Saturday, May 31, 2008

The drawback to buying a brand new house

I am so thankful for the beautiful house we had built eight months ago...but there is a drawback. Door-to-door salespeople like to target new neighborhoods. For the record...
  • If we want to soften our water, we'll buy our own softener and salt instead of spending a ridiculous amount each month for your equipment.
  • We have a pest control company we love, owned by a friend we trust. Even though you've been in the pest control business two years and have never heard of them, I promise they really exist. No, I don't want another one of your cards; the guy from your company who came to our house last week gave us a card. Yes, I threw it away.
  • Our cheapo Eureka vacuum was rated very highly by Consumer Reports, and we don't need a Kirby. Even if it is strong enough suck up large objects and small animals.
Then Thursday we got another knock on the door. This one was unique, selling something I've never seen sold door-to-door before. Original oil paintings. Kind of odd, right? I mean, if we need decorations for our home, we can go to a gallery or a home decor store. It seems weird to buy paintings from some guy who's carrying them from house to house.

An hour and two painting sales later, he left our house.

We sure told him!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Live Bookmarks on Firefox

Yes, this is a post about a technical topic. But it's about something really cool that might make your life easier, so it's actually worth reading! Thanks to my identical twin sister Becki (who is of course gorgeous--hee hee) for turning me onto this time-saver.

First--this only applies if you use Firefox as your web browser. If you don't use it, you should! It's a great browser, and Internet Explorer's new "tabs" have been used by Firefox for years; it's really ahead of the game. (Plus, using Firefox is a small way to keep Microsoft from totally taking over the universe). I only use Internet Explorer when I have to. Firefox can be quickly downloaded for free by clicking this link.

If you have several blogs that you follow, like I do, you may get tired of repeatedly pulling up your favorites to see if there are any new posts. Wouldn't it be great if you could bookmark them and, at a glance, see if there's a new post--without even having to visit the blog? Well, my friend, you can!

Firefox has a feature called "Live Bookmarks" where you can click the bookmark and it will show you a list of recent blog posts. If you see that there's a new blog post on the list, you can click on it to pull it up. Several times a day, I check out my favorite blogs this way, to see if there are updates. If not, I don't even need to visit the blog. This also works on some other websites, such as various news websites that are frequently updated. (It works on sites that offer RSS feeds--and if you don't know what that means, don't worry!)

Here's a very easy step-by-step tutorial on how to create a Live Bookmark.
  1. Check out the address bar in Firefox. (Right now it reads "".) At the right side of the address bar, there's a little square symbol--it's orange with 3 white marks in it. See it? Any website that has that little symbol in the address bar is eligible for a Live Bookmark.
  2. Click the little orange symbol.
  3. A little window will pop up that says "Add Live Bookmark". It'll say "Create in" and then it gives you a drop-down menu of where you want the bookmark to show up. Select the folder where you want the bookmark. Or, if it's one of your favorite blogs, select "Bookmarks Toolbar", and it'll show up right there on your browser's Bookmarks Toolbar, so it's even more accessible.
  4. Click "OK", and that's it! You've got a Live Bookmark.
One more note--I've found it helpful to have a separate folder within my bookmarks, just for blogs, so that I can look at several all at the same time. To create a new folder in your bookmarks, go to Bookmarks-->Organize Bookmarks-->New Folder.

Edited to add: Becki gave some good tips in her Comment, and I'll go ahead and post them here. Thanks, Becki!

If you are a Mac user and you use Safari, you can also put an RSS bookmark in your bookmarks toolbar. Same method.

And if you don't see the bookmarks toolbar in Firefox, go to "View" in the menu at the top of your window (or, on a Mac, at the top of your screen.) You'll find this setting at View>Toolbars>Bookmarks Toolbar.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Leave it to a 2-year-old... tell it like it is.

I was laying on my side on the couch yesterday morning, and I guess my shirt was pulled up a bit because Chickie could see my tummy. Keep in mind I'm two months post-partum with my second child. My tummy at this point is definitely worse for the wear.

Chickie grabbed the extra tummy skin and started pulling it from one side to the other. "I'm folding your belly button!" she exclaimed.

"Folding Mommy's belly button" of the many games that's a little more fun for her than it is for me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

66 books...

...1189 chapters, 31,173 verses, and 365 days.

I'm really excited that I just finished reading the Bible through in 365 days, May 28, 2007 through May 26, 2008. It's the first time I've done that in a year, and it was a worthwhile experience.

I used a website called Bible Gateway. It's a really neat site with about a zillion translations of the Bible. (I did most of my reading in the modern and very readable New Living Translation.) The site has great resources such as various Bible reading plans (including the 365 day plan I used, among others). I put together a spreadsheet so that I could keep track of which day I was on (i.e., May 28=Day 1, etc.) and so that I could catch up when I inevitably fell behind!

So what's next? Well, I'm a questioner (sometimes a cynic), and faith can be pretty challenging for me. I've chosen to build my life on this faith in Christ--and while sometimes that's an easy thing, at other times it's a decision I make in spite of my doubts. I'm well aware of how odd it may sound to base my life on something that I sometimes struggle to believe, and I wish my faith was more sure. But when it comes down to it, Christianity works for me. Even as I have doubted Him, I believe God has very personally guided me and given meaning to my life. And I've done enough reading to believe that my faith also works intellectually, that I can believe this Bible stuff without throwing my brain in a trash can--that's crucial to me. So on a practical level and an intellectual level, it makes sense for me to believe.

But sometimes there are difficult topics in the Bible that bring up hard questions. And then there's that element of believing without seeing--that can be a real challenge. So I think next I'm probably going to look into some of the topics that bring up questions in my mind. I'm not at the point that I'm trying to figure out if I'm believing in the right stuff; I'm more at the point that I want more depth and clarity to my theology and to my faith. So, as muddled as that sounds, that will probably be my next journey. And I know that as I find answers, I will also find more questions. That's okay with me; as hard as questions are, they are part of what keeps faith real and dynamic to me.

Wow, that got a bit deeper than I'd originally intended! This blog is about my life, the important (and even not-so-important) aspects of it. So there will be times I talk about faith since that's big to me. But my intention isn't to write stuff only for other Christians to read--I want to be honest about my faith (the strong and weak parts). This is who I am, and I like to share it both with those who are coming from a similar point spiritually, and those who aren't.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Costco rocks!

Remember the beautiful flowers The Engineer got me from Costco? Here's another picture of them, from yesterday:


That's one week after he bought them. I've gotten roses that didn't look that good on the day I received them! Some of the the petals are starting to discolor, but overall they still look great. They've lost one leaf and zero petals.

And best of all, The Engineer revealed the price to me.

For two dozen roses with greenery and baby's breath...

You ready for this?

Fifteen dollars.

Yep, fifteen bucks!! I said in my previous post that they were probably less than the industrial-sized box of diapers he bought while at Costco--in fact, I think the diapers were $40, so he could have bought three bouquets for just a little more than the cost of the diapers. Three bouquets--six dozen roses! (Yeah, that might have been a bit excessive. My week wasnt that bad.)

One last tip if you love good deals like we do. When buying flowers for others, I like to go to Ross or TJ Maxx to buy a vase. I can get a beautiful, unique vase for less than the cheapo florist vases. Now I know where to get the flowers to fill it--the Costco quality and price sure beat what I find at a grocery store!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Thank you for bearing with all the sickness talk, and for praying!

Chickie's fever is still there but is significantly lower today. Her ear infection is improving, and we have extended her amoxycillin a few days since Mama forgot to give her the evening doses three days in a row! I guess I have a few other things on my mind but I'm determined to make sure she gets all her doses now.

Zoodle had plenty of awake time this morning, and his congestion is upper respiratory, not in the lungs--that is great! He is still coughing but seems more "himself" today.

I'm tired but doing okay.

Hopefully back to entertaining blog posts tomorrow!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

She's a sickie again...

Chickie got up from her nap and I discovered she had a somewhat high fever. Zoodle's fever is totally gone but the dude has been sleeping most of the day--even more than his normal frequent newborn naps. Thankfully he's still eating and peeing (on me and the floor most recently--"Take that, Mom! That's my revenge when you keep sticking a thermometer into an 'exit only' hole!") But he has a pretty icky-sounding cough, too.

So--doctor appointment for both of them in the morning.

Seriously, if you do pray, send some our way; we can use them right now! Thanks!

And if you live here and are in our area of town tonight...plan your trip to stay as FAR from the Germ House as possible!

My girl

It's been kindly pointed out to me that there aren't a whole lot of pictures of Chickie on this blog--at least not ones where her face is visible. Oops! Well, Zoodle seems a lot better today and I'm sick of blogging about illness time for some shameless showing off of my girl. Some of these have Zoodle in them too, but Chickie is the star of the show today. I'll even share a video at the end.

This one's from this morning--and I even got her to smile for the camera, a big achievement these days! (She loves to smile, but she's usually in too much of a hurry to pose for pics.)


Watching TV with Sampa (my dad) when they visited after Zoodle was born:


The day Zoodle was born--Chickie with her baby doll sling, and me with Zoodle in his matching sling:


Holding Zoodle (who I think was a day old here):


Chickie, Sampa, & Zoodle:


Chickie is into "lining up" toys (and other items) these days. We particularly liked this creation, which utilized symmetry and shoes:


Chickie, Grammy (my mom), and Zoodle:


Chickie brushing her teeth:


Chickie & Zoodle with Grandma, & Grandpa (The Engineer's parents who visited a couple of weeks ago):


And a video. This is short and totally hilarious:

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

First Fever

So, it's not one of the FUN milestones, but pretty much every baby hits it at one time or another--the first fever. Zoodle hit it a little earlier than I would have liked.

This "little virus" that Chickie had has ended up being the bane of my existence. She's doing great, but I'm still getting over my battle with it--feeling pretty good but I'm so hoarse I'm surprised the cashier at Wal-Mart last night didn't whip out a surgical mask to protect herself as soon as I started talking.

Zoodle's had a stuffy nose, goopy eyes, and a little cough--nothing too bad until he woke up fussy in the middle of the night last night, and I realized he felt warm.

After a high reading taking his temp under the arm, we went for the more accurate route--yep, in the bottom, poor kid. His rectal temp was 102.3.

Now, if you have kids, you may remember that fevers before 3 months old are not so good. I knew the doctor might send us to the ER but wanted to talk to her first. So a little after 1:30 a.m. we left our first message on the after-hours line.

I say "first message" because we left two more messages over the next hour or so. Still never heard back. Apparently I am not very good at following directions on automated phone lines--I pushed "4" too soon and, while our messages were recorded, they weren't sent to the doctor's pager. Oops.

It may have been a blessing in disguise, because instead of speaking with the doctor and having to head straight to the hospital, we were able to just monitor him at home while we waited for a call back. The temp came down pretty quickly, and though we were annoyed at not hearing back from our doctor (not realizing it was due to my impatient index finger), we felt okay about going to sleep and waiting until morning.

Except sleep wasn't okay with me, apparently. Thanks to some fantastic coughing fits (me, not Zoodle), I didn't get back to sleep until about 4:30. I'm not in the best mood today but plan to take a nap very soon, which hopefully will cure me of my dazed feeling.

We went to the doctor at 10, and by then Zoodle's fever was totally gone--hooray! If you're the praying sort, please pray it doesn't come back; if it spikes we probably will be sent to the hospital. It doesn't look like that will happen, though; the consensus is that his little body is fighting off the virus very nicely.

As I told a friend the other day (when she was dealing with a sick kiddo too), being a parent is ALWAYS a BLAST; isn't it?!

Oh, but on a positive note, this boy loves to eat! He weighed in almost a pound heavier than at his appointment 9 days ago! He was clothed rather than naked, and it was a different scale, but still--the kid is growing!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Letter to my employer

To Whom It May Concern:

I'm writing this letter to my boss (though in my position as a stay at home mom, I'm not sure who that is) because I'd like to request some changes in my benefits package.

Sure, I get plenty of warm fuzzy benefits like kisses and hugs and baby smiles, but what about the tangible stuff? Specifically, sick days. When one of my long-term projects (i.e., Chickie) hit some speed bumps recently (i.e., got sick), I ended up with a not-so-fun virus. Yet I can't find anything in my stay at home mom contract referring to sick days. How did I miss that when I accepted this position?

I'm pretty sure there's someone I can sue for forcing me to continue working long hours on both of my long-term projects, despite feeling icky. Surely there is another employee who can temporarily take on my duties of feeding, changing, and entertaining. We know these projects can't simply be "shelved" for a day or two as they must be carefully maintained. I should know; I started the projects from the ground floor (with help from my business partner The Engineer, of course.)

Or maybe this Family Medical Leave Act thing would apply? You know, I get to take time off when I get sick. Sure, it's unpaid time, but let's be honest--I haven't seen a paycheck in a good, long time anwyay; I'm only sticking with this job for the benefits. Oh, wait, I'm being told our corporation isn't big enough for FMLA since there are only four of us. Perhaps there needs to be 17 (going on 18) projects for us to be large enough, like the Duggar Corporation? Yikes...okay, no FMLA for me.

I recognize this recent incident can't be changed as I'm feeling fine now, and my need for a sick day has passed. But please let me know ASAP how you'll be changing this particular aspect of my benefits package. I can't threaten to quit, but I may have to picket...if I can figure out who my boss really is.

C. Beth

Monday, May 19, 2008

Big Sister

It's really a joy to watch Chickie developing a relationship with Zoodle. Well, it's a joy when I'm not pulling my hair out trying to keep her from killing him. She is, after all, 2, and her moods can change quickly!

She likes to "share" with him. I think she figures he's a great person to practice sharing skills on, since he has no interest whatsoever in her toys, and she can take back an item whenever she wants it. She'll bring a toy car to him and place it on him, saying, "I'm sharing, Mommy!" As long as the car isn't, say, being driven on his face, he's okay with it.

I'm constantly trying to strike a balance between encouraging her when she's kind to him, and making sure she doesn't dislocate any of his little limbs, or crush his soft spot. It requires lots of "Mommy finesse". If toddlerhood or infanthood lasted longer than they do, the life span of mothers would be drastically reduced due to stress alone.

Yesterday we'd given away some gifts to little kiddos from church who'd had birthday parties that we'd missed. So Chickie had presents on her mind. When she saw Zoodle in his bouncy/rocking seat, she brought her baby doll over to him. Our conversation went something like this:

Chickie: I'm giving him a present, Mommy!


Me: Oh, be careful, Chickie! Oh, that's so nice! Are you sharing?

Chickie: I'm giving him a present!

Me: You're giving him a present? That's so nice, Chickie! Make sure you're being gentle!

Chickie: I'm going to unwrap it. (She starts trying to pull off the baby's little outfit.)

Me: Oh, you're unwrapping it? (She quickly gives up on the "unwrapping" and moves on.)

Chickie: The baby needs to be next to him!

Me: Oh, Chickie, that's very sweet! (She picks up the baby and not-so-gently places it on Zoodle's face. Zoodle obligingly cries.) Oh, Chickie, that wasn't nice! You aren't being gentle! You hurt him!

And so it goes. Zoodle wins some, and he loses some--often both within the space of a minute or so.

This morning he was back in that bouncy seat. He was getting fussy, but I couldn't pick him up, as I was cooking on the stove. Chickie took it upon herself to comfort him. She gently (hooray!) touched his hair and his body, and then she started talking to him.

Recently Chickie's been waking up scared. One way I soothe her is telling her, "Jesus is right here with you."

So she, in a sweet, comforting voice, told Zoodle, "Jesus is right here you. Jesus is right here you."

That little girl--she makes this mama's heart melt.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Gum 'n' Roses

I've got a touch of Chickie's cold, and by yesterday afternoon I was ready for a nap. Chickie obliged by taking a good nap herself, and Zoodle and I cuddled on my bed together.

Usually when Chickie gets up from her nap, she comes and finds me. Well, I thought I might be hearing some sounds but I thought--well, hoped--it was just noise from outside. Finally I was pretty sure she was awake, and I dragged myself out of bed to see what she was up to.

This sight greeted me:


Recently Chickie has become obsessed with my purse--especially the gum in my purse. This week she literally ate about two packs of Orbit (thanks to multiple purse raids). Yes, she swallows it; she doesn't quite get the whole idea behind CHEWING gum yet. I've started keeping my purse on the top of the fridge so she can't get to it, but I forgot yesterday.

Clearly Chickie wanted to distract me from her mess, so she held up the car in her hand, and urgently told me, "I want to play with this red car!! I want to play with this red car!!"

Bright red toy cars aren't as distracting to me as Chickie would hope, and she earned herself a trip to time out. I checked out the damage, and, sure enough, there was the empty package of Orbit.


The package had been nearly full, and there were only a few gum wrappers lying around. The Engineer is afraid the gum will create an intestinal blockage, but so far she's been pooping regularly--perhaps thanks to the extra fiber in the paper wrappers she's eating?

Clearly this week had its challenges. Which made it so meaningful when The Engineer came home yesterday with these:


That's two dozen! What a guy! For an engineer who is naturally more practical than romantic, this is a big deal, and he earned some major points in my book. This gift told me that he's listened to my requests for more romantic gestures (requests that usually cross the line between open communication and outright nagging.) The fact that buying flowers doesn't come naturally to him makes it all the more meaningful.

(And while I'm a romantic, I'm also frugal, so I'll pass along a tip--Costco has great prices on quality flowers. Stick them in a crystal vase you've had since your wedding, and you're set. I bet The Engineer spent less on two dozen roses than on the huge box of diapers he bought--and the roses certainly smell sweeter.)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Quick Chickie update (in mathematical form)

Swollen eyes + Runny nose + Swollen lymph node + Ear infection = Oral antibiotics + Eye drops

On the positive side of things, I LOVE our new family physician!

The icky side of having kids

So the gentian violet thing ended up being a BIG mess yesterday. Too bad I didn't discover this link until late afternoon. It gives tips such as how to not use too much of the nasty purple stuff. Apparently if the baby's drool is purple you're using too much.


Not only was Zoodle's drool purple, but so was his shirt, my shirt, Chickie's mouth (since I had to treat a certain part of myself too and she comes in contact with that certain part when she nurses), the kitchen countertop (due to dripping), my hand (due to spilling), a couple of towels, the Miracle Blanket, and a burp cloth. Oh, and Zoodle looked like...well, the picture that kept coming to mind was a carniverous animal's face after feeding time, with the messy face, except apparently Zoodle's poor prey bleeds purple.

(Thankfully the above link does have good info on getting stains out, and so far I know that rubbing alcohol works quite well on countertops and skin.)

On top of the thrush, Chickie has had a cold and it progressed yesterday. She woke up from her nap with yucky yellow goop coming out of both eyes, and we spent the rest of the day wiping it off repeatedly (which she loves, let me tell ya).

By mid-afternoon I was complaining to The Engineer on the phone that it felt like my whole world was purple, and I was just having a rough day especially with Chickie's added sicky fussiness.

Thankfully The Engineer demonstrated his awesomeness by coming home a bit early, then taking both kids with him to grab some drive-through dinner so that I could have the house to myself for a little while. I spent that time in the tub reading an excellent political thriller by Joel Rosenberg (thanks, Mom & Dad for the tip!). By the time The Engineer came home with a baby who needed Mama, I was relaxed.

Then Chickie woke up at 2:30 a.m. crying (which doesn't often happen these days), and she came to sleep with us. Zoodle already sleeps with us, and four people in a queen-sized bed is pushing it. Chickie was on the edge of the bed, and at 5:49 a.m., BOOM! SCREAM! Yep, that was Chickie falling. And reacting.

We ended up getting up to ice her slightly fat lip. Haven't seen eye goop today but her poor little eyes are so swollen and she looks awful, so I'm off to call the doctor to try to get her in today.

Oh, and I have to do our morning gentian violet dosage (with my newly acquired small dosage skills), so wish me luck. Looks like I may need it today! Well, luck...and a nap.

Edited at 8:33 a.m.--Looks like we are WINNING the thrush battle! Gentian violet works quickly, and most or possibly all of the thrush is gone. Still used the GV this morning and will probably use it one more time today just to be safe. But things are looking up!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Prince Purplemouth

Thrush is a fun yeast infection that babies can get in their mouths. It creates white splotches on the tongue and/or inside of the cheeks/lips. Chickie has had it twice, and Zoodle has had it once...for the last 5 weeks or so.

Treating thrush can be tricky. The drug most commonly prescribed is Nystatin. It has a lot of sugar in it, though, and yeast feeds on sugar. So sometimes it doesn't work. Then there's gentian violet, a natural remedy which is highly effective in most cases, but stains the mouth dark purple. I recently heard of a third possibility, grapefruit seed extract (GSE), which has to be used more often than gentian violet, but is colorless.

So we've been using the GSE for five weeks. Problem is, I am not using it HOURLY during waking hours, as is required. That's hard! So we can't seem to zap the last little bit of the thrush.

Finally today, I gave in and used gentian violet.


My little Prince Purplemouth! Problem is, it stains saliva and spit-up purple, too, so now my lovely Miracle Blanket, the burp cloth, and Zoodle's new shirt (and probably soon my shirt) all have purple on them. I've heard Oxy Clean gets it out. We'll see.

This better work quickly, because I hate that my month-and-a-half old baby boy looks like I've been feeding him bright purple lollipops!!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What the hail?!

Sorry for the bad pun but I couldn't help myself....

I spent about 20 minutes tonight with Chickie and Zoodle in our closet due to a tornado warning. Thankfully no actual tornadoes were spotted but there was a funnel cloud spotted that didn't reach the ground. Yikes! It wasn't too near us but it was looking like tornadoes were very possible in our area, so we hung out in the safe closet for awhile.

No tornadoes, but what we did get was HAIL--the biggest The Engineer or I has ever seen in person. It was almost golf ball sized. So wish us luck when we check out our roof tomorrow....

Yep, it's a Miracle

Zoodle is one of those babies who LOVES being swaddled. There are varying opinions on how many hours a day a baby should be wrapped up. (Some experts say as much as the baby wants; some say max 10 hours a day because of limb development.) So while Zoodle might love being swaddled, say, 20 hours a day or more, I generally stick to naptime, nighttime, and sometimes dinner-fixing time if he's fussy.

Anyway, I am a swaddling moron. I've never been good at swaddling with a blanket. Thankfully my AWESOME friend Kristi sent me a Miracle Blanket, and let me tell you, this thing is truly a miracle. If he's fussing, even outright crying, he generally stops when I'm about a quarter of the way through with the wrapping process. And the Miracle Blanket actually keeps his arms in, which can be tough when using a regular blanket.

Here's a picture.


Yes, it looks like a baby straitjacket, but does he look upset to be in it? And the book of Luke says Baby Jesus was "wrapped in swaddling clothes" so Zoodle's in good company.

Miracle Blankets are pricey but to me it's been worth it. (I know, easy to say since I didn't actually buy it, but even if I had--I'd pay quite a bit for something this effective.) They can be purchased at (where there is a good instructional video and lots of great info), at, and at various other places.

Now for a couple of not-so-pricey alternatives. Becki (my sister) swears by the swaddling technique Harvey Karp describes in the book and DVD The Happiest Baby on the Block. However, for all but tiny babies, most store-bought blankets are too small. Her solution is to purchase a cheap knit jersey bed sheet (top sheet), queen-sized. Cut four square blankets out of it. (Queen sized sheets are nearly square.) These "blankets" work very well, even with babies who tend to get out of normal blankets. No need to even hem the edges. Make sure you use Dr. Karp's excellent swaddling technique. The book and DVD can often be found at libraries.

And here's a blog post that demonstrates "double swaddling" with two blankets. My advice--make sure the blankets are very thin and, as with any swaddling technique, watch your baby for signs of overheating.

With a toddler to chase around, I can't hold Zoodle through all his naps like I often did with Chickie! Swaddling with the Miracle Blanket has been a lifesaver for me.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Engineer's shopping list

I have finally, at the age of 30, gotten into the habit of keeping a grocery shopping list on the fridge, and I usually remember to write down the things we're running out of. I'm trying to teach The Engineer to utilize this excellent tool.

The other day we needed salsa. Perfect opportunity for The Engineer to use the list for the first time.

"The Engineer," I began, "would you please add salsa to the grocery list?"

"Where is it?"

"It's the Curious George pad on the fridge." (Yes, I have a 2-year-old and I stole the magnetic Curious George pad I bought her.)

He graciously complied. It wasn't until the next day that I actually saw his list.

It gave me a smile and an appreciation for a husband with a sense of humor. (Though I guess not enough of an appreciation to actually fulfill his wishes, since, as you see, salsa is the only item I marked off on my shopping trip.)

For now, our upstairs game room will have to suffer without a 42" television, receiver, and surround speakers. Yes, we are indeed deprived of life's necessities.

(By the way, what exactly is a receiver?)

Tandem and toddler nursing

As I mentioned in my introductory post, I breastfeed my toddler and my infant. Nursing two is called tandem nursing.

Let's be honest--tandem nursing is pretty uncommon in the United States and is therefore (understandably) seen as weird. People tend to have questions about it. Online on message boards, people have an easier time honestly saying how they feel and asking questions, so that's generally where I'm asked about it the most. People I know in "real life" who know that I tandem nurse are probably usually a little embarrassed to ask questions.

So I thought I'd address the questions and concerns I've heard regarding both tandem nursing and toddler nursing. My goal has never been to be a tandem/toddler nursing evangelist, "converting" as many moms as possible. Tandem and toddler nursing are not for every family and that's fine with me! What I do want is for people to maybe see these choices as a little less odd or scary. I'd like tandem and toddler nursing to be more normal in our society.

This link is great to answer some of the questions that I have been asked, especially regarding the safety of nursing during pregnancy:

I definitely did my research on this so here is what I learned about nursing and contractions:

A normal uterus has multiple levels of protection that keep it from going into labor early. The number of oxytocin receptors (oxytocin causes contractions) on a normal, pregnant uterus is low until the end of pregnancy when the number of receptors GREATLY increases, allowing the uterus to respond to oxytocin by having lots of contractions and going into labor. There are other ways the uterus is protected. (See the above link from

Orgasm causes contractions, too. Yet most women are allowed to have sex throughout pregnancy. The fact is, most uterine contractions during pregnancy don't lead to labor--our bodies are well-designed not to go into labor until usually 37-42 weeks gestation.

Occasionally though, women have trouble with preterm labor. For some reason their uteruses aren't functioning with the full protection of a normal uterus. In this case, women are usually put on "pelvic rest" (not allowed to have sex). Many breastfeeding experts feel that if pelvic rest is necessary during pregnancy, the mother may also need to consider weaning since for some reason that particular mother's uterus is responding too well to oxytocin, too early. That's why when I started having excessive contractions in my last pregnancy, I cut down our nursing to about 3 minutes a day total--an amount that affects me far less than just getting up throughout the day and going to the bathroom (one of the major causes of my contractions!) By nursing for only about a minute at a time I didn't generally have any contractions; Chickie generally just was not suckling enough to produce much oxytocin at all. I made it to 36 weeks, my release from bedrest, and then didn't go into labor for three more weeks, so thankfully all my contractions didn't send me into preterm labor.

One final word on safety, from that site, "A recent review of research on the pregnant uterus reveals that there is actually no theoretical basis for the common concern that breastfeeding can lead to miscarriage or preterm labor in healthy pregnancies. Instead the uterus has many safeguards preventing a strong reaction to the oxytocin that breastfeeding releases.

Interestingly, experts on miscarriage and preterm labor are not among those who see a potential link between breastfeeding and these pregnancy complications. Miscarriage expert Lesley Regan, PhD, MD, quoted in Adventures in Tandem Nursing, saw no reason that breastfeeding should impact pregnancy, even if the mother has a history of miscarriage or is experiencing a threatened miscarriage."

As for why a mom would want to tandem nurse and/or nurse a toddler:

Let's start with toddler nursing.

There are certainly still health benefits to breastmilk beyond 24 months, though some misguided writers have claimed otherwise. There hasn't been a ton of research, but from a purely logical standpoint, a food that is as complete and healthy as breastmilk doesn't suddenly lose its value when a child hits a certain age. (We might compare it to spinach. Spinach is especially healthy during pregnancy because the body needs extra iron, which spinach has. But it doesn't lose its health values after pregnancy when that extra iron isn't as crucial.) But, hey, with that line of reasoning, breastmilk would be healthy for any age, and yet I know of no society in the world in which adults regularly drink breastmilk. So how long is nursing appropriate?

This varies so much from society to society. Throughout the world most societies wean between a lot later than we do--between the ages of 2-4 is common, some as late as 7. Yet in many parts of the US it's considered odd to nurse beyond a year. Just the fact that so many people throughout the world do it and have for thousands upon thousands of years makes me think that our ideas about it being odd are tied to our relatively new cultural ideas (about the sexuality of breasts, how early kids should be encouraged to be independent, etc.) So to me, the "weirdness" has more to do with who we are as Americans than it has to do with the actual act of toddler nursing.

So why do I do it? Well, quite simply, it still works for us--for both me and my daughter. When it stops working for one of us, we'll need to stop. I've set a lot of limits to nursing--the most recent coming darn close to weaning--during pregnancy because of my physical needs (first physical discomfort, then the contractions). She's at the age where she eats lots of foods and I know I can lovingly set limits and know that she is getting nutrition from other sources, so I am still meeting her needs in other ways. She may decide she's tired of nursing and wean herself--in that case, it will have stopped working for her, so it will be an appropriate time to stop. And she could still be going strong a year from now yet I've decided I'm ready for it to stop--again, an appropriate time to (lovingly, probably gradually) wean.

To be honest, now that I have been tandem nursing for a month and a half, I'm getting tired of it. Chickie definitely isn't! Likely this will "stop working" for me before it stops working for her, and I'll probably wean her in the next several months. However, it's been really nice being able to give her comfort and love through nursing, as she adjusts to our growing family, so I want us to both continue to benefit from that before I wean her. As she becomes more used to this strange new life in which she is not the center of our world, I think we'll be able to naturally transition her out of nursing.

For now, tandem nursing "works for us" in multiple ways. For one, my toddler isn't big on cow milk and can also be a somewhat picky eater, so I feel good knowing that when she's getting breastmilk, it can serve to close that nutritional gap.

The main way it "works for us" though, is that Chickie just gets lots of comfort from nursing, and that facilitates bonding for us. It's very sweet when she's dealing with all those crazy toddler emotions and she is comforted by the breast--it's like a big sigh of relief for both of us! I totally thought toddler nursing was weird when I was pregnant! Then I started reading The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding and started seeing toddler nursing in a different way. I remember one of the authors saying for her it turned the "terrible twos" into the "terrific twos". Well, I wouldn't go that far for us, especially with usually three short nursing sessions a day! But anything that can bring some peace into the craziness of life with a toddler is a beautiful thing.

This tends to be a hot topic, and I remember one long, crazy toddler nursing debate thread on an online message board some months back. Multiple moms brought up scenes they'd witnessed that really bothered them, with toddlers running up to their moms in public, pulling up Mom's shirt, and "taking a sip". Well, a mom who had nursed her toddler (and had tandem nursed) chimed in, saying that would NEVER be acceptable in her family. She said she used toddler nursing as an opportunity to teach her child respect for her body. A 2-year-old is not the same as a 2-month-old. The 2-year-old can grasp the idea that Mommy's body is not his body, and he can learn to respect her. I loved that viewpoint, and as Chickie has gotten older I have set boundaries about things like her lifting up my shirt, and not generally nursing in public any more. (I'm not anti-toddler nursing in public but there came a time I was no longer personally comfortable with it.) Basically I want her to learn that Mommy has comfort zones, and Chickie needs to respect those, just as she will need to respect the bodies of others around her as she grows up. So, toddler nursing doesn't have to be about a toddler "calling all the shots". For us it has been a very healthy way for me to teach her some boundaries, and I think that's been great for our relationship and for her development.

I guess the big question is, is there a good, logical reason for us to NOT practice tandem and toddler nursing? Sure, it totally seems weird to most in our society, because most of us have rarely if ever encountered it--I'll readily admit that! But is "weird" a good enough reason not to do it if it seems like it will work for that particular family? In general nursing has been a positive enough thing for us that I've had to get past society's "weird" factor just to do what seems to be working for our family.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Story time

Chickie loves it when I tell her stories. One of her favorite parts of our nap and bedtime routine is when I tell her a story about Flame and a story about Jesus. Flame is a fictional orange bear living among black bears; I created him one day when I couldn't think of a fairy tale. The Jesus stories are retold from the Bible.

Flame's life mirrors Chickie's in some amazing ways--the benefits to Mama making up the stories! On Chickie's bad days, the Flame story may be about our lovable orange bear having a tantrum. Recently Flame has had grandparents visit and leave, and he even has a new baby brother who he is learning to touch with GENTLE hands. The nice thing is, the stories seem to "sink in" more than my many lectures. Later, Chickie will mention things I've talked about in the Flame stories (like Mommy getting scared if she doesn't hold my hand in a parking lot), and I've even heard her telling Flame stories to her toys.

Chickie awoke at 5:45 this morning, about an hour earlier than usual. I decided to head up to her room to see if I could get her back to sleep. She was crying because of a very runny nose, so I wiped it, and then I lay down with her.

"Story about Flame," Chickie requested in her sweet, sleepy voice.

Well, stories about Flame are very short when Mommy's been awakened too early, so I said, "One day Flame woke up early because he needed a Kleenex. Mommy got up and got him one, which was fine, but it wasn't time to get up yet, so he went back to sleep, and when he woke up again, it was time to get up. The End."

Not the best Flame story ever, but I guess it satisfied Chickie, because she moved on. "Story about Jesus," was the next request.

"One day," I started, then paused, trying to think of a short story about Jesus...preferably one involving sleeping.

I guess I waited too long, because Chickie finished the story for me. "Jesus went to the library, just like Flame go to the library."

Works for me. Biblical accuracy really isn't too important to me at 5:45 a.m. "Good story," I told her. "Night night."

A daughter who is creative, likes me to read to her and tell her stories, and is interested in Jesus.... I'm so thankful for my little girl!

My BIG boy's weight update

Today Zoodle and I had our last checkup at the birthing center. I will miss that place!

Zoodle weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces at birth. Six weeks and two days, he weighs...

(Drumroll, please)

...10 pounds 15.5 ounces! Just half an ounce short of 11 pounds. He's gained 3.5 pounds since birth. That's my boy! That's my MILK! I take inordinate pride in my infants' weight gains. (Chickie was a good gainer too as a baby.) It means my body is doing its job making quality milk. Yeah!!

His birth weight was a little short of 50th percentile (maybe about 35th to 40th based on the chart I'm looking at), and his 6 week weight is a little above 50th. (By the way, his head circumference at birth was 13.75 inches, just a little above 25th percentile. My body was thankful for that little head!)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Six weeks ago...

This post is rated "M" for Mature. Be prepared for graphic yet beautiful details and pictures. If you are male and are related to me you'll probably be very weirded out but if you'd like to continue reading, go for it! (All pictures will be at the end of the post so if you prefer not to see graphic photos, just don't scroll to the very end.)

With that disclaimer....

Six weeks ago today my son Zoodle was born. I want to be able to go back in future years and read a long, detailed story of the labor and delivery, and I love to also share that story with others. Here it is.... Settle in with a cup of coffee as it'll take awhile to read.

On Friday, March 28 (1 week before my due date), I awoke very early in the morning with uncomfortable contractions. I had many contractions through this pregnancy but I knew they were getting harder, even a little painful. Excited, I got up and started timing them. Within an hour or two they went away, but before I went back to bed I went to the bathroom and saw a bit of bloody discharge so I knew labor might be close. Later in the day I spoke with Christina, my awesome doula (labor assistant), and she felt that with all the symptoms I was having, labor would be coming soon.

I did not have a lot of contractions Friday. I decided to go ahead and go across town for a ladies' game night. I wasn't driving and figured if I went into labor there, my friend who had driven me could likely get me to the birthing center in time. I had a couple of uncomfortable contractions during the event, sporadically. After the longest game of Yahtzee! in history, we left and returned home some time after 11. The Engineer and I got to bed about midnight.

At around 2:30 a.m., I awoke to a very uncomfortable contraction. (Let me insert something here. Because I needed to be in a positive mindset for natural childbirth, I got in the habit of using the terms "uncomfortable" and "intense" instead of painful. But I'll say it here. Yeah. It HURT.) I knew I couldn't sleep through contractions of that intensity, and I was very excited at the possibility of this being "it", so I got up. I started timing the contractions and soon told The Engineer I might need him to help me through them. He didn't say much. Before long I fully woke him up to let him know I wanted his support through the contractions.

The Engineer was, unfortunately, exhausted. He got up but was in a terrible mood and so tired he didn't feel like he could physically make it through the day if he stayed up. I sent him back to bed. Angry and disappointed, I called Christina. Thank goodness for a great doula. She calmly helped me understand that not only did The Engineer genuinely need rest, I did too. She encouraged me to understand where he was coming from, and to also try to rest myself. Feeling more at peace again, I lay on the couch for a bit then moved into our bed.

Interestingly, after The Engineer went back to bed, my contractions slowed considerably for about half an hour. I think it was my body's response to the stress of being angry. Having been induced with Pitocin with my first child, it was fascinating to see my body's response to natural labor.

After a couple of contractions in bed, I knew that laying down was not comfortable for me. I got up and moved to the tub where I knew I could probably relax better. Laboring in the tub, early in labor, sometimes slows things down or even temporarily stalls labor altogether. At this point, though, I knew I needed as much rest as possible and, knowing my labor with Chickie had been under five hours, I was okay with this labor slowing down.

The water really helped and I was able to rest. My contractions were not too close, maybe an average of every 10 minutes or so. But they were very irregular through the entire labor. I might have a contraction, another one four minutes later, and another fifteen minutes later. I never got into a regular pattern.

The Engineer is the worship leader at our church--he plays guitar and sings. I sing too and I know how singing worship songs can soothe my spirit and relax my body. We had talked about worshiping during labor; I'd even chosen quite a few calming worship songs. Even though The Engineer was still resting, I decided to go ahead and try singing through my contractions. It really did help calm me. The song I mostly sang is one called "You Are My King" by Brian Doerksen.

You are my King
And I love You
You are my King
And I worship You
Kneeling before You now
All my life I gladly give to You
Placing my hopes and dreams in Your hands
I give my heart to You

And I love You, I love You
Jesus, yes, I love You, I love You
Jesus, my King

Let me tell you, my voice is not at its best when I'm in the middle of an "intense" contraction, but I am so glad this was one way I dealt with the discomfort. I felt so connected to God as I sang to him, and when singing required too much concentration as the contractions got harder, I started just praying, crying out to God. Nothing fancy or eloquent, just things like, "God, help me! Thank you, Jesus, thank you. I know you created my body to do this." The intimacy with God through this labor and delivery was precious and amazing. Experiencing something so intense yet so miraculous made me appreciate God as my Creator in an incredible, unique way.

At around 5 I woke up The Engineer. He was ready to get up and support me, and I'm glad he got some sleep so he was able to truly "be there" through the rest of the labor and delivery. The Engineer was already somewhat awake, having been hearing me praying (sometimes loudly!) through the contractions. He was under the impression that labor wasn't too hard yet since I could still "talk through" the contractions. I had to explain to him that the type of praying I was doing was not the same as holding a conversation! It was more akin to "vocalizing" or "moaning"; it just happened to include words. That helped him understand that I was indeed already in an intense phase of labor.

I also called Christina and let her know I'd like her to come. She said she could be there in an hour to an hour and a half. I stayed in the tub. Contractions were sure becoming difficult. The Engineer was getting ready, showering, getting together last-minute things for the birthing center, and passing Chickie along to a great friend who came to pick her up. I was so relieved when Christina got there about 6:20 because with all the practical things that needed to be done, The Engineer was busy. Christina was able to really support me through the contractions.

Right before Christina arrived, I'd had to poop, and I am apparently not one of those women who likes laboring on the toilet! It felt awful having a HUGE contraction on the toilet, and when she came in I was in the middle of one of my few panicked moments, crying, "This baby's coming!" I didn't feel he was coming immediately but could tell labor was really intensifying. I considered getting back in the tub but decided to try walking around. I found that leaning on the kitchen countertop with Christina using her hand to put lots of pressure on my lower back really helped make the contractions bearable. She was wonderful--knew just how to touch me and talk to me.

We started talking about going to the birthing center. A midwife had told me to come when contractions were 3-5 minutes apart for an hour, but I was still in the middle of all these strange, irregular contractions. They had gotten closer especially once I'd left the tub and were probably averaging 5 minutes apart or less, but there was certainly still no pattern. However, I was feeling that things were intense enough that I would be more comfortable traveling at that point rather than later, so we decided to get going. I wanted to "settle in" at the birthing center.

As we prepared to leave, The Engineer was trying to get everything together. We came outside, and he ran back in to get the video camera. I had a hard contraction leaning against the car and had another opportunity to be so glad Christina was there to help me through each contraction. The Engineer and I got in the car, and he realized I didn't have my body pillow. He wanted to go in and get it and I insisted that we LEAVE instead! Things were really getting intense, but I still didn't think birth was that close because of the irregularity of the contractions.

We left at 6:50 and arrived at the birthing center at 7:10. The trip there was not too bad. I had four or five contractions on the way there. It actually seemed things were a little less intense than they had been, probably due to my body's adrenaline and its unwillingness to have a baby in the car!

When we arrived at the birthing center, I got out of the car and immediately had a long, hard contraction. (I think it had a double peak.) It seemed I was leaning on the hood of the car forever! I remember something odd and beautiful from this moment. I heard birds singing, and I thought about how I would soon be hearing my baby crying. What a wonderful thought to have during a contraction.

As I was having this crazy contraction (which Christina later told me must have been the start of my short transition phase), Roswitha, the midwife on duty, came out of the birthing center. She said with a smile, "Oh, this is the real thing, isn't it?" When the contraction was over, Roswitha and Christina helped me into the birthing center while The Engineer got all our "gear" and came in. Roswitha said we could bypass the examination room and go straight to the birthing room. It was a relief to hear that my labor was obviously "real" enough that I wouldn't be leaving! I was the only person there on this lovely Saturday morning, so I was able to choose which room I wanted. I chose the Santa Fe room. (Pictures below!)

Once we got in the room, I quickly had a couple more highly intense contractions. I asked Roswitha, "Do you have to check me?" Of course she did! She got set up quickly, and I lay on the bed. Roswitha put her hand inside me and got a funny, surprised look on her face. I dreaded hearing that her surprise was due to me only being a few centimeters dilated. Instead, she said, "You're complete! Your cervix is gone! The only thing holding that baby in is the bag of waters."

That was the best moment of the labor itself (not including delivery!) I was so incredibly relieved that my difficult, intense journey was almost over. WOW! On the next contraction I said, "I need to push! I have to!" I had read so many birth stories where women were told not to push, that I felt the need to defend my desire to push! Of course there was nothing to stop me, and I was encouraged to follow my instincts. I began to push on my hands and knees on the bed.

Roswitha was filling up the tub, and I wasn't sure I wanted to get in, but decided to try. Once the temperature was comfortable, I got in. Immediately I knew I wanted to stay; my heavy body felt so much better in the tub. I was still feeling good in between the intense contractions, smiling and excited.

Pushing itself, however, was really hard for me. Many women say pushing is a relief and isn't painful but for me it was very painful, very uncomfortable. It was also amazing, the most powerful force my body has ever felt. While I gave lots of effort to the pushes, my body was pushing on its own with an incredible energy. I was roaring with the intensity of the pushes. I asked if the loud noises were hurting my progression in any way, and Christina and Roswitha suggested that while they didn't mind me making noise, I might be wasting energy that could be helping my pushing. I began to try to be quieter during the pushes, though loud, grunting roars still felt necessary at the end of most pushes! Thankfully my awesome husband was able to cool me off with a washcloth during and between pushes. He was so sweet. I even had him squirt water on my head from my water bottle at one point. (I think his response when I asked for that was, "You want me to what?")

In the tub I began pushing on my hands and knees, and Roswitha and Christina then suggested I try pushing sitting down. I sat, leaning back in the corner of the tub and pushed that way, and it felt like a good position. I remember repeatedly putting my hand down there to see if I could feel a head. Finally after perhaps 15 minutes of pushing during contractions, Zoodle was crowning! Here is where I am so, so thankful to have been attended by a midwife who is skilled at helping to keep women from tearing. She told me to stop pushing. Let me tell you, that was difficult! My body and mind wanted to push, and by that point I just wanted the baby out. But I was able to follow instructions, and when she guided me to push his head out, it came out gently enough that I did not tear at all. Hip hip hooray! Let me tell you, I have sure been glad for that blessing these last six weeks!

It was odd, sitting there with the head out. The contraction was over once the head was out, so I needed to wait for another contraction to push the body out. And there was my baby's head, sticking out of my body, underwater! Very strange! I asked, "Is he okay?" I was assured he was. He wasn't breathing yet, and he was probably more at peace in that warm water than he would have been with his head just sticking out in a cold room! (Interestingly, the head came out sideways! Zoodle never got around to "anterior" position and always stayed in the left-facing position he'd been in for months.)

On the next contraction, I pushed out his shoulders and his body. What an awesome sensation. I still remember the feel of those shoulders emerging from me, followed quickly by his little body. I am so glad to have experienced that, since I didn't have a lot of sensation with my first birth, due to the epidural. Zoodle was born at 7:45 a.m., 35 minutes after we'd arrived at the birthing center, and he immediately cried when I pulled him out of the water.

I could tell you my first feeling upon Zoodle's birth was joy, but it wasn't. It was relief! After the difficult contractions and the incredible intensity of pushing, I was so relieved that it was over. That was immediately followed, however, by delirious joy. Seeing the pictures, I must have been bawling, though I don't remember that. I just remember saying things like, "Thank you, God! Thank you for creating my body to do this! Thank you for this beautiful baby!"

They quickly wrapped him in a towel and put a cap on his head, and I think they let the water out soon thereafter. I held him joyfully. The umbilical cord stopped pulsating, and they clamped it so The Engineer could cut it. My memories are a little hazy at this point. I know that at some point they dried off Zoodle better and handed him to his daddy, who held him with joy and pride. I delivered the placenta without a problem, and they helped me out of the tub and onto the bed for a very successful first nursing session.

In between the delivery of the head and the rest of the body, the postpartum assistant, Tori, arrived. (Postpartum assistants usually also act as labor assistants, but she couldn't get there quickly enough!) Christina and Roswitha both lovingly helped support me after the birth, and Roswitha filled out paperwork, weighed Zoodle, and did other tasks unobtrusively. After a couple of hours, both Christina and Roswitha left, and Tori stayed with us.

Tori was amazing. She encouraged The Engineer and me to cuddle in bed with Zoodle to get sleep and to bond as a family. While she of course took care of necessary tasks such as taking vital signs and helping me take a shower, I sensed that her top priority was helping us settle in and bond. What an amazing post-partum experience!

With Chickie after the initial thrill of the birth, I quickly felt disconnected from her. I think the medicated birth combined with the "clinical" hospital atmosphere both contributed to that. I gradually bonded with her over the first few weeks and thankfully that disconnected feeling did not last. But with Zoodle, the birth itself and the post-partum care were so intimate and beautiful that I felt bonded with him from the first moment. I can't tell you how special that was.

After about 7 lovely, peaceful post-partum hours, we headed home.

I remember saying after the birth, "Well, I'm so glad I did it naturally, but I'm glad I don't ever have to do it again, since this is our last baby!" It was so intense and, yes, painful. But now that I've had six weeks to mull it over, I am of course experiencing a little amnesia when it comes to the pain, and I find myself a little sad that I don't ever plan to experience birth again. Our family feels wonderful with four people, so it's not that I am finding myself wanting more kids. It's just that the amazing intimacy I felt with God and with my baby at birth won't ever be replicated by any other life experience. I am so blessed and thankful to have had such a beautiful birth.

Now for pictures!

The beautiful Santa Fe room at the beautiful birthing center:



Happy in the tub (BETWEEN contractions!)

My awesome husband wiping my forehead with a cool washcloth:

The Engineer continuing to support me, after I'd changed positions:


Giving birth to the head--you can see the face pointing to the right (my left):


Joyfully crying over my perfect little boy:


Getting to know Daddy:


Our first nursing session. Isn't that the face of a happy mommy?


Me, The Engineer, and Zoodle before leaving the birthing center:


Friday, May 9, 2008

Spittin' image

For some reason I'm just SO proud that Zoodle looks just like his daddy. If anyone had any reason to question his parentage, they certainly can't now! (Of course, if anyone was questioning it, I'm not too thrilled about what that says about me!)

Here is a sweet picture of Zoodle with his daddy a few weeks ago:


Our little guy will be six weeks old tomorrow. In commemoration of that I plan to type out a very detailed labor/birth story tomorrow for this blog. I may even include some photos of the birth if you don't like seeing underwater "female parts" (or the attractive grimace of a mama pushing her baby out), get ready to hide your eyes!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

10 important facts, and 10 interesting facts

Important facts:

1. My first initial is C., and my middle name is Beth ("C. Beth"). I've always gone by Beth, from Day One.
2. Day One was a late summer day in 1977.
3. That was also Day One for my identical twin sister, Becki.
4. My brother Sean was almost three years old when Becki and I were born.
5. My dad Sam is a Baptist pastor and a really cool guy (yep, possible to be both).
6. My mom Cathy is retired after spending many years as a stay at home mom and a few years as an administrative assistant at the church, and she is an amusingly "gushing" grandma.
7. I was born in Phoenix, AZ; moved to Yuma, AZ at age 8; moved back to Phoenix for college; and moved to our current location in Texas about a year after I graduated.
8. The Engineer and I were married in the winter of 2000.
9. Chickie was born in the winter of 2006.
10. Zoodle was born in the spring of 2008.

Interesting facts:
1. I'm currently a little bit obsessed with the TV series Star Trek Enterprise which The Engineer and I have been Netflixing for a few months. (We are anxiously awaiting Disk One of Season 4 and I'm on the edge of my seat!! The crew saved the Earth from destruction by the Xindi but then they time-traveled to the 1940s! How will they get out of this one?!)
2. I'm kind of a geek. (See #1.)
3. My college degree is in theatre. I got burned out by the time I graduated and decided I didn't want to pursue it as a career. It was an expensive way to cultivate a hobby--thank goodness for scholarships.
4. I am breastfeeding two kids right now (well, not right this instant; that would be awesome multitasking). My 2-year-old and my 6-week-old are both quite attached to their "mommy milk".
5. After having a great birth experience with #1, complete with Pitocin induction and epidural; I had an amazing, beautiful, life-changing birth experience with #2--unmedicated water birth at an out-of-hospital birthing center.
6. Yesterday, at 5 weeks 4 days post-partum, I discovered my tummy has a few stretch marks that I did not see while pregnant (?!?!?!?!). I'm trying to tell myself that this further links me to generation upon generation of women who have suffered from these special souvenirs of pregnancy. Proof of the amazing journey my body has taken...right?
7. I'm a little obsessed with babywearing so be on the lookout for future posts about slings, wraps, and other must-have accessories used to strap on a baby (or a toddler).
8. I had maternity photos taken when I was 8 months pregnant with Zoodle, and when I saw the result I'd never felt more beautiful.
9. Despite loving my pregnant body, I don't really love the feel of being pregnant--which I need to remind myself of if Baby Fever comes back, because we don't plan to have more kids.
10. Did you know "souvenir" is spelled that way? I couldn't get it right without using spell check (see #6 above). I'm not sure why spell check can't find "Netflixing" (see #1 above). Hmmm....