Happy Halloween!

After the great costume dilemma of 2009 and the recent week of rest, Tamiflu and more rest, we made it for a brief appearance at the neighborhood Halloween party and the peanut handled 6 houses of trick-or-treating. Six may not sound like much, but have you walked the hills in our neighborhood? Yeah, that’s why I’m home downloading pics and handing out candy.

So…here is a of pic of our finished and, yes, hand-made with love, costume for the peanut:

And yes, he proceeded to tell us all the things that were NOT Thomas-accurate.

Even Mama got in on the action this year:

Ready to meet this “bouncing” baby boy!

Hope you all are enjoying your Halloween tricks and treats! I’m off to indulge in a few Special Darks and Reese’s Cups. Mmmmm…not so bad being pregnant on Halloween after all.

Pregnant with a Side of Tamiflu

As if week 39 of pregnancy wasn’t stressful enough on its own. I’ve been hoping that every twinge is an indication we’re close, practically praying for an early arrival. Until yesterday.

Peanut has had a cough for a week. I took him to the doc on Monday, assuming our pediatrician would pooh-pooh it like usual and give me the usual: fluids, rest, blah, blah, blah. Essentially, give me the peace of mind I was seeking in this final week before my due date. Instead, Dr. Killjoy would not commit and dropped the H-bomb: H1N1. Not that it definitely resembled it, but that he couldn’t rule it out, he said while eyeing the basketball in my belly. He gave us a prescription for Tamiflu to only fill if his cough stayed the same but his fever got worse.

Well, Wednesday morning, peanut spiked to 101+. Great. Called in and they told me to fill that sucker, so we did. Then called the OB’s office. Now I’m on it, too. Even though I’ve already had the scratchy throat and slight cough. Great. Nothing like being paranoid about possible swine flu during labor.

Needless to say, I’m keeping my legs crossed at least until peanut’s 5-day course of Tamiflu is complete on Monday. I’m on the “precautionary” version, so I have a 10 day course to go. Hoping to put together a plan with the midwife at tomorrow’s appointment, but to say I’ve been freaking out would be an understatement. Nothing like new avenues of paranoid thought to travel down while tossing and turning all night since no position is comfortable right now. Will I be able to be around my new baby? Will I be able to breastfeed? Will we all be healthy enough to bring the baby home? Why did this have to happen to us? Because, yes, I’m taking it as some sort of personal insult.

Last night, through the stressful tears that keep welling up at random times (thanks hormones), I looked at the hubby and told him one day we’d look back on this time and laugh. I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

12 Days of Pregnancy

Twelve little days until my due date. Unless pumpkin is 10 days late, like peanut was, and I’m looking at 22 days to go which is such a dark and depressing thought that I am refusing to go there right now.

Instead, I have been humming the 12 Days of Christmas all day and wondering what the comparable 12 days of pregnancy would be. As impractical as 11 pipers piping would be to my life right now, I could relate to eight maids a-milking.

Here’s my countdown of the last 12 days of pregnancy:

On the 12th day of pregnancy, my true love gave to me 12 bowls of ice cream;
On the 11th day of pregnancy, I will have 11 to-do lists;
On the 10th day of pregnancy, I will start 10 useless projects;
On the 9th day of pregnancy, I will give into 9 days of “Cars” viewing;
On the 8th day of pregnancy, I will be doing 8 loads of laundry;
On the 7th day of pregnancy, I will come up with 7 new name choices;
On the 6th day of pregnancy, the hubby will witness 6 mental breakdowns;
On the 5th day of pregnancy, I will be 5 centimeters!!! (I wish!)
On the 4th day of pregnancy, I will be up for 4 pees a night;
On the 3rd day of pregnancy, my mom will start calling 3 times a day;
On the 2nd day of pregnancy, I will only have 2 shirts that fit right;
On the 1st day of pregnancy, I am looking forward to…

A baby in a bassinet.

I’m definitely in the mentally challenging part of the pregnancy. The wishing an exam gives a glimmer of hope. The hoping a twinge is the start of something. The counting down to a day that doesn’t really mean anything. So far, nothing’s happening and I strangely feel physically less ready than I did a week ago. Which is frustrating. But typical.

Guess I’ll just sing my new little ditty and continue to nurture this little guy inside since he’ll be worth every minute of the wait. Better than four french hens, for sure.

Halloween Costume Conundrum

My mother made most, if not all, of our Halloween costumes when we were kids. If she didn’t make them, we put them together ourselves. I don’t recall ever having a store bought costume. Not once.

I was a clown, a crayon, a witch, a hobo (the same year my sister went as a rich lady), Little Red Riding Hood, and so much more I’m having a hard time remembering.

Peanut has been a frog and Spiderman for his only two Halloweens. Neither of which I made. Both years this made me feel guilty or somehow lacking in the mother gene since this was something fun we did with our mom every year.

This year, peanut is complicating it further by constantly changing his mind. At first, he wanted to be an astronaut, which thrilled the hubby. We found a great costume online that I loved because it was pretty inexpensive and could be used for dress-up all year long. Dress-up isn’t something my kid does often, okay, ever, but he does pretend to take off in a rocket ship a lot and a costume for those rainy day spaceship forts made out of pillows would make it a bit more fun, don’t you think? And the relief of getting the costume taken care of early while my due date looms on the Halloween horizon? Priceless.

Then, suddenly, out of the blue, he decides he wants to be a train. Great. I really don’t care for the Thomas costumes all over the Internet and Target, so I tried to see if it would pass or I could convince him to go back to the astronaut idea (thankfully, I had not ordered it yet). Then it was he wanted to be a race car and daddy would be a race car driver. Then, no, I want to be the race car driver. Then, I want to be a school bus. Then, I want to be a taxi. Then, I want to be a train again.

We obviously need to make a decision soon. At dinner tonight, when he announced that he didn’t want to be a train he wanted to be a car – no wait, a train again – I looked at the hubby and said, “I’m just going to make him be a carrot.” Why? Because it was just the most random thing that popped in my head.

Peanut retorted: “You can’t tell me what I am for Halloween, mommy. I tell myself.”

Dude. Who knew the “You can’t tell me what to do” thing was going to start so young?

I’m beginning to wish I had inherited the sewing desire, not to mention skill, so I could just whip something up. So the pressure was off a little bit and we could explore some options for costumes together. So we could enjoy that time together working on a special project, just the peanut and me. Maybe it’s more nesting – the need to make things, create, solve, make my peanut happy. The problem? Totally uninspired.

Tonight, I’m going to dig deep, channel my mother, tap into the crafty side, go online and see what the heck I can do to come up with a short list for the peanut and try to knock out this costume conundrum by the end of the weekend.

Otherwise, I just won’t comb out his bed head that morning and he’ll be going as Dennis the Menace.

Other suggestions? Did you wear more home made or store bought costumes as a kid? What about your kids?

Sisters and Brothers

Have I mentioned before that I have the most fantastic, sassy, blunt, loyal, hilarious sister in the world? And that my life – and any bottle of wine – is just not the same without her?

It’s true.

It hasn’t always been so. We had our share of fights growing up and by fights I mean hair-pulling, slapping, physical pain inducing fights that weren’t nearly as bad as the hurtful things we could hurl at each other in a war of words. Somehow, those difficult times coupled with the sweet moments of sisterhood – the comforting whispers under the nubby quilt at my grandmother’s house to ease one or both of our feelings of homesickness, the shared laughter over an inside joke at the dinner table that left our parents clueless, the game nights, the endless watching of Clue, the endless watching of Dirty Dancing, the marathon Barbie play sessions, the “Spam” shows and the common bonds of watching a parent lose a job or quit smoking or go back to school or deal with a health crisis – made our relationship what it is today. And what it is today is still sometimes just as competitive, but at its roots is a fierce bond that oftentimes doesn’t need words but rather a head on the shoulder as we wrap our arms around each other.

What makes this relationship so difficult these days is the fact that we live 384 miles apart and our lives are at polar opposites. I’m home with a pre-schooler and baby on the way, she’s kicking tail at a high-stress, 60-hour a week job while getting her MBA at night and married to a wonderful man who works a crazy schedule leaving them little time to see each other face-to-face not to mention time to visit us.

Imagine my surprise when a HUGE box was delivered on my doorstep today. She’d told me to be on the lookout for a package, but this was not exactly what I had envisioned. On the outside of the box it said:

And was it ever. The box was filled with practical baby gear, adorable outfits, cuddly animals, books for both the boys, an Uncle J-painted original for peanut as well as an Uncle J-painted Dr. Seuss ‘page’ for pumpkin to complement the one he did for peanut three years ago.

All that was missing were the silly shower games (and who really misses those?) and the cake.

When this was the cake sis had done for peanut’s shower, wouldn’t you be missing one this time, too?

I know if she could be here to get me through these last few weeks, she would be. I know if she could be there during my labor and moments after pumpkin’s birth, she would be. I know if she could be here to deliver the box in person with a cake (yes, I’m obsessed) and a bottle of champagne, she would be. But she isn’t. And I love her all the more for what she did do…made me feel showered, loved and excited about pumpkin’s arrival in all new ways.

Despite the distance, despite the complicated lives, despite the sibling rivalry, she will always be my best friend, my confidant, my sounding board, my partner in crime, my favorite drinking buddy, my fashion consultant, my sister. As I await the arrival of pumpkin, I can’t help but wish a similarly strong bond for these brothers we will have created. I look forward to one day sitting back and hearing them belly laugh over messy antics at their mother’s expense, practical jokes gone awry, shared games, inside jokes about family vacation moments, and trips to the ER (they’ll be boys, I can’t possibly get through child-rearing without at least one cast and 10 stitches…per child).

Despite whatever distance, despite whatever complicated lives, despite the inevitable sibling rivalry, they will be brothers. And if they are anything like my sister and I, they’ve got a very good thing coming.

Baby & Me Class aka Kid Comedy Hour

This past weekend we took peanut to a sibling preparation class at the hospital where we’ll be delivering pumpkin. The idea was that the more people who talk to peanut about what he’s in for, the hopefully less difficult the transition will be when pumpkin is here in the hungry, demanding, crying flesh.

I haven’t laughed so hard in a long, long time.

The class consisted of seven kids – five girls and two boys, including peanut, ages ranging from three to seven. The nurse tackled what babies are like when they come out (umbilical stumps and soft spots were key points) and had them practice diapering, swaddling and holding babies with dolls. And “kids say the darnedest things” doesn’t even begin to describe the things that came out of their mouths.

There was the quiet kid (the other three year old) who simply took it all in. She, however, was confused about the fact that mom was having a baby brother not a baby sister like she kept insisting.

There was the know-it-all kid whose mom was having twins. One boy, one girl. Every time the nurse described anything, this kid would pipe up to clarify that she’d have two babies to help diaper, swaddle and hold. She left her seat to come say something to her mom, returned to her seat and announced, “Excuse me. I just had to take care of some business with my mom.” Then again, this was also the kid who asked “how do babies cry if they don’t have any teeth?”

There were the two quiet sisters who were a bit overshadowed by the other strong girl personalities in the room but finally figured out they could raise their hand and ask to go first for all activities. And ask they did. Every time.

There was the over-sharer. Sure, they are all kids and certainly all shared more than they needed to, but this girl had a story for everything – that a friend in her class had a baby doll that looked like the doll the nurse had but it was named Jasmine, that babies need bottles because they don’t have any teeth, and that when someone described baby poop as diarrhea, she raised her hand to announce that she had diarrhea once. I think I saw her mother die a little inside after that particular gem.

And then there was peanut, the poker. Once he received his baby doll, he proceeded to spend his time focused on how the doll’s eyes opened and shut which involved a lot of poking and accidental banging of the baby on its head as he turned it upside down by its ankles. Understatement of the day: the nurse looking over at me and saying “So, mom, we won’t be leaving peanut alone with the new baby.” No kidding.

Peanut did a decent job during diapering, suffocated the doll during swaddling and then out and out refused to hold it in the proper position. He did get a big laugh when the nurse was trying to determine what gender baby us moms were having and peanut responded, “we’re having a pumpkin.” That took a quick explanation.

The kids all liked seeing the room where mom would be staying after the baby was born. I think the main attraction was the new flat screen TVs mounted on the wall. The two free ice cream coupons per kid at the end were also a big hit. The nurse was smart and handed those to the kids instead of all us nine month pregnant mommies who I’m sure would have pocketed them for ourselves without ever mentioning the possibility of ice cream to big brother or big sister. Or maybe that’s just me and my pregnant ice cream addiction talking.

To be honest, being back in the hospital was actually a big preparation step for me. Seeing the redone since peanut recovery rooms and being in the same halls reminded me that I’ve done this before and I can do this again. It certainly made my impending due date seem more real in a “yes this will end” kind of way rather than the “oh lord, I’m going to be this uncomfortable forever” that I have been feeling lately.

I guess peanut and I are as prepared as we’re going to get. Three weeks to the due date and officially in the “if he decides to come now, we’ll let it happen” zone. It’s felt like the longest pregnancy in the history of pregnancies, and yet I know the next three weeks will zoom by with a speed I am not prepared for.

At least I have free ice cream awaiting me in the hospital (yes, I took one of the coupons for myself) and a three year old ready to help change a few diapers. I think we’ll let the hubby handle the swaddling.

The Name Game

We are keeping our name choices secret again. Luckily, since folks expected this of us, we’ve had much less backlash about our desire not to share this information this time around and a lot fewer questions about the kinds of names we’re considering or other roundabout ways to get us to spill the beans.

Of course, the kicker is that we haven’t really settled on a name yet and only started discussing it in earnest about two weeks ago. We call the alien creature whose hiccups create seismic belly shaking each night the same name I do here: Pumpkin. It’s to the point that when we do ask Peanut what he thinks of a certain name, he responds, “No. Pumpkin is pumpkin.”

Not quite sure how we’re going to handle that once pumpkin is here, but I do know his real name will not be “pumpkin.”

This name limbo is just one more of the things I’m creating to worry about (oh, I have a very nice list of non-problems I’m working on making into issues). The fact is, we haven’t really settled officially because I think something I suggested early on is the name we’re measuring all other names against. You’d think this wouldn’t be a problem since I apparently liked it well enough to offer it up, but the hubby suggested peanut’s name and I’m feeling the added pressure of this one being MY suggestion. With peanut, if someone had ended up hating it, I could have easily blamed him. If that happens this time or an annoying nickname crops up or the kid ends up hating it when he’s 18, I suppose I’ll have to take ownership.

Oh, the pressure!

The thing is, the other night at dinner the hubby was adding extra Tabasco to his chili and peanut said he didn’t like spicy things. I have the less spicier palate in the family and definitely did not enjoy spicy foods during peanut’s pregnancy, so the hubby said “Just like your mother.” I responded that maybe SAID THE NAME OUT LOUD would take after his father since I have been craving more spice this pregnancy. It just came out, so natural, so fitting, like he already approved or had whispered it into my ear through his heartbeat during a prenatal appointment and all I had to do was translate it to get it right.

So maybe pumpkin does have a name. Maybe.

I can guarantee you later tonight I’ll pull out the old Baby Name Wizard to make sure we have a back-up or two. You know, just in case someone with this name does something horrible in the next four weeks that ruins it for everyone. Gotta have something to worry about.


We have a private family blog we use to keep our out of town (i.e, everyone) relatives in the loop with pictures and more personal, admittedly mundane, details of our daily lives with peanut. This weekend, I took a trip down memory lane and revisited the posts I wrote in the last month of peanut’s pregnancy.

Man, was I seriously that girl? You know, the one who just loves being pregnant and even admits to aspects that she’ll actually miss? Ick. I was. I apologize to all pregnant women out there, because I have seen the light that it’s not always sweethearts and roses.

During peanut’s pregnancy, I had the awful 15 weeks of constant nausea, hyper-sensitive gag reflex, the oh-I-just-wish-I’d-throw-up-already-instead-of-always-feeling-like-I’m-going-to first trimester. After that, it was really smooth sailing. I think I even glowed. *Sigh*

This time around, the exhaustion had me done in during the first trimester, but the nausea was minimal, lasted only a week or so and was easily managed. I think this third trimester is making up for it. The round ligament pain kicked in about three weeks ago and, at times, makes every step painful. Turning over in bed isn’t just difficult, it’s downright excruciating as I try to use what’s left of my pelvic muscles and those damn useless ligaments to turn over. Sure, I’m carrying so low I can actually breathe this pregnancy, but as a trade-off, I’m peeing ALL. THE. TIME. I can count on one hand how many nights that I have NOT gone to the bathroom in the last 36 weeks.

My temper is short, my patience limited, my energy waning. I’m not sure how much of it is the added physical demands of chasing a three-year-old as opposed to sitting at a desk all day where standing for an hour-long presentation once or twice a week and checking the mail were the most physically taxing activities I tackled versus just a different pregnancy.

I call it pregnancy purgatory – and I think it must be that way for all women after their first pregnancy. The first time around the pregnancy is all a mystery. It’s new and fresh. Scary and exciting. Every new sensation or kick feels like you’re being marked a mother. The arrival of this new creature seems so intimidating, it almost seems safer inside.

But this time? I am so aware that the payoff is better than the preamble. Of course I enjoy the hiccups and the shifts and shimmies, I know I’m a lucky gal to have had two relatively uneventful pregnancies and honestly do realize that my discomforts are minor compared to what some women go through for their children.

But I’m still counting down the days. Counting down to delivery. Counting down to meeting this new little man of mine. Counting down until I can introduce peanut to his baby brother and see my two sons together in the flesh. Counting down until our family of four is safely ensconced in the cocoon of those early, sleepless newborn days when time is topsy turvy and we’re all getting to know one another.

Counting down…

27 days to go.

Unless he’s late.

You Can’t Judge a Book (Event Attendee) By Its Cover

It’s not often that I find myself the youngest person in a room. Yet, that’s just where I found myself last night.

I attended a local literary event where Richard Russo was appearing. As I looked around the packed room of at least 100 attendees, I was surprised to realize I was one of only a handful under 40 and of those, I think several of them worked at the particular sponsoring venue.

I was bothered by this. I’ve attended events here with other authors that certainly skewed to a younger audience. Why was a Pulitzer Prize winner not drawing a similar crowd? Is it because his characters are older? He’s older? Did the venue not advertise this particular event to younger audiences? Are younger readers only reading “chick lit?”

Of course, I’m “younger” and enjoy Russo’s books and vivid characters, as well as “chick lit” and non-fiction titles. I had heard about the event via a local report on NPR and on twitter. Perhaps this is more a commentary on me being an old soul in a 33-year-old body than an indication of a larger trend?

Has our education system trained us to read for work, not pleasure? Has the proliferation of media options created a generation of non-readers because we’re too busy skimming our blog readers, twitter feeds, email or catching up on Top Chef via our DVRs so we can finally put in that Mad Men season two DVD from Netflix? Are books just not cool? Or are events like these simply not a high priority for busy twenty and thirty-somethings (an argument I can certainly relate to)?

I hope it’s more a challenge for the event planners of the world than a commentary on the state of the American reader.

As we analyzed ways to cut back on our discretionary spending back when I decided to stop working and stay home full time with peanut, buying books was definitely something I had a hard time justifying. Instead, I headed over to our local library and got a library card – my first since I was a child and actually did research for high school term papers in our public library stacks surrounded by Encyclopedia Britannica and microfiche machines.

What a wonderful decision that ended up being for this busy mom. I can go online and put my name on the wait list for new releases and pick them up when available. I have discovered less recent books that line the shelves just waiting for someone to find them and crack their plastic covered spines again to spill their secrets. I can spend at least an hour watching peanut randomly select books from the shelves and bins, filling bags to bring home of new books that capture his attention for the rest of the day and easily become his favorites in the nighttime rotation for the month they are ours. Seeing peanut’s face light up at the mere mention of going to the library makes me proud. I hope I can continue to nurture this love of books in my boys as they grow.

I’m not even sure what my point is with all this ranting about reading. All I know is we’re a family who loves books and I hope you all do, too. There is nothing more satisfying to me than peanut bringing me a book and asking me to read to him in the middle of the day – and not just because that means we get to sit still for a few minutes.

And, while I’m at it, if you haven’t read Empire Falls, you really should.

Okay, I’m done. Or as they say in books: