Friday, April 30, 2010

How Babies Are Made

I like to say that when my kids ask how babies are made, I will tell them that when two people love one another very much they find a good doctor and...

Maggie reminded me it is National Infertility Awareness Week. Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that my three children were conceived with the help of IVF. Chris and I tried to get pregnant (first on our own for over a year, then for the better part of another year with help from specialists), finally conceiving Ada in our first attempt at IVF. I thought I was the poster-child for IVF. Look how easy that was!

After a few years we decided to try for another child, and we tried and tried and tried. It took us a year, and by our final attempt I had given up any hope that it would work. But it did, and we got Mira and Ian out of the deal.

When I first started to realize that we were not going to get pregnant the old-fashioned way I didn't know anyone else who had this kind of trouble. I had several friends who got pregnant practically without trying, and though I have friends who followed me down this rocky path, I did not know about their efforts at the time. Little did I know that this is a common, if unfortunate, situation. Like many others who face infertility, it was not until I started to share our struggle that I heard from others going through it as well. And now I am friends with a number of people - in real life and through blogs - who have gone or are going through infertility, and sharing our struggles means a lot to me.

I have written this before, but knowing that other people have gone through this, that it is not a personal failing on my part, made the process (if not the negative test results) more bearable. Knowing this helped me to write about my efforts to get pregnant and the emotions and expenses involved. My family is "complete" but I still hold the memory of the work it took to get here, and I hope that my words can be some comfort to people who might feel that they are facing infertility alone.  

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Mira, early growth

But drunk boys, drunk boys walk like pedestrians.
Drunk girls wait an hour to pee.

LCD Soundsystem
Drunk Girls

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mmmm, Floor Snack

Lest anyone think that I spend my non-work days enriching my children's lives and expanding their tiny minds, I thought I would share the evidence of last week's snack. While Mira and Ian pulled all the plastic containers out of the one kitchen cabinet not barred by a safety lock, Ada and I made popcorn. Babies are not supposed to eat popcorn, so I gave them corn puffs ("poufs") in plastic cups. Within moments, the cups were upturned and the snack was rolling across the floor. Which is pretty much the best of all possible worlds as far as Ian and Mira are concerned.

floor snack
not the best photo I have ever taken, but it gives you an idea of the scene

Mira, 11 mo

Floor snack
milk on the floor too, of course

Snacking Ian

Some weeks I am all words and no pictures. This week I am thinking in pictures.

Monday, April 26, 2010


The March part of this month was all snot, all the time. In April we moved out of illness and I decided to rethink that Kleenex stock purchase. (crosses fingers and kicks self for tempting fate this way) Ian finally decided to try crawling the "normal" way, though he still resorts to commando-style when he really wants to get someplace or needs to hold something while moving.* Mira prefers to put an object in her mouth to carry it while crawling. We'll be working on fetching next.

Kids (11 months, 59 months, 11 months) 
I finally found a way to keep Ian and Mira from crawling away from the camera

Kids (11 mo)
But then you can see what that led to...
Speaking of Ian, although he has trailed Mira a bit on the physical developments, he is officially the first of the two to speak. For a while now he has been saying something that sounds like "Ada" but we were never totally sure. With such a vowel-heavy name, "ada" could be like "mama" - one of those things kids say over and over without clearly meaning something specific. But last week, Ian looked up at Ada descending the stairs, pointed at her and declared "Ada!" Since then he's been saying her name a lot, sometimes as a question. He also seems to be saying "Papa" but that is less definitive.

Did I say that Ian has been trailing in physical advances? Scratch that. Starting last week, Ian became obsessed with climbing the stairs and no amount of redirection would convince him to give it a rest. On Saturday we installed the gate at the bottom of the stairs. This led to a frustrated Ian rattling the gate a bunch. I can practically hear him yelling "Attica!" When I do give the kids access to the stairs, Ian has no problem scaling all 15 steps. Mira is less dedicated to this pursuit, but generally holds her own climbing-wise.

Both kids are waving hello and bye-bye. The latter has come in handy recently, as it tends to keep the kids from getting upset when Chris or I leave, as long as we repeat "bye-bye" and wave for a bit before we go. Mira caught on to clapping a few weeks ago, and now we all spend big chunks of our day clapping and playing patty-cake. The only other sign we've consistently used with these two is "finished" (though we accompany it with the words "all done"). Mira uses it mostly to let us know she's done (with food, with having her diaper changed, with sitting in the stroller), but occasionally it seems to mean she was different food, but not no food. We're working on it.

We have entered a phase that will last for at least the next 14 years, I think: Ian and Mira MUST HAVE whatever the other one is using. Stealing and screaming are now rampant. Chris and I are torn between trying to instill a "no stealing" policy and just sitting back and letting the kids fight it out. There is no obvious victim or culprit, as they both do it to one another all the time.

Ian, 11 mo

The above photo shows some evidence of the crown of bruises that Ian sports these days. Learning to crawl and climb and stand leads to a lot of falling. I know it is not just us. Lara's 11 month update on her twins included photos of her son with similar brow-bruises. Of course, it is Mira who took the most recent header on the porch, leaving her with some impressive scratches on her nose and upper lip.

Mira, early April
blissfully scab-free at Grandma's house

Ada is continuing to grow and mature as she moves toward 5. Some days are so good that I even dare to hope that we are moving out of the extended tantrum and whining-extravaganza that has been our life with her for much of the past year. I will have more about her tomorrow, but for now here are two quick Ada updates:

(1) This month she learned to ride her bike. Really ride it, with no training wheels and without any assistance starting and stopping. Chris and I are completely impressed and proud of her.

(2) As of Saturday, Ada is back sleeping in her bed. She told Chris she wanted to re-arrange her furniture, and he suggested that she could move her next onto her bed. For now, at least, we no longer have to tell people that our daughter sleeps in the closet. 

*Someone who saw Ian do his arms-only crawl described it as a "zombie crawl", as in, how zombies move when their legs are incapacitated. Not to be confused with this kind of zombie crawl, which until 5 minutes ago I'd never heard of.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week


When I pulled my hamstring I went to a misogynist.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Take That! (or: Everyone Wins!)

To find out who won the growth chart, click here.

I have a few things for the rest of you too. I find these things, as I am sure you do, but who do I send them to? I can only send my sister so many emails titled look at this.

So instead, I say to you, LOOK AT THIS!

Quite possibly the best Star Wars movie ever. Even better, you can participate in making part of another of these. Click here to see how.

Months after I saw this, I am still horrified and amused by vajazzling. I suspected I was not alone, but now I have proof.

As a follow up to my recent "good animal" query, here's a reason you might not want to put Pandas at the top of your list.  (Thanks to @TheBloggess)

Another friend posted this on Twitter, and I think I am in love.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

One More Day

You've got until 10pm Pacific Time Wednesday to tell me your favorite animal. Click here for my little giveaway!

Hearby Resolved: Eat More Take-Out?

Lately I have been obsessed with how people manage the evening routine. Without peeking into other people's windows (which I am not entirely above, but it is time-consuming if you want to do it right) I am not clear how people get their young kids fed, bathed and in bed at a decent hour without completely tearing their hair out. Or rather, how people do this and WORK.

Chris and I (usually Chris, but whatever) cook most nights. We grocery shop on the weekend, guided by a plan for at least 4 nights of meals. (How people just go into the store and get what looks appealing and then manage to turn that into dinner every night is another thing that confuses me. I mean, I can do a single meal that way, but how do you shop for a week that way?) Our prep is good, but we have never really amended our cooking style to meet the needs of life with small kids. Our dinners are mostly not 20 minute affairs. We brine chickens, knead pizza dough, (AND) chop endless vegetables. Delicious, but not entirely conducive to quick completion.

The babies need to eat by 5:30. There is just no way we can have our dinner on the table by then. We have taken steps to make dinner easier, mostly by making meals that last more than one night or that can be transformed (roasted chicken becomes burritos or arroz con pollo). But it still does not seem like enough to get us fed before we need to put the babies in bed and Ada in the bath.

I have been obsessing about this for a couple of weeks and I think the universe is listening in. While I was solo parenting last week I decided that making dinner was too much effort. While at the burrito hut with the kids I ran into two neighbors. They both said their families regularly get dinner there. Then I was talking to a neighbor who spontaneously asked me how we deal with dinner.

I know some people take Sundays to make meals for the whole week. I doubt that is going to work for us, at least in our current state. So what else? And as long as I am asking, how do people who work outside the home get home early enough to do dinner and bedtime routines? Some days I work at home, but on others I work an hour away from home.  The only thing that seems to really help is having Ada eat at a friend's house. However, this doesn't seem like a viable solution for more than one or two nights a week. 

So how do we make this easier? How do we get us all fed by 6:30?

(and don't forget to click over and tell me about your favorite animal for a chance to win a wooden growth chart!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sister Stand-off

Ada has made a lot of accommodations to life with Ian and Mira, but she still can't entirely wrap her mind around the fact that if she builds one of her patented structures out of furniture, toys and assorted boxes, the babies will want to touch, move or eat the various parts. 

Here is Ada trying to explain to Mira that she can't touch any part of Ada's construction:

Ada Telling Mira Not To Touch Her Set-Up

Mira, having had enough haranguing, retreated to the safety of the plastic container shelves:
Mira, decamped to the Plastics Cabinet

Ada, satisfied that she's held her siblings off for another day:
Ada, from the comfort of her tube tent

When Ian woke up, I took them all outside. I'll show you how that worked out in a few days.

Don't forget to tell me your favorite animal for a chance to win a cute growth chart.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Fearfull PDX Hoes

It was like something from a Greek tragedy, or at least something horrible, traumatic and if not antiwoman then campily celebratory of femininity gone awry, along the lines of "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?" or perhaps more aptly, "Aliens."

John Bowe
Octo-Mom in Production

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Giving It Away

Have opinions about animals?  Interested in kids beds and other furniture? Want to win something? Click here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

In the Pink

After a couple of challenging color months, April is the perfect time for me to shoot pink!

April 2: Pink Cherry Blossoms

April 3: Pink Tulips

April 9: Pink Blooms in a Tree

I hope the blooms hold out the rest of the month!

Friday, April 09, 2010


A year ago I wrote this note to myself about Ada:

To Remember - when I go in to make sure you still have blankets on, you turn over in your sleep and reveal that you have your teddy bear clasped in your hand.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Curses, Foiled Again!

A couple of weeks ago Ada was on "spring break." Why does a preschooler need spring break? (I have the sense that it is more a break for the teachers than for the kids.) To deal with the break, I set up play-dates 4 of the 5 days. (On Monday Ada went to work with Chris, which was a smashing success in no small part due to the CAKE Chris' department had in honor of Stephanie's birthday.)

We had a child-care swap with one of Ada's favorite friends. I gave in to the spring-break-y-ness of the week, and let the girls watch a movie (with popcorn!) in the afternoon. But in the morning we did a "project." I'd gotten my weekly kids craft email, and was inspired by a painted egg idea. If you follow the link you'll see that the idea is to cover cardboard ovals with tin foil, then paint on the foil. Before the paint dries, you scratch off patterns in the paint.

Tin Foil Eggs
bet you can't guess which one is mine

The girls were very excited for this idea, but ended up not really caring about the scratching off part. They made tons of eggs, coloring them as fast as I could cut the cardboard. All went well until Mira woke up, and then Ian woke up. The girls were working at the kid table in the kitchen, which is now accessible to Mira and Ian (thanks to their newfound standing skills). It was pretty much inevitable that one of them would grab some paint and make a mess. Despite knowing this, I was still caught off-guard when Ian tried to comandeer the blue paint and ended up decorating himself, the floor and a cardboard box I had been dismantling to make more eggs. No permanent damage was done to any of the three, but it was touch and go for a while. (Sorry, no picture of that. Sadly.)

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Fun and Games

On days that I am home with the kids, I often take a shower after putting the babies in their beds for nap. Ada usually plays on my bed while I do this, and then we spend some time in my bedroom. Usually I try to take the opportunity to put things away or get other tasks accomplished, but after a while Ada generally asks me to play with her. This week she suggested we play a game she'd invented. The game consisted of me picking what she referred to as a "pattern" from somewhere in the room and drawing it so that she could guess what I had drawn. Unlike her requests for me to play with dolls or to read the same Amelia Bedelia book for the 5,000th time, this game was really enjoyable for me. I drew a bunch of things and Ada guessed. Sometimes she needed clues but sometimes she got the thing right away. It was interesting what was easy for her to find, and what stumped her; she found my drawing of a door knob  utterly perplexing, but got my sketch of wood grain pretty quickly. After a while Ada decided to draw for me, which was also fun (though a little confusing, as when she drew a bug she claimed to see on the wall of the next door neighbors' house).

This isn't one of the things we drew, but it is one of my favorite recent Ada-drawings.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Closeted (but not how you think)

A few weeks ago Ada decided to make a nest on her bedroom floor. Blankets, pillows, stuffed toys, all surrounding her in a cozy circle. Like many young children, Ada loves making nests, caves and other tight-space hideaways. (The mom of a friend mentioned once that kids are actually hardwired to like little spaces. Maybe they like spaces that make them feel bigger, or is it just the desire to carve out personal space, even temporarily?) The night the nest was made, Ada decided she wanted to sleep there too. Although a little concerned that sleeping on the floor might not be entirely comfortable for a kid used to a mattress, we okayed this experiment. One night turned into a few nights, and then a week. She seemed to be sleeping fine, so we let it go.

Not that there weren't down-sides. At some point the nest became a boat, and I was harshly reprimanded for mis-identifying it to visitors. More annoying, to get to Ada's dresser I had to step on (and face scolding) or around the now-boat. It finally occurred to me that if a small space was what she wanted, I could give Ada a new option that would remove the nest-boat from the middle of her room. I suggested to Ada that I clean out her 7 foot deep closet and help her make a nest space in there. It is almost as if I had suggested we buy a unicorn and stable it in the back yard. (I believe the words "you are the best mama ever" were involved.)

So I cleaned out Ada's closet while the babies slept and Ada played with (and in) the bassinet that had been shoved in the closet since the babies finished with it six months back. I made a big pile of clothes to donate, found homes for the few dresses and shirts that I want to save, and restacked and organized the items that needed to stay in the closet. Our friend Ellen loaned us a papasan cushion that had been sitting unused in her basement. Ada and I dragged it home and she happily set up her new bed space. All was well in the world.

About a week after Ada started sleeping in her closet-bed, the father of a friend told me that Ada had asked if she could sleep at the friend's house some night. He tried to determine if that might work, and he and Ada had talked about how much light she needed for sleeping. The dad said: "Ada said she uses a little light in the closet where she sleeps" and then he gave me a little smile of the type you give when you think there is a good explanation for a situation, but without it things sound kind of, well, odd. I explained why Ada is sleeping in the closet, and luckily the dad is the understanding parent of a child who has had her own sleep issues over the past year.

So yes, my daughter is sleeping in the closet, for however long that appeals to her. When friends come over they play in the closet, and every time I go in to read books with Ada I find toys and game pieces strewn about the space. It feels like a cheap way to make Ada happy. Plus, I remember enough about being a kid to kind of wish that I had my own little nest-ship-cubby space too.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Random Quote and Unrelated Photo of the Week

Buy Danish

There were no ladies on that set today. there were men running for curtains.
RuPaul's Drag Race

Thursday, April 01, 2010

In like a lion, out like a lamb?

Brown collage

I love brown. Every time I am in a fabric store I find myself gravitating to patterns with a lot of brown. (A peek in my closet shows that I have tended to make myself skirts that are mostly or partly brown, despite having almost NO brown shoes.)

That said, shooting brown was harder than I would have thought.( I am pretty sure I will type this same sentiment every month.) If I had let myself just take pictures of trees, March would have been an easy month. And Portland does have a lot of wonderful trees. As it is, wood is the subject of 8 of my 31 brown photographs.

Actually, the whole month wasn't that hard, but around the 15th I was out of ideas and inspiration. By the time the end of the month came around I had found a bunch more things to love. Maybe that is just the way it will go with this project. In any case, I am hoping that April will be fun. As I was walking with the babies on Wednesday, I passed a deep pink azalea bush in bloom. I am not usually a huge fan of azaleas or rhododendrons, but the pink of these flowers just throbbed, and I thought "if April is pink, I have to come back and shoot these flowers." And, thanks to my trusty random number generator, pink it is. April in Portland should be a good month for pink. And even it rains all month and I never get outside, I can just sneak into Ada's room and take a picture of an item of her clothing each day. Doing that would actually take more than a month.