Monday, March 31, 2014

Family Picture Time

 Yesterday we tried to get a family picture and of course the general hilarity that always accompanies our attempts at family pictures ensued.

I'll let them speak for themeselves...

Oh our kids.  If all three of them looked at the camera at the same time it would be a small miracle:

Sunday, March 30, 2014

On How Today's Gospel Reading Echoed Through my Day...

All day long the homily from today's Mass kept popping into my head.  Our priest talked about the Gospel reading, which told the story of the man who was born blind.  When Jesus was asked who sinned, this man or his parents, he told them that neither had, that this man was born blind to show the glory of God.

He went on to speak about how in life people are born blind, both literally and spiritually, to demonstrate God's glory in our lives.

And of course, my mind turned instantly to the thoughts that I'd been turning over and over in my head the last few days, to words that I'd been struggling to express, as I thought long and hard about whether or not to sit down and attempt to turn them into a blog post.

I kept coming back to "who am I to write this?"  We have been given our share of challenges to face, but I'm well aware that the challenges could be far steeper, that the price could be much higher.

Besides, I don't talk about the challenges we do face all that much here.  From my posts you might think that Mae has the mildest type of autism imaginable and is barely on the spectrum.  I'm a lot of sunshine and roses, because that's what I'm choosing to focus on.  And in many ways, especially when it's quiet enough in my house to write, that's what stands out, step apart in my days.  The last few years have taught me that I am blessed... so, so very blessed to have a child who is alive and in my arms, to have a child who I can hear laugh and whose tiny arms I can feel thrown around my neck.

When we lost Christian and doctor after doctor told me it was "better this way" because "the baby would have probably had probably had a lot of problems" I wanted to scream.  I wanted to throw things and hit people.  "Give me my child, let us face the problems" I felt like yelling in response to the words that were supposed to make me feel better.

In a way it was easier for me to face the diagnosis because of what came before.  Mae is alive and is quiet possibly the most alive person I've ever met, with her vibrant thirst for life and curiosity and I have learned that life is such a precious and sometimes precariously delicate gift.

On a daily basis she amazes me.

I didn't tell you how after months of requesting a report on her ADOS results after hearing the word "severe" used to describe her diagnosis in a meeting I was finally told that they didn't want to tell me but that her score on the first test was 18.

I don't usually talk about the file that I keep with the results of the many, many tests that have been administered.  Some tell me that for all her amazing determination, developmentally in various areas she was scoring consistently below 18 months back in October when she was 39 months old.

Usually I don't share these particular worries, or talk about the tantrums or the hard days when everything is "off," when every shoe and shirt and dress feel wrong and result in hysterical screaming and kicking.  But today I felt like it was important to start with the harder parts of any given day to show that in my own way I understand a little of the struggles that many others out there face on a day to day basis.

Our lives could be harder... or easier.  But that isn't really the point of this post at all.  That's really just me justifying being able to begin really writing these thoughts down so that they can stop swirling around inside my brain.

In Friday's post I said that if I could I wouldn't cure autism and a great discussion has followed in which I've been interested to read the replies.  I probably should have said much more than I did in the initial post (but for once I was trying to be "quick" in my takes) because while I wouldn't change the way a mind who is "on the spectrum" works and make them "neurotypical" I do wish that I could change the world we live in, that I could make resources more readily available to individuals and families, that I could take away the fear that has been spread that make many people view those with an ASD diagnosis as somehow less than human.  I wish I could eliminate the eugenics mentally that often pops up in discussions of autism and I wish I could wave a wand and cure the many physical ailments that often go hand and hand with autism (the selfish part of me would totally wave away GI problems first!).

At the same time as I wish for all these things and absolutely advocate for my daughter, I also keep coming back to the power and importance of suffering in our lives.  Each of us has crosses and burdens and challenges.  Seldom can we chose them for ourselves or exchange them for crosses that from a distance seem more attractive and lives that from the outside seem shiny and bright and easy.  Our crosses are our own.  They're ours to take up and shoulder.  And they are how we draw closer to Him who went before us, carrying his own cross to Calvary.

Often God uses our suffering to draw us to Him.  We often realize in our brokenness the importance of grace and faith and relying completely on the one who created us.  In my own life the times when I felt the most small and helpless were the times when I also most strongly felt the presence of God in my life.

Of course a part of me wants ease and happiness for my children.  A part of me can see the shiny appeal of things and houses and being successful as the world defines success.  But another part of me knows though that happiness in this world wasn't what we were made for.  Our souls long for more. we thirst for more, and it is often through suffering and trials that we are drawn in the direction of the one who redeems us.

Not happy that Patch
was refusing to wear his crown...
We live in a world where happiness has been deified and exalted and the sorrows that so often lead to joy are vilified.  Many embrace the idea of a God who has more in common with the modern version of Santa Claus than the actual God who became man and lived among us and was crucified and rose from the dead and defeated death.

I guess one of the reasons I can't imagine a cure for Mae's autism is because I don't think she's broken.  She thinks differently than most of the people in the world.  So do I (actually before her diagnosis if I'd picked which of my kids was the most like me in terms of personality I would have said Maggie, and I'd say the same thing now, post diagnosis).  Maybe I just don't value being "neurotypical" as the ultimate goal of my own existence, or as the ultimate goal for my kids.  Conformity has never been high on my list of desired traits, even if from the outside it can seem to make life chug along more smoothly.

Or maybe it's because at times when I watch her I feel like she sees the world more clearly than many of the people around her who are too busy to pause and take in the beauty and splendor of creation.

It's also because as a parent I know that my main goal isn't to ready her for material success and wealth in this world.  It's to help her become the person that she's meant to be, to help her grow into a woman who will hopefully let God's grace flood her life as she faces trials that are uniquely her own.  My job is to raise alongside her father as best we can and to pray that those hardships which God has allowed are used to glorify Him and draw her closer to His side.

Friday, March 28, 2014

7 Quick Takes Friday: Autism Edition

Yesterday a study was released by the CDC, using data from 2010, and announcing that 1 in 68 children are now autistic (that breaks down into 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls).  And as I read the various posts about autism in my news feed and scrolled through the latest in autism news I thought I'd dedicate today's Quick Takes to the topic.  So here are my rather random 7 Quick Takes: Autism Edition.

Disclaimer:  There is no one particular experience of autism.  Most of what is here is just mine!  Others may find they relate to a lot of what I've written or they may find that it has nothing in common with their experience at all!

Probably like many parents of kids with autism, when Maggie was diagnosed I suddenly felt like I saw articles about the topic everywhere.  And actually this isn't really that far from being true. I probably see at least one article about autism on a daily basis.  I can usually tell from the title whether or not I should read it.  On very, very rare occasions I'll actually pass on the article to Paul or my parents, or share it on the blog facebook page.

Those are the ones that I actually think are worth reading.

Most of them... not so much.  But I don't mind seeing them.  Starting a discussion about autism is, in my mind, a good thing... although whether or not it stays a good thing really depends on where the conversation goes.

When I first began learning about Autism, I came across the Autism Speaks website and instantly recoiled.  The website made me feel queasy.  Seeing the billboards they've splashed all over our city and reading their name on each one even makes me draw back a little, because it instantly makes me think of what they promote and they promote a mindset that depicts a nightmare that destroys everything that it touches.

That's not what autism is to me at all.

Autism, in my life, is the little girl whose sleeping in the next room, whose face lights up when she sees me.  It's the laughter with which she fills our house.  It's her sparkling eyes that convey so much, even on days when she doesn't have that many words to share with us.  It's her sweet singing voice that we've been blessed to hear.

You see, I can't separate autism from my daughter.  It's an innate part of her personality and it's part of why she's so wonderful and unique and beautifully herself.  And that's why organizations that use language that paint autism as some horrible, horrible nightmare don't speak for me.  Because while we certainly have challenges and have shed our share of tears, there's plenty of lightness and hope and happiness there as well.  And saying that a diagnosis means your world is going to end and your marriage is going to be destroyed, just isn't accurate.

It may (or totally may not) surprise you to learn that I'm not all that interested in discovering a cause for autism.  I'm also not all that bothered when people say this or that or the other thing that I'm fairly certain has no effect on Mae at all, caused their child to have autism.  I can understand where the ideas and claims come from, whether or not they have any basis in science or even reality.

If there's one thing I've learned over these past months it's that Maggie has incredible reactions to absolutely normal things.  A bite of a Twizzler (did you know they have wheat in them?) might cause her to be in excruciating pain and almost completely lose the ability to speak for two weeks.  It can turn our world upside down in a single nibble.

That doesn't mean that I think that Twizzlers cause autism.  Maggie's sensitivity to gluten and dairy, however, seriously affect her ability to communicate and function, likely because they cause her such extreme pain (and let's face it, none of us function all that well when he feel like rolling up in a ball and clutching our stomachs).

I guess I'm probably not all that interested in reading articles about what causes autism because I do tend to believe that in our case it's genetic.  One article I did find interesting came out this week suggesting that autism begins in the second trimester or earlier.  I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.

I'm also not at all interested in finding a cure because I'm not about to suggest curing my daughter from who she is.

Do I want to help her be the person she's meant to be and grow and share her amazing personality with the world around her if and when she feels like it?  Absolutely.  But I won't do that by destroying who she is.  My goal isn't for her to be just like everyone else.  In fact, that's not my goal for any of my children.  It's for her to be the person that she was created to be and live up to her potential.

If your child is diagnosed with autism you'll start seeing some really, really weird explanations for why he or she is the way that they are.  Remembering that everyone is just trying to help is important whenever you receive this type of information.  A sense of humor helps too.

Did you know that some people think that people with these particular characteristics are aliens?  (No. Not kidding.  Not even a little bit.).

Some of the suggestions will be less weird.  Some won't.  

You'll likely get a lot of advice.  Some of it will be good.  Some of it will be absurd.  Laughter and a sense of humor helps.

A few days ago I was laying on Mae's bed, watching her and Sadie and Patrick jump on Sadie's bed.  At first I kept telling them to be careful of their brother because it looked like they were going to smash into him every second.

But I really shouldn't have worried.

Maggie often appears to be totally absorbed in her own world.  She did at that moment.  I mean, she was laughing with her brother and sister, but she wasn't really looking at either of them.  She was just my little sensory seeking girl, enjoying jumping.

I never even saw we glance in Patrick's direction, which is definitely below her line of sight.  But after watching her for about five minutes I realized that she was acutely aware of his every move.  Patrick jumped and blundered around the bed with his poor toddler balance, giggling, and she carefully made sure she didn't bump into him. Twice when he almost smashed into her she stopped and threw her arms around him and hugged him and then went back to jumping.

It's easy to underestimate how much attention she's paying when she doesn't seem to be engaged, but more and more I realize that she takes in everything.  Even when she's staring off in the opposite direction.

Sometimes the weirdest thing for me about the last few months has nothing to do with Maggie and her actual autism and everything to do with the number of doctor's calling my house these days.  The example below is not an uncommon conversation:

Phone rings...
Me:  "Hello."
Receptionist:  "Hi.  May I speak to Cammie ?"
Me:  "This is she."
Receptionist:  "Hi Mrs. W.  I'm calling from Dr. S's office."
Me:  "Hi?"  (sounding confused because I have no idea who that doctor is)
Receptionist:  "Your daughter was referred by Dr. C and we've already pre-approved your insurance for your appointment with us.  I can schedule you for two weeks from today.  Does that work?  I'll send out a packet in the mail with the information you need to bring..."

Sometimes I know who the referring doctor is.  Sometimes I have no idea who referred us even though it's probably a doctor that I know, because right now, between my three children and the pregnancy, there are so many doctors that my brain is completely full of names and there just isn't any more room.

In an hour I'll be leaving the meet with a neuro-psychologist.  I only know he's a neuro-psychologist because I remembered his name after I got off the phone with his receptionist and I googled him.  Paul's coming with me because he has an overwhelming number of reviews online letting everyone know that he gets 1 star for bedside manner and isn't the most pleasant person to be in the room with, and Paul is way better at dealing with doctors like that than I am.

But yeah, tons of doctors and therapist and social workers calling each week whose names and offices I don't even recognize?  For me that's probably been the weirdest part of these last few months.  Which is to say that life with autism isn't all that weird.  It's just life like it was all along, with a lot more help thrown in to help Mae meet the challenges that she faces each day.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Bump: Week 10

I figured since I started with the whole "week by week" theme I might as well just keep rolling with it.  I'm horrible with surprises, at least keeping my own surprises.  I planned on taking a weekly picture and keeping it a secret until the very end and then putting up 10 cute little rows of four pictures each showing the progression... but... I just couldn't keep them to myself.  

I was pretty certain that this week the bump would look smaller.  I lost a lot of weight from the horrible virus GI thing that struck the house.  I am currently the same weight as I was in the picture in Week #4.  But the bump?  

It definitely doesn't look to me to be smaller at all... In fact I think the bump is trucking right along towards gigantic.  Maybe not gigantic for me yet, since gigantic for me tends to look like I've got a beach ball shoved under my shirt and makes Paul's XXL shirts look a tad small... but it's a relatively gigantic bump for not-quite 11 weeks:

Bring on week 11!

Theme Thursday: "Hear" Our Little Dragon Roar

When I saw today's subject for Theme Thursday was "Hear" a series of pictures I snapped yesterday sprang to mind.  I wish you could hear the giggles and roaring that accompanied these pictures.

Patrick desperately wants to dress up as something.  He sees his sisters in their princess dresses and he's always trying to come up with something to play with them.  Today he's wearing a bathing suit over his clothes pretending to be a pirate. Yesterday, I handed him a dragon hat and his face lit up.  

He started to growl and kept taking the hat off to look at it and then crying for me to help him get it back on since he couldn't quite manage it on his own.  

He was so giggly that it was hard to get a picture of him with his eyes open.  After three tries I hit the jackpot... but I still love the out takes:

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Doctor's Appointment and Maggie's Request

Dresses as a princess, carrying around
a little heart jewel that she swiped off of
a crown and loves to hold in her hand.
What a day!

After a rough start to the week things are looking up.

It got off to a bumpy start (and while I already posted this on the blog's facebook page this is one of those rare times when  just have to share it again) with Maggie having a tough day.  She wanted something for breakfast and I just wasn't understanding what it was she was trying to tell me by hollering at the top of her lungs.

So I asked her again and her response to my query of "what do you want?"

"More happy!  More happy!"

It didn't really help me figure out what she wanted to eat, but it was such an honest, sweet response, that it brightened my morning.

Then it was time to get ready to go to my OB appointment.

I was nervous and wasn't really looking forward to going.  After my initial check-in appointment I'd been told that they would do one ultrasound at 20 weeks and that was it, and that they'd be dating my pregnancy by that ultrasound.

I hadn't said anything (out loud at least) at the time, but as I left this morning I was still bothered by the idea.  By 20 weeks our kids are already measuring big.  I was told Patrick was measuring 7 lbs months before he was born.  There was no way I was going to let my due date be changed by an ultrasound that late in the pregnancy.

The whole conversation was especially disturbing to me since I'll be having a scheduled c-section this time and I don't want them attempting to schedule it three weeks early because the 20-week ultrasound measurements says baby should be born the first week of October.
He pretty much carries
that remote control,
without batteries in it,
around all the time.

I should have known better than to be stressed about it.  I have the same doctor that I had with the second half of Patch's pregnancy (for the second half because of the move at 24 weeks) and he really listens to his patients.

This time though, I didn't even need to bring up my concerns over the earlier conversations.  He asked me if I was sure of the dates and when I told him I was he accepted that as the due date.  When he mentioned an ultrasound and I said that the nurse had said I wouldn't have one until 20 weeks he wrote up an order and said that the spotting I'd had a while back definitely was reason in his book for ordering an ultrasound and I could schedule it at the front desk.

I almost cheered.

If you're wondering about the spotting thing in the last paragraph, this is actually the first time I mentioned it on the blog. You might actually remember when I asked for prayers for a special intention a little while ago... and the new baby was my special intention.  I had spotting twice late last month, the first time after feeling really, really sick.  But it passed (thank you to everyone who prayed!).  And today I heard a beautiful little fluttering heartbeat measuring in at 181 beats per minute.

I'm sure they're ordering the ultrasound as much for my peace of mind as for any other reason.  I feel like I'll relax a tiny bit when I see the baby in there, hopefully measuring a normal for dates size.  It was at 12 weeks when we found out something was wrong with Christian, and so seeing a strong heartbeat on the screen is a major relief for me (the first sign that something was wrong was that his was something like 60 beats per minute).

Hearing the heartbeat today was reassuring but I can still hardly wait to see the image on the screen and have a little photo to take home and hold in my hand.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


We survived yesterday.  It was roots.  Again.  A plumber came and drilled out the roots.  It's been 10 months since they last did it and it seems like it's going to be a yearly problem.  With the way the sidewalks are buckled all up and down our street I guess this is hardly surprising.  Paul said it has something to do with the house being old and the joints in the pipes being made of clay.  

My goal is to not be here the next time it happens.  In the state, yes.  In this house with it's many times a year flooding, no.

It makes sense.  Our lease is up right after Paul takes the bar.  I'll be just starting the third trimester.  It'll be right on schedule.  Our of the last five times we've moved I've been pregnant for four of them (House to apartment: pregnant.  Apartment to trailer: not.  Trailer to Florida: Pregnant.  Florida to California {I'll count the summer internship move}: pregnant.  Florida to Michigan: pregnant).  I guess in our family, pregnancy and moving just seems to go hand in hand.

Paul went to the store and returned with my requested items.  A breathing mask and new super thick plastic gloves.  A new mop that will stay down in the basement.  

Last year I ended up fighting black mold as a result of the flooding.  This year I want to stop it before it starts.

Exciting, exciting.  

My day did brighten considerably when the kids and I went upstairs so that we would be out of the way while the plumber worked.  First there was snuggling with all three kids piling on top of me.  About an hour and a half and after half an hour Sadie decided that we were hiding from pirates and that everyone needed to be very, very quiet.  

Her brother and sister played along for approximately 15 seconds before the giggling began.  

After that it was pretty much pandemonium. There was lots of running and giggling and jumping on the bed.  Patrick insisted on jumping on the bed with his sisters and I was amazed as I watched Maggie pay attention to him very carefully as she jumped wildly around him, never bumping into him.  She did stop twice to hug him enthusiastically.    

At one point Sadie suggested that two of her dolls needed to nurse and Patrick came over, an outraged look on his face, and threw them both on the ground.  Apparently even discussing that particular subject is just too soon (although weaning has gone absolutely smoothly in every way).  

After waking up at 5 am, the kids fell into bed early and slept soundly.  And when I saw Maggie on her little bare mattress (she refuses sheets, for anyone who's knew around here and wondering), I just had to take a picture or five:

And then I tucked her in so that when she woke up her favorite babies would be there for her to play with and cuddle.

You can see Maggie's lip ouchie from attempting to climb a baby gate yesterday.
Now to get to work.  Today is the first day I don't feel like passing out or getting sick when I stand up, so hopefully that means I'll be able to get some work done!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Just Be Thankful There are No Pictures...

I'm trying not to cry right now.  I wanted to be cheerful and insightful and uplifting this morning... but then this morning arrived and... raw sewage.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Words like disaster are swirling around my head.

I thought I was being so clever and prepared when I moved many of our belongings from the "box room" which I just knew would flood, out of the flood path.  I was ready for the giant snow melt off that was coming.

Yesterday I went down in the basement for a few moments and I smelled something foul.  But I really didn't think much of it.  Between my pregnancy sense of super smell and the virus that was sweeping through the house (I think those of you who suggested Norovirus are likely correct), everything has smelled disgusting.  Burritos?  Yuck.  Pizza?  I hid into the bathroom until it was eaten.

So imagine my surprise this morning when I went downstairs, my head still pounding, to get pants for Mae, who, had tumbled into something, split her lip and was covered in blood (I know.  I know.  It gets better and better!) and I slipped across the basement floor.

For a split second I found myself blaming the cat.  Had he decided not to use his litter box in some passive aggressive cat fit because I won't feed him the 6 dinners that he feels he deserves?

And then I realized it wasn't.

I struggled with denial for a solid 15 seconds.  The basement has now flooded around six times since we moved in roughly 19 months ago.  And the sewer?  Well... Roto Rooter just fixed the line last May the last time the sewer backed up and flooded the basement.  So it couldn't, it just couldn't be.

Now here's where I made my real mistake.  I noticed that one of the boxes I'd moved into the "safe" zone was full of beautiful little girl dresses... the special ones that I didn't give away before we left Florida.  It was now soaking in sewage.  I tearily asked Paul to throw them in the wash as I sobbed to our therapist about what had happened.

Can you see where this is going?  Because what is the very, very worst thing that I could have done if the sewer was backed up?

If your answer is, using more water, than you're right.

The flood went from 1 room to 3 room before I could remember what happened last time and pulled on boots and raced downstairs to find my sewer fears confirmed and to turn off the washing machine before the rinse cycle ended.

It is the sewer.  It is horrible.  It did flood the area with all of our clean laundry and all the baby clothes I had in boxes and bags waiting to be sorted.

I think I'm going to be sick.  Okay, I think I'm going to be sicker than I was before just thinking about this.

I'm now waiting for a call back from our land lord and trying not to have a nervous breakdown in the meantime.  Because raw sewage was the last thing I needed to find filling my basement after this weekend.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

In Not So Fun News..

Last time I felt like this we ended up like this...
I think we've avoided it this time...
There will be no What I Wore Sunday here today, since the flu has struck our house yet again, and I spent last night convincing Paul that I did not need to go to the ER (non-baby related. Thought I'd get that out there right away!).

It was close.  There were moments when I thought I was going to have to and was trying to imagine rousting the kids out of bed and getting them into the car, because there was no way I could drive at that point with the room swimming and voices sounding increasingly far off and faint.

The flu has hit our house (again) and oh what a not fun strain it is.

I'll spare you the details, but I lost 6 lbs yesterday and dehydration was a major worry about 9 pm last night when I started feeling like I was going to pass out.  I could only picture the disaster that me-who-was-afraid-to-leave-the-bathroom would be if I spent hours waiting in an ER.  There was nothing I could imagine in that moment that sounded worse.

I'm not a fan of being sick in the first trimester.  There's nothing I feel safe taking at this point in pregnancy any longer.  Especially not Tylenol.  This is one of the worst flu bugs I've ever experienced.  I feel like it rivals the great mystery virus of 2011 that landed me in the hospital with infectious disease for five days.

Paul came down with the same thing early this morning, which puts us in the not-so-fun position of having three kids who are up and ready to greet the day (bright eyed and bushy tailed) and two parents who would really, really like to stay in bed and pull the covers up to their ears.

The little people still expect food every few hours...
And while I imagine they'd be thrilled with rice cakes
and popsicles, I know I have to aim
a little bit higher...
We've been taking shifts.  Thankfully right now, with the fever and chills setting in again for me, he's feeling better and is taking care of the rowdy ones downstairs.

And while I haven't had solid food stay in my tummy for 24 hour, I'm managing some Popsicles and tiny sips of water, which is a huge, huge improvement over yesterday afternoon.

I did have a split second panic attack (delusion) upon seeing Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever trending on Facebook until I quickly checked twice to make sure it wasn't in Michigan (kidding... kind of...).

I just hope the kids don't get this, especially Mae and Patrick, who just wouldn't understand what was going on.

In totally unrelated news, this morning while Paul was stumbling around trying to find wipes, Patrick picked up a container or wipes and said "Here Daddy!" in a proud, clear little voice.  At 16 1/2 months he is our earliest talker by a year and a half.

Now back to figuring out how to make dinner when the thought of touching (or worse smelling!) food makes me want to run and hide in the bathroom.  And trying to be not-to-whiny and offering it up (fail?  Kind of fail?).  Somebody ought to make good use of this feeling!

Friday, March 21, 2014

9 Weeks

This week seems a little less dramatic to me.  Maybe my stomach muscles have finally decided to cool it on all the unnecessary (at this point) expanding?  We're in the ninth week (almost tenth as of today) and so far the difference between that first picture and that last picture is three pounds so... I'll blame lots of pregnancy tummy muscles for looking 20 weeks pregnant right now!

7 Quick Takes Friday

Yesterday there was a rush to sit in the stroller.  I think my oldest and my youngest children were suffering from a delusion that we were going to go out walking even though it had been lightly snowing all morning and with the way I've been feeling lately (not great, but not horrible, just kind of first-trimester-I-don't-want-to-move-blah...) I wasn't quite willing to bundle everyone up to walk around the block while snow flakes drifted down on us.

So Patrick climbed into the front seat and sat down and began to bicker with Sadie over one of the three cup holders that we don't actually use because the kids detach them and throw them on the ground.  Sadie wanted to pretend it was a megaphone and sing into it and Patrick wanted to pretend it was a hammer and wanted to whack his sister with it.  After a few minutes of back and forth over who would control the cup holder (while ignoring my suggestions that they pick up one of the other two identical cup holders that were a few feet away) I heard Sadie say:

"Patch.  I think we need to talk about our feelings."

I glanced over about ten seconds later in time to see him trying to hit her with the cup holder.  Apparently their talk didn't go all that well.

This is the look he gets when he thinks he's doing something he shouldn't be doing.

Do you remember Rey's Swimwear, the new swimwear company that released a bunch of super cute modest suits last year?

Well this year if they get enough orders they'll be making little girls suits too!

I have a favorite.  The Madeline (although I think I like the "lemon" print the best!).

From the Rey's Website.
Then again, the Eloise is really cute too (and it's a swimdress in three different colors!):

From the Rey's Website.

I've been watching this company since I first saw the video of the founder speaking about how she came up with the idea for the swimsuits last year and I just can't wait to see what they come up with next.

My favorite grown up suit is the Caroline, but I have a feeling it wouldn't work with a baby bump!

I saw a sale this morning that I am just barely, barely resisting.  If we knew if this baby was a boy or a girl I would not be resisting at all because a triple stacked sale would be just too much to resist.

Basically right now Carter's is offering 50% off all the clothing on their site.  In addition to that Ebates has a coupon code on it's site that takes another 20% off the remaining price, plus by going through Ebates you get 3.5% back (and I can vouch that you really do because I've been using Ebates for a couple of years now!).

All you have to do is go to Ebates and use your account to search for Carter's.  It will bring up a link (and you'll see the 20% off code) and you follow that link to the site (which will also give you 3.5% back).

Not a bad deal if you're in the market for baby clothes at the moment!

Most of Sadie's clothes were Carter's so I'm guessing this one was too!

Yesterday was a special kind of exhausting.  I snapped this picture shortly before bedtime.  Maggie and Patrick have dumped a bin of toys out under the table and I've given up trying to gain any semblance of organization before bedtime.

Here's Maggie playing Dora.  She's standing on the table looking at a map while saying "Map!  Map!" and ignoring me while I say "Abajo!  Abajo!" (a word that we definitely know she knows since she uses it correctly a half dozen times a day.

He thinks that he's mastered the art of using a spoon, but really... I try not to watch, while at the same time trying to remove his bowl the second he's done before he decides to throw it.

I ordered some suction cup bowls from Amazon prime after we lost a second bowl in two days (I figured $7 to buy 3 suction cup bowls was cheaper than replacing our much used dinner set bowls) and I'm hoping they're the answer to Mr. Clears-His-Tray-Himself-the-Second-He's-Finished and his quick throwy hands.

Here's Mae's Outfit of the Week.

You know what you would never know about Maggie from looking at most of her pictures?  How teeny tiny she actually is.  She's been at roughly the same weight since she was a chunky one year old, while shooting up into a willowy three and a half year old.

It's hard to tell though in most pictures, or even in real life, because our little sensory girl loves layers.  Here's what she picked out today.  She has on a backwards sleeper with a zip up sweater that she had me put on and take off her three times before deciding that it was going to stay. She put on a dress that Nani made for her over the sweater and then came and brought me a Dora t-shirt that she demanded I help her into that she's wearing over the dress.

If she'd remembered that she'd put her long sleeve Sofia shirt into a box earlier in the day I'm pretty sure she would be wearing it too.

My poor husband.

Yesterday I printed out a receipt, handed him a burrito and sent him out of the house after the kids went to bed with specific instructions: Come back with the right burrito.

Why yes, pregnancy craving craziness has hit.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that first trimester food aversions have hit and I'm desperately trying to find things that I can eat more than one bite of without feeling sick.  Which made the burrito very, very important in my little food focused brain.

You see the other night I made another dinner I couldn't bring myself to eat and tucked the babies into bed and then looked and Paul and begged him to go to Chipotle and pick up the burrito that I would very quickly order online.  In my head it was the perfect plan.  At this point I can't eat much and one burrito will make at least three meals for me.  Paul wearily agreed and went to go get one before buckling down to study.

Fast forward one hour.  The burrito arrives.  I excitedly bite into it and see... corn.  More specifically, corn salsa (and not green chili salsa). I try to eat it.  Yuck.  There are many things that my first trimester taste buds cannot tolerate that I usually like (among them avocado, meat, eggs... pretty much everything I usually love) and apparently corn joins the list, tasting sickeningly sweet.  I sigh and throw myself dramatically on the couch.

I go to bed.  The next day I check and find the order receipt email and make sure no salsa and then go upstairs and tell Paul that he can tell them that I'm pregnant and insane... simply insane... I just can't eat that burrito.

Last night he returned with the perfect burrito and so far it's looking like it will make three meals, which makes it a pretty good deal (okay, anything that sounds good right now sounds like a "pretty good deal" to me).

Is it the second trimester yet?  Less than three weeks to go...

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

From the School Room...

We are halfway through our last week of school (since we started back in June!) and Sadie spent some time this morning drawing pictures of the family.  And of course, I just had to share (file this under, posts that only interest immediate family).

First she started with a picture of her and her sister, inside of a heart:

Then she announced that she was drawing a picture of "Christian and Patch."  A short while later she was upset because I didn't now Christian's hair color (she decided it must have been golden):

Here she is hard at work:

I'd been drawing a picture of a doll that Sadie and I are making together (that she colored in):

And then she announced that she'd made a doll of Maggie (that she labeled without my help):

And Patch (also labeled without my help):

Apparently she has a lot of work planned out for us!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Stealing Spring

I had this great idea today.  

It felt brilliant when I was planning it out.  The last time we went on a walk (outside and not around the mall in circles while it's -19 with windchill outside) was some time around November and all the being in the house while Paul has the car all day and night was driving me insane.  

I couldn't take being cooped up for a minute longer (especially with all these deceptive blue sky 0 degree days that have been creeping in).  When it hit 33 I packed up the kids.  When we left I checked again and my computer was now claiming that it was 37 outside, which basically shows how long it takes to get them ready.  And so we headed out into the beautiful day, ready for spring (or to wrestle a spring like experience from an ankle deep in snow sort of day).

In some parts of the country this is spring.  In others it's a huge amount of snow.  Use the bench on the right hand side as a reference for depth...
 As we entered the long driveway to the zoo Patrick, who'd been happy up until that point, burst into tears.  He held up his hands to show me that they were cold (he had on layers and a snow suit which I thought was overkill since it was above freezing, but the kid won't keep anything on his hands) and then firmly refused to keep them covered.  Finally I took of my sweat shirt and put it on him, tucking the sleeves under him and knowing he would have to keep them bundled since he wouldn't be able to get them out.  After five minutes of howling and many betrayed looks he finally realized they actually felt better and he started smiling again.

Disaster averted.

Honking geese stopped us here and we snapped a few pictures as they strolled across the ice in front of us.  As we walked along I wondered if the place would be empty.  We hadn't seen any cars drive by.  Maybe other people were just saner than we were?  Then I looked ahead and realized that it was simply because everyone was already there (you probably can't count it in this picture but there are three buses in the parking lot).  Apparently we weren't the only ones looking for a place to go to enjoy the weather!

According to Google Walking Maps the path I took was 2.8 miles each way... and as I approached the zoo I began to doubt my decision to walk that far.

Doesn't this happen every year?  I majorly over estimate my ability to walk certain distances when starting out after winter (particularly in the first trimester)?  Well today, for once, it worked out.  And the kids got some sorely needed fresh air.

In other news while the stroller is pretty easy to push even with all three kids in it (when they're all in it it weighs about 175 lbs), it feels practically weightless during the stretches when Sadie walked next to me.

At my last appointment the Nurse Practitioner who does intake asked me how much exercise I get.  I laughed and said something like "well if you could chasing after a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 1 year old, then a lot!" and I believe she wrote down "none."

The truth is, I don't exercise.  But in my non-first-trimester life, I also usually don't really sit down during the day unless I'm doing school with Sadie.

In college I went to the gym pretty much every day to do cardio and lift weights.  I surfed.  I played rugby.  I worked at the pool and I'd swim a mile or two.

And I'm pretty sure that I was never as physically exhausted as I am on an average day chasing and lifting my three.  I'm lifting a 50 lb, a 35 lb and a 25 lb child on a pretty regular basis (I have to help Sadie over our maze of baby gates when I'm too lazy to deconstruct them), and I'm chasing, wrangling and playing with them all day long.  When it's not frozen it's not unusual for us to walk around 5-6 miles a day just going places.  We don't really walk to walk.  We walk to get here and there and everywhere.

So no, I don't exercise to exercise anymore.  I don't have the time or energy for that.  But life, even life trapped within these four walls during the dead of winter, isn't exactly sedentary either!  I guess it's kind of like the question "do you work?"

Now back to the point of this post about going to the zoo.  I'm so easily sidetracked.  The tiger was definitely the hit of the afternoon.  He walked right up to us and marked the fence, which resulted in a lively conversation about "spraying."

 Finally we stopped by the wolves who looked like they were enjoying the weather and then began the long hike home.

And we made it!

Then Paul came home early after several days of an insane work load, which is a nice surprise to end a nice day!

In totally unrelated news, Maggie said 42 spontaneous words today during therapy (that we caught!)!  She's putting phrases together and using them in context and we're all constantly amazed by her progress!  On the walk today she was singing "walk, walk, walk" to herself.  She also was super excited when she heard "let it go" being sung in Spanish and she ran over and started to sing the melody along with it (one of her therapists is fluent in Spanish and has been speaking it with her a bit, after discovering that Mae loves the language far more than her native tongue!).

And she loves being able to tell us, little by little, what's on her mind!