(If you don't like the music, scroll down and you can control it on the right side. But I like it, so there! )

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

No Longer a Believer

Picture the scene: I am sitting on the floor, playing with Zach and asking him (though I know he won't answer) what he would like for Santa to bring him for his first Christmas. Evan, who is sitting beside us, erupts into giggles. I ask him what is so funny. He doesn't answer at first, but after some prodding, he whispers, " We have to keep up appearances, you know, for Zach." I ask him what he is talking about, and his reply was, "Zach still believes."

So we started this whole conversation in which my 9-year-old baby boy confessed that he no longer believed in Santa. When I asked him where all of his Christmas presents come from, he told me he knows I buy them. "Not Daddy because he doesn't work", he said. I first tried to deny this, then told him that the money I earn is Daddy's money, too. That Daddy works taking care of him and of Zach so I can work. He bought this, but still denied Santa Claus.

"Mother, do you really expect me to believe that one man goes to all of those houses, all over the world, in one night??? It would take him all night just to get here from the North Pole."

First of all, "Mother"????? When did I stop being Mommy or Mama and start being Mother??? Secondly, I tried to explain that Santa is magic, to which I got this reply:
" No way. Magic is just an illusion. And besides, like I said, he couldn't posibly get to those houses. He would have to travel at the speed of light and no human can do that."
It became apparent that I was not going to win this one. And then I became sad.
My baby is growing up too fast.
It isn't that I am so distraught over Santa. I am sad over the loss of innocence. The loss of wonder at the holiday season. He will no longer give that little gasp of surprise and have that little spark of amazement when he sees the gifts under the tree on Christmas morning He won't hurry to the plate of cookies left for Santa, just to check if they had been eaten. And for him, from now on, Christmas will no longer be magical. He'll know I worked to pay for those toys. He'll know John and I stayed up late wrapping them for him. He may even say he is too old to visit Santa and get the cute annual low-quality photo we get to chronicle that year's holiday season. I can literally see him grow in those photos over the past nine years. And because we are not a religious family, Christmas will just be about gifts.
(Image: Evan at 2 years: when he still believed, when I was still "Mommy", when Christmas was still magical, and his innocence was still intact.)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ghetto Me

I've been bringing out my inner Ghetto self here recently. The evidence is as follows:

Exhibit A:
I have resurrected my maternity coat from last winter. I had been making my other non-maternity coat work--a lovely charcoal wool peacoat--until the lining got snagged and ripped. It came time to buy a new one. I had put it off over and over, but then I bought this beautifully tailord black wool peacoat from a maternity bouique. The thing cost a great deal more than I woud ever spend on a coat. And then I got put on bedrest. So other than a few rogue outings that were against doctor's orders, it never saw the light of day because I didn't. Unless you count the gazillion trips to the hospital in which I was so miserable that putting on my coat nver even came to mind. The beauty of this coat is that one could never tell it was maternity witout looking at the tag, and I noticed last weekend that it easily fits around Zach in his Ergo carrier. So I am wearing it this winter.

Exhibit B:
After our run-in with cooties, I need new furniture. I am seriously disgruntled about the bed. But the problem is our home. We live in a 2-bedroom. At the time, the price was right. Plus I was in school, and had no plans of any other children beside Evan. So here comes Zach. It was no biggie at first because I wanted Zach in my room, and if we lived in a 15-bedroom mansion, I still would have put his crib in my room. Plus, there is too much of an age gap to have him share a room with Ev. Evan will be in the throes of 'tweendom when Zach is a mere toddler. Well, my plan has fallen through. Zach has so much crap that it is taking over the entire house. (Incidentally, I forgot about this part of having a baby.) He needs his own room, and I refuse to move until we are ready to buy. I'm a big girl now and am tired of renting, but we are't exactly ready to make the leap because I cannot, at this time, afford a house that suits my above-my-means taste. So, as I am perusing furniture, I come up with what I think is a solution: a sleeper sofa! That's my bright idea. This way, as we are putting our life back together, Zach can have his own room complete with more room in other living spaces bcause his crap will be PUT AWAY in his new, all-to-himself, spcious room. John and I will sleep in the living room on the sleeper sofa. This means that is the only piece I have to buy, too. Of course I realize this will suck afer a while, but I think we can make it work for the interim before we buy a house that fits us better as a family. Then, once we reach that stage, and can be an extra bed for guests. Ghetto!

Exhibit C:
I really don't give 2 craps about this one! Unless you are my child, you are getting giftcards from me this Christmas. Sorry 'bout it! But odds are, if you got a card or gift from John and I, as a couple, in the past 10 years, I was the one who fought the crowds at the stores, fretted and waffled over what to buy for people who are as unlike me as anyone can get, then waited in line forever, ony to get home and gift-wrap the damned thing I bought. Quite honestly, I don't have time or energy for that shit this year. I have endured a hellacious pregnancy, fought cooties I brought home from my job taking care of sick people, and subsequently lost everything from said cooties. I attach myself to a milking device every 2 hours, whether I need sleep or not. I have a new baby and haven't done this crap in 9 years. And I work too much---so much that every offday is another opportunity to work more---about 70 hours per week. No matter how much I love you, I am not going to spend even more time away from my babies on your gift this year. Forgive me. I'll be less self-centered and tacky next year. Look at the bright side: your acceptance of a thoughtless gift means I may actually find time to take my offspring to see Santa, or give me a chance to bake Christmas cookies with Evan. My children will thank you!

So there you have it: Ghetto Andrea. Just a few examples of how I am losing my class.

The Death of Me

It doesn't look evil, does it? But I swear it is. I am so sick and tired of pumping. For the past few days, I have had a pretty erratic pumping schedule,which does not help the whole fragile supply issue. Quite honestly, I wonder if it is possible for a breastpump to suck the life out of you, and I have found it more and more difficult to actually do it. Exclusive pumpig is NOT for the weak of heart. I keep trying to nurse Zach and by now, he looks at me as if to say, "Hey lady, why is your boob in my mouth???". At least with breastfeeding, one gets the fuzzy bonding moment. I bond with equipment. Sucky. But I do it for him, and each day that I have trouble sticking with it, I remind myself why I do it. And I swear I'll do better tomorrow. I will.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Him, in a Song

Did you know I was a music major in a past life? Yep, I played classical flute for 16 years until my mother died and I just couldn't anymore. But I still have this deep-seated love for music. And I think my favorite thing about it is the memories it evokes of the people who have come and gone from our lives, and the ones who come and never go.

Tomorrow morning is my John's 36th Birthday. Actually, Thanksgiving starts the whirlwind for us: Thanksgiving, John's birthday (sometimes one in the same), Christmas Eve (our anniversary), Christmas, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day (my birthday), all in a row.

This is Our Time. I always get nostalgic and sappy and sentimental as the calendar pages turn from November to December. This year is no exception. And I know why, though it has taken me years to figure this all out--John. My angel and devil, my super power and my kryptonite. My biggest fan and my reason for doing a large amount of what I do. The one who showed me that there is such a thing as permanent love. Even during the loudest rage of one of our arguments, there is no place I would rather be.

So, in order to satisfy my urge for sentimentality and also to honor the very beginning of John's 36th year on earth, here are a few songs that make me smile and think of the other half of my soul. Happy Birthday, JohnJohn.

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Right now, I'm pretty easy to please. I am in the midst of a stretch of days off. Right now, that stretch is 5 days, and I am on number 2. I say "right now" because I noticed that they are a body short on the schedule for Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and so I left my boss a note to see if I could pick up some overtime those nights. I won't know if I will be working them until she comes in on Monday morning. So it may only be 3 days. So while I am waiting for yet another load of laundry to finish drying (read this),I am chillaxin'.

A good cup of joe brewed by John. (This should be the part where I 'fess up that my hubby once worked at a coffee house.)

A comfy cami and soft OR scrub bottoms that have been washed a gazillion times.

My computer. Blogging (expect a few posts tonight--I have much to report!)

Excellent, mellow music.

Kiddos asleep--both of them, which is a miracle. Hallelujah!

John occupied by some man show on tv. (Not very feminist of me to label anything as "man" or "woman", but forgive me because I could never see a female watching the sheit he watches.)

And my new love. I should tell you what my new love is right now. I was shopping for Christmas gifts for Evan's teachers, and I found a great BOGO sale on Yankee Candles----I HEART Yankee Candles, especially the buttercream scented one, which makes my entire house smell like a bakery. (This is HEAVEN for a fat chick who cannot bake, let me tell you!) But that isn't my new love. While I bought a crap-ton of the large Yankee ones for teachers/faculty at his school (have you ever shopped for NUNS?????? Nuns who view everything as excessive and sinful, mind you. So they get candles for their desks) , I had to pass the WoodWick section to pay. I've bought these as gifts before but have never bought any for myself. But-gasp!-they were BOGO, too! So I bought a couple: Butter Rum and Biscotti scents. And I am burning the Biscotti one right now and it is emitting this delicious little crackle like a burning fire all while also making my house smell like baked goods. Mmmmmm. So that is my new love. Like I said, easy to please.

Psychological Warfare and Putting it All Back Together

Nobody warned me that when I was being OCD Andrea, checking every nook and cranny of my home looking for bedbugs, that it would start a war in my home. Well, we all know that I never dreamed I would actually find anything to begin with. And I was hyper-vigilant. Seriously. I found one bug and had an exterminator here in less than 24 hours, then did all of the prep work and had them back for full-blown treatment within 4 days. We didn't even have them that badly--I had caught it in the very beginning!!! So they treated, and we waited the requisite 2 weeks before they did the follow-up inspection. We were all ready to get the green light, when, lo-and-behold, we found a bug. So they did another treatment. Then another bug, and another treatment. We've had 3 so far. 7 weeks and $2,200 (plus living room furniture, a bed, and more) later, we have been given the go-ahead.

All of our stuff, sealed in black plastic bags in the basement, can now be treated again and put back in it's proper place. Books on shelves, clothes hung in closets, dresser drawers filled. Toys sprayed with alcohol and put away. Baby gear washed and put back together. I didn't think of this part. John and I have been complaining for the duration, since we have been rotating the same couple of outfits for this entire time. It will be nice to have my wardrobe back. For some reason, though, it is seeming to take longer to do this part than it did to treat it all and bag it up. So far I am only halfway through Zach's room.

Another part of which I was not warned? The psychological damage. I am like an insane person, searching for bugs everywhere. As in, "OMG is that a bug? Nope, it's a speck of lint." Or that tiny tickle of an itch on my leg couldn't posibly be dry winter skin, but rather a bug crawling. Truth is, even before we treated, I never encountered one until I went searching. But now I have the psychosomatic creepy-crawlies. In other words, I'm even more of a nutcase.
And the fear! I am so afraid to put our stuff away, lest we have to go though this again. Seriously. And I won't even mention the fear I have of bringing something else home from work!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Laughter and More

So the topic has come up recently at work about how it is that I can justify supporting my family alone. Again, it came up. I think the actual words were, "I can't believe John doesn't work."


My mother raised 7 children and never worked outside of the home. For several years, before I went back to finish my degree, I was a stay-at-home mom to Evan. I wouldn't say that either of us didn't work. Because being a homemaker, if done correctly, is the hardest job out there. No one says this of women who choose to stay home. But John's a man, so it must be different? Why?

So yes, I work and John stays home. It probably won't always be this way. It is just the arrangement that works for us right now, and my ownership of a vajayjay doesn't make me above or below being the breadwinner. Honestly, my earning potential is about 4 times that of John right now, and so it just makes financial sense that I should be the one working. And quite honestly, even if he did work, the cost of daycare for Zach would negate his earnings. So why would we do that when I can honestly replace his potential income with one extra shift per week and no daycare expense?

So what is it that John does????? Well, he is excellent with the kids. He cooks the majority of our meals. He does all of the laundry. He tries to keep the house. (I say "tries" because I don't think anyone could keep it to my standards but me--I am that OCD about it!)

What else? Well...

He knows te extact brand and absorbency of tampons I use and has no qualms about buying them. He knows the brand of shampoo I use, the exact shade and brand of my makeup, and more. And in his manliness, he is still not afraid to traipse into the store at the mall and get the goods for me while I'm working.

I don't have to ask for a thing. If I say I'm thirsty, he immediately gets up and brings me a drink. If I'm cold, a blanket. If I'm hungry, a snack. As a matter of fact,if I don't want him to do any of those things, I have to be careful not to think out loud because he does it all without my asking. He even drives mto work and picks me up because the employee lot is quite a distance from the door and heaven forbid I get cold or rained on while walking in. In the winter, when everyone freezes upon exiting the hospital, I don't even have to wear a coat because John is there in front to pick me up, with the car nice and toasty. Seriously, I am that spoiled by him!

And most of all, he makes me laugh. He is nonstop comic relief from the shitstorm. Like the time I had a horrible day at work and he put on my pink Crocs and danced around the living room singing "I Feel Pretty", even though he didn't know all of the words. Or the day I thew out his boxer briefs full of holes. e resurrected them from the trash and he ripped the seams all the way so they looked like a rough version of a bikinis and he puffed out his chest as he came into the room, wearing only them and shouting "This is SPARTAAAAAAA!" And taking a picture of him? Seriously impossible without cracking up. Seriously. So now I am going to close this with some examples.


For cherub cheeks and baby giggles.
For Eyes of liquid brown and sparkling blue.
For children's smiles that can light the darkest of rooms.
For adventures in motherhood.
For healthy boys.

For memories of my mother.

For 10 years in December.
For his ability to make me laugh.
For the strength with which we cling to one another when the times are rough enough to be able to pull us apart.

For my job.
For the patients I am able to comfort.
For being tough enough to endure it when I have done all I can.

For a home filled with kind hearts and warm laughter on this cold, rainy November day.
For good books and warm blankets.
For great cups of coffee at any time of day.

For my yesterdays that taught me so much.
For today with all of the great loves in my life.
For tomorrow and whatever it may hold.

For all of these things, I am filled with gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Yesterday, during Evan's fiasco at the hospital cafeteria, I ran into none other than the doctor who finally put me out of my misery and took Zach by c-section. (That's her in the pic.) And she asked me, now that the ordeal is over, if I wanted to have another baby. I told her I want to try for a girl down the road and she laughed. Turns out one of my OB nurse friends ratted me out. And I said "If it happens...." After all, my children are 8 years apart for a reason and I just don't have that kind of time as the years of my fertility tick by. And she said, "Come see Dr. J when you're ready." Dr. J, in this huge group of high-risk OB/GYN's, is the fertility specialist. I joked that I was afraid I would have to find another practice, and she told me no, that even 6 months later, every one of the 9 doctors will randomly say, "I wonder how Andrea is doing....." And she told me they all loved me, that while my pregnancy was miserable for everyone, they really liked me and it made it tolerable. "We love you, Andrea, " she said, "and we will always take care of you!"
And then she asked me if she coud kiss him, that she wasn't sick. And she did--she leaned in and gave him a kiss on the forehead, and it was so sweet and poignant. After all, Zach's presence here is as much their work as he is mine. I shudder to think of what the outcome could've been without them.

A Donut?

I got called to a patient's room the other night by a nurse who was in a complete panic. So I go. I walk in the room to see 4 nurses surrounding the patient's bed, and immediately hear the sound. Not a wheeze or a crackle. Nope, this sounded like a foreign body obstruction. Stridorous. Horrible. All of the people in the room look like deer caught in headlights. And I instantly take in my surroundings. The room literally looks like a wasteland of half-eaten food. Cookies, a pastry, cups of Jell-o, pudding, applesauce. The one nurse is grasping a suction catheter, which I take from her while asking what the patient had eaten and when. And it went like this:
"Eaten??? Nothing! She's NPO!"
NPO, to you laypeople, is Non pour os: Nothing by mouth. Meaning she isn't allowed to eat. But I can smell bullshit a mile away, and her nurse gets very, very defensive suddenly. So I do my business with the suction catheter, threading it through her left nare and into her throat. Down the hatch I go while asking again. One more chance to 'fess up, but nobody bites. And then I start suctioning food out of her airway that looks, strangely enough, identical to the half-eaten donut on her bedside table.
Mind you, I have suctioned some gross stuff out of people. A whole green bean. A macaroni elbow. Vomit. The worst was shit--literally--from a patient with a fistula between the airway and GI tract. But a donut? With the powdered sugar still intact? Seriously? Of course the nurse was still denying that the patient ate anything, even with the evidence right under our noses.
Until we got the patient to MICU and, upon intubation, found the rest of the donut, the donut's wrapper, and for extra fun, a wadded up tissue In her fricken trachea. But she didn't eat anything.
Only in my line of work...
Speaking of weird airway discoveries: this is why they ask you if you have dentures before surgery/ intubation. And you should learn fom this poor schmuck and tell the truth! (Side note: yep, this was at my hospital. Not on my shift, thank God! A coworker removed the identifying info from the image so there is NO infringement on the patient's right to privacy!)

In Pictures

So my computer has been acting goofy for quite some time. It wouldn't let me upload photos for anything! Well, I temporarily fixed it, though I will need to replace it soon. (Excuse to buy my MacBook, yo?!?) So this is what you've missed over the past month or so.

Exactly 6 months after his birth, taken on November 13 at 1:05 PM.
Zach works on crawling.

Zachy on our first really cool day.

Zach's new-found affinity for the remote control.

This has to be the cutest ear of corn.....EVER!!!!!

Ironman and company, ready for departure. Halloween, 2010.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bribery Backfires

So I mentioned in the last post that everybody got flu shots today. This included Zach, John, and of course, Evan. Zach cried, John didn't. And Evan? Well.....

I had to bribe Evan. First with candy. I know, I know--that is so unlike a Parent-of-the-Year contender. But a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do. And I encounter some pretty serious crap at work, so if there is any way to protect my family from even a teensy bit of it, I'll do it. So Evan is getting this vaccine, come Hell or high water! Of course he proclaimed to the receptionst right away that he would like the nasal mist vax. At which point I had to explain what it is that I do for a living. And she cracked up in amusement at my 9-year-old who even knew there was such a thing. Me, on the other hand? I don't like it. It is live influenza and that gives me the heebie-jeebies when it is being inhaled by my child. Seriously.

So John goes first and tries to amaze Evan with the fact that he didn't cry. Okay, Ev's way smarter than that and so it didn't work. So Ev tells me he will get it if I let him eat the meant-for-afterwards candy bar right then and there. Before we are finished, before we have eaten dinner.....I took the bait and he smiled like the Cheshire Cat until the nurse brought in the tray. As in the tray full of syringes---Zach's 4 immunizations and Evan's 1 little flu shot. This called for more bargaining, and somehow I agreed to let him choose the place for dinner. So the nurse gets ready to give the injection.This is when he chickened out and all bets were off as my oldest miracle squealed and screamed and kicked and cried until we gave in and let him have the nasal mist. If he gets sick from it, I will have the biggest Mom's I-Told-You-So moment in history. After I get him treated, of course.

So later we are loaded in the car, headed to the pharmacy in the hospital to fill a prescription at the pharmacy employees are firmly encouraged to use, when Ev points out that I told him he could pick our dinner spot. Apparently I said "if you get this vaccine" and not "if you get the injection". (Seriously, do not have a smart kid--it just does not pay off in the long run!) So I can't go back on my promise and I let him choose. And he wants to eat at---dunh, dunh dunhhhhh- the hospital cafeteria.

Wait. The what?????? Huh? Mind you, our cafeteria is pretty decent. There's a grill that serves burgers/ fires/chicken fingers and more, a deli for sandwiches, a huge salad bar, a bakery section with cookies/cakes/pies, a pizza station with pizza/calzones/ stromboli, and more. And Evan thinks it is a five-star restaurant. It's okay compared to other hospitals, but not my pick for my nights off. And keep in mind that I will no doubt run into a gazillion people I know who all know I am not at work. What loser eats at work on their day off??? Me, that's who!

So we go, and do so under the guise that I am waiting for a prescription to be filled in the pharmacy next door. While this is true, that is not why I am there. And I run into coworkers-galore, all who ask, "Andrea, WTF are you doing here???" And I roll my eyes and explain. And run into another one--roll eyes and explain. And another one...okay, you get the drift. What I want to say is, "Because my kid is a weirdo, that's why!" But I can't do that because it would be even less Parent-of-the-Year than the candy bar in the doc's office and would likely crush Evan's spirit, as he is standing right there. So I try to make myself as inconspicuous as possible, but Zach has found something amusing on the ceiling and is staring upward while alternating squeals of delight with gut-splitting belly laughs. (Wanna get attention? Have a chubby baby do this in a crowded hospital cafeteria while strapped to Mommy's chest a-la Carlos from The Hangover!) Of course this is occurring at the exact moment Evan decides he wants popcorn for dinner and I cannot find John and Evan gets the damned popcorn and tries to carry a tray with it balanced on there and it teeters and falls to the floor.....So I am standing there, on my day off, with laughing Zach and about-to-cry Evan, a sea of popcorn around/under my feet, and I cannot find my husband. Somehow I doubt that I blended in very well. I am disgusted. I am flabberghasted. I am appalled. And then Evan says something and I want to cry.

"See, Mom! I'm eating dinner at the hospital just like you! Is it better since I'm here with you?"

Oh. Oh my God. At once I wanted to cry and laugh and hug him and kiss him. And I realized that my son loves me. That he's proud enough of me to want to be like me. That he hears everything I say and our trip was less about an adventure in humiliation and more about him making my place of work more tolerable somehow. He had listened all of those times I griped about having to eat dinner alone at work when I would rather be with them. And I felt lower than the popcorn that had crunched under the soles of my shoes, knowing what his choice was about.

I love ths kid more than words.

On Being Caught Up

The past few weeks have been all about the kids. Zach turning 6 months old, getting Ev started with a therapist...

Zach had his 6-month well-child visit today, during which the entire fam got flu vaccines (yes, even Zach). Except for me: I had to either get mine or sign a waiver the first week of October. Aside from the flu vax, Zach got 3 other immunizations. Poor baby! But we also got the good news--there is not a single bit of evidence of his prematurity. He has surpassed his 4-month developmental milestones and his 6-month ones as well. They still evaluate him based on both gestational age and chronological age. For height and weight, he fell somewhere in between the 50th and 75th percentile, compared to the 25th at last check. I cannot believe this since the kiddo is huge to us: 18 pounds,12 ounces and 25 inches long! But we are comparing him to Evan, who was a very scrawny 15.5 pounds at one year old!

As a matter of fact, Zach is so caught up and doing so well that we are nixing the RSV vaccination. He met all of the criteria for it, and we were seriously considering it. On one hand, he doesn't go to daycare and thus is not exposed to other kids, is far from being the frail little preemie, and more. On the other hand, in my line of work, I could easily bring it home to him from work, he really is a preemie despite his size, and he has a big bro in school. Of less consequence to me was the cost ($1500 a shot, and a shot monthly during RSV season) of which I had no idea how much insurance would cover) because I really didn't care if he needed it. But the consensuss is that he doesn't!

So anyhow, I can quit the worrying/ guarding/ counting/ adjusting/ blaming myself that comes with being a mom of a preemie. My preemie has surpassed some of his full-term peers!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Yes, I Do

Want to have another baby, that is.

Not now. John and I have discussed this at length, and we figure in two years' time, all of my sick time and vacation time will have regenerated. My FMLA will be intact once again, and since we are paying $200 per month each to my doctors' bills, hospital bills, and home health bills, Zach's pegnancy will be paid off by then. I will be 35. Not too old yet. And I have time to plan and do some things differently like lose weight and adopt healthier habits. Because when you face a complicated pregnancy, you wonder if any little thing could be the cause of your troubles. What if I wasn't overweight? What if I took vitamins and supplement before I got pregnant? What if, what if, what if...????? Of course the ugky truth is that, with all of the state-of-the-art advanced medical care I received, if there was some factor causing the problems, they would have figured it out between both Evan's and Zach's pregnancies. It is more likely that nothing I can do will make a difference. Having another baby will be a gamble. And will probably result in another late-preterm baby. All I can do is make sure the risk is as calculated as possible.

So there it is. I've blogged about it before, but I had to do some soul searching to be sure that I wanted to do it again for the right reasons. The consensus is that women who have had my experiences often are motivated not by the desire to have another baby, but by the deep-seated desire to have another chance at normal. I had to be sure this wasn't the case with me.

Halfway: Reflections on Zach's First Six Months

Yesterday, our little Zachy turned 6 months old and I was unable to blog about it because my home computer is acting so bizarre that within 5 minutes of turning it on, I am so exasperated that I could scream.

We are halfway to Zach's first birthday. I must have blinked.

I could bore you with all of the milestones reached, but do you really care? Instead I will just say that my youngest son is growing in leaps and bounds. I'm sitting here right now replaying his first six months like a montage in my head. My miracle child. Because not only did I survive the pregnancy, but he did as well. And if I haven't said it before, I will say it now: every single contraction, needle stick, hospitalization was such a small price to pay to be given the gift that is my Zachary. It still amazes me how he fit into our lives so seamlessly. When we are high-strung and nervous, he is content and relaxed. When we are down, he giggles and smiles at precisely the correct moment. When I was overwhelming myself with career and education and goals, he came along to put things into proper perspective for me.

After six months, SIDS becomes much less of a risk. I can now admit that the fear that something would happen to him all but paralyzed me over the past six months. He is just too perfect for this world, and on more than one occasion, I have held him in my arms as the tears flowed because I was just so convinced that he was too good to be true, and surely something was going to happen. I feel like I can breathe now while I revel in the gift I have been given.

I look into his wide baby blues and my sense of wonder at the world around me is renewed. Once again I can appreciate the vivid colors around me, the sights, the smells, the new experiences. And for the third time in my life, I get to know love that is so deep it is almost soul-crushing. As he moves into this next stage of development, I get to show him more of the world. I get to be the one to tell him what snow is or how to rip open the wrapping on his Christmas presents, what a peach tastes like, and more. I cannot wait for any of it. This is parenthood at its finest. We, as parents, get the heartbreak and the tears of child-rearing as payment for the joys we receive when we get to teach our children about the world around them. I firmly believe this.

I am writing this from work right now while my family is at home, sleeping away the night. And in the morning, I will go home to them. To John's Sunday pancake breakfast, complete with Evan's sticky maple-scented kisses and Zach's coos and smiles he reserves only for me--his mommy. And for what has to be the thousandth time in one single morning, I will marvel at how I came to be so blessed. And I credit Zach for the reminder to take it all in, for showing me the gifts that were there all along.

Here's to the next 6 months....

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Don't Tell Him

We have this running joke in my little family. That John got off too easy. My birthday is New Year's Day. And our anniversary is Christmas Eve. He will never, ever be able to forget one or the other, thus saving him from the Doghouse forever. John, you're welcome.

So a coworker was making me rather sad because she is a single mother and for one reason or another, she has just had rotten luck with scheduled holidays this year and has missed out on that time with her kid. So after looking at the schedule and confirming our tentative holiday plans with John, I told her I would help cover her Christmas Eve assaignment. John's mom has 20 days off in a row in December, and so long as I am off for Christmas Day so I can spend time with my family, 4 or 8 hours of work on the eve are not going to wreck anything.

Then two of my coworkers piped up: "Andrea, isn't that your anniversary?????"

Oh. Shit.

Yes it is. I forgot.
My 10-year anniversary, to be exact. A milestone that is a pretty big deal, considering the crap we have endured together. I didn't even think about it because our anniversary always gets lost in wrapping presents and making sure Santa has cookies, in last-minute shopping and stuffing stockings at 2 AM after Evan has finally lost the sleep battle. Somewhere in there, we tell each other "Happy Anniversary". That's it. And that is our fault because we are the ones who got married on a date that would never be about us anymore once we became parents. And so I forgot.

Don't tell John.

Chocolate Ugly Cake

Don't ask me why I thought of this story. I think it was this post I ran across while catching up on my blog reading for the week that made me think about baking.

I do not bake. I can make a lasagna that makes my husband's toes curl, which was genetically shared with me from my Italian mama. (Genetically shared, not taught. She wouldn't let any of us girls in the kitchen because she was afraid we would ruin her kitchen or burn the house down. I left for college in a very confused state over how to make a grilled cheese sandwich. Seriously.) But I really, really do not bake.

John's mom, in her Perfect-Suzie-Homemaker fashion, bakes with the best of them. And she was always making these beautiful concoctions of confectionary architecture that belonged in Better Homes and Gardens. And for the time when John and I stayed with her after Ev's pregnancy ruined us, she would do so for every meal. And while it was delicious, I was so stinkin' jealous.

One day I decided I was going to make dessert for once. I'm a smart person. I figured I could figure it out. There was, however, no way in Hades that I would attempt the "from scratch" part. I enlisted the help of Betty Crocker, but I wanted to make a chocolate layer cake. And so I baked the two round layers. The problem is that nobody told me that you only have to use one box of mix and divide it among the two layers. So I used two full boxes of cake mix. In other words, I made the huge cake. Enormous. Paul-Bunyon-sized. So big that the massive cake server/ saver thingy didn't fit very well over it. But oh, well. Too late to turn back.

So I had to ice this damned thing. And I got the chocolate icing and spackled the layers together (or whatever you call that step). Now it was time to get started on the outside. Usually, my icing jobs look atrocious, so I was pretty pleased with myself when it started turning out nice and smooth. But then something started to happen...

Why in the hell was the top layer sliding off like that, creating this massive chocolate-cake avalanche???? Oh my God, make it stop, make it stooooooooooppppppp! And before I knew what was happening, there was chocolate icing/goo/ sludge all over everything. On my hands and arms up to my elbow. All over the counter. All over the front of my shirt. And my smooth icing job on the outside was having strange things happening to it: huge chunks of cake were breaking off onto my spatula so it was more like I was caking the icing instead of icing the cake.

Turns out you do not try to ice a warm cake. Especially one that large and out-of-balance.

Nothing I could have done would have saved the monstrosity. Nothing. The huge layers slid all over, so that it was hard to slide the lid of the cake saver over it. So it had big hunks of cake clinging to it. It was horrible.

No one would eat the cake.

Except for John. (Thank you, John.)

And Evan was just a newborn, so I was fresh into New Mommyhood. And I started to have visions of Evan trying to take cupcakes to school, and all of the other moms telling their kids, "Don't eat that. That Andrea-person made it!" And I cried. And cried.

And the harder I cried, the more John gushed about how delicious and moist the cake was. And went back for seconds of it. And if I recall correctly, even thirds. And he named it. "Andrea's Chocolate Ugly Cake".

Then and there, one year into our marriage, I knew he was a keeper.

This is why, when a situation calls for it, Evan takes the largest, most pimped-out cupcakes to school.

From the best bakery in Cincinnati, not from my kitchen.

He Strikes Again

At least nothing in my home or near my children was ablaze this time.

Yeah, I'm talking about John. Again.

This time, it was with my money.

I could kill him. Really. (No, not really. Don't call the police or anything.)

It all started with me being assigned to my 12 here at the ER. No cafeteria, no gift shop. Roughing it again. And I forgot. So I call John relatively early to let him know a few things: A. I'm starving and can feel my fat cells being eaten. B. I have no cash. C. Even if I did have cash, what would I do with it? So I tell my dearest all of this and he assures me he is on his way to bring me dinner and singles for the vending machine. Beautiful. Just what I wanted.

15 minutes later, the secretary transfers a call to me. It's John. And it went like this:
John: "We have a problem."
Me: "What problem???? Where are you?"
John: "I have no money."
Me: "Well, I know that! Use the debit card. I left it in your wallet."
John: "Ummmmmm. About that...."
Me: "What is wrong?!?"
John: "I tried, but...."
Me: "What do you mean, 'you tried'?"
John: "Remember when they mailed you that new pin number?"
Me: "Yeah, it's in the lockbox with all of the other banking stuff..."
John: "Well, I forgot where it was...."
Me: "Well, now you know. When will you be here? I'm starving!"
John: "Ummmm. I can't. I went to get cash, but I entered the old pin too many times andtheATMkeptyourcard." (This last bit gushed out as all one word because he knew I was going to kill him!)

Seriously. No money because we are products of techno advancement and just use our magic plastic for every-fricken-thing. I pretty much told him that he made the mess and he had to fix it. How? Well, I made him call friends until he found someone willing to loan us $20 until the morning when the bank opens and I can withdraw enough cash that we can survive for the 2 weeks it takes to get a new debit card. He wanted to know what to tell whichever friend he got ahold of. And I told him to put on his Big Boy Britches and tell them what he did. 20 minutes later, he was here with food, a sheepish grin, and a very red face. But I ate. And Ev now has lunch money for the morning.

Only John.

Taking the Plunge in a Very Planned Fashion

That's it. I'm doing it. Tomorrow morning, when I escape the hell of working the boring ER (I can use that fateful B word without jinxing myself as tonight, I am in the free-standing, slow ER.) I am going to The Hippie Store. And I am going to buy my stash of cloth diapers. I'm still torn between the all-in-ones and the prefolds with covers, and estimate me making up my mind tomorrow when the diapers are right in front of me. Either way, I am going to put them on Zach and we are not looking back. Here we go.