Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Benjamin Button Turns Three Months!

Three months has got to be one of my favorite ages.  When you play with baby dolls as a kid the "newborn" bitty baby type is a three month old I'm sure of it.   Old enough that they aren't pooping tar, losing their skin, or covered in pimples, but young enough they aren't pissed off about food or mobility yet. (or the lack thereof)    They're so cuddly and soft.  They coo and smile and snuggle.  They don't have stranger danger or separation anxiety.   It's awesome.

This particular  little Will version is going through a funkilicious stage right now.  He is losing all his hair on top (see exhibit A)  and his ears are taking a decided turn for elvishness (which is a nice way of saying they stick out).  He's waged war and won over the pacifier debate.  I gave up and let him keep his thumb. (so kind of me)   He's petite all over, but his head is particularly small which lends to strangers being rather surprised he stands and sits so well and generally behaves like a three month old instead of a newborn. 

Like his brother Jamie, he's a total tv addict.  Craning his head around every which way trying to get a glimpse of whatever his brothers are watching. Sigh.  

My number one goal each day is to keep the two year old from accidentally killing the baby (or himself for that matter).    I don't know how the human race has survived this long.  I certainly couldn't without Costco and Trader Joes keeping us from starvation with all their gmo, soy infused, preservative happy freezer food.  Yum.  In some past life I did things like make yogurt from scratch, feed us all vegetables from the garden, and make probiotic rich snacks like homemade pickles, fermented beets and sauerkraut.   That woman has been replaced with me...the sleep deprived, never fully dressed, surely freezer-waffles-can-be-served-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner woman. 


That's why babies have such tiny kissable toes.  And why I have a big comfy chair that almost got curbsided, but instead is large enough to fit me and four boys wanting snuggles and books read to them.  (I'm looking at you Cortez's...God bless you, this chair is awesome).

Then one of them elbows me in the face, while the other one farts, and the other one plays the drums on the baby, at which point I want to sell them all to the circus. 

Happy 3 months little one... may you survive being the baby of the family!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Boston Angels and Cold Oceans

I'm officially that mom.   The one at Trader Joes with the two older kids careening around with the little carts, while the two year old throws a temper tantrum because he wants one too.   I'd nip that business in the bud if I weren't busy trying to get my troublesome nurser latched on so he can stop joining the cacophony.   The solution here of course is to simply not take four hungry, tired children grocery shopping right at dinner time, but unfortunately food doesn't magically appear in the fridge and pantry (although I wouldn't say no to a dependable house brownie or two right now.) 

The checkout lady had the audacity to put a bag of groceries in Robbie's seat and the ensuing meltdown nearly punctured the eardrums of everyone in Mission Valley.   While I was administering loving but firm discipline and training (read, dragging him by the ankle out of the way so people could get by us.).   A guardian angel swooped in with her iphone and a video of her daughter doing gymnastics.  Her co-angel took my cart to my car and loaded my groceries into the trunk while playing a states and capitals game with my older kids.   Charlie asked why they talked so funny.  They said everyone from Boston talks that way. Now Jamie thinks all nice people are from Boston.  Cough cough. 

Other than an opinionated two year old who can't talk and a newborn who doesn't eat well, I feel like I'm actually maybe, kinda, sorta getting a hang of this four kid thing. 

I know they always say the firstborn has tons of pictures and it goes steadily downhill from there with every subsequent kid, but I don't think that applies in this era of smart phones.    The Ramsey version was taking our firstborn to dip his toes in the ocean almost the second we got him out of the NICU.  Our fourth-born?  Poor William spent two days a week in utero at the beach, but after he was actually born, he had to wait two and a half months before his parents went on a much needed date, got into an argument during a walk on the beach about whether or not the baby had actually been to the beach yet or not, and then unceremoniously toe dipped in a cold ocean late at night in November. 

Believe it or not...he was still a big fan.  Welcome to the Pacific ocean, my future little beach baby! 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Smooth Hair

I realized the other day that I've been journaling like I only have one child when in fact I have four children who may or may not all look alike (is it because Jim and I look similar?).   I think I'm also guilty of parenting like I only have one child, namely the one who is tiny and looks like a little old man or a baby chimpanzee...depending on the angle.  The one who takes life very very seriously despite his itty bitty size.   Sometimes I feel like he an I are locked in a battle of wits by ourselves with Jim and the boys flitting in the background like supporting characters in a play.   The doctor said that fourth borns often smile at 2-3 weeks because of the presence of older siblings, but William is a very contemplative little dude.  Jim says he smiles for him, but I don't believe it.  It's like the abominable snowman or the loch ness monster. 

Robbie burst into my bubble today talking.   It got through my sleep deprived zombie state because he doesn't actually know how to talk yet, so when my two year old came up and said "Mommy!" and then a few heartbeats later "eat"  and then a few heartbeats later (because finding words is hard work) "beeebee", you better believe I dropped my mouth open in shock and paid attention.   "Mommy eat baby" isn't exactly the kind of sentence that makes sense, but then he took a big pretend bite out of William's thighs and offered me a pretend piece as well, so I guess he meant it quite literally. "Eat!" he said.  And so I did.  We pretended to gobble up every delicious bite of William's slowly appearing fat rolls), while William solemnly judged us.

Charlie climbed up onto my lap and touched his two index fingers together (which is a secret code he developed for when he wants to whisper something in my ear).  "Mommy, I want to show you something" he said.  So I let him lead me down the hall to the dining room where he pointed to the big canvas family picture on the wall.  "I want that mommy back."  He said.   Ouch.   Then he told me he likes my hair better straight than "fuzzy".  All righty then.

   (photo credit to the awesome Hefners) 

I made the mistake of showing the boys a parkour video on youtube.  It's a gymnastics/extreme sport hybrid where you do crazy things like jump off buildings and run up walls.  Surely it's the sleeplessness that made me make such a poor decision because now the boys have turned my room into a parkour coarse.  While I sit in the recliner and try to feed William, they do stuff like flip off the dresser, over my head and onto the bed.  I found out our charter school pays for parkour classes, so now that's on my list of things to do once I re-emerge back to real life.   At least jumping on the bed is quieter than jumping on the floor?  I made the mistake of smiling and saying good morning to our downstairs neighbor the other day.  She gave me a nasty look and I belatedly remembered who she was and that she'd just threatened to call the police on us next time we were noisy.  Whoops.  I think we've finally faced the fact that we have to move out of this apartment.  Maybe cool people in New York City can raise four little boys in a small third story apartment, but the skill is lost on me.  If anyone has the scoop on a reasonable house with a backyard, I'm all ears.  We're officially looking. 

Jamie had a developmental growth spurt.  In the last few months he learned how to tie his shoes, swallow pills, clean the kitchen (well), read a chapter book silently and he got a watch.   The watch is a godsend for me, because I can tell him things like "don't get out of bed until 6:30", and he also gives me a running commentary on how many minutes we have.  "Mom,  you have five more minutes to find Charlie's shoes or we're going to be late.",  "Charlie, you have two minutes to finish breakfast and then it's violin.", "Mom, give me the garage keys, if you walk any slower we're going to be eight minutes late".   You'd think that would be annoying, but I truly love it.  It's normally me saying all of that... trying to prod everyone else along.  Now Jamie and I are a prodding team (mostly in regards to Charlie).   I despise being late (I'm looking at you Dad), and I'm very proud I seem to have inadvertently (hopefully?) passed this trait on to Jamie.

On the feeding front (the thing that consumes all my waking energy...and that's quite a bit considering most nights I never even lay down in bed).   We discovered that William had a posterior tongue tie and an upper lip tie (which is a whole nother blog entry).  It's a fairly common conundrum in infants and they check for it in the hospital, but Will's was hard to diagnose and easy to miss.  The good news is we got it lasered by a super awesome Dr. who I wanted to give flowers to and kiss.   The bad news is, Will's tongue spent so much time in utero in the wrong place, it made a deep nook in the top front section of his palate.  He really likes to mash my nipple up there instead of sucking and swallowing properly.   He managed to gain weight at the beginning thanks to the Niagra Falls that was my incoming milk supply, but now that I've had what...five bouts of mastitis so far?... my milk supply has gone down to normal proportions and he isn't gaining weight at all (I pump now and try to finish his feedings with bottled hind milk).   So he and I are locked in a will power battle where I expertly try to maneuver my nipple into the correct place, and he more expertly maneuvers it back into the nook and glares at me.  We do this for 20- 40 minutes until one of us gives up and falls asleep.  He is capable of nursing correctly now.  Occasionally he nurses like a ninja and I think we're making progress and then five seconds later he's back to beating my nipple to a bloody pulp.  I know you're not supposed to let your children win willpower battles, but the jury is out on this one.  I'm not sure how much more I have in me.

....plus, I have those aforementioned other children who need a mommy too.  You know, the happy kind with non fuzzy hair.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A month old + birth story

Will is a month old today!

  I keep thinking of Charles Dickens "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.".  It seems like some cruel act of fate that newborns are soooo yummy and cuddly and amazing while moms are struggling so hard to pull themselves back together.  It's one of the most fleetingly amazing times of your life and you have to spend it simultaneously with one of the worst times in your life: being post partum.  Ugh. 

One of the worst things about being post partum is the baby brain fog.  I think I read it's an actual chemical thing so you forget how horrible childbirth was?  Or maybe it's so you focus on your baby's survival to the detriment of everything else?  I don't remember (har har).  I do know though, that if I don't write down Will's birth story, I won't remember the details and goodness knows every child needs the embarrassing blow-by-blow saga of how he was born.  

This was my fourth c-section and it's hard not to compare them all.  Jamie's c-section was so easy.  My 21 year old body bounced back after a few days like nothing happened (probably spurred forward by a baby in the NICU...both because I didn't have to take care of him full time, and I didn't want to miss anything).  Charlie was a little harder, but still pretty smooth sailing...partly because I only had one child to dodge and protect myself from whenever he came barreling toward me with three year old exuberance.   Robbie's c-section was a definite turn for the worse.  I caught a virus in the hospital, had recurrent mastitis (much like this time, except antibiotics actually did their job last time), had an allergic reaction from a spider bite, and was innocently sitting on the couch when Charlie did a cannonball dive off the back and into my incision.   In retrospect I did a lot of damage to myself internally with Robbie's recovery, but I didn't know that and wouldn't have cared anyway because he was our last kid.  (ha!)

Which takes us to Will's birth story.  Picking your child's birthday and knowing their gender and name is so the opposite of how childbearing happened historically, that it's still jarring to me to do it this way.  Not that I'd prefer birthing in a four poster bed in a Victorian nightgown while my husband paced the hall...but still, it seems a little suspiciously manufactured to walk in perfectly healthy and say "oh doctor, please do count those sponges and grab that scalpel, I'm scheduled to be sliced like filet mignon in thirty minutes".   But the fates didn't consult me in the whole child producing dept (obviously), so planned c-section it was.  This was my first c-section scheduled in the morning which was awesome.  The worst part of all my other c-sections was the starving and dehydration section of the day, and then the continued starvation the next day.  Jello is a poor food substitute when you haven't eaten in two days.   We got there early and I talked over a few things with the anesthesiologist.  This was also the first c-section where I had a woman anesthesiologist which was funny (not really) because I'd just been joking they were a rare species.   I had very specific opinions about what drugs I wanted and didn't want.  I hate how c-sections are such a one-size-fits-all.  I get why emergency c-sections are done the way they are, but why can't scheduled c-sections be a completely customizable thing?  I asked to do skin to skin right away in the operating room (versus waiting for the recovery room) and I really wanted music to sort of take away the clinical feel of the place  (and you know...  distract me from the very real awareness I was buck naked on a table under bright lights with a room full of people).  They were very obliging and honored all my requests, but they didn't know I really wanted to ask them to skip the whole drape thing.   I also wanted to pull the baby out myself directly on my chest, do delayed chord clamping, and no scrubbing the vernix off the baby...oh and please save the placenta. ;-)   ...Jim is thankful I kept all those requests to myself.  Cough cough. 

The c-section itself went great.  Normally my blood pressure bottoms out once or twice and I struggle with nausea.  My arms weren't tied down this time, and I felt a lot more relaxed (and I thought I felt relaxed with the other three).   I don't mind getting the spinal at all, and it always shocks me how fast everything moves in the operating room.  Before I knew it I heard William take his first breath and start to cry...scratch that...it was more of a furious screaming.   That was another new thing.  With my others they always said something like "and here he is!"  or "It's a boy!" and then silence.  Time always slowed down as I waited and waited for that first breath or cry or something that let me know my child was ok.  You feel kinda of sensory deprived behind that curtain and it's hard to get your bearings on what's happening or not happening.    With William though, he was crying before they even got him out.  I thought, oh dear Lord have mercy on me, I don't think I can handle a super spitfire and then they put him on my chest and he looked at me and I remembered I already knew this person.  He'd been mine for nine months and in that second I felt like I'd known him forever.  He chose that kodak moment to clamp down his tiny non-fangs on my collar bone in a desperate attempt to feed on something....anything.   He was utterly convinced he was starving to death (something he is still convinced of a month later).   I couldn't get him down far enough to breastfeed because of the surgery going on just south of there, so I had to settle on stroking his head and promising him he would get to eat soon (again, something that still happens on an almost hourly basis lol).

The rest of the surgery was uneventful.  I went to recovery, Will nursed like a champ.  I got up to my room and settled in with the awesome Foley catheter and happy pills.   It wasn't until that night when I was walking around that I felt like the medical tape on my left leg was bothering me.   I ignored it (there are a lot of things that bother you after a surgery...including but not limited to people coming in at 4 am to take your blood pressure and temperature).   The next day my left leg felt like it had blisters on it, the adhesive tape was burning it so bad.  I thought maybe I was having an allergic reaction to the tape, and since I couldn't exactly bend down to check it out myself, I asked my wonderful nurse to check it for me.   She obliged and to her confusion (and mine), there was nothing there.  Just perfectly healthy looking skin.  Huh.  Ok.   Meanwhile the blistering feeling was turning into a full on "why-are-you-holding-a-frying-pan-on-my-leg" and no one could figure it out.  My nurse was so concerned she called anesthesiology immediately for a consult.  They couldn't figure it out either so she scheduled a consult with a surgeon.    That second night I was sleeping (or trying to sleep) when the new nurse came in and (not knowing about the leg thing), she tried to move my left leg for some reason.   I came off the bed.   This is where I felt at a serious disadvantage never having done bradley classes, or hypno birthing or whatever women are doing these days, because I couldn't get on top of the pain and I had no idea what it was or how to deal with it.   Jim didn't expect to have to actually do the whole labor coach thing...except this was super-psychotic-phantom-leg-problem versus actual beautiful childbirth.   My nurse was fluttering around trying to figure out what the heck she'd done while William of course slept through the whole thing.  Figures.  

I ended up staying an extra day which was two days longer than I normally stay considering I usually break out a day early, and when they did discharge me, it was with a walker.  I went in a healthy 30 year old and came out an 80 year old.  It was an odd complication to have...normally you don't injure your leg in a csection.  The neurologist jokingly asked if they'd dropped me off the table or something, but I think I would have remembered that.   I am thankful though that everything seems to be resolving itself.  It was only a few weeks ago I was worried I'd not be able to walk for months, and now my biggest problems are my traitorous Benedict Arnold boobs.

But that aside, my baby is perfect (or rather he smells perfect).   Granted, he's a very awake and alert little dragon baby who gets rather cantankerous when the boob is taken away from him.  He would much prefer to eat without ceasing, unless of course he's sleeping which he likes to do for big 5-7 hour chunks at a time.    I've always been a non-scheduler attachment parenter, but I'm having to enact some sort of schedule otherwise the whole mastitis thing gets out of hand.   William weighs 9lbs even now (he was 6lb 4oz when we left the hospital), so clearly he's not going to go all failure to thrive on me if I make him wait three hours between feedings.

We all love him so much. If anything I have to protect the poor child from the deluge of kisses he gets from his older brothers.

Hopefully he doesn't mind that despite the kisses, he's currently sleeping in the closet like the poor fourth born he is.  :-P

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

And so it continues...

I'm still battling...everything kinda.  I think I'm making progress though.  My leg only hurts after I've been walking awhile, although it's still numb all the time and tingly/burny when I move wrong.  I saw a lovely neurologist who isn't very well known for his bedside manner.  He may or may not have implied my OBGYN was a wet-behind-the-ears idiot, and assured me I'd be all healed...within a year for sure.  lol  At the rate I'm improving, I hope it's a lot sooner than that. 

The battle of mastitis continues.  I think of it in terms of California wildfires.   Some days I'm at 80% containment and I think I've nearly won the battle, and then the humidity drops and the wind kicks up and suddenly I'm at 20% containment and its raging out of control.  My breasts are starting to feel like a full time job.  I have such a huge medicine regime and everything's on timers, plus hot compresses, herbal compresses,  cold compresses...rotated with massaging, hot showers and nursing on all fours. Bah.   All usually done while feeling like I have the flu.   Sometimes I give up and think I can't do it anymore and I have to switch to formula.  But then I think...I just can't do that.  I can't switch to formula, I would never forgive myself.  And so I press on.   I imagine though my clock is ticking whether I want to quit or not.  I realize I can't just exist for the next year with a permanent staph infection.  I may have to give up breastfeeding in the next few weeks and it would be entirely out of my control (come on antibiotics...you can do it).   Until then however, I'll keep working on containment.  I'm getting pretty good at sleeping in a sitting up position, and waking up every 2 hours to pump or feed.   I lost all my hard won ground over the weekend and spent yesterday curled up feverishly and achy under covers while I threatened to cut of my right boob with a hacksaw it hurt so bad.   But today I'm doing a ton better. 

I'd say I'm at about 75% containment right now.  Although I need a sign to wear in public that says I'm not randomly groping myself, I'm just hyper obsessively checking for plugged ducts. :-P

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


When I was pregnant and going in for my million NST's, the nurses would always comment that Will was in the perfect birthing position.  They would marvel at my awesome child bearing hips and how well he fit in my pelvis. (because that's what every woman want's to hear when she's nine months pregnant) 

...all completely wasted on me of course, since I was having a scheduled c-section.   I wished I could trade it like when you're playing a board game.   "I'll give you my non-breech baby card for that complication-free c-section card you don't need."  

And now I feel the same way about my newborn's sleeping habits.  I of course am not sleeping at all.  I'm lucky if I get a couple of 90 minute chunks, but unlike most newborn households, my sleeplessness has very little to do with my baby.   He's sleeping great.  The last several nights he's slept from 10:30pm or so to 7-8 am.  I on the other hand, have to give my poor zombified child a cold sponge bath at 4am just to wake him up enough to relieve my out-of-control milk/mastitis inferno.    So now I wish I could trade my "sleep for more than five hours at a time" card for a "no mastitis"card.    

Although it's not just the mastitis.  Really I need one of those Star Wars "Bacta Tanks" where I can sleep suspended in a healing liquid.  I can't sleep on my back without my leg killing me.  If I sleep on my left side, I wake up with mastitis on the left, and if I sleep on the right side, I wake up with mastitis on the right.    I've gotten to the point where I dread nights so much, just because I rotate from one obnoxious position to another.  It's a good thing Jamie's babyhood broke me of needing sleep, otherwise I would feel completely insane right now.  As it is, I can feel my body starting to shut down from the exhaustion even though I don't feel sleepy or tired.  

But overall I'm doing a lot better.    I can walk pretty easily now.  The blistered burning-at-the-stake sensation has been replaced by a more manageable throbbing and tingling sensation.  Sometimes if I move it wrong, it feels like my leg is made of shattered glass.  But it helps to know it's all in my head.  I constantly tell myself that my leg isn't actually a crystal goblet someone is taking a sledge hammer too.  It's more of a mind over instinct thing...So different than usual pain.  I've been applying all kinds of ice packs and salves to the invisibly wounded area, and I'm relieved at how fast it's healing.  It's given me an eye-opening amount of sympathy for people who suffer from nerve pain on a regular basis.   I pray I never have to experience it for a long term amount of time.  Shudder.  

The mastis is at about 90% containment during the day...although I lose ground at night thanks to my awesome sleeper (knock on wood... because watch, I say that and the moment I can actually sleep will be the moment he stops sleeping).   But overall I feel like I'm doing better than I was a few days ago.  Hopefully, I actually can manage four boys in a few weeks.

I did however make it to Will's baptism.  Maybe it's because I'm a bit of a geek, (and this is probably sacrilegious) but the sacraments are so awe-inspiring to me, they're like real life Lord Of The Rings.  True magic that transcends time and history.  Something that's been done for millenniums before this moment in my baby's life, and will continue to be done until the end of time.   It's the kind of thing that sends shivers down your back (and also turns me into a puddle of tears).   

All of you who vowed with us... I expect you to keep your promise.  ;-) 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I could kill a vampire...

... with my breath.   In the last 48 hours I have consumed not one, not two, but almost three bulbs (whole bulbs...not cloves) of raw garlic in a desperate attempt to stave off mastitis.  And this is where I insert a warning about the rest of this post containing delirious post partum confessions probably not suitable for a mixed audience.

I had recurring mastitis with Robbie, so it's a familiar albeit somewhat hellish deja vu.   I really really don't want to take antibiotics for a whole host of reasons that mostly revolve around me not wanting to start a catch-22 like I did last time where the antibiotics wiped out my immune system so much, I just immediately got another infection.   So here I sit with what basically amounts to a painful game of whack-a-mole where I have so many clogged milk ducts, I feel like I get rid of some of them, and more pop up somewhere else.   The list of alternative remedies I've tried include but are not limited to, hot showers, castor oil packs, lecithin, the aforementioned raw garlic (yum...gag),  anti-inflammatories, probiotics, probiotics on my nipples, essential oils on my my breasts, cabbage in my bra, nursing upside down...in a football hold and every other contortion I can think of or make up.   It's been a full time job. 

Today I woke up and decided I needed to have a new bra....as in, do not pass go, do not collect $200, head straight to the nearest mall despite the fact I'm not exactly mobile right now.   I have plenty of perfectly wonderful nursing bras that aren't working for me.   Normally nursing bras are these huge, hideous things that look pre WWII era and come in sizes like 32GGG.  You'd think with them being so stoic and industrial by nature, they would work for me, but no... they seem to exacerbate my problems, and I'd decided they were the root of all evil.  Last time I found the perfect nursing bra at...Fredericks of Hollywood *cough cough* and so that's where I dragged my slept in hair and breast milk stained shirt self this morning.   I was like a coke addict desperate for some relief.  I finally got to the dressing room with the appropriate size and sighed with relief when sure enough...the second I put my miracle bra on, all pain eased.  

I wasn't about to take the bra off after all that just to pay for it, so I went looking for a store associate to ask if I could leave it on.   She said that was fine, I just needed to give her the tag.  No problem, I ripped off my tank and started to get the tag off right then and there when she suggested I might be more comfortable doing that in a dressing room.  Ah..right.  I'm still in that post-modesty-less zone where I'm so sleep deprived and so completely desensitized, I forgot it wasn't appropriate to undress in a store filled with giant pictures of hawt nearly naked women.   I probably wasn't really good for business either.  A haggard shell of a human...newly post partum... walking around dragging her leg like a zombie.   It doesn't exactly inspire someone to buy any of the sexy lingerie (which is all 40% off right now in case anyone is interested).    I kept saying "I'm so sorry, I just had a baby."  as if that would explain it all to the tiny 18 year old trying to steer me to the nearest dressing room.

   As she opened the door for me, she picked something up off the floor and said "is this your shirt".  Um yup, I'd left my shirt in the dressing room in my exuberance.   At least I had gotten the tank back on?   All I could say was,  "I'm so sorry, I just had a baby." 

Lord have mercy.  This child is so precious and worth it, but I'm not sure how much longer I'm going hold out.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Upside-down World

I'll ever forget the look on Jim's face when I asked him quite honestly "I just don't understand how the baby got poop on his diaper...I mean, where did it come from?"  

Between the leg thing and the meds, I'm sure he thought I'd lost my mind.  There was a completely reasonable explanation for why I asked...but I don't remember it at the moment. 

Jim just sort of blinked at me and said really slowly like he was talking to Charlie in the middle of the night after finding him trying to pee in the bathtub, "um babe...the poop came from his butt."

Then we laughed. Which then made me cry because you can't laugh when you've just had a c-section.   Then the crying caused a letdown, which then meant I soaked my shirt with not only my tears, but with breastmilk as well.

And that my friends is what you call being post-partum.  The crazy mixed up world where you're as deliriously happy as you are sleep deprived and crazy. 

I've got this vague awareness that life is going on at breakneck speed around me, and I'm supposed to be participating instead of sitting here counting neck wrinkles and new fat rolls on my baby.  I'm getting a million and one emails from the kids charter school about all kinds of truly important things...testing they're supposed to be at this week... curriculum that needs to be picked up ASAP and meetings I can't miss.   Jamie starts three different kinds of therapy this week for issues I can barely remember exist when I see him cuddling and singing to his baby brother.  Robbie starts speech therapy next week which I've set three reminders for because goodness knows I'm never going to remember it any other way.  I'm also supposed to harass Robbie's medical records out of Kaiser which...ha... Kaiser and I don't have the best relationship at the moment, and right now I'm picturing myself having to break into their medical records office at midnight in a wheelchair. 

CC started yesterday without me, and it was strange (albeit a bit satisfying) to watch Jim make breakfast and pack lunches while Robbie bawled, Charlie freaked out about his shirt collar bothering him, and Jamie flooded the bathroom trying to comb his hair (he looked like a cross between a wet dog and a slicked up salesman before Jim rescued him).  It confirmed my suspicion that mornings just suck.  Particularly mornings where you have to get everyone out the door early.  I don't know how non-homeschoolers do it.  I think most of our problem revolves around the fact that we have one super chipper morning kid, and one complete wreck of a night owl, and the poor middle one ends up at the mercy of both.  Meanwhile I am enjoying my spectator status (and brainstorming) because it will very shortly be my challenge to deal with.

But seriously....neck rolls! 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Cloud Baby

Conversation I'm overhearing right now between Jamie, Charlie and Jim.

 "William's all mine."
"No, he's all mine!"
 "Well he's my brother"
 "He's my brother too!"
 "Well he's my son, so both of you stop it."
"But I want to hold him."
"I asked first!"
"But I'm the oldest." 
Ensuing sounds of smackdown. 
"I'm the dad and neither of you can hold him while you're wrestling."
"I said STOP FIGHTING, you just hit William in the stomach" 

~ ~ ~

Oh William.  You have no idea what you've been born into.   I feel like I need to bequeath you a special sword or magic trumpet or something.  I hope you survive. 

I've always enjoyed doing my own newborn photoshoots, but this is the first time I've been physically unable to do it very easily.   I thought it was going to be completely impossible, but my mom and I did it together in a sort of two pronged approach where she was my hands and feet. 

I need to do another one with the boys, but this way if I never get to it, I've at least captured the magical newborn stage that disappears so fast.

 He's a very awake baby...not unhappy like I first thought he'd be, just way too awake for a kid on vicodin.  So this sleepy picture was a hard shot to get.

 This is normal Will. 

 Jim calls this "the cloud picture" but I'm very proud of this blanket.  I saw something similar at Anthropologie for $350, then I saw another one on Pinterest, and like the girl I am...I had to have it.  Except I bought the raw yarn off of Etsy, dyed it and knit it myself.   The dyeing part was the most fun, the knitting part was horrendous.  I daydream too much to knit anything.  I think I took this blanket apart at least five times and started over because I lost track of where I was. ho hum

 You have to admit, William looks very much like a little monkey. 

 Pointy butt.

We call this his sleepy puppy face.  It's funny how newborns can look totally different one second to the other.

My mom and Julia are here from Guatemala...which I didn't originally think I would need.  Ha.  It apparently takes two adults and a teenager to take care of three kids, a wounded mother and a very awake infant.   It doesn't help that it's hotter than Mars in San Diego right now.   I cannot wait for Fall weather.  I don't think I've ever spent a more miserable Summer in my life.   Thankfully, some friends had pity and loaned us a small window air conditioner that we installed in our room.   So now there's a little slice of coolness in our tiny apartment.  Our bedroom now doubles as my throne room, school room, slumber party room and the room of requirement.   I'm a bit like Rapunzel though, in that I'm stuck up here in my tower, so if you want to say hi...please feel free to come over!

Hello Grandma  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Big Expectations

It's funny... Usually, the more you anticipate something, the more you set yourself up for disappointment.   If you have a particularly above average imagination, then letting it run away with visions of your wildest dreams usually means you suffer a lot of crushingly dramatic disappointments.   I'm sure there are exceptions, maybe some people always get their deepest hearts desires, I don't know.   Mine recently, have revolved around fantasizing about air conditioning this Summer.  I'm pretty sure I can't remember the last time it was legitimately chilly enough to drink the now disparaged Pumpkin Spice Latte, but it certainly wasn't last Winter. 

But there is one huge glaring exception to the whole "don't get your hopes up" rule.  Having a baby.   Jim and I have been wondering for months what William would be like... what color his hair would be...his eyes (which is completely meaningless considering our babies hair and eyes rarely settled on a color very long).   We've spent months taking care of someone we desperately love but hadn't met.   It would seem to me a recipe of disaster... counting on someone being so amazing when people are so often disappointing.  But then we laid eyes on our little Will.   We held his tiny little bones in our arms and thought he was even more amazing than we were hoping for. 

And it's a good thing, because while we're all gushing over his soft elbow dimples and fighting over who gets to hold him next, I've got a troupe of evil phantom elves trying to saw off my left leg with a red hot iron poker.   I'm not sure what went wrong during the surgery.   There was apparently a lot of scar tissue and a super thin uterine scar that was about to burst?  But we both came out of recovery fine, and it wasn't until a day or so afterwards that I got up and about fell over from a weird shooting pain in my left leg.   It's gotten worse since then, and nobody can figure it out.  My nurses weren't familiar with "help my leg is burning" complication from a c-section.   The surgeons say it's got to be anesthesiology's fault, and anesthesiology says it's got to be something the surgeons did.   They kept me another day scratching their heads over it before sending me home with vicodin and a walker.  (the PT guy they sent down with the walker looked a little lost to find himself in Labor&Delivery lol).   The c-section part of my recovery looks and feels great.   I'd never guess I'd just had my abdomen sliced open and sewed shut.  What I would guess is that I got shot in the leg and there's a bullet left in there somewhere.  The pain is excruciating...topping any of the other traumatic incidents in my life.  Up until now I would have said the broken foot or the tonsillectomy was the most painful thing I've ever gone through, but they've been knocked off their pedestal by these evil phantom elves and their chainsaws (...or was it red hot pokers?). 

Hopefully it's all just temporary nerve damage caused by all the tissue trauma to that general area.  Because I'm not sure how much longer my family is going to last with me in bed coming unglued every time someone barely touches my left leg. 

Praying next week brings healing and answers... 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Four Years Past The Seven Year Itch

Happy 11th anniversary to us!  We've officially been married so long Jim and I were having trouble remembering what we've done for our anniversary each year.  Ahem.  Luckily (but probably inconsequentially) for us, I recorded everything on here which means if I ever want to tell my great grandchildren about being married for 11 years, I have to eek out some sort of cave scratching regarding yesterday.  

This is the first anniversary I've been pregnant, and whoosh am I pregnant.   So pregnant Jim promptly ordered me fried pickles as soon as we sat down at the little pier cafe in Seaport Village while I chewed on ice and fanned myself like I was in the Sahara instead of a breezy cool balcony on the bay. 

Our ten year anniversary last year seemed so...anticlimactic and twilight zone-ish.   We spent year zero to ten saying silly things like "We'll renew our vows for our tenth!", "We'll take a cruise...go to Europe...do something extra special".  Instead we spent it frantically trying to move our family from the only home they'd ever known,  and we wouldn't have celebrated it at all if generous friends hadn't of sent us out for a fancy dinner.  This year though I just feel incredibly lucky.    According to Facebook we should have never "courted", we should never have gotten married so young.   We should have kissed before we got married, we should have grown up and matured a little more...seen the world...experienced life.   I'm not so arrogant or naive to presume anything we did or didn't do was the "secret" as to why we're still happily married...I'm just grateful.   Grateful I still have a husband I respect, am attracted to, and who I think is amazing.   Grateful he feels the same way about me.   Grateful I've never had cause to second guess or regret my wedding vows.   Desperately hopeful that the future holds more of the same.  I hope eleven years only represents a small fraction of our marriage...that Jim doesn't kill himself on his motorcycle and I don't have a heart attack from trying to homeschool and keep four boys alive.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed reclining lazily on the grass while listening to the San Diego symphony.  The cruise ships leaving the bay didn't strike so much as a small chord of jealousy in me...although that may have been because I was too busy moaning about my aching back and swollen feet.   

At least I can look forward to chasing an almost one year old around for our 12th anniversary?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Classical Conversations Cycle 3 - Wooden History Figures

Since I have two very active, hands on, visual learners, Classical Conversations is sometimes a bit hard for us because it involves so. many. songs.    I'm always trying to implement creative ways to teach the memory work at home, and I also love handmade, naturally sourced toys.   So when I finally buckled down to go over my school planning for the upcoming year I found myself browsing Etsy for things like "wooden George Washington" and "Christopher Columbus" etc etc.  It got harder when I tried to find a toy Vanderbilt or Carnegie. Ahem.     My mom is an amazing artist, and my dad loves to work with wood, so I grew up with things like a "to scale" Noah's Ark and a wooden Nativity Scene that folded in on itself was easy for little hands to play with.

Now my parents and their awesome abilities are thousands of miles away from me.  They're missionaries to the Deaf in Guatemala and while I occasionally scrounge their U.S. attic for leftover wooden toys from my childhood, it didn't exactly help with my very detailed list of historical figures listed in the Cycle 3 history songs.    Like Etsy, my parent's attic didn't have little Vanderbilts or Teddy Roosevelts lying around among the rafters.    So I asked my mom (begged? pleaded?) how hard it would be for her to design new figurines for me that would fit with this upcoming Classical Conversations cycle, and how difficult it would be to make them.

I don't know what I was expecting, but I was totally blown away when I got a box in the mail with these in it.

This is my set, hand painted with love by my mother.  They include all of the major figures listed in the history sentences.

And the best part is they made quite a few sets, so they're available for sale if anyone else is like me and interested in creative supplements to the CC curriculum. 

They were designed by my parents but are made by deaf students (usually young adults) learning to work with tools in a workshop.   All profits go to the actual individuals who made them (finding a job is difficult in Guatemala if you're deaf).   

Most of them are currently unpainted, and would come with a PDF of rough directions and pictures.  (everything can be painted with a sponge, q-tip and toothpick... no fancy artistry or brushes required. My mom likes to keep it simple so kids can do it). 

I have a few painted sets available, but they will likely be a little different than mine due to the variety of "artists in training" working on them.

You can download an order form here. And email it to estheramsey@yahoo.com
Or send your address and what you want to estheramsey@yahoo.com 

Feel free to pass this on.  There are approx 30 sets available, and I would love for none of their hard work to go to waste. 

Items included in set:  
Christopher Columbus                                       Pilgrims (man and woman)
Native Americans (man and woman)                 Lewis and Clark
George Washington                                           Henry Clay
Davy Crockett                                                   Abraham Lincoln
President Polk                                                  General Ulysses S. Grant
General Robert E. Lee                                     Civil War Soldiers (Union and Confederate)
Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Swift         Teddy Roosevelt
President Wilson                                             Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Out of the woods is worse...

I probably will piss off the fates and regret saying this, but I almost prefer the projectile expulsion of fluids during the stomach flu versus the post illness recovery phase.    When kids are sick you can't help but feel sorry for them, they're all cuddly and hot and for the first time in months you get to see them sit still for more than ten seconds at a time.    Plus, you spend so much time doing laundry, mopping the floor, scrubbing the toilet and disinfecting every surface in sight, you don't have time to get frustrated.    (Side note, how is it that my house is simultaneously the nastiest and cleanest it's ever been?  I swear dwarves could mine diamonds off the sides of my toilet, it sparkles so brilliantly.  Never has it been this determinedly scrubbed ten times a day).    I know it's all hard work, and nobody wants the stomach flu to hit their house, but ohmyword it's the aftershocks that threaten to overwhelm me and send me over the edge.  

Like the moment you kick everyone off of the piles of towels in your room, and send them back to sleep in their own room.  Oh the horrors.   I'd say it was a tear-inducing festival of hysteria, but seriously everything causes drama right now.   It's nonstop, "What do you mean I can't eat jello for every meal now?"   "Why can't I watch TV endlessly anymore?"  "He touched me" "Well he looked at me funny."  "I'm tired."  "I'm hungry...no I'm not hungry...yes I am hungry."     

It goes on and on and on, and quite frankly I'm done.  Peace out, this is where I get off.    

Someone please tell me everything will go back to normal eventually, because right now I feel like someone has switched out my normally good natured, sushi consuming, high energy children with limp impersonations who won't eat anything but plain pasta and complain that swimming is boring.   Bah.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Badge of Shame and Mommy Brain.

I don't know if it's the bone sucking anemia or what, but if there were some sort of parachute device for life (that deployed when it sensed impending epic mama failures), I'd be a prime candidate for one.   I can't seem to get a grip on this pregnancy.  It is like a roller coaster I wasn't expecting to start...or rather, I wasn't expecting to be dropped into it while simultaneously on other lively roller coasters, and I'm still trying to dig myself out of whatever non functioning fun zone I'm vacationing in.

 Costco has been on my black list for awhile, and shall henceforth be referred to me as the black hole of insanity.    I used to have to drive thirty minutes to get to Costco, now I live smack dab within mere miles of not one, but TWO Costcos.   Oh the sweet commercialism.   It was something I was looking forward to, but no... the Costcos black holes of insanity here are a teeming mass of depraved humanity.  It's all blood, sweat and cars that no sane person should ever attempt (don't even think of trying to turn into the parking lot on a weekend).    I'm also adding Trader Joe's in Mission Valley to that list, because it took me twenty minutes to park (I'm thinking maybe lunch time was the wrong time to go?  It looked like every executive within miles, was having a business lunch at one of the surrounding restaurants).    The kids were crying for food and bathrooms, and I finally decided to give up and go home...but I couldn't do that either, because typically impatient Californians will wait with the serenity of Job if it means snagging the parking spot of someone who maybe/might/potentially be leaving (blissfully peaceful despite the long line of cars trapped behind their blinkered behinds). 

But really, all of that was just me being tired and cranky and still recovering from LOSING ROBBIE.  As in, totally lost.  As in, call security, file a missing person's report, all employees on deck looking for your child kind of lost.   I hadn't planned on going to Ikea, but it's temptingly located next to Costco the black hole of insanity, and thus its evilness extended today to Ikea, where I naively thought I could run in and grab a $14.99 highchair for Robbie   Then Jamie and Charlie proceeded to talk me into the childcare playzone, and since I felt guilty about their apartment life (see previous post) I decided a good romp in the urine balls would be good penance for myself.   (like any self respecting hippie, I sprayed them down with essential oil afterwards).    I hadn't however, realized how much I rely on Jamie to be my non stop twitter feed for his baby brother.  "Mom, he's getting into the fridge #fatbaby" "Mom, he's opening the bathroom door. #terribletwos " "Mom, he's hanging off the side of my bunkbed. #codered".   It used to be annoying, but in Jamie's absence I must have totally dropped the supervision ball, because I had Robbie by hand one second, and the next second he was gone.  Totally and utterly gone.    I'm not the type to instantly freak out, so I calmly checked the nearby aisles, including any toddler worthy hiding spots, but nothing (all while going defcon 10 internally).  I alerted a store employee who helped me. Still no sign of Robbie.    He alerted his manager, who got on the loud speaker and the full scale search commenced. 

Still nothing!  I know everyone always says that it feels like their child is missing for hours, when it's really only a couple of minutes...and I didn't start a stop watch or anything, but Jamie and Charlie were clocked in for 37 minutes at childwatch, and except for the very beginning and end, searching for my 22 month old took up most of that time. 

I kept thinking why would anyone want to kidnap Robbie?  I'd happily give him away (jusssst kidding...I think).  Or maybe he'd been abducted by aliens, it all happened so fast.  But they finally found him in the Cafe, which... I shoulda guessed he'd head straight for food.   Some mom had taken him from there to the mattress showroom where she had a puppet and was saying in a fun silly voice "your mommy will be here aaaany minute"  (To my child who didn't look like he was missing his mother at all).   I flung my now beyond hysterical self into the scene and snatched my errant child up like the typical, embarrassed blubbering mess most parents are by that point (right?), while I sobbed and thanked everyone within earshot for saving my child (whether they had anything to do with his rescue or not).     I was shaking so bad,  I was getting those spots around the edges of your vision that let you know you need to sit down or risk going out the hard way.    After calming down in the restroom (Robbie of course was stoically happy and chipper than a beaver...if beaver's can be described as chipper), I betook my shameful self home. 

I know I signed up for this, it's part of my job description.  I'm happy to do it.  I like my kids and usually I respond with my own chipper response to all the people who say "THREE boys?".   But today I accept my mommy-fail badge and hope no one recognizes me next time I'm back near Costco the black hole of insanity.

And I didn't even get the highchair.  They were out of stock.  Robbie ate his usual dinner as the family centerpiece.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rule Number Fivethousandfourhundredand...

Since I'm of course a sociologist and hold a PhD in children's health, I've solved the childhood obesity problem.  It's called "city life".   It's no big secret that humankind is en masse trading amber waves of grain for concrete jungles, but what I didn't realize (until I joined said masses) was that unless you're wealthy enough to own this amazing luxury called a backyard, you might as well preemptively order your diabetic equipment. 

We've evolved so amazingly far we replaced man-eating, saber toothed tigers with this: 

 No climbing on trees.  No climbing on fences.  Definitely no playing baseball in the empty field next door.  No riding bikes in the complex.  No riding bikes outside the complex because it's not safe. No scooters at the playground, no climbing on the outside of the playground equipment...in fact, better be safe and just take a parent with you ON the playground equipment because she needs to repeat everything you two are doing so you (my dear diabetic bound child) are on equal footing vocabulary wise with the rest of the kids whose moms are following them around going "Tree! A tree has roots. Roots!".   

Don't be so silly as to think that just because you can't play outside, you will be allowed to play inside.  No jumping, no wrestling, no pretending your bunkbed is a pirate ship.   The grownups living downstairs don't pay thousands of dollars a month to hear thumping and rolling above their heads.  No trumpeting like an elephant, but you are allowed to watch a show on Netflix called Babar...at least it's about an Elephant.  But no acting out Babar after the episode is over, it's too noisy.  Here, have a capri sun instead.   No splashing in the bathtub.  No galloping up and down the stairs on all fours like you're a gorilla.  The stairs have germs, and you're disturbing the grownups who are trying to smoke goshdarnit.   

Grown ups are also the reason you can't ride your bike through the complex, because they don't want to have to turn their music down, or their cell phone off and watch where they're driving.  It's just not safe. 

Since I'm apparently a country mom, (something I didn't quite realize until I moved) I missed the memo on The-Book-Of-Rules that runs city life.  My kids scaled cliffs, skidded down boulders, climbed trees, and did all manner of hooligan-ish things before I realized they were "un-safe".   I get talked to, yelled at or cited by someone at least once a day for something we're doing that's rude or unsafe.   ...sometimes my kids are particularly bouncy and they get in trouble more often than that.    I was raised to follow the rules, and be polite, so you know...I'm only freaking out just slightly.   But I'm so confused.  What am I supposed to do with three little boys? 

 In an attempt to find the answer, I started asking other moms around me what they do with their kids.   Turns out that's a really stupid question.  Like so stupid, they don't really have an answer.  "um...homework?  TV?".     My kids have a different answer, "Mommmm, you have to buy us an xbox, pleeeeeeeease".   Sigh.   I take my kids outside to play, and within five minutes they're glued to the open front door of a friend, trying to watch them play Call Of Duty. 

I think I need to just leave more often.  At least I have the luxury of using a large, fossil-fuel consuming beast to transport me somewhere children are allowed to do this little thing called exercise.   It's one of the thousand times a day I wish I wasn't pregnant.   I'm trying adjust, I'm trying to be that peppy mom who has no problem driving all over the city to organized activities...not that my kids think I'm succeeding, but I'm growing another one of those outlandish humans that annoy the crap out of adults, and quite frankly that takes energy...and iron, something I'm a little short on at the moment.

I'm sure part of it is a bit of homesickness mixed with a dollop of culture shock.   There are millions of people who adore living in the city.  And I do love how fast I can clean my apartment, it's so small and not surrounded by a mountain of dirt.

And at least we don't get in trouble for using the pool....too often. ;-)  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Going Backwards

I don't know what I did with my life when I only had one kid, but for all I complain about being so busy, I definitely don't like going backwards.  Jamie and Charlie spent the week with my parents, and my life was boring sad existence without them.   Oh sure, I got lots accomplished...all the school stuff reorganized and packed, books organized, their room reorganized and packed as much as possible, laundry done, meals on time...the kitchen was obnoxiously clean.  Robbie and I played with play dough, read books, did puzzles...and I still had time left over.    Where was all this time when it was just Jamie and I?  I swear it's a time warp continuum thing of some kind.

And it was so quiet, which had nothing to do with Robbie being a quiet kid (his idea of quiet, is stomping on his toys and hollering like a gorilla claiming his territory), and everything to do with the lack of Jamie's nonstop commentary on life.  Sometimes I think God gave him to me just to teach me structure.   I spend a great deal of effort remaining spontaneous and flexible, only to have it constantly thwarted by my eldest trying to weasel his way from "maybe" and "that could be a good idea" to distinct yes's and noes. Ho hum.

Christmas break is officially over, and school starts tomorrow morning.  I don't know who is dreading it more...Jamie or I.  I'd had grand plans for our two week vacation....lots of of reading books as a family, going over memory work, and making math equations with cookie dough.  Instead we spent it traveling, making memories with far away family members and reveling in just general merrymaking.   I guess it was a fair trade. 

I don't have any New Year's resolutions, but I do have new tricks and schemes up my sleeve for remaining sane this year, and my new secret weapon for getting my kids to calm down at night is magnesium oil, which I'm renaming "Magic Kid Sleeping Potion".  I already knew it worked well to help Jamie sleep, because I've mixed magnesium in juice and forced it down him when he's crazier than a cat in a shower with a tin can tied on its tail.   It doesn't help Jamie sleep longer per se, but it does help him to go to sleep faster.

"Magnesium is vital for the function of GABA receptors, which exist across all areas of the brain and nervous system. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter that the brain requires to switch off; without it, we remain tense, our thoughts race and we lie in bed staring at the ceiling. Whether the brain is in 'on' of 'off' mode is a very complex area, and can also be affected by chemicals like noradrenaline, serotonin and histamine. However, on a more simple level, the most crucial balance is that of GABA vs glutamate. Whereas GABA calms, glutamate fires the brain into higher states of activity; you use the latter when solving sudoku puzzles, but you need GABA to prevail in order to go to sleep."

Basically, if you have problems shutting your brain off at night like certain little superheros in my household sometimes do, you might find magnesium helps. 

Speaking of...it's time to dose up and go to bed.   Those math lessons aren't going to get done by themselves tomorrow.  :-/ 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Next Chapter

     In the words of my illustrious Grandmother, it feels like someone threw my whole family up in the air and we're still trying to land...some of us with more success than others.  To all of you who have helped the Ramsey faction, I don't really know what to say on a public blog that would mean anything in the grand scheme of things, but every tiny little thing you did helped.   And I promise to pass the torch and help in any way we can when someone else is suffering.

       For those who know, and those who don't... we moved out of our home in the beginning of September and are crashing with (super awesome, gracious, generous) friends until next week when we will do our best impression of the country mouse family moving to the big city.   We've leased a little third floor apartment in the actual real city of San Diego, and I'm guessing the boys won't be running around in their underwear anymore. :-P   I feel like we should apologize in advance to the tenants under us.     My knowledge of city living comes mostly from TV shows like Friends... so I don't know.... but would it be appropriate to drop off a box of doughnuts, an advance apology letter, and a broomstick for banging the ceiling when three little boys go tearing across the floor at six a.m.?   Ahem.

    Apartment living with no backyard might be a bit of an adjustment for us, trading an endless backyard for a 3x8 balcony.    We'll take any suggestions, and are currently scoping out the closest parks, library, etc.   It feels great though.   I truly thought we might end up homeless for a little while there.  We were looking at campgrounds to live in...suddenly having three kids felt like way more of a responsibility.  It's harder to figure out what to do when you're not only worried about a roof over just your own head, but for three tinies as well.   I know Jim felt the pressure way more than I did, embarrassingly, he also handled it remarkably coolly despite being on a jury in the middle of it all.   But God is faithful, and he got a new position at work, and so here we are: Happily about to make the transition from a 45-60 min commute, to a 20 min commute.  Yay. 

    Robbie is a little barbarian, with wild long hair and bright blue eyes.   Every time he looks at me, I see Jim's Finnish Grandma staring back at me.  We miss her, and I wish she'd gotten to meet him.  Charlie is going through a bit of a rough phase,  he doesn't like to talk much, and he's always worried people will laugh at him.   Jamie continues to run on high octane all the time.  He goes in for testing this month to see if we can help his auditory and concentration struggles at all.   I'm glad I had Jamie first.... he cured me of the need for sleep.  Consequently I can actually get a lot done when Robbie naps like a freaking olympic medalist in the sport of slumber.
                                   (photo credit: The House of Hefner)

So that's it 2013.   You kicked my butt, and so did the year before (yes I'm looking at you 2012).   
2014, you'll have to forgive me if I'm rather dubious and cranky about your arrival.    Please be gentle to us, my family, and the rest of mankind.