27 February 2015

The End of Car

Ya'll were right, the Focus is totaled. It all comes down to the cost of repairs compared to the value of the car and cars that blow air bags are really dang expensive.

In the aftermath of the accident, which happened one week ago today, I was really, really angry. Every time I felt sore, during the bajillion hours we spent in the ER, when I drove the truck we're borrowing - a 1500 Dodge Ram - for the first time, I was very angry at the guy who hit me (I'll call him AF). I kept wishing much ill upon him whenever I was reminded of our loss, which was constant. Because we only have one vehicle, we feel the loss very deeply. There was a lot of hate in my heart for AF. Every night as I laid in bed, the accident replayed over and over in my head and made me more upset.

We bought our Focus new off the lot in 2011 - just three weeks before we found out Abigail had a serious heart defect - because we wanted something that would be reliable for a long time. Something with warranty that wouldn't need repairs for several years. We hoped to turn it into Matt's commuter car when we needed a bigger family car. We planned to use it until it died of old age. And AF took all that from me with some sloppy driving. I seethed with anger and bitterness.

I needed to forgive AF and get rid of my anger, and I decided I would on Wednesday night. I have a deep water fitness class that night, and coincidentally the instructor was sick and no one else showed up for class, so they let me use the pool for free. I strapped on some ankle floats and went water running for a solid 40 minutes. I yelled at AF in my head. In my imagination, I cussed him out and punched him square in the face. I replayed the accident in my head, except this time he bounced off my car like rubber and went spinning away down the road while I drove away unscathed - Eleanor not even waking up. I told God how angry I was that he allowed my best laid plans to end. And most importantly, I let myself feel. I let the anger, the frustration, the bitterness, and the sadness course through my entire body and I used all that energy to keep my legs pumping. And as I walked back to the giant boat of a truck after class, I had no anger - or energy - left.

During my little heart-to-heart with God, I really came to understand the truth of statement that all we're really promised is the present. That bit in the Bible about us being flowers that wither in a field and all. It's a hard lesson for a melancholic, list-making, goal-setting person like me to stomach. I'm sure I'm going to have to learn it many more times yet. But at least right now, I'm filled with a renewed sense of gratitude and humility.

The car was amazing while we had it - it was a kick-ass deal, reliable, safe, and had great gas milage. It taught me how to love manual transmissions. God gave me all those blessings and when he saw fit, he allowed them to be taken. I honestly thanked him every night for the vehicle Abigail affectionately called Car.

He will send new blessings our way, I'm sure. I'm really hoping he sends us this little gray Fusion I found last night. A few years used, perfectly in our budget, and another manual. My hopes are optimistic, but still patient in the present moment.

23 February 2015

The Photos

Today went way better than expected. The doctor said I look pretty good, and - in the light of day, without the cold and the adrenaline and the crying baby - the car looked better than I remember. We'll get the official word tomorrow, but it certainly doesn't appear to my untrained eye to be a totaled vehicle.

22 February 2015

Day of Rest

Today has truly been a day of rest - for the body and home. The first day of calm after days of swirling storm and likely the last day before more whirlwinds of decisions made and money spent.

On Saturday morning, my left hand was still tingling and Eleanor was particularly fussy and clingy. I could not put her down and she would not even consent to letting Matt hold her. So I recruited family to drive us up to the ER while Matt and Abigail stayed home and coordinated the use of his brother's truck for the next few weeks.

It was a long, very emotionally draining visit to the hospital, as ER trips always are. In short: they quickly determined that Eleanor had no accident-related injuries, but instead some sort of infection. They attributed my tingling to some sort of nerve injury in the neck. They ran tests on us both and put me in a neck brace while we waited for the results. Note: breastfeeding a sore, feverish baby when you have mastitis and are in a neck brace less than 24 hours after you've been in the worst car accident of your life is wildly difficult.

At some point, they decided that my injury was minor enough to not require treatment (and removed the brace), but were concerned about Eleanor. We then sat in that tiny, mostly yellow room for several hours. Hours. In a tiny, yellow room. When they finally returned, they decided that Eleanor was fine, but now I was not. The nurse practitioner said they were willing to discharge her, but she couldn't let me go with my labs looking the way they did. The mastitis was bad, bad, bad and she was willing to admit me to the hospital. She point-blank asked me to consider holding off nursing Eleanor for a few days so she could give me a very powerful antibiotic. We talked for a bit, and because I didn't have a fever, she was willing to entertain the idea of letting me go home. In the end, that's what we did, armed with a strict list of symptoms to look out for. "I'm going to loose sleep over you," she told me before I left. "Have a low tolerance for returning to the ER tonight."

Thankfully I did not have to return to the hospital last night and the mastitis even diminished a bit (my OB/GYN called in a prescription for me on Friday afternoon). There is one hell of a bruise underneath all that redness. But the bad part is that I think an abscess is starting to form. I'm not exactly sure, but Matt and I consulted with Dr. Google and decided that as long as my temps are normal, I'm probably safe to wait until Monday, when I'll call my OB/GYN as soon as they open to explain my situation and get a same-day appointment.

So after Mastitis Thursday, Car Accident Friday, and ER Saturday, I shouldn't be surprised that I finally succumbed to Abigail's cold. The same cold that kept her out of school every day of last week. Because when it rains, it fucking pours.

So today, the day there is no work, no school, and no open auto body shops, we all stayed home. (We figured between everything we had a get-out-of-Mass-free card today). We made it a day of rest - lots of napping, lots of playing computer games, lots of hot compresses. And also a day of preparations - I washed the dishes, Matt bathed the girls, I roasted three pounds of beef in the slow cooker and made a fresh loaf of bread in the bread machine, Matt cleared out the trash. These next few days are probably going to be rather tumultuous. First there are car issues. Gotta call the body shop, gotta call the insurance company. Gotta pick up when the adjuster calls. We'll find out tomorrow if the car is totaled or repairable (I will take pictures and post them) and decide how we want to proceed. Car decisions are so life-changing. My laptop is filling up with sticky notes. Key words to remind me of important things.

Important details have been shmeered to protect the innocent.

The doctor might decide my mastitis/abscess issues require intervention that could either lead to a lengthy afternoon or land me in the hospital for a day or two (that is the nurse practitioner's prediction). It'll be good to have a clean house and a full fridge in the midst of it all.

And chocolate chip muffins. It'll be good to have chocolate chip muffins tomorrow too. I'm taking them with us to the doctor, just in case. 

21 February 2015

Scary Bad News

I got into a car accident today. Yesterday, I guess, because it is 1:26 in the morning and I got hit at 10:24pm on Friday night. He hit me. With Eleanor in the car. We are okay. The side airbags deployed. All the way down the driver's side of the car. Eleanor got in a car accident and she is only nine months old and that kills me.

I have to write. I need to tell someone in order to process this and I've already told Matt a hundred times. I have to tell you. Okay, deep breaths.

It was late at night and very, very cold with strong winds. The road was very patchy, with snow drifts blowing across. I was driving west-bound, he was coming east-bound. When his car got close, he came into my lane. Slowly, smoothly. I screamed. I swerved. There was that sickening sound of car metal smashing against car metal. I looked in the backseat. Eleanor was startled awake, she was moving, a startled cry followed. The side airbags deployed and my car started honking.

I can't get the image out of my head of his car drifting into my lane. His headlights are blazing in my memory. My whole body braced. I screamed.

I climbed out the passenger side of the car. I checked on Eleanor. I called 911. The other driver came over as I was hanging up. I asked him for his name. I asked him what happened. He told me his tires lost traction. They pulled him left. My adrenaline was pumping, my whole body was shaking. My car horn kept beeping, even though I pulled out the keys. I called Matt. Everyone who drove by stopped to check on us. Neighbors came out to offer help. I realized I was just down the street from my mother-in-law's house, so I called. The cops came. They talked to me first. My car was in my lane. His car was down a bit, sideways off the road.

His headlights were round. Bright white with circle yellow running lights on the outsides. I can still see them - out my front windshield. He is too close for his headlights to be in my front windshield. My heart dropped. I screamed.

The cops finally arrived. In a white Dodge charger, red and blue lights flashing my rescue. My hands were so cold I couldn't feel my fingers. It is -30 degrees with windchill outside. The worst night of the year to be in a car accident. The cops took my statement and I loaded Eleanor into my father-in-law's car. They took her to their warm house and rocked her back to sleep while my sister-in-law stayed with me. She talked to the tow truck and gave me her gloves. There was a lot of pain in my fingers and toes as feeling returned to them. Between the adrenaline and the cold, my whole body was shaking uncontrollably. He hit me. With my baby in the car.

He was young. I could hear him as he made his way to my car, "Mom? I got into a car accident." I was so mad at him. This is life-changing. Accidents are life changing. Memories forever etched. Large sums of money paid. Maybe new cars purchased. The airbags deployed all along the side of the car. Not the side Eleanor was on. The driver's side got hit and Eleanor sits on the passenger's side. There were random shards of metal sticking out of my wheel well. Why did he do this to me? I couldn't stop repeating, "I was in my lane. He hit me. I was in my lane. He hit me." How dare he be in my lane? How dare he do this to me? My baby was in the car.

My middle and ring finger on my left hand are tingling. My lower back hurts. I didn't notice until the adrenaline diminished. The complication? I got mastitis on Thursday.

Mastitis. This is my third time getting it. I didn't even know you could get it with a baby as old as Eleanor. I think it's because she went from constant sucking to sleeping through the night so quickly. It totally threw off my body. So anyway, all Thursday into Friday morning I had a fever, chills, body aches, and migraines with pain down my heck. My upper hamstrings where they connect to the glutes would lock up. I started some antibiotics on Friday afternoon, but I still have some symptoms. So I don't know what's from mastitis and what's from the car accident. And what's from being so cold that I couldn't feel my fingers and toes. We are all going to Urgent Care first thing in the morning. Just to be sure. We will have to call family to drive us there because we only have one car and that car is now sitting in a tow yard. But my nine-month-old was in a car accident and that is very, very terrible.

My left arm is starting to hurt. What is from mastitis and what is from getting in a car accident? I knew it was coming. I tried to swerve. I tried to stop the car. I wasn't going very fast. It was not a hard hit.

I am so ... I can't find words. I am buzzing. I feel very thankful. I feel very anxious. I can't stop checking on Eleanor. Babies shouldn't be in car accidents.

19 February 2015


They make me so mad I just want to scream and then they do this and my heart melts.

17 February 2015

Glorious Sleep

Wednesday night - We put the girls down about 6:30pm: Abigail in her room, Eleanor in ours. Abigail falls right asleep without a peep, but Eleanor cries/whines/crywhines for about 10 minutes before falling asleep. At 10 or 10:30pm, Matt and I sneak into the bedroom. Eleanor wakes up almost immediately and begins crying. Matt holds Eleanor while I hurriedly brush my teeth and climb into bed. I nurse Eleanor back to sleep in our bed while Matt brushes his teeth and gets into bed. We don't talk because talking keeps Eleanor up. Matt and Eleanor fall asleep, about an hour and a half later, I fall asleep.

I wake up a lot throughout the night, switching sides with Eleanor who insists on using me as a pacifier for a majority of the night. At one point, I try to put a sleeping Eleanor back in her crib - which is about 4 feet from me - but she instantly wakes up. This is not surprising in the least. I can wear Eleanor down in the sling and pull her out of the sling without waking her up only to have her pop right awake as soon as I put her down. She starts to wail, so I scoop her back up before she wakes Matt and Abigail and bring her back to bed. 

More tossing and turning and intermittent sleep until about 5:30, when Eleanor gets up and starts playing in the bed. I roll over so that I'm on the edge facing outward, forming a barrier so Eleanor doesn't fall out while she pulls my hair and climbs on my pillow and I desperately try to eak out some more Zzzz's. Matt gets up at 6:30am and takes Eleanor with him while he makes his lunch and eats breakfast. I sink into a very deep sleep until he takes his shower. Eleanor crawls to the bed and sits on the floor by my head crying until I get up. I chug a cup of luke-warm coffee.

Thursday afternoon - Move Eleanor's crib into Abigail's room.

Thursday night - Put Eleanor down in Abigail's room around 8pm. Eleanor cries/whines/crywhines for about 10 minutes before falling asleep. Matt and I saunter into the bedroom around 10pm, brush our teeth at our leisure and collapse into bed, totally exhausted. No one moves until 6:30am. Matt thinks he heard a solitary wail at 3:00am, but everyone fell back asleep before anyone did anything about it. I get up with much rejoicing.

Friday night - Put Eleanor and Abigail down in what is now "the girls' room" around 6:30pm. Eleanor cries/whines/crywhines for about 10 minutes before falling asleep. Around 4:30am, I wake up with so much milk, I'm about to burst. I sneak into the girls' room and kidnap Eleanor and bring her back to our bed where I fall asleep nursing her. Around 5:30am, I wake back up to an Eleanor who is thinks our bed is party central and wants to play. I take her back to her crib, frustrated about the pending doom and uncertain what to do about it. I put her down, she lets out one wail and is totally asleep before I reach the door. Completely stunned, I gently close the door and tip toe back to bed. We wake up at 8:30am(!!!) on Saturday morning to the sound of Abigail whispering, "Baybee!" "Baybee!" and Eleanor playing with a rattle.

And that is what happened on Saturday night, Sunday night, and Monday night. The girls go to bed around 6:30pm, Eleanor cries/whines/crywhines for about 10 minutes before falling asleep, then either she gets up or I get her up between 4:30am and 5:30am to nurse, then everyone goes back to bed. When there is no alarm, we get up between 7:30 and 8:30am. It has been years since I slept in that late! Alone, Abigail usually wakes up at 6-6:30am on her own, maybe 7am if she's sick.

I'm still in completely shock. When people told me stories about how their kids slept better when they were in the same room, I was happy for them and wished it could be me, but I was 100% certain that this would fail. That Eleanor would scream and cry and keep Abigail from falling asleep and then wake up hungry at some point and refuse to go back to her crib. I am in ecstasy over our results. It took me a few days to catch up on sleep, but this morning I willingly got up at 7:15! On Sunday, I made it all morning without my standard 8oz of luke-warm caffeine.

I tried almost every single piece of advice people offered and I read in a book. Nothing worked until this "two kids, one room" business, and nothing about life indicated that this would be the solution.

There are still a few kinks to work out though, including adding a few moments of quite family time to the bedtime routine - preferably in the form of a few decades of the Rosary said in a dimly lit room while I nurse Eleanor - in hopes of reducing Eleanor's cry/whine/crywhine time. Nothing like a good, solid routine to calm and settle a kid.

This new situation is glorious - I pray that it's a long-term solution. Not much beats a good night's sleep. It's the express train from "Holy shit, I think I may die" to "Holy shit, I totally have this."


15 February 2015

Link Ups - WIWS and Diaper Bag

While Eleanor sleeping in Abigail's room is still going incredibly well, I'm going to save that blog post for Tuesday. I had tried things in the past that were successful for a few days, so we're going to give Eleanor more time to prove herself before we start toasting victory.

In the meantime, I'm actually going to do two link-ups! What I Wore Sunday and one about what is in my diaper bag. Most of my blog friends do these, but I haven't participated before. As per usual, I'm not actually going to link my blog to the host site, but I included them above in case you'd like to link up your own blog.

First is What I Wore Sunday, although I'm also modeling my diaper bag.

The boots I got on a black friday sale last year for $20 - I got them in the afternoon, no early morning door busters for me. The leggings are lined and were a Christmas present this past Christmas, the black shirt was $2.89 and the pink tank top underneath (which you can't see in these photos) was $.88, both off the clearance rack at Old Navy. The sweater was $15 from H&M, which I bought to wear over a dress for Christmas this year. The chunky necklace is actually a teething necklace from an Etsy shop. And about half way through Mass, I ended up wearing Eleanor in my favorite sling, which I got on Zulily for $40 or $45.

Now for my diaper bag!

So the reason I decided to do "what's in my diaper bag" is because when we went out on a family lunch date yesterday, I saw Eleanor dropping macaroni and cheese noodles in my bag. So this morning called for a full-scale clean-out because the last thing I want in my diaper bag is moldy cheese.

I am in love with my diaper bag. The tote bag I used when Abigail was little wasn't working anymore, and I spent months and months trying to find something I liked. I actually found this one in a baby magazine at the doctor's office when Matt and I were waiting to find out Eleanor's gender. I loved the look of it, so I snapped a picture and did some research online. It was rather expensive, I thought, but after much hemming and hawwing, I finally pulled the trigger. It was $110, but it's totally worth it! And the quality is definitely that of a $110 bag. So what's in it? All this:

A changing pad (that came with the bag); a clutch full of diapers and wipes; a foldable reuseable bag (from the Chicago Public Library); another clutch with wet ones, a first-aid kit, sunscreen, lotion, and tissues; a nursing cover a friend made me when I was pregnant with Abigail (I couldn't nurse Abigail, but I saved it and use it with Eleanor), my keys, pens, cell phone, more tissues, my wallet; a bag to hold dirty cloth diapers; a make-up pouch that I stuff with extra pony tails for me and the girls, refresh cloth wipes, a maxipad, contact refresher drops, nail clippers and nail file, a hair pick, blush, lotion, and body spray; then I have some hand sanitizer, lip stick, lip gloss, a glasses cloth, and a little yellow pouch with Rosary. Phew. That's a lot.

A lot gets stashed in the three pouches in the bag and the pouch on the outside of the bag. The rest is organized in such a manner:

And then packed in my bag with room to spare. I definitely have enough space to throw in toys for the girls, snacks, or extra diapers if it's going to be a really long day.

I also have this handy compass (with thermometer!) that I used to keep clipped to my coat before I had this bag and used a ton in Chicago. I have a really good head for maps and compasses help me get to the place I see in my head.

The bag has a nice, slim profile even when fully packed.

And the location of that elusive macaroni noodle, to which I owe this narcissistic blog post, is still unknown. Adorable little sneak.

13 February 2015

Full Night's Sleep

They did it. Both girls. Slept. Through. The. Night. I woke up this morning feeling like I usually do after my first cup of coffee.

Eleanor finally fell asleep sometime around 8pm-ish and woke up at 6:30am this morning! Matt said he heard her squawk sometime in the middle of the night, but they both fell back asleep before he did anything about it. This is my first full night's sleep since sometime in early 2014 when I hit the third trimester.

I'm trying not to get my hopes up that we might do this regularly, but it's kinda hard. What an awesome way to start a Friday before a long weekend : )

12 February 2015

5 Minute Friday - Keep

Two tired girls, two cribs, one room. We'll see how this goes. So far Eleanor, who was rocked completely asleep before being placed down, is strongly protesting being left in her crib in this new location. But I don't hear Abigail, yet. I need sleep. I need sleep to be a good mom during the day. Breaking. Point. Is. Right. Here. Right. Now.

Parenting comes in waves of "Holy shit, I think I may die" and "Holy shit, I totally have this." Right now I’m in a "Holy shit, I think I may die" phase. (I didn't think that up myself, I got it from funny mom blogger.)

Anyway, I could complain all the live-long day about how both girls have colds and I got two hours of sleep total on Tuesday night and how I burnt the shit out of the cookies for Abigail's class party today and all kinds of other things, but lately I feel like all I do is complain, so instead I'm going to use last Friday's 5 Minute Friday as a prompt for something more positive.


On Tuesday I hosted my first-ever girls' night since being back in Michigan and one of the topics that came up was baby books. Everyone was swapping stories of half-started baby books, scraps of paper staked in a pile in a shoe box somewhere, calendars with notes scrawled on them, promise after promise made to finish everyone's books at some point in time. I remember hearing these same comments, said half-jokingly, half-sadly before I had kids, so when I was pregnant with Abigail, I was careful to learn from my friends' experiences. I chose baby books that were not too daunting, I didn't even attempt scrapbooks, I made a note in my planner on each month birthday to go through the baby book, and so far, I've kept up with both girls. But I realized last night as everyone was talking that really, my blog is my girls' baby books. My blog is my scrapbook of all the places I've lived. It's the place where their silly antics, heart aching medical issues, daily growth is all played out. It'll be six years next month that we've been together, you and me. That's really something. Maybe this year on the anniversary of my first blog post, I should figure out how to download all my posts. I'll save them up, maybe bind them for myself: my own life anthology that I can keep and read when I'm old and gray and I long for the day when I had two tired girls in two cribs in one room.

And thankfully I now have two sleeping girls in two cribs in one room.

09 February 2015


I'm going to try putting the girls to bed in the same room this weekend. I'm not sure how it'll go, although I suspect very badly, but we're going to give it a shot anyway. Eleanor and I are both light sleepers and having her in our room just isn't working anymore. I've tried every single thing I can think of, taken almost every piece of advice offered, and neither of us are getting much sleep. These last two days, Eleanor has woken up at 5:18am (what the heck, child?) and ends up taking her first nap at 7:30am, before Matt even leaves for work. I wonder if Eleanor would even sleep through the whole night if it wasn't for us waking each other up every time we roll over. (Seriously, two nights ago she woke up when I rolled over and refused to go back to sleep on her own).

I still have to figure out the logistics. (Both kids at the same time? First Eleanor, then sneak in Abigail?) I'm saving it for the weekend so that if Eleanor disrupts everyone's sleep, Abigail doesn't suffer at school and Matt doesn't suffer at work.

Speaking of the child we affectionately call Bottle Rocket, she has begun climbing. She'll be 9 months tomorrow. This is something Abigail didn't do until after she turned three. Eleanor also has amazing grip strength and is capable of moving her wrists in ways Abigail still can't. Eleanor's method of getting out of the chair is to simply sit down. She usually misses the seat.

Abigail, the child we affectionately refer to as, "Chickerpeas," (seriously - if you ask her, "Where is Chickerpeas?" she'll point to herself), is doing fabulously well. She's been making significant improvements in speech, she is doing much better at following directions without me having to physically enforce them, and she can balance on one foot while kicking her other leg. She recently had an uneventful visit to the cardiologist, which is an event by itself. The cardiologists always ask about Abigail's overall development and we were chatting about sign language. "Oh, does she have any words?" the doctor asked me. "Oh, yeah. She'll speak in sentences," I responded. Our personalities clicked and the conversation flowed. A week later when I got a copy of the report the cardiologist sent the pediatrician, it read: "The mother reports that the child can speak in sentences." It sounded so sterile. So demeaning. "The mother reports" - a qualifier in case it is found to be false. "Well, it was the mother who said she could do it." Abigail's whole little life written up in sterile reports with technical language alleging what the child can and can't do.

One day a report will read, "Mother reports that the child can crochet. Mother reports that the child made the scarf she is wearing. Mother reports that she would like us to include in the report that she is proud of the child. Allegedly. Of course."

07 February 2015

Frivolous, Little Post

I have a silly little post for you today. The before and afters of my hair.



Not only did I chop (or, have chopped) off a few inches, but I also dyed it (box dye). This is the first time I've dyed in since Eleanor was born, so everything in the before shot down to just below my eyes is my natural hair color. Nothing like freshening up a look in the midst of a dreary winter to boost the spirits.

06 February 2015

Sheer Bliss

This is what sheer bliss looks like. When both kids are napping at the same time and I'm knitting while watching a new episode of Law & Order on a Friday after a terrible week and a rough night's sleep. It's like a kitty cat sun bath.

05 February 2015

The Storm Within The Storm

Teething is really, totally awful. Every morning brings with it a level of dread. The crying. The never ending crying. All day. Crying as she crawls around the apartment after me. Crying in my arms. Crying in the Ergo. Crying while I do dishes. Crying until my ears are ringing and my head aches. I've tried chilled teethers, frozen juice popsicles, Tylenol, teething tablets, teething gel, amber necklaces. It all works a little bit for a little while. I thought once the top two teeth were clear of the gums, we'd get some relief, but just yesterday I saw teeth on either side of the front two teeth just beginning their journey. These long, dark days of constant frustration remind me so much of the days after Abigail's heart surgery. That was harder, but the two situations still have a lot in common. Sometimes in life there is no solution. You just have to keep getting up in the morning. Everyday. Until the storm passes. It sounds really easy, but it's intensely hard. It's all mental and the toughest, toughest battles are the mental ones.

I (obviously) knew things with Abigail were different, harder. I (obviously) knew not having open heart surgery would be easier than having it. And I knew that to some extent, daily things were harder with Abigail, but I didn't know how and since I couldn't explain how, part of me was worried that they weren't. That all kids would be as difficult as her. I always knew I wanted to have more kids, but there were many days when more kids seemed impossibly difficult.

And that's how I feel now. I know I want to have more kids (someday), but right now, Eleanor seems so incredibly difficult that I wonder if I could handle another. For example, she is almost nine months old and sleeps in five hours stretches. The longest she ever slept in her whole life was six hours and she only did that once. Is that normal? That can't be normal. Part of me knows that because when I'm swapping kid stories with friends at parties, the majority of responses my stories get aren't ones that say, "Oh my kid is doing that too."

When I finally did have another kid after Abigail, it was easier. Despite it all, Eleanor is easier than Abigail. For example, Matt and I very rarely ever let Abigail feed herself. She was just too messy. Our friends and family would be like, "Yup, kids are messy! You just have to get over that!" At the next mealtime, I would work up the courage to let her messily feed herself, but as I cleaned up the mess, I vowed that I would never again let that happen. And I totally get it now. Most typically developing kids are Eleanor-level messy. An Eleanor-level mess and Abigail-level mess are two totally different worlds.

Eleanor-level mess?

Abigail-level mess:

No wonder people thought I was crazy for dreading the storm. They were used to just rain. So because of all this, I know that there must be easier children than Eleanor. A friend sent me an article by Dr. Sears to help recognize high needs babies. Eleanor gets an 83%. She hits 10 of the 12 points. She's intense, draining, demanding, awakens frequently, is unsatisfied, unpredictable, super-sensitive, and can't be put down, not a self-soother, and separation sensitive.

The article assures, "you have not failed as a mother even if your baby is miserable much of the time.
This is simply part of his personality." LOVELY!

Some people hate labels, but I love them. The more labels I have, the easier it is for me to understand and find solutions. Abigail is a special needs baby, Eleanor is high needs baby, and I hope and pray to the high heavens that future, someday baby #3 is a regular needs baby.

Oi. Well, I have been using electronic devices while my children are awake and it has officially caught up with me. Thank you for letting me vent. Maybe the force be with...me. Because Eleanor is crying. Again.

03 February 2015

Comforting Rejection

I got another rejection letter about my memoirs. They're "not acquiring memoirs at this time." There is something very comforting about receiving a rejection letter - phew, I don't have to leave my comfort zone yet. My name won't be splashed anywhere. Right now if you Google my full name, not much comes up and I rather like that. No part of me yearns for greatness, but a lot of me yearns to be those parents in the Toyota commercial.

Even though I'm going to make an attempt to spend less time crocheting in order to spend more time writing and reading, I'll certainly always have one project going. Today I started a pair of socks for myself with yarn I bought a year or two ago. The first pair I've ever made for myself, in fact, despite the four pairs I've made for other people. I found the pattern online for free.

Over the years I've learned that when you go to the store in the few days preceding a holiday, I may get the best sale price, but I will have no selection. I let Abigail pick out her own Valentines for her class party next week, giving her a choice between kitties and puppies, holographic wild animals, and Frozen valentines. Guess which one she chose?

I also got some bubbles instead of candy for her to give out to her classmates (the kids eat a ton of sugar at the party and then come home with a treat bag from a few of the other students, so I definitely don't need to be contributing any junk food). At $3 for the bubbles and $1.50 for the valentines, we certainly weren't breaking the bank.

Sorry for the lack of pep in today's post. It was an exhausting night last night, which always translates into a tired day. I'm off to do a little writing with the story cubes. And here, randomly, is what Cat is doing right now as I type away:

01 February 2015

Great Plains Balance

As I lay in bed on Monday night and reflected on the day, I once again knew that I'd spent too much time online, but I finally decided to do something about it. I vowed to myself that I would not use electronic devices when the girls were awake. There would be exceptions for taking and receiving calls and texts (I'm not an excessive texter), looking up a recipe, or playing music. But email, Facebook, news reports? They had to wait until Eleanor was napping or Abigail was in school. I really like the results I got, although it does take a lot of discipline to stick with it.

The entire week was five full days of "one step forward, one step backward" - which is actually a really good thing when your oldest kid is three-and-a-half. It means functioning a level above survival mode. Eleanor has an awful, bleeding rash on her bottom from teething. She's very, very fussy all day long, naps like shit, doesn't sleep at night. One step back. But for the first time in her life, Abigail said, "Mommy? Potty." I took her to the bathroom and she went. #2. Right on the potty. I didn't expect her to repeat the performance again all week (and she didn't), but it was a huge hope-bringer to this Mama, who feels like potty training is something we're never going to accomplish. One step forward. All week long. Stayed on top of the diapers and washed all the clothes, sheets, and towels! Got pizza for dinner. Drank 100oz of water each day all week! Skipped my Wednesday evening swim fitness class. But I'm really satisfied and proud of this week - of how I didn't binge on the pizza, how I paid more attention to my kids instead of staying on top of all the blogs. It was a very tiring week - raising kids is both physically and mentally exhausting, but I feel really satisfied.

I recently finished up a bunch of crochet projects, including a poncho-style sweater for Abigail:

 I didn't use a pattern, I just made it up as I went, but as you can see, it's very simple.

Two gifts, one of which utilized this collection of butterfly specimens:

And this afghan that just finished today (Sunday)!

I love crocheting, but I have a lot of hobbies and not much time to do them. Now that I've gotten this rash of projects done, I'm going to shift it to the back burner in favor of getting my book published and reading more.

As I mentioned earlier, Eleanor's top two teeth are wrecking havoc in our lives. I finally broke down and got an amber teething necklace - I didn't really think it would work, but I was desperate. I would say it took the fussiness down by 30% - just enough edge off to restore some semblance of napping. Teething gel works marvelously, but wears off after at 15-20 minutes. I scoured the baby aisle at Meijer and found some teething tablets that take another 30% off as well. So we're down about 60%, with intermittent break-though pain that results in a very unhappy baby.

One step forward? I got my hair cut! One step backward? I still haven't taken an "after" shot.


Well, that is all I have time for, my friends. Abigail is awake and Matt is reaching fussy baby critical max.