Thursday, January 31, 2013

The heart of the matter

The heart of the matter

I wrote a little bit before about the baby's mystery maybe / maybe not heart thing. I had two ultrasounds at the high risk practice and his heartbeat was perfectly normal both times. But my regular OB picked up the off-sounding beat at the checkup between the ultrasounds and at the one afterward, the arrhythmia was so distinct that I clearly heard it. I had my "let's check your fluid levels just in case" ultrasound booked for right after that OB check anyway, so I went next door and this time, it was clear as day on the ultrasound. The high risk doctor thinks it's a premature atrial contraction and no big thing as long as it doesn't get worse. She and my OB both say this type of arrhythmia usually spontaneously corrects after birth and that any serious problems would've shown up on the ultrasounds. Ultimately, it was a whole lot of hullabaloo to basically be told, "Sometimes it happens, he's almost certainly fine, don't worry about it." The bill came in the mail last week and I was literally nauseated to see how much this cost after our decent insurance kicked in. Before insurance, the hospital charged $3200 just for the tech using the ultrasound machine. THIRTY-TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. And that didn't include the doctor's visit or her reading the ultrasound. I felt like I was going to throw up for about two hours after opening the bill. We've filled out payment plan / bill assistance paperwork at the hospital at the recommendation of the very nice woman I talked to in the billing office, who really seemed to understand why I was flipping out about this. Now we just wait, hope, and try not to puke when the next two monster bills show up.

I am glad we know that he does have a funny heartbeat so there won't be any panic if it sounds off during delivery. And of course, of course money means nothing compared to his life, and if there really had been something wrong, the ultrasounds could've saved him. (No hyperbole…my OB admitted the reason she wanted it checked out is because if it had been a blockage in his heart that went undiscovered until birth, he'd be born and then he'd be gone. I'm sure I looked like a deer in the headlights when she said that because she hastily assured me she wouldn't have mentioned it at all if that was a possibility for my baby. Still, I kind of wish I didn't know.) Anyway, if you're a crossing-fingers type, I'd appreciate some in the interest of getting the bill lowered and / or getting a manageable payment plan option. I never thought I'd be paying my kid off like a car, but he's worth it. He might also be grounded, I haven't decided yet.

My coworkers have been (good-naturedly) harassing me about getting stuff ready for the baby and I've been blowing them off. I have six weeks! Five! Four! Four-ish weeks! Today one of them said, "Hey! Guess what Friday is! FEBRUARY FIRST." I told her if the baby does come early, she can say "I told you so" for the rest of forever. It's not like we haven't done anything, we just haven't done much. My dad came over the week of Christmas and helped me strip the 80s hotel wallpaper from the walls and ceiling (ceiling! The hell?) of the guest room-becoming-nursery and my cousin MacGyver patched the cracks in the plaster for us. Dad came by again a few weekends ago and helped us move all the furniture out and move the crib from Nico's room to our room, then MB took a day off work this past Friday to scuff-sand and prime the nursery walls. We've got our paint picked out and ready, we just have to find the time to actually use it. I'm hoping I'll at least be able to start it on Saturday. I made appointments to get the carseat base installed in my car and to get one last haircut and eyebrow wax in the interest of looking semi-presentable in my hospital photos. I did finally start washing baby clothes this week and it's really hard to believe Nico was ever small enough to fit into that stuff. I'd say we don't have everything we need, but that's only true in a first-world comfortable-life definition of "need." We would like to get a few boring basics like a new ceiling fan and some non-ugly curtain rods, but really the only thing we need to buy before he comes is a box of tiny diapers. I'm hoping to have a sweet little nursery set up for him, definitely, but if he surprises me by storming onto the scene early, everything will be fine.

Reading:  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Playing:  the Brave soundtrack

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Making it official

Making it official

Preschool! So far he seems to love it. I'm so glad we decided to go ahead and start him now instead of waiting until August. He got to take cookies and stickers to school on his birthday to share with his class, and they gave him a sticker and a birthday crown which he reportedly declined to wear ("I said NO!")

Birthday balloon! Probably the best $1.08 I've ever spent.

His family / close friends party was yesterday. We keep it really simple as far as decorations and food, and I was still up until 2 AM Friday and then worked from 9 AM until 1 PM Saturday getting the house and assorted things ready. I'm totally going to force both boys to endure shared birthday parties until they're old enough to complain about it, because I can't imagine doing all that work twice in two months. Sorry, kid #2!

This was the first year Nico had any understanding of what was going on, which made things extra fun. I got this construction machines banner to hang across the fireplace wall and put it up Friday night after he went to bed. As soon as he came downstairs on Saturday morning he spotted it and exclaimed, "Look! A front loader and an excavator and a dump truck and a front loader and an excavator and a dump truck!" He went down the entire twelve-foot garland and named every machine.

His cake began on a very bad note when the first sheet cake I made shredded into pieces when I tried to turn it out of the pan. I rushed to the grocery at 11:45 to get another mix, and for the second I lined the pan with parchment paper to be absolutely sure it wasn't going to stick. I suppose the first cake falling apart was actually a bit of luck, because I ended up using a piece of it to build a second layer on his new cake to make the construction site look more convincing.

(MB would like consulting credits on this design, by the way.)

I didn't take any photos of him opening his gifts. People were almost embarrassingly generous…we really are ridiculously fortunate. Having a house full of people happy to come together to celebrate our little guy is a pretty awesome feeling. And then our friend Norah was passing through town just for the night, so a bunch of our close friends ended up going out for a last-minute dinner. A good day / night for everyone!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Magic Race

Magic Race

Dear Nico,

Three years ago today, you arrived and changed everything. Watching you grow from a tiny baby into a vibrant, interesting little person has been utterly incredible. I feel like a new version of me was born the day you were, one that is infinitely more patient and laid back than I would've guessed possible. You're not perfect and neither am I, but it's okay. I have learned (or at least remembered) that the world is full of small wonders and that almost anything can be an adventure if approached with the right amount of enthusiasm. I quite frequently look at you and am awestruck that we made you, that we threw some cells together and made a person, a little being who is both the best of us and wholly himself.

You are busy but not high-energy, a little cautious but not anxious. You observe everything, you have a scary-good memory, and you never ever stop talking. Every month, every week, you surprise me with the things you can do and learn and say. In some ways I have you figured out and in others, you're constantly unexpected. You're gorgeous, you're charming, you're mostly sweet, and you're full of light. When your temper does flare, it always fades quickly. I'm not quite sure how I managed to have a child as even-keeled and sunny-dispositioned as you, but I'm certainly glad of it.

A month or two ago, I offered to sing you a bedtime song and you requested "something new." I named all the songs I could remember from summer camp and you declined them all. Grasping a bit, I started naming church songs with verses I could remember and finally hit upon "Amazing Grace." When I offered it, you replied, "Yes. Sing 'Magic Race.'" And I wanted to freeze-frame that moment, to burn it into my memory. It seemed like such a fitting analogy for everything that's awesome about you and this age you are now. You are magic, you are amazing, you are my grace. You are the most wonderful gift and I am grateful for you every day.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

(water) wings

(water) wings

After more than two solid years of Mommy & Me swimming lessons, Nico finally moved up to big boy lessons this week. Instead of going in the pool once a week with me, he'll now be going twice a week with three other toddlers and his teacher, a woman with saintly patience whom he hilariously calls Miss Lazy. (Me: "It's Miss Lacey. Can you say Lacey?" Nico: "Miss Yazy." Me: "Lay-cee. Laaay-cee." Nico: "Yazy.") Watching his class through the poolside window is both adorable and cringe-inducing, depending on whether it's my kid wandering off or totally ignoring her as she tries to get them all to come together to play a game or practice kicking their little legs by the wall. So far it has definitely supported my experience that teaching three-year-olds is a little bit like herding talkative cats. He's only gone twice and hasn't shown any sign of being a Phelpsian prodigy, but right now I'm pretty thrilled that he'll get in the pool without me at all. I'm willing to wait a few more months for stunning results.

school rules

Preschool has continued to go well. On the second and third days, he's trotted right off to class with such eagerness that I've had to remind him to come back and give me a goodbye hug. On Tuesday we were ready about ten minutes too early to leave the house, and Nico was so impatient to go. He went and put on a hat and stood under the coats calling out, "Mama! We go to preschool now?" I hope his enthusiasm persists. School also seems to be wearing him out in a good way. Tonight we ended up staying up about 15 minutes past when we usually start bedtime and by 7:30 he was draping himself across my lap and asking to go to bed. Preschool, I want to kiss you on the lips.

the other child

I'll be 34 weeks on Monday and I've reached the stage where people are starting to say understandable things like "I bet you're ready to be done!" But no, no, I'm at the point where it's starting to hit me that there will be TWO CHILDREN and also that this one has to come out somehow and no, that's okay, I'll just stay pregnant for a while. Maybe for a long while. No worries. Just pass me some Kix. I'll be fine!

unintentionally melodramatic

Nico suffered a night diaper failure at 2 AM the other morning and woke up crying in soaked pajamas. Other casualties included his toddler-sized quilt and his lovey, the blankie called Bee. I put all his wet stuff into the wash and the next day (or I guess later the same day) he wanted to know where Bee was.

Me: "He's in the laundry, remember?"

Nico: "Why is Bee in the laundry?"

Me: "He had to get washed. He got all wet with pee."

Nico: "And tears."

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Keep on not-keeping

Keep on not-keeping

It's so cute that I thought I could get our whole house / lives decluttered in only two years! I'm sure normal people do this all the time but I keep getting distracted and stalling out. I'm chipping away, though, I swear. I realize probably no one else will care one whit about any of this, but having it all here helps me stay (somewhat) motivated because I can see how far we've come. I think MB is feeling a little bit of despair over how bad things still look, but I have a strong suspicion that most of what's left is baby stuff and that as we unpack / use / pass on those things this year, the clutter that remains will drastically and quickly be pared down to a noticeable degree. Also, I think my definition of clutter and his definition of clutter vary from each other a bit. I don't necessarily count boxed-up things that I KNOW I will be using as clutter, but he definitely does. So, po-tay-to / po-tah-to.

Year one post: Housekeeping

Year two post: Year of decluttering II

The master list of things thrown away / accomplished is pasted below, but I'm going to start a fresh list for this year, too. As before, throwing out includes throwing away, giving away, donating to Goodwill, or selling, so most of the stuff on my list will (hopefully) not be stuff that went to the dump.

Throw Out All the Things
34. big box of magazines given away
35. half pickup-load of cardboard hauled to recycling center
36. non-liked ceiling fan from baby's room taken down and freecycled
37. old stand mixer / blender / processor given away
38. unused basement cabinet freecycled

Boxes taken to Goodwill:  2

Organize / Update All the Things
1. Nico's playroom reorganized / rearranged (even though we did it before the new year, I'm counting it)

Decluttering & Organizing Goals for 2013
1. convert guest room to baby's room
2. move wireless / printer setup from baby's room to master bedroom
3. finish clearing everything stored in the open from master bedroom
4. move crib from Nico's room to master bedroom, changing table to baby's room
5. reorganize / optimize linen cabinet
6. reorganize / optimize / pare down craft supply closet
7. move all important papers to basement filing cabinet
8. hang diplomas, family photos, art, etc.

2013 Consignment & Craigslist Profit:  $82

2011 & 2012 Progress:

Throw Out All the Things
1. a big bag of non-preferred plastic food storage containers freecycled
2. four reusable water bottles freecycled
3. the old gas stove in the basement scrapped
4. non-Vista-compatible flatbed scanner given to MB's coworker
5. the remainder of Nico's powdered baby formula given to my coworker
6. all the expired food that was collecting dust (and guilt) in the pantry thrown out
7. National Geographic subscription allowed to expire (I'm counting this since for years I got the magazine but never made time to read it.)
8. seven eight boxes of stuff to consignment shop
9. leaky exercise ball that I never used because it was always half flat thrown away
10. 90% of the empty boxes from the shelves in the furnace room recycled
11. outdoor trash can full of crap from shed thrown away
12. bag of cat-hair-covered curtains from our last apartment + raggedy old throw blanket thrown away
13. three five boxes to Goodwill
14. one box of items posted on freecycle
15. worm composting bin cleaned out and loaned to my workplace
16. five (!) boxes of books donated to a fundraiser sale for the dog rescue that saved Indy
17. six boxes of stuff + a spare crock pot, dust buster, and rocking chair sold in a yard sale / packed up for consignment / donated to Goodwill / freecycled
18. set of extra (crappy) hand weights freecycled
19. garbage bag full of bubble wrap and packing peanuts freecycled
20. cool but space-hogging never-used owl mug tree set consigned
21. five pairs of too-small / raggedy jeans Goodwilled
22. kitty litter box freecycled
23. basket of expired baking chips thrown out (sadness!)
24. two shopping bags full of lotions, soaps, and other pamper-y stuff donated to women's shelter
25. whole bunch of old earrings passed on to mom and sister
26. four cool (but stored under the bed since JUNE 2004 WTF) Japanese panels consigned
27. two old TVs freecycled
28. giant box of borrowed maternity clothes returned to friend
29. two three boxes of non-preferred kid clothes sold on Craigslist
30. five pairs of old glasses donated to the Lions Club
31. box of wire hangers freecycled
32. old cabinet, spare high chair, and unused tent sold on Craigslist
33. three CD racks and a box of stuff consigned

Organize All the Things
1. Nico's bitty baby clothes sorted by size into plastic tubs and carried up to the attic
2. outgrown Nico jackets, bitty baby items / toys, and bitty baby bedding / swaddlers sorted into plastic tubs
3. currently-too-big Nico hand-me-downs sorted by size into boxes and stacked in the closet
4. outgrown Nico baby gear Tetrised into guest room closet
5. quote obtained for list of small home repair items we can't complete ourselves
6. breast pump and accessories washed and packed away
7. small home repairs done!
8. shed cleared out and organized
9. last of yard sale remnants sorted into three boxes for consignment and one (small!) one to keep
10. one box from bedroom pile sorted and put away
11. hand weights moved into a basket on the entertainment center instead of lying on the floor and serving as dog hair traps
12. breakfast nook / mudroom organized and top of dog crate cleared
13. whole bookcase of college books and notes carried down to new storage cabinets in the basement

14. basement decluttered!
15. gift wrapping supplies sorted and moved from guest room to basement

How many gift bags does one family need? Probably not this many.

16. two shelves on living room bookcase cleared / consolidated to make space for Nico things

17. buffet storage decluttered and reorganized
18. space cleared on top of bookcase for Nico's library books
19. bathroom cabinets purged of all unused and unneeded items
20. one three boxes emptied and removed from Box Mountain
21. all my pre-baby clothes removed from guest room closet and stored neatly in my own
22. guest room bookcase cleared of non-kid stuff
23. two of three bookcases in master bedroom decluttered & that they've been cleared of the useless hoardy crap, I have an ENTIRE shelf empty for more books!
24. After two years and 14 days, I finally framed Nico's hospital photo and newborn footprints. Hopefully it won't be another two years before I hang them on the wall. (Though he shouldn't feel too neglected. I've been married for seven years and still haven't framed a single wedding photo.)
25. busted drawers replaced with nice window bench
26. VHS movies moved into cabinet in playroom
27. third bedroom bookcase decluttered and organized

Decluttering & Organizing Goals for 2012
1. clear out guest room
2. finish clearing  LAST box stack mountain in master bedroom
3. clean out dining room buffet storage
4. reorganize game collection and pare down if needed
5. reorganize / optimize linen cabinet
6. reorganize / optimize / pare down craft supply closet
7. move all important papers to basement filing cabinet
8. buy a new shredder and take care of stacks of to-shred papers
9. hang caterpillar quilt in Nico's room
10. hang diplomas, family photos, art, etc.
11. transition Nico into big boy bed

2012 Consignment & Craigslist Profit: $231

Friday, January 04, 2013

Out of the nest

Out of the nest

Yesterday was Nico's first day of preschool. He was excited for days beforehand. We've read the book where Llama Llama Red Pajama starts school every night for two weeks and the night before school at bedtime, he kept asking, "Can we go to preschool right now?" We got there a little before his teacher had the classroom set up, so even though Nico was was ready to walk right in, we had to wait. He discovered some trucks and a castle like his in the nursery rooms across the hall and wanted to play, and then once it was time to go back to his classroom he balked and started crying. He actually attempted to flee the scene, and when I wouldn't let him, he hugged me and cried a bit. The teacher's aide invited him to play at the Play Doh table and that just made it worse, so I asked him if he wanted to go sit in the chair way over in the corner by himself for a minute to think about things. He said he did, but then got distracted by some toys. I kissed his head, told him I loved him, and speed-walked out the door. His teacher encourages this type of exit so I knew she wasn't going to judge me for being heartless, and I suspected she knew what she was talking about.

They promised to call if he was upset for more than 20 minutes but apparently he didn't cry at all once I departed. He participated in everything, even Play Doh and painting with an ice cube, which are kind of a big deal for him. He said he liked music time but when I asked what his favorite thing was he said it was playing in the gym. I asked if he shared any toys and he claimed that he did. Not sure if that's true, but I hope so. His class is only six kids, all boys. I'm sure he'll have difficult days, but thus far I couldn't be more pleased. I feel like we definitely made the right choice sending him to school now instead of waiting for late August, I'm so happy with the school we picked, and I'm really proud of Nico for rocking such a big-deal new experience. Hopefully I won't be eating these words next week.

He refused to wear his tiny adorable backpack, so I don't have the traditional first day of school photo. Maybe he'll indulge me next week. Think of the baby book, child! I did take a couple of photos. The first is from before school, when I asked him to say "Yay, preschool!" The second is with his ice cube painting. He wouldn't stand still for the photo unless I flipped the iPhone camera so he could see himself, so the quality is terrible…but at least the first day has been documented!

"Yay, preschool!"