Taking stock, making stock

Just as the damp autumn leaves swirl around outside the windows this time of year, so do my emotions this week of thanks and giving. We have so much for which to be thankful that I feel full to the brim with love and gratitude for all that we have when so many have so little.

Today I’m thinking an awful lot about my mother-in-law Laurel. She’s undergoing a final chemo treatment before another series of tests early next week, and everyone is so hopeful the results will show vast improvement since last time. She’s feeling really good, too, and as always, her spirits are up, and her smile is broad.

Accompanying her at treatment today is her sister Linda, who traveled across the country to bring their 94-year-old mother Beth from Florida to California, to stay permanently just up the road from Roth’s parent’s house. This Thanksgiving, Laurel will be surrounded by many of her close family members — her sister, her brother, and her mother — and I can’t help but feel so happy about that, even though I wish we could somehow beam ourselves there, too.

Tomorrow, though, will see the arrival of my mom and stepdad, who are flying in from California to spend a few days with us. We’ve cooked many a Thanksgiving dinner here in Seattle, but this is the first time we’ve done it in a house with a proper dining room, and I cannot express how excited I am about getting to set a table big enough to accommodate all of our guests. My lovely cousin Julia and her boyfriend will be joining us, too.

As always, Roth is on point with the Thanksgiving feast preparations. Last night he started the brining process for the turkey. Tonight we will make a goat cheese terrine for early snacking on Thursday. And in addition to all the usual suspects — dressing, mashers, gravy, Brussels — we are making a signature cocktail! Roth heard about this recipe on NPR, for a spiced cranberry sangria, so we’re giving it a go. (I shall allow myself just a little bit.)

Rowan is very excited about the arrival of his Beppe and Pake, too. We’ve been counting down now for several “sleeps.” In fact, he was so sure THIS morning was Beppe day that he got quite angry at Roth when he told him it wasn’t. We managed to win him over with donuts before work/daycare, which is usually our Friday routine.

I’m very excited I’ve reached the point in pregnancy (18 weeks) where constant nausea has subsided, but I’m not so big yet that I can guiltlessly enjoy the heck out of a pile of potatoes without too much physical discomfort. Acid reflux is another story, but I’ve got Tums at the ready.

I just adore Thanksgiving so much, and I’m so grateful we get to spend it with family this year, too. I wish we could see everyone, even if for only a little while (thinking about you, Dad), but I’m thankful we’ve got plans in place for Christmas visits with everyone we’re missing this week.

Wishing you and yours the very best this Thanksgiving, too.

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I have no medical evidence to back me up, but something happened during the operation that staved off that infection. Something beyond science. Something perhaps from above …

My car is having open heart surgery this week. Perhaps that’s a bit dramatic, but it’s currently at the dealer completely opened up with the bottom part of the engine exposed. THANK GOODNESS we opted to pay extra for an additional year for the extended warranty because Toyota Care is covering more than $5,000 to replace the “short block.” This all came about due to a pesky oil consumption problem that we had to document for the last few months, and finally my car — that is only 6 years old, that we are still PAYING for — is getting fixed … just 5,000 miles shy of and a couple months before the warranty expiration date. When does THAT ever happen?

Related, when we were at the dealer this morning picking up a loaner car, our rep showed us my car with most of the engine removed, and indeed, we could see the issue. Later, Roth e-mailed me to say he wished he had a Junior Mint on hand to toss into the open cavity … just in case.

***

Yesterday, because my car was at the dealer, and I hadn’t yet been authorized to get a loaner car, Roth had to drive both Rowan and me to and from work and daycare. On the way home, Rowan was yammering on in the back seat, as he typically does, and he started telling us about some toy he wanted — I think maybe he was describing a monster truck that drives itself, but it most definitely has a “emote control.”

“Man, I sure wish YOU had an emote control,” Roth piped in my direction.

HAA. Oh, I’m sure you do.

***

Even though we know it, have visual proof and everything, it still doesn’t quite feel real that we’re having another baby. I’m barely showing, though if you didn’t know I was pregnant, you might just think I’d eaten a very large burrito for lunch. And the elusive early baby kicks are mostly evading me so far, too.

When we moved, I found a box of maternity clothes from last time, which I’d dutifully saved to use again, but there are three problems. One, they are mostly for warmer weather, and I will be pregnant now through April, which means I’ll probably experience sunlight and warmth on my skin, um, never. Two, they are kind of out of style. And, three, the biggest problem of all, is that I am much smaller now than I was at the start of my last pregnancy. Everything is just … SO big. Like, two sizes too big.

I think this means I need to buy a few new items to get me through this pregnancy, but every time I browse maternity clothes online, I instantly feel overwhelmed. Maybe this is because I don’t yet NEED maternity clothes, or maybe I’d just like to find a way to yoga pants and long-sleeved tees until April. Perhaps I’m having a bit of PTSD?

***

This morning, while Roth was in the shower and I was still languishing in bed, Rowan came thumping down the stairs and into our room. I coaxed him into our bed to snuggle, but he just wanted to watch his shows, so I turned on an episode of Curious George (thanks to our awesome new Roku box!) and cuddled next to him.

Out of the blue, he asked, “Where will the new baby sleep, Mama?”

“In here, with us, for awhile.”

“Well, you can put a crib in my room, if you want.”

“Babies wake up a lot, Rowan, and make a lot of noise, you know. You might not like that very much.”

“I know, but I will be very, very quiet.”

And my heart melted right then and there.

***

On very rare occasions, I am able to convince Rowan to snuggle up close to me. He’s always such a ball of energy, ever moving here and there, even when he’s “sitting” and watching TV. So, whenever he IS in the mood to play the little spoon, I eat it up. As was the case this past Sunday. Not sure what got into him, but he asked for “Mama time,” and for almost an hour, he and I layed together on the couch under a blanket and watched AFV, as we typically do on Sunday nights before bed.

It was … so nice.

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Sapling

When we were early pregnant with Rowan, and after we had the very first ultrasound that revealed on the screen what appeared to be no more than a sea monkey, we quickly dubbed the squiggly speck “Scuttlebutt.” Longtime readers will remember this detail, I’m sure. For months, even after we found out it was a him and we gave him a name only to be revealed after we met his face, we referred to Rowan as Scuttlebutt. I kind of worried the nickname might stick, that he’d forever be known by this silly moniker, but it didn’t. He instantly became Rowan, a name we still love to this day, a name that’s proving hard to top, actually, in our early discussions of what to name Baby #2.

What we have decided upon, however, is that this squiggly speck, which is actually more like the size of a medium shrimp by now, or so says my pregnancy app, shall in utero be known as Sapling. See, it all started back when we went camping with Kerri and Matt. I’d just found out I was pregnant, and after telling Kerri the news, we started discussing names. One meaning for Rowan is based on the Rowan tree, and we’ve always loved that connection to nature. A young tree is called a sapling, and therein the nickname was born.

Sapling seems to be doing just fine so far. Two weeks ago we had a second ultrasound and verified that the baby is progressing as it should, measuring a few days ahead of what the calendar tells us. My blood work came back negative for any birth defects, too. I’m still grappling with first trimester nausea and exhaustion, but at almost 14 weeks, I hope the utopia known as the second trimester is just around the corner.

Speaking of names, this time around we’re having to choose two names, as we’ve decided NOT to find out the sex of the baby. I’ve been surprised by how people react to this news. It seems this is Not Common, us not wanting to know if it’s a he or she until the baby is born. Even the nurse practitioner at my first appointment seemed keen on convincing us to find out so that in case it’s not the sex we hoped for, we can “get over the disappointment” before the big day.

Uh, first of all, I would not be disappointed if we end up with another boy. Actually, I’d be quite delighted seeing as our first boy is pretty much the most awesome boy who ever lived. Secondly, yes, of course we’d love to have a girl. Imagine how much cooler the reveal will be if indeed it’s a girl? Sure, this doesn’t allow us to prepare a pink nursery or buy a bunch of bows, but based on experience, the baby will be wearing a lot of white onesies and gender neutral jammies and sleeping in our room anyway for the first few weeks. So, should this Sapling be of the female variety, the grandparents will have ample time to buy all the girly things. Or not. I have no qualms putting a baby girl in blue jammies.

I have to say, though, that based on this ultrasound pic, Roth is pretty convinced Sapling is a girl. He says he can tell by the less pronounced brow bone, as this was the tell-tale sign in Rowan’s ultrasound pic from around the same gestational time.

Old wives’ tales would have us believe that it’s a girl, too, based on how much sicker I’ve been than I ever was with Rowan. Who knows, though. We’ll all find out in about 26 weeks. In the meantime, we all just get to wait  …

… and wonder.

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And you feel like an ocean being warmed by the sun

What is there really to say about turning 33? I guess I’m now smack dab in the middle of my early thirties, which feels like a really specific place to be, not quite mid-thirties though definitely now thirty-something, as one might describe me. The thing is, my face certainly didn’t get the memo that I was turning 33 last weekend, as evidenced by the enormous zit that cropped up on my chin. Oh, I thought the memo said 13, not 33. My bad.

I have no idea how I celebrated turning 13, but I do know how I celebrated my 33rd birthday. At some point, around 7 p.m. on Saturday, my actual birthday, our new house was filled with at least a dozen people, small and tall, producing a cacophony of laughter and pitter-patter on the staircase, and it was that moment that I felt really warm. Yes, warm because there were a lot of bodies in our house filling their plates with tacos, but also warmed by the feeling that we have a lot of great friends.

Friends who’ll drive two-plus hours from the mountains east and bring us silly symbolic pumpkins and red velvet cupcakes. Friends who’ll dress up in animal print socks and dance beside me to Gangnam Style. Friends who’ll bring us wine and chocolate, and mingle with other friends who’ll discuss comic books and graphic novels and fantasy characters as if they’re real. Friends whose children my child so very much looks forward to seeing, to showing them his brand new room that is upstairs! Friends who’ll help with the food, and friends who’ll do all the dishes.

All in all, I had a lovely birthday last weekend. Not only was I spoiled with wonderful gifts — a macro lens for my new(ish) Sony NEX (thanks, Roth and Rowan!), a Roku box for our bedroom (thanks, Mom and BP!), a gift card from Amazon (thanks, Dad and Loretta!), cash (thanks, Laurel and Manny!) and more! — I got to be surrounded by the aforementioned awesome friends, which was really all I wanted.

Cupcakes were nice, too.

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This time

Almost immediately after Rowan was born, I forgot what it felt like to be pregnant. All of the discomfort and pressure and searing acid reflux was just gone, poof, as were those magical baby tap-tap-jabs from inside. Within a few weeks, the amnesia fully set in, and I couldn’t describe with any sort of accuracy what it was like to be pregnant. Was it all a lucid, swollen dream?

I’m only 11ish weeks into Pregnancy #2, and this time, things are already so different than last time. I’m much more tired and far more sick than I ever was with Rowan. Or am I? Do I just not remember the unsavory details of being pregnant the first time? Has nature blurred it out? I really don’t think so. Yes, this time is different.

This time is already less marveling over the changes taking place in my body, and more so about Rowan becoming a big brother. We talk to him openly and often about the baby in my belly, how big it is at any given point (right now, a fig!) and how much more growing it has to do before it can be born. We talk about how little babies cannot chew food like big boys because they don’t have any teeth, and how little babies only drink milk. “From a bottle,” he says. To which I reply, “That’s one way!” I tried explaining to him that I will make the milk, but he’s convinced a cow will make it. Trust me, buddy. I will feel bovine-like at times.

Last night, I showed Rowan my pregnancy app on my phone. We looked the illustrations of babies in utero, how mine right now is almost fully formed, with tiny arms and legs, and then we watched a short animated video about first trimester babies. He asked, “What’s that pipe,” pointing to the umbilical cord. “It’s how my body is feeding and taking care of the baby right now.” And then we talked about belly buttons, and how he once had that same kind of “pipe” when I was growing him in my belly.

It was a pretty surreal conversation to be having with a(n) (almost) 4-year-old, but it really seemed like he understood what I was telling him.

“I was a baby once,” he said. “But then I learned how to walk and talk!”

“Yes, exactly! You did!” I exclaimed, my eyes starting to fill to the brim. “And so will this new baby, but not right away.”

This time that we have right now, when it’s still just the three of us as a family, is not lost on me. While I’m excited to sail into the calmer waters of the second trimester, I’m also acutely aware that every passing day puts us closer to a new world. Life as we all know it is going to change, so much, but for now, I want to do my best to enjoy what it’s like right now, how I can just sit on the couch and have a no-shit conversation with my first baby who tells me daily, “I still love you.” That, right there, is pretty darn magical, too.

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