Friday, August 31, 2007

Family Outing

For the first time since Rachel was born Andrew has some time off school. We considered going somewhere since we had Thursday night through Monday to play with, but then we realized that we needed to be here since we're blessing Rachel this Sunday.

We consoled ourselves by having a wonderful picnic up in the South Fork Park of Provo Canyon. It was beautiful. The trees are just starting to change colors for fall. It was pleasantly cool, but warm enough that the mosquitoes weren't out yet.

I had my 6-week check-up on Thursday and was given a clean bill of health and granted permission to "return to full activity without any restrictions." Rachel screamed the whole time. I think she felt she got the bad end of the deal. After all, mom got a full examination and all she got was a t-shirt. (Trust me, Rachel, the t-shirt is the better end of the deal, trust me.)

In honor of my official healthy status we played Frisbee and I turned some cartwheels. I can now take leave of maternity leave, which means I'll actually have to work on Harman and *shudder* vacuum. The other day Andrew and I were walking and he said, "Rachel's almost 6 weeks old."

"I know," I responded, "Then I'll be done with maternity."

"Leave," said Andrew.

"What? Why?" I asked, slightly offended that he would tell me to go away. Me.

"No, you'll be done with maternity leave," he explained, "Not maternity. I hate to break it to you but you're going to be a mother for forever."

If I'm going to be a mother for forever, at least I'll have Andrew there to cheer me up when things get tough. He's like all three stooges rolled into one.

We also went into the Provo River...a little bit. It was freezing cold! There were all these little kids going in and playing around--one kid in diapers was going in up to his waist and splashing around. I couldn't believe it. I waded into my ankles before I couldn't stand it anymore. Rachel let her big toe touch the water before she recoiled. Andrew waded into the middle of the river and then ran back out as fast as he could. It was definitely really cold.

Rachel also wasn't very fond of the grass. We're going to keep trying to introduce her to new textures, but she's a pretty picky baby.

All in all it was a wonderful evening. Sure, we got a few stares from the people at the family reunion, but we had fun. I wonder what we'll do tomorrow...any ideas?

For more pictures, click here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The elusive pouty face

Rachel makes this amazing pouty face that we're hoping she'll lose by the time she's old enough to ask for a pony because her pout just melts your heart and makes you want to give her whatever she wants immediately. I don't think we can fit a pony in our apartment...

My quest today was to capture that pouty face. I failed but, don't worry, I did get a lot of other cute faces. She was in too good of a mood today, and when she was upset the pout was too short lived. I'll keep trying.

2:27:50 PM(a little bit of Abra in this picture?)

I think that part of the problem also may have been that she doesn't often give me the pouty face. She isn't usually "fussy" for me, and the pouty face is part of her fussing. If she's with me she's either happy or telling me off for not feeding her soon enough (see pictures 3 and 4 for evidence). I think she can smell the milk and likes to let me know that she is not to be trifled with. She goes from 0-60 in 5 seconds flat. But she calms down again in just about as much time. She's a great baby.

We had some fun play time today. She's started laughing, which is a lot of fun. I'm posting some (really long) videos of Rachel. They're mostly for family that's far away, so if you live 10 minutes away from us and don't feel like watching 5 minutes of Rachel kicking around on her back, don't feel obligated.

Rachel really can roll from her back to either side without assistance. She has flipped completely over on her own (it depends on how much momentum she gets) but when she does that it usually scares her (and us). Sometimes she really looks like she has a goal, and other times she just flops around. Sometimes when I look at her she's my little baby, and other times she looks so old already...anyway, enjoy!

I accidentally turned the camera off...and we're back...

Baby Shower

On Saturday we packed up Rachel, met my aunt Judy, went and picked up Josie and then headed to my Grandma Layton's house in Salt Lake. We were only 15 minutes late, which I felt bad about, but as my Aunt Judy pointed out that's just Mormon Standard Time, and more excusably, Mormons with a New Baby Standard Time.

Shortly after our arrival Andrew's Grandma Pat, Aunt Becky, Aunt Nicki and Emma showed up. Since the twins were sleeping, we immediately started to play some games. The funnest game was probably the one where we all put paperbags over our heads and removed something we could "do without." Andrew was the last man standing, but I was pretty close, too. We were removing our rings, glasses, shoes, hair elastics, etc. only to finally realize that no one needs a paper bag over their head. At least we brought Andrew so that he was the last one. Of course, had he not been there, Aunt Nicki would have been the last one...and then me.

It was fun to visit with everyone and Kelli and Grandma L. went through a lot of work decorating and planning activities. I got some great gifts, but our favorite was probably the swing that Aunt Judy got for us. It's as small as our bouncy chair, it swings, it vibrates, it plays music, and it disassembles to fit into a bag. We tried it out today and Rachel was asleep within 2 minutes (we will therefore only use it when we want her to fall asleep).

Friday, August 24, 2007

My left shoe

When Patrick was little all of his bodily functions sounded like how you would say comic strip sounds. He couldn't read so we're not sure how he knew how to make those sounds. His yawning sounded like "yawn," his gasping sounded like "gasp." I suppose people really can sound like that, but when you pretend to punch invisible people does it really sound like "pow-pow?"

Rachel seems to have taken after him in this manner. She is a sneezy baby and has been from the very beginning. Her first cry went like this, "Waa, waa...a-choo, a-choo, a-choo!" (That may be a slight exaggeration, but she sneezed a lot in the hospital and she sneezes a lot now. Maybe she's allergic to life).

Today Emma, the little girl I babysit, Rachel, and I were going over body parts.

"Where's your nose, Emma? No, those are your ears. Where is your nose? That's right! Where's Rachel's nose? Touch the baby's nose..."

In the midst of this engaging mental exercise, Rachel had a sneezing fit. It sounded just like the sneezes in a comic book.

"A-choo, a-choo, a-choo!" said Rachel.

Looking very proud of herself, Emma showed Rachel her shoes and said, "Ooooh, shoe! Yay!" and then clapped her hands. I'm not sure if she was thrilled about correctly identifying her shoe (I suppose when you're one-and-a-half your shoe counts as a body part) or if she was happy that Rachel has started talking (as we all know, 5 week old babies aren't the most entertaining of playmates) but at least she was happy.

According to Emma, Rachel can say shoe. This is good news for Andrew, who may need some help with his vocabulary. Rachel can coach him.

A few nights ago as we were going to bed the whole house was dark, and I whispered, "I love you."

"My left shoe," Andrew mumbled in response.

"Are you sleeping?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "My left shoe."


"My left shoe..." and then he burst out laughing.

"What?" I asked again.

"Oh, it's just, you know that trick where you can say 'My left shoe' and it looks like you're saying 'I love you?'"

"Yes, but in my family we said, 'Elephant poo,'" (which, by the by, often made me cry as a child. I would chase after my siblings nattering, "Did you mouth 'I love you,' or 'elephant poo?' Tell me, tell me, tell me!" It was very damaging to my psyche).

"Well, that doesn't work if you say it out loud because it has different sounds than 'I love you.'"

And to think he thought about majoring in linguistics. It's a real shame. He would have been good. He catches on fast.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I will never understand people like my Uncle Bruce or Burt. How can anyone thrive on math? I mean, some people really enjoy it. I am not sure I ever will. When my Uncle Bruce was tutoring me in math, he said that he would teach me to love math.

He failed. I don't love math. But I suppose it isn't too horrible, either. That's an improvement.

I'm now tutoring Josie in math. Who, besides Ms. Horton, would ever have believed that I would tutor anyone in math?

Ms. Horton is famous in my books for saying one of the funniest things about math I've ever heard. I suppose I was kind of her "teacher's pet" simply because I am a perfectionist and so, although I don't feel I am very talented in mathematics, I usually got the best grade in the class because I worked hard. I found it rather humorous that she nominated me to be "student of the week" for the math department two times in one semester. I found it more humorous the day she said to me,

"You love math, I can tell."

"I don't love math," I told her.

"But you always do so well..." Then she tried to convince me that becoming a math teacher was my calling in life.

It's not my calling in life, I assure you. I dropped her class at the end of that semester and picked up an art class. I really am not very good at math and so I have to work really hard at it. This would be more enjoyable if it was something that was actually entertaining, like dancing. I'm not a very talented dancer either, but at least I enjoy practicing it. When's the last time anyone's ever said, "Hey, let's go do some crazy math problems tonight!" I've never heard that, but I have heard, "Let's go dancing tonight!" Thus we see that dancing is more enjoyable for me than math. Learning foreign languages and going through labor are also quite intensive, but I enjoy them both more than doing math.

"You are good at math," Andrew told me when I told him that story.

"Not really," I said, "I have to work really hard at it and it isn't fun. I am much better at writing than I am at math."

"And that's why we don't have a math blog," quipped Andrew.

When I was in grade 9, I took math through the ADLC (Alberta Distance Learning Center). I was struggling at first because I'm not very good at math, but I am a perfectionist so with a little tutoring from David and some long hours put into my math problems my grades started to improve. Toward the end of the school year, I was getting 100% on nearly every assignment, a marked improvement compared with the 60-80% I had been getting at the beginning of the year.

One day I got a letter from my teacher written furiously at the top of one of my assignments:

Your answers are looking more and more like the answers in the back of the book. I hope you are not cheating because exams, and life, will demand it.

I was utterly offended. I was working so hard to solve each problem and when I started to get them right my teacher accused me of cheating. I suppose it was too difficult for him to put A and B together to come to the conclusion that my answers were looking more and more like the ones in the back of the book because I was getting more and more of them right on a more consistent basis.

Luckily we have to take provincial exams every three years in Alberta and grade 9 was one of those years. I scored in the top 10% on the math exam. So I proved "it" on the exam and now I guess I'm proving it in life because, frankly, I used algebra and the order of operations more today as I helped Josie than I have since I took that exam.

She's a handful. She really knows her stuff when she's in a good mood, but once her mood slips (and slip it will since she's thirteen) she starts getting a little mouthy.

"Alright, what's 7 x 3?" I quiz her, as this is the next step in the problem.

"37," she answers snappily.

"Uh, no, it's actually not."

"Fine, 82."

"Come on."



"I said...uny-un."


"Twenty-one! Urghhhh..."

And that is how it took us about five hours to go through twelve pages of math. That's about the average amount of time I spent doing my college algebra homework everyday (with the good graces of the teacher, I pulled through that class). Josie and I both lost our tempers after a while and so took a break. We had lunch, I showered, Josie played with the baby and then we hit the books again. Remarkably enough, Josie made an amazing recovery and remembered how to do math. She got a 94% on her first assignment.

"I hate math," she kept telling me and I had to resist using the phrase Mrs. Weston used every time someone in my geometry class cursed math that way,

"Well, maybe it's not too fond of you, either."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Parent tested, kid approved

We bought Rachel some blocks that were advertised as "soft and chewable." Shortly after we got home Andrew announced, "Okay, they work."

"What?" I asked.

"The blocks," he explained, "I bit them and they work."

Great, honey, that's great. Thanks for trying those out for her.

Andrew has a grand ol' time playing with Rachel. Sometimes I think he gets a little more rambunctious than most 4 week babies tend to play, but he's really quite gentle with her and she does enjoy his company.

Building a block tower with Rachel, literally
It's okay, baby
I think Andrew is having a hard time waiting for her to be more interactive. We went and visited my friend, Heather, who just had a little girl a week after me. She also has a two year old boy. While Heather and I compared notes on our babies, Andrew threw balls at Heather's son. They found each other equally entertaining.

Heather said, "It's fun for a while but after a few hours he'll get sick of it."

Apparently she's never seen the water bottle battle video.

"I don't think so," I replied, "He has the attention of a two-year-old."

And with that we left Heather to handle her newly hyped-up son.

"What do you mean, 'He has the attention of a two-year-old?'" asked Andrew as we walked home, "He is two."

"Yeah, but you're 22." I responded.

"Oh, you were talking about me?" He asked, honestly surprised.

He's a fun dad. He just may be a little embarrassing when the kids are older.

Trying out the blocks is one thing, but it goes a little deeper. Andrew may, in fact, be reverting back to childhood.

"I like these," he said to me, "They don't spill. You have to, like, suck it out."

Again, "What?"

Oh, yes. He thinks sippy cups are cool. You have to suck like five times to get anything out of them, but at least there will be no spilled juice.

Rachel is currently blissfully unaware that she'll find her parents embarrassing in the not-too-distant future. Right now she just thinks we're both silly (but daddy especially so) which often leaves her in giggles.

One Month

It is interesting how I always wanted to speed the pregnancy along and so would round up. For example, "I'm almost 21 weeks pregnant," means "I'm barely 20 weeks" when you decode it.

With the baby though, I keep trying to keep her small, so "She's 3 weeks old," actually means "She's 4 weeks tomorrow, but who's counting?"

I plan on counting her age in weeks for as long as I can manage. And then I'll move to months... Years is just to strange to even think about right now. Maybe I'll just keep counting in months forever, which means Rachel can't date until she's 192 months old.

So, today, Rachel is 4 weeks and 3 days old (about the equivalent of 1 month). We still don't have a handle on things. Last night Rachel decided that 3:00 am was the new 3:00 pm. I tried to get her to go to sleep until 4:45, at which point I enlisted Andrew. She finally fell asleep around 6:00 but still had the energy to wake up at 7:00. The kicker: she wasn't even grumpy--she just wanted to play.

Even though she still has her night and day mixed up, Rachel has grown up a lot. She almost fits in newborn clothes now, which means that people have seen her in more than just a onesie. She isn't quite as floppy as she used to be--in fact, she's really getting good at holding her head up.

This is not as easy as it looks
She's also starting to express herself in ways other than screaming at the top of her lungs. Trying to catch that on film is very difficult since she feels that if we're paying attention to her she obviously doesn't have to say anything to get attention. Take my word for it, she can be quite talkative.

And, she's started scooting around on the blanket to chew on things. I'm not sure if I'm too happy about that because I'm hoping that I don't have to baby proof the house for at least a few more months.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Corn is not a vegetable

Andrew and I have this ongoing argument about whether corn is a vegetable or not. Oddly enough Wikipedia takes my side of the argument--I insist that corn is a grain. Therefore, I try to choose something green to go with our dinners, like peas. Peas are vegetables (although botanically fruits). Corn is a grain, good for making cereal with. You've heard of corn meal but I doubt you've heard of pea meal.

Well, Andrew got off work last night at 8:00, bringing him home around 8:30. Rachel and I had had a rough day, what with Rachel eating all day and then puking it up and then eating again and then...well, we were exhausted so when Andrew came home, Rachel and I were both just grumpy and there was no dinner for Andrew.

Being the wonderful husband that he is, he decided to make dinner for us. He put corn on the cob on to boil and started making some noodles. Then he thought he'd be a good boy and add some vegetables to our meal. He went into the freezer...pulled out the frozen corn (his favorite "vegetable") and then said...

"Oh, uhhh...I guess we'll be needing a different vegetable..."

Good idea. Corn and corn sounds a little boring to me, too. We ended up just having salad (with tomatoes) for our "vegetable."

By the time we finished dinner and I fed Rachel and she spat it up, it was 10:30. I had been trying to give her a soother (aka pacifier, aka "binky") throughout the day, but she hated it. That made me feel a lot better about her not taking me. Apparently she only likes breast shields and my index finger. I had talked to my mom earlier when I was going crazy and she said that Rachel might be teething already. David and I got teeth pretty early, so it is possible. And it would explain why she feels a constant need to gorge herself and then spit up so she can suck again.

In a desperate attempt to make a happy baby, we made a Wal-Mart run to get a different soother to try.

We grabbed some "Nuks" by Gerber and headed home to make some pacifier soup. We sterilized all the pacifiers and the breast shield in a frying pan because all of our pots were dirty.

No, we probably don't need this many pacifiers but they all come in two packs, so if you want to try a brand you end up with now we have four.

She still doesn't like the soother, but she won't make a disgusted face and scream if you shove it in her mouth and hold it there (like she would for the soothie kind). I've been using it today to supplement her feedings (half an hour on each side every hour is a little excessive, don't you think?). She treats it kind of how children treat vegetables. She doesn't like it, but if I make her suck on it, she will.

Am I a nag or what? Andrew, eat your vegetables. Rachel, take your pacifier.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Inevitable

When Rachel was about a week old, Andrew said, "Well, I guess we've passed the blow-out stage without a blow-out."

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Well, she had that one blow-out, but she wasn't wearing a diaper so it doesn't really count...and now she should be finished, right? I mean, she is a week old."

Oh, Andrew, Andrew,'re so cute when you're completely naive.

"The blow-outs get worse as the baby gets older because they eat more which means they..."

He wasn't too happy to hear that. She was really pretty good for the first two weeks, which passed incident free.

Now that we've entered week three, we have at least one blow-out everyday, usually first thing in the morning right after daddy leaves for work. Usually I'm holding her or nursing her when she does her thing. I'll then kind of poke around to see if it s leaking anywhere...and of course I never find any evidence of leakage. It's only when I reposition Rachel to stand up that I find the offending area. This is usually done with my bare hand or forearm (which is thankfully easier to clean than, say, my pants or shirt). If I checked up her back, she'll have leaked out one of her legs. If I checked her legs, she'll leak out the back. If I checked both her legs and her back, and then pick her up to hold her tummy-out against my arm...she will inevitably leak out the front of her diaper.

I'm not really sure how she plans it, but she's good!

Oh, and for everyone who volunteered to help, I have a pile of onesies, night gowns and pants that need to be scrubbed before we can wash them,'s the time to step up to the plate. Any takers?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Once Upon a Dream

I can tell I am sleeping better in two different ways.

The first is that Rachel has been sleeping almost all night long for the last few nights. For example, last night she went down at 10:30 and I finally woke her up at 6:30, begging her to eat (while simultaneously drenching the bed with milk). And just because she's sleeping through the night doesn't mean that I am yet. She had me on schedule with 2:00 and 4:00 am feedings so I am still getting up with those--I'm working on giving them up, but I'm a die-hard. However, she is sleeping more soundly since we put the vaporizer in our bedroom. That means that I don't wake up to every little snort she makes because she isn't making as many little snorts.

The second way is that I am having dreams again. Dreams so realistic I think I'm awake until I realize how absolutely ridiculous they are. Like this afternoon I dreamt that Andrew and I were in a Rumpelstiltskin type story, only it took place mostly in the upstairs bathroom of my Auntie Colleen's house and Andrew had to spin something into sausage. So here's Andrew sitting at a spinning wheel, turning out sausage links to appease some grumpy old man who is forcing me to fix the toilet. The toilet is one of those cheap-o plastic Russian ones with the tank above the toilet and you press the floating plastic thing to make it flush--not unlike our toilet in Jordan, only there we had a pull string. Odd, I know, but it seemed so real at the time.

It's actually no worse than my pregnancy dreams. Dreams toward the end of pregnancy get really weird, and they are usually about babies. I had two that really bothered me when I had them but I suppose could be kind of funny now.

Dream #1: I wake up in labor. Andrew is already up and getting ready for school (as if that actually ever happens). I come out and I say, "Andrew, I'm having the baby."

"Well, I'm having breakfast, so deal with it," he snaps.

"No, honey," I say, "I'm really having the baby right now."

"I'm really having breakfast right now. Deal with it."

I go back into the bedroom and have the baby all by myself without any help. I then get out of bed without any help (unlike when I actually had the baby) and came out to find Andrew.

"Andrew," I said, with the super long umbilical cord running from the baby on our bed into the living room because I haven't delivered the afterbirth yet, "I had the baby. We should go to the hospital."

"Well," he pauses to kiss me on the forehead, "I'm off to school. Have a nice day."

"I just had the baby. Don't you care?"

"See you when I come home."

I go back into the bedroom to check on the baby. The doorbell rings. I go to answer the door, still with this super long umbilical cord following me all around the house. I look through the peep hole and don't know who it is so answer the door (because I would probably do that if this actually happened...or not). It's some random people wanting to give me a survey.

"Look, I just had a baby."

"Like that's even an excuse not to take this survey."

"No, really...I just had a baby. This is the umbilical cord. I'm kind of tired and need to get to the hospital."

"When you opened the door you agreed to take the survey so you really need to do that."

"I really need to make sure my baby is okay...I seriously just had a baby like five minutes ago and I need to go to the hospital."

Anyway, I'm not sure how this dream turned out because I woke up in tears during my fight with the nasty survey people. And for days I was worried that no one would care that I had my baby.

Dream #2: I have the baby in the hospital like normal, but...she's absolutely hideous. She looks like a monkey-man-goblin-thing. After reading Harry Potter 7, I realized that my baby in the dream was my Peeves.

"Isn't she adorable," coos Andrew.

"Are you blind? She's the ugliest baby I've ever seen!"

We take her home and Andrew leaves for school the next day. At this point he is still thinking she's the best thing in the world while I am feeling guilty for thinking my baby is a monster. After saying his goodbyes and closing the door the baby really starts to act up.

She climbs up in the cupboards and starts throwing things at me. She is using vulgar and profane language and calling me anything but mama.

I tried and tried to console her/control her but she was an absolutely crazy (and ugly) baby. So, I opened up one of the hall closets. She climbed in and started throwing things and I slammed the door shut and shoved a chair against it so that it couldn't open.

When Andrew came home from work he was mad at me for treating an innocent baby in such a way. Innocent? Hah!

Dream #3: This is actually one of Andrew's. As I didn't actually have the dream, I don't know the details but apparently it was pretty bad because he woke up one morning all upset.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Is the baby okay?" he whimpered.

"She's fine," I assured him, "Why do you ask?"

"Because I had a dream that she had an extra arm growing out of the side of her head. She doesn't, does she?"

"Andrew, you saw the ultrasound, remember? 10 fingers, 10 toes, pretty arm growing out of the top of her head."

"Are you sure?"

"Do you need me to get the pictures?"

"'s was just so real..."

Yeah, and I felt that him sitting at a spinning wheel making sausage links while I fixed a Russian toilet was real. Dreams are interesting things. At least I'm having them again. For a while there I wasn't because I was so tired and not sleeping.

I wonder what Rachel dreams about though...her life hasn't been very interesting thus far and she enjoys sleeping so much that I think her dreams must be more exciting than real life.

I deny being bored while making a video of my sleeping baby balancing blocks on her tummy. I simply made this video because I thought that balancing blocks on your tummy while sleeping takes a lot of talent.

Keepin' the old

The Slades visited us about a week after Rachel was born, and it was so much fun to see them after almost a year. Our blogs help keep the distance less distant, but it's still fun to see them face to face. Crystal brought a silky blanket for Rachel. We love it!

--Letter from the Editor:

Wow, I guess I never finished writing this post. How sad. I'd write it now and put some pictures up to go along with it but our hard drive died a few days ago so we currently have zero pictures.


The Editor

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A Realization, or two...or three

This was my first uncontrolled baby passing around event. I was pretty nervous the whole time and kept craning my neck to track the baby. Some kind soul would notice this and would point to whoever had Rachel at the time. I suppose this is what Brother Steed meant when he said to "keep your head on a swivel," although he was talking about how to avoid sticky situations while living in the Middle East. I think it is perfectly applicable for keeping your eye on your baby while she changes arms a thousand times, too. I don't feel too bad about being nervous though because I caught Jenna doing the same thing a few times and she rarely worries about anything.

My family is pretty big, and we're pretty close, too. We still hold family reunions for my great-grandparent's generation even though all of the "grandparents" are gone. They've been replaced by our parents who are now the grandparents. And we've replaced the parents as the parents, which is kind of a scary thought. Perhaps I would feel younger if I wasn't one generation down on the totem pole, but alas, I have been replaced by Rachel.

Elizabeth got married this past weekend, and even though we got all four of my mom's siblings together, we were still missing a whole lot of cousins, and other relatives. From Uncle Bruce's family we were missing Heather (2.5), Rachel (4), 2 more boys of Sara's, and Mindy's husband for a total of 9.5 people. From Auntie Colleen we were missing Uncle LeRon, Craig, Eric, and Andy for a total of 4. Auntie Arlene did the best: only Uncle Michael stayed behind. And from our family, my sister Abra and her three kids as well as 3 of Kelli's kids were absent for a total of 7. We were missing 21.5 people from our family gathering, unless I forgot more people. Even more relatives are missing from the picture because some were out changing diapers...and we didn't have all the Breitenstiens in the picture yet.

The 21.5 is possible because my cousin Heather G. is expecting, which is why she didn't come. Another one of my cousins, Heather T., is moving to Chicago. Someone mentioned to Andrew that "Heather is expecting," and he says, "What?! Why is she moving to Chicago then?" He was scandalized that she wasn't married, was pregnant, and was moving to Chicago...until I reminded him that we went to my other cousin Heather' wedding last spring. She's the one expecting.

Breakfast just isn't breakfast at our house unless you have a confusing conversation about relatives. (Sorry Rachel, but I forgot that Mary's daughter is Rachel...and that Sara has a you are Rachel #3 in the family. You have a first cousin once removed and a second cousin named Rachel as well).

My own siblings haven't managed to get together for like 6 years! There are only 18 of us with all the grandkids. I therefore think it is time to throw the torch--be yours to hold it high...We need to start an Arnold and Pearl Conrad reunion. The Hancock reunion is great, but there are so many people to visit with and I can't think of a time when we've had all the cousins together. It's high time we did something about that.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hairy ordeal

Rachel is a pretty hairy baby. She gets that from me, we think, although she seems to have slightly more hair than I did. We shall never really know though since mine wasn't measured. Everyone remembered me as a bald baby, but I so had hair--unless the baby in my baby book isn't me...

When people first meet Rachel they usually exclaim, "Look at all that hair!" and then they touch it because, let's face it, baby hair is one of the softest textures known to man. Rachel's hair is 1.5 inches long today. That happens to be over an inch longer than her dad's hair and he's already complaining about needing another haircut. I like him just the same with or without hair, but I really prefer his looks with hair--he just looks older when he combs and gels his hair, and by "older" I mean "not 14."

In fact, Rachel's hair is so long that we can put real barrettes in already. I still used corn syrup on this barrette because it kept sliding out of her hair, but that's because it's one of my barrettes and my hair is just a little thicker than Rachel's.

Oh, but the best part about being a hairy baby is her ear hair. Just like me, Rachel has hairy troll ears. I measured her ear hair today (no, it hasn't fallen off yet...yes, mine has) and it is half an inch long. When the Slades visited, we pointed out her ear hair to them and the up-coming Dr. Slade said, "Ah, yes, all babies have hairy ears," at which point he looked at her ear hair and exclaimed something like, "Holy cow! She has hairy ears!" We just bought some little barrettes for Rachel's hair today and I really think that we could clip them to her ear hair.

Her hair certainly is cute, but it does present some problems. The main one being that Rachel will innocuously raise her hand, rest it on her head, and close her fingers around a big fistful of hair. She will then decide that, perhaps, she will lower her hand in a jerky, uncontrolled fashion without opening her fingers. This produces a pitiful, yet blood curdling, plea for assistance. By the time I reach her (usually 1-5 seconds later) she is so frustrated that she is clenching both of her fists as tight as she can while trying to pull them close to her chest in the fetal position. I, then, have to pry her fingers apart while trying not to increase the force of her pull. I'm sure once she gains a greater sense of her movements she will realize that she can just let go of her hair herself.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Best Medicine

Andrew came home last night and I started chatting up a storm. Let's be honest: my mom and brother came over for an hour yesterday, which was nice, but other than that I was alone with Rachel for 16 hours. Not that she's not good company...please see the previous post.

So, I was feeling better, having been on antibiotics for two days now. Apparently medication makes me happy because my charming husband said,

"Well, you're a lot more chipper," and after thinking for a few seconds added, "-er."

I'm chipperer when I'm on antibiotics. It couldn't have anything to do with my fever being gone, my head ache and muscle aches being gone, or my general feeling of wellness(ish), could it? Of course, that's due, in a large part, to the antibiotics.

I suppose I might get a little happier when on medication, but that's the point of it, right?

When I was in the hospital after having Rachel, our doctor put me on percaset, which is apparently a narcotic. Each time you are given such things in the hospital the nurses are supposed to ask you your name and birth date, both of which are conveniently located on your ID bracelet.

At around 4 am, a nurse came in to give me my second dose.

"What's your name?" she asked.

I grabbed my bracelet, turned it so I could read it and said, "Nancy...wait a minute...I knew that..."

I'm sure the nurse was like, "That's it! I'm halving her dose!"

It was 4 in the morning and I had just given birth, both of which may have contributed to my lack of brain power.

Even though I'm ditzy and sick, Andrew still finds me attractive. This morning I was feeding Rachel and Andrew walked over and kissed my forehead.

"You're so hot," he said, and then after considering he's been feeling me for fevers the last few days added, "And I don't mean temperature-wise."

See? He's charming. I haven't brushed my hair in days, I'm certainly not wearing any makeup, I'm encrusted in spit-up, and still he compliments me.

Maybe he's been sneaking my antibiotics. He's a little chipper...

I am Rachel, hear me roar!

Rachel's really a good baby, but since I've been sick she has been a little more grumpy than usual. Mastitis makes breast milk taste saltier, and apparently she doesn't like it as much because we've started to go through a crying fit before she'll take the infected side. It's Sorry, Rachel-girl, but if you want mommy to get better you have to do it.

So now before she'll eat we have to calm her down. It's a pretty tricky business. I can't wait until I'm better. Being a parent is hard enough. Being a parent and being sick is definitely not fun.

I've filled out more medical forms in the last few weeks than I have in my whole life up to July 20th. On Monday I had to take a postpartum depression quiz. One of the questions was, "Do you feel that having a baby interferes with your typical daily routine or your ability to get things done?"

Hmmm...let me think...

I put that down as a two out of three. The higher you rate it, apparently the more likely you are to be depressed. Now, I'm pretty sure I'm not depressed. I used to cry everyday but I don't anymore. I've been doing pretty good. However, I don't really have a typical daily routine yet. And I certainly don't have the routine I had before Rachel came along. As for getting things done, well...I've changed a lot more diapers and Andrew's done a lot more laundry as of late. I think eventually I'll get a "typical daily routine."

Another question I stumbled over was one that I filled out as I was doing paperwork for my mastitis appointment. "Do you feel abnormally tired?" Alright...I am exhausted. But that's normal, right? I'm more tired than I've ever been but I still marked that question a negative.

Sometimes those surveys are so confusing!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

V is for volcano

Andrew's parents are in a cruise in Hawaii right now. Before they left, they were telling us about this one excursion where they would get off the cruiser, take a ski-lift thing to the top of a volcano and then ride bikes down.

"How do you get back?" Andrew asked.

I was like, "I guess you just board the ship again."

He's all, "No, like how do you get to the top?"

"You don't. That's the point of taking the lift up and riding the bikes down--limited effort."

"So," he said, cautiously, "You just stay at the bottom?"

"Yes, you just stay at the bottom." I said, wondering if he thought this was rocket science.

"Isn't that a little dangerous?" he asked.

"Why?" I asked.

"Well, they have to get out of the volcano somehow..."

And then I understood what he was getting at.

"Andrew," I said, trying hard not to laugh, "They aren't going down the inside of the volcano. They'll ride down the outside. The side like a mountain."

My husband is really smart. He's gotten a 4.0 every semester since we've been married, except this one (I guess we find having a new baby stressful or something. What, like its hard?).

My favorite part of this whole story is that Karen phoned him from Hawaii just to tease him about their being on a volcano!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rachel Sucks: or, how my baby cured mastitis

We went to the pediatrician on Monday. Rachel is perfectly healthy. She has already gained almost a pound, putting her at 8 lbs, 3 oz. She's 20.5 inches long and is growing steadily. She's in the 50th percentile for both height and weight so you'd think we'd be able to find clothes that fit her but we can't. Oh well.

The doctor still wants me to wean her off the breast shield so he gave me a number for the lactation clinic. I phoned the warm line and when they called back, I said, "I have a question about nipple shields."

With this, the nurse launched into a well-rehearsed script, "A nipple shield is a small plastic barrier that..."

I let her drone on for a few minutes, listening to the pros and cons, before I interrupted her.

"Well, I was inverted so they put me on a nipple shield in the hospital. My baby is two weeks old and I want to know if I can get some help weaning her off of it."

"You could bring her in and we could try a few tricks with her."

"Are the tricks the same ones listed on the lactation website? Because I've tried those and she just hates it."

"Well, it shouldn't be a frustrating experience for you or baby. Have you tried taking the shield away and letting her suck on your bare breast?"

Have I tried taking it away? What kind of a question is that? I don't think I'll be going in to the clinic considering it costs $35. I don't want to spend $35 to hear, "Did you try taking it away?"

But perhaps I should have gone in because the very next day I woke up sick. I was all stuffed up and achy, but worst of all my breast was red and swollen and hot.

I spent the day having Rachel suck and pumping in between feedings. I put hot cloths on it. We also took a lot of naps. Finally, at 5 o'clock I phoned mommy. She came over and helped me take care of myself and Rachel. She brought me hot cloths, gave me ibuprofen, calmed down Rachel and helped her latch on, and put us both to bed. Andrew was working until midnight so it was nice to have my mom available to take care of us.

Andrew came home with a humidifier and he set that up in the bedroom. Rachel slept a lot better, which meant that I did, too.

When I woke up this morning I still felt pretty sick, but my fever was gone. Now that I've showered and fed Rachel 3 times I feel a lot better. We still have quite a bit of sucking to do before I'll be all better.

Who'd have thought breastfeeding could be so dangerous?

1:18, after a hot compress and a nap, my fever is back. Sheesh-o-rams!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Belly Button Saga, the Epilogue

I'm here at work, sitting next to a pile of Far Side books. I casually opened one and saw, to my surprise, that Gary Larson had the same fears I did.

The doctor officially approved of Rachel's belly button today, so it's all over. We have a real, belly-buttoned daughter who is completely out of the risk zone for navel explosions.


Rachel met a lot of new people today. We went to church and everyone wanted to take a peak at her, of course, but more importantly she met five of her cousins (technically only four since she'd met Rosie previously). It was pretty stressful for mom and dad, actually. We're not quite used to having that many kids in the house and we certainly were nervous about having that many kids around Rachel. I kept having to remind myself that a lot of children survive older Rachel should be able to survive a few cousins.

She did.
Gentle does it...
Eeek! Careful of the soft spot!
Please can I touch her nose, mom?
Sabrina wondering if this baby ever wakes up
Somehow Rachel managed to sleep through it all. She really just sleeps like her dad. Andrew and I went to dinner my parent's house tonight. After dinner I went for a walk with my mom and Josie while Andrew had a nap with the baby. Characteristically, Andrew fell deep asleep quickly and, equally characteristically, my dad then went to steal away the baby from Andrew.

Before taking the baby, however, he "woke" Andrew to ask him if it was alright. Andrew moaned his agreement, my dad took the baby and Andrew went "back" to sleep.

When I came back from the walk I went to wake Andrew up. I put my hand on his chest and gently shook him, "Wake up, Andrew..." I said.

He started grasping at his chest frantically saying, "Baby, baby, baby, baby..."

"My dad has the baby."

"Oh, how come?" Now that he knew the baby was safe his unconscious allowed him to slip back into deep sleep. Waking these two up is the bane of my existence!

"Because he took her."

No response.

"Andrew, wake up," I said, shaking his shoulders.

And what do you think he did?

"Baby, baby, baby, baby, baby, baby..." while grasping around at the air above his chest.

"Andrew, the baby is fine. Wake up!"

He's actually become a lot easier to wake up. I'm not sure if it is parenthood or the number of times he's smacked his head on the dresser (we're at three now--the first time he smacked it on the hard wood, fell off the bed and still asked for "10 more minutes"--we now keep a pillow stuffed between the bed and the dresser), but at least he's easier to wake up!