Thursday, July 30, 2009

A little vignette...

Evan is still sleeping upstairs, since I did my cool James Bond stealth roll away and dive under the bed thing and he didn't wake up...

I thought I'd present a little vignette of a day at the pool for the mother of a 2 1/2 year old and an 8 week old. Hey, it made Sarah laugh...

So I'm going to meet friends at the pool. You wouldn't think this would be such a tough thing to do. And it isn't, if you're willing to put up with some slight changes to the usual. On this particular day, this was my third morning waking up to no shower, per Evan's mildly eccentric wake up time. So I pulled my greasy hair into a ponytail and put a ball cap on my nasty head. I loaded up the boys and got them to the pool. I arrived and saw the other moms... most in tankinis with matching skirts, etc. And I looked down and noticed what I was wearing:

- a red bathing suit with breast milk stains on it from the last time I nursed at the pool. I hadn't noticed or remembered that I hadn't washed it. So I decide to keep my t-shirt on, which was...
- the last clean t-shirt in my drawer, a 12-year-old beauty I got at an abstinence rally. Yes, folks, I had "we're going to save sex until marriage" on my back at the kiddie pool.
- And to top it off, there were smudges of mascara still left under my makeupless eyes.

But, hey, I was there!!! With both kids, and Seth was having a great time in the kiddie pool, dumping cupfuls of water on himself.

I successfully nurse the baby by a complicated arrangement where I use a beach towel to cover up, while another mom keeps an eye on Seth, who's occasionally looking up and mouthing a plaintive, "Mommy? Mommy?" But lunch time is creeping up. I dig in my bag, looking for something to give Seth. I come up with a bag of stale cheerios. And realize I can't find a diaper for Evan. And then pray he doesn't decide to poop.

So there Seth sits, on his beach towel, eating cereal out of a bag, while the other moms around me are breaking out tiny plastic containers of fresh watermelon and macaroni and cheese. Did I mention that I've got him out of his swim trunks and diaper, and he's been changed into... a generic Walmart diaper and plastic shoes. Because I didn't bring a change of clothes. Hey, it was hot. Who needs clothes to get back and forth to the car? You're just going in the house to eat lunch and nap anyway, right?

We head home after "snack," and get there a little late. Seth is asking me what he can have for lunch there in the backseat. I get him home, plop him in his high chair, make him a peanut butter sandwich, and race upstairs to take off my wet bathing suit. The baby wakes up in his car seat and starts crying as I start to undress. Of course. I throw on the closest thing to me, a nursing nightgown. Or shall I say, attempt to throw it on. I'm still wearing my baseball cap, so that's not working so well. I eventually knock the cap off, get the gown on, and race downstairs to the red faced, sweaty baby who desperately wants my attention.

I go to get Seth's milk out of the fridge and when I pick up the cup, I still feel the ice rattling around in there. From the water cup I'd carefully created for our trip to the pool. Which meant he must've drunk hot milk at the pool from the wrong sippy cup. Which meant that I then said a prayer that he wouldn't get horribly sick and throw up. Which He didn't, because God is good.

So we're alive and well, and we made it to the pool and back. But I know now why I don't go to the swimming pool by myself much these days... =)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

On raising children to love Christ...

I just came across this great post from It's Almost Naptime. I haven't read her blog before, but its been a treat.

I hope to get my hands on some of these resources soon, especially the Bible memorization and catechism stuff. And I've heard that the Seeds cds are great, too. There is so much good stuff out there that we didn't have when I was little!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Pennies in Pasta... and more...

We've been crazy busy this week, so I'm pretty tired today. Well, 'cause of that and the night owl 8-week-old at our house... =) But I did find a website that's a tired mother's best friend. Check out all the examples of Tot Trays here. They inspired me to come up with this activity with what I had on hand. And that was... a plastic bowl, a half used box of colorful pasta spirals, a ton of pennies, and the little glass bowl I use for soy sauce when we have potstickers. Which we're not eating right now because they are incredibly time intensive, yet delicious. So... dump a handful of pennies in the pasta, stir them around, and then have your toddler pick them out and put them in the glass dish. The glass dish makes a satisfying clink when the pennies hit it. =)

This is one of my best thrift store finds ever! When we were at the beach, we stopped at a local thrift store that was not owned by the overpriced Goodwill people. They'd also never heard of CPSIA. =) And that's where I found these great bear beads and the foam board they go in. They're perfect for Seth's stage of fine motor skills right now. And... the whole thing was $2! I'm also looking for educational toys, and they're hard to find for cheap...

And this picnic table was $5! It'll be great for doing messy crafts outside and having picnics. Seth loves picnics these days.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Thoughts on the second child...

I don't know where the last 6 weeks went. =)

But I thought I'd take this moment when Evan is sleeping sweetly in his swing to write a couple of thoughts about them.

One thing we've learned is that Evan is not Seth. =) Sounds simple, but I think that you really unconsciously think your second will do things just like your first. Until you're proven wrong.

For one thing, Evan will let you know in no uncertain terms how he feels about things. There's not much soft crying or whining on the way to Unhappyville. He ramps up pretty quickly to eardrum blasting banshee screaming. I'm talking red face, sweat coming out of every pore, hair getting wet and turning curly from it, kind of screaming. We're used to it at this point, but it still takes our guests by surprise.

He also doesn't sleep like Seth. Now granted, Seth was sleeping 12 hours at night from the time he was a teeny baby. He wasn't supposed to, but he did, because he had jaundice. And by the time the jaundice was completely gone, he was just supposed to sleep longer, I guess. So we were kinda clueless about the expected newborn sleeping pattern...

So we made the mistake of trying to put Evan down too early at night, before he was really sleepy. For a couple of weeks. =) So I guess the marathon nighttime screaming fits were our fault. He's doing better at night now that we've stopped that. But he's still harder to calm down in the evening than Seth was, and after a few weeks of using the same techniques that he used with Seth, David realized that they weren't working... at all. And he's not quick to change plans midstream. Let's just say that we're not going to be swaddling him, putting him down drowsy, and walking away to let him fall asleep on his own for a little while longer. =)

But at this point, Evan is going down relatively calmly between 10:30 and midnight, sleeping until 5:00ish, eating, and then going back to sleep until 8:00. We've made significant progress... Last night he woke me up to eat at 5:30, but he still went right back to sleep without being rocked or walked. Yeah!!!

There are times when I've complained because Evan isn't as easy of a baby as Seth was. I can't count the number of times that I've said, "This baby would be happy as a clam if I strapped him to me 24 hours a day." And I'm complaining, not rejoicing. And then one day I thought, "Why am I not rejoicing about this? After all, I did ask God to give me a snuggly baby. And that's exactly what He did. I'll still take the down side of not having my hands free much to get a snuggler." Because, really, Evan's unhappiness stops immediately if I pick him up. And if he falls asleep on my shoulder, then he's really in heaven. He's like a puppy. =)

And Evan really isn't a difficult baby. I just had a very compliant baby to start out with. So a baby that's even a little bit less easily contented seems tougher in comparison. And I also think I have a bad baby memory of the early days. I think I'm certainly making them out to be a little easier than they were.

This is rambling, and it probably doesn't seem like it has a point, but I guess my point is this: Evan has bewildered us both because we expected something a little different. And that's made me disgruntled at times. But I'm now starting to be able to laugh at myself for expecting another miniature Seth, and I'm starting to relax and appreciate Evan for who he is and see the best in him. We don't have to understand exactly how he works right now, and it'll probably change next week anyway. We'll just keep working toward family goals, and we'll accept that the ways we get to them might be a little bit different.

The end. =)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Mother's Little Helper 5000

Straight from the Swedish black market, where all Nordic mothers have known about it for years, we introduce to you the Mother's Little Helper 5000! Though it looks suspiciously like a cheap drugstore headband, do not be fooled by its simple appearance. This is a powerful tool. Though completely unsuitable for long car trips, as a flailing baby can turn it into Mother's Little Blindfold or chew toy, this device can give a mom a full extra minute to put her laundry in the washing machine. Adult supervision required.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Homemade egg mcmuffins...

One of the nicest things that I was given after Evan's birth was a package of homemade egg mcmuffins. A friend brought them over frozen, and I would take one out each morning and pop it in the microwave. They were such a lifesaver that I thought I'd make a big batch while my mom was here to help.

So here's how ya do it... Buy some english muffins, and cut them in half. Lay them out on a cookie sheet, and heat up your broiler. Toast them under the broiler for about 2-3 minutes, until they're just a little bit crispy. Then scramble up some eggs, one egg for each muffin. I added a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and a little milk.

Then you're going to need this gizmo you see in the bottom picture. It's called an egg poacher, and I bought mine at Walmart for $5. I put a little water in the bottom of a 10 inch pan, brought it to a boil, and then poured the egg in each cup. Then I put the lid on, and a couple of minutes later, they were done. I sprayed the cups with canola oil, and they slid right out easily. I also tried doing some with canning lids, but that didn't work nearly as well. It's worth buying the gizmo.

After the eggs and muffins were done, I put one egg on each muffin bottom, buttered the inside of the muffin top, and then added a little lunch meat ham and a slice of cheddar cheese. I had to tear the cheese to fit and not hang out too much around the edges. After they were done, I wrapped each one in plastic wrap and filled a big ziploc bag with them. Done! An easy breakfast for a mommy who usually needs to eat with one hand...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Photos of the week...

We've made it! David is finally home, and my fairy godmother has returned to her house. Man, it's exhausting to do the night shift all by myself! Mom was a treasure to us, but it was still tough.

But we had a great time while Nana was here. She brought her John Phillip Sousa marching tape and musical instruments, and she and Seth marched and marched around the house together. He was a high stepper, and his favorite was the shakers. She brought one that I'd colored made with an old parmesan can and macaroni noodles. =)

The top pic is of our personal outdoor water park. As you can see, we have a water slide and a splash pool. =) Seth is saying "cheese" in this picture. It's one of his newest accomplishments.

Mom helped me take some pictures of Evan with his eyes wide open, like they are usually. He loves to look around. He's 6 weeks old today...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Chicken, Black Beans, and Yellow Rice Bake

The last few weeks have been made so much better by... dinners that we haven't cooked ourselves. =) Seriously, they have been such a gift. I've seen the body of Christ in action, and I'm humbled by receiving so much.

When Seth was born, we got one week of dinners every day. That was a wonderful thing, but I found out afterward that it would've been better to request having them spread out. This time around, we've received meals every MWF for three weeks! This is because we've lived here longer, and we know a lot more people than we did when Seth was born. Friends from MOPs, CBS, and our Sunday School class have signed up all together using an awesome website called Food Tidings.

One of the nicest things about receiving meals is getting to try other people's recipes. =) I got this recipe from a friend who brought us a meal, and we loved it. Another friend, who just had a baby herself not long ago, brought us a meal later. And then I found out that she had mastitis, the baby has thrush, and this is her third child! =) So she got a meal from us that I made at night while David held Evan, and it was this dish. It makes a good bit of food, which is great when you need leftovers to stretch.

Chicken, Black Beans, and Yellow Rice Bake

1 box (7 oz) yellow rice mix OR 1 ½ packets of Mahatma Yellow Rice or this recipe
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
½ cup chopped carrots
1 Tbs EVOO
2 cups cooked, cubed chicken
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles, undrained
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
hot sauce & sour cream, if desired

1. Prepare rice according to package.
2. Sauté onion, green pepper, and carrots in hot oil in skillet over medium heat about 10 minutes or until tender. You can cut up the chicken and saute it in there as well, if you need to.
3. Combine rice, veggies, chicken, beans, tomatoes and 1 ½ cups cheese in a large bowl. Spoon into a greased 9 x 13 dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
4. Bake, covered, at 350° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes.

Yes, I've been posting a lot of recipes lately. =) What can I say... I don't have a lot of deep thoughts on the brain at the moment.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

VBAC... the final chapter...

I went for my 5 week check up today. Mom is here to help me while David is gone for a training this week, so I left Seth at home. The nurses all took turns cuddling the baby, so I could talk to the doc unhindered.

I asked him how often he sees a thin uterus like mine on a repeat c-section. He said that he sees it in less than 5% of his repeats, so it wouldn't have been easy to predict that I would be one of those. He also said that a thin area in the uterus doesn't happen because of the way they sewed me up the first time. It's just a product of how your particular uterus heals up. He said that he's had a woman with a thin spot have a couple of c-sections after that with no trouble, but she won't be having any VBACs. The spot is too fragile.

A week after I had the baby, I was at a toddler birthday party, and I started talking to a friend of mine who used to be a labor and delivery nurse at a local hospital. She told me that if I'd decided to have a VBAC, she would've given me some advice based on what she'd seen in the hospital. What she'd seen hadn't been pretty.

She told me about a woman who'd had a c-section for her first delivery who came into the hospital after laboring at home for awhile with her second child. My friend started getting her settled in, and she pulled out the monitor to check the baby's heartbeat. Tragically, she couldn't find one. The woman's uterus had ruptured during labor at home, and she hadn't known it. Because her uterus ruptured, the baby died. There was nothing anyone could do, and there was no warning.

So this leads me to something important I've learned from this experience...

If you've had a c-section, you need to be very, very careful if you want to have a VBAC later on. If you want to have a VBAC, you MUST go straight to the hospital once you start having contractions. You cannot wait for them to get strong because strong contractions can rupture your uterus. Once you are at the hospital, the baby can be monitored, and if things start going south, they can do an emergency c-section to get the baby out immediately if your uterus starts to rupture.

After my experience, and after what I've heard from medical professionals, I really feel that un-monitored VBAC laboring is dangerous and irresponsible. You are putting yourself and your baby at risk. Please don't. The most important thing is that your baby arrives safely, no matter how it gets here...

Monday, July 06, 2009

In the interest of full disclosure...

... we've seen some pretty low moments here today. So this post is for those who hint that I talk too much about sunshine and roses on my blog. =)

I woke up this morning with a urinary tract infection. If you've ever had one, I've probably said enough to conjure up some bad memories.

So this is essentially the phone call I made to my obgyn's office this morning...

Nurse: So what's going on?

Ellen: I woke up with a urinary tract infection, and it's getting worse. I have a 5 week old baby strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn so I can get in and out of the bathroom quickly. The pain makes tears come to my eyes... and I have a cranky two-year-old upstairs in crib timeout. Also, my husband can't come home from work. Can you please prescribe me an antibiotic? I have an appointment to see you tomorrow already, but that's not soon enough.

Nurse: Ohhhh- k. I will ask the doctor and get right back to you.

I got my antibiotic.

And now that I have it, and some painkiller, things are definitely looking up.

And I know she isn't, but if the lady who honked at me in the parking lot at Rite-Aid was reading this post, this is what I'd say to her:

" I'm ok now. Don't worry. I know that when you were turning, all you saw was a woman standing beside her open van door, blocking the space you wanted. So you honked. I know that it was only after she started yelling a boy's name in terror that you realized she was afraid you'd just run over her toddler (who, incidentally, was right in the van where she'd told him to go). And it was only after you got out of the car that you saw the disgusting, leaky diaper she was trying to change on the front passenger seat. And it was only then that you heard the angry 5-week-old screaming. So I'm not upset with you. Thanks for asking me three times if I was ok. We've all been there. Sometimes the situation looks completely different after you get the whole story..."

Saturday, July 04, 2009

An authentic 4th of July parade...

Maybe you watched a 4th of July parade today... but we were in one! Aren't you jealous? =) Well, it was a tad bit impromptu. Someone from our neighborhood went around putting flyers in all the mailboxes, proposing a children's parade. Anyone who was interested was supposed to show up at this certain cul de sac at 9:30 a.m.

So last night, we got back from a cookout at a friend's house, and we debated whether or not we'd do this. But hey, the baby wasn't going down easily, and we were still awake, so we brainstormed about whether or not we could pull it together. A few balloons, some red yarn, and some leftover streamer from a baby shower, and the stroller was decorated. =) I'm glad we have a party box in the cupboard with all kinds of randomness in it.

The parade crew... I think there were about 50 people in the parade. There were lots of decorated bicycles and small kids and people carrying flags. Before it started, a mom said a few words about thinking about all those who had sacrificed for our freedom, and she even mentioned thanking the Lord. Interesting... Another mom carried a portable ipod dock with Sousa marches playing. The bicylists ended up leaving those of us with strollers and wagons in the dust, but that's ok. =) And after it was all over, some other family passed out bomb pops to a bunch of the kids. Sweet...

So here we are... a family of 4 on our first 4th together. Evan slept through it all, but he can say he marched, too. =)