Monday, July 30, 2012

A Pizza of Brownies

G(8): Hey Mom? How do you feel about a pizza of brownies?

Me: A pizza of brownies? How do I feel about it? Like that's probably something God gave us to make the world a happier place. Like He thought, "Hm. What two perfect things can I smack together to bring peace to the world... or at least to a household?" and he answered himself, "Oh! A pizza of brownies! Of course!" and then the angels sang heavenly songs and rainbows formed over our house and leprechauns danced an Irish jig on the rooftop. And unicorns galloped through the yard and zombies.... 

G: Mom? Um. Sure. Let me ask that differently. Do you want a brownie?

Me: Yes, please.


It's almost noon.  7 days from now, I will be in recovery, meeting my newborn, and all of the stress of today will seem like a distant memory.  But right now, this stress feels like a kicking, screaming 2 year old in the middle of the grocery store.

The issue is.... the problem is... I don't even know exactly how to phrase it.  The truth is my kids are extremely independent.  They know what they want and the ability to see that reaching that goal can come in many forms is just not within their realm of acceptance.  They see the process of going from point A to point B as a straight line and words like compromise, alternative, and "outside the box" aren't something they are willing to work into their vernacular.

Let's take G(8).  When he was 3, he had his first set of tubes after a long series of ear infections and medications.  He had his second set shortly before he turned 5.  By 7, they were out and we were told he has  a perforation in his left ear drum that will require a surgical patch sometime between being 8 - 10.  He also has a hearing loss in that ear that we monitor on a yearly basis.  He.  Hates.  This.  And I understand that.  It's not fun to have a hearing test when the headphones pinch and it's terribly boring, but the reality is it has to be done.  Part of me wants to tell him he's lucky he doesn't have to have spinal taps and bone marrow transplants and in the whole scheme of childhood illness, he's really getting off easy.  Suck it up, little man.  This is life.  Welcome to it.  Now get in to stupid booth, put on the headphones, stop whining, and shut your pie hole, Momma can't deal with your BS today.  Only I don't do that because I know my kid and if I go the tough love route, he'll completely shut down and we won't accomplish anything.  So that's Wednesday.  Or as I'm currently referring to it "5 Days Until".  I am steeling myself for the battle of wills over the hearing test and praying that he just does what he's told.

And then we have K(12).  Short of writing an entire novel on the joys of raising this child, let me just sum it up... K is the Burger King of children.  She wants to have it her way.  Always.  And that's been K since she was born.  If we put  her in her crib and she didn't want to be there, she'd scream until she threw up.  I remember at one point, she was 18 months old and her older sister fell down and really banged up her knee.  I had to put K some place safe for 2 minutes while I helped J... and the next thing I knew I was dealing with a bloody knee AND vomit on the wall and the carpet and the bedding.  She has been like that ever since.  Today, for instance, she wants to go to the mall.  At 7 Days Until, the last thing I want to do is go to the mall.  I'd rather run my foot over with the van.  She wants to look at video games and earrings.  Well, I need groceries.  So the compromise is for me to not go to the grocery story, but to go to WalMart instead.  (I hate WalMart almost as much as the mall.)  K can look at earrings and video games at WalMart, I can get groceries, and everyone gets *almost* what they want and that should work, right?  I can see the vomit on the wall.... she's going to pout and be angry and most likely refuse to go.  Then I'll leave the kids here, because after all, J is 15.5 years old and can babysit without a problem, right?  Only K will be beastly the entire time I'm gone and I will probably get a crying phone call from someone because of it.

So they're stubborn and difficult and their inflexibility makes it extremely hard to make plans.  But then they do something like this and I realize their determination makes them who they are... and for better or for worse, who they are is pretty damned amazing.

Monday, July 9, 2012

C-section Recovery

I don't want to have a c-section.  I don't have a choice, though.  This will be my third c-section and I'm already starting to feel the anxiety setting in.  (But I'm prone to anxiety in the first place, so that isn't the case for most people.)  So I've put together a bit of a personal survival guide to recovery.  This is definitely not what most people go through and hopefully these tips and tricks won't apply to you.  But here's how I cope:

The Drive Home - Plot your route wisely.  Avoid construction.  Choose the smoothest route available.  Take your pain meds right before leaving the hospital and have a safe, doctor approved  pain med on hand for when you get home and are finally settled into bed.

Stairs - They're just evil.  After my first c-section, we lived on a second floor apartment in California.  There were 48 stairs.  FORTY EIGHT.  It's been 15 years and I still remember that number.  Plan accordingly.  Once you're up there, you're going to want to stay there for a day or four.

Bed height - We have a higher than average bed and I'm most definitely a shorter than average person.  This time around, I asked my father to build me a wide, low stool to help me get in and out of bed a bit more easily.  (Pictures to come once it's painted.)

Room arrangement - Move things around so that you're as close to the bathroom as possible.  The fewer steps you take the first few days, the better.  (Yes, oodles of people will disagree and insist that moving around is better for you.  I respect that.  It's just not better for me right away.)  Even if it's not the most attractive or practical arrangement for your room, it's only temporary.

Speaking of the bathroom - Once you've arranged your room so you're as close as possible, make sure all of your personal needs are within reach.  Wipes, pads, a change of PJs are all good to have on hand.  A small basket with your moisturizer, deodorant, tooth brush, and other vital "clean up" stuff should be handy.  Maybe most people already keep all of this in one spot.  I tend to have them in different drawers and shelves and gathering them up requires a bit more stretching than I'll want to deal with.

Fiber  - The long and short of it is fiber is important.  Fiber chews are good through the entire pregnancy, but make sure to be diligent about them for the few weeks prior to delivery.

Bedside - Be sure to have a table or surface of some sort next to your bed.  You'll want it to be well stocked with the basics:  water, phone, pain meds, and snacks.  Set the baby monitor up so that the folks downstairs can hear you and the baby easily.  It's also a good idea to have a light handy for the middle of the night feedings.  If you're rearranging your room for easier bathroom access, this is easy to over look.

Tray - Having a tray with legs can be useful for eating.  It won't go over your body, but it can sit next to you.

Accept help - It's not always easy to let people help, particularly with the older kids.  But deal with it and let them.  Be grateful for it and plan to return the favor should you ever have the chance.

Portable baby bed - We have a handy dandy Rock 'n Play Sleeper.  I would have loved to have a traditional bassinet, but this is a bit more practical.  It can be moved to either side of the bed and even taken downstairs easily (by someone other than me).  I also like that it keeps the baby in a slightly upright position, as my little ones tend to spit up a good bit.

Clear paths - If you have older kids or an obnoxious Siamese cat, you'll want to clear all hallways and stairs of junk... including the particularly stupid cat.  Walking is difficult enough.  Walking through a child / pet created obstacle course can be hellish.

Pillows - I prefer to sit up to sleep the first few days (or weeks).  A pile of pillows really helps a lot.

Remember you will feel better.  This isn't easy to remember in the middle of the pain.  But it does end and you will feel human again

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Nursery... on a budget

29 days until our scheduled c-section.  The big kids are mostly settled in their new bedrooms and the focus of this weekend was prepping for the baby's homecoming and my recovery.  I'll write more about my tricks and tips for recovery later.  For now I'll focus on the nursery.

I left my part time job in social services in May.  Because we pay pretty hefty tuition for the older kids to attend Catholic school, it's important to be as economical as we can.  But despite the tight finances, I really wanted to have a cute nursery for our new addition.  So this is how I managed to make it work for about $300.

This is the crib we purchased from a friend.  It converts into a toddler bed and a full size head and footboard.  My friend's toddler used the railing as a teething tool, so I picked up railing covers at a consignment shop for $3.  The crib, originally $350, cost us $100.  The navy blue curtains work very well with the colors of the room and we've had them for years, so I didn't have to buy them.  (Woo!)  A good friend has an extra crib mattress, so we'll be putting that to good use (for free - double woo!).

Sweet Dreams Baby Wall Decals by Roommates Peel and Stick Decor
Paint:  Pineapple Soda by Behr

The only thing I actually saved from G(8) was his bedding, so that wasn't a big purchase.  In fact, the only thing I actually bought in this picture are the wall decals.  I picked them up at Target for $10.  We didn't use the entire decal, actually.  We opted to skip the word "Baby" just to keep it more simple.  There isn't a link directly from Target, but you can find them here.  (Note:  They're more expensive through the website, which seems silly.)  Oh - apparently Babies R Us carries them, too, but again they're more expensive than Target.  They were very easy to put up and there are a ton of pieces left over for another project... as soon as I come up with one.

These shelves are a serious work in progress.  My sister knitted the dinosaur, which I promptly named Sir Englebert VonHossenfeffer.  I picked up the C at Michael's for $2 with a coupon.  (So even if we don't go with our name, it's not a big expense!)  Everything else was left over from the big kids or given to me by friends.  But seriously, this needs work in a big way.

And speaking of needing work... this disorganized mess is the dresser I purchased from the same friend for $150.  It was originally $400.

My sister was kind enough to come over this afternoon and together, we organized the heck out of it.  Definitely a big improvement.  The changing pad was a hand-me-down from my brother and the yellow cover was purchased at Burlington Coat Factory as a repackaged item for $7.  The baskets, which were found around the house, will house diapers and wipes.  I'm sure I'll move things around as we settle into a routine.  And no, the Dyson won't live in the nursery.  (But oooh, do I love that thing!)

The frames and artwork were part of G's room decor before he moved into K's room.  He really loves the prints.  I may buy him some new frames and put them in his new room, but these frames are staying in the nursery.  The holes are already in the walls and I like their positioning.  I think I may use scrapbook paper and velum and create something similar to things I've seen on Pinterest, only more my style.  I'll choose quotes that have something to do with stars and moons.  Most likely I'll start with "I love you to the moon and back" because I say that to my kids all the time.  Now I just need to come up with a second saying.

So that's the nursery so far.  I still want to add a bookshelf at some point.  We'll probably go with something from Ikea.  The older kids have managed not to destroy their Ikea pieces thus far, so that's pretty impressive.  I will work on the wall shelves over the next few weeks and see if I can't come up with something cute to do with it.

And there you have it!  $272 and a ton of repurposed, hand-me-down pieces with - in my opinion - really cute results!


Wall art!
$2 worth of scrapbook supplies and repurposed frames!  The paper was left over from Wizard of Oz projects we did for the high school and works perfectly with the bed.  The vellum was really $.60 a sheet, but we'll round up just for the sake of keeping things even.  That takes the final budget up to $274!