Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat!

Happy Halloween!!

Hope you and your kids and/or dressed-up pets had a great one. Kate made a very cute little witch. Check out the fun we had both at the church's Trunk or Treat Wednesday night and trick-or-treating around the neighborhood tonight.
Granna and Opa came to our Trunk or Treat and dressed up their trunk for the occasion. Her treat bucket this year was a plastic cauldron I had in my fall decor box; I just drilled holes in the sides and added the ribbon!

Trunk or Treat is one of Arlington's biggest outreach events of the year, I learned, and there were TONS of guests at the event. We had a free dinner and carnival games in addition to the candy-mongering. Kate actually got two bean bags in the 30-point hole from about 3 feet away!
Tonight we left a bowl of candy on the porch while we walked Kate around part of the neighborhood. Not surprisingly, we ended up carrying her hat and broom—and eventually, her cauldron, when it got heavy—ourselves, but she had fun!

And, the aftermath... messy hair from the hat, runny nose from the chilly night air, several tested-but-uneaten pieces of candy...
And the tiny little book there (courtesy of the neighbor who must be either a dentist or a pediatric diabetes specialist, giving out tiny books, bracelets, yo-yos, and stuffed animals instead of candy) is actually her favorite thing. She calls it her "Bible Book" (even though it is actually a Barbie address book) and she "read" it to us before bed, saying "love your friends" over and over. :0) 

Killing Time with Crafts

I didn't expect to start another non-working work-week before Baby came, but here we are! All the errands and chores and self-pampering I'd planned to do during the pre-baby part of my maternity leave were done last week, so I've been passing the time by getting crafty!

I picked up a couple more little $1 birdhouses to paint for Claire's room (like the one hanging from the "tree" on her wall) to just sit around on her bookcase and shelves. 

I loosely stitched some felt cut-outs on my orange sweater so that my belly might earn some candy when we go trick-or-treating this evening. (I'm not so good with the mirror self-portraits. This was the best of about ten attempts.)

And, I've been doing some scrapbooking. Like a couple pages about Matt's Holy Land trip from last spring.

And a page celebrating Kate and my "special lullabye." I started changing the words to "Rock-a-bye Baby" when I realized how unsettling the whole cradle falling out of a tree thing is, so we now have a special version just for Kate and Mommy that she'll request and sing along with me.

Matt will be home with Kate soon and we'll enjoy a frozen pizza before heading out trick-or-treating. Maybe walking the neighborhood again will jumpstart labor. (Jalepenos, walks, Thai food, and other tricks haven't worked yet, but who knows.) We see the doctor again in the morning, so I'll have a status report tomorrow afternoon!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Due Date!

I was hoping to finish out this "31 Days of Baby" thing (or rather, the 17 days I've managed) with an actual baby, but the clock is ticking on that and I'm not sure Claire's going to see October this year! Today, October 30, is my due date, and while there's still time to go into labor and deliver today or tomorrow, I'm not holding my breath.

Claire has cried wolf several nights this week, as my contractions seemed to pick up steam a little bit, even feeling a little bit painful last night, but then they settle down. The doctor I saw on Wednesday said that this is common with second/subsequent pregnancies, but it's really annoying, especially given how the docs got my hopes up that she could be early! At least this time I know what "real" labor feels like, so I don't worry that I'm missing some major sign. With Kate, when these frequent, painless contractions began just a couple days before her birth, I called the doctor to ask, "They're supposed to hurt, right? This can't be it, right?" So now, I'm just waiting for some real pain! (Then again, I know second labors can go really quickly, so a teeny part of me does worry I'll wait too long and end up delivering on the side of the road, but that's highly unlikely.)

Apparently, some women really want to avoid a Halloween birth, but I'm fine with that. (My birthday is July 4, holiday birthdays are fun, and people keep telling me how their friends with Halloween birthdays always had the best parties.) So, feel free to come any time, Claire! We're just so excited to meet you and hold you!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Me" Week

I can't believe it's Thursday night! The week goes by really fast when you're not at work, I guess. That, and I'm kind of surprised to have not gone into labor yet. Darn those doctors—I had been determined not to expect her to be at all early, and then they go getting my hopes up by saying I might barely make it to the 21st. Bugger.

So, here I am, having enjoyed four days of "me" time this week since starting my pre-baby maternity leave. Pretty much everything on my "To Do Before Baby" list is complete. I went straight to Build-a-Bear upon leaving work on Friday, since the most important thing on that to-do list was getting the sister gift from Claire to Kate. (I went with the pink bear in a different outfit, if you were wondering.) With that taken care of, I enjoyed the weekend like any other, with nice family time, including our visit to the pumpkin patch and the neighborhood Halloween party. After church on Sunday, people showered us with gifts at the church pot-luck (my co-workers gave me a little send-off on Friday too) and so by Sunday night, it felt like the nursery was all ready.

I started off Monday feeling free as a bird, giddy at the novelty of sitting in my kitchen at 10am, making a grocery list. The giddiness subsided briefly when I left the house and was pulled over at a notorious speed trap just a mile from home (45 in a 35), but I just got a warning. (whew!) I went and got a manicure and pedicure, and finished up Your Two-Year Old: Terrible or Tender over a latte at Starbucks, where a random man started telling me about his four grown children, in great detail, including which relatives they resembled and where they were in life now. Some people's obliviousness to social cues amazes me. I went to the grocery, picked up a new Jodi Picoult novel at the library (House Rules, about a young man with Asperger's syndrome, which I don't believe the man at Starbucks has, though it might sound like it), and came home for a nap. (Note: I would have linked both the books I mentioned in this paragraph, but my Amazon widget in Blogger doesn't seem to be working any more—anyone else having this problem?)

Tuesday, I ran a few errands and continued to devour my novel. (I'm really not a fiction reader, but really enjoy Picoult's books.) I went to Barnes & Noble to spend a gift card I had, and bought a baby book for Claire and—fittingly for "me week"—The Book of Me: A Do-It Yourself Memoir. I discovered this book by following a link on one of Jessica Turner's 31 Days of Memory-Keeping posts, and figured it was right up my alley, since I love get-to-know-you type questions and have an obsession with recording memories. (I was an obsessive journaler from about age 13-20.) This book is 200 pages of prompts about your childhood and adolescence, family, work, personality, etc., in detail, like "Who babysat you and what were they like?" and "When, if ever, did you spend money unwisely, bounce a check, miss something important because you overslept, or otherwise make unwise moves?" Obviously, some people would see this as a huge waste of time, not care, or not remember these things, but I'm crazy like that.

This was the night we ate spicy nachos and took a walk in hopes of prompting labor, but while the contractions continue and even seem a little more intense sometimes, there were no developments.

Yesterday was a long and crazy day. Matt and I went out for breakfast to fulfill a craving I'd been having, and at the end of the meal, I got sick. As in, suddenly nauseous, run for the bathroom, attentive waitress diverts me out the side door (much closer to our table than the bathroom) with a handful of napkins, and I lose it all in the grass, hopefully out of sight of any still-dining customers. The waitress actually said I was about the 20th pregnant woman they'd had in there since the day before. One woman was even in labor but refused to go to the hospital until she'd had her Reuben.

I then got my eyebrows waxed (something that fell by the wayside after Kate was born, so I'm trying to get back on the wagon) and arrived at my 11:00 OBGYN appointment at 10:40. (Score! I'm always late when I go from work.) So, we sat down to wait, content with my Picoult book. And we waited. And waited. And waited. At 12:20 (ten minutes before I was supposed to meet my friend Nancy for lunch twenty miles away) Matt spoke to someone at the desk and learned that our doctor had been delayed all morning because of a surgery that ran late, and had another surgery at 12:30. She'd tried to see everyone she could before then, but it wasn't going to happen, so they advised we reschedule, or at least go get lunch and come back in an hour. So, I let Nancy know and Matt and I grabbed lunch in the hospital cafeteria (and took a little walk around the maternity floors :) before returning and being told our doctor would be another hour, but we could see another doctor. So we did. Three hour wait. Three minute exam. Three to four centimeters dilated.

We left frustrated and exhausted. Last night was Trunk or Treat at church. I'll post about that separately, since it will be filled with cute Kate pics, not boring "what I did today" stuff like this one! Today, my only scheduled activity was my rescheduled lunch with Nancy, and otherwise I was just lazy. Did a scrapbook page. Read. Napped. I'm not bored yet, but definitely ready to get this party started. C'mon, Baby Claire!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yes, She's Excited

Probably the number one question we get (after the obvious, "when are you due?") is "So, is Kate excited about getting a little sister?" And our usual response is, "kind of, to the extent she understands."

Though I've read that you really shouldn't bother telling a young child about a new baby until a month or so before it's born (since long periods of time are essentially meaningless to them), we told Kate right away and have seen the various stages of her understanding, or lack thereof.
  • For a long time, she insisted she had a baby in her belly too. 
  • After we got her a Big Sister book, she started to get the big/little, me/baby concept. 
  • She went through a time of seeming frustrated when we would talk about Baby too much (watching my belly for movement, or even looking at an album of her baby pictures). 
  • A nicer development was naming her baby doll "Sister" and involving the doll in reading stories and such.
  • Only in the last month or so has she used Claire's name regularly, praying for "Baby Taire" and using "Baby Sister" and "Baby Claire" interchangeably. 
And now that the time is drawing near, just when I really worried that this long build-up would make the whole thing seem imaginary, like a real baby was never going to actually show up (pregnancy can sometimes feel that way to adults, too, I think!) she actually does seem interested and excited about what's coming.

She'll comment on how big my belly is, and is more willing to kiss or talk to the baby when I suggest it. She seems clear on the fact that Baby won't do much at first, but that, as the big sister, she can talk to Claire and teach her about things, and that Claire will love to watch her and think she's the coolest. Kate seems to understand that Baby is coming out of my belly soon and that then we can see her and hold her. I've explained that when Claire comes out, my boobies will make milk for her, just like they did for her. I even briefly mentioned the difference between nursing and pumping, but figured, "eh, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it." Tonight in the bathtub, we looked at my big belly and together urged Claire to come out. We told her how much fun it is out here and about all the fun things we'll do together once she's out, like take baths and go to the zoo.

Eager to get this party started, I ate spicy nachos tonight for dinner (the same ones we used to "smoke Kate out" when she was four days overdue) and we took a long walk. Kate played on her swingset when we got home and I walked brisk laps around the swingset, which seemed to annoy Kate.

"Stop, Mommy!" she said.
"I'm trying to get Baby Sister to come out," I said.
"Baby Claire's not coming out," she replied.
"She's not? When is she coming out?" I asked.
"Soon," Kate said.
"Soon like . . . before Trunk or Treat tomorrow night?"

So there you have it. Kate's official prediction is that Claire will be born sometime Wednesday. Good to know. And even better to know that, even if it's not Wednesday, she will be out "soon," whether that's tomorrow or next week sometime.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Claire's Room

I shared the mural I painted on Claire's wall a few weeks ago, when that was all I'd done in the nursery. Now it's pretty much all together, and I feel like we're ready to bring her home!

Before sharing pics, though, I wanted to get back to something I mentioned in an earlier post: decorating/redecorating a nursery on a budget. What's the secret? It all comes down to the sheet.

Complete nursery bedding sets can cost $160-200. (And that's at Babies R Us, not Pottery Barn, etc.) That's crazy, especially when you consider that SIDS-prevention recommendations prohibit use of quilts and say bumpers should be removed once baby is rolling over. All you really need is the sheet, and for decorative purposes perhaps the dustruffle and window valance. So, for both Kate and Claire, once I realized all this, I started my planning by looking at the selection of individually-sold sheets. For Kate, I liked a multicolor polkadot sheet, painted her name letters and some artwork to match, and ended up buying a few pieces from the coordinating collection a la carte.

For Claire, I liked a sheet with birds lined up on branches.

That sheet inspired the colors for the room and the mural I painted. I bought plain curtains at Target, and am reusing various things we already had for Kate's nursery and elsewhere in the house. Put them together, and they make a whole new room!
This is the view from the door, as we're walking by toward our bedroom—it makes me smile. I went with light and sheer for the window treatment, and I like it, nice and ethereal. I would love to find a garland of pink flowers and green leaves to drape across the top.
I found this little birdhouse in the dollar bin at Michael's when I was checking out with the paints and other craft supplies, and painted it to match.

To the right of the window is a little bookcase with baby toys and the few books I thought Kate could part with. I got the artwork on Etsy—the white text in the upper left is Psalm 139:1-18.
I hung the shelves myself the other night, kneeling on the dresser with a power drill. It was one of those "don't question a nesting mama" moments. It looks a little plain right now, but I imagine various keepsakes and gifts after she's born will fill the empty spaces.
I'll probably paint the wooden "C" so it stands out more. The marble owl was part of my grandmother's owl collection, and the pink hanky was hers too. They've just been sitting on my dresser for a while, so I thought it would be nice to have them on display.
I still have a few things to hang, like this peg board (which did have trucks on it and was in what is now our guest room when we moved in) and I painted to match the birds on the sheet, and the three-pic frame that still has Kate's newborn pics in it. 
So now we're just waiting around and wondering if she'll get to use this little "Baby's 1st Halloween" bib this year or wait until next year!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Fun Weekend

Let's get the big question out of the way—no, Baby's not here yet. The painless contractions I've been having for weeks have seemed to get a little stronger when I'm seated (like during the movie Friday night when Matt and I went to see "Ides of March"—really good) but they go away when I'm walking around, so definitely not the real thing yet.

We've had a weekend of fall fun, starting with our visit to the pumpkin patch yesterday. This was a real, "pick-your-own" farm, so while the pumpkins were a bit picked over and mostly only green ones left, we had the fun of hunting for our pumpkins and paying next to nothing compared to the grocery store, which is where I get pumpkins when we don't get around to going anywhere else.
 (Glad I had Kate wear orange, since there wasn't much else orange in the patch!)

 We each picked out one that we liked, and then Kate chose a tiny little one for Baby Sister. 
Kate's face in this last pic reminds me of one of our pumpkin patch pics from her first fall—some of my favorite photos of her ever. (and I see Matt was wearing the same shirt. ha!)
And, a total aside, it has been months since she's let me put her hair in pigtails. It felt like a sign of "growing up," even though I knew the real reason was fear of the comb hurting her scalp. Then, somehow it happened Monday morning (though she initially threw a fit because she wanted a third ponytail on the very top of her head, and I refused) and then she wanted ponytails every day for the rest of the week!

Last night was the neighborhood Halloween party, Kate's first opportunity to wear her costume. Since we're not sure if Matt and I will be able to take her trick-or-treating on the 31st, we're glad there are a couple other events to enjoy. (And if we're out of commission this Wednesday for the church's Trunk-or-Treat, maybe we'll be able to take her on Halloween—or at least Matt will, while Claire and I stay put on the front porch, giving out candy.) So... dum-da-da-da... here is Kate, the cutest little witch!
 (and our pumpkins, in shades of green)

The party featured good food, a costume contest (thus the number stuck in the brim of Kate's hat, though she was more into the desserts), and a pumpkin-carving contest. I voted for the vomiting pumpkin, since I identified with it so well after these last nine months.
This afternoon, Kate and I baked cookies—Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Chunk. They're not limited to the fall, but they do suit the season especially well. (I found this recipe on the back of the Craisins bag about ten years ago, and they're still printing it on there, if you want it!)
 Kate was an awesome stirrer. 
And, if you're not pictured-out, let me share a couple from last weekend's fall fun, when Nala and Popi visited and we went to the Music & Molasses festival.
 Nala and Kate fed some goats.
 Kate learned to weigh vegetables (though she still asks, "what time is it?" when she sees one of these scales in a book we read a lot!)
 Kate enjoyed a sorghum lollipop (apparently sorghum and molasses are the same thing?)
and we took a mule-drawn buggy ride in a surry with the fringe on top!

What fall fun have you been having?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Survey Says...

I asked you all for your best guesses as to when Claire would make her appearance, and here's what the survey said:

Soon: Oct. 20 or before
  4 (16%)
1 week early: Oct. 21-24
  11 (45%)
A few days early: Oct. 25-28
  7 (29%)
Right on time: Oct. 29-31
  1 (4%)
A little late: Nov. 1-4
  1 (4%)
Induced: Nov. 5 or later
  0 (0%)

Since it is currently the evening of Oct. 20 and I haven't gone in to labor yet, I'd say four of you have officially lost. The most popular response seemed to be going on my doctor's comment that I might be "cutting it close" on the 21st being my last day at work, with 45% saying I'd go "1 week early." Most of the rest said "a few days early," which was my vote too, mainly because I don't really want to have a whole week of "me time," just a few days. So next Wednesday or so would be just perfect. But because I think about silly things like this, I actually prefer the "sound" of the dates Oct. 30 and 31, and Nov. 1 and 2, but I think I'll be getting pretty antsy by that time.

As to the actual doctor's report from this week, no new light has really been shed on the issue. My doctor is at Disney World this week, so I saw someone else yesterday and was eager for a second opinion. She was genuinely shocked at how low Claire's head is (and when you can surprise someone who does this all day long, that's saying something) and that my cervix is "definitely thin." So, she said that given how low she is and that it's my second child, "probably soon." But she also made certain to emphasize that she never makes predictions because you really never can tell. She told us about two women she saw at 36 weeks—one who seemed to have a bowling ball between her legs and one whose cervix was still  "hard as a rock." The rock-woman went into labor that night, and bowling-ball-lady ended up having to be induced. So, my fear might be grounded that, for all this talk about being early, Claire might be a November baby after all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sibling Gifts

It's technically Day 19 of the "31 Days of..." series, and I've managed to do 11 baby-related posts in that time. (This is #12.) You can see them all here.

Today I thought I'd share about the "sister gifts" I have planned. A lot of people arrange for big siblings to bring a gift for the new baby to the hospital, and—surprise!—the new baby has a gift there for the big sib. So, I'd been thinking about what my girls should give each other, and thought it would be nice if they were kind of a set that goes together.

We've never done the whole "Build-a-Bear" thing, and that seemed like a fun way for Kate to be more involved in the selection/creation of her gift for Baby Sister (whom she has finally started calling Baby Claire, by the way, or "Baby Tare," since her Cs often come out as Ts—Tookie Monster, etc.) So, my plan was for Kate to go make a bear for Claire, and then I would go back on my own and make one for Kate from Claire. I was nervous that Kate wouldn't "get" that it wasn't for her but for the baby and try to possess it, but I asked her several times in advance "do you want to go make a present for Baby Sister?" and she seemed enthusiastic, so off we went.

Despite my subtle urgings toward a more classic-looking brown or white bear, she chose the pink one—and as you'll see in the end, topped it off with a sparkly pink t-shirt. A little too girly-girl tweeny-bopper for my taste, but hey, she's two, and it's what she liked.

She picked out a heart for it, and we all pushed the pedal for the stuffing machine (even Claire got in the act, as you see!)
We all kissed the heart and Kate put it inside, then she picked out the little t-shirt for it. Here we are with our finished "ClaireBear," which is all boxed up and waiting to be brought to the hospital when Kate comes to meet her sister!
This was about ten days ago, and I still haven't gone back to make the "K-Bear" for Kate! I've been busy, but am definitely nervous about going into labor before I have a chance to do it! Also, I'm trying to decide how much to coordinate them. Should Kate's be pink with a different outfit, or maybe the matching blue bear with a pink dress? The brown and white bears weren't quite the same style, so now that Kate has set the tone, I feel like I need to follow it. Leave it to me to obsess over a stuffed bear!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Silhouette II

Of the various ways to photograph and document a pregnant belly, I really like doing a silhouette of my figure by tracing a profile shot in Adobe Illustrator. (Photos of the bare belly with stretch marks and my "second belly button," i.e. my belly button ring scar, are good mementos too, but not so fun to broadcast on the Internet.)

I did a silhouette with Kate too, also at 38 weeks, and just for fun decided to overlay them to see how they compare. Not a huge difference, but you can see how Claire (the white overlay) is hanging out a bit lower than Kate did!


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