Photo Friday

So, it’s the last day of NaBloPoMo.

I will continue to blog more often, because I have learned that I can.

And in that vein, I will certainly continue Photo Fridays because they are so darn easy.

A few images to leave you with today:

Proof that Bun really likes “Beefy Cheesy Macaroni”:

Abstract Digital Camera Art by Monkey. Call it “Couch with Finger”:

Monkey will stick just about anything onto her face:

And Group Hug with Nonna:

Finally: I Did It! (I Liked It, Too.)

I Did It!

Will I Go On?

Over at NaBloPoMo, the website, I have seen several questions in a number of groups about continuing in the spirit of NaBloPoMo — that is, posting every day, continuing communities or groups, etc.

I don’t know about the latter — I have gotten better at reading and commenting, and it is a trend I would like to continue for myself. I know I will not post every day, but I am going to aim for three days a week, probably Monday (recipe plus comments), Friday (photo!), and maybe Wednesday or Sunday (no theme).

I would also like to move off of WordPress, primarily because they do not allow advertising. And I would like to run some ads and see if I can make a little money from the blog thing. It’s not my primary purpose for this activity for me, but it would be a bonus.

I have liked this NaBloPoMo. It has been helpful to me, to my writing, to the rediscovery that writing is important to me. I’ve “met” some neat people I plan to continue to chat with (and I hope they with me) and, well, it’s added some structure to my life. Given me a daily goal besides doing laundry and cleaning the kitchen!

One more day to go. I better find a photo for tomorrow. In the meantime, maybe I’ll start thinking of the book I am going to write for next year’s NaNoWriMo!

And, because, really, I don’t know what else to say, here are a few things that I found that it would be lovely if you checked out:

The lovely and mysterious (to me) Niobe whose posts are succient and poignant and powerful without being full of words (unlike mine);
The almost always funny Chag (when he’s not funny, it’s because he’s being thoughtful);
And my girl from the ‘hood, Burgh Baby’s mom, who always cracks me up, loves the Steelers, and comments on my posts. God Bless ya. And Go Steelers!

But I have made a lot of friends and learned a lot about life with kids and without them, and I have been humbled and uplifted. November has been good for me, good for my soul.


And Then There was Bun

To say my third pregnancy was unplanned is quite an understatement. I didn’t even realize I was pregnant with Bun for quite a while. I had just started a new job; DearDR was going to quit one of his jobs to start studying for his license test; and we also went on vacation. We’re pretty sure that’s when Bun was conceived. Talk about letting your guard down.

So a month into my new job, I discover I’m pregnant again. It’s not the best timing with everything else going on, but, as we say in this house, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”

I have already told quite a bit of Bun’s pregnancy story. It seems that while DearDR and I make very pretty babies, our placentas are not so great. When our perinatolgist discovered Bun’s placenta was prematurely aging and breaking down, I went on modified bed rest again, and we induced at 37 weeks. (Incidentally, Gabriel probably died because his placenta quit on us. That’s impossible to prove at this point, but given the evidence, the most likely explanation.)

To say that Bun had no intention of leaving her warm home is an understatement, too. I was in the hospital for five days, total.

Day One:
We check in on a Wednesday night, January 3. They place the Cervadil, and give me something to help me sleep. At 1 a.m., they remove the Cervadil because the baby’s heartbeat dropped.

Day Two:
They start Pitocin. It is turned up very slowly for two reasons, the primary one being a staffing shortage. The secondary reason is the false belief (on my part) that since I had done this before, once things got rolling, they would roll quickly. My induction with Monkey only took about 24 hours from start to baby.

I am feeling contractions, but they don’t get stronger. My cervix isn’t moving; it’s about 2 centimeters dialated, and it stays there all day. I try to move around to get gravity working for me, but that’s hard to do when you’re hooked up to machines and IVs.

To further discourage and depress DearDR and me, we are in the room on the labor and delivery wing closest to the double doors onto the wing. These doors make a huge, loud sound every time they open: KA-CHUCK KA-CHUNK. KA-CHUNK KA-CHUNK. Twenty-four hours a day, not as often at night, but still often enough.

Thursday night rolls around. I want to try to get some sleep. We turn off the Pitocin.

Day Three:
I haven’t slept well because of the damn doors. But I’m game to try more Pitocin, maybe try getting it turned up more often.

Staffing shortage means I don’t even get started until almost noon. The contractions are distant; my cervix still isn’t moving. I’m having a hard time staying focused, and not becoming despondent.

Around 8 p.m., my midwife checks on a few things. The cervix has opened a little more, but the contractions still aren’t increasing. This whole time, by the way, Bun’s heartbeat is just fine.

My midwife makes a suggestion about trying to drop the baby’s head more directly on the cervix. It seems that Bun is hanging out on my bladder — which would explain why I have to pee every ten minutes. I think we also decide to break my amniotic membranes. I start doing these funky moves on a stability ball, and alternately leaning against the wall in a standing position.

At 10:30 p.m., my contractions go from distant to RIGHT THERE in the space of about 10 minutes. While I am relieved that it seems I am going to have a baby after all, I am tired, people. I am also thinking about pushing Monkey for three plus hours, and I know I don’t have it in me.

Day Four, Midnight, January 6
I ask for an epidural. The midwife says she is going to wait and ask me again in 30 minutes. I am handling the contractions okay, but not great. I want a rest.

The midwife asks if I still want an epidural. I say yes. I get one.

Peace and loveliness. I can still feel my contractions (although not my left leg…), but they aren’t stressing me out. I get some rest. DearDR and I chat. The midwife and the nurse hang out for a while. About an hour after the epidural, I am told to start pushing.

Thirty-five minutes after that, Bun enters the world. They clean us up; we sleep and feed; and get moved to another room; and sleep and feed some more.

And then we get to go home. I am so happy to be home.

Did I Mention I Read A Lot?

Thank goodness I have this literary meme in my “to be published” posts. Because I have a scant hour to do stuff, and I haven’t thought of a bloody thing to write today. I’ve just gotten back from Target, and I am happy to report that I am almost done Christmas shopping. I love Target, and my 10% off coupons I get from them.

Got this from the redoubtable MaryP. I found it an interesting list, as per usual. These are the 106 books most often marked unread (so, the least read books, I guess?) by LibraryThing users.

Bold the ones you’ve read.
Italicize those you’ve started but not finished.
Put an asterisk (*) by those you’ve read more than once.
Underline those you mean to read. (I don’t seem to have an underline function here. Let’s just say I aspire to read all of these books. There are a few I actually aim to read. I put a double quote (“) by those.)

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (I have started this book FOUR times, and I’ve barely made it to chapter 2, and that only on the last try. People who get through this book must be much more intelligent than I am.)
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights*
The Silmarillion (I’ve read bits and pieces of this. Let me just say right now that I’ve only read “that much” because DearDR? A Lord of the Rings fanatic. I cannot empasize that enough.)
Life of Pi: A Novel
The Name of the Rose*
Don Quixote
Moby Dick
Ulysses” (I would truly like to read this book, but I think you need to take a class to understand it.)
Madame Bovary
The Odyssey
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre*
A Tale of Two Cities
The Brothers Karamazov
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies”
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveller’s Wife
The Iliad
The Blind Assassin*
The Kite Runner
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged

Reading Lolita in Tehran
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked : The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (I intend to re-read this because I just read its “sequel”, for lack of a better word, Son of a Witch. It was okay.)
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World
The Fountainhead
Foucault’s Pendulum

The Count of Monte Cristo
A Clockwork Orange
Anansi Boys

The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible
Angels & Demons

The Inferno
The Satanic Verses
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest*
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels
Les Misérables

The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Prince
The Sound and the Fury*
Angela’s Ashes

The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-Present
A Confederacy of Dunces
A Short History of Nearly Everything”
The Unbearable Lightness of Being*
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves*
The Mists of Avalon*
Oryx and Crake: A Novel
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye*
On the Road
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance*
The Aeneid
Watership Down* (This is one of my all-time favorite books, and I’ve probably read it close to 10 times.)
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit*
In Cold Blood*
White Teeth
Treasure Island
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers

Meatless Monday: Comfort Food Redeux

At some point in our marriage, DearDR mentioned a dish that his mother used to make that he really liked. He called it Beefy Cheesy Macaroni. From his description, it sounded a lot like a dish my mother used to make that we called goulash. (It was not true goulash, which I know is an Eastern European recipe. That’s just what we called it for some reason — we are not Eastern European in heritage, so I’m not really sure where we picked it up.) I asked if he would mind if I tried a vegetarian version of it. He said go ahead.

After a few tries, I got it down, and it is another favorite of the house. I’m probably going to make it this week, with the cold rainy weather settling in.

We now call it “Beefy” Cheesy Macaroni

1 pound elbow macaroni
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Olive oil
1 package soy crumbles (I use Morningstar Farms)
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
Dried basil and oregano to taste
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Prepare the elbow macaroni according to package directions.

2. While the macaroni is boiling, in a skillet saute the garlic in the olive oil. Add soy crumbles and saute until warmed through.

3. Add crushed tomatoes and herbs to taste. Let simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes.

4. Drain the macaroni and set aside, or put into serving bowl. Add cheddar cheese to “beefy” tomato sauce and cook another 5 minutes. Spoon the cheesy tomato sauce over the macaroni. Toss and serve hot!

This is definitely an under-30-minute recipe, which is another reason it’s a favorite of mine. If you want to try it with ground meat, I’m sure it will be just as tasty.

I got almost 13 hours of sleep last night, so I am a functional human being again. I have a ton to do in the next four hours, and Bella has the girls, so I better scoot!

PWSD: Posting While Sleep Deprived

I know that I am supposed to be posting a pregnancy story today, according to my theme schedule. And I am up to Bun, which is an illustrative story with a happy ending. But you know what? I don’t got it, internets.

Last night, I did go out with my grade-school friend M. We had drinks and a great dinner with many other people, and it took about three hours. Then at 10 p.m., I went to a very smoky bar and saw a band (and had a couple beers). We did not get home until midnight. Snoring commenced, and I’ve no idea how long it took me to get to sleep, how long I slept, and how many times I changed locations trying to get into a refreshing sleep. Plus, Bun and Monkey picked this morning to NOT sleep well, and I was up with them.

I have not slept a successive three hours this entire weekend. I don’t know why. Possibly the alcohol consumption — I am used to one drink a night, occasionally two, and this weekend, from Thursday on, has seen me consume more along the lines of four to five a night. I’m such a lush in a social setting. It could be the snoring. It could be simply sleeping in unfamiliar places — in the basement (on a blow-up mattress), in my parents’ room (with my mom; my dad took on the basement since he had to get up at 6:30 a.m. for work). It could be my old friend insomnia. Whatever it is, I am utterly beat, and the idea of actually trying to string together a narrative is beyond my scope.

So I will try to tell you this story instead:

As I have mentioned, the whole fam damily was here for Thanksgiving. My older nephews know how to whistle, and they like to show off their skills. Plus there is a dog in the house, with my sister.

Last night, Monkey was sitting at the kitchen table with Pap-pap and my sister K, and she wanted to give the dog a cracker. So she leaned over and called, “Buddy!” Then she said, “Whoo-ooeet” in a high-pitched voice. She looked at Pap-pap and K and said, “I don’t know how to whistle yet.”

Is It Naptime for ME Yet?

Well, I can’t upload the avi file that I want for today, so no video. I don’t have a backup plan, and I am very, very tired. This isn’t much of a post, and I apologize. We’re still in Erie; I am going to the alumni mass at my grade school at 5:30 p.m., going to dinner with a friend, and then, supposedly, seeing a band that we really like here, the Duke Sherman Blues Band. I can’t actually see myself staying out very late, though. Did I mention how tired I am? I haven’t slept through the night since we got to Erie — if it’s not one thing, it’s another. Although, it’s not the kids. For example, last night, it was someone snoring. Not DearDR… I was sharing a room with my mother and Bun. I’ll let you guess who snored louder.

We head back to the ‘burgh tomorrow. Tomorrow night. In the meantime, I’ll think of something to post for tomorrow. And it won’t be about how poor Monkey peed her pants three times (so far) today.

A Special Thursday 13: Thanksgiving

I have seen the Thursday Thirteen a couple of places (notably here), and I decided it was perfect for Thanksgiving.

13 Things for which I am Thankful:

1. DearDR earning his license. It has been a tough road for us, but I am so happy we’re at the end of the “hard part”. There are a couple of other hoops, but DearDR is well on his way to a successful career as a psychologist. I think the most thankful people are going to be his patients!

2. Deciding not to go back to work when Bun was six weeks old. I miss working, I truly do, and the financial ramifications are difficult. But we are getting through, and I am so glad I haven’t missed my Bun’s amazing, humbling, and amusing development. And of course being home with Monkey has been rewarding, too. I can start working again next year.

3. Deciding on — and keeping, mostly — the TV Vow. It has challenged me to become more involved with my children’s play in such a way that I, too, am entertained and not bored out of my mind. (I’m sorry, but sometimes playing with kids is boring. You know it is; just admit it.)

4. “Arts and craps”. I am so glad that I stumbled onto these types of activities to do with Flora. I’m sure it’s developmentally great for her and blah, blah, blah, but more importantly: fun and she’s out of my hair for a bit.

5. To go along with 3 & 4: I am thankful that my children have the ability to amuse themselves. Mileage varies, but they do not look to me every instance of the day to entertain them. Which, really, is better for them than for me!

6. Oh, to also go along with 4: Bun still usually takes her morning nap. Thank goodness.

7. The Library. (Reaching already and I’m only at 7!) Monkey has just started attending Toddler Time (or whatever it’s called) at our local library. It’s an hour of structured activity that I don’t have to structure! Of course, it would be nice if I would get there on time. Plus, I mean, who’s not thankful for libraries? I can’t buy all the books I read. I don’t got the space and I don’t got the moolah. Free books! (And music and DVDs and puzzles for Bun to bang on while Monkey’s in Toddler Time!)

8. My in-laws. Not only do they help me out in some form almost everyday (they live next door, in case you’ve just tuned in), my mother-in-law Bella is always picking up little things for them. A sleeper for Bun, or a DVD, or, today, a portable folding potty seat for Monkey. She just sees something (usually something too cute to pass up) and she just buys it. It’s a nice bonus in the in-laws category.

9. Being at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving with the whole fam damily. That means: us; my little sister, K, and her dog Buddy; plus my brother T with his wife and three boys (ages 6, 4 and 8 months); obviously, Pap-pap and Nonna. It’s fun; it’s crazy; the food is awesome; the drinks are awesomer; AND I don’t have to change every single diaper or feed every meal or give every bath. Everybody pitches in!

10. Photo Friday.

11. This here blog. I am writing again. Regularly. It is good for my soul, and I hope it leads me to bigger and better things. I don’t even care if they are financially rewarding. Although, obviously, that would be a big bonus.

12. My immediate family. This seems apparent, but I want to put it that way: my immediate family: my spouse, my children. I am thankful to be in relationship to these people in these unique ways: bonds of love and blood. I know that as time goes on, we will redefine holidays and tradition and more, and I am looking forward to the chance to do that.

13. That my husband makes homemade wine. GOOD homemade wine. It’s probably partially responsible for that last post.

Happy Thanksgiving, Blog-O-Sphere. What are you thankful for?

Pregnancy Two

At 32 weeks of my pregnancy with Monkey, I started going to the hospital weekly. I received non-stress-tests and a sonogram. They wanted to monitor me and the baby because of Gabriel’s death.

At the first sonogram at this time, low levels of amniotic fluid were discovered. Very low. In lay terms, the baby makes the fluid. Low levels indicate a possible problem with the kidneys, the bladder, or, as seemed to be evident in my case, the placenta.

As the perinatologist, Dr. T, explained, if something is wrong with the placenta, things go into conservative mode. The most protected areas of the baby are the heart and the brain; everything else is expendable.

He further explained that Mother Nature was much more interested in my survival than the baby’s. That selfish b*tch. So steps would have to be taken.

I was placed on what I referred to as “modified bed rest”. Twice a day, I lay down for an hour or two. Fortunately at the time I was working at home doing freelance writing and editing jobs, so this didn’t interfere with work. I also had to increase my fluid intake. When I asked my midwives to clarify what this meant, one of them said, “About 8 to 10 ounces of water every 15 minutes.”

That may not sound like a lot of water. But try this: drink four cups of water in an hour. Then another four cups the next hour. All Day Long.

See how you feel.

There were nights that DearDR would come home, and I would be sitting or laying on the couch crying with a glass of water in my hand. I just didn’t want to drink any more that day. Even varying the liquid — seltzer, lemonade, caffiene-free pop — didn’t help all the time.

I did, however, take to the bed rest, which surprised me because up until that point I had active pregnancies. I walked a lot with Gabriel, and to this point with Monkey. But I had just taught myself to knit, so I knitted the baby a blanket. I read out loud to her, all seven of the Chronicles of Narnia. I occasionally napped.

All in all, it was a peaceful time, a time for which I am more grateful now. Once the babies come, that quiet is hard to come by. As many of you, my readers, already know!


Fast forward six weeks. I’ve delivered Monkey under some tough conditions, but here she is.

She looks like her brother.

I am swollen up like a balloon from the intraveneous fluid you get when your labor is induced. I am dressed and ready to go; I cannot stop touching and looking at Monkey. She is wrapped in the blanket I knit for her.

I am ready to get my shoes on and go home. This proves to be challenging because my feet look like feet-shaped water balloons. DearDR manages to shove my shoes on them.

I start crying. He is alarmed (and probably really tired, too; he hasn’t left me and Monkey for an instant). “What is it?” he asks.

“I can’t believe we get to take her home,” I say. “I get to take my baby home this time.”

DearDR hugs me, hugs us both. Then we all go home.