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!