Thursday, November 27, 2008

5 months


Dear Noah bear,

It’s Thanksgiving Day and you turned 5 months old yesterday. You have become so active this past month-- rolling easily and covering lots of ground, sitting up completely on your own, reaching for things and people, finding your voice, and learning to really jump around on your chubby little legs... I’ll lay you down on your new grammie blanket in the middle of the floor, look away for a minute and then find you 6 feet away, trying to chew on the shoe bin, the front door curtain or the couch cover. I can sit you up with a little padding underneath you and know you’re pretty steady there-- you stay sitting for 5 minutes or more. I love hearing you burble and coo and giggle and squeal. You have so much to say, and so many people around you ready to listen. We’re still together pretty constantly. You come to work with me on Monday mornings, Tuesday afternoons, and Wednesday mornings, we spend Thursdays with Mariah, and you spend Fridays with Grammie. She LOVES her time with you. I often come in to find you asleep on her chest, sitting in the rocker in the front room (that’s where I am now, you’re cuddled up with Daddy, Mariah and Levi in bed). You interact with us and the world in new and different ways now-- I’ve watched as you have reached for Bayli and Jay and given them your first pets, sat in your carseat and noticed the rain coming down on the window, reached out to touch my face while you nursed, and started leaning away from us and reaching for someone else (me, Daddy or Grammie) to hold you. You’re starting to have your own opinions about things and learning to express it. It’s absolutely fascinating to see you making these discoveries.

This was a very big month in the history of the world we live in. On November 4th, Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. It was a long and difficult election, and we were so elated to see such an inspiring, intelligent, and passionate man chosen to lead our nation. It’s been a tough few years for America for a lot of reasons, and we really need someone with the vision and power to turn things around so that you can grow up in a safe, secure, and abundant world. While you were in my belly the economy began to take a dive. Daddy had to change jobs more than once and our income took a huge hit. Grammie’s old house had been sitting on the market for months. I had been reading about the candidates and very interested in this election for many years now. I first heard of Barack Obama from your Grandad right before he died back in 2006. He was in the hospital and we were having one of our last real conversations. Your Grandad loved watching all the news shows and was always well informed. I asked him who he’d like to see win the 2008 election, and he whispered and joked... “A really good democrat, if I could only find one. But I can’t find one anywhere!” (he was a republican, but was fed up with GW Bush). But he went on to say that I should Obama was one to watch-- Grandad was impressed by Obama’s speech at the 2004 DNC and thought he would become a major political figure. I hoped Hillary Clinton would run, and she did. I like her, and would have liked to see a woman elected president (I hope that by the time you are my age there will have been at least one!). But there is something really special about Obama. A certain spark inside of him that has ignited a powerful movement in our country. He has brought together people from all different backgrounds and united us in a common goal. I saw this video in the spring of this year, and then read up on his positions, and made my decision. Grammie was a Hillary supporter. We all watched closely through the primary battle. In May, Obama came to Portland the day after Amanda and her kids arrived. It was over 90 degrees, and I got Levi, Mariah, Amanda, Forest, Markayla and Eme all to go downtown to see him. We took the bus and the MAX train. Amanda and I were both 9 months pregnant and had 5 kids running around-- what a sight we were! It was an amazing day. We didn’t actually see him, but we did get close enough to hear his voice and see the crowd. You can see the video of that day here. I think that was his largest crowd to date-- he called it his “most spectacular” crowd! Right before you born, I read this article about how “everything is seemingly spinning out of control” and I feared for the world that my baby was about to enter. I donated to the Obama campaign and did what I could to support the movement. It was a long wait-- but election day finally came and we went into it looking good. It was a beautiful autumn day. We drove down Ainsworth Street, lined with brilliantly changing trees-- the sun was illuminating the varigated leaves against the backdrop of rain clouds-- and I couldn’t help thinking, “Change is in the air”. I was overjoyed when they called the election for him and Daddy, Levi, Mariah, you and I all cuddled together on the couch and watched his acceptance speech. Wow. What an awesome time you chose to come into the world!

The weekend after the election you and I took off on our first real road trip. We went down to Bend to visit Auntie Chelle and baby Ruby. It was fabulous! You were amazingly content in the car and slept most of the way. It was so fun seeing my friend of over 30 years (!) and getting to share mamahood with her. We built a fire, ate lots of chinese food and chocolate, cuddled and nursed the two of you, and chatted about everything under the sun. And, as you might imagine, there were lots and lots of photos taken!

We also had a weekend getaway to Seattle with Grammie to visit our Aunt Kay and cousins Cara and Renee. Cara lives there with her husband Ash, and they just found out they are having a baby in June (due the day before your birthday!). Kay was married to Grammie’s older brother Clayton who was a wonderful man that I wish I had known better, and wish you had gotten to meet. He died way too soon, when I was 10 years old. Aunt Kay lives in Michigan with our cousin Troy and his family. Renee lives in Las Vegas and is a craps dealer. I hadn’t seen her since I was 11! They all loved getting to meet you. We took the bus down to Pike Place and explored. You rode facing out in my wrap and took in all the sights, sounds and smells-- then I turned you around (facing in) and you fell asleep instantly. Back at the apartment you kept us all entertained with your new sounds and antics.

At home, we’ve been busy moving the house around-- L&M’s room has become my office/studio, the “green” (guest) room upstairs is becoming L’s room, and my “old” studio is becoming M’s room. Matt and Eric from Confluence Design/Build are helping us renovate the stairway and hall and making it safer for you guys to be up there. The house is in shambles at the moment! But it will all be worth it. I have a lot of stuff to go through and “decluttering” to do.

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving at Grammie’s house with Steve, Julianne, Ariadne, Ian, and Phaedra. We have so much to be thankful for . I can’t tell you enough what a blessing you have been in our lives. In some ways, at the time you were conceived, my life felt like it was “spinning out of control” and I couldn’t imagine having another baby to take care of in addition to all my other responsibilities. But, though I didn’t know it, you were exactly what I needed to turn things around and remind me what’s really important. Simply holding you is all I need to center myself again. I still don’t feel like I’m finding the words to explain this to you-- this buddha-ness of you-- but I don’t know how else to say it. I love you “after infinity” (as Mariah likes to say these days) and am so glad you’re here.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day

My dad died two years, one month, and two days ago after fighting multiple myeloma for over four years. They believe his cancer was due to agent orange exposure in Vietnam, before I was born. Three years ago tonight, he sent out this email to his family and close friends:

Veteran's Day issues will always be troubling for me, I guess. The letter I've attached gets it right.

It's a letter that Amy sent to the editor of our local newspaper, THE OREGONIAN.

I wanted to share it with you because of I'm so proud of her.

Attitude is everything!

Eric Hooker

Here is the letter I had written:


When I was a child, the significance of Veteran’s Day was that there was no school—a happy day for kids. As the years passed, I began to think more about those veterans that had lost their lives in service and began to take it more seriously, though I didn’t really know how to acknowledge its importance. My great grandfather fought in WWI. His first son, my Grandpa, fought in WWII, and his son, my Pop, fought in Vietnam. Thankfully, they each came home from their respective wars. It is only because of this fact that I am here today. I am grateful for their lives, my own, and the lives of everyone else they have touched. Still, I was never quite sure how to “celebrate” Veteran’s Day. A couple of years ago, I finally asked my dad, “So, what should I say? ‘Happy Veteran’s Day’ just doesn’t sound right.” He told me that the best thing to say was simply, “Thank you.”

This Veteran’s Day, my Pop is preparing to have a stem cell transplant. He has Multiple Myeloma, a particularly nasty blood-related cancer. It is now known that this and other forms of cancer are most likely related to exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. He has not been responding to chemotherapy, and this procedure is his last hope for remission. It is also very dangerous and has a high mortality rate. I admire his courage and determination in the face of this, and wish that I shared his faith that everything is going to be okay. To me, it feels like a game of Russian Roulette that he is being forced to play, and I am terrified. His conviction is “Attitude is everything”, and I pray that he is right.

So, in honor of Veteran’s Day, I thank him for his selfless service. While my grandpa was celebrated as a hero when he returned home, my dad was ridiculed. The war in Vietnam took many American lives, and continues to today. I write this in hopes that those reading will remember to say “Thank you” to all the veterans you know, and to send all of your prayers, good thoughts, and healing energy to my Pop, and all of the other Vietnam vets who continue to fight for their lives.

Amy Watson
Portland, OR

Right now, my Gramma, his dad, is nearing his 89th birthday and already planning his 90th birthday party. He is madly in love with a fantastic woman he had been married to for the past 6 years. He was recently diagnosed with esophageal cancer and is going to radiation 5 days a week for the next 7 weeks. He served his country with pride, and knows that he was a good soldier. One of the defining times of his life was having his outfit chosen to land on Utah Beach on D-Day and going on to liberate Paris. Tonight I called him simply to say, "Thank you."

Monday, November 3, 2008

four months

Sweet, sweet dumplin’ boy-

You are now 4 months and 8 days old-- once again I’m a bit behind; it’s been an extra crazy week around here. Where do I begin? You continue to amaze us with your newfound skills every single day, and I simply can’t believe how quickly you are growing and changing. This past month you have rolled over, both front to back and back to front, and have started sitting well with support. You can now really reach for things purposely and maneuver them with your hands... what a huge change! Now I have to be careful where I’m standing when I hold you and pay attention to what might be within your reach. You are quite pleased with this new, awesome power you have. We had a wonderful trip to the coast again, for Daddy’s birthday this time, just you, me and him. You wore your fuzzy blue, purple and green fleece that used to be Levi’s for the first time, sat in the sand and ran your fingers through it. You went for your first of many rides on your daddy’s shoulders. You got your first cold and I sat up with you until after 4 am more than once-- first when your cough got croupy and the second time when you got your first fever. The fever lasted from Saturday night through until Tuesday morning and got up to 103.5. I blogged about it here. You have doubled your birth weight already-- you weighed 18#7.5 at Korin’s last Monday (with a thin sleeper and dipe on). You had your first Halloween. I’m sorry to say that your ridiculously expense designer monkey costume did not arrive on time because Mama didn’t notice that they said “1-7 business days” on the shipping option I chose, so you got a consigned bernese mountian puppy costume for the actual Halloween shots. I dressed you up before we picked up L & M, put you in the ergo, asleep on my chest, and told them we got a puppy-- they thought it was hilarious when they realized it was really you. We got photos done at Campbell Salgado, then went to Grammie’s for soup and to meet up with JASIP. You still come to work with me on Mondays and Wednesdays and I love that I get to cuddle and kiss you in between patients. Your yumminess simply cannot be described in words-- the silky skin, chunky rolls, sweet, milky smell... but most of all your heart-melting smiles, and exuberant coos and giggles. It’s really just all too much. I mean really, look at that photo. Could you be any sweeter?Sometimes it seems you will burst with glee, you are so happy to be with us-- and sometimes I feel like my heart may burst the same way. I never knew I could love another child the way I love you. I can’t tell you what a blessing you are in our lives. Thank you, thank you, and thank you again for joining us.

Your ever-lovin’,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

three months

Dear Noah,
You are now 3 months and 5 days old. You are truly a golden child-- surrounded by love and affection-- you are cherubic and glowing. You smile and coo and crinkle your nose. You have a perfect dimple, creamy skin, yummy rolls, and big bright eyes. You are sweet and easy-going and a terrific sleeper (thank you!). This past month you discovered your hands. First, they simply started to slow down. Rather than watching them randomly flying by your face, one day there seemed to be some deliberateness to their movement. One day when you were nursing, your hand rested on my arm-- fingers splayed open and relaxed instead of balled up in a fist like a brand-newborn-- and it struck me so tenderly. Then I watched as you clasped your hands together in front of your face and really noticed them for the first time. And then of course you began chewing on them. Ahh, simple pleasures. :) You’ve moved on to actually sucking on your fingers and thumbs and knuckles, then purposely touching your feet. And today for the first time you grabbed your feet while I changed your diaper (though if I were timely, that should technically be in next month’s letter). You’re simply amazing. And we love watching all these milestones.

It’s been an action packed month, with two plane trips, back to school, and the end of my maternity leave. The first trip was to Michigan to see Great Gramma Lea in the hospital. She was very sick, but so happy to meet you. She said you were a beautiful baby. While we were there, we also saw Great Grampa Walt, Papa Bill and Gramma Lois, and you got to meet a lot of cousins and get your feet dipped in Gun Lake (I said that made you officially a “Hooker baby”). The day after we got home Levi started 2nd grade and Mariah started preschool at Trillium, and you and I went back to my office so that I could start treating patients again. It has been awesome having you there with me while I work! You hang out with Amber while I’m in the treatment room, and in between patients I can cuddle and nurse you. What a treat. I’m so grateful that you just roll with whatever comes along. We also had a trip to Ohio for the ACA Pediatrics Council annual symposium. I wore you the whole time and you were just perfect. At three months old you’ve already been in five states! This last weekend we all went out to the coast for my birthday-- your second trip to the beach. You were a little bit crabby and very drooly that day-- is it possible that you might be getting a tooth?

You continue to amaze us with your strength. Now you sit up really strong in our laps and we don’t even need to hold you around the ribs with both hands while we watch your head bobble around like a few weeks ago-- now you hold your head high and still and sit up with almost no support. And I can carry you easily with one arm around your ribcage and you facing out into the world. You are strong and solid. Yesterday at the office you weighed 17.2 pounds! (with a diaper and sleeper on) Your eyes are still blue and people think they may stay that way-- and have I told you about the little heart in your right eye? It’s your special little mark.

Oh Bubbi, these words just can’t do justice to what’s in my heart for you. Thank you for coming into our lives. We love you more than you’ll ever know.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

15 years ago today...

... I boarded the SS Universe and began my 100 day journey around the world. I didn't know a soul-- it was the first time in my life I went somewhere completely on my own. I was 20 years old, a senior in college, leaving behind my parents, my on-again-off-again boyfriend of 4 years, and the best girlfriends I could hope for. I was only slightly terrified. It was the adventure of a lifetime and I still think about it just about everyday. Just the other night I was in the grocery store, chasing the big kids towards the toy section (we weren't buying anything that day, just "planning for the future"), the was baby asleep in my wrap, and I was feeling a wee bit crabby... and the song "Oh what a night" came on. Life is very different now, but that song will always take me back to long nights of dancing on the ship with fabulous new friends that I'm still in touch with...

So, in honor of this anniversary, and to break away from my documentation of life as a mama of three, I bring you documentation of my free-spirited gypsy days, starting with my journal entry from day one of my Semester at Sea:


I wish to go to latitudes where my life must become quite different to make existence possible, where understanding necessitates a radical renewal of one’s means of comprehension, latitudes where I will be forced to forget that which up to now I knew and was... I want to let the climate of the tropics, the Indian mode of consciousness, the Chinese code of life and many other factors, which I cannot envisage in advance, work their spell upon me one after the other, and then watch what will become of me.
~ Count Keyserling

We shall not cease from exploration
and the end of all our exploring
will be to arrive where we started
and know the place for the first time.
~ TS Eliot

I can’t believe it-- I’ve been saying that for days now. How can it really be here already? And how can I be a senior? I’m not sure the reality of the situation has sunk in yet. I keep talking about the trip, the destinations, the facts, but it feels like I’m talking about someone else, like it’s not really happening to me. Yet here I am: halfway moved into a room not even half the size of mine at home, sharing it with someone I didn’t know until today. T (my roommate) is great-- we’ve spent most of the day together. She says she’s kinda messy and kinda lazy, kinda shy, but also fun-- and she really likes to eat. We should get along great. I really want to start meeting people, I can’t wait until the ship feels like home. I haven’t gotten seasick yet, but can really feel the motion and it’s pretty noisy. The ship rattles and creaks, and we can hear everyone around us. I wonder how long it will take for me to get used to it, and how long it will take me to fall asleep tonight. How long will it be before people start dropping by the room, or I really get to know anybody? Who will be my best friends when it’s over?

I cried hugging Pop goodbye, still not realizing how big an adventure I’m undertaking. It’s all so unreal. The trip up was great-- we talked a lot, barely listened to any music, and read The Firm outloud to each other, just like when I was little (only then it was Black Beauty or The Secret Garden). He talks to me like an adult, always has, respects my opinion, and wants to hear it. He loves me very, very much. We waved and took pictures of each other waving and blew kisses and now ha has to drive home alone. I hope he finishes The Firm soon, I hope Ma is happy with the movies. I hope I love this trip. I hope everyone turns out to be as cool as they seem. I could tell from the beginning that wasn’t just snobby rich kids, but quality, laid-back people-- most a lot like me-- excited and nervous and curious as to what the next three and a half months will hold. I feel a million miles from home-- by morning we’ll be long past the last glimpse of land. Then come fourteen days of open sea...

The world is so full of a number of things, I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Sunday, August 31, 2008

weekly winners

super henry taking flight

noah mastering tummytime

happy baby

big sister

big sister 2


Thursday, August 28, 2008

two months

sweet noah~

you turned two months old this week (yes, i am a couple of days late... but i didn’t even do this for the older kids...) you are our “unexpected blessing”, our incredible gift, my little live-in guru and buddha baby... reminding me of what’s really important in this world. you got me to stop working so much, slow down, take a breath, and completely focus on our family this summer. there are times that i am disappointed that we didn’t fill our summer with more gardening, adventures, camping trips, etc-- but i have to remember, there’s time for that. this summer you are a newborn and simply being with you is enough. our days go by lazily in a rhythm of nursing, burping, cuddling, diaper changing, “flirting”, stretching, listening to music, doing chores, playing with the big kids. just everyday stuff, but you are happy, and that is enough.

this month your hair stopped falling out and the softest possible little crew cut started to appear. you’ve grown to over 14 pounds. your rash has completely disappeared, your tummy seems less upset, and your shoulder no longer seems to bother you at all. you have grown solid and sturdy, and i can support you around your ribcage in a sitting position and you can hold up your head, wobbly, but stable. you’ve started pushing off my lap with your legs into a standing position and seem very proud and joyful about it. you’re practicing tummy time and very determined about it. you make the sweetest little grunting sounds when it gets too tiring or frustrating. i can lift you up like an airplane and you’ll lift your head and look around. best of all, you started really smiling. your face simply lights up, your nose crinkles, your dimple deepens, and your eyes... just melt my heart. you’ve recently added sound effects, little goos and coos and ahhs that sound like you are so filled with glee you have to let some out in these little sounds. it’s really too much... and never fails to center me.

the big kids absolutely adore you. they can’t keep their hands off you, really. “oh noah baby...” you let them hold you, albeit briefly, but aren’t too sure of them yet-- at least about them holding you. but in the past couple weeks, you have really seemed to notice them and our dog, Bayli, and give them smiles. thank you for that-- it makes them so happy and proud to “get a smile” from you.

i’ve left you a couple times this past month. first, we took you to grammie’s and we went on to fernhill park (two blocks away) to give L & M some undivided attention. they missed you right away and it started sprinkling, so we were back after only 45 minutes or so. grammie held you the whole time, and gave you your first bottle. you did wonderfully. the second time i left for a bit longer to go get a massage from kristy and you stayed home with daddy and the big kids. i think they took turns feeding you that time. but most of the time, i am with you. usually holding or wearing you, though you are getting heavy and i have to take more breaks. you like laying down and stretching out, watching the mobile if we’re home, or watching the trees if we’re out and about. last weekend we had our first big adventure together-- we flew to CA to see my girlfriends/your aunties at the american river. you laid naked on the beach and listened to the river rushing by, and got doted on by the older kids. (Aliveah, Moorea, and Addie put you in their dollie stroller and pushed you around and you were such a good sport!)

you sleep well. again, for this, i thank you. really. thank you very much. you nurse and nap and nurse and nap from about 6-10 pm, then you’ll sleep until 4 or 5, nurse, and back to sleep until about 6:30-7:30. then i feed you again and hand you to daddy. you two enjoy your morning time together, i’ll have to have him tell you about that. and he brings you back to me when you’re hungry again (between 8 and 9). i get up with you, have some coffee, and check my email with you on the nursing pillow or on my shoulder-- or we sit on the couch with my feet propped up on the coffee table and you reclined on my thighs while we make faces at each other, coo, and “flirt”. then you fall back to sleep on my left shoulder for your morning nap. that’s where you are now. you rarely fuss anymore-- there’s really nothing that milk, naked time/new diaper, or swaddled/cuddled in the pouch time, or a nap won’t fix for you. and i can’t stop kissing your cheek, the top of your head, your neck, your belly, your toes, your waddle. and i can’t begin to describe your sweet, milky new baby smell.

so many words, so many photos, and still-- i can’t seem to capture the magic of this time with you. just know that i love you, bubbi-- and am so glad you’ve joined us. my heart has grown at least three sizes in the past two months.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

noah smiles

de-crabbifying and blog intentions

i'm working really hard on de-crabbifying myself. i love my life, really i do, and i have the best intentions about being a mindful and fully present parent... but i have some issues with maintaining my centered-ness when the troops are restless. it has been challenging for me being a stay-at-home mom this summer-- as in a whole lot of together time. again, love them to pieces, and they make me loco sometimes... kwim?

i find that the worst times come when we stay in the house all day. if there's no where to be at a certain time, i relish the leisureliness of it (it's so different from our pre-noah life where the majority of our mornings, make that our days,  were a frenzied and chaotic rush to eat breakfast-pack lunch-drop L off-drop M off-walk dog-shower-get to work-treat patients-do paperwork until the last possible second-pick him up-pick her up- eat dinner-bath-stories-bed.... repeat ad nauseum... ) so now, when there's no "agenda" i am quite content to hang out at home-- though i get caught up in cleaning, projects, "putzing"-- then suddenly it's 4:30, we're all tired and stir crazy, and then it seems impossible to get our act together to leave the house. And despite the fact that I've been cleaning all freakin' day, the house still isn't clean... and I feel like a hamster on a wheel, and why can't i just relax??? it's such a delicate balance-- not wanting to live in a sty, but also wanting to actually enjoy my children, instead of just cleaning up after them all the time. I think the answer is finally sinking in... get. out. of. the. house. duh...

so yesterday and today were good days. not b/c i "got a lot done", but because we were out and about, and for the most part, all getting along. noah had a pediatrician appt yesterday morning at 10:30 and I actually arrived dressed decently, showered, all three kids in tow, insurance card and stocked diaper bag in hand, and only 9 minutes late. WOO HOO! the big kids were pleasant and cooperative, noah "passed" his exam famously.
we went home for a quick, healthy lunch, 

then off to the park for the afternoon. no timeline. just fun in the fountain, some new friends, monkey bars, coloring, and snacks. 

today we had a good bfast, leisurely morning, then out for errands and fun (I mixed a little toy shopping in with the errands and said yes to mcdonalds playland for about the third time ever in their lives-- b/c burgerville drive-thru is much more efficient, sustainable and healthy, right?-- and also b/c it was way too freakin' hot to be outside and they needed to play). There was one point at the end of the day when they started to get a little crazy in the checkout line at Target (I had to buy a new mop and a breastpump-- we've been trying not to buy anything new all summer but I had to break down today b/c those are two things I am unwilling to buy off craigslist or at goodwill...), and I simply took a deep breath and said, "I really don't want to get crabby with you or lose my patience right now. I really need you to listen to me..." and they did. :)

Horray for the good days. I promise to share a not-so-good day soon, too. I don't want this to be a sunshine-and-roses type of blog. I want it to be real. I have no idea who's reading, and will definitely stop way short of baring my soul here, but I do want to write more down and hope keeping this blog will encourage me to do that. I have tons of pictures of my big kids, but relatively little in writing. I definitely lack confidence in my ability to capture it all, to explain it in words. I'm really struggling with that with Noah right now, I mean, how many different ways can you write, "He's just so incredibly yummy"? I read these incredible blog posts and columns and get intimidated-- I'll never be Catherine Newman or Black Hockey Jesus-- and that almost  makes me want to say "why bother". But I'm going to try to find my writing voice and write down what I can, so that my kiddos will have more to look at than just pictures someday. 

So, if you're there, stay tuned. I hope to get more interesting as the days and weeks go on (or at least until I go back to work...) 


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

captured smiles!

captured smile #1, aka mama needs a new flash because natural light doesn't always cut it and the built in fill flash is too harsh... but i couldn't not include this one because he's too darn cute...

and here's #2, with flash...

and this one is simply called "dreamy":

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

six weeks/summertime

at six and a half weeks old, noah has gained 4 full pounds. he weighed 13# 2oz yesterday when we went to see our midwife, jen (who now has a beautiful new baby of her own). we are finding our groove as a family of five, and I'm no longer afraid to tell all three children out into the world by myself-- though it doesn't always go quite as smoothly as I would like. for example, today when we waited a wee bit too long to eat and stayed at the park a bit too long, we all got crabby, mariah got her hand slammed in the door (accidentally) and later when I said no to "a little bit of tv" at grammie's house she told me she didn't want me to be her mom anymore... but i digress.

we are loving the summertime and relishing the sunshine like true portlanders. check out some of our outings here. and tonight we ate out back-- dan made steaks on the grill with tator tots and corn on the cob, and popsicles for dessert. then we all sat on the front lawn goofing around, wrestling in the grass, and trying to get the baby to smile... simple pleasures...

for the most part, the big kids are still completely enamoured with our little bubbi. they want to hold him and kiss him and squeeze him constantly, and are quick to try and comfort him when he's fussing. and bubbi seems to be working through his early discomforts a bit-- the bump where his clavicle fractured is going down and he's moving his arm and neck freely. he seems to have a bit of reflux, but nothing major. he loves being held, and i'm grateful to savvy for lending me her babyhawk because that seems to be working the best for us right now. we've done some mama-baby yoga together, and today was our first "mamalates" class. my back is really bothering me, and reminding me why it's so important for new mamas to get chiropractic care (thanks, becky, korin and arah!) and massage! i feel so blessed to know such amazing women in our community that serve mamas like me. we've been so well taken care of during our babymoon-- the meals and other general support have sustained us in so many ways....

the other big news is that baby noah has started smiling. full-blown face-lighting-up, nose-crinkling, dimple-exposing, eye-twinkling, heart-melting smiles... there is simply nothing quite like it in this world. i haven't quite captured one on "film" (it sounds better than "compact flash card") yet, but when I do, look here first :)

that's all for now. i'm off to eat another popsicle and watch the season finale of "damages", and keep cuddling with the chunkilicious baby on my chest.

Friday, July 25, 2008

one month

dear noah,
you are one month old today. you have been my constant companion since the minute you were born-- i haven’t left the house without you once. you spend most of your time in my arms, or one of my many baby-wearing carriers-- though you’ve also been held quite a bit by daddy, grammie, levi, mariah, and the many people who have come to visit you this month. you are very content-- except when you’re not, in which case you don’t hesitate to let us know. you can get really really mad, and loud, and make some awfully grumpy faces. but most of the time a little milk, a big burp, a clean diaper, or a good rest does the trick. mostly you love being on someone’s chest, with your ear near their heart. you also love laying on daddy’s chest while he hums, sings, and chants really low sounds. right now you’re curled up on my chest while i type. i’m propped up on the story pillow in the “big, big bed” and you’re still small enough to rest there with your legs tucked up underneath you (like a little “ball of noah”) and fit above my computer that’s resting on my legs. you are getting big really fast though. you’ve gained over two pounds already since you were born. i keep leaning down and kissing your head, running my cheek over your silky, balding head. listening to your soft breathing and rubbing your back. you are an awesome little cuddler and sleep every night in the crook of my arm. i’ve taken to calling you “bubbi”-- i hope you don’t mind.

you are an incredibly strong little guy. your clavicle got fractured during your birth, and i think it’s bothered you a bit, but it certainly hasn’t stopped you from moving your arms and neck around, or lifting your head. your neck control is amazing and started at only four days old. you’ve been busying healing and we’ve worked well together on that. i’ve been giving you treatments three or four times a week: massage, craniosacral, and chiropractic-- plus some herbs and homeopathic remedies to support your healing. these past few days you’ve seemed pretty darned comfortable, sleeping really soundly and contentedly for long stretches (up to 5 or 6 hours). you had a little rough patch there a couple of weeks ago. your body was covered in some sort of rash (prickly heat? reaction to the olive oil i was massaging you with?), i think your shoulder and your tummy were bothering you a bit, and you were growing really fast... so you had some extra fussy times. but you seem to have worked through a lot of that and you’re pretty easygoing these days.

all of us love you so deeply already. levi and mariah can’t seem to stop kissing you and holding you and squeezing you. “oh Noah, you’re such a good baby...” (cute baby, sweet baby, etc) they are constantly talking to you like this and singing to you and holding your hands. on our first road trip your carseat was in the middle and they couldn’t seem to keep their hands off your face. “stop messing with him,” i told them. “oh mama,” mariah said, “we’re just loving on him!”

you have been such an incredible gift to us in so many ways i don’t know how to explain. i feel like you are my buddha baby. our life has been pretty crazy and chaotic for a long time, and there were no signs that was going to change, slow down, or smooth out anytime soon. we were not expecting to have another baby, and learning that you were coming into our lives was quite a shock. i was scared, and couldn’t imagine how it would work, but i also knew that somehow we would find a way. your upcoming arrival got me to slow down, take time off of work, re-focus my energy on our home and our family, take care of my body and my spirit and re-center myself, and spend more time with L & M. then when you arrived it all suddenly made sense. of course you were meant to be here with us. on some level i knew it all along.

sleep tight, sweet bubbi. i love you more than you’ll ever know.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

baby love and accomplishments

it's been a lazy day... noah will be a month old tomorrow and i think that this is the first day i've been home all day with all three kiddos, no appointments or "agenda", and no visitors... we're just hangin' out. i know we should get out of the house-- but right now it simply sounds like too much effort. L & M are playing together nicely, at the moment, and N is asleep-- not in my arms or in a carrier, but alone on the bed, for the first time all day. there's been a lot of juggling-- making lunch one-handed and changing over laundry with a chunky baby in the homemade moby wrap-- i don't mind it a bit, but my back and neck are definitely feeling it. he's going on 12 pounds already for crying out loud. but i'm holding him and wearing him as much as possible because i simply can't resist-- and want to savor this time.

as i've aged, i've begun to suffer from a tendency i inherited from both of my parents-- i'm not sure what to call it-- but i can't seem to escape it. when asked about her day, my mom responds with a laundry list of all the things she's "accomplished". she'll say: well, it was a pretty good day... i got a lot done... i... and then go on to list every errand, every checkmark she could make on her to-do list. i did not, repeat, did not, used to be this way. at all. i could lounge around all day with the best of them. back in my gypsy days, hanging out on the beach, playing volleyball in the sand, "working" on my tan, or simply hangin' out with friends, giggling and partying and simply being. not so much anymore. i don't know when the shift happened-- maybe when i started back to school and suddenly had to "get serious". at any rate, it's hard for me to just "be" now without "getting something done". so today, i vascillated between enjoying the kids, and housework, and since a clean house wouldn't be "enough" (it's not clean, mind you, nowhere near clean in fact, but anyway...), i had to *do more. so, i finally got the freakin' bike and ugly curtains listed on craigslist (the curtains have been in the "sell" pile since, oh, 2003, and the bike since 2006...), and i re-organized my bookmarks (my recent blog addiction has made that rather complicated) and i took some photos... so despite my intermittant crabbiness, the referee-ing fights between the big kids, the feeling of leaking milk mixed with sweat on my unshowered body... it's been a "pretty good day". it will be even better if the bike and the curtains sell...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

noah's birth

Warning: This is a detailed account of the birth, and may contain ‘too much information” for many of you. Proceed only if you’re really that interested! :)

Noah’s birth was fast and furious and very surreal. I had been having contractions for a month and a half, so I had stopped thinking, This might be it, every time I felt them regularly. I was tired of waiting around, so I went into the office to get some stuff done. I worked on paperwork, and talked to Carolyn and Jen, glancing at my watch every 3 minutes or so as another contraction came on. They didn’t feel different than what I’d been having, so I didn’t think too much of it. Finally, I couldn’t really focus anymore, and said, “I think I’d better go home.” That was at 1:00. I considered running out to Target first, to return the chair slipcovers that didn’t fit and buy a new phone, but thought I’d better head home “just in case.” I came in and called Dan to come up. “I think, maybe, I could be in labor.” He started the process of checking out of work and filling the tub. At 1:15 I had a particularly crampy contraction and then went to the bathroom and had some bloody show. I called Jen, who was still hours away (returning from the beach) but thought she could be here by 9:00. Considering my previous labors, I thought that would probably be in plenty of time... ha!

I was walking around, bouncing on my feet, and “chi-gonging” my hands during contractions, then taking the time in between to get set up for hours of labor (getting the tub, the music ready, calling in my team, etc). People started to arrive: Julianne, Amanda, Amy, Tracy and Taryn. Levi and Mariah came running in with Ma, saw the tub, looked around with big eyes to be sure they hadn’t already missed baby’s arrival. Levi exclaimed breathlessly, “I’m so excited!” I talked to them a little in between contractions, reminded them about my “belly squeezes”, and warned them I wouldn’t be able to talk to them much when those happened. I tried to reassure them as best as I could that no matter what I sounded like, I’d be all right. Another contraction came and I had to stop talking, to wave my hands in front of me and walk away. There were a couple times I said to Dan, “they’re really close together... this is happening really fast...” but I still didn’t really believe I would have a fast labor. There was a series of problems with the tub. First, a leaky connector that was causing the precious hot water to drip too much-- but between duct tape and a bucket, Dan got that one solved and soon the tub was on its way to being filled with hot water. Then Tracy got here and noticed we had forgotten the liner. Mom got stressed, “Oh no! They’re already having problems with the water...” I held up my hands and snapped a bit. I didn’t want any mention of “problems”, any conflict. We need to drain it, it’s okay. That was my big mistake. We could have drained it into the bathtub so I could start out in there. Better yet, we could have just bought the tub and I could have climbed in it right then. I wasn’t thinking clearly. I still thought we had plenty of time.

I continued dancing around, sat on the toilet a bit, bounced on the birth ball-- then before I could even get the candles on the altar lit, I had to lay down on the bed. I desperately wanted to be in the tub. Tracy was in the bedroom with me, and we briefly talked about her checking me for dilation. We decided to do it between contractions, but there just wasn’t time. They were so close together and intensifying so quickly. and I called Dan in. He held my hand and put pressure on my sacrum. But he kept leaving the room, to go deal with the tub drama. I didn’t feel the intense connection we had during the other two births. We hadn’t gotten grounded yet. It was all happening too fast, and it was still too chaotic in the house. My contractions were quickly right on top of each other, and my low, calm, humming quickly got louder, higher, not-so-calm. There was so much pressure, so low, and oh-my-god that’s what everyone means by an “urge to push”-- I had never felt that before, and how on earth am I feeling it already? It was only about 3:30 at this point. I tried ignoring it, surpressing it-- I wasn’t ready yet, dammit. I wanted to be in the tub. It’s not supposed to be happening this way! I said to Tracy things like, “I’ve always wanted to speed it up, I never thought I’d want to slow it down,” and “I feel like I’m holding it back.” It felt like I was trying to squeeze my butt cheeks together, as if trying to hold back a huge dump when out in public and can’t get to the toilet fast enough. But there was no stopping it. “Is there any water in the tub?” I asked. They said there was about a foot, so I went to it, stripping off my clothes as I walked. I climbed in, expecting the comforting warmth, and instead was shocked because it was cold. Not lukewarm. Cold. But I got in anyway, and stayed. There was no turning back. I may as well get it over with. I pushed. I felt his head descend, and soon, with some screams and intense pain, it was out. It’s almost over. More contractions came. I continued to push. Baby still didn’t come. The mood turned serious. They started moving my leg, lifting it up, trying to keep his head out of the cold water. Then I felt Tracy’s entire hand inside me. I screamed “What are you doing to me???” My eyes were closed. I had no idea where anyone was. I couldn’t feel Dan. Julianne was at my head, holding my hand and telling me everything was okay (I know this only because she reminded me later). The pain was excruciating, unbearable, insane. I screamed and screamed and screamed some more and though the urge was gone and I wasn’t even feeling contractions, I knew I had to get the baby out. I took a deep breath and pushed with everything I had. Somehow, about 7 minutes after the head, the rest of the baby’s body finally emerged and someone behind me caught him. I couldn’t turn around, couldn’t move, couldn’t see. There was a tiny, sputtering cough and huge sighs of relief. I found a way to stand, so they could pass the baby between my legs in into my hands, and there was Dan next to me, and this slippery, not-exactly-pink, entire little person in my arms, covered in blood and meconium and I cried and shook and held him and kissed him and couldn’t believe he had come so quickly, and then so slowly. A boy. Noah. Just like I knew he would be.

I held him close in my left arm, and used my right hand to wash the blood and meconium away. He was pale, slippery, and so so soft. His tone wasn’t perfect, but he cried and nursed and got stronger and pinker by the second. Pretty soon, they said we couldn’t stay in the tub because it was too cold. I could barely stand up and couldn’t lift my leg over the side of the tub. Someone helped me brace myself and get my legs to work, and we made it into the bedroom. The kids were with us then and we all climbed in and started cuddling our new little lovebug. Our whole birth team came in and one of the midwives asked his name. I had to take a big breath to get past the huge lump in my throat (which was raw from screaming), and in a scratchy, slightly shaky voice I replied, “This is Noah Eric,” as I kissed him, and looked up to see the tears in Ma’s eyes.

Monday, March 31, 2008

meal planning, day one...

so, in my 35 years, i have never figured out how to actually plan meals ahead of time and shop from a list... it has always sounded like a good idea to me-- something i intended to get around to “eventually”, when “things calm down”... as if that’s actually ever going to happen. most nights dan and i talk about 6, as i’m on my way home with the kids and say, “so what are we going to do about dinner???” we throw something together on the fly... on “special” nights we might get take-out, most of the time, it’s mac-and-cheese with some sort of protein and veggie mixed in. not bad, but certainly not “gourmet”. i’m really a foodie at heart. after all my years in the restaurant biz, i can order like a pro-- cooking, on the other hand... well... i’ve just never made it a priority. i’ve been inspired by my friend julianne, who is always making new, fantastic recipes. eating at her house is always an “event”, and my friend korin who never shops without a list (when i asked her how she does it, thinking she had some great secret system, she told me, “it’s easy. plan. your. meals.” sounds easy when you say it that way, huh?

so finally, i’ve decided to get a system together and give it a shot. i’ve been collecting recipes for a while now, i just never think about looking at them until it’s too late to run to the store for the one missing ingredient. yesterday, i finally printed out a few of the recipes and put them in a small binder (i love the little binders for half sheets of paper-- and did you know they actually make sheet protectors for that size of paper now?) i just cut and paste recipes i find online into a document that has the page set-up changed to the half sheet size. so yesterday morning i picked out a few, printed out a mon-fri grid, and planned our meals.

mariah and i went shopping at trader joe’s and got ingredients for breakfast risotto, apricot glazed chicken, pork tenderloin with pomegranate sauce, and apple crisp (this was a weekday plan, with room for standbys like mac and cheese and hot oatmeal). this morning i made the breakfast risotto-- luckily, levi is on spring break so we had some lee-way time-wise, instead of needing to rush off to school by 8:30.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

just a test...

i'm playing around with blogger b/c i like the options... but haven't yet decided about making the switch. my "real" blog, such as it is, is here.