Why, Hello, World! Nice to See You Again.

Last week, our perinatologist agreed I could be done with bed rest. Hallelujah! Here, a few of the things my hands and feet have done in the past week. You might call it “nesting”, but I call it making up for lost time.

  • I pulled weeds in the garden.
  • I cooked dinner.
  • I deep cleaned the living room.
  • I bought school supplies.
  • I struggled to remember how to write a check, and then remembered I own a debit card.
  • I walked the Sweet Pea to a birthday party 2 blocks away.
  • I spread bark mulch around our new apple tree.
  • I went to the grocery store and bought six half-gallons of ice cream for an ice cream party. (You can only imagine the looks that a very pregnant lady pushing a cart full of ice cream might get.)
  • I went to the library and picked up my own books.
  • I spent two hours at Joann’s browsing buttons for the past 6 months of knitting projects. I may also have browsed, but resisted purchasing, a few other things, too (hello, peacock feathers dyed my favorite goldenrod color! Enameled beads in the shape of little owls!)

A Fantastic Fox (and an Update)

Friends, meet Freddy.

meet-freddy

For whatever reason, I’ve really been feeling the woodland creatures vibe for this little one (maybe he’ll be a park ranger). So when I saw this kit for Alicia Paulsen’s stuffed fox, well, I knew that this little boy needed a hand-stitched stuffed fox in his life. Alicia named him Mr. Basil, but he felt like a Frederick to me. So I’m calling him Freddie until his rightful owner gives him a proper lovey name.

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Being stuck in bed, I ended up hand-stitching all of his clothes, too. I’m sure it took longer than machine stitching would have, but I have nothing if not time to kill. Have you ever seen such teensy buttons?? I felt very fat-fingered trying to button-up that shirt!

And of course he gets a love letter for a label. I always label my handmade items, so that they don’t end up at the thrift store someday.

love-letter

I opted to stitch all of his clothing to his body. I realize I’m denying my little boy hours of nap time mischief by doing this, but I can’t bear the thought of losing his scarf or a boot under the bed and having Freckles the house rabbit devour it at the first opportunity.

The fabulous fox project was supposed to last me until baby arrived, but alas, I find myself still in bed, still waiting. Not wanting to start a new project of my own that may not get finished, I’m now working on other people’s projects. A dear friend of mine has collected cross-stitch kits for years, and never had opportunity to stitch a single one of them. I happily asked her to pick her favorite one and bring it over to me, and now my hands are busy once again.

stitching

By way of an update, baby has made it to 34 weeks and is now allowed to make his entrance in our hometown hospital! We celebrated with blueberry cobbler on the patio, the first thing I’ve baked in months. The next “bite” I’m focusing on? At 36 weeks I’ll be allowed to discontinue my twice weekly progesterone injections. Only three more pokes, and then I’ll be seeing my midwives only once a week instead of three! Now that’s something to look forward to!

What the Sweet Pea Saw (4th of July Edition)

Yes, I do know that we are now three weeks past Independence Day. What can I say? Bed rest time runs on a much slower schedule than the rest of the world, so that it feels like July 4th might have been last weekend.

I handed the camera off to the Sweet Pea once again, to photograph their July 4th adventures. She said that she was having too much fun most of the time to even remember to take photos, so she didn’t capture much. But here’s a peek at a few things that impressed her.

A vintage car show at the park. Judging by the abundant photo documentation, the Sweet Pea was mightily impressed by the chrome hood ornaments and decor.

A ride on the little train that our community’s sweet Grandpas volunteer to keep running for the kids during the summer (you may notice that I’ve given up on the Battle of the Hairbrush with the Peanut for the duration of bed rest. Costs and benefits and all that.)

peanut-in-train

Some time on the playground. I was delighted to see some photos of my pre-teen Sweet Pea digging with abandon in the sand. I’m hoping for a couple more years of occasional outbursts of childhood from her, before she decides she doesn’t want to get her clothes dirty.

digging

under-slide

And what would the celebration be without some fireworks? Last year. between exhaustion at the late hour and fear of the noise, the Peanut cried herself to sleep during the big show. The Sweetie Pie didn’t feel up to managing another episode on his own. So we settled for sparklers at the Godparents’ house.

sparkler1 sparkler-2

And I have to brag, just a little bit, that my 10-year-old spent six months memorizing the first half of the Declaration of Independence as a school assignment. And then recited it for her audience of friends and family on July 4th. How touching to hear such magnificent proclamations coming from her mouth. I tried to get a short video of the performance posted here, but I’m just not that savvy. And you probably didn’t really want to see it anyway.

I Love to Laugh (Ha ha ha ha)

I introduced the kiddos to the Sweetie Pie’s ancient (a cassette player? What?!?) stereo system. I lie in bed every morning questioning the wisdom of this move, as the echoes of Mary Poppins flood the bedroom. Really, this post has nothing to do with Mary Poppins. I just felt like I needed to explain the title. It’s because whenever I see the birds in the garden, I start singing “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag”. If I turn on the oven I think “Chim-chiminee-chim-chiminee chim-chim-chiree”. And, no joke, as I’m typing I hear the Sweetie Pie tucking the Peanut into bed and singing “It’s a jolly holiday with Mary”. So naturally, if I’m thinking about laughter, my mind resounds with “I love to laugh! Ha ha ha ha!” Anyway.

The best way to pass the final weeks of a very long pregnancy? With a book that makes you laugh. Preferably at yourself. Here’s my latest one:

Coop

May I heartily recommend that anyone who is looking for a wholesome, light-hearted memoir snatch up a copy of this little gem? He makes me laugh. Not the way I laugh when watching America’s Got Talent (which is fine too, in its own way), but laugh in a way that makes me feel like I haven’t spent the past 6 months in a basement bedroom watching trashy television shows. Like I’ve been living my normal daily life, and here’s someone showing it back to me and saying “Your life isn’t boring! It’s funny! Lighten up and laugh at yourself!”

This passage, for example, perfectly describes breakfast in our house. In reality, staring across the table at a sighing 4-year-old singing songs about how she hates oatmeal, it feels a bit like drudgery. But Mr. Perry makes me look with favor and good humor on our 50-pound bags of oats, and 5-gallon-buckets of coconut oil.

Five days a week we got oatmeal. Plain, gray, factory-grade oatmeal possibly useful as masonry mortar. In fairness to Mom, there were occasional deviations into decadence–farina with raisins! cornmeal with molasses! and on Fridays she would indulge her profligate inner hedonist by stirring fourteen generic chocolate chips into a pot of oatmeal the size of your head…On Saturday we got pancakes, but I was legal to vote before I realized you do not make maple syrup by dissolving two tablespoons of brown sugar in a pan of hot water. Bottom line: if you had breakfast at our house on a weekday, odds are it originated from a twenty-five-pound bag or a thirty-two-gallon plastic trash can.

 

One Bite at a Time

You know the joke, right? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time?

32 weeks into this very long pregnancy, faced with the large elephant of another 8 weeks until full-term, I’m taking it one bite at a time. With multiple risk factors for pre-term labor, I’ve been on bed rest since February. Even though I’m the one that has sat out every hour in my own bed, I still have no idea how it’s humanly possible to have passed almost half a year only living part of my life. At 32 weeks I’m walking a very fine line, keeping my spirit poised between being ready for anything at anytime and settling in for the long haul. It’s a balancing act between “Any day now…” and “Still two months to go…”

Often, I find myself leaning more into one space or the other. In order to assuage the uncertainty and to bring my spirit back into balance, I’m learning to focus on small, short-term goals. How to survive the final weeks of a long pregnancy? One bite at a time.

bebe

My first “bite” is to make it another two weeks. At 34 weeks I’ll be able to deliver in my own town, at “my” hospital, with “my” midwives. These are very motivating factors for me to tough out another 2 weeks. After that one has been swallowed and digested, I’ll take a look at what’s left of my elephant and decide where the next bite is.

We have quite a collection of ultrasound photos from our perinatologist. I keep them hanging close at hand to remind me of hard work already accomplished, visual proof of a baby getting fatter and healthier every day, and to motivate me to not give up before the time is finished.

What the Sweet Pea Saw (Part 2)

The Sweet Pea is quickly becoming our family photographer. As the kids and the Sweetie Pie head out on summer adventures, I stay home, carrying my book back and forth between the couch and the bed. The Sweet Pea takes charge of the family camera to share the excitement with me when they get home.

Here, a recent trip with Grammie and Grampa to the nearest botanical gardens. It was Grammie’s birthday. The day was bright and sunny, and there was even a temporary installation of works by Dale Chihuly that captured the kiddos attention.

Grammie's-presents Chihuly-blue Chihuly-and-palms

What do you think the highlight of the trip was? The beautiful gardens? The birthday excitement? The surprising sculptures? Nope. It was watching a shiny, new Corvette get towed out of a no parking zone. This is what I heard about for days afterwards.

Thankfully, though, no photos of the Corvette or the tow truck.

big-palm light-and-shadow dance-dance-dance texture-and-pattern Palm-shadows a-flower monet-garden looks-like-sorbet lilypads following-breadcrumbs

And what would a trip to the gardens be without an educational tid bit? The Sweet Pea has an ongoing battle with the slugs in our strawberry patch. Here, she discovers that slugs are good for something (but it hasn’t affected her merciless killing of slugs in the strawberry patch).

what-they're-good-for

Snail Mail Joy

I have one friend who will still write me a real letter a few times a year. Not only are her letters long and thoughtful, but she also takes time to hand craft her envelopes. Receiving one of her letters is like receiving a piece of her. I always write back, and my letters are also long and thoughtful, but my envelopes are never as lovely as hers are.

Until now!

Coloring a pretty garden and making it into an envelope was a great way to pass a few hours of bed rest. Now if only my real garden looked this magical and inspiring…

Summer Vacation for Homeschoolers

Downside to homeschooling: school never stops, even when you might want it to. I was on the phone with a friend of mine last week, another homeschooling mom. Her 11-year-old interrupted our conversation. This was the end of the conversation that I overheard:

My Sweet Friend: (mouth away from the phone) No, honey. Let’s not build any volcanoes right now….What?….Okay, fine. But don’t make it explode….No, use the old cookie sheet and don’t make a mess….No, please don’t use my good ingredients. Find the cheap vinegar. (turning back to the phone) What was I saying??

What Brave Looks Like…

poppies1

I’ve always thought my mothering journey was best reflected in a field of poppies: a little wild, a little prickly, shockingly vibrant, but also delicate and precious. And then, I read this, and knew someone else felt the same way:

“Any way you cut it, motherhood is intimidating. From the courage it takes to clip a newborn’s fingernails or navigate the weeny little arms into a Onesie or wave a child off to school, the ocean of a mother’s worry is a vast one…

“And with each new baby, we are that much more vulnerable to having our hearts broken into tiny little bits of forever…

poppies4small

“So moms might not know it, but they are the bravest of the brave for taking this risk. Against all odds, knowing that sickness, sin, failure, and disaster lurk on the fringes of every day, we choose to embrace life…

poppies2

“We open up ourselves–our bodies, our lives, and our futures–to the whim of another human being, and there is no going back. And perhaps what makes this kind of everyday courage the most remarkable is how very seldom it gets recognized.”

from Surprised by Motherhood by Lisa-Jo Baker

How to Entertain Your Children (All Stinkin’ Day) Without Leaving the Couch

Since I can’t do any work in the garden this year, I decided I should focus my resources on being able to enjoy the garden. Step one: creating a comfy place from which I can enjoy it. I found a great little patio set for a great little price (thanks online shopping!) and the Sweetie Pie and the Bean went to pick it up for me. The Bean wanted to put it together. The Sweetie Pie did not. And this is how the purchase of a patio set became entertainment for a day.

construction3

The Bean, who has had lots of practice with Legos and Erector sets, began unpacking boxes in the living room while I lay on the couch. He was astonishingly good at following vague directions written in Chinese-English (Chin-glish?). At one point I said to him, “I think you’re putting that arm on backwards.” He assured me he wasn’t and showed me the instructions to prove it to me. I left him alone after that.

construction2

As the Bean worked, the empty boxes and discarded packaging and extra furniture was ideal for fort and tunnel-building. And once that got old, the boxes became racetracks and airports and pony stalls. Even Freckles the bunny got in on the fun, burrowing like never before into piles of cardboard.

fort-building2

Results? An entire day passed peacefully in our house, and I got new furniture for the patio.

 

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