Thursday, November 29, 2012


Before we start talking turkey over here, I first want to tell you about the Great Lasagna Battle of 2012 which took place in our house last week. Despite the fact that all of the best-selling parenting books, all of the feel-good mommy blogs, and just about anyone you meet will tell you not to make an issue with your kids and food, I take exception to the small, non-cooking, picky eater who lives with us.

Jack hates both soup and pasta. This is a problem because we practically live on pasta during the summer and soup during the winter. This is also a problem because he is stubborn when it comes to food and I am equally stubborn when it comes to food. He once refused to eat broccoli for a year. A YEAR! And do you know what I did? I just kept on putting it in front of him day after day, month after month, you get the idea, until one day he decided he liked broccoli again and life was good.

Until I made a lasagna. Now, not to toot my own horn or anything, but I am a fairly decent cook and I make a damn fine lasagna. In our house the rule is that you eat as many bites as your age. So Jack had to eat 5 bites of lasagna to be done with dinner. Or else.

And here's where we screwed up. You've heard that threat about saving it for breakfast, right? That idle threat that sends fear deep into the heart of lasagna-hating kids everywhere? Well, we dropped it, The mother of all dinnertime threats. 

I figured it was a done deal. Jack is a fairly intelligent kid, he would surely realize the error of his ways and the unyielding authority of his parents and finish those five bites post haste.

Except that he didn't. He crossed his arms and scowled at his plate. "Fine then," he grumbled and we sent him off to bed. At this point I was feeling a weird mix of guilt (what kind of a parent sends their kid to bed hungry?) and triumph (come breakfast time, victory will be mine!).

Can you guess what happened next? While we all broke fast over granola and yogurt and toast and fruit, Jack glowered at his plate of cold lasagna and continued his hunger strike. What's both funny and sad about this story is that this took place on a Friday, the day when Jack goes a half day to school and they don't serve lunch. I wanted to cave at this point and pour the kid some Cheerios. So did Brent, but we were in too deep! There was no turning back!

And so we sent our hungry kid to school. I wondered if he would report our neglect to his teacher. Would she side with him and offer him a granola bar and a trip to the guidance counselor? To complicate things even further, we had arranged for Jack's friend Quentin to come home with him after school and to stay for dinner. Would Quentin go home to report that Jack's parents don't let him eat?

I decided to overcompensate. I made cookies. Isn't that what good moms do when their kids have playdates? 

By the time Jack got home from school, he was pale and cranky. He glanced half-heartedly at the plate of lasagna. He kept complaining about how tired he was as Sawyer and Quentin snacked on cookies and commandeered the playhouse. He cried. He flopped on the floor.

And then I gave up. I just couldn't take it anymore! He was too pathetic.

He did eat those five bites of lasagna. I fed them to him like a mama bird and alternated with bites of carrot cake cookies. And then he perked right up and asked for a turkey sandwich. And then he wanted a string cheese. And he ate three pieces of pizza for dinner. That kid was hungry.

So, what did we learn from this episode? Well, I'm sure Jack learned that his mom is a sucker for hypoglycemic meltdowns. Hell, I learned that I am a sucker for hypoglycemic meltdowns. I also learned that not every moment is a teachable moment. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat and move on. After all, it's only lasagna.

So, moving on! Sawyer is a big brother. He takes this role quite seriously.

We had our third annual Thanksgiving trip to the beach. My brother joined us and kept the kids busy with rousing games like "Let's Pull Sawyer's Arms Out of Their Sockets" (pictured below) and "Beach Sweeper" in which he chased and knocked down the kids with those gigantic seaweed kelp whip thingies. (Anyone know the official name for these? I would like to sound all scientific and stuff when I am telling you about this awesome game.)

Some traditions are worth keeping. This was our third non-traditional Thanksgiving feast. There was no turkey, no mashed potatoes, no stuffing, no green bean casserole, and NO PUMPKIN PIE. Our menu included salmon, maple roasted veggies, squash and potato gratin, an avocado and apple salad, wild rice with chanterelles, and A PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE! Oh. My. God. Screw you, pumpkin pie. There's a new sheriff in town.

The weather was somewhat cooperative. We had some rain, some shine, some wind, and some warm. We walked on the beach, we played board games, we napped, we read, we went to the Rogue Brewery, we ate and drank and were merry. It was fabulous.

Jack found Brent's old Gameboy in the closet. Since he is pretty sure Santa is bringing him an Xbox for Christmas, and we are pretty sure he is not, I think we'll let him keep the Gameboy until the novelty wears off. Or the batteries die.

I know that Thanksgiving related blogging typically includes at least some mention of gratitude. I am grateful. I am thankful. Life is full right now.

And now it's time to start planning the Christmas menu!

(Brent claims he is already tired of the Christmas music. How is that even possible?)

Just for Jack, we will NOT be serving lasagna. Or pasta. Or soup. But he is still not getting that Xbox.
(Maybe there will be some AA batteries in his stocking for that stupid Gameboy, though. I just might have to admit defeat once again.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Pilot

First of all, THANK YOU to those of you who so kindly inquired about my postpartum depression. I am fine! Well, as fine as I usually am. I just had my usual short lived bout with some weird anxiety crazies caused by my lady hormones being thrown out of whack, but now I am over it.

Whew! Back to happily staring at new baby for hours at a time.

The funny thing about PPD is that, for me, it really has nothing to do with feeling sad or depressed but instead makes me feel super weird and I stress out about things that are completely stupid/out of my control/both. Like the new car.

Brent decided awhile back that we needed a new car. I was all about making it work with the Volvo and was optimistic about putting three car seats across the backseat, but Brent (the car seat putter inner) was more of a skeptic. And then when the Volvo started spewing plumes of black smoke, he pulled the Safety of the Children card and convinced me to start shopping. You see, the Volvo has been a bloodthirsty moneysucker for as long as we've had it. WE HATE THAT CAR. But since it was paid off, we put up with it and its variety of thousand dollar trips to the mechanic for this and that and what the hell is that? It's going to cost how much?! Anyway, "we" started shopping around. And by this I mean Brent started obsessively trolling Craigslist and driving by dealerships and test driving things that were WAY out of our price range and then bribing the kids not to tell me.

And then, a mere two days after Clementine was born, Brent found The One. The deal! The car of all cars! And like a hunter stalking his prey, he moved in quickly for the kill.

The dealership tried to screw us over, as dealerships are wont to do, but Brent fought the good fight and wheeled and dealed and played hardball and after 48 hours of hassle and red tape and intense haggling, the car was ours!

Except when he got it home and I saw it for the first time, I couldn't help but notice how much it looked like an SUV.

"It's not an SUV," Brent informed me. "It's a crossover SUV."
"What does that even mean?" I wondered.
"I don't know."

So I now drive an SUV. And although I don't begrudge anyone else for driving their SUVs, I have to say that I'm really not an SUV driving person. I eat organic vegetables! I am concerned about air pollution! I am aware of my carbon footprint! I should be driving a Prius, for chrissake. But again with the three car seats. You just can't win.

The idea of driving around this gas guzzling people mover pretty much freaked me out. And I now realize that it was mostly those postpartum hormone crazies, but I sort of had a mini identity crisis over this car. It was hard enough becoming a soccer mom, but now I am an SUV driving soccer mom. It's a lot to take in when you are already teetering on the brink of postpartum sanity and you recently turned 36 and haven't realized that HELLO! You are a soccer mom! Nobody cares what kind of car you drive. It's a young person's world and you are old. Get over yourself!


Also, this is my first ever non-shitty car and when you've lived a lifetime with nothing but shitty cars, you begin to drive your shitty cars with pride and sort of wear this ownership as a badge of honor. I still don't quite feel like me in such a decidedly non-shitty car. I guess I am kind of a martyr like that.

The good news is that my PPD weirdness didn't last for long and now I am all screw you Mother Earth! I have gas to guzzle and soccer games to drive to in my not shitty car!

Just kidding. But I do have to say that it's nice having that second row of seating because it means that the big kids can squabble and kick the seats all they want because I'm waaaay up front now. Ha ha, suckers! Enjoy the backseat. (Also, air conditioning! Hell yeah!)

Some of you are like Enough whiny narrative about you and your first world problems. Show me pictures of the BAYBEE! 

And I am sorry to report that this is the only picture of Clementine from the week. When you are the third kid, that's just the way it goes.

With neither one of us working right now, there is a lot of family time to be had. I am finding that I love the noise and commotion and energy of the bigger family. I'm not so excited about all the laundry the little people produce, but when I think about how much fun these three will have growing up together, I know it will all be worth it.

And so, identity crises notwithstanding, life is good. We are happy and healthy and we can all fit into one non-shitty car. Oh, and my thrift store shopping habit yielded a Pokemon Monopoly game that kept Brent and Jack busy for the entire weekend.

Not related:
Sawyer: "Mom, our new baby is so awesome!"

Also not related:
Jack: "Mom, can I pet the baby?"

I confess that I have no conclusion. But I promise more baby pictures next time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Life with Clementine

It's really tempting to write an entire post about how in love we all are with Clementine. I'd tell you that we all spend hours upon hours staring at her, giggling at her silly sleepy faces, running our fingers through her soft tuft of newborn hair, counting her toes, and inhaling her sweet, milky smell.

This is our third time with a newborn, and you might think that the novelty would wear off. But no. It's all just as amazing the third time around. I stare for hours at this baby, memorizing her features, fingering her silky soft ears, and holding her as close as I possibly can. Because the beautiful and terrible thing about doing this all again is that I know it doesn't last.

I hear the voices of my big boys and set Clementine down to see what's happening in the play room. Those boys have gigantic hands that build Legos and Hot Wheels racetracks. They can get their own drinks of water. They shower by themselves. The have friends and go on playdates. They need me when they are hurt or tired, but mostly they are independent. I survey the chaos and listen to them explain their Lego and race track creations and then they go back to their imaginations and I am left standing in the hallway. And so I go back and pick up Clementine, giving her an extra squeeze and a kiss on her downy head because I know it doesn't last.

We had our first parent teacher conference at Jack's school this week. His teacher describes him as "a rule follower" and "a kind, gentle, and not rowdy boy." I have heard that your children are their best selves when they are with other adults. If this is the case, it sounds like we're doing something right.

I wanted to know if Jack ever talks to her, since he is notoriously shy around adults. "Me? No. Never. But he does talk to his friends."And I pictured him chatting away with his little kindergarten buddies and it made me smile.

Since Jack missed two days of school due to these conferences, he wanted to play school. His reading is really coming along. He reads to Sawyer and Clementine now.

It was a chilly day and so Jack wisely dragged his desk out to the fireplace and found a cozy spot to do some writing worksheets. (I love how he puts his name on his paper.)

It wouldn't be fair if I let you think that everything has been smooth sailing for the past two weeks. There have been some difficult moments, a car buying fiasco which I will tell you about later, a touch of post-postpartum depression, and my initial taste of panic/helplessness the first time all three kids cried simultaneously. 

But mostly, it's been this. And this is pretty sweet.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Birthday, Little One

You people are anxious for a name, aren't you? Well, we will get to that... But let's start from the beginning.

(Note: squeamish male relatives and former students probably want to skip this one!)

I started having contractions last Thursday. I'd been having Braxton Hicks on a regular basis, but these seemed more productive and were definitely painful. I was up for a few hours that night, trying to read and pacing around, but they eventually subsided and I went back to sleep. This was the pattern for the next few nights: contractions starting in the afternoon and continuing overnight, but never materializing into actual labor.

"You're making progress each time that happens," my midwife, Colleen, assured me. But I still felt discouraged. And I was beginning to dread each evening, knowing I'd be up and in pain throughout the night AND that I'd wake up still pregnant the next morning. My nausea had returned, and I'd had a bad taste in my mouth for over a week. "This is all part of the process. Things are happening," Colleen said.

I woke up on Monday determined to go into labor. We tried the uh... the old fashioned way... and I spent the day on my feet, hiking around at Mount Pisgah with Tracie and Xavier, a long nap in bed with a snuggly Sawyer, going to watch Brent's soccer game, and a burrito dinner at Chipotle. Tracie called during the soccer game to see if anything was happening. "Go ahead and go home," I told her and she drove back to Portland that evening.

Once we got home and put the kids to bed, I started feeling the usual discomfort. I ignored it at first and tried to go to bed but realized I needed to get up and begin my nightly ritual of pacing around the house and trying to read. Around midnight I started to notice a pattern and that the contractions were growing in strength. I decided to make some blueberry muffins.

In hindsight this seems like kind of a strange thing to do, but I needed something to occupy myself with and I figured that my support team would need to be fed if in fact I was having the baby that night. So I made the muffins and tried to read and paced around the house in my bathrobe. I felt myself slipping into the zone and trying the techniques I had used in my other labors to manage the pain. Nothing was working and I started to feel more and more anxious as the clock ticked on. The contractions had been coming every 3-5 minutes, but I wanted to let Brent sleep until 3 because I knew he'd have a long day ahead of him. At about 2:45, after laboring alone for several hours, I decided to wake him up.

He popped right out of bed and called the midwife. Though it's laughable now, in the back of my mind I had this fear that these were just really, really painful false labor pains, but I could hear Brent talking to Colleen on the phone. "This seems like the real deal," he said as I labored on the couch. I started to get really shaky between contractions and I knew he was right.

I really think there is something to your state of mind and the progression of labor because once I had Brent there with me, I started to kind of relax (as much as a person can relax during labor) and things began moving really quickly.

When Colleen and her assistant Victoria arrived a few minutes later, they took one look at me laboring on the couch and quickly began setting things up in the bedroom. Brent wanted to know if he should call in the support team of friends who had been invited to the birth. "Yes, call them now," she said. After Colleen listened to the baby's heartbeat through a contraction I asked if she was going to check my dilation. "I don't have to," she smiled.

Sawyer woke up at some point during all of this. He surveyed the chaotic scene through bleary eyes and wanted to know if he could watch a movie. 

Then suddenly I had the urge to pee and when I got to the bathroom, my water broke. This was the only time this has happened spontaneously for me, the midwives decided to break it during my other labors, and to say it was a shock is putting things mildly. I knew then that the baby would come fast. I pushed once in the bathroom and then made my way to the bedroom floor and knelt by the bed. Three excruciatingly long push-like-your-life-depends-on-it pushes and five minutes later, our baby girl entered this world.

My friend Kate walked in the door as Colleen handed the baby to me, just in time to let me lean my back against hers and hold my daughter for the first time. The rest of the support team, Mary Anne and Tracie, arrived soon after.

The whole labor took six hours from start to finish. Somehow Jack managed to sleep through the entire thing and awoke bright eyed and ready for kindergarten the next morning. If you are familiar with the size/layout of our house, you will be shocked by this, since the baby was born about 10 feet from where he was sleeping and I know I was NOT being quiet about it.

I have to say, though, after having two twelve hour labors and then this six hour labor, shorter is not necessarily better. It's the same amount of pain, but condensed into less time.

She passed her newborn exam with flying colors as Sawyer looked on. He hit the wall shortly thereafter and returned to bed, thrilled to have been allowed to watch a movie in the middle of the night.

And so, it is with pride and great pleasure that I introduce to you: Clementine Adele Ross. Born Tuesday, October 30th at 4:03 in the morning. Weighing 7 pounds 5 ounces and measuring 20 1/2 inches long.

We will be ready for visitors next week, I think. For now we are enjoying and getting used to being a family of five, those sleepy and milky first days with a newborn, and marveling over her incredibly long fingers and toes.