Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Betsy, 24 weeks

Here's the current belly shot:

Don't I look great for someone who's seven months pregnant? 

Too bad I'm actually a week shy of six months. 

Last week was Betsy's 24-week appointment. I never actually saw the doctor but heard Betsy's vibrant little heart chugging along, which was all I needed to happily sign on for another month. I love that sound. It's so energetic and sincere.
Every week in my body makes Betsy a happier, healthier girl. So I'll chug along too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Infrastructure

This week I stopped by Home Depot and casually bought myself one of these:


I cannot tell you how excited I am about this fridge. Our current fridge is a horror we inherited when we bought this house. Some kind of oily goo seeps from the pores on the door handle, so it's always black and sticky. The shelves are held on with packing tape. The tiny freezer is largely occupied by an ice maker that doesn't work. So I've been recreationally fridge shopping for years and finally found a deal we couldn't refuse.

This year has been the year of capital spending on large-family infrastructure. A new (to us) car, AC, furnace, fridge, and sod. (Not to mention the two sets of braces.) On Thanksgiving weekend, Mark and I are going to upgrade our laundry room, with new paint and additional shelving. This is becoming a house that serves eight people--and many of those are big people, with big laundry and food needs. I'm grateful to Mark for recognizing how a well-organized system of laundry bins and a freezer that actually accomodates a week's worth of food is such a blessing and help to me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Enter the Maladies

The history of my pregnancy so far:

June: Waiting for news
July: Slog of Nausea
August: Aaah, better.
September: Soporific
October: Fantastic!
November: Enter Maladies (cue ominous music)

The last couple weeks have been a bit dicey. Last week I wrote but did not publish (largely due to the scorn it would receive from my brother Joe) a post introducing the Cast of Characters of the maladies that have beset me: Swollen ankles, jumpy legs that keep me awake all night, itchy skin, false contractions. You girls know the drill. (Except maybe the always-itchy skin on my neck. Anyone ever had that one?) And to be honest, I ought to add hormone-induced emotions to the list, because every setback seems to feel a bit more ominous, difficult, and bleak than it ought. These maladies seem more than a girl only 5-1/2 months pregnant should endure, and March seems very far away.

This week, I have decreed, will be better.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Joy of Marriage

Me: Are you awake?
Mark: I'm Mark. No, I'm Mike.

Later I'm still awake when Mark gets up for a potty break. "Did you know you just told me you're Mike?" I ask. Turns out he heard the conversation like this:

Me: Hey Mike.
Mark: I'm Mark. Not Mike.

Since me calling out another man's name in bed at night elicited no more response than a tired correction, I'm thinking he was indeed more or less asleep.

Still later, I'm still not asleep. Sometime after midnight I go down to the kitchen and do some computer work. By the time I tiptoe back upstairs, Mark is awake for another potty break. (He's always had a strangely porous relationship with sleep.) As I join him in the darkened bathroom, I give him a friendly, "Hey Mike."

And that, my friends, is the joy of marriage. Good times.

Almost as good as the time when, returning to the husband who had been lying in bed listening to me puke in the bathroom, I asked, "You wanna make out?"

He declined.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teenagers

For some reason, it’s now, with a 15 1/2-year-old and an almost 13-year-old, that we’re finally feeling that the teens have hit us. We’re definitely in a whole new ballgame and needing to develop whole new skills.

Mark and I working on seeing our teens' issues as teaching moments. Here are some of the lessons we've been working on:

We are part of your life. One of our children is feeling that since he’s now a big teenager, his life should not concern us. He feels he should be on his own and that we should just stay out of his way. We agree that teens should receive more independence and less micro-management. But we’re teaching that 1.) Privileges and freedom are contingent on trust, which you must earn through trustworthy behavior, and 2.) As your parents, we are engaged, interested, relevant, and involved. And will be for years to come, even as your independence grows.

You live your consequences. Mark’s dad says that when you putt cattle in a new field they walk the fence, checking where the boundaries are. We’ve had a lot of walking the fence here, where Mark and I establish a rule, and a teen chooses to violate it. We’d like to grab them by the shoulders and scream, “That is stupid! You’ll regret it later! Listen to me and stop it now!” (And of course, if we were talking about recreational drug use or launching a new career as cult follower, that’s exactly what we’d do.) Instead we watch the stupid choice unfold, then deliver the appropriate consequence. Trying to do so with a mix of compassion and dispassion. Our lesson is that Mom and Dad’s standards, limits, and boundaries stand, even if you don’t like them.

We communicate. Sometimes your parents ask you questions or tell you stuff. That’s our job. It’s your job to listen and respond respectfully, even if you don’t want to. We listen and respond respectfully to you as well. No matter how teenagery you may be feeling, we are always here, ready to listen, support, and help.

We are honest, consistent, and value-driven. There’s no fit you can throw that knocks us off track. We’ll do what we said we’d do. Our family standards will stand. We love you and respect you, and we believe you'll grow into a fantastic man.

We have the big talks. Oh thank the stars above for husbands on this one. Poor Mark actually calendars time to take the boys aside for private chats about all those crazy boy pubescent things. Things with words I don’t even want to write. He is awesome. He starts from the beginning and tells the boys what those big, bad words really mean and how if the boys handle themselves correctly, those scary crazy things will later become the foundation of their love of a lifetime. These talks happen every few months, because even if Mark has covered the topic before, the boy has changed, and things that weren’t an issue may now have become so. I am very, very grateful for these talks. They let Mark teach our values on important topics, they give him a chance to build relationship with the boys through his honesty and engagement, they help the boys establish their goals and standards proactively.              

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jesse

I know you've seen plenty of pictures of Jesse in his crazy get-ups. But here are some more from the past few weeks. 

Because here's the thing: One day Jesse won't spend his days in full superhero regalia, with "weapons" bristling from his "utility belt."

As predicted, the horrible season of whining, clinging, and screaming as the school year started has given way to a Jesse who is much more cooperative, pleasant, and independent. He does things like eat meals, sleep in his bed at the required hour, and leave his mother alone for minutes at a time.

This week I got Jesse's preschool "report card." On paper, he's not much of a genius. He's recorded as being able to count only to two. But what's really going on is that Jesse feels that things like "What comes after two?" and "What shape is this?" are boring questions. So he answers that a triangle is a tent and a rectangle is a bounce house. When asked how old he is, he says, "grown up." At this point, Jesse doesn't see much value or interest in rote learning; it's all about imagination.

I predict that in some ways Jesse will always march to the beat of his own drum. He'll toe the line when necessary, but always value imagination over convention. And maybe he'll be like his Uncle Mark and turn his current flair for costume into a lifelong adoration of gear. But still, the days will come when he wears a predictable combination of shirt and pants every day. When he'll tell people his real name (as opposed to a superhero one) and his real age (as opposed to that of one of his older siblings). When he and I won't chat our way through the day on topics such as the relative sizes of snails and whether the skeletons inside of us are alive or dead or how Batman would handle a burning house.


Those days may be more peaceful, but not necessarily better.

* Am I worried about Jesse's near-total lack of academic knowledge? Not at all. See here. It's certainly possible that Jesse will turn out to have a learning disability. In which case, we'll handle it. It's much more likely that one day he'll decide he's ready to learn to read and will do so in about ten minutes flat.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Weekend Pics

Logan the zombie performs in the percussion section. You know, at the back of the room where the cool guys hang.
You can see that Jesse has the perfect BFF.

Note from Levi on his birthday present to me. What a charmer.
The elementary schoolers ready for school.

Jesse ready for his preschool party. What Halloween meant for him was that he didn't have to change clothes to go to school--he just went as he was. Also I gave him a fancy hair-do.