Monday, December 28, 2009

Our Baby is Here

Silas David Jens arrived on Saturday! I began having some stronger contractions on Christmas Eve and had some other signs of labor and stronger contractions on Christmas morning. I tried to lay low and things died down by mid-day on Christmas. The next morning, I began having irregular, mostly mild contractions at 8 am. This continued throughout the morning. I was confused, since I have always gone straight into full-on labor in the past. Finally, at 1 pm, the contractions began to get a little stronger. Within the hour I wanted the kids to be gone, so Craig took them over to my friend S's house. (Thank you, thank you, thank you again, S!) When he got home, I was shaking, sweating, and feeling worried about when to go to the hospital, but within a few more contractions I decided it was time. Once I got up and tried to get ready to go, the activity put my labor into major high gear--the contractions were nearly constant and very painful. We called our midwife, who could hear me moaning in the background, and we set off for the hospital.

Once we got there, I walked myself in as quickly as I could between contractions, leaning against whatever I could find when one would strike. At the front desk, we found they had lost my preregistration, and the woman tried to get us to register, but I began leaning on her desk, cussing and dripping sweat, so she sent us back to a room. There, they told me I was totally dilated, and the doctor who was there (since my midwife had not yet arrived) told me that whenever I wanted to push I could flip over from my hands and knees and put my feet in the stirrups. I said something like, "Why? I'm not doing that." His response? "Well, I've never delivered a baby like that. I'm not sure what to do if the shoulders get stuck." I said, "It will be fine," and started to push. My midwife arrived a few minutes later, much to the doctor's relief, and I began to push in earnest. I eventually did have to flip to my back since Silas's big head was turned a bit funny and his shoulder got a little stuck, but he came out just fine after some big pushes. He weighed 9 lb. 6 oz. and his head measured 14.5 inches. It was a little chaotic, but it all turned out fine in the end. We are at home resting and recovering.

Monday, December 21, 2009


No baby yet. My due date is tomorrow, but I don't really expect to meet this guy for at least a week. Henry was over a week late, and I don't have a lot of signs of labor yet. Early in this pregnancy, I thought having a due date near Christmas would be a bad thing, but it is actually great. I got everything done for Christmas about a week ago, and now I'm just enjoying the time with my family (well, except for when the boys are fighting--approximately six hours per day--and Craig is welding in my laundry room). I wonder why I leave everything until the last minute most years? Also, with Christmas to look forward to, plus some fun events coming up that I can attend if I haven't recently had the baby, I'm not feeling impatient. Whenever he gets here will be fine.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

House Photos

Because I'm not blogging until further notice--late pregnancy plus Christmas equals general brain fog and exhaustion--I figured I would at least post a few pictures. Here are some shots of our house, which friends and relatives far and wide had been requesting during the summer and fall but have probably given up on by this point. In order from top to bottom: living, dining, kitchen, office. I think the rest of the house was too messy for photos, but there also two bedrooms, a semi-finished basement playroom and T.V. room, and two bathrooms. And a huge backyard. I'm pretty happy with our house.

And if you were wondering about the sheep head, that is an Alaskan dall sheep, which Craig killed and we ate. My husband is so very manly.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Pub Baby Shower

So last night I met up with my pub ladies for our usual once-per-month hang out time. Although I can't drink beer right now, it is still a really good time. And last night they surprised me with a pub baby shower. It was awesome. They gave me some totally cool hand-me-down baby shoes, a hat knit by Patti, a baby book made by Allison, and some wooden toys that Amy and her husband made. And there were, of course, some baby shower activities. It was pretty much the perfect baby shower for a woman about to birth and parent her third little boy.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Good Buddy, Bad Buddy

I mentioned a few days ago that Luke is on the “Buddy Team” at school. He is “on duty” on Mondays, and from what I can piece together, he is supposed to introduce himself to new kids and make them feel welcome, but his main responsibility is to try to solve minor problems on the playground. He had never yet felt the call of duty until yesterday.

Last night as we were cleaning up from dinner, he said, “Oh yeah! I had to help solve a problem at recess today!”

“Really? That is exciting!” I responded. “What happened?”

“Well, Olivia cut Andrew, and he got mad,” said Luke, “So then I told Andrew to cut Olivia so that it would be fair.”

I didn’t know what to say. As I stammered, trying to think of a response that was both encouraging and also expressive of the fact that there might be a better solution than the proverbial eye for an eye in this particular situation, Luke went on: “Yeah, so then Andrew was back in his place in line and I said ‘No more cutting!’”


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Belly Shots

Craig refuses to take any belly shots for me. He thinks they are "dumb." So here are two pictures courtesy of my children, the first taken by Henry and the second by Luke. Not the best pictures, but they will have to do. I was trying to work the black to my advantage in the first picture, but Henry's height wasn't conducive to a flattering angle. Oh well. Both were taken a couple of weeks ago, when I was 6.5 months along.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October Update

I started this blog when Henry was a baby. I have never blogged through a pregnancy. I am finding it very, very hard. My brain is the cliché of a pregnant woman’s brain. Every bit of creative power that I possess—and this is not a whole lot, mind you—seems to be flowing through the umbilical cord and into growing my new little guy. Oh, and what tiny bit is left is being maniacally directed into filling my freezer with pre-made meals. I am obsessed. So far, I have pesto, meat sauce, black bean/quinoa patties, bean and pasta bake, turkey potpie, spinach lasagna, beef bourguignon, and several different soups. Nesting for foodies!

Luke, while testing us at every turn with bad words and bad attitude, is doing really well overall. He has become a little bookworm lately, reading for long stretches on his own for fun. He loves his second grade teacher and was chosen to be on the “buddy team” at school, a group of kids assigned to help problem-solve on the playground should conflict arise. He even wears a little badge on Mondays when he is “on duty.”

Henry, though, is going through a rough patch. Yesterday he threw several tantrums. He had nearly lost his voice by the evening from so much screaming. And yet, still, he is my little softie. At the end of each tantrum, he would scream, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” And lest you think he has lost all his charm, I should note that his love of sparkly, colorful clothing has morphed into a love of products. He has lotions and potions of his very own. Just today he was trying to convince me to give him some of my nail polish. Preferably the hot pink.

This morning Henry and I put on our warm coats and went outside into the darkness to see if we could spot anything of the Orionid meteor shower. We didn’t see any meteors, but it was a pleasant way to start the day, sitting in the crisp darkness together gazing up at the sky.

October is going to be over soon. This baby is going to arrive before long. I have a feeling Henry's rough patch is going to be a long one. I'm going to try to make as many moments with him as I can for star gazing, for polishing his little boy nails in whatever color his heart desires.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Liar, Liar

Henry has figured out how to lie. And he thinks it is great fun. The other day, he came up to me and said, “Mom! I thought I saw a jellybean on the floor, so I ate it. But then I found out it was a tick!”

“A tick? Like the bug?” I asked.

“No, a tick!” said Henry.

Hmm. Henry doesn’t have the same razor-sharp memory for vocabulary that Luke has, and he often has a hard time remembering the precise term he is looking for.

“Do you mean a tic tac candy?” I asked.

“No, a tick. You know, those sharp things,” said Henry.

“A thumb tack?” I asked, growing alarmed.

“Yes, and now it is poking me in the throat,” he said. I started to get concerned, but then considered the fact that, earlier in the day, he had told me that someone cut his little puppy in half. Henry doesn’t have a puppy. Oh, and the person that cut the puppy in half, reported Henry, was his (nonexistent) stepfather.

So I assume he didn’t really eat a thumb tack.

Since he has started preschool, the lying has escalated to a somewhat frantic pace. After the first day, he told me that his teachers performed a rap song during lunch. Naked.

They found a dead bird at recess. Henry got a time out for not paying attention when his line walked outside for recess (harsh!). They ate candy in class. They watched a movie with shooting in it, but only once, for a “special treat.” The first three might or might not be true. I am assuming the last is not, otherwise I would be putting in a phone call to the preschool director.

I really don’t know what to believe. And I know at Henry’s age, the fantasy vs. reality line is a thin one. I know that. But it gets a little tedious talking to him sometimes. And the thing is, he gets really mad at me if I don’t believe him. I can’t even say, “Oh, wow!” without him feeling as though I doubt his word. Which, of course, I do.

I suppose I should go outside and check on Henry now. After all, his is out there shooting porcupines. Really! He’s serious! He’s not lying!!!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Some Summer Pictures, Finally

In August, we went on a little family vacation to Southern Indiana. We camped in Santa Claus, Indiana and visited Holiday World and toured Squire Boone Caverns. We swam in a lake. I got a tick. The kids ate hotdogs and marshmallows and nary a vegetable. It was the stuff that family road trips are made of.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

In Lieu of a Real Post

My friend Amy lives just down the street. I met her about a year ago at a local pub, where a handful of mama bloggers from our neighborhood got together to hang out and drink beer. Amy is a force of nature, the kind of person who sweeps into a room and immediately changes the energy. She’s got a beautiful, quirky personal blog, runs a natural wooden toy business out of her home with her husband (hint, hint, mom—another present for the new babe!) and has her hand in all kinds of other great things on the internet. She just published one of my earlier blog posts at the online magazine Blog Nosh. Check it out!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Summer's End

Summer is almost over. School starts for Luke in three days. We have been doing our school clothes shopping, following our usual pattern of dropping big bucks for Stride Rite shoes and thrifting the rest. I don’t know what happened to Luke, because in the past he couldn’t care less about what he wore, and now all of a sudden he has opinions on his wardrobe. Imagine that! I’m all for letting kids find their own style, but I’m a little worried about Luke’s particular vision for himself. As he was trying on the plain jeans and khakis that I bought him at Ohio Thrift, he looked down at himself and said, “I look like a dork.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “You are just wearing plain old jeans. Everyone wears jeans!”

“I want to wear ripped pants and a sleeveless jersey,” he said.

Later, when trying on the plain green cotton shorts I had chosen for him, he groaned, “Mommmmm, I look like a jerk! I want shorts with flames and cougars on them!”

Craig needed to buy a few things for work at a department store over the weekend, so I let Luke pick a few things to spice up the boring wardrobe that I had chosen for him. He wound up with some sporty cotton pants, a GI Joe t-shirt, a “jersey” that I told him he can only wear over another shirt, and a typical boys sports-themed shirt. Not bad. We didn’t wind up with the “I love death” shirt that Luke also said he wanted to look for. I’m not sure that they carry this particular shirt in the boy’s department. (FYI, in case you are worried about Luke’s mental health, which I was upon hearing this request, Luke saw this logo on a skateboard and thought it looked cool.)

As fall nears, I’m gestating along nicely. I feel good, am sleeping well, and finally, finally, that nesting thing where I actually want to clean and organize has kicked in. I also am starting to feel like a stuffed sausage. I think my insides are straining against my skin. I have gained twenty pounds, which, for me, is right on track with my usual weight gain, but I don’t remember feeling this full before.

Henry continues to be particularly excited for the baby’s arrival. The other day he was telling me what he wanted for Christmas—being the ever-prepared child that he is—and after listing a few toys he added, “Our baby is going to be the best Christmas present ever!”

“You are right, Henry!” I said, feeling my heart melt a little.

“I mean,” he clarified, “The best present that comes out of your vagina.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


I’m feeling overwhelmed by all that I haven’t posted in the last month. July began with Craig going out of town. As soon as he returned, we moved, had out of town guests (just for one night, but I’m pregnant, so it counts as busy-making), went on vacation, and returned to much unpacking. We welcomed August with a pool party out at my friend’s parents’ lake house, complete with hours of swimming, boat rides and jet skiing. Since then we’ve attended three other parties and hosted Luke’s birthday swimming bash. The summer is nearly gone and here we are sitting in a pile of unpacked boxes. I know the house will be in order eventually, but it is feeling like it is taking so, so long. I plan to post pictures of the new house at some point, but right now it would be rather mortifying.

Through all of the chaos and activity of this summer, there was one date that I focused on: August 6. That was the day of our big ultrasound and the day we would find out if our baby is of the boy or girl variety. We didn’t find out with Henry, and it was a fun surprise. But Craig prefers to know, and I felt like I wanted some time to adjust to the idea of either three boys or an only girl.

While I knew that I would like to have a girl, I thought that I didn’t care too much one way or another. But the thing is, I thought that it was a girl. I really believed that it was a girl, due to some combination of my severe nausea, the timing of conception, and my intuition, which was correct with both of the boys. And Craig KNEW, he told me, he KNEW that it was a girl.

But . . . we have a Scratch. Or a Ryujin, which is what the boys want to name him now, after a Japanese dragon god. Luke tells me that if we won’t agree to Ryujin, he could possibly accept Norwegian Ridgeback as an alternative. And last night, Henry asked me if we could nickname him Hell Assassin. Ahh, life with boys.

And here’s the kind of embarrassing part: I cried when we found out that we are having another boy. I’m telling you, I really believed that I didn’t care one way or another. But I was in shock. And, while I love this baby that is growing inside of me and wouldn’t change him, healthy and wonderful and unique, I have been mourning that fact that I will not be the parent of a girl. But I think I’m mostly over it now. I looked at some pictures of some really cute baby boys in a magazine at the gym yesterday, and that got my baby boy hormones flowing. And I bought him some fleece lined brown leather booties that are so, so cute. Those booties alone are helping a lot.

Scratch Ryujin Norwegian Ridgeback, aka Hell Assassin, I love you. You have been simply full of surprises.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Moving Day

I’m trying to write a quick post since it has been so long since I have written and tomorrow I’ll lose internet service through the weekend. Today is moving day, except that the moving company didn’t show up. “Things happen,” they told me. Meanwhile, before we realized that they weren’t coming, I ran around the house gathering our bedding, clothes and toiletries to take to the new house. Luke followed me around all the while, deciding that this would be a good time for a mother/son heart-to-heart.

“Do the vagina and penis really mesh together during the special hug?” he asked. “Really?”

“Yes, Luke,” I answered, distractedly.

“The penis goes in that little hole?” he asked, incredulous.

“The vagina is stretchy. Remember, babies come out of there.”

Then Luke pretended to faint on the floor, and then he ran to ask Craig the same series of questions. I have to say, I do recommend talking about sex while highly distracted. It relieves some of the pressure, I think.

While the moving company has been a real pain, my friends and neighbors have been lovely during the move. The boys and I escaped the chaos of our house at a friend’s house yesterday. We invited ourselves over, lounged around her yard and ate her food. This morning I called another friend and asked if she could take Luke for a few hours. She swung by literally 10 minutes later and picked him up, where he played happily for hours. One neighbor made us dinner last night and another is having pizza delivered to our new home tonight.

And thank goodness, this all has been much easier because I’m pretty much feeling great these days.

The moving company is coming in the morning. Or so they say.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Livin' is Gettin' Easier

Despite having eaten and then vomited up a lovely Japanese birthday dinner on Monday, I am beginning to feel better. The nausea is really much better, and what is more, I’m actually cooking again. Today I went to the farmer’s market and bought fresh eggs, sausages, feta, and a huge variety of vegetables and berries. Since I got home I have made steamed chard with poached eggs, zucchini chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, and roasted beet and feta salad. Tonight will be grilled sausages and zucchini.

We close on our house on the 29th and move on July 10th. I’ll post pictures at some point, but since we haven’t actually closed yet, I think I will wait. I had a dream that my brother Peter visited and said, “Well, it isn’t very nice. It is too small and the light just isn’t very good.” I just kept saying, “But the yard! The yard!” Honestly, this is the least strange of my nightly adventures in dreamland. This pregnancy has been all about the vomiting and the strange and abundant dreams. I’m hoping now we are shifting into the all about exercising and eating well phase.

The boys are home from school and we have successfully transitioned into a summertime routine. I have made a new chore chart involving more housework and reading/writing/math practice for Luke and Henry. It takes about one hour each morning for them to complete their jobs, and they seem to finally be adjusting to the horror of having to work for a whole hour each day. A whole hour of work before they can play for the next 11 hours! I am a mean, mean mom. Besides treating them like my personal servants, I have been taking them swimming and to parks and to make candles at the local candle shop. This is a hard life we lead.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer Morning

It is 7 in the morning and my boys are out on the dewy grass, playing happily by themselves. Not screaming or hitting one another or wrestling. They started out with foot races at 6:30, and have moved on to some game show type game, where Luke quizzes Henry about animals out of his Monster Animals book. This is the book that made him cry at age three (when my mom gave it to him without reading it first—thanks Mom!) but that is now his favorite, favorite book of all time. Who wouldn’t love a book about dung beetles, black widows, and lampreys? You don’t know about lampreys? I didn’t either, until we got the book.

What a sweet morning, lampreys and all. You know, I have found that as my boys fight more these days, they also become better friends. Henry used to do whatever Luke told him to do, and that isn’t really a friendship. But now, Henry has most definitely come into his own, and while the resulting fighting is never fun, Luke and Henry are becoming true companions and friends.

I don’t know if it is the pregnancy hormones—okay, let’s be honest, they are running rampant around here, just ask Craig who had to incredulously witness my sobbing at a country song (yuck!) about how children grow up so fast—but I have been loving Luke and Henry so much these days. On Saturday I was feeling pretty nauseous and had just woken up from a nap and was heading off to the grocery when Luke gave me a big hug and Henry blew me a kiss and said, “I love you mom!” I don’t think Craig coached them. It is moments like this that make me feel really peaceful about having another child.

And it is only one, by the way. We had an ultrasound a couple of weeks ago, and there is one little bean in there (well, I think more like a plum or lime by now) and he or she was kicking away. Now if the little plum would stop making mama feel sick all the time, all would be well.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just Another Mama Update

I’m actually going to write a good blog post one of these days. Until then, here’s my life in a nutshell:

The nausea is getting much better thanks to Zofran, bi bim bop, and dairy queen soft serve. Not coincidentally, I’m beginning to gain weight.

I don’t want to jinx anything, but it looks like we are buying a house that is four blocks from where we live now and that is on half an acre. I’m so excited!

We love the hospital midwife that we met with this week. She is super relaxed and it sounds like we can pretty much do what we want in the hospital. The only thing I NEED to do is let them do twenty minutes of continual fetal monitoring when I first arrive at the hospital, but after that, I can labor as I like, skip the IV or hep lock, birth in the water if I choose to do so. I’m pretty excited that we have found an affordable and seemingly good birthing situation.

I may or may not have said this to Luke today: “When YOU start vomiting every day and face pushing a baby out of YOUR vagina, then you can eat fruit loops for lunch like me!”

Thursday, May 21, 2009


It has been over two weeks since I have posted. I’ve been busy eating, sleeping, and wallowing around. The Zofran has helped a lot, in that I am not vomiting much and I am not so ill that I feel depressed. Instead, I just have a lot of nausea and I have to eat all the time.

Really, this is good training for when I have to care for a newborn again. I’ve gotten used to a kind of freedom that I didn’t have for a long time when Luke and Henry were wee little ones. I have been able to go out at night with my friends. I have had plenty of time to exercise. I have made complex, gourmet meals. I’ve enjoyed leisurely evenings of television with Craig. And you know, that first year with an infant? From what I can remember, I will be catching sleep whenever I can, eating a lot of convenience foods, and putting up with a cluttered house. Pretty much like right now.

We are actually moving towards buying a house. We applied for pre-approval for a mortgage. We are going to start looking at houses. It is exciting, but also kind of scary.

Oh, and we are trying to figure out what to do about the birth. Luke was born in a hospital with midwives, Henry at home with a midwife. Henry’s birth was vastly better than Luke’s, partially because it was just a lot easier, but also because it was at home. But now our insurance won’t cover homebirth at all, so we are trying to figure out what to do. We’ve had a lot of free consultations with a lot of people. I’m trying to relax about it and realize that, whatever we decide, it will likely be just fine. I mean, we are going to get a baby out of it, after all.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another Post About Barfing

So the barfing got bad. Really bad. I think I threw up five times on Monday. This is far worse than when I was pregnant with either Luke or Henry. This could mean any number of things: I’m having a girl, for instance, or I’m having twins. The first is my favorite option of the two, but both are preferable to any number of awful, awful things that serious morning sickness can indicate and that Dr. Google so cheerfully describes in detail. Or maybe I’m just getting old and I don’t do pregnancy as well as I used to—not that this was ever very well, mind you.

So yesterday I went to a local midwife/OB clinic for a first visit and got a prescription for Zofran. This is extremely expensive and my insurance will only cover 21 pills for 30 days when really, that is only enough for seven days—ten if I try to stretch out the dosing. Oh, and it causes immediate and extreme constipation. But so far, it seems to be working pretty well. I’m still nauseous now and then, but it is far more manageable. And I’m not throwing up, so that's something.

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Birds and the Bees, Part Two

I’m pregnant.

Oh boy, this is a little cosmic joke if ever there was one. You see, Craig and I are planners. We are level-headed, generally calm, and we plan our major life decisions.

In fact, just a few weeks ago I was telling my mom, among others, that while I was still slightly ambivalent about having another child, we were done. Really, I like having two boys. It is so tidy and convenient. One for each hand. Room in our car. I have been planning to get a job in a year and a half, when Henry goes off to Kindergarten, and I’ve been starting preliminary planning on that front.

About three weeks ago, I had a dream that I was pregnant. I told Craig and we laughed.

Two weeks ago, when I borrowed the sex/baby book from my friend, her daughter asked, “Do you have a baby growing in you?” I answered in the negative, and I laughed.

A week ago, at school pickup, one of the moms was talking about her third, surprise pregnancy, a girl after two boys. I told her that I had experienced so much morning sickness with my boys, it was good that I hadn’t ever been pregnant with a girl, since the old wives’ tale says that morning sickness is worse with girls. “Who knows?” she said. “We thought we were done after our two boys.” I laughed.

Now I imagine God laughing. Not in a mean way, but laughing nonetheless.

I’m thrilled with this turn of events, when I’m not vomiting. And Craig is warming to the idea. We are both a little stunned.

And yes, I know how these things work. I read the book with the boys two weeks ago, remember?

We thought we might try to keep it quiet for a while. At first, I only told a few friends, ones that I would tell if anything were to go wrong. Then I told my mom. Craig told his parents. And then, this morning, I found a Facebook message from one of my mom’s friends congratulating me on my little surprise.

After I threw up and Luke was looking very worried—have I mentioned that he is a hypochondriac and thinks he is catching anything that anyone else has?—I decided to forget the whole keeping it quiet thing and tell the kids. They are mostly excited. Luke has a few reservations.

“You will be the extra big brother, Luke!” I said, trying to get him a little more excited. “And you can help us name the baby!”

Without any hesitation, as if he had been planning it his whole life, Luke said, “If it is a girl, Rosie, and if it is a boy, Scratch.”

Rosie or Scratch, I couldn’t be happier with this unexpected miracle.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Birds and the Bees

It is springtime, and love is in the air here at Just Another Mama House. As with any obsession of Luke’s and Henry’s, it seems to be feeding on itself, careening faster and faster down this bird and bee covered hill. Frankly, I’m having a hard time keeping calm about it all, despite being the approachable, cool mom that I am.

It started in earnest last week with Luke telling me that a girl in his class was talking about lying in bed kissing boys. Luke and Henry and I discussed it at the park, and we came to the conclusion that this sort of kissing is for much, much older people. I thought we were all in agreement. But a few days later, I found Henry and his little friend, a boy nearly his age from next door, practicing “married kissing” under the table. Apparently, kissing becomes married kissing when heads are tilted.

Then, a few days after that, while I was reading bedtime stories to the boys, Luke asked, “Why do people have to be married to have kids?”

“Well, they don’t,” I said, “but usually people get married and then have babies.”

“Well, how do women have babies?” asked Luke.

“They grow them in their bellies!” yelled Henry.

“No, HOW do they start growing?” asked Luke.

Well, clearly Luke was asking me for information, and I guess that my policy has always been to answer these sorts of questions as clearly and as simply as possible. I have just never been tested on this policy quite so much.

“Well, sperm from a man and an egg from a woman join together and grow in the woman’s uterus and that becomes a baby,” I answered.

“Oh, okay. Goodnight,” said Luke.

I knew I was off the hook for the moment, but I anticipated more questions in the days to come. My friend offered to lend me a book on the subject, written for children from ages four and up, and so I accepted. I decided that I would bring the book home, review it, and then read it to Luke when and if I thought it was a good idea.

“What is that?” Luke asked as I tried to discreetly slip the book into the bottom of Henry’s stroller.

“Oh, just a book about how babies are made, like we were talking about the other day,” I said casually.

“Eww!” he said, perhaps for the benefit of my friend’s six-year-old daughter, on whom Luke seems to have a crush.

But the next morning, Luke asked me to read him the book, which I did. Henry listened, too. I figured that Henry is almost four, and that Luke would tell him about it anyway.

They whooped and laughed when I read the pages about male and female anatomy. Luckily, the book has a sense of humor, and the cartoon character hosts/narrators joke about how these words are funny.

Then, as we moved into how male and female bodies produce eggs and sperm, Luke said, “Oh! Now I see. You have to be grown up before your body will make the stuff that you need for a baby, right?”

BINGO! I thought.

“So wait,” said Luke, a look of horror crossing his face, “Do you have to cut open the penis to get some sperm out so you can put it in the woman?”

Aha. See, this is why I needed to go further in this explanation. The other night, when I gave him the mechanical, sex-free version of how babies are made, I knew it was too easy. I knew that it must be problematic. And this is the problem. His imagination will run wild, or rumors on the playground will fill in the gaps in his knowledge.

So we turned the page, and read about how adult men and women do something called “making love,” “sex,” or “having sex.”

“Really?” asked Luke, in shock. “Is everything in this book real?”

“Yes,” I answered, and read on.

Soon, they grew bored—somewhere during the page on how twins are formed—and we switched to a different book.

Later that day, Henry demanded that Craig read the book. Henry seemed to think that Craig needed the information. Also, both Luke and Henry are extra interested in boyfriends and girlfriends and getting married. Otherwise, though, they seem to be carrying on as usual. Frankly, I’m a little worried that one of them will say something about it while checking out at the grocery or during coffee hour at church. But then, it wouldn’t be the first time that one of them said something embarrassing or inappropriate. I guess it seems like it might be worse if it is about sex. I guess that is the price that one must pay for being an approachable, cool mom.

Monday, April 13, 2009

A New Post, Finally

I don’t know why I haven’t had anything to say lately. We came back from our trip about ten days ago—without further vomiting fun thanks to Dramamine—and it was straight into the boys on spring break. I always find it hard to transition back into hanging out with my kids all day long when I have been away from them for a while. I mean, I missed them, and the first hour or so with them was wonderful—all hugs and cuddles and Luke telling me, “You are the best mom in the world. And you look good!”—but after that it was straight back into their usual fighting and running around and whooping like maniacs. After moping around the house for a couple of days I finally got my act together and did some fun stuff with them for spring break, which helped. We had a cookie-making contest, which was a big hit. We also hung out at the park one day and talked about “lying in bed and kissing girls.” Apparently, someone at Luke’s school was talking about this, and now Luke and Henry are fascinated by the concept. In fact, after I felt that we had exhausted the subject and suggested that we leave, Luke said, “No, let’s just sit in the sunshine and talk about this more.”

A lot of my mental energy these days is also going towards thinking about buying a house. I guess I haven’t made this announcement officially, although I have told just about everyone I know (thus, just about everyone who reads this blog) the news: Craig has a tenure track job starting this fall as a math professor at a small university in the town north of us. So now we are freaking out a little bit about buying a house. First of all, we don’t have a lot of money. But there’s the tax credit, and the amazing house prices. And then, if we do buy a house, we are considering three options: staying here, moving to the town where Craig will work, or moving to the country. There are advantages and disadvantages to each option, and I have been feeling a little paralyzed by this huge decision. I think we have almost decided to stay here, but the disparity between the type of house we can afford here versus the type of house we can afford there is a little galling.

I don’t have any kind of good ending for this rambling post, but here’s something scary that happened this morning. Mara and I went to the gym and to Target, leaving Henry home with Craig. I had woken Craig and he was going to get up, and I left with Henry playing in the living room. Apparently, Craig fell back asleep and when he woke up, he couldn’t find Henry. He went outside and Henry was trying to get the garage opened so he could get his bike and “Find Mom and Aunt Mara.” Craig asked where he was planning to look, and he said at the gym, which is over a mile away and across many busy streets. I think I need to deadbolt the door when I leave next time.

Thursday, April 02, 2009


Have I ever mentioned on this blog a wonderful trait that I have developed over the last ten years while on airplanes? I haven’t? I can’t imagine why! You see, I have become an expert barfer while traveling by air.

I have always suffered from motion sickness in cars, on boats, in airplanes, on fair rides, but it wasn’t until one flight about ten years ago that I actually vomited. Let me tell you, there are good times to be had while barfing in a plastic bag in a confined space with lots of strangers. Big fun.

I seem to be getting better at vomiting on planes as the years progress. Until recently, it has only been on maybe one flight out of five that I have actually gotten sick, but I have recently stepped up my game.

You see, Craig and I are on a lovely getaway to Florida—the first real vacation we have taken together, ever, save visiting family and the odd night away here or there. And to start it off right, I vomited on both of our flights here. It was one big barf-o-rama.

The funny thing with vomiting on an airplane, for me, is that I will feel horrible and be barfing my guts out, and then the plane will level off and the turbulence will end, and I be just fine—elated, even. It is a little schizophrenic feeling, to tell you the truth.

In my better moments, I was thinking about all of the wonderful things about vomiting on the airplane. Yes, I’m an optimist like that. I could eat another breakfast when we landed! Another whole bonus meal! And I could write a funny blog post about it!

Of course, in my bad moments I was hunched over a plastic bag in the corner of an airplane, trying to vomit quietly and swearing that I would never, ever, ever fly again.

But here I am writing my blog post.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Foodie . . . Saturday

Foodie Friday must not be meant to be.

When I was a kid, my mom was pretty thrifty with the food that she purchased. When I was very young, we drank a lot of Milk Man powdered milk. I guess it was cheaper than fresh milk. We also had limits on the cold cereal we were allowed. I don’t think my mom ever really cracked down on me since I was never excessive in my cereal consumption, but my brothers were allowed only one bowl of cold cereal and after that they had to fill their bellies with eggs or oatmeal or toast.

I decided to really try to spend less on groceries for this week, and I think I managed to get enough for the week for $72. I will obviously be drawing on our pantry items a lot, but here’s what I bought (from memory):

1 gallon local milk
1 dozen local eggs
1 large head broccoli
1 red pepper
fresh green beans
1 head romaine lettuce
2 mangos
4 apples
1 bunch bananas
3 pears
2 packages strawberries
1 jar minced garlic (I use this in bi bim bop since fresh is too strong)
1 package tofu
1 bag tortilla chips
1 box 44 count fish sticks (on a super sale)
1 large hunk of cheese
organic oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (marked down to $1 for quick sale)
1 lb. fair trade coffee
1 bottle red wine
chopped pecans (marked down for quick sale)

So far we have been eating just fine. Luke has complained about the free bread from church that I have been making his sandwiches with since it has “crunchies” in it—it is oat nut rather than the usual 100% whole wheat—but he’ll survive. The nice thing about packing school lunches is that he is hungry and I’m not around for him to harass. I have also had to make homemade ketchup, which is quite tasty, and we didn’t get fresh cilantro in our tofu tortilla soup, which I missed a little. Also, the bi bim bop was made with whatever veggies needed to be used up rather than our usual spinach, zucchini, mushroom combo, but it tasted just fine. So far, it has been quite a thrifty week.

The only problem is that when I spend significantly less for a week, I always find that I’m out of so many things by the end of the week that I have to spend a lot the next. We’ll see how it goes.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Update For So Yung

Luke said he had a fine day yesterday. No time in the corner. He didn't get in any trouble because he was on extra good behavior. Mrs. Fair even forgot to keep him from recess.

"But someone did have to go stand out in the hall between a bookcase and the wall for talking," said Luke.

Hmm. Luke might be misunderstanding something, but I do think I should shoot his teacher an email.

"So you adapted?" I asked.

"Yes," he said, obviously proud of himself.

"Do you remember what adapt means?" I asked.

"It means, umm, getting to know what people are like," he replied.

Something like that.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Little Miss Fair

Luke came home in a mood yesterday. It is not an unusual occurrence, but it was a particularly bad mood.

“Shut up!” he yelled at Henry when Henry tried to speak to him.

“Get over here!” he yelled at me.

It was not pleasant, and after giving him several warnings, it became clear that a time out or a meltdown—probably both—were imminent.

I was just trying to get through the afternoon, get the chores done and dinner made and homework accomplished, but Craig was home, and he decided to ask Luke what was going on. What a novel concept! Sometimes I forget that there might be a reason behind the mercurial moods of my eldest son.

“I can’t tell you!” he moaned. “You guys will kill me!” he added dramatically.

Finally, Craig got Luke to tell him what had happened. Luke had a substitute teacher yesterday and, according to Luke, he had his name written on the board, had to sit in the corner four times, and was going to have to miss recess today.

We were a little shocked, since Luke hasn’t gotten into any trouble this year at school, save having his name written on the board—the formal warning in his classroom—once or twice.

We spent some time comforting him, since he was clearly upset by it all, and then we tried to get all the facts so we could decide if we needed to follow up with this teacher or the school.

“What was her name?” we asked while trying to figure out exactly what had happened.

“Mrs. Fair,” said Luke, not understanding why we started laughing. It seems that Mrs. Fair has different standards than Luke’s regular teacher, standards that don’t seem particularly fair to Luke.

We talked a bit about how different people have different expectations, and that in life, we have to learn to act differently in different situations. We talked about the word adapt.

“Oh well,” I said, wanting to get back to my dinner preparations. “You probably won’t have her tomorrow.”

Ten minutes later, when I checked my email, I discovered that Luke’s teacher, the one that he loves and is appropriately named Mrs. Romeo, is going to be out for at least three more days. She said that she understands that routine is important for our children, and that she has requested Mrs. Fair for the duration of her absence.

Luke went to school today with serious reservations. I had to walk him in for the first time in months. We’ll see how it goes.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Brilliant Sons

Luke and Henry were talking about school this morning and Luke asked me about college.

“College is the highest school you can go to, right?”

“Well, first you go to high school, then you can get your bachelors degree in college, then you can go some more and get your Master’s degree, and finally, you can go some more and get your PhD if you want,” I said.

“What?” asked Henry, confused.

“Mommy and Daddy both went to college,” I said, trying to clarify. “In college, you get to take a lot of classes about a lot of things, but you take extra classes in the area you love the most. Mommy studied English, like reading and writing, and Daddy studied math,” I said.

“Then, you can go for two more years and just study your very favorite subject and get your Master’s degree,” I went on. “That is what Mommy did. Finally, you can go to college for four or five more years and study your favorite subject some more and get your PhD like Daddy did. Daddy is a Math Professor now since he did that.”

“I want my PhD!” said Luke. “I want my PhD in gym!”

“Oh, that sounds cool,” I said.

“I want my PhD in crafts!” said Henry.

“Wait, I think I want my PhD in crafts, too,” said Luke.

My two sons, following in their father’s footsteps in academia. Perhaps Luke could write his dissertation on the cultural impact of macramé in the 1970’s. Henry could specialize in the history of playdough.

We are a bookish family, I tell you.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Foodie Friday (oops, it is Saturday)

I have a confession to make: I read food blogs. The ones where people take photos of everything that they eat during the day like this one. It is a total waste of time, and something that only a true foodie could understand. Craig thinks I’m nuts. He walks by me while I’m online and asks, “What is Kath eating today?” with a smirk on his face.

But you know, he isn’t a foodie. And I am. You know you are a foodie when one of your main childhood fantasies was this: Everyone has disappeared suddenly (because of The Rapture—hey, we were a hippie Protestant family back then before converting to Eastern Orthodoxy) and so . . . I go and live in the grocery store. I still have the fantasy, to tell you the truth, but it is a bit more specific. I go and live in Whole Foods.

Anyway, this is all by way of introducing my Foodie Friday feature. I don’t have it in me to start a food blog, but perhaps I will try writing about food once per week. And for the sake of alliteration, I will try to make it on Fridays. Because I have to use those two English degrees, you know.

I have been thinking more about food lately for a few reasons. First of all, we are trying to cut back our spending, and so I’m trying to figure out how to spend less while still feeding three adults and two children as healthfully and ethically as possible. Secondly, it is Lent, and so we are trying to eat less and limit our animal foods. Finally, my neighbor and friend American Family is doing a really cool challenge for herself and her family right now that has gotten me thinking more about how I could involve my family in becoming more aware about poverty and our food choices.

So here’s my inaugural post--my groceries for one week, which cost me $130. I use coupons and a store shopper’s card, and the choices I make are not always logical, I suppose—local but not organic eggs and milk, a few organic veggies. I try to buy local and/or organic as much as I can afford—but that isn’t a whole lot—and I usually try to buy fair trade sugar and coffee. I also shop the local farmers’ market whenever I can. I am aware of the concept of eating seasonally, but with my picky family, this is often hard for me.

Now, as a foodie, I always love reading these sorts of posts on other people’s blogs, the ones where they share photos of grocery shopping trips or document everything in their pantries. If you are a foodie, enjoy! If not, bear with me. I will only write about food once per week. Oh, and if you have any money saving or better ethical use of your dollar tips, send them my way.

Here’s what is in the photo above:

Powdered milk (for baking)
2 cans refried beans
unbleached bread flour (standard sized bag—5 pounds?)
large can pumpkin
carton of egg whites
2 lunchables (the kids requested food item)
2 boxes Cascade Farms granola
fish sticks (16 count)
2 bags shredded cheese
1 package square 2% cheeses
frozen spinach
1 gallon local milk
1 big tub plain organic yogurt
frozen peas
2 bags tortilla chips
baking powder
1 single serving organic vanilla milk
dried pinto beans
dried white beans
whole wheat tortillas
smart balance margarine
2 bags goldfish
2 loaves whole wheat bread
2 packets taco seasoning
3 packages strawberries
plain soy milk
1 can crushed pineapple
sliced almonds
fresh salsa
1 package tofu
dish soap
2 bunches bananas
1 dozen local eggs
international delight creamer (Craig requires this)
sour cream
big bag organic carrots
organic baby spinach
2 large sweet potatoes
store brand rice chex
6 pack of magic hat roxy rolles beer
1 cucumber
4 red pears
1 personal watermelon
green beans
1 head romaine lettuce
soy ham
1 head cauliflower
2 bunches broccoli
grape tomatoes
1 bunch celery
4 apples
2 avocados

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Word Play

Henry has always used language in a really unique way. He has a hard time remembering words, and so he does the best he can. Luke talks a lot and has a large vocabulary, so I think Henry might just be trying to keep up, and perhaps he doesn’t have the same natural aptitude for complex speech that Luke does. Or maybe Henry is just a poet at heart.

The other day Henry opened his Lunchable—Luke and Henry always get to choose one thing from the grocery store and this, to my great horror, is always what they choose—and he saw two Oreos. “Cheerio cookies!” he exclaimed excitedly. All day he talked about his “delicious Cheerio cookies,” even though I corrected him over and over. He also cannot remember the word paintbrush, preferring “painting stick.” And to my dismay, he can’t remember the word mole, and so he refers to my little brown bumps as nipples. This is particularly disturbing because Luke has a mole fondling habit that Henry is picking up on, and so Henry calls out to me, “My turn to rub your nipple!”

While Henry cannot remember a lot of words, he also has a strange sense of humor. The other day Aunt Mara said, “Okey Dokey Shmoky,” when she was agreeing with Henry.

He looked thoughtful for a moment and said, “No! You mean Okay Dokey Fireplace.”

“Did ‘shmoky’ make you think of smoky, which made you think of fireplace?” Mara asked.

“No, I just made it up!” said Henry. And then he proceeded to use his newfound phrase throughout the day.

Luke doesn’t have the memory problem with words. In fact, Luke has a startlingly accurate memory. However, he has been experimenting with the word ain’t lately, but doesn’t quite understand how to use it.

When I asked him if he would like a snack a few days ago, he said, “I ain’t want one.” He has been using ain’t in this context for several weeks. When I asked him where he heard the word, he told me that some kids at school say it.

Finally, a few days ago when I asked him about the snack, I started laughing at him. “Luke, you are misusing your incorrect grammar!” I said.

And then I found myself giving a lesson on the common usage of the word ain’t. I wouldn’t want Luke to sound extra ignorant, after all. I wouldn’t want the ain’t-usin’ crowd to mock him.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Living In Community

I grew up in a very unique community. We knew everyone in our rural neighborhood and we all went to the same church that was within walking distance. I heard rumors throughout the years that some people thought we were a commune or a cult. I moved away from there ten years ago, and now that I have a little perspective, I can say that it is a bit of a strange place, certainly a little homogenous, perhaps a little bit narrow-minded, but also magical. I grew up in a place where the kids ran wild and free on fifty acres of forest. There were rope swings over ravines and wild berries for eating and moose lurking around corners. We got up to all kinds of adventuring. I remember once climbing the cliff face of a large hill with my friend Anna, and she got stuck. We were out in the middle of the woods with no one but our ten-year-old selves for help, and so eventually, I managed to coach her down.

It wasn’t just a place of running around in the forest. Besides all emerging from our houses to go to church together on a regular basis, our community members spent a lot of time together both in organized activities and informally. One year, someone decided to organize a New Year’s Eve celebration in the church basement, complete with the ubiquitous potluck and talent show-like entertainment. I don’t remember much from that evening, but I do remember that one man composed and performed a hippy-dippy song with this refrain:

Living in community
People are so happy and free
As long as we rely on each other.

Craig and I still remember this song and sing it to one another when we are joking around about my unusual background.

And even though living in my little neighborhood in Chicago was in many ways the opposite of living in my community in Chugiak, Alaska, it was in some ways the same. It was a place where, when the weather turned warm, everyone emerged from their apartments to convene at the park. It was a place where we walked everywhere and where we knew almost everyone. It was a place where I could ask for hand-me-down maternity clothes when my first set were lost and I was newly pregnant with Henry, and clothes poured in, more than I could use. It was also a place where a lot of people had a lot of the same ideas—in this case, about parenting—which was an experience to which I was accustomed.

So when we moved to this little town in central Ohio, I didn’t know how to make friends. There didn’t seem to be many people at the park. A lot of people drove a lot of places. I didn’t see the same people everywhere I went. And—shockingly!—different people parented differently. Our first year here was lonely for me.

But then, right around the time of our one-year anniversary here, something happened. S, whose son was in Luke’s kindergarten class, joined the book club I was in with some old grad school friends. Tracy invited S and I to go to the wine tasting at a local wine shop, and we have begun regularly getting together. One of the grad school friends became real-life friends with some bloggers in my neighborhood, and invited me to hang out with them. Some of those blogger friends invited me to hang out at the park after school. Threads of friends began to overlap and intertwine, and now, nearing our two-year anniversary here, I feel like—oh my, I sense some hippy-dippy song lyrics coming on—a blanket of friends is protecting me and keeping me warm.

Yesterday the weather took a turn toward spring with sun and temperatures nearing 70. We spent an hour after school at the park both yesterday and today, eating snacks, chatting with friends. The boys both found people to play with, things to do. And I felt happy and free.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Sometimes I get really depressed when I look at crafty, creative, design-oriented blogs because I don't have much of an eye for home design and I'm not exactly what I would call crafty. Also, I have a horrible camera and no photography skills whatsoever, so anything I take a picture of looks kind of awful anyway. Nevertheless, I do not think I am devoid of artistic skill, as the above examples prove.

I might be the proudest of the first: Craig in a spiffy outfit. I shopped for this ensemble and helped him get dressed for a job interview a few weeks ago. This is the second time that Craig has worn a tie since I have known him. The other was at our wedding.

The second picture is of a dragon that Luke and I made from something called "model magic." It is a foamy, air-drying substance that is easy to work with.

Then there is Henry's cardboard house. He made it with a little help from me, but he painted it all by himself. Together we made the little creatures inside out of model magic and homemade salt dough. The creatures are a little hard to see, but there are a couple of penguins, some snowmen, a ladybug, and a "rainbow eggsnake."

Finally, we have the snowman that I helped the boys build a few weeks ago. I think he was pretty cute. Also, we woke up one morning to find that someone had added some penny buttons down the front, which was a little bit magical.

So there you have it! Proof that I am crafty. Now if I could just take gorgeous photos.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Listen To Your Belly

Recently, two neighbor bloggers, Dawn and Amy, have posted beautiful musings on body image issues. This is a topic that I have thought about a lot off and on throughout the years. I was a gymnast beginning at a young age—I even said, for several years, that I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast when I grew up—but my ability to defy gravity was seriously hindered by a twenty pound weight gain the summer that I turned 14.

There were many things that contributed to my own unhealthy body image and eventual (thankfully short) struggle with bulimia, and the actual weight didn’t have a whole lot to do with it. A great deal of it was just my personality. I’m a recovering perfectionist and people pleaser. And so when my gymnastics coach told me to try the cabbage soup diet so I could lose a few pounds, I did it. When my uncle told me to “watch it” when I scooped up seconds on ice cream at age 13, I began to watch it with microscopic concern.

Last week, as Luke was recovering from his virus, he had a couple of days of stomach cramps. He didn’t want to eat at all. And not eating made his stomach even worse. I told him that he needed to eat, and it became a huge power struggle.

“I won’t eat! You can’t make me!” he yelled.

And I couldn’t make him. And that was scary. For a few minutes, I thought about what it must be like to have a child with an eating disorder. And in so many ways, it must be worse than having a child who screams and storms around and sneaks out of the house. Because it seems to be the disorder of the people pleaser, and that is harder to combat. That is in the mind.

Once, when I was a freshman in high school, my gym class was doing a weight-training unit. What a wonderful opportunity my teacher had to encourage young teenagers to value their bodies and the amazing things they can do. My gym teacher that year was Mrs. S., the former gymnastics coach and current dance team coach. You can probably see where this story is going.

One day, we were being evaluated, and our grade was partially based on how much we could lift/press etc. in relation to our own body weight. So we lined up to weigh in.

“Good girl!” I heard Mrs. S. say to more than one young woman ahead of me.

When I weighed in, she was silent.

And that silence--not really just silence but the opposite of "good girl"--has been in my mind for over twenty years since.

I have boys, and so the chances of them developing eating disorders are quite slim. But I can try to teach them not to assign moral value to body features. I can teach them that exercise is great for stress relief and health. I can speak positively of my body in front of them.

Also—and this is one of the biggest struggles for me—I can try not to be controlling about their eating. My goal is to keep fairly healthy food in the house and my eating mantra with the boys (and a place I am getting to eventually with myself) is this: “What is your belly telling you?”

I hope I am raising boys that will never tell the women in their lives to “watch it.”

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Growing Pains

We’ve had a couple of rough nights around here. Two nights ago, Luke was tossing and turning and moaning with a high fever for much of the night. He came up to our bed and I didn’t sleep much. And last night, Henry came upstairs crying around midnight because of a leg ache. I ignored him for a while due to my exhaustion from the night before, but finally, I had to attend to his pain.

Two nights ago, when I was awake with Luke, my nighttime despair began to creep up on me. For a period of time when I was a child, I used to hate nighttime. I had an overactive sense of guilt and at night, I worried a lot. I dreaded nights. And more than anything, I hated spending nights away from my parents. I usually avoided these situations, but if that was impossible, I often spent the night nauseated and restless. While I eventually grew to love sleepovers by my teenage years, I still often struggled with waking in the night in a panic. Now, sleepless nights sometimes bring on a bit of this fear.

As I was feeling a little panic two nights ago with Luke, an airplane flew overhead, and at that moment, my worries abated. My maternal grandparents lived near an airport, and when I spent the night with them, the sound of the airplanes flying over me all night long helped to soothe my worries. Something about being tucked away in their little guest room under the rhythm of the jets overhead made me feel that the world was an orderly place.

And last night, as I fixed a heat pack for Henry’s leg, I was transported back to the days when my own mom fixed a hot water bottle for my own growing pains. In my memory, I am lying on the couch in the dim midnight light, knowing that relief will come, listening to the sound of the water running and running as it gets hot enough to fill the bottle. My mother’s calm, measured actions, performed so many times, took on that same soothing nighttime quality as the jets.

Part of growing up for me was learning to fear the night less, learning to let go of my strange and overactive senses of worry and guilt. It has taken me a long time to learn to be peaceful in the night. I have suffered many growing pains over the years, in my legs and in my heart, and always at night.

I wonder, in the dead of the night, what growing pains my children will face. Just as I have overcome some of mine, theirs are beginning. Just as certain aches of mine fade away, I help to soothe theirs. And I can’t know which of these things they will carry with them into the future, as memories, as part of the rhythm of their beings. I hope the moonlit shadows, the warmth of the heat pad, the murmers of comfort in our bed, are enough.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boy Quote of the Day

Luke, while in the car: My testicle hurts.

Mom: Maybe you are just sitting funny. Try shifting in your seat.

Luke: I think one of my testicles just popped!

(To ponder: Is this even possible?)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Love Is In the Air

Henry had two little girls from his preschool, E and C, over for a play date on Wednesday. About a month ago, Henry began talking about E a lot. Then, a week ago, he started begging to invite her and her best friend over “for a sleepover.” He was quite emphatic.

“I want to have E and C over for a sleepover!” he moaned while rolling around on the floor. This went on for a long, long time, with my position being that he is far too young for a sleepover, especially with two girls that he has never even had over to our house.

“If E and C come over,” added Luke, ever so helpfully, “They can sleep in bed with us.” Luke and Henry share a double bed.

Oh my. I can’t help but think that this has something to do with the fact that E and C are darling and blond.

Finally, we compromised. We arranged an after school play date, which Henry anticipated all weekend. Every morning, he woke up asking, “Is today the day that E and C are coming over?” While whining about not wanting to go to bed, he stopped for a moment to ask, “Do you think E and C don’t want to go to bed right now?” And while constipated, he added, “Maybe E and C’s poop also won’t come out.”

My Henry. Always thinking of others.

Both boys seem to be entering a new era: The Era of Love. While E and C were over, Henry stood up at the table to make an announcement:

“E and C? You are my gowlfriends,” he said, with his funny mispronunciation.

And Luke? He has a new girlfriend every day, according to his accounts. Right now it is O. But she doesn’t know it.

They come by all of this naturally. Craig, in grade school, stole a deer figurine from his parents and gave it to his sweetheart, along with a note that read, “A deer for my dear.” No wonder he went on to score so highly on the verbal section of his SAT. Voluntary homonym usage at such a young age!

After Luke tired of playing with the little kids, I took him upstairs to settle him into another activity. When I came down, I heard Henry saying, “Let’s play lovebug. Chase me and if you catch me, you have to give me a kissy kiss.”

And this morning, I overheard Henry saying to Luke, “I have bad news, Luke. We didn’t get to play lovebug in school yesterday.”

“Too bad,” said Luke.

Oh my. I don’t think I’ll be inviting the girls over for a sleepover any time soon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Boy Quote of the Day

Henry: Mom, you need to trim my nails! It hurts when I scratch my butt.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another Post That Isn't Funny

I have been meaning to write a follow-up to the posts about Luke’s visits to the psychologists, but, frankly, I’ve been a little embarrassed. But it is only fair to Luke that I say this, for the record. The short version: Luke is nothing more than an intense little guy, and we haven’t been parenting him very well.

And here’s the long version:

While the first psychologist believed that Luke might have a mood disorder, the second believes that Luke is just very intense and somewhat oppositional. In other words, he is a challenging kid. And while Dr. B. didn’t say this in so many words, we haven’t been rising to the challenge.

Dr. B. gave us a very specific discipline plan to follow with Luke, and we have been doing it for almost three weeks now, and things are going much, much better. Luke has a set of rules at home, and if he isn’t following a rule or we want him to do something, we tell him that. Then, if he ignores us, we say, in a calm but stern voice, “Luke, please do xyz. If you don’t, you’ll go to time out.” If he doesn’t stop, he goes to time out. We say, “You are in time out because you didn’t xyz.” We have a plan for what to do if he doesn’t go to time out, too, and what to do if we are on our way out the door. Basically, we have a very simple, clear plan that has been completely scripted for us. And it is working.

I could go on and on about why I think we weren’t very effective before. Part of it is that I read too many parenting books and everything was always muddled in my head. Part of it is that I don’t much like conflict and so I avoid it. But really, it is hard for me to be objective enough to analyze the dynamics in my family very clearly.

I’m not saying that we don’t have any challenging situations with Luke (or Henry, for that matter) any more. And I’m not saying that Luke’s intensity has gone away. But we are managing it much better, I think, and when things do get a little out of control, we have a plan. We have something to cling to.

And also, just because I’m always talking about Luke’s difficult behavior, I want to throw this out there: He just got his report card, and he is doing GREAT in school. I couldn’t ask for better. He has had his name written on the board once all year, and his reading and writing and math are all going very well. And he loves art and music and gym class.

This parenting gig? Sometimes it’s a little bit of a roller coaster ride. Actually, scratch the little bit. And the sometimes.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


We have survived another snow day and a sick day and a lot of bitterly cold, icy weather since my last post. It has been a long week and a half. Making it longer has been the fact that we have now instituted a screen time only on weekends rule.

We have gradually, over the last two years, become more and more lenient with our screen time allowance for the kids. Until Luke was five years old he was only allowed about a half hour of screen time a day, computer or videos or PBS. Then, on the weekends, he could watch a longer movie if he liked. Once we moved away from Hyde Park I started getting a lot more lenient. Part of it was that we had just moved and neither the kids nor I had any friends. Part of it was that we had moved into a more conventional community—and I wasn’t sending Luke to a media-shunning Waldorf school any more—and so I didn’t feel so conspicuous allowing more screen time into our lives.

But a half hour on weekdays has become an hour, and a movie on the weekends has become several. The kids have been whining for more and more screen time. Sometimes they ask to get on the computer or watch a video first thing in the morning. And you know what? Even though it is nice to have the kids occupied while they watch, they are always out of sorts when we turn it off. They are surly and demanding of my attention.

So we sat them down on Sunday and told them no more screen time on weekdays. And, surprisingly, they didn’t whine much. And now we have completed one media-free four-day stretch, and it has been wonderful. We have been doing things that we haven’t done in a long time. We’ve pulled out puzzles that haven’t seen the light of day in at least a year. We’ve made a lot of very fashionable shrinky-dink jewelry. We have played every board game on the shelf. We biked through the snow.

And yes, I have had to work a little more to keep them occupied, but once they are in the groove, they are playing by themselves pretty well. And last night at the beginning of the weekend, we borrowed Home Alone from the library (which was marginally inappropriate, I thought, with the swearing and the fake shooting and all, but oh well) and we made nachos and popcorn and enjoyed ourselves immensely. There is nothing like laughing at slapstick comedy with little boys.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

We are all snowed in here. Of course, snowed in is relative. My sister and I made short work of shoveling the driveway while mocking the poor shoveling skills of our neighbors. It turns out that there are some advantages to getting tied onto a roof and ordered to shovel on a regular basis while growing up—it makes regular shoveling seem easy. That last sentence makes it sound like we were maltreated as children, which we were not. We just had a really awful roof that needed shoveling regularly while we were growing up in Alaska, and our dad didn’t want us to fall off. So he tied us on up there. It turns out there are advantages to having five kids, too. I don’t live in Alaska, or on a farm, so I think two kids are probably enough.

My kids weren’t much help with the shoveling. They did shovel the lawn off so they could make a big mound of snow in the middle of the yard. Then we played a little king of the mountain. I tell you, I don’t know what to do about these kinds of games. I think the best thing is to look away.

We made a list this morning of all the things we wanted to do today, this day where even Craig didn’t have to go teach. We all got to contribute to the list, and here’s what we wrote down:
Play outside (mommy and boys)
Shovel (mommy and Mara)
Play star wars with our bodies (boys and daddy)
Naptime and quiet play time (everyone)
Make peanut butter play dough (boys and mom)
Read Books (daddy and boys, mommy and boys, Mara and boys)
Play Lego Star Wars (daddy and boys)
Write (mommy)
Yoga (mommy and Mara)
Clean Room (boys and dad)
Clean T.V. room (boys and mom)
Finish homework (boys)
Bake a cake (Luke and mom)

I’m writing at the moment—I will try to work on something else after blogging—and Craig is playing Star Wars with the boys. Our list is complete! The cake is in the fridge and there is Indian food simmering on the stove.

It was a lovely snow day. But I hope school is back in session tomorrow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Christmas Form Letter

Dear Friends and Family,

I skipped the Christmas form letter this year, but I’ve been getting calls and emails every day begging me to write one. Craig is the most vocal, as he tells me that my blog was much better last year when it was funny and “not so touching and poignant.” I decided to comply with his wishes, since I know it is one of the highlights of everyone’s year, hearing the accomplishments of our family. I feel a bit as though I’m bragging when I write these letters, but just know that I’m simply thankful for our abundant gifts. Of course, my careful planning and coordination—not to mention my regimented day planner and perfectly organized home—help us to maintain the highly accomplished lifestyle to which we are accustomed.

This is the first year that I can report that Henry has been weaned! At three and a half, he still begs for “nursies” every day of course, but that is to be expected since he has only been weaned for six months. He seems to be gifted in languages, as he talks regularly in “baby talk.” He also takes French once a week at his preschool, and he knows the words adieu and magique after five months of study. We are so proud. He also, amazingly, can read the Bible already. It is simply magique!

Speaking of the Bible, each Sunday morning Luke first tries begging, then crying, then telling me his throat hurts in order that he might stay home from church. Despite his resistance to church services, Luke asked, just last Sunday, when he could become an alter boy. This was, strangely, right after he saw a cute little girl wave to one of the alter boys. Luke is also developing great spiritual insights about the saints. In other Luke news, he is working hard this year on his hypochondria. Last month, he asked me 953 times—once waking me in the middle of the night to do so—if his eyes were pink after several of his classmates developed pinkeye. Other ailments that have concerned Luke on several occasions recently have been chicken pox, vomiting, strep throat, measles, and dry drowning.

Craig continues to organize his woodworking workshop. He also has begun collecting antique woodworking postcards. As he works hard to complete his collection, I wait patiently for my bed frame while sleeping on a mattress on the floor. Big projects like this take time! Craig continues to serve as faculty advisor for the Argentine Tango Club at Ohio State. I’m glad he has hobbies, since this quarter is very stressful at work: he has to teach two classes, which means he has to be to campus by 10:30 every morning, and he often doesn’t get to leave work until 5 pm. And if you can believe it, he has to do this five days per week!

I, too, am hard at work. I write for at least one hour each week, and I have one publication to my name. As you can see, I recently learned how to create links in my blog, which is one of the big accomplishments of my year. My little sister Mara, ten years younger than I am, has been staying with us for a while, so I’ve been busy regressing. It is so nice to have her here, and we try to show our appreciation by allowing her to stay in our cold basement. It is a bit moldy, too, but we don’t think it has reached the “toxic mold” level yet. I have made a lot more friends here in our little town this year. I have made friends with a group of local blogging mamas, and we get together regularly to discuss writing drink beer. I also have made friends with a couple of women who have boys in first grade at Luke’s school, and we get together to talk about how to be good soccer moms go to wine tastings at the local wine shop.

We have so much to be thankful for this year. We are truly blessed. We hope you all can be as blessed, fortunate, and talented as we are.

The Jacksons

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Luke lost his first tooth last night. He pulled it out himself, blood and all. For him, this was amazing, since he has been known to go nearly hysterical over the sight of blood. He was so excited, and it seemed to be less about the money that he was hoping to find under his pillow and more about the coming-of-age significance of losing the tooth. He was proud.

And when I held that tooth in my hand, I couldn’t believe how tiny it was, so insubstantial, a small speck in my palm. The relic of my firstborn’s babyhood.

Monday, January 12, 2009

As my kids get older, I feel less and less like I can write about them. As they become more and more their own small people, their stories less mine to tell. When they were wee little ones, I could tell all because it was all about me, too. Now it is not.

This is all a preface to me writing about Luke and his journey into psychotherapy again. We left the last psychologist, as we weren’t getting any real help or answers. But as we left, we very strongly asked Dr. P to give us his assessment of the situation, and he put a name to Luke’s behavior that was very hard for me to hear. It made me cry, although it isn’t such a bad diagnosis, truth be told.

And now we are just beginning to see someone new, and this psychologist, Dr. B., doesn’t seem to think that Dr. P’s diagnosis is correct. There have been other words floating around. And these words, these possible diagnoses—these disorders, as some might call them—have been weighing heavily upon me.

And then something happened. I don’t know what, exactly--maybe it was sitting with these words and realizing that they are just words. Maybe it is that I am beginning to understand that a diagnosis is always subjective. Perhaps it is that I am beginning to realize that a diagnosis is simply a lens through which certain behaviors can be better understood and managed.

What happened was this: I was sitting at dinner listening to some crazy story from my creative, passionate, unique Luke, and it was as though something inside me shifted, and I all at once became thankful for everything that he is, for all of him, the whole package. And it is to my shame that I must admit that I could not say this before.

It was as if the world tilted just a little bit, or my eyes focused just a little more. There was some small change, some shift of molecules or atoms or parts of some kind, and my world is now a little bit different. A little bit better.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Biblical Free Association

Henry is “reading” to me from his children’s Bible. I asked him if I could type what he is saying so that I could put it on my blog, and he said yes. I’m trying to keep up.

The handers was the may
He wanted it so badly
It was already God
And then the angels went to God and he was already there
One big woman burped like a chicken
And then the woman came up and it was all a chapter number 6
I’ll find God
And then God was on a boat
And then he was a bigger jote
Then there was God
His friends was peeking in the castle of God
And then the wizard was a saint of God
And there was a trail up to the sky where heaven is
It has a lot of maps because God is up a long way
Just paper meetings to God.

As usual, it is clear to me that Craig and I are doing a really excellent job with religious education in our home.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I feel so behind on blogging, but I want to start the new year off without a big cloud of should-be-blogging guilt, so I’m writing but excusing myself from any expectations today.

One of my goals for 2009 is to write more in general, this space included.

What I want most to remember about the start of 2009 are the songs that my boys wrote this morning in their new blank books. They built some instruments (from cardboard) and a stage (from chairs) and formed a rock band. Henry, my fickle little three year old, wrote the following:

Oh yah Poopy
Oh yah Poopy
I don’t like you.
You are a dumb nut!

But Poopy . . . I love you.

Henry is quick to forgive and forget.

Luke remembers and holds grudges. But he has a truly poetic soul. He wrote several songs this morning, but this is my favorite:

There’s a ghost town
In the back yard of my mind
A ghost town
With goats and boats
A ghost town
In the back yard of my mind.

Somehow that seems so appropriate at this time of year when I am feeling both nostalgia and a sense of a new beginning all at once.