Monday, March 30, 2009

Update and Photos

I've been an absent blogger of late for a few reasons - a growing "To Do" list at work (it should be shrinking! Not growing!), extreme exhaustion, and lots of things to get done around the house. Here is one of them, which grew from what was supposed to be a small project to a large, expensive THING that has prevented us from using our master bath shower for a couple of weeks:

For the last couple of months, M. and I had noticed that a couple of tiles on the shower bench were buckling a bit. Along with the mildew-stained caulking that I've had a running battle with since we moved in, it looked decidedly yucky, and became a fixation for me each time I used the shower. So, at my hormonal urging, and to prevent water damage, we decided to try to repair the area. Ideally, this was going to involve simple removal of the 2 or 3 offending tiles, cleaning them up, sticking them back on, and regrouting. If some water had seeped behind, we would even try our hand at replacing any damp cement backerboard before putting the tiles back on, but we figured the area would be small. Boy, were we wrong. M. barely touched the offending tiles with a scraper-thingy, and they fell right off. Along with several others right next to them. Um, clearly a lot of water had already gotten behind the tiles. The pictures above show where we stopped before running off to Lowes to get some supplies - by the end of the day M. had removed all of the tiles on the vertical part of the shower bench, as well as some from the two walls that were kitty-corner to it. He stopped at the point where he was afraid that he would break something crucial, like the glass shower wall, if he continued. That's when we called our home improvement/contractor service.

Our $50 project has turned in to a $1600 renovation job. One that we MIGHT have been able to tackle ourselves, but certainly not with the speed at which it has progressed the last week. With the clock ticking on this pregnancy, it's money I feel is well spent. Since exact-match tiles (it's amazing how many different kinds of square white tiles there are, and how many of them DON'T match our tiles) couldn't be easily found, we ended up having probably half of the shower tiles replaced so that we could put in a transition row of decorative tiles that make the new white tiles stick out less. We're planning on slapping some paint on some of the walls and trying to actually make the bathroom look somewhat nice (as opposed to the glaring white wonderland it has been since we moved in), and I'm hopeful that when all is said and done this "emergency" fix will actually make me happier with our bathroom. But in the meantime, we've been showering down in our basement shower at night. A lovely shower, really, but 1) the basement is cold, 2) I hate showering at night, it does nothing for my hair, and 3) the shower is quite small which means a) my belly is constantly in danger of whacking the tile wall, b) I cannot possibly shave my legs (though really, at this stage of pregnancy, who's looking, right?), and c) there is constant groaning from me every time I have to bend over to pick up a bottle of shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face wash from the floor. I am hoping, though, that we will be able to use our own shower as early as tomorrow - yay!

Physical evidence of my difficulty fitting in the basement shower, bending over, basically doing ANYTHING:

Me at 35 weeks, just over a week ago. I am now 36 weeks 2 days and, if anything, even bigger. It has become very, very hard to get around. I am definitely nearing that necessary point at which a pregnant woman actually starts to look forward to labor, just so I can breathe again. Or last more than an hour at night without making a bathroom run. If I didn't have so much to do at work in the next few weeks, I'd be trying every natural remedy in the arsenal to speed things along.

As squeezable and cute as all these babies, brand new or at least newer than Finn, in my family are, I do need to throw in a few pictures of my little guy just so Grammy and Bumpa remember how adorable he is. Disregarding the sleep issues we've been having lately, which I will not detail as frankly they frustrate me too much, as they don't detract TOO much from his cuteness:

March 2, unexpected snow day, Mom and Dad try to distract Finn with some Elmo on TV so they can get some work done

He looks so happy!

In definite need of a haircut

Planting seeds, love the Dora watering can he insisted we buy for him. Very confident in his masculinity.

Post haircut, with his "I don't want to smile for the stupid camera" look.

Post haircut, with his ridiculous "OK, if you want me to smile I'll take it to the extreme" look.

Will try to be good and post later this week - first internal exam with the OB (and who's not curious about the state of my cervix, right?), and we will hopefully figure out if this baby is head down or not. Only a couple more weeks to get your birthday guesses on record at (see right sidebar)!

Friday, March 27, 2009

98% Of Babies Manic-Depressive

Given the baby boom that has hit A. and her sisters Mommy Esq. and SBHGIGO, it seems appropriate to share the following 'news' article that I found while reading The Onion. I think most parents will agree that the results of the mentioned study are incredibly accurate. Left unmentioned was a follow-up study that addresses couples who exhibit mass delusion and memory loss when reminiscing about the final weeks of pregnancy and the first few months at home with the baby. In some cases, these mental lapses have been shown to lead to 'let's-have-another' syndrome, followed by a permanent loss of golfing privileges. Enjoy!

98% Of Babies Manic-Depressive
March 23, 2009 Issue 45•13
NEW YORK—A new study published in The Journal Of Pediatric Medicine found that a shocking 98 percent of all infants suffer from bipolar disorder. "The majority of our subjects, regardless of size, sex, or race, exhibited extreme mood swings, often crying one minute and then giggling playfully the next," the study's author Dr. Steven Gregory told reporters. "Additionally we found that most babies had trouble concentrating during the day, often struggled to sleep at night, and could not be counted on to take care of themselves—all classic symptoms of manic depression." Gregory added that nearly 100 percent of infants appear to suffer from the poor motor skills and impaired speech associated with Parkinson's disease.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness - Can You Pick A Winner?

Another Spring approaches, bringing with it so many fond memories. Of budding leaves, green grass (remember that?), little hopping bunnies ... and hours and hours of college basketball on TV. Those of you that know me well would probably be surprised at my interest in March Madness. I am NOT a girl that likes sports, be it the actual DOING of sports, or just the whole "being a fan" aspect. But picture it: March of 2000, in Baltimore, MD. A young, impressionable graduate student is steadfastly oblivious to all things sports-related, particularly those sports involving lots of sweat, time-outs, grand-standing, butt slaps and other jock-ish behavior. She has trouble determining WHY exactly these men/boys make quite SO much money in professional sports, and why normal, otherwise reasonable guys make such a big deal over it.

This was before she (OK, I, we can stop using the third person here) was introduced to the concept of "brackets." And March Madness. Yes, at the ripe age of 22, I had never really heard of the March Madness tournament. My father is more of a baseball and football fan than a basketball fan, and he doesn't follow any college teams at all. I went to a fairly small state university, and I'm pretty sure they've never made it to the tournament. But here I was at graduate school, with classmates that had attended undergrad in several of the usual contending schools. March Madness, apparently, is a huge deal to many of them. Because I was social and wanted "join in," I coughed up $5 to enter the department pool, and set about filling out my first ever set of brackets.

It was not easy. There were plenty of schools I had never heard of before. Gonzaga? Iona? Creighton? Valparaiso (sorry, Matt and Val, before I met you I was not aware of the awesomeness that is Valpo)? Dude, where are all these schools? I went with a very ignorant approach based entirely on who I knew and what my thoughts were about particular places. Do I pick Texas or Louisville? Well, my mom refused to move the family to Texas when I was in middle school because "there are no trees there," and we have good friends of the family that live in Louisville, so I guess I'll pick Louisville. Xavier or Mississippi? Hmm, I've always liked the name Xavier, I once had a very pretty fish named Xavier, I'll go with that one.

Rankings played into it very little, unless I had to make hard choices. Florida or UConn? Tough one - my grandparents live in Florida, but my uncle lives in Connecticut. In that kind of situation, I usually went by the higher ranked team.

Apparently, the act of putting a little money down, though it was indeed such a tiny investment, was enough to allow me to actually sit through the games. With large quantities of beer, of course. And in the first few heady days of the tournament, I actually had some success! As always happens (I know now), there were upsets left and right. And somehow, my wacky method for choosing winners allowed me to predict a fair number of them. I had hope that the final pot of money would be mine!

Of course, I didn't win (in fact, I think M. may have won the pool that first year). I did well, but I didn't win. Mainly because I don't win things, it's just not what I do. But I was hooked! And since then, I have faithfully filled out at least one bracket (M. usually makes me fill out two, though I feel this is cheating) every year. And every year since that first year, I have failed miserably at predicting upsets, and done horribly over all. Indeed, there have been several years where I had not one team in the Final Four. But I persevere anyway, always hoping that my initial success will be matched or surpassed.

I should note that I did lie a little bit above. $5 and beer were not the only reasons I allowed myself to sit through many a basketball game that first year of graduate school. There was a boy behind my motivation, too. Not just a boy, THE boy, it turns out. M., of course. I dated a little bit here and there in grad school that first year, nothing serious. I spent most of my time hanging out with my classmates. As grad students, our main activities outside the lab involved pursuing free food where ever we could find it, and drinking at bars. M. and I were friends, drinking buddies. In fact, we spent a fair amount of time giving each other advice on our love lives. But right around the time of March Madness, I began to realize that the reason WHY I was reluctant to throw myself into a serious dating relationship was because I really much preferred hanging out with M.

And so, I found myself on a weeknight down at ESPN Zone, sitting at a bar, drinking beer and watching basketball games with M. This, after begging off from a date because I had too much work to do (and I did have work I should have been doing, I just wasn't doing it). SO NOT ME. And two nights later, we were back there again, this time with a few other friends (Hi, Wendy and Jon!). Wisconsin (M.'s alma mater) was in the Final Four. Which explains, perhaps, why M. managed to win the department pool that year - he is always the only one to predict Wisconsin to win several games (and usually one of his two brackets has them winning the whole thing, though this year not even he was that optimistic). We were, of course, drinking beer and trying to score free food. And watching TV. Lots more fun than I ever imagined sports watching could be - who knew!?

Wisconsin lost, unfortunately. But I guess M. "drowning his sorrows" so to speak, and my sympathy sorrow-drowning, allowed us to get the courage somehow to awkwardly convey the "Hey, I kind of like you, like, you know, like you" sentiment we had both been feeling. And from then on, we were together. Not a fantastic, romantic first date experience. Not the story I pictured telling my future kids when they would ask how Mommy and Daddy met. But it gives me a special fondness for this time of year, and I always look forward to March Madness, no matter how awful my bracket picks are.

I guess it's kind of sweet, right? We were friends first, and then we watched basketball together, and fell in love. I think I'll downplay the role beer played, of course, when I tell Finn all about it one day ;-).

T minus 2 hours or so until the first game starts - wish me luck!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hard, But Getting Better?

Well, Finn's daycare transition has not been seamless. After the first couple of days, I think reality set in, and he started putting up a fight. M. does the morning drop off, and he has been getting the brunt of it all. As they drive toward school, Finn gets quieter and quieter, then starts saying things like, "I don't want to go to my new school." As if that isn't hard enough to hear, once Finn is in the classroom, and it's time for M. to hit the road, the tears start. Ugh. And I think this is worse than previous daycare transitions simply because it's not just the tears anymore. Now Finn is old enough to express himself and say things that just break your heart. On one day, M. told Finn that it's OK to be a little sad. Finn told him, "No, Daddy, I not a little sad, I sad A LOT." And apparently he talks about us ad nauseum - he can't find his mommy, he can't find his daddy, he loves his mommy, he loves his daddy, his mommy's coming to pick him up later,... I'm pretty sure the staff is sick of him talking about us.

Finn's been putting up such a stink in the morning that some of the other parents have either witnessed it or overheard the teachers talking about it. When M. ran in to another parent yesterday and mentioned that Finn has been crying a lot, she said, "I heard." But by the time I come pick him up in the afternoon, he is fine, his usual goofy self. In fact, he runs all over the classroom or playground, and refuses to let me corral him out the door. I've called his teacher once or twice at around 10 am just to check in, and according to her he's always doing great by the time she gets in (at 8:30, I think). He's been napping well, and eating well. And he's really taken to potty training. He's even pooped in the potty twice! Bringing the grand total to 3 times, since he's only done it once at home. So it's not like he's having a miserable time, he's just having a hard time separating from us in the morning.

I think part of the problem is that Finn is one of the first, if not the first, kids to get in each day. Most of the parents must work pretty locally, I guess. And his teachers don't come in until 8:30, so he has to hang out in a different classroom for the first part of the morning. If there was a mess of kids playing, or the teachers that he spends most of his time with, already there during drop off, it would probably go more smoothly.

There are a few other things about the school that bother us, like the fact that there's a TV in the classroom, which we didn't know they had. It gets used on Fridays for movie day and once or twice a week for a short video like a Barney or Elmo episode. I'd rather Finn be playing outside or reading or coloring or SOMETHING. A little TV is OK, but selfishly I'd like to reserve that for when Finn's at home and I need to cook dinner. For the amount of money we're paying, the school should have enough activities planned that they don't rely on TV. Also, there's never anyone at the front desk during drop off or pick up - we've never actually met the school director. She lives in another state, and her hours each day are ridiculously abbreviated. Finally, one of the other parents (the one I mentioned above) overheard Finn chattering away and told M. that she's glad there's another child now in her daughter's class that talks a lot. Apparently most of the kids in Finn's class are pretty quiet/don't talk much. That may have nothing to do with Finn's teachers, but it does make me anxious that in the younger classrooms, there isn't enough emphasis on talking to the infants and toddlers to help their language development. Worrisome for the baby, I guess. It also makes me worry that Finn won't continue to be challenged, since his class is focused on learning things that he mastered quite a while ago (colors, counting to 10, etc).

All of this makes M. and I second guess our decision, of course. Did we do the right thing? But of course we need to give it more time. And I think it's natural to focus too much on the negative when there's "no going back" on our decision.

On the bright side, after a week of tears, we had a breakthrough yesterday at drop off. Finn was in a very good mood, and told M. he wanted to play with his new friends. Luckily, two of them were already at school when they walked in. Finn gave M. a hug, allowed himself to be distracted, and M. walked out with nary a tear in sight. I haven't gotten this morning's drop off report yet, but I'm hoping we've turned a corner. Finn still said this morning that he didn't want to go to his new school, but hopefully by the time he got there he was happily resigned to the idea. At pick up time, too, I've also been coming in to find him playing with other kids, rather than just running around and doing his own thing.

All of this had made me realize that the adolescent and teenage years are going to be TORTURE for me. I absolutely HATE the thought of my baby not being accepted by his peers, or feeling miserable in a new situation. I think it's especially hard for me because I had two built-in playmates my whole life, and I usually had their familiar company in most new situations. For example, I never went to the first day of school alone until I went to college. So new situations that I had to tackle on my own were very hard for me, and I was very shy. To this day, I can't "network," just introduce myself to perfect strangers and start talking. I'm sure I'm just projecting my own feelings/memories on to Finn, and I'm imagining him feeling far worse than he does. But good lord, he'd better be popular and accepted when he gets to middle school and high school or I am going to be one miserable mama.

I'm sure I'm worrying for nothing, though. I mean, who wouldn't love this kid?:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


So far, so good re: the big daycare switch.

Finn's start at his new daycare was delayed a day by the snow we got on Monday. He was disappointed, actually - we drove over there on the slippery roads, because when I called they said they were open. The plan was to drop him off for an hour, go have breakfast, then pick him up again before the weather got too bad. Our timing was off, though, because the school decided to close just before we arrived. So we turned right around and got back in our car, and Finn put up a bit of a fuss. He was looking forward to playing at his "new school."

Take 2 was yesterday morning. M. and I both dropped him off, and he didn't cry at all. He was shy and reserved, but I expected that. He gave us both hugs, then we had the teacher distract him a bit while we left. I called at 10 am, and he was still doing fine - according to his teacher he was being active and having fun. He napped well, ate well, and even used the potty a couple of times. When we went to pick him up, he was excited to see us but didn't cry at all. In fact, he tried to stall and play with more toys instead of leave, so I KNOW he was having fun.

This morning was the start of what will be our normal routine, I hope. We left the house at 7 am (what we always aimed for before, but often didn't make), and M. took Finn to daycare while I took off for work. I made it in to the office just before 7:30, which is nice - I can leave a little earlier for the day than I used to. It was definitely strange to not be the one dropping Finn off, though, and even with NPR blaring the car seemed too quiet. M. managed to make his usual train despite the trek out to the school and back.

Fingers crossed that this all continues to work out!