Friday, August 29, 2008

Kindergarten Here We Come!

I went to the school last night for the parent orientation meeting. The boys have been going to Bethlehem First since they were in the two year old Mom's Morning Out program wince a week. Now, here I am with five year olds ready to start Kindergarten. Instead of being sad to see them start, I was able to be purely excited. I'm not sending them off for a 7+ hour day, nor are we in a new environment. I know next year we will be venturing off to another school (to be determined), but as for now we are sticking close to home. Literally. I can walk there if I have to. I loved school. I loved the organization, the charts, the folders, the work. I am excited for them and hope they love it, too!

Although I have been to many parent orientations with the same director and some of the same staff in the same building, this one was markedly different. Kindergarten is the real deal! It is amazing to think that my boys will be reading and writing this year. They will have a homework folder with real assignments that they really have to do, a weekly behavior chart that goes home, and progress reports. I feel so old!

Jeff took them this morning to Open House, where they saw they got acquainted with their classroom. They have a class of 10 students, Ms. Kim and Ms. Susan. There are only 2 or 3 kids that they don't already know. They were all given tote bags and they put a red hand print on them. I stayed at home, sick. But, I heard all about it when they came bouncing in the door! They want to start tomorrow, and believe me... I want them to, as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Things that Dangle

So, I have said it before, but I'll say it again. I went to school to be a public health educator so that I could navigate this Mom business with some grace. Once you've taught middle school sex ed for a few years, not much suprises you.

I questioned whether or not this should make the blog, but Jeff insisted...

(This took place while getting ready for bed.)

Asa: Do I have two of these little ball things underneath my penis?
Me: Yup. Sure do.
Asa: And you only have one?
Me: Nope. Girls don't have any.
Asa: Oh. But everyone has those things that hang down in their throat, right?

Um. Yes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Roots

When we were at the lake this summer, Jeff (not our Jeff, but Jeff Scheule) sat and talked Addison through adding "big numbers". It was not a long drawn out lesson. He simply showed Addison how to put who double digit numbers on top of each other and add down. Well, little did he know that this would start math-fest-2008. A few weeks after we got back, Addison had mastered adding two and three digit numbers that didn't require "carrying". He could add three of them. Recently, we introduced carrying and much to my surprise, he had it down in under an hour. Asa, although not as interested in math problems as a fun entertainment activity, has followed right behind Addison by a single step. I was floored.

For my doctor appointments, I print out worksheets, mazes, coloring pages, and now Addison requests pages of math problems. Thankfully, you can find these online in 2-digit, 3-digit, with or without "regrouping". Now, he has a heck of a time sounding out words, but he can add 456 and 692. As we enter Kindergarten (which starts in a week), I know that they will be adding 4 apples plus 4 apples. Luckily, the boys will be staying in the same private program that they were in last year. Fourteen students, two teachers who already know the boys. I feel very confident that they will keep him interested. Plus, if he is bored by the math he can always spend some extra time trying to figure out what sound "bus" starts with. As interested as he is in Math, he is equally as uninterested in taking the time to sound things out!

At Shelby's birthday party the other weekend, Addison, Asa and Shelby sat at a small picnic table to eat. Shelby, being two, stuck her bread into her mouth only to realize that it wasn't quite what she wanted. She pulled the bread back out... sending Addison to carry his plate to sit on the cooler. This child has one incredibly weak stomach. Later on, he was standing beside me with the grown-ups when Shelby came up to the table with a very runny little nose. Maria went to wipe it and Addison started to heave. I mean, heave. Now, this is nothing out of the ordinary for my little boy. He actually gags and heaves when he sees someone else eating something that he doesn't like. He has lost his lunch over having to taste a grape (he hates fruit, except bananas and applesauce). Recently, he told me that he was giving my belly all these kisses because when the baby comes it'll be slobbery, so he won't want to kiss him or her then.

Some might think this is totally bizarre, but I grew up with my brother. Hal could vomit and the sheer thought of something gross. To this day, he can't eat at the same table as a baby. Once, mom made tuna with relish in it. Hal didn't like pickles in his tuna, but mom made him at least try it. He swore he would throw up. But, she argued, how did he know he didn't like it if he didn't try it? After a fight, he gave in... and sure enough he threw up all over. It's not a weak stomach, it's a stomach with an overactive eject button.

Another amazing similarity between the two is their overwhelming appreciation for their own intelligence. Addison, for example, loves to answer questions, loves to talk about things he knows, and loves to be right. Often, his love for being right and love to talk are at odds- as he can't seem to be quiet long enough to listen to the question. Hal and Addison both seem to have a double helping of self-esteem.

The combination of Addison's attraction to numbers, his healthy ego, and his overactive gag reflex has made me realize how alike he and Hal truly are. They both really love sports. Addison is incredibly competitive and driven. Hal was a puzzle addicted kid, just like Addison. I remember Hal sitting for hours in his room at a very young age. We would go in and he had put together every puzzle we had on his floor. Addison puts puzzles together before I wake up in the morning. The 100 piece ones are a bit too easy for him. I have been looking for some 200 piece ones. Hal bought him a 1000+ piece puzzle for his birthday and although we have worked diligently on it, we aren't quite finished yet.

Although I don't remember Hal being particularly into cards (Addison plays solitaire constantly), I do know that he had a strong interest in board games. Hal was more into Monopoly, Addison is into chess and checkers. However, video games served as the center of Hal's young universe much as they do Addison's. Addison would play video or computer games all day every day if we let him. He does get to play, in limited amounts. He does not get to play every day. But, even when he isn't playing them he is thinking about the games. He talks about what he can try next time, he creates his own games, his own boards, in his head. If we didn't have a tight rein on him, he would be lost in an electronic oblivion. Heck, while on a recent ban of t.v. and video games (which was not for a punishment but just as a "break"), Jeff caught Addison staring for a very long time at our screen saver! Jeff said something to him and Addison replied in a dazed voice, "Daddy, it looks like it's coming AT me." Hal would get up at 5am so that he could play Mario Bros before school. He was equally in love with video games. Yes, he would even break down into tears when he would lose... just like Addison.

The good news? Even with all his quirks, Hal turned out to be a fully functional, social, happy adult. With this, I can take a sigh of relief. Maybe like Hal, Addison will eventually learn that you appear smarter when you stop talking so darn much. As of the moment, Addison prefers to talk without ceasing every minute that he is not asleep. Maybe one day Addison's body shape will change and his pants will stay up, like Hal's eventually did. Both of those boys had/have no hips and would walk straight out of any pair of any pair of pants no matter how tight the belt. Addison is currently in a 24 month bathing suit and still can't get out of the pool without showing his crack. Luckily, puberty helped Hal in that department and I haven't seen him showing off his crack in many many years. There is hope.

Now, this may be an all-about-Addison post, but don't get me wrong, I am constantly just as amazed by Asa's abilities, his love of all that is art, his focus on projects and details, his jaw-dropping Lego creations, and his fascination with science. Over the course of the summer, I have witnessed both of these boys blossom into big smart five year old boys... and soon to be big brothers. I know that the future holds absolutely no guarantees, but I know that these kids have such amazing potential and I am so proud to be their mom and their teacher. I hope that they will keep this interest in learning for as long as possible. I promise to keep googling all the answers that I don't know...

or I'll keep calling uncle Hal.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Graduation!

I had my last maternal/fetal specialist appointment today! We have been a little worried in the past week or so. My contractions took another jump in the past week and are not averaging about 2 per hour. But, everything is holding tight and there's no sign of preterm activity. The baby is measuring 3 lbs 12 oz and is head down. All is well!! Given that I'll be 31 weeks along on Friday, the specialists don't need to see me again. I have graduated!

Now, if I could just get some sleep. I have been so uncomfortable at night that I toss and turn for hours and hours. Between the tiny bladder, the big belly, and a very hyperactive baby, it's nearly impossible to rest... and the major growth spurt is just beginning! Baby should put on about 1/2 a pound a week from here on out!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hitting the Beach!



We just got home from a long weekend at the beach. It was just what I had hoped... nice and relaxing with no itinerary and beautiful weather. We drove down on Friday morning, stopping in Savannah for lunch. The boys had never seen Savannah. We parked and got out to walk to River Street. It was a hot, muggy, Southern summer day... and there I was just entering my 8th month of pregnancy. Walking seemed like a good idea at the time. However, about a third of the way to River Street I was grinding to a halt. My body physically wouldn't go. We did not realize that we had parked a mile away.

Having never been very pregnant and walking at all, I was amazed by my inability to function in the heat. I'd heard of people talk about how bad it was to be pregnant in the summer. This was the only time I had experienced that. It was miserable. By the time we made it to the elevator to go down to the Riverfront, I was lightheaded and nauseous. The elevator was tiny and un-air conditioned... and I truly thought I was going to pass out! Luckily, once I sat, ate lunch, and drank a ton of water I felt like a new person. Needless to say I did not walk back to the car. Addison and I hung out around one of the fountains and chased pigeons until Jeff and Asa picked us up.

We made it down to Amelia Island and check into our hotel in enough time to hit the beach. The boys made sand castles and threw themselves into the waves like crazy people. They were too small to be able to boogie board on their own, but Jeff figured out that he could ride with one on his back... so that they did. Over the weekend they spent hours and hours riding the waves and letting the waves knock them flat on their backs over and over and over. Addison was particularly entertaining. He would stand in the roughest part and get knocked down over and over again, head over heels. A couple actually stood by and watched, ready to jump in to save him. Surely he was in distress, right? Just to look like a good parent, I got up and asked him if he needed any help, which he emphatically turned down. They were amazed. "Your boys are crazy" they said! At dinner that night, Addison started to fall asleep while chewing. Luckily, we caught him before he fell out of his chair and he slept the rest of dinner on Jeff's lap.




We wanted to go out late one night and look for crabs. Jeff and I explained that crabs like to come out late. With the nighttime exhaustion, it didn't work out. The next morning, Jeff planned to wake the boys up early and get to the beach to see the sunrise. They woke up a little late, and as they ate breakfast, Jeff mentioned that he wanted to go out early, but it was later than he planned. As they headed out to the beach, Addison looked concerned. He was being overly cautious. When Jeff asked what was wrong, Addison explained that crabs came out late, and they they were getting to the beach late. He was scared the crabs were going to get him. With that, Jeff explained that the crabs came out late at night, in the dark. They weren't out then. Addison looked up at him and asked... "Where are their homes?" If they weren't out, then where were they? Inquiring (and nervous) minds want to know.

To scoot around the island, we rented a little electric car. It was expensive, but SO worth it! We were able to cruise around the historic district, take it to dinner, and go to Fort Clinch in our "funny car". The boys were happy riding, I wasn't passing out by trying to walk, and we weren't driving around in the van, missing the details. It worked so well... but we did look ridiculous.


Fort Clinch Park was beautiful. We drove back to the fort and walked through the old buildings and tunnels. The fort was in great shape and we really enjoyed it. Again, it was insanely hot out there, so I ended up sitting in the shade frantically fanning myself with the tiny fort map and praying for relief while the boys drug Jeff through every inch of that place. Actually, they wanted to drag him through every inch, but Jeff tried to get it through to them that they did not actually need to go through each and every tunnel or climb each and every stair there. If it were up to Addison and Asa, I think they would have been there two extra hours.



Jeff and the boys did make it out Monday morning for a sunrise on the beach. They saw dolphins off the shore for the second morning in a row. The dolphins seem to go one direction early in the morning and then come back by a few hours later. They were beautiful!

This was our last trip as a family of four, and what a great trip it was. I wanted to be able to give the boys one last hurrah before their worlds turn upside down. Although walking in the heat was a bit tough, I thoroughly enjoyed being pregnant and out at the beach. It felt so normal. I think getting to experience a relatively uneventful pregnancy is a bit of therapy for me. To top it all off, the boys were great, they were angels when we went to dinner (even though they were exhausted beyond belief), and they were little troopers in the car. It made us feel so great to have other customers at both restaurants comment to us on how well behaved they were being. They are such good boys. I can only hope that this next baby is half as good as they have been. Guess we'll know soon enough!




Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Taco Stand Thursdays



During the summer, we have toned down on violin quite a bit. The boys don't seem to be backsliding, but we aren't exactly blazing through Twinkle as I hoped we would be. With their trips to the grandparents plus all the other summer craziness, it just has taken a bit of a backseat. With that said, we are still practicing here and there and we see Ms. Becca every two weeks or so. I'm not too worried about it, but I hope to get back on track soon!

During the rest of the year, we had our lessons on Thursdays. The boys LOVE tacos (they choose tacos over any other food choice) and last Spring I broke them away from their Barbarito's/Moe's addiction and introduced them to the Taco Stand. Ahhh... Taco Stand. One of the many reasons that I just can't leave the Athens area. Luckily, the boys have excellent taste and fell in love immediately. Actually, they have made it their lunch stop for lessons... dubbing those days "Taco Stand Thursdays".

We may change the day of the week that we have lessons, but I doubt we will be changing our new routine any time soon! My only concern is my boys' growing appetites. One soft taco doesn't seem to cut it, so they usually have to split a second. Give it a few more months and they'll be up to two a piece!



Tuesday, August 5, 2008

A Breath of Fresh Air

I had an appointment today with one of the CNM (certified nurse midwives) and I am just so thrilled! Even sitting in the waiting room was a great experience. Instead of people complaining about the wait or talking about the bedside manner of various OBGYN's, two women and I talked about how nice people were here and I listened to them talk about how happy they were with their last (both unmedicated) birth experiences. One said that the midwife actually stayed with her for the entire labor, even though she only went in at 2-3cm.

The midwife consulted the OB on my chart and history. They do want to repeat my glucose test that was screwed up by the other clinic (because they forgot about me and left me in the waiting room for an hour and 45 minutes- instead of an hour after the sugar drink- until I finally went up and asked them when they planned to draw my blood... I will continue...and then they proceeded to make me wait for a total of three hours, FASTING since the night before, and I STILL never saw the OB. I digress...) My cervix is still nice and closed, so these contractions are still not causing any problems. They did the Fetal Fibronectin test today, which will tell them if there is a risk of preterm labor in the next two weeks. I should have the results back today. If positive, we'll know to really really take it easy and start taking major precautions. If negative, I'm good to go! My belly is measuring right at 30 weeks, so I'm on target there. The baby is now head down, which may change-- this little sucker seems to like to do a weekly flip! Believe it or not, I am a PERFECTLY NORMAL PREGNANT WOMAN!!

The midwife saw me for about 40 minutes, herself. I was able to ask questions and talk to her without feeling rushed. She was amazing. I have a feeling that I am going to leave every appointment hoping that the midwife I just saw will deliver my baby. They encourage you to have a birthplan, heck, they even give you a sheet of ideas and possibilities for choices during labor. They want to to know what your preferences are for labor and after the birth. They talk and listen. AND, they will watch me closely and even did the Fetal Fibronectin test as a precaution and will repeat it in 2 weeks. I am very happy and I feel much more confident! Now, let's just get me to at least 34 weeks and I'll be home free!

**By the way, my test came back negative!**

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Amazing Ways I Make Money While Parked in this Chair.

So, I have had a CafePress shop for a few years now. I began in the Fall of 2005. The whole thing started because I wanted a cute twin design for Asa and Addison and couldn't find what I was looking for. I drew up my own, stuck it on CafePress, and before I could even get my settings right on the shop I sold two! I quickly added other designs, and now I have 207 sections in my shop... with designs for twins, triplets, big brothers, big sisters, adoptions, and anything else that I could make work. I do a few custom designs a month, usually with a middle sibling or an international adoption needing different skin tones for different siblings. I don't know how long I can ride this out, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts!
In the past 3 months I have sold 325 items. I think that averages about 3.6 per day. I have a ton of designs (It takes four different designs to cover the triplet combinations... which I do for each skin tone... and 3 for each twin design. Heck, I even do quad designs! The mind boggles!) so it really is hard to get accurate tabs on what is selling best. But, the single most popular item by far for this quarter was the "I *heart* My Big Sister" shirt or onesie. It also amazes me the number of triplet orders that come through in a month. I had 43 of them over the quarter. The quads are rare, but have sold a few here and there.

We make a small but substantial little chunk each month, and I hope to be able to continue to put up more designs and stick around as long as possible. Sure, CafePress takes the vast majority of the earnings. But, I don't really do any of the work. I just sit and think of new ideas or answer emails and create custom designs, grow my shop, and get my check in the mail. Maybe baby #3 will inspire me once again and I can come up with a new line of silly baby attire.

By the way... my onesies for IVF babies that says "Second Mortgage" has had an excellent quarter this year. I'm glad to see that moms and dads who cashed it all in for that little bundle were still able to retain their senses of humor!

(You can reach the shop from www.cafepress.com/hollieshobbies or straight from www.hollieshobbies.net.)

The Second Time Around

Now that I have passed the really scary period of this pregnancy, where preterm labor would have meant very bad news indeed, I have started to slowly accept the idea of being able to have a different kind of birth experience. Believe me, I have no complaints at all about my pregnancy and birth of the boys. How could I? That was not the time for any worry of pain management or unnecessary medical interventions. Without medical interventions, they would have never been conceived much less lived long enough to have a birth at all.

This pregnancy shared the same level of initial medical intervention... including estrogen patches, more ultrasounds that I can count, and 55 days straight of intra-muscular progesterone injections in alternating butt cheeks. But, unlike the last one, this one has the potential for me to attempt the birth that I hoped for before I knew I was pregnant with twins last time. Given that this is most likely the last time I will ever have this experience, I would like to be a little more prepared. After 12 weeks in the hospital, I had not even begun to think about their actual birth. Actually, I didn't allow myself to. I was too scared. Once my water broke and those true contractions hit, I had no idea what to expect. I had no game plan except... get the epidural and get them out so they can go to the NICU. Had I realized that I was already in transition by the time I got my epidural, I might have opted to just stick it out.

Now, I went to school to be a health educator - health and human reproduction. Obviously, I have interest in the subject even before I was married. I had many classes that went into the details of the physiological changes and stages. But, I never had any class that mentioned how one might cope with said changes... until now.

I searched for weeks for a natural childbirth class. Sure, they offer classes at the hospital, but I didn't want to pay the money and sit through the classes to cover a bunch of stuff that I already knew about. I know about epidurals and episiotomies and breastfeeding. What I don't know is how to avoid epidurals and episiotomies, or how to keep nurses from whisking your baby off unnecessarily to do a bunch of stuff that can be done right there in the room, or how to keep them from shoving a bottle or pacifier in their mouth. I did end up finding classes in Lawrenceville, but was thrilled to discover an entire Pregnancy Resource Center opening up in Athens! I signed us up for classes at Full Bloom, and convinced my friend and her husband to go ahead and take them with us!

So far, I have been very pleased. Yes, Jeff and I have done this before, so we don't need some of this stuff as much as the others do. Yes, it is a little bit "earth muffin" for Jeff's taste... and can be a little hokey at times, but it is pretty easy for me to drop the stuff I find "out there" and take all the rest in. There is one girl in there who is so far out in the outer rim that we find it hard to hold back the giggles. I thought we were both going to chew through our tongues trying to keep quiet when she said that she wanted to "dance" through labor. Ummm... honey... get back to us on that one... I'd like to hear how that goes...

All in all, I have already taken some very useful tidbits away from our first two classes. I feel a lot more confident in my ability communicate my wishes. I am more motivated to avoid an epidural so that I won't have to lie there in the bed while laboring. I know that I can labor in the tub if I want to and that they make fetal monitors that are wireless and waterproof. I learned that the cool thing that Mom used to do when I couldn't sleep- have me start at the feet and contract and relax each body part- is called progressive relaxation and she must have learned it from other humans even though as a kid I thought she was just making it up. (Asa, by the way, requests that I do this with him when he can't sleep, too.)

Do I know that I will be able to work my way through the pain, drug free? Of course not. Will I refuse an episiotomy even if I really need one? No way. WIll I feel bad if I end up screaming in pain and begging for them to drug me to the hilt? Not a chance. Heck, I don't even know that I don't go into labor too soon or have a baby that won't turn and end up not being able to use any of this! But, at least this time I will feel like I was prepared and gave it my best shot. If I can avoid that needle in the spine, the inability to move around on my own, and some strange nurse that I didn't really like holding my leg.... I'll take it! Plus, I think a part of me just wants to see that my body can do something on its own...