Friday, March 29, 2013

guest post: But I Never Learned How to Read

The husband blogs for me again. :) - Alicia

It's the hubs again! The wife hasn't blogged much lately, so here I stand. Or write. Or ramble. Your call. "Why hasn't she blogged recently?" you may ask, take your choice:

1) Her fragile mind has broken, and she currently believes herself to be an elephant in search of a herd.
2) Inspired by The Amazing Race, she is currently in Zimbabwe hunting down Phil Keoghan. 
3) She's decided to spend the rest of her pregnancy in a Michael Jackson inspired sensory deprivation chamber.
4) She's extremely tired and busy.

At least one of the above is totally true.

So, here I am once again! Prepare for a magical journey of self-discovery, enlightenment, and possibly a few lemur-knife-fights.

Or maybe I'll talk about books.

Lemur-knife-fight books.

I have been reading to Grayson since he was about -3 months. I read him The Hobbit through Mama's tummy right about when she hit the 3rd trimester, and never stopped. I read to him every night, and it's one of my favorite times of day... just the two of us, rocking in a chair. Him on my lap, turning pages... It's calm, lovely bond-y time for Daddy & son. Yeah, I hear you out there... "awwwww"... damn right.

For the first year or so it was nothing but Little Golden Books and Disney books and the like, but starting a little after he turned 1, I starting reading one kid's book and a few pages of a real book a night. Generally, G loves it. Sometimes he's not in the mood. Sometimes he just demands stories about lemur-knife-fights. Strange kid.

Some books go over better than others.

So, here we go. Grayson's book list. All the (real) books that I've read him over the past year and a half or so, bit by bit, and how they go over for a tiny child. My review, and G's review. In the order in which I read them.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:

Grayson's Book Review! (with some help from Daddy!)

I hope I get his portion right... It's hard to read his handwriting.

The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien (do I really have to tell you that? Shame on you.)
Daddy says: This was the first book I ever read him (twice). Once in the womb, and his first real book. I love The Hobbit. It's probably the book I've read the most during my life (except maybe The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy), with at least 20 times. Fun trivia fact: I used to be completely fluent in Tolkien's runic language, and did a massive English project in high school where I wrote out Kili's journal, spanning the entire book, all completely in runic. Think I got an A? Hell yeah I got an A.
Grayson says: I love this book! I never wanted Daddy to stop reading it, except maybe during those long, boring descriptions that seemed to go on forever and ever and.... zzzzzz... What? Oh. Hi! I also loved all the funny voices Daddy did when the dwarves and Gandalf and goblins were talking. I give it 2 pacis up.

Socks - Beverly Cleary
Daddy says: My own childhood favorite. The book that I would read to myself when I was sick and stayed home from school. Or when I was fake sick and stayed home from school. I still tear up at the end. For those that don't know it, it's about a cat that has to deal with a new baby in the house.
Grayson Says: Kitty! I love kitties. This book has pictures in it too, and the pictures always have a kitty in them. I liked this book. It was about a kitty, and really, what more do you need? All the best books have kitties, right? War and Peace is about mad  kitties... Les Miserables is about grumpy kitties. See? I give it two kitties up.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L Frank Baum
Daddy Says: Wow, I've never read the real story before. This is not the movie. It's a neat book, and I enjoyed it. I thought it was a little inappropriate that the wizard turned the cowardly lion into a rug at the end, though...
Grayson Says: Meh. I didn't really get it, though I liked making monkey sounds during all the flying monkey scenes, and man there were a lot of monkey scenes! It had nice pictures in it, and on almost every page, too. Did I mention the monkeys? Two monkeys up!

Odd And The Frost Giants - Neil Gaiman
Daddy Says: I love me some Neil Gaiman. Odd was a cute book, very Gaiman. In case you don't know it, it's about a boy that joins Odin, Thor, and Loki (who are all trapped in animal bodies)  in a quest to save Asgard from a Frost Giant. I'm a sucker for Norse mythology, and this was done very well.
Grayson Says: There were a lot of people talking in this book, which I like. Daddy had to make screeching birdy sounds a lot, which was funny. It was an okay book, but I never asked Daddy to keep reading. One toe up. Which is hard to do.

The Phantom Tollbooth - Norton Juster
Daddy Says: This book was a chore to get through. It's like an English major vomited into a typewriter. No offense to English majors out there. Did you know I'm married to one? She hit me when she proofread this blog. Sure, there are tons of puns (which I love), but not even good ones. It's all just constant wordplay and stretches of usage, and after a chapter or two of reading aloud five characters that constantly yell single words at each other... it's all just too much. No.
Grayson Says: What? I didn't really get this book. Sure, it had a dog that sounded like Jake from Adventure Time, but too many weird words and concepts that I just don't get. Plus Daddy kept muttering things like "well that's offensive," and "wow that's outdated" all the time. There wasn't even a ghost in it. Some phantom. Though I think everyone died in the end... at least that's what Daddy said would make it better. Zero sippies up.

Peter Pan - J.M. Barrie
Daddy Says: Another book that is just so different from what we're familiar with. Ok, maybe not Wizard of Oz different, but MAN Tinker Bell is a bitch. Rather short, but I love the real Hook and Smee. Proper pirate bastards them.
Grayson Says: Lots of talking and kid voices from Daddy, yay! There were fights and pirates (I love pirates) and fairies and pirates and mermaids and pirates and indians (that was what they were called in the book, anyway...) and pirates! The pirates all died in the end, which wasn't good. I wanted the pirates to win. I give it two pirates up.

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman
Daddy Says: Another book that I actually read to him in the womb as well as outside of it. We're currently in the middle of this book, and it's a favorite of mine... Okay, anything Gaiman is pretty much a favorite of mine.
Grayson Says: I like all the old ghosts and characters. There's lots of talking and fun action. And werewolves and vampires and ghosts and pirates and... oh wait, no pirates? Unless they're ghosts. Ghost pirates! Boo! Arrrrr! Booarrrr! Two booarrrr's up!

So what's next? I'm tempted to read him the entire Harry Potter series. Yes, the last book or two are a bit harsh, but I think he'd enjoy them... other than the quidditch  matches, which would be description heavy. It would take a while, too... but I'm not against that. Lord of the Rings would be a bit advanced for a 3 year old, don't you think? Game of Thrones is right up his alley... Or maybe he should watch the show first.

I will read to him has long as he lets me. I don't know how I'm going to juggle reading to G and Evie, but I'll manage. I wonder if someday, when they're old enough, they might gather to me together at night and I can read to the both of them at once. Ah dreams.

I hear you "awwww"ing out there again.

Stop it.

I'm off to read The Hobbit to my wife's belly.

Friday, February 15, 2013

5 love letters: dear baby #2

This week, I'm writing to my five children: my toddler Grayson, my three miscarriages, and the little girl nestled in my belly.

Today is the one year anniversary of the day we learned we had lost our first baby. I don't really want to rehash that time, about how we walked into a routine OB appointment and the silence that followed as she tried to find the baby's heartbeat. About the D&C and my postpartum anxiety that followed in the months after. If you want to read about it, here is a good place to start.

Today, I want to write that baby a love letter.

10 weeks pregnant with baby #2

Dear baby #2,

I'm sorry you don't have a name. We never found out if you were a boy or a girl, just like we never found out exactly what happened to you. I have a lot of regrets about that, but I do know that for 14 weeks, I carried you inside of me. I held you close and loved you hard, and I can't wait to see you again.

You changed my life forever. I know that the time I spent with you is overshadowed by losing you and the months that have followed after. I might think about how difficult it was to lose you more than how happy I was when I had you. But I want you to know that the experience of you is so precious to me. I'm forever changed by having you, and I hope to always make those changes as positive as possible.

I wish I could have seen you other than on ultrasound. More than anything, I wish I could have held you. I had dreams about you for a long time, and while those dreams have faded, the want of you is still there. You should be six months old by now.

I hope you realize that this baby girl is not your replacement. No matter what, you are our second child, our baby #2, the one we first tried to have. You'll always have a place in our family, and when your siblings are old enough, we'll share your story.

You'll always be my baby.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

5 love letters: dear Grayson

This week, I'm writing to my five children: my toddler Grayson, my three miscarriages, and the little girl nestled in my belly. The one year anniversary of our first miscarriage is the day after Valentine's Day, and while I'm remembering all the terrible things we've gone through in the past year, I also want to celebrate my love for my children.

Dear Grayson,

Before I say anything else, I want to say this: I am so, so proud of you.

The past year has been very hard for all of us, and I know you're too young to understand any of it. Your parents have been preoccupied with trying to make you a sibling. On the days when I've been too sad to focus on much of anything, or too sick to do anything but hold you, or too tired from being pregnant (yet again) that we can't go somewhere fun, you handle it with a grace beyond your two and a half years. I've had to take you to many doctor's visits with just the two of us, and you've just sat back and watched with such patience. When I say, I need to sit on the couch for a moment, you say, okay, here's a toy we can play sitting down. You love when we go outside or to the mall, but you don't complain when we don't.

I know I'm not always the best mama for you, but I also know these moments are so temporary. I'm so very proud of how you've handled everything. There are moments from the past year I'll never forget. When I came home from my D&C, you plopped yourself into my lap and seemed so concerned about the hospital bracelet on my right wrist and the IV bandage on my left. I love holding your hand as we ride the escalator up and down, and I get tickled every time you stop to dance to music coming out of a store.

Today, you ran over to me, wrapped your arms around my waist, kissed my belly, and said, "Baby!" I can't wait to see you as a big brother. You've been so gentle with my belly, and I rarely have to remind you. I know your patience will translate well, and you'll be able to deal with your sister not being able to run around with you for a while.

A year ago today, you bent down to pick up your sippy and split open your eyelid on the coffee table. We spent all of Valentine's Day evening at the emergency room, wondering if we'd have to put you to sleep to stitch up your cut. Luckily, we didn't, but you still sport the scar. Last night, we heard a large bang and then the sounds of you crying. You had somehow fallen out of your crib for the first time, and we were so relieved you weren't hurt! We immediately changed your crib to a toddler bed, and you've dealt with the transition as well as we could have hoped. When you're ready to come out of your room in the morning or after a nap, you knock politely on your door. It's so cute and so very you.

I know we're still dealing with your speech delay. It pains me because I often feel like I failed you somewhere. You did so well with your therapy last year, and I hope we can start some more in a few months. You're trying so hard to talk nowadays, and you say new words all the time. Sometimes I can really tell it's difficult for you, that you have to stop and think about it. You're so smart and obsessed with the alphabet and with counting, so I can't wait to see what your little brain will come up with once you can express your thoughts more often.

The past year has been a very difficult one, and through it all, you've been my constant, my rock. I love to hold you close and breathe in the smell of your hair, the smell that's always been yours. You've helped me get through our losses more than you'll ever know, and I often wonder if I could've done it without seeing your smiling face every day. Having you depend on me certainly helped me focus on daily life and kept me going.

When you're older and can understand, I'd like to say thank you for being my child. It might seem weird to say that - I mean, it's not like you have much of a choice. Of course you have your tantrum moments, and there are times when I want to throw my hands in the air and walk away; you are two after all. I hate having to put you in time out, and I'm as miserable about it as you look. Some days we're both ready for Daddy to come home so we can take a break!

However, when you call "Mama" from the other room, and I'm the one who gets to answer, I really feel as though I'm the luckiest woman in the world.

You'll always be my cuddlebug, my babycake. Even when you're too big to fit in my lap.

Love you bunches and always,

your mama

Saturday, February 2, 2013

kid versus snow, take two

We weren't expecting snow on the ground this morning (and neither was the weatherman). But we thought it was a great opportunity to suit up the little one and shove him outside for his first real snow experience.

He didn't do much besides walk around and knock the snow off our cars. We tried to convince him to do a snow angel, but that just resulted in a very wet Dave. G also thought it was funny when I threw snowballs at him, but I couldn't convince him to throw any back. Ah, well. At least he touched the stuff. With one hand.

He wasn't too amused when it stuck to his glove, though.

I don't get it, Mama. Wasn't the big deal?
He fell down at one point, and then promptly decided he was done with the snow. Maybe he'll loosen up about it next winter, if we're lucky enough to get anything.

Friday, January 18, 2013

baby talk

I knew getting into this pregnancy that it was going to be complicated. Along with seeing my regular OB, I'm seeing a variety of doctors at a maternal fetal medicine clinic. This means that going a week without seeing a doctor is rare. While seeing the baby so often has helped calmed my fears, it does mean the doctors bills are starting to pile up.

When I last talked about the pregnancy, I was only a few months along. Here's a summary of what's happened since then.
  • At an 11 week ultrasound, they discovered that the baby had a thicker nuchal neck fold than normal. We went off for Sequenom bloodwork testing on me and scheduled a NT scan for the following week.
  • The next week, at the NT scan, the nuchal folds actually looked normal. What a relief! But it did mean that we had spent that last week panicking. Our bloodwork also came back normal, but MFM wasn't ruling out a heart problem.
  • Oh yeah, and by the way, MFM told me I need to be doing vaginal ultrasounds every other week to check on my cervix. Because of a cervical biopsy I had done back in 2006 and because of my D&C last February for my first miscarriage, they wanted to keep an eye on my cervix. I've got two more scans to go before they let it go, but so far, my cervix has been long and closed. Woo.
  • At a 14 week ultrasound, the ultrasound tech thought she might know the sex of the baby. She didn't want to call it but she told me her call. Then, a few days later, a different tech told me she knew for sure the sex. Another scan a few weeks later told us the same info, so at that point, we were pretty sure that we're having a GIRL!
  • Cue our 20 week ultrasound, which takes forever and consists of over 100 images of baby girl's heart. Her heart is perfect, and in fact, the technicians and doctors love her heart so much that they're going to use her in a study they're doing. We're so relieved that all the drama about her development is finally behind us.
  • At our 22 week cervical check-up a few days ago, during which we find my cervix is still long and closed, we see that she's still breech. Baby girl's shown up breech in every ultrasound since she was large enough to start noticing. Everyone reassures me that she has plenty of time to turn around and stay turned around, but certainly I'm a little nervous about it.
And that's about it!

Oh, I guess I forgot to mention some of the biggest news, beyond the fact that we're a girl.

We've named her! But you'll have to wait for that news. Because I'm mean like that.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

no good excuses, really

I'm alllliiiiiiive.

Okay, it's been a seriously long time since I blogged. I could give you a whole host of reasons why I just haven't picked up the computer in the past almost two months.

  1. I ran into end-of-the-semester business consisting of finals, grading, and a rush to finish my own classwork. 
  2. The holidays wiped me out and I spent most of my free time sleeping.
  3. As suggested above, this pregnancy has wiped me out. I spend G's naps getting a nap of my own, and I go to bed at 9:30.
Honestly, it's more likely that I just haven't known what to write about. I have a ton of things happening in my life right now, almost all positive, yet I've got a writing funk. I just haven't felt like dealing in writing with hosts of issues we've faced, from issues with the baby to Grayson's speech therapy. We spent the last couple of months unsure if we were going to be able to keep the little life inside of me. And, well, here is a picture of me as of a few days ago.

That's me 20 weeks pregnant. Yeah, I can't quite believe it myself either. I'll post more later this week about our baby, including if it's a boy or a girl (we know!), and the struggles we've faced. I promise I'll play catch up on our lives!

For now, here's a few pictures from Thanksgiving.

G and my mom.

 G and his great-Granny. This picture cracks me up so hard.

 And finally, a gorgeous picture of my Granny, laughing it up. I hope these pictures make her smile. :)

More to come soon!
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