Friday, March 30, 2012

Puzzle Expert

During the last quarter of 2011 Desmond's main interests centered around building things. He built with Legos, with wooden block, with his Georello (thanks Janna!), with about anything he could get his hands on.

We've now moved on to puzzles. Desmond excels at geography puzzles. He has several versions of United States puzzles. Recently a neighbor has begun loaning us puzzles of the continents. It has been a ton of fun doing these with him. I'm re-learning a lot of geography (geography Sporcle, here I come!). It also gives us a natural platform to discuss other countries. It's humbling for me. "No Mom, Montenegro touches the Adriatic Sea, not the Aegean Sea!"

He hasn't learned modesty. (Perhaps it's because he doesn't know the bad form of pride yet?) You'll hear him say, "Oh I don't need help. I'm a puzzle expert. I'm really good at puzzles." I have to admit, he's right most of the time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Once upon a time, long long ago before I had a preschooler, I couldn't understand why parents would get complain about their child asking "why" a lot. I mean, "why" is one of the best questions out there!

I'm really enjoying all of Desmond's "why" questions, but they do get exhausting. For instance at the end of a long day, our conversation ranged across questions like:

- Are people in Afghanistan nice?
- Why do we buy our yogurt? (Grandma makes hers)
- Why would people loan other people their stuff?

At this last question, worn out, I muttered, "I don't know." Desmond stopped everything, glared at me and said, "Mom you DO know. You know everything. Please don't say 'I don't know.' I REALLY need to know the answers."

How can that not warm your heart? I'm trying to suck it up and give thoughtful answers.

His "joking" lecture face.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Angry Bear

Apparently the bear outfit isn't very popular. Can you tell which one is Desmond and which is Charlotte?

Did the old couch probably give it away? Desmond is on top and Charlotte is on the bottom.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Third Month

Sleeping next to my birthday flowers, snuggled under Gran's blanket.

Learning to reach for things with Aunt Meg's "Ms. Whosit" (which reminds me of Wrinkle in Time).

Enjoying the mild winter. I normally love snow and cold temperatures,
but was grateful for a mild winter with a newborn

Thursday, March 22, 2012

2011 - A Year of Questions

2011 has been a year of questioning for me. There have been precious few sacred cows that haven't come under my scrutiny. It's been exhausting and scary. It's difficult to question things well. Deciphering what your true doubts are, seeking real answers, discerning when you must accept uncertainty takes emotional, spiritual and sometimes even physical energy, especially when you're questioning things that are really important to you and your worldview.

Before this year, I viewed myself as having a fairly large gray area of beliefs - at least for a Christian. By "gray area" I mean issues where there isn't a clear answer, even if I have a leaning towards a stance, I can't say for sure it's correct. This year's wandering have forced me to consider that perhaps that area of gray should be even larger. At one point, I realized I should be seeking levels of confidence, not certainty, on a lot of issues. (Spoken like a statistician, right?)

People who are supremely confident in their beliefs have irked me at times. In reality though, I'm mostly just jealous. I miss "knowing what I know." I've had to go through a bit of a grieving period in trying to let it go.

After months of wrestling, I at least know what some of my questions are. It's a little discouraging that's all the progress I've made. With a newborn in the house, I'm in survival mode and don't have the energy to deal with it. I hope this year wasn't in vain. I hope I won't abandon my quest, but will just pause for a while. I hope I'll have the courage to continue.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Second Month

I think my relatives just about had a heart attack when we received this dress for Charlotte at Christmas and I exclaimed that this was her first dress. :-) While I don't think we'll have more children, if we did I would remind myself that for the first three months, I prefer to keep babies (at least winter babies) mostly in their PJ's. It's just easier. I had forgotten how stressful it is to pull little arms and legs through all those clothes!

First dress.

I love seeing the difference in head size in this one.

This is the quintessential sibling photo....he begged to hold her
while I took a picture of them, yet they both aren't crazy about the idea.

First smiles

Being the second child didn't diminish the joy of having Charlotte start to smile. Making a baby smile is one of the happiest things in the world. All of my insides just lit up with happiness to watch her begin to smile.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Foot Cuddle

It's tough to let a three year old love on a newborn. At first, it mostly looked like this:

Then Desmond came up with a way he could cuddle with Charlotte without me. It looked like this:

We're calling it "foot cuddling." We spent about half an hour listening to music and foot cuddling this morning. It is heart warming to see Desmond so excited to be able to interact with his sister. In the meantime, she's carefree, oblivious to the "loving" dangers all around her.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

First Month

We were fortunate to have family in town the first couple weeks after Charlotte's birth. Thankfully my recovery from the c-section was much smoother this time. It's amazing how much more you enjoy having a new baby around when you aren't experiencing surgery complications for yourself.

Snuggling and reading. I went through a nostalgic phase and re-read
a lot of my old favorite Madeline L'Engle books.

Best. Idea. Ever. Stephanie made up a little bed for Charlotte in this plastic container. It let us set her on the dining room table to sleep and easily carry her up and down stairs without waking her. Putting her in the box (uncovered of course!) also helped Desmond respect Charlotte's space while he adjusted to having a delicate baby around. She is just on the verge of out growing it in this photo. Thankfully I remembered to take a photo before she totally out grew it.

It was harder this time for me to restart using cloth diapers. I suppose the novelty was gone. But I slowly worked back into it. And I'm super grateful to be reusing Desmond's diapers with Charlotte.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Birth Story

NOTE: We are going to rewind the clock and replay the past few months via the blog as I catch up on what the kids have been up to.

I'm going to share Charlotte's birth story. For those of you who are squeamish, read on.

November 3rd. My mom arrives to watch Desmond. Peter and I go out to Sweetwater for dinner. I eat more than humanly possible. We come home, I drink a glass of wine (nurse's "orders") and sleep soundly the whole night through.

Novmeber 4th. Wake up. Shower. Drive to hospital. At 9:03am, they cut me open. At 9:13am Charlotte Fern is born.

Story over.

Ah the joys of a scheduled c-section. It's not what I would ideally wish for, but it's my situation, so I make the best of it. (Note: Now that Charlotte is four months old, I look back on her birth and don't feel the ambiguous feelings of regret over the c-section that I felt at the time. Just having a healthy, thriving baby is really what is important.)

I must say, it is *fascinating* to experience a major surgery while awake. To listen to all the doctors and nurses work together so efficiently and smoothly. To hear their small talk as they sew you up. A medical student was observing, so I got to hear their instructive comments to her.

This time around I was actually more nervous than last time. Probably because I wasn't exhausted from 12 hours of (mild) labor. I was nervous the spinal tap would wear off in the middle of the surgery. Nervous that I would get a blood clot. Nervous that Charlotte wouldn't be OK. As soon as I heard her crying, all my fears dissolved and I could "relax." (A funny thing to say when you can't feel 75% of you body anyway.)

The weirdest part of the whole process was to feel them pushing and pulling on your mid-section. It didn't hurt at all, but I suspected someone was behind the curtain whacking me with a baseball bat and doing push-ups on my stomach. I kept thinking, "Surely that will hurt later." It did, but not that badly.

I think I mentioned this when Desmond was born, but it deserves repeating. The staff at INOVA Fairfax Hospital are incredible. They do their jobs thoroughly, professionally, excellently and without a hint of complaining (at least to the patients). It was inspiring to both Peter and me to be served by them.