Monday, January 30, 2017

And Finally...Henry Mitchell!!

I fully intended for my last post on this blog to be about Kabo, over 2 years ago. And then 18 days after he died I had Penelope and realized that I needed to add her birth story here, just like I had her sisters. And now that we have had our fourth (!) child, our family is complete and I feel I need to add Henry's birth story here as well. You can't say that the youngest always gets the shaft!

My due date was 9/9/16. It was the Friday after Labor Day weekend. I was sure that there was no way, considering this was my fourth child, that I would make it through that weekend. Our cottage is up a hill from the lake so I knew there would be a fair amount of walking up and down that hill. Surely that alone would put me into labor! Workaholic and I spent the entire weekend in a state of wait. Everyone wanted to know when I was due and when was that baby coming out? Great question!

We compared the wait to being on vacation (not that my pregnancies are vacation...anything but!) and it is the last day and you are waiting on your flight. The fun is over. It is time to head back to the real world. Only our real world was about to be flipped upside down.

We chose not to find out (again) the gender of our baby. We realized after we had Penelope that it is just more fun that way. Sure, it is an agonizing 28 week wait. But it is the last chance for a true surprise in our lifetime. So we waited. And waited.

I went to the doctor on Tuesday after Labor Day. I was mildly annoyed I had to keep that appointment. I was supposed to have had a baby by now. I was dilated to a whopping 2 to 3. But the baby was high. I believe the words "I'd have to reach for your tonsils to break your water" were spoken by my OB. However, he was open to inducing me seeing as how I was DONE. I no longer wanted to be pregnant. I even tried to get into the hospital that night, but the earliest he could get me in was Thursday night. Which meant that unless the baby decided to come out on his own, my fourth child's birthday would be 9/9, the same as his due date. I thought that was cool so we scheduled it. As if I had any other option. (Waiting to go into labor was not an option. The closer I got to my due date the more stories I heard of women who had gone TWO WEEKS late with their fourth child. As I realized later, it is because the fourth child is a genius who knows better than to want to come into the insanity that is household with three older siblings. I'm not sure what that says about me, seeing as how I am #4 and I was 10 days early.)

I spent the days leading up to the induction lying to everyone about if I was in labor or if I was going to be induced and finishing up work at my job. The five business days of the month are our busiest and I figured might as well finish up what I had to do rather than try to hand off mostly completed work. I also had a weird thing about not wanting people to know I was having the baby on Friday. I guess I just like the calm before the storm. Once you have a baby everyone is so excited for you. Which is SO GREAT. It is also pretty exhausting. So I finished my month end at work, packed a bag, kissed my kids good night for the last time as a family of five and headed out the door. We were told to be at the hospital at 10pm and of course we were late. 

I would be remiss if I didn't detail what Workaholic was doing all this time. He was working. As usual he was trying to finish up jobs and odds and ends so he would be able to relax while we were in the hospital and if possible, the first few days after the baby was born. I'm pretty sure three of my kids all planned on being born on Friday (Sam was on Thursday) just so they could spend their first weekend with daddy. As in the past, he also finished up all of his work and dropped me off at the ER entrance so I could head on up to the 7th floor. I wasn't expecting to not be taken by wheelchair this time. I also wasn't expecting that the intake process would be so much shorter since I WASN'T in labor. If you are in labor and go through the ER once the front doors of the hospital are locked it takes FOR-EV-ER for you to get up to the baby floor. This time I was basically waved on and I actually had to go back outside to get Workaholic to join me on the walk upstairs. Which, as it turns out, isn't nearly as long a journey on foot when you aren't writhing in pain and in a wheelchair. 

We got upstairs and were taken to the room I would deliver in. This was also different from the past because they always want to check you before putting you in this special room. I was happy I wouldn't have to switch rooms, that was always a figurative and literal pain. Once settled in (code for undressed and in bed) the nurse came in to check me and see where we were at. My beloved doctor was on call, so he just needed to know where the baby was (high or low) and how much I was dilated. As it turned out the baby was still super high and they felt generous in saying I was dilated to 1. I hate how you can go backwards when you aren't actually in labor. It's just not fair. Due to these conditions it was determined that I be given a pill to "get things moving". I would maybe be given another pill a few hours later, but we were basically told to go to sleep and more would happen in the morning.

When they tell you to go to sleep in the hospital they mean it. But that doesn't mean that they won't wake you up 3 hours later in the middle of a REM cycle to check you again. At that point it was determined to give me another pill...and to go back to sleep. Which I did. I didn't sleep as well this time but time still flew by and the next thing I knew my doctor was standing there. He is a friendly face to wake up to. Again I was checked and again it was determined that things just weren't moving along much so he decided to start Pitocin. At which time I began asking for an epidural. He smiled at me and I said I was serious. Then shift change happened and the best thing ever walked into my room, my nurse Peggy.

Peggy was there with us when Sam was born. She had been called in because they were so busy that day. She was only supposed to stay until 11 but decided to stay with us until the baby was born because she liked us. I think it was because we do whatever we are told and don't argue. While I was in labor with Sam her heart rate kept fluctuating because the cord was wrapped around her shoulder and was compressed every time I had a contraction. Peggy was cool, calm and collected the whole time. When it was time for me to push but we had to wait on my doctor to get back to the hospital from his office she assured us that she could deliver the baby, no problem. But we should wait for the doctor because that is why we pay him the big bucks. She had a point.

So at 8am I was dilated to maybe a 3. Pitocin had been started. Somewhere along the line they had broken my water which was VERY uncomfortable. They had to reach WAY UP THERE. I was feeling fine, not much pain, but I knew it was coming. We hung out with Peggy and joked around and talked about her brother a bit. She was monitoring the baby's vitals and didn't like what she saw. She didn't say exactly, but she started to get jumpy. Saline was started so when it came time to call for the epidural I would be ready. (They make you have a liter of saline in you before they will give the needle.) I texted with my family and let them know I was in the hospital and baby #4 would be coming that day. Around 8:45 Peggy wanted to check me again and he mouth dropped open. "You are at an 8." WHAT? Seriously? (I actually said "seriously?" because I hadn't been in that much pain.) At this point Peggy kicked it into high gear. She called her buddy Amy in to start doing nurse stuff and called the anesthesiologist who she knew was the quickest. She made the comment that she didn't know if we would have time to get the epidural but I think she saw the look on my face and started dialing her phone before I could say anything. She also called my doctor at his office. His response was the same as mine..."are you sure?" She said "Of course I'm sure!" And so he came back.

Fortunately the liter of saline had been administered because the knight in shining armor doctor (aka the anesthesiologist) arrived shortly. He made quick work of prepping my back and even though the contractions were starting to get worse I was able to hold still long enough for him to make the magic happen. After a few minutes I could lay back and say that I was comfortable enough that he could leave. I do love me my epidurals. My doctor popped in to see how I was doing and asked if I had been checked since I got my epidural. Nope, so that was the next order of business. Down she went and the look of horror on Nurse Peggy's face was quickly explained...I didn't even have time to panic. "This hasn't happened to me in 10 years. I reached past your cervix the last time. That can happen when you have a woman who has had multiple pregnancies. You are actually a 3."

"Wait, what? So I'm not going to have this baby in the next few minutes? Oh my. That is weird."

Those were my first thoughts. Peggy was so horrified that I felt bad for her. And to be honest, I had my epidural. I was comfortable. I knew that since I had it I would be progressing quickly. I didn't care that it might take an hour longer than we anticipated. Poor Peggy ran out of the room to shamefully tell my doctor. He came in and smiled and laughed and said he was headed back to the office because we would be here for a while. I told him he might want to think twice because I progress pretty quickly once I get my epidural. He told me to put on my waiting pants. HA! Put pants on. That's funny.

All of this happened before 10am. Doc left and Peggy continued to be unhappy with the results of the baby's monitoring. She put a fetal heartrate monitor on his head so we could get accurate readings. At this point she declared that the baby was being difficult and so she thought it was a boy. The incident with my cervix had clearly left her rattled, but her buddy Amy kept her grounded and another nurse cohort continued to flutter in and out of the room and I continued to chill out in bed. We chatted and I texted a few people. To be honest, knowing that this was the last baby I really wanted everything to be as quiet and peaceful as possible. I put down my phone.

Around 11 I was checked again. Sure enough, I was at a 9. I knew it wouldn't take long. I couldn't wait to tell my doc I told you so. Peggy had Amy check me too just to be sure. There was no doubt. The pressure was starting to get quite noticeable and I couldn't wait for my doc to get there. Once he did I was checked again and we were all set. Five pushes and he was out.

Here is where the surprise came. We didn't know the sex of the baby. Peggy made the announcement that the dad should say what if it was a boy or a girl when he/she made their appearance. So I push away and when you push you are looking down between your legs. The baby is born face up so as soon as he came out I The penis. Wowie-wow-wow. I look at Matt and he isn't saying anything, I am not sure if he even saw. So I say, "Oh my God it's a boy." Matt continued to not say anything. Everyone ooh'd and aah'd. They plop the little guy on my chest and I look up at Matt and say, "Now we have to get a girl cat." (He had promised Charlie that if we had a boy she could get a girl kitten and if we had a girl we would get a boy kitten. He was SO SURE that we were having a girl he figured it wouldn't be an issue because Charlie only wanted a kitten if it was a girl.) And that was one of the first things I thought of when I saw that we'd had a boy. The way my mind works is strange at times.

I think Matt still hadn't said two words. He was totally shocked. His eyes teared up a bit. I hold the little boy on my chest for a long time while I got sewed up. They didn't take him to be weighed and measured, they just wiped him down the best they could and lay him close to me while I was worked on...I always tear a little. It was probably an hour before I said, "Matt, do you want to hold your son?" Even then he declined because the little baby boy just looked so happy and content laying there. I finally made him take him so I could see his face. Such a cute face. At 7 lbs 1 ounce and 19 inches long he was a perfect little guy.  

I know that I should have written this a long time ago because there are so many little details that I have already forgotten. What I do know is that it was a great birthing experience. And while yes, we "got our boy", what we really got was a healthy little baby. That is all that matters.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Introducing Penelope Kate!!

It has been 13 weeks and 3 days since our youngest little girl Penelope Kate was born. I decided it was finally time to share her birth story...but also write it down so I don't forget any more of it.

It was the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. Even though I had been to the doctor the previous Friday and found out I was 3 cm dilated, I had made up my mind that this kid was going to wait until after the holiday to be born. It was either that or stay home all by myself while Workaholic and the girls enjoyed the beautiful weekend to come. Not exactly my first choice. Workaholic had been working even more than usual, trying to finish up some jobs he felt he could not hand off when the baby was born. He had worked full days, overnights, and then another full day without any sleep. I felt really bad for him. Which is why I was so nervous to tell him I was in labor. Besides the fact that I knew this kid was coming just as a nice three day weekend was starting.

So around 4am on the 23rd of May, I woke up my dear husband, about a half hour before his alarm was set to go off. I told him we needed to go. I wasn't in a lot of pain, but I knew that the contractions were starting, and seeing as how this was my third kid, I felt pretty confident in my decision. He hopped out of bed and off to the hospital we went. On the way, he called one of his employees (poor guy) to tell him the news. And to give him instructions for the jobs that this kid was now responsible for. As I was laboring not so painfully in the passenger seat next to him, he talked. All the way to the hospital. And since it was 4:30am, while he dropped me off at the ER entrance. And even as I was checking in, he paced outside the doors while he finished talking. I took my seat in the wheelchair for the long trip across the hospital to the 7th floor. This being the fourth time I have gone to the hospital in labor in the middle of the night, I felt like a confident old pro.

I was taken to one of the aftercare rooms, which is where I had all of my NST's done. It is smaller than the delivery rooms, and I knew that they would check me and then walk me down to the actual room I'd be in for the big event. The nurse seemed a little...shy? Unsure of herself? Maybe just quiet? I think I shocked her when I just dropped my pants to the ground in front of her and hopped up on the bed. At this point I asked her to call the doctor on call and the anesthesiologist. She checked me and I was still at a three. She asked me my pain level, which I gave as a three. Which was a lie because it wasn't even that bad. It was more discomfort at this point. I realized later I SHOULD HAVE LIED MORE.

She wandered off to call the doctor on call to tell him about me, and I was excited for my epidural. This was going to be cake. Workaholic sat down on a couch and looked at me and said, "Well, what do we do now?" I said, "She'll come back and move us, so don't get comfortable." HA!

When she came in a few minutes later, I could tell that the contractions were starting to intensify. She said that the doctor on call wanted to "monitor" me for an hour. (The thing is...I know damn well that doctor is sleeping down the hall. The hospital had recently enacted a policy where an OB-GYN had to be in the building 24/7/365.) Keeping this in mind, I figured that if it got worse I could just tell her to go wake him up and order the damn epidural. So I said "OK" and she asked my pain level and then wandered off again. I SHOULD HAVE LIED.

Within a half hour, my labor was really starting to intensify. The back labor was starting. I had not mentioned it before to the nurse because I really hoped I would not have it this time around. She came back to check on me and I again asked for the epidural. She paused, and said, "Well...he really wanted to monitor you for an hour. What is your pain level?" Again, I SHOULD HAVE LIED. As she left the room, with no intention of waking the doctor, I looked over at Workaholic, started to cry and told him. "This is going to get bad."

I'm going to go ahead and blame lack of sleep and his feeling that he is not an expert in birthing babies as to why Workaholic didn't jump up then and chase down the nurse. Actually, I might have made him, I can't remember. When she came back she could tell I was in more pain, and when I told her back labor had started, she said "oooh." She checked me, I was at a four, (only a FOUR??) and she proclaimed that I could now be moved to the delivery room. WELL NO SHIT. I never had an intention of leaving that hospital without a baby...I should have made that extremely clear from the beginning.

I again asked for the epidural. By this time it was 6am. I knew shift change was coming. And so did my lovely nurse. She put me off by saying, "Well, we have to get you set up and get a liter of fluid in you before you can have it." By 6:50, shift change was happening, I was in MUCH more pain, and two lovely young ladies came in to be my nurses. One was shadowing the other, she was a new hire to the hospital, but had been a labor nurse before. I took comfort in that there were two of them. I listened as the night nurse rattled off my case to her and heard her mention the epidural. The comment was "We can wait for her doctor to order the's only ten more minutes."


Hold up.


The doctor didn't know I needed my epidural NOW???? After I am obviously in pain, dilated to a four, and have asked for it multiple times? You have got to be fucking kidding me. If I had not been in the middle of a contraction and unable to speak I would have started screaming right then. Once my 2nd contraction passed, (Yes, I have contractions two at a time instead of just one before I get a break. So that is just awesome.) I asked the nurse again for the epidural. I'm not sure what happened at this point, it all is blurred together. All I know is at some point I was checked and I was at a five or six. WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE GODDAMN ANESTHESIOLOGIST???

I remember when they said that he had arrived and was getting his drugs together. After an eternity, they said he was mixing the drugs. I think at that point I looked at the clock and it was shortly after 8am. After another eternity I heard him wheel his little drug cart into my room to help me. I could not look at the clock since I was sitting on the side of the bed anticipating his arrival. I was also too busy trying to crawl up the bed on my hands and knees in an attempt to run away from the pain. Since I was in full blown labor with two-at-a-time back contractions, I had a little problem holding still for him. I guess he got annoyed because the nurses assured him that I was indeed having a contraction. But then, finally, FINALLY, he was able to stab me in the back with a needle and put an entire roll of tape on my back so it did not fall out.

I should mention that at some point in the past hour, I had realized I needed to poop. Like, REALLY poop. The pressure was unreal. I was assured that I would still be able to feel the pressure once the epidural kicked in. And I could. I knew that nothing was going to take away that feeling. Except either pooping or having a baby. After a couple of minutes I asked the anesthesiologist if he went into that particular field because he knew that he would be the most popular guy in the hospital. He smiled. Everyone else laughed. I thought it was hilarious. I love anesthesiologists. They are my knights in shining armor.

A little bit later the doctor showed up from his office and asked if he had time to change clothes. Everyone said yes...but I was thinking "I really really need to poop." When doc got back, I asked if I could push. Since I really couldn't tell when I was having a contraction, I just decided to push. And I just kept pushing until I ran out of breath. I actually ASKED if I could take a break and everyone was like, "Yeah...whatever you need." It was during that short break that I heard my doctor say ever so quietly "meconium". I knew exactly what that was...and I knew this kid needed to get out of me, and fast. So one more long push and Penelope was born!! (For those of you not lucky enough to know what meconium is when the baby has a bowel movement in the womb. Breathing in that poop can be fatal.)

And then there was silence. She was whipped off to a team of three nurses I had not noticed slip in the door. They worked on her in the warming bassinet a few feet away from my bed. I switched my gaze between my doctor working intently on me and at Workaholic as he stared at Penelope and the nurses. They kept saying reassuring things.... "Oh she's beautiful, Oh she's going to be OK." and phrases like that. There were suctioning sounds and a loud smacking sound as they whacked her with this soft hammer thingy. I wondered why my doctor wouldn't look up from what he was doing. I didn't think that was a good sign, then reminded myself that he was not a pediatrician. I asked how much she weighed and they couldn't tell me because they were still working on her. Eventually I heard a little squeak. And then another. And then another. What a great sound...that little squeak.

My parents and Workaholic's parents and Sam and Charlie and our nanny came and visited while I just laid in my bed relishing the fact that I was supposed to be doing nothing. It is seriously the greatest feeling in the world. Well, that plus the epidural. And, as it turns out, there was no need for me to be nervous about Workaholic and his work since he had finished everything he needed to do the day before. Cue the burden lifted off of his shoulders. 

The next two days were fantastic as I stayed in the hospital with a baby who never cried and slept all the time. Plus, even though the food kind of sucked, it was delivered, so I can't complain. And Workaholic stayed with me the whole time. While we did leave the hospital with a name, it did take a day and a half for us to decide on Penelope Kate.

At 7 pounds 15 ounces, she is my biggest baby so far. The first two weeks she was the easiest newborn on the planet. As soon as I declared that on Facebook, she decided to do an about face and start crying. She cried for roughly the next 9 weeks or so. A combination of gas, reflux, constipation and sister torture turned out to be the cause. Poor baby. While I did switch her formula, I think that the biggest contributors to her current success were gas drops (BEST THING EVER) and probiotics (ALSO BEST THING EVER). Basically, drugs that help her fart and poop. This is my life now. 

At 13 weeks exactly, she realized that all the cool kids sleep through the night. Which means that she has been sleeping 11 hours straight for three days now. Keep it up kiddo!! Now that she is sleeping a lot more, Sam is in kindergarten(!!!), Charlie will be starting preschool next week, and I am back to work...well, the whirlwind continues. I'm trying to learn to slow down and take a deep breath. And not yell at the kids so much. Even when Sam argues with every. single. thing. I say. And touches the baby when she is quiet and makes her start crying. But Sam does have a magic touch sometimes where she sings and dances and Penelope stops crying. That part is amazing. All in all, having three girls is pretty blissful right now. I seriously, honestly, truly cannot imagine my life any other way.     


  This is when she was still the easiest newborn that ever lived.


Monday, July 28, 2014

My Final Farewell to the Best Dog Ever

From the time I started this blog 6 years ago, I knew that there was one post I would have to write. Probably one of the hardest posts I would have to write. Because the thing about animals is...they die before us.

The last week of April Kabo slowed down considerably. My father-in-law even commented that he "was on his way out the door". He barely ate, rarely got up from the bedroom floor, and obviously was just not himself. I told myself that he IS a 14 1/2 year old dog. But I knew something more was wrong, I just didn't know what.

The following Monday I took him to our beloved vet and she confirmed a kidney issue. So he was super dehydrated. I got blood work and x-rays and a urine culture done, then meds and fluids and went home.  I was cautiously optimistic, because Kabo had beaten every other injury or sickness that he'd ever had. Not that there had been many, but there had been a couple. Besides, this is the best dog in the world...he will never die. Even so, I texted Workaholic and told him the situation, and then mentioned that I had always wanted a family picture with him and I, Sam and Charlie, Kabo, Kale and Sampson. Just the seven of us.  I thought nothing more of it. 

Later in the afternoon on Monday, I had one of my weekly late pregnancy appointments with my baby doctor. When he asked what was going on, I casually said that my dog was possibly in kidney failure. His eyes got wide and said "You too?!" His 7 year old Bernese Mountain Dog had succumbed to kidney failure not too long before. I asked him for the story, and he hesitated before detailing out her symptoms and behavior and what the vet told him. And when he told me that she was gone about a month after diagnosis, it hit me that everything he had just said was just what I heard at the vet and observed in my own beloved Fonz. I left that appointment feeling dejected, but not hopeless. Each day that week, twice a day, I hung up 2 liters of saline on my living room ceiling fan and Kabo laid underneath while the fluid created a bubble under his skin. He perked up, but still refused to eat unless it was soft food out of my hand.

Friday morning came, and it was his follow-up appointment. We were going to do more blood work to see if his function had improved, and also get the results of the urine culture. As I stood in the almost-scalding hot water in the shower, I realized that he was REALLY sick. As in, not recovering kind of sick. I'd had my doctor's story in the back of my mind all week, but the reality of the situation hit me that morning. I began to cry, and I cried and cried and cried. Finally I was able to finish my shower in time to leave for the appointment. The closer I got to the clinic, the more dejected I got. The tears began again and I could not stop them. I didn't even try this time, just wiped them away enough for me to see where I was going.

The actual appointment is still a haze. Two different doctors came in to talk with me, confirming kidney failure, showing me his results and cautiously offering medication and options. I took the medication and enough saline for the weekend and promised to come back on Monday. But not before looking into my vet's kind, wide eyes. The eyes said everything. He was not going to recover from this. Again I broke down. I had never actually thought that this would be the way he would go. I thought I would have more time. I thought it would be cancer, and I wouldn't have to say good-bye so quickly. As I sat crying on the floor of the exam room I knew I needed to call my BFF and ask her to come and visit us on Monday. She is a vet, and could do the euthanasia at home. That is one thing that I always knew, he would be home when he passed. He would be with me. He would not go alone.

I had changed Kabo's grooming appointment for the following week to later in the day Friday. I was taking all precautions, and he was smelly and dirty from soiling himself while laying down. He knew he was filthy and it affected his mood. I dropped him off and warned them that he was in kidney failure and probably had not much time. As in...three days. They called several hours later, waaay after I thought he would be done, to tell me that they could not give him his regular summer cut. He could not stand long enough and kept urinating all over the table. I choked back my sobs as I asked if they were at least able to bathe him. "Oh yes", she assured me. So I gathered everyone in the car and headed to pick him up. We were headed straight to the lake from there. Workaholic had surprised me and booked a photographer to come to the cottage and take family pictures on Saturday. I didn't even ASK him to do it, he just did it because he knew that was what I wanted. And there was no more procrastinating. It was now or never.

The same dog who could not stand on the grooming table long enough to be shaved stood the ENTIRE DRIVE to the lake. A solid hour and a half. As he stepped out of the van, I couldn't help but admire him. His blond fur was clean and soft and his eyes reflected the feeling that he knew he looked good. He held his head high and wandered off to do whatever it is he does when he first gets to the lake. I continued the fluids that night and the next morning, and then went outside to meet the photographer, who knew the situation. We immediately did the family shots, then released Sampson from the grip of a happy 3 year old. We did more shots with just me and him, him and the girls, shots with Workaholic and the girls, and shots of just the girls. It wound up being a lot more than I expected, but was pretty happy with the shoot. I knew he was a little low on energy, but I had to take what I could get.

Sunday was not a good day for Kabo or me or Workaholic. We went home and I did more crying. I stopped the saline, there was really no point now. Workaholic fed him a lot of bacon and some other human food, went to bed and I cried myself to sleep. I just kept telling myself that I could not believe that this was it. This is what I had been dreading for 14 years. I did not sleep much and figured out the logistics of when the girls would be gone and when they would be home and when we would do the deed. Monday morning slowly rolled around.

It was any other day as far as my kids were concerned. We had been prepping Sam that Kabo was very sick and might die. Understandably, she did not want him to die. He was HER dog. She had known him since she was little, and he used to make her laugh. When we went for walks, she was the one to hold his leash while I corralled Kale and pushed the stroller.Of all the constants of her life, he was one that had always been there, since the beginning. Never changing. Always there.

Workaholic and I sat with him for a long time before we let him go.I could not stop stroking his fur, burying my face in it, taking in his signature smell. I've already forgotten what he smelled like. We talked to him, I assured him it was OK, it was time and I knew that. It was time for him to go to the Rainbow Bridge and be healthy and happy and run and jump and play again. Like he did when he was young and strong. And then he was gone.

My BFF made the comment that he had held on for me. It's true. I never imagined he would live to see me have three kids. He fell a couple of weeks shy of doing that. As much as Sam knew that he was always there for her, for me truer words had never been spoken. From the very beginning, when Workaholic and I were seniors in college, he was my boy. We roller bladed together, all over campus, time and time again. I took him to the local parks that were wooded trails that all said to keep your dogs on leash and I let him off of the leash. We practiced and practiced how far he could go and when he had to come back. When I graduated, I decided to buy a house with a large yard so he would have room to run and play. When we moved to Florida, we didn't go with a condo near the beach; we bought a house with a fenced in yard and a pool. When I lived at my parent's house, he lay in the back yard for hours upon hours, looking out into the darkness. Watching, listening, protecting. He rarely wandered out of the yard, but was brought home once by a very nice lady. I took him every day I could to the job site of our new house, and when the sod was finally laid down, I have never seen a happier dog. He raced in circles and rolled in the soft grass, so happy that the hard clay and mud were gone. I made him endure a dozen foster dogs, the birth of one child, then another, then introducing a cat into the house, and finally a puppy.

Through it all, he stayed near me. Not necessarily by my side, but he always knew where I was. He would lay near the bedroom door so he could see me in bed and also look down the hall, guarding us. His favorite spot was at the top of the stairs, where he could see out the windows down the street of our neighborhood. He'd sit in the landscaping at our house, and was so quiet and still that neighbors walking their dogs didn't notice him. He would stare down the street, waiting for me to come home. He always seemed to know his boundaries, I rarely had to have him on leash. He just wanted to be near his mom.

He was an AKC Canine Good Citizen and everyone who met him loved him. His soft fur, his gentle demeanor, his quirky antics. His obedience. Even people who do not like dogs liked Kabo. They knew that where I was he would be close behind. The ones who were around when he was a puppy don't even remember his high energy, the energy I had to harness in again and again so as to not piss people off. He could swim in the lake for hours. We often let him out and forgot about him. When we'd go looking for him in a panic, there he would be, digging for rocks in the lake in front of our house. He so loved digging for rocks. Even if he did not know what to do with them if he actually got one in his mouth. He just loved the water.

That high energy pup matured into the absolutely perfect dog. Sure, he only came when he knew I was serious; and he thought "fetching" was actually more of "chasing and not bringing the ball back." As he got older and more frail, I watched with joy when he got his little bursts of energy and ran circles in the yard or wrestled with Kale. He still loved to catch snowballs and he LOVED last winter, with all the snow. How appropriate that the snowiest winter was his last. He'd stay outside until he could not walk because of the ice and snow packed into his paws. To him, snow was joyous fun. And you couldn't but help catch on to his enthusiasm.

I know he left me 2 weeks before I had Penelope because he knew what I could handle. He knew that he had surrounded me with enough people to love me and support me through whatever life threw at me. He didn't need to be here on Earth anymore.But I sure am happy that he was here for 14 years. He helped shape who I am today. He will forever live in my heart and my soul.

To my Kabo...I'll see you again when the time is right. I love you. 


Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Reasons Why It Is OK to Love Frozen

The other day, my unmarried and childless brother-in-law asked me what is so great about the movie Frozen. Even he had heard aaaallll about it, and thought that they were making seem like it was the best Disney movie ever made in the history of ever. After getting over my annoyance that he interrupted one of my favorite songs that I was singing along with, (just kidding! Not really.) I decided that I needed to put some serious thought into it. Why IS this movie so great? I mean, it’s a typical Disney movie with princes and princesses and drama, right? Right??
Well, not really. I mean, yeah…I am the mom of two girls who are at the perfect age for target marketing audience for this movie.  We have almost every other Disney princess movie in our house. But there has to be something to THIS movie, a sparkle, as to why my girls have been playing Elsa and Anna for a solid two months. Why they sing the songs without even realizing they are singing, how they know ALL the moves to each and every song in the movie (even if that move is just lying on the ground with your feet propped up against a wall).  And how every throw blanket in my house has now become a cape, and the name Hans makes them physically angry. There has to be a reason when I hear the lyrics to “Let It Go” I literally cannot stop myself from singing along. And possibly throwing in a little arm gesture or spin at the end of the song.
So here is my list as to why Frozen is better than other Disney movies.
It is about the love between two sisters. THIS. IS. HUGE. Sure, there is a prince thrown in there and another cutie pie who is the honest goods. But really? It is about the journey one sister goes through to save her other sister. And is the one who winds up getting saved in the end. Not to ruin it for you, but there is no wedding at the end with a deep passionate kiss that makes everything OK. It’s a little grittier than that. But in a very beautiful way. This movie is one example I will forever use when my girls are hating each other.  It's OK to be pissed, but always have each other’s back.
There is an awesome conversation that starts with “Who gets engaged to someone they just met that day!?” A complete and total challenge to every other Disney movie made in the history of Disney movies. There is a great scene where Kristoff proves just how awesome he is by not only fighting off wolves while driving a sleigh through the forest, jumping a canyon and saving Princess Anna, but also questioning her repeatedly about her recent engagement. In a way that makes her decision seem completely irrational. Which it was. And I’m OK with my girls thinking that. PLUS, older sister Elsa puts the smack down on the engagement too. So it is two-against-one. Hans doesn’t count, he just doesn’t.
Frozen is funny. From Anna talking to statues and paintings to the little boy whose fault it isn’t that it is coronation day, to the Nordic guy who runs an outpost and spa, to all the other little jokes thrown in. You know that Disney writers have fun when writing movies like this. Parents appreciate it, makes it a bit more tolerable.
The songs are good. You’ll giggle at silly Olaf and just flat out belt out “Let It Go” with Elsa. You’ll find yourself humming “Do You Want to Build a Snowman” every time you hear three knocks. (Which is pretty often in my house since the girls are re-creating that scene on a daily basis.) Even Kristoff’s stupid 30 second “duet” is hard to ignore.
Not that this is good…but BOTH parents die. Disney finally got over its mommy issues in Tangled by letting the parents live, and the theme continues for a little while in this movie.  In the beginning, Anna and Elsa are happy little princesses with two doting parents. Who then DIE in a storm at sea. A lot of little kids probably don’t even put two-and-two together. Don’t worry, mine did and didn’t seem to care much. I guess letting Sam watch Bones wasn’t such a huge parental mistake after all.
It teaches little girls a hard lesson. That a guy can seem to be good and wonderful and the total package and youjustdontunderstandmomitmustbetruelove!!! And then they laugh in your face and leave you for dead. Literally. Not everyone is who they seem. Some people are a whole. lot. worse.
And the final lesson… Everyone is a fixer-upper. People make bad choices if they are mad or scared or stressed. No one is perfect. Throw a little love their way and you’ll bring out their best. (True) love conquers all.  
And THAT is why Frozen is the best Disney movie ever. Well…I suppose that is subjective. But in my house there are two little girls with that very strong opinion. Anna and Elsa are even better than Belle. And that is something I never thought would happen.

Monday, March 17, 2014

8 Awesome Things About Having Girls

Something has been bugging me lately.

I read a lot of "mommy blogs". Like, a lot. And usually they offer great tips and insights on raising kids, or tell great stories, and generally make you feel better about the job you are doing as a mom. You may not always agree with what the writers have to say, but they are allowed to say what they want to, and whether or not I agree is really irrelevant. Either way, I click off the blog and go on with my life. My life as a full-time working mom with two daughters. 

Recently, a lovely mother posted a video where she was singing about raising boys. And how great it was. And then other blogs popped up, 10 Great Things About Raising Boys9 Reasons I'm Glad I Have Boys, 8 Reasons I Love Having Sons. Just go to and search "having boys". I began to get curious, where were the blogs about girls? If you seach "having girls", most of the same articles about having boys come up! Girls are great to raise, I mean, I should know, I have two of them and they are pretty fantastic. And since it is entirely possible I will soon be a mother to not one, not two, but three little girls, I thought that maybe I would be qualified to write a list as to why girls are great. You know why I would need to write such a blog? Because I found ONE blog about the good things girls add to parents' lives. Seriously? Really? All I could find were how-to articles about what you need to do to raise your girls. Things that you must instill in them and things you should not do or say in front of them. All in all, it makes raising girls sound horrific and terrifying and that anyone doing it deserves the utmost sympathy and possibly sainthood. ESPECIALLY if you have more than one. DEFINITELY if you have three or more. Poor, poor people who have girls.

While I am all for gaining sympathy and am certainly excited about sainthood, it's kind of depressing to see blog after blog proclaiming the wonderfulness of raising boys, which inadvertantly point out the difficulties in raising girls. Because, like I said before, girls. are. awesome. Boys are dirty, pee everywhere, and have ugly clothes. So there.

BUT, back to girls.They are great, and here is why.

The Clothes
Shopping for a little girl is so. much. fun. Pink dresses, little white carnigans, patent leather shoes, matching outfits for every day of the week. Red pants with a T-shirt with a strawberry on it, green pants with an adorable Irish saying on a long-sleeved blouse, purple striped pants that go with an assortment of sweaters. For two years I got to dress Sam up in the cutest outfits. I never really had to do her hair because it took so long to grow out. Pop a sparkly barette in and call it done! Dressing your daughter to look like the cutest thing ever to breathe on this planet is definitely one of the highlights of having a baby girl.

Sam was not quite two when Charlie was born. By the time I returned to work after maternity leave, she was pretty adept at dressing herself. She could pick out pants, shirts, socks or shoes. And get them on. Right side out. And not backwards. No matter that they did not match. She was dressed, one less thing for me to do. With two under two, I took all the help I could get.

Often they potty-train earlier/easier
When it came to potty-training, we did not push either girl, because quite frankly, we were sort of busy. And didn't feel like fighting with them. We showed them what to do, explained the process, and told them there would be prizes and candy and dancing once they did the deed. And one day, I heard the toilet flush and Sam came out of the bathroom pulling up her pants. With Charlie, we tried a litlte bit harder, cajoling her and bribing her and finally resigning to the fact that she would do it when she was damn well ready to. After a brief stand-off with her father a couple of weeks after her third birthday, she did it. And that was that. Potty training? Check.
The greatest thing about girls and pee?? IT STAYS IN THE TOILET.

They are handy to have around
The majority of the time, children are raised by a female. Whether it be mom or a daycare worker or a nanny, generally the nuturing child care provider role is filled by a woman. And little girls often like to emulate their caretaker. Whether this baby I'm carrying is a boy or a girl, I know that both Sam and Charlie will be clamoring to help. Sam has already told me that she can change pee diapers. Charlie is great about helping with the animals if I have my hands full. Even though I have two kids already, I am actually much less terrified about having my third than I was about having my second. They are older and can be my slaves, earn their room and board, I mean help around the house. They already do (laundry anyone?), and I know that having a small sibling will assist me in teaching the girls how to be productive, responsible adults.

Girls are just...FUN
Face it moms. You are a girl. You like to do girly things. Those things are fun to you. Watching Disney princess movies, doing hair, painting nails, shopping, playing dress-up, and dancing in the living room are fun for your girls. And while nail polish on the walls is sort of inevitable, shopping can be infuriating (NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE A NEW TOY OR THOSE SHOES. But OK, the headband is super cute, you can have that.) and doing hair will become the biggest battle of wills that ever existed,


Monday, January 20, 2014

Good Start

I always say around January 1st that I want the new year to be easier, and more simple, and generally less stressful. Did I tell ya'll that I am prego with baby #3? So much for less stressful.

We moved into a home that has a full unfinished basement. Currently, the girls share a room and the other bedroom is used for a playroom. That room will be the nursery for the child which is due to arrive May 25th. In order for that to become a nursery, all the toys in there, (the ridiculous number of toys) must be moved to the basement. In order for that to happen, the basement needs needed to be cleaned. All of our shit from the old house was is down there, scattered about in piles of boxes that used to make sense. And THAT my friends, is what we did last weekend. While I spent six hours running errands in the snow on Saturday, Workaholic spent six hours reorganizing the basement. Making piles of trash and piles and piles and piles and piles of boxes for me to go through. He had already built a storage units worth of shelving down there, so many of the things that he knew did not need to be gone through were already organized neatly on the shelves.

On Sunday, I spent another good six hours either standing or sitting on the floor going through boxes and repacking boxes and making more boxes of things to be taken to the Salvation Army. Workaholic spent another 2-3 hours putting his OCD to rest and moving things around some more. And at the end of the day, we have a space that is ready for a gazillion toys and currently has enough room for the girls to ride bikes. My new favorite phrase is going to be, "Go play in the basement."

Once we get the toys to the basement we can move the furniture that the girls are currently using in their bedroom to the nursery, since that was its original intended use. Then we can paint and set up the beds and dresser I got for the girls and OMG...we will have a place for all the children to sleep!! There is still the matter of the five boxes in my room that need to be unpacked and pictures that need to be hung and the Christmas tree needs to come down (yes it was real and yes it is now dead) and newborn shit to be unpacked and washed and probably there are things that I need to buy. BUT THE BASEMENT IS CLEAN.

Let's all sing the praises to my ridiculously hard working husband. And also to the show Chuck, which has been playing in my house for two days now and keeps his brain busy enough to not go crazy in the silence but not too busy to keep him from working. 

And January isn't even over yet!!!!  

PS No, we are not finding out the sex of baby numero tres.

PPS Yes, we have noticed that it is due on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. Yes, I do hope/plan to go into labor a tad early so as not to ruin anyone's (Workaholic's) weekend. 

PPPS I am kidding about ruining the weekend. Sort of.     

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life As We Have Known It

I was talking to a friend recently and she commented how she couldn't wait for 2013 to be over because it sucked. Just a lot of commotion and not enough joy. And that is exactly how I feel. It seems when I reflect at the end of the year I always think of the bad things and how I want the next year to be better. Which I guess is sort of human nature?

I was super duper looking forward to selling our house this year that we had been in for 9 years. And WE DID IT! Do you know what happens when you sell a house that you have been in for any length of time? You have to pack. And there is so much packing that in order to do it properly you should take your time and think about it and sort things and be practical and get rid of things. Since Workaholic and I are champion procrastinators, you just know that didn't happen. Packing up a 4100 sq. ft. house into boxes sucked. Especially since the house was empty when we moved in and it was FAR from empty when we moved out. Workaholic wasn't (isn't) quite as willing to part with certain things like I was (am).

For example, all the furniture we inherited or took in as hand-me-downs so we could fill our big new house? He wants to keep. Or not just give away. I say, "Let's become Craigslist's best client." Bedroom furniture, office furniture, living room furniture, rugs, toys, bedding sets, and more I would be happy to part with in a big fun bonfire. I know it sounds stupid, but I'd rather not have a matching bedroom set of dressers that I don't like than have mismatched pieces of furniture that I do. AND, as it turns out, Workaholic and I have quite the different taste in...well, everything.

As a result, the story-and-a-half much smaller house that we bought has things in it that I really like. And a basement full of crap that I don't. Don't get me wrong, there are also things down there that I like. Kitchen gadgets that don't fit in our new cabinets, kid's clothing, Christmas decorations, Halloween costumes, fine china, and toys that I swear we'll bring out and the girls will play with them. Then there are other Workaholic's dozen boxes of paperwork on I-have-no-idea-what, boxes of wires that belong to electronics that don't exist anymore, and OH-EM-GEE THE EMPTY BOXES. We have at least 20 LARGE cardboard boxes that are piled into a corner. This does NOT include that pile of broken down cardboard boxes that are in the same corner. There are also random assorted piles of wood and tools and sawhorses and electronics that actually DO work. And let's not even talk about the boxes (that I packed) of meticulously packed toys that were no longer played with that were unceremoniously ripped open and the contents tossed all over the basement. I walk down there and it is so overwhelming I just turn around and go back up the stairs.

Common sense and a host of hoarders experts would say that you take the big project and break it down into small projects and tackle them one at a time. A while ago I found out I have this lovely personality flaw trait called the "all or nothing". Which means if I don't think I can do it immediately and do it perfectly, then why even attempt to do it at all? I've been this way as long as I can remember and I have no idea how I graduated from college. With a somewhat decent GPA. Almost the only time I can get any type of large project done is when Workaholic is there pushing me. His unending energy and relentless desire to get everything done (and done perfectly) makes it almost impossible to just sit around. Not to say that I work as hard or as long as he does, but at least I do put in some time and energy and amazeballs, I get shit done!!

Our new home has very few decorations hung up and the Christmas decorations are half-assed at their best. And were mostly done over last weekend. I'm not a decorator at heart and I definitely cannot imagine what an entire room should look like based on one piece of furniture. I'd hire an interior decorator but HOLY SHIT THEY ARE EXPENSIVE. Their hourly rate doesn't sound bad, until you have them put in a few hours at your house and a few more shopping and all of the sudden you are looking at a couple paychecks worth of services.

Anyway, so that is where we live. The house we moved out of was perfectly decorated because I hired someone to make it look perfect for the real estate listing, and the new house is a scattered physical rendition of my brain. 

The house that we were in and that we are in now is only a part of why I am looking forward to 2014. In between houses we decided to live in the cottage in Michigan for the summer. I commuted an hour-and-a half to work twice a week, while Suky and the girls spent the summer on the lake. And Workaholic came up on the weekends. Let me repeat that...Workaholic came up on the weekends. So during the week I got little sleep because of the commute and the working and the fact that my daughters didn't like sleeping in their own room or going to bed at a decent hour or not waking in the middle of the night to come in and crawl in bed with me which then woke me up. On the weekends family and friends were there and FUN ENSUED. (It really did.) Then they went home and I drove to work and finally caved and let the girls sleep with me all the time just so I could get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time. Even with Suky there, the stress level was at an all time high. She missed her friends and working out at her gym, the girls and I missed Workaholic more than we ever thought possible, and then there was a host of other things happening that added to the fun. As much as I was looking forward to living at the lake for the summer, I honestly can say that it will never happen again unless I have a) a drastic personality shift, b) a promise of 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep every night, and 3) an exponential increase in energy. So...when pigs fly. (insert smiley face here)

2014 is going to be an awesome year for a multitude of reasons. We are "settled" into our new house. Which is smaller and much more manageable. We WILL get the basement cleaned up and out. The house that my father-in-law and brother-in-law and husband are building will be finished by Memorial Day. (It better be.) I will continue to work on my all-or-nothing personality and therefore hopefully will be able to more fully enjoy every moment. Good or bad. Stressful or not.

I'm not really into making New Year's resolutions because they are crap and I never keep them. (See aforementioned personality flaw.) And I am not making them this year. This year is going to be a continued resolve of the things that I have worked on in the past. I may have fallen off the bandwagon, but damn if I'm letting it go on without me.

GO 2014!!!