she has the same options for breakfast and lunch and knows she can snack at the normal times, she seems happier and better behaved.

But I have to admit that I love coming home from school these days to find Charlotte wearing some bizarre ensemble, surrounded by random snack foods and playing a crazy, creative game with her equally strangely clad father. Jeff rarely thinks to comb her hair, to match her socks to her shirt, to wipe the breakfast oatmeal off her face. He often forgets that it's lunchtime, only realizing after she asks for yet another graham cracker that she's probably hungry. But he never, ever forgets to find some way to make their everyday existence fun and adventurous. Which in the end is more valuable to me than routine.

Here's the link to the article about focus, and the quiz.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

This weekend, Jeff, Charlotte and I went on the Kaw Valley Farm Tour. The two-day tour offers people a chance to drive around to different area farms and check out the operations. Most of the farms offer special events and activities, some specifically geared toward kids. Many offer free samples of their products (the summer sausage at the Lone Star Bison Ranch and the various goat cheese at Landaria Farm [no link, sorry] were definite stand-outs). Charlotte loved all the animals, and not just the bison, alpaca, goats, chickens and turkeys, either--even the standard farm cat was Charlotte approved (and petted).

I'm posting a few more photos at Flickr (see link, right). Check them out to see the fun we had this weekend!

But even more exciting than all the farm animals and free samples is the fact that this was a diaper-free and accident-free weekend. Despite the fact that we were on the road most of the day Saturday and a good part of this afternoon, Charlotte did not once have an accident. She wore her big girl unders the whole weekend (except at night, of course) and told us every time she had to go. That led to some interesting scenarios, such as using the 1940s-era WPA outhouse at Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm, and the situation pictured below:

Behold, this year's Christmas card photo.

But Charlotte rolled with the punches, learning there are all different kinds of bathrooms and places to go pee. She also discovered that "animals go potty on the ground." Very exciting, and educational. "Sometimes I go potty on the ground," she also confided. "Um, no," I responded.

Kaw Valley Farm Tour=highly recommended.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Things Charlotte said while "cuddling with the baby" (hugging my belly) this morning:

"Oh, he's all squishy in there! He's making popcorn!"
"Baby boy...grow big and strong...you will be precious!"
"He's bouncing around in there! I think he has a lollipop in there!"
(Whispering) "Soon you will come out and we will play and I will feed you yogurt, baby." (Pauses, thinks.) "I will eat some, too."

It appears the baby is growing big and strong, as Charlotte has requested. When I went to the doctor the day after I returned from California, I had managed to gain ten pounds since my last appointment--four weeks previous. Uh, okay! My friends had commented that it seemed like I grew more pregnant while I was out in San Diego. I guess they were right. I think lots and lots of delicious Mexican food probably contributed to the growth spurt.

This officially puts me (at 26 weeks pregnant) at the same weight I was at 35 weeks pregnant with Charlotte. :) However, my doctors in Athens were always concerned that I wasn't gaining enough, so this is a better situation. Perhaps not a great situation for my maternity wardrobe, though. I remember getting desperate for clothes that still fit in the last few weeks of my pregnancy last time. This time, I'm already outgrowing stuff.

In other baby news, I'm feeling a near-constant barrage of punching, kicking and rolling around from Kid #2, particularly between the hours of 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. When I (attempt) sleep, baby parties. These movements are as strong as I remember Charlotte's being--strong enough to startle me in the middle of class, for example. Strong enough that the poor guy sitting next to me in my afternoon class recoiled at the sight of my roiling belly. Ha!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Looking for more information about what we're eating? I'm sure you are! Check out our new food blog, Tig Eats.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I managed to capture Charlotte singing a couple of her favorites at the dinner table the other night. Here's the footage for your enjoyment:

Charlotte Sings!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Two conversations:

Jeff (while helping Charlotte put on her nighttime diaper): Charlotte, your rash is gone!
Charlotte: Where did it go?
J: It went away.
C: It is in the woods with the mama and little baby rashes.

Charlotte (while nuzzling my baby belly): This is my little brother! He will eat corn on the cob!
Jana: Oh, you think so? Eventually he will.
C: There will be a party, and he will eat corn on the cob. And special popsicles. And Dada will be there. And lots of friends, holding hands.
J: Sounds like some party!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

So, in about five hours I'll be wingin' my way to the coast, California-bound. This weekend-long reunion with my college roommates has been in the works for some time now. Despite the fact that we are, indeed, all actually going and will be there tonight, I have a hard time believing it's really happening.

Posting will be nil until I return next week.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Today is our eighth wedding anniversary. I'm spending the day in the romantic confines of the Watson Library stacks.

The traditional gift for the eighth anniversary is bronze. Jeff, I hope you like your present:

I'm sure this guy (Turkish wrestler Nazmi Avluca) won't mind sharing his medal with you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I dunno...I just don't feel much like writing lately. It's so much pressure! I'm writing for school! Whine, whine. So here are a few Charlotte updates.

1. Charlotte and sleeping. I promised a big post about Charlotte's sleeping habits a while back, but here's the (slightly) abbreviated version: Up until mid-July, Charlotte could only fall asleep while being rocked and sung to by one of her parents, all while sucking on one of our pinkie fingers. She never took a pacifier and wouldn't think about using her own thumb (gross! What were we thinking? seemed to be her reaction). Unfortunately, the finger sucking had gone from relatively peaceful to a bit more violent and toothy. Jeff and I had scars on our pinkies from Charlotte's chewy sucking. Ugh, I'm grossing myself out just describing this.

Suddenly, in July, Jeff couldn't take it anymore. He was putting C down for naps while I did bedtimes. While I thought we should wait until after our big move to try any new sleep training ideas, it became obvious that Jeff was about to crack. So I told him to do whatever he wanted. A few days later, I followed suit (my finger hurt!). We quit the finger cold-turkey. It was a rough couple of days, but surprisingly, she eventually adapted.

We were still rocking her to sleep, though, and then setting her in her crib. This began to take a long time. A long, long time. And after we moved to Lawrence, she began to only go to sleep for me, crying herself into hysterics when Jeff or anyone else would try. Fun!

The solution, surprisingly, was her big girl bed. The first night we had her bed all set up, she climbed up into bed all by herself, settled in under the covers, and fell asleep, all without any physical contact from me. I sat in the rocking chair across the room and sang my normal repertoire of songs (quite an eclectic mix, I must say, featuring show tunes, pop hits, and spirtual hymns). She fell asleep, I stood up and walked out of the room. And then the heavens opened up and angels flew down carrying fuzzy kittens and barbeque potato chips and cream soda for me. This has been the pattern every night since then (except for the giftbearing angels, sadly). She crawls into bed, settles in (sometimes this takes a while and requires some reminders from me or Jeff that it's time to sit still), and we sing until she falls asleep. I mean, not both of us. We're not in there duetting or anything. Although that reminds me...

TANGENT: Today when we were all sitting the dining table eating lunch, Charlotte started singing Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (one of her bedtime songs). Jeff chimed in, and then Charlotte wanted me to sing along, too. Then she requested that we all hold hands. I think that was one of the weirdest but also most special experiences of my life, to be sitting around the table holding hands with my husband and my two-year-old while singing "Back to the howlin' old owl in the woods / huntin' the horny-back toad..."

2. Charlotte and diapers. Charlotte is potty-training. Like many parents, we have resorted to bribery. For every successful potty on the toilet, she puts a sticker on the chart. At the end of the day, we count the stickers and that's the number of M&Ms she gets. Today was a nearly accident-free day, including a few public excursions wherein she used the public restroom. I have said the words "potty," "pee-pee," and "big girl underpants" more times in the last two weeks than I think in my entire life up to that point.

On the phone last week, Charlotte asked Uncle Awesome (my brother, Scott), if he wore big girl underpants. I didn't hear his answer.

3. Charlotte and growth. At the doctor today, we found out that Charlotte weights just over 27 pounds and is just over 33 inches tall. That's the 30th percentile for height and the 45th for weight. She's kind of a munchkin. She's still wearing 24 months pants and a few 2t things. But the doctor could not believe how well she spoke. At one point Charlotte came up to her and said "I want to play with the toys beneath the table. Can I play with them, please?" The doctor looked at her, blinked, and then laughed a little. I think it was the "beneath" that got her.

Sometimes I get stressed out about Charlotte's eating habits. She's a little picky, and some days hardly seems to eat at all. But the next day she'll do something surprising, like commandeer and eat Jeff's entire bowl of leftover spaghetti, and then move on to half a brick of cheese or something. Whatever, she's a toddler. What's the point of getting stressed out over her eating habits? I should be worrying more about whether I'm getting enough nutrients from the bottomless bags of barbeque chips I'm eating to help this baby boy develop well.

Monday, September 08, 2008

I posted some pictures on flickr of our new place. For some reason, flickr loads them all backward, so scroll through until you get to the picture of the front door, and start there. The flickr link is to the right. Or, click here to be taken to the first pic.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

On my walk home from the bus stop yesterday, I was imagining the two potential scenarios that might unfold during my ultrasound the next day. I closed my eyes (briefly, because I have enough difficulty walking and not tripping with my eyes open) and pictured the ultrasound technician saying either "it's a boy," or "it's a girl." And I pictured the reaction I would have to each. Both involved tears, naturally, but the emotions were slightly different. And I felt a little guilty about that.

I think Julie of A Little Pregnant summed up my feelings about gender really well in her post last March, when she found out that she, her husband Paul, and their son Charlie would be welcoming another little boy in August. Before her ultrasound reveal, people would ask her if she wanted a boy or a girl. Her response:

"Even being sure I'd asked it myself at some point, I had no idea until recently how common the question was. I was asked it an awful lot when we recently went south, by relatives I hadn't seen in years. The assumption seemed to be that we wanted a girl, since we already have a boy. That the experience of raising a girl would be qualitatively different, and something I'd not want to miss out on.

"That may be true; I wouldn't know. It's hard to imagine, because I don't think of Charlie as a boy, if that makes any sense. I don't identify his fundamental personhood as belonging to one gender or another...That he is occasionally bouncy and loud I chalk up to the fact that his body needs regular exercise and a venue where noisemaking is not only allowed but encouraged. His love for helping in the kitchen and doing housework is not a sign of any gender affiliation; rather it's the mark of a three-year-old's eagerness to do what his parents are doing. He is a boy, but I see his sex as incidental to the person he's becoming, rather than utterly essential. I seem him as simply — simply! — Charlie.

"Ultimately, I can't fathom a girl being any different. I know many people feel that girls are intrinsically different from boys, that biology implies destiny to a certain degree. I know there are forces beyond my control that influence how our children grow up and what roles they eventually assume...I don't feel that's sufficient reason to formulate a preference in that direction."

Julie has summed up here basically what I feel about who Charlotte is as a person, and the relationship of Charlotte the person to one aspect of her identity: her gender. And I know that a lot of people disagree with me (and Julie) about this, but I maintain that many of the so-called "genetic" differences between boys and girls are actually more a result of nurture, not nature. Not all of them, of course, but many. So I don't see Charlotte's love of cuddling and feeding her baby doll as any more "natural" or indicative of her true identity than her devotion to chucking projectiles, balls and otherwise, across the room.

So I felt guilty when I found myself feeling a little bit sadder when the ultrasound tech in my imagined scenario said "it's a girl!" As I explained to Jeff last night, it's not that I wouldn't be happy with a little girl. I mean, Charlotte's a girl, and look how rad she is! It's more that I'd be a little wistful, wondering "what if?" What would things be like with a boy and a girl? What would it feel like to have a son and a daughter?

And, of course, there's the fact that that scenario replicates my own sibling situation. I grew up with a younger brother. That relationship informs all my thoughts about kids and siblings. I have to admit that I always envisioned a situation where we'd have a daughter and son. Especially after we had Charlotte first...of course the next one would be a boy! Isn't that how it works?

But then I'd look at sisters I know (my cousins Angie & Monica, Amy & Laura for example) and remember how I'd feel slightly envious of their relationship when I was growing up. Maybe Charlotte would get to experience something I never did.

The truth is, no matter what we ended up having, Charlotte would be experiencing something I didn't. Even with a younger brother, there's no guarantee her relationship with him would be the same as mine with Scott. And Charlotte isn't a carbon copy of me (thank goodness); her relationship with any sibling would be a new creation, not a mirror imitation of someone else's relationship with someone else.

I knew all that, but I still went into the ultrasound with a shaky stomach and shallow breaths. I was nervous, or anxious, or...something. Jeff and Charlotte sat by, watching the baby on the "scream" (as Charlotte put it) in the darkened room. But as the tech took all the measurements, pointing out the three-vessel cord, the four-chambered heart, the head and stomach and kidneys and thigh bone all of proper length, my nervousness faded. I found myself focusing on the baby, the little person-to-be in there, and that baby's health. Everything looked good. The baby spazzed out just like Charlotte had during her big scan, kicking and punching and rolling around randomly. I could feel the movements and see them correspond on the screen.

So when the tech finished all her important work (including playing the galloping heartbeat not once, but twice, at Charlotte's request) and zoomed the little wand down to the baby's southern hemisphere, I had almost forgotten about that part of the scan. Almost, but not quite. I caught my breath again as I thought I caught sight of something on the screen.

"Charlotte," the tech said, locking in on something on the screen. "How'd you like a baby brother?"

And just like I predicted, I cried.
Boy or girl?

Stay tuned to find out later today!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This past weekend, Jeff, Charlotte and I traveled to Kansas City to take in a Royals/Tigers game.

The weather was beautiful, perfect for an early evening game. Jeff speculated on our way there that we'd have no trouble getting tickets at the gate. "I'm pretty sure the Royals never sell out," he said.

We were both surprised to see crowds of people and long lines at the ticket windows. It turns out there was a concert following the game; many people only bought tickets to the game because it was bundled into the deal with the concert. We were lucky enough to get two seats in the upper deck. We made it to our seats in time for the first batter.

Charlotte held up remarkably well, lasting all nine innings with the aid of peanuts and a hot dog. She sang along to "Take Me out to the Ball Game" and cheered "Yay, Tigers!" when appropriate.

All in all, a very fun experience.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Somehow the last week and a half have been full and busy, yet when I look back I have a hard time remembering any specific thing we've done. The days run together into a blur of quick shopping trips to Iowa Street (the main business drag) for the various small things one needs when one moves, such as extra wastebaskets, a curtain set, extension cords, etc., unpacking random boxes (speaking of which, we're still missing a box of kitchen goods somewhere. I keep needing random things, like my garlic press, and discovering that thing is in the mystery box), going for quick walks around our new 'hood, and just getting settled in. It fills the day, but doesn't make for very exciting prose.

I've been going through some changes in the last two weeks, too...namely physically. Suddenly there are clothes in my closet that are off-limits: too-tight pants or too-short shirts. I actually wore a maternity shirt (one that isn't very maternity-y, but still) the other day. I distinctly remember when I began showing like this with Charlotte, and it was about a month later in my pregnancy than I'm showing this time. I wanted to be more diligent about chronicling my growth in pictures this time, so I guess it's time to bust out the Nikon. I'm 19 weeks along, if you're counting.

I'm also feeling a lot (a LOT) of movement out of this baby already. Today while I was reading on the couch I actually saw several kicks/punches through my abdomen, a phenomenon I recall happening later with Charlotte, too. It was very cool, if again a bit reminiscent of certain scenes from Alien (or Spaceballs, if you prefer). Charlotte likes to feel the baby kick, although I don't think she's patient enough to really feel anything. The bigger movements later on will no doubt impress her.

Some funny recent Charlotte quotes:

While Jeff was attempting to put Charlotte down for a nap:
Charlotte: You make ME so mad. You make me SO mad. You make me so MAD. You make me so mad, okay? You make me so mad all day. You make me so very mad. (All said in a very pleasant tone of voice).

Still trying to nap:
Jeff: You can suck your thumb.
Charlotte: No, I can't do that. I'm too worried about it.
J: Why?
C: I can't suck it. Cuz I'm worried about the thing. It's occupied (ed. note: here I think she meant ocky-pied as in "ocky"). It doesn't taste very good.

While Jeff and Charlotte are outside coloring with chalk, Charlotte asks Jeff to draw a baseball. He complies. She proceeds to surround it with wobbly lines.
Charlotte: I'm doing the miracle.
Jeff: The miracle? What? Why? How is that the miracle?
Charlotte: I'm drawing the spinning, the round and round and round.

This morning when I asked Charlotte what she'd like for breakfast:
Charlotte: I think some string.
Jana: Some string? String cheese?
C: NO! No string cheese! Some STRING!
J: I don't know what you mean, then.
C, sighing: Oh, mama. Just get it.
J: Well, I can't get it if I don't know what you mean.
C: Yes, I think you can.

While Charlotte was coloring and I was on the couch, reading:
Charlotte: Mama! I found a color for you! It is your favorite.
Jana: Oh, thank you!
C: Now you will color with it.
J: Oh, I will, will I?
C: Yes. You will get off the couch, and say "thank you Charlotte," and we will color.
J: Sounds like a plan.
C: Get off the couch NOW, mama!
J: moving slowly

That last one had me laughing for some time. It's what we say to her in the bathtub when she needs to sit down. I had no idea she'd appropriate it in such a situation, but it worked.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm sitting in a bookstore overlooking "Mount" Oread (I'm sorry, I have to include the quotes. It's a hill, people!) on the campus of the University of Kansas. The last week has been a whirlwind of unpacking, acclimating to our new home, and exploring our new city. The week before that was an even bigger whirlwind, perhaps even a cyclone, of tying up loose ends in Athens, throwing everything we own (save three suitcases) into a moving truck, and driving 775 miles (over three days) to Kansas.

Looking back, I'm really glad we decided to spread the trip out over several days. It gave us a nice buffer between the loading and the unloading, and it limited the hours we spent trapped in a car with a two-year-old who would only interrupt her medley of songs to ask rhetorically, "What do I want, mama?" in a tone that can only be described as petulant. Or perhaps whiny. What she wanted was a mystery. It was typically some food item we didn't have on hand.

Overall, Charlotte did very, very well, and has continued to do well. She loved staying in hotels, swimming in the pools, sleeping in the little cribs. And she loves our new house, and is adjusting well to her "new" bed, which is really just her crib mattress on the floor. We hope to transition to a toddler bed or a twin soon.

Jeff and I feel the same way about our new house: it's fantastic. The space, people. THE SPACE! It's so huge compared to what we were used to, and even what we were expecting. Our living room alone is about the size of our former first floor. And the kitchen...well, we had three people in there at the same time the other day, and none of us felt crowded! I couldn't be alone in our old kitchen without feeling claustrophobic. We're still getting a few things unpacked and put away, but my mom (a.k.a. Hurricane Kathy) descended upon the boxes and lo, there was much unpacking and organization. It was wonderful.

Today is our first day in our house with just the three of us (plus the baby in utero, I guess). It feels a bit quiet. Charlotte misses having a grandparent around to command to read to her, feed her, hug her, etc. But it also feels like this really is our home...not just a strange, temporary place we were filling with our stuff.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

We're here! And so is our stuff!

We'll be spending the next couple of days getting moved in, but I'll try to post a bit if and when I can.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

And...we're off!

The truck has picked up the trailer, and as soon as we take one last walk-through, we're outta here.

Kansas, here we come!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Okay, I fixed the link to the movie below. Enjoy!
I'm taking a break from packing (speaking of which, why do we have so many books? WHY?!?) to post a couple things. I've been pretty sporadic with posting lately, what with all the traveling and scrambling to find a place to live and moving and being pregnant and tired and needing to make a sandwich and maybe eat this whole bag of Doritos, etc. But so much has been happening that I really need to bring this blog up to date. I'll start by posting a video with a few highlights of our trip to Michigan this past week:

Charlotte's Week in Michigan

Here are a few posts I'll try to write in the next few days before we move: The Long History of (Giving Charlotte) the Finger, The Amusing Anecdote of Charlotte the Flower-Girl, The Tale of Feeling the Baby Move and Realizing I'm Actually Pregnant, and The Jeff Tig Story, or Why Do We Have So Many Stinking Books: An Autobiography of a Bibliophile and a Pack-Rat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Just a sneak peek:

Thursday, July 24, 2008

This is just to say: We got a place to live in Lawrence.

I guess my dream of a beautiful hobo palace built of moving boxes is over. Not that I'm sad. No, no, no.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm fourteen weeks into this pregnancy, and the dreams are back.

I've always been a vivid dreamer. At night, I'm whisked away to a magical land where I take part in elaborate, complex plots that unfold with just a dash of my real life in them to make them weirdly familiar. I almost always remember my dreams, often down to details of setting, time of day, colors in my surroundings, differences in the people I know (you were there, but you had a moustache! A long, Yosemite-Sam stache.). In the morning, I often have to lay in bed for a few minutes...not to fully wake up, but to process the drama of last night's dreamland offering.

Pregnancy seems to turn this feature of my non-waking life up a notch. My memories of my dreams are even more vivid. Often the real turns surreal (And then your moustache started singing to us!). I'm frequently traveling to places I've been, and everything is different. Last night, I dreamed I was back in Oxford, and all the streets had been renamed and repaved in rainbow-colored bricks. I only had one day to navigate the city, and by the time I figured out which street was which (oh, okay...Walton is now called St. Cunningham's, and all the bricks are pink) it was time to catch my bus back to London. I didn't have time to visit any of my old favorite spots.

I like my crazy dreams. I love waking up in the morning with what seems like a novel's-worth of strange new material in my brain. I even love boring people with the details of my weird dreams (sorry!). I know no one cares what I dreamed about, but I can't resist sharing.

Strangely, I haven't had any delivery-room dreams yet. They were pretty common when I was pregnant with Charlotte. Perhaps this reflects my lower level of anxiety about the delivery of baby #2.

I hope to put together a video of Charlotte sometime this week. Watch for it here!

Monday, July 14, 2008

In brief:

Today, according to my pregnancy calendar, I have reached the 14th week of pregnancy. This is the first day I've gone without my anti-nausea meds, and...I feel good. Almost normal. Hooray!

And this from Jeff:

Jeff: You like sandwiches. You love me. And mama and Baby Jesus and the baby in mama’s tummy and –
C: and baseball games!
J: Well…right. And baseball games.
C: And the sky! And strollers.

Friday, July 11, 2008

So, I haven't written here in some time. Several times I've opened up the new post screen in blogger, typed that exact sentence, and then sat, waiting for the muse to descend. Usually, instead, Charlotte came to me begging for another reading from one of her new "monkey George" books, or for some chocolate (whispered in hushed, reverent tones), or just to demonstrate inarguably that she is, indeed, two now by crying and collapsing into a heap.

Seriously, that last one happens all the time. Is this common two-year-old behavior? I can understand the collapsing weepies in response to someone cruelly thwarting her demands, but often she turns into a quivering heap of snot and tears over absolutely nothing. I remember feeling that way as a teenager. Is two the new teen?

I've begun coming up with creative ways to deal with her little "spells." A couple days ago I took a picture of her every time she started crying. This would either cause her to cry harder ("No, don't take a picture, mama!") or stop her ("I see the picture, mama?"). I got some good shots. I might make these her new wallet photos, as they seem like the most accurate representation of Charlotte as a two-year-old.

It's becoming more real to me that we'll be adding another kid into the mix here sometime mid-January. I mean, I've had several weeks to come to grips with this news, but it was the ultrasound last week that finally flipped the "a-ha" switch. I don't know what I was expecting when I went into the ultrasound. "Oh, looks like you're not pregnant after all...it's just sea monkeys!" You'd think the crippling nausea for the last two months would have been indication enough. But seeing the little alien-headed sprog pop up there on the screen, kicking away and grabbing the umbilical cord, was apparently all I needed to really, truly realize I'm going to be a mother of two.

So I've started thinking less of Charlotte as the center-of-the-universe, one-and-only-child that she's been around here, and started imagining how she'll be with a sibling to deflect some of her glory. One big thing I wonder is how Kid 2.0 will differ from Charlotte. Will he/she be a big baby like Charlotte was? Will this one sleep (please, God)? Will the second child be as bizarrely verbal as Charlotte is?

See, we tend to think of Charlotte as just the way kids are, since she's our only model at this point. Then we get together with other parents of kids of similar age and realize: Oh, Charlotte's not quite as adventurous as some other kids. Whoa, none of these other kids speak in complex, full sentences. Wait, your two-year-old falls asleep ON HIS OWN? (Cue tears [mine]).

Speaking of complex sentences: I continue to struggle with insomnia. I'm trying to get to bed, lights out, earlier, but most nights find me tossing and turning, cursing my crazy-legs, until the wee hours of the morning. Last night I was in bed incredibly early for me, but right as I was drifting off, Miss C woke up. After I got her back to sleep, it took me a couple hours to get there myself.

So then this morning Jeff got up with Charlotte when she woke up so I could get a little more sleep. She wasn't terribly happy about this arrangement, but she snuck into my room to wish me well, anyway. "Hello, mama! Have a good morning! Have some nice dreams!" Jeff and I looked at each other like, what did she say? Belatedly, I called after her, "Thanks, honey!"

I'll try to be better about posting here, but we've got some crazy weeks coming up soon, so it might still be sporadic. No promises!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Okay, who flipped the two switch?

Some Charlottisms from the last week:

While eating pancakes: Ripping off her bib, she shouts, "NO! I don't want any!" A minute later, she says, sotto voce, "Okay Char-char! What do you want now?" Nice try, kid.

Prompting us with what she thinks should be our lines is a big thing overall. She'll sidle up to me and say, "What do you want?" I'll respond with, "Okay, baby. What do you want?" Her inevitable response is "Huh?" That means she wants chocolate, a word to sacred to be uttered aloud. Besides, she knows we'll say no. But perhaps by repetitively responding with "Huh" she'll drive us crazy enough that we just give in! (Hasn't worked yet).

Cruising through the grocery store yesterday, she was in full-blown two-year-old mode. "Ooh, look at that! I want it. I NEED it!" That last one made me laugh. No way she really needs Fruity Pebbles, taco shells, or a colorful pack of adult diapers. Marketing, I tell you.

Arguing against logic is another big thing. At her bedtime, I tell her it's time to get ready for bed. "It's starting to get dark, baby. Let's get ready for bed now." Her response: "No, mama! It is NOT getting dark now. It is NOT night."

She's having lots of imaginary conversations with her stuffed animals. "Oh, hello Bear! How are you today? I am fine, thank you! Oh, you are very naughty!" Ultimately, every one of her toys is very naughty.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Big congratulations to my cousin Amy, husband John, and daughter Joclyn who welcomed Jack Myers Tracy into the world at 3:48 this morning. He is a nice, chubby baby in the Terlouw tradition. I also understand that Amy may have beat my 3 hours of pushing time by a few minutes. My sympathies! We'll have to compare notes soon.

Welcome to the world, baby Jack. Your cousin Charlotte is already eager to read you some books.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy Birthday, Charlotte!

We had a fun, low-key birthday today. There were cupcakes.

There were presents.

And, of course, there was corn on the cob.

And this little girl turned two.
Happy birthday, sweet girl. I'm so glad you're here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Right off the bat, I felt like this time was different from the last time. Sure, I had morning sickness (misnomer: all day sickness, really) with Charlotte. But this felt like...more. I thought I might just not be remembering clearly. But some of the symptoms just seemed unfamiliar.

I felt tired and weak all the time, even long before any weight loss and appetite loss should have made me feel that way. Walking up the hill from the parking lot to my office had me completely winded. My heart would pound and race for fifteen minutes after I unlocked my office door. Walking up the stairs required a break. I started taking the elevator up the two flights to the copy room. I still couldn't catch my breath.

Then the insomnia struck. I would be completely, utterly exhausted, and yet I couldn't fall asleep. My legs would twitch, my joints would ache, and I would toss and turn until 2, 3, 4 a.m. And then I would want to sleep all day. If I let myself, I could sleep 12 hours every night. And then go back for a nap a couple hours later.

When my doctor today told my that my blood work indicated I had hyperthyroidism, I was surprised. But when he started to list the symptoms (including feeling nervous, moody, weak, or tired; having hand tremors, or have a fast or irregular heartbeat, or have trouble breathing even when you are resting; and losing weight even though you are eating normally) something clicked.

We did some more blood work today just to check my levels, but I'm going to start taking some medicine to help regulate my thyroid. The meds can pose some risk to the baby (although that is rare), but not taking the meds is apparently worse.

What I'm curious about is whether many of my nausea symptoms are actually related to or caused by my thyroid.

Interestingly, my dad had hyperthyroidism when he was in high school. I talked to him on the phone today and we compared symptoms. Perhaps concerned that I was going to inherit all his medical maladies, he asked how my blood sugar is. So far, so good...

For some more information on hyperthyroidism and pregnancy, here's a website I found particularly helpful.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Some scenes from teaching

September 2005--It is my first day of graduate school, and my first day of teaching. My class, an English 151 Composition course, starts at 9 a.m. I am awake and ready before 7, the butterflies in my stomach flying laps around my breakfast. I spend hours preparing for this first class, which will essentially be introductions and reading through the syllabus. Nonetheless, I do everything up to writing out a script for what I will say. I have never been so terrified of 20 18-year-olds before.

November 2005--I have been teaching for weeks now, and feel a relative ease in front of my students. I still spend far too much time prepping for each class, but since it's my first time in the professor's seat, it's not too surprising. But something else has come up--I'm several weeks pregnant, having some spotting, and am ordered to take a week of bedrest. I teach every day. Fortunately, one of my friends is available to teach my class, and I learn for the first time the glory of a well-chosen movie. She stretches the movie out over three days. It's a snap.

December 2005--I finished filing my grades weeks ago, so I check in on my teaching evaluations from my first quarter of teaching. They are surprisingly good. I am relieved. This scene will repeat itself every quarter, except for:

December 2006--My first quarter back teaching after Charlotte was born was a minor disaster. This will go down as my biggest teaching disappointment. I had the opportunity to teach a 200-level literature course for the first time. A combination of not enough time to prepare (infants take up all your time, I found), an unclear idea of the goals of the class, and a group of underprepared and underwhelmed students led to my worst teaching experience ever. I dread reading my evaluations. They are not uniformly bad, but almost each one is critical of the course, the materials, and (gulp) me. I go into winter break determined to make my next class a success.

June 2007--My last two quarters of teaching were the most fun I've had as a professor. Each quarter I taught one section of junior composition focused on the theme of women and nature. My students were bright, articulate, and JUNIORS! I cement my love for 21-year-old students as opposed to 18-year-old newbies. They know what a thesis statement is! They understand the difference between paraphrasing and quoting! I love them!

July 2007--Ugh. I hate juniors. Teaching a summer course in junior comp was a huge mistake. My students have jobs and other obligations, and don't understand that they're required to do as much work in five weeks as they normally would in ten. I never have perfect attendance. Several students stop coming at all. For the first time, I give multiple students an "F." Why do I feel like the failure?

April 2008--I receive an email from the graduate director at KU offering me a first year fellowship. That means one year without teaching, only taking graduate courses and doing my own academic work. But...I love teaching! Do I really want a year off? Uh, yes please.

June 17, 2008--I head to the office to finish up grading for the quarter. Most of the papers are already graded. I have some extra credit to calculate, some revisions to read, and then I just plug it all in to Blackboard to calculate. It takes less than fifteen minutes to finalize all 60 of my students' grades. Then, with the push of a button, I'm done. I'm done! I'm all alone in the office, so I take a moment to do a happy dance.

So now my teaching cap is off until fall 2009. I hardly know what to do with myself!