Wednesday, December 23, 2015

reality and a lot of hot cocoa

reality check- here is the size of my 24 week fetus, a cantaloupe.  only it's a rotting cantaloupe, because life is keeping us busy and i couldn't find the right time or lighting or take 2 minutes to pull my big girl camera out and get the settings right to photograph the cantaloupe when it was perfectly ripe and colored.  so instead, i had to photograph it like this.  way over ripened and in the trash right after i took this photo.

but it's ok.  i've let it go.  in huge part thanks to a friend who went to throw my fruit away telling me it was rotting, and when i loudly protested, she set me down and set me straight.  she made me realize in a loving, friendly way that i had way too much on my plate and i was stressing out over the little items on my to-do list that just didn't matter.  this baby won't look back at photos and care that i took a picture of food items that correlates to it's ever growing size.  and i had kind of already started to let it go when i failed to take a photo of weeks 13-18, 22 and 25.  i missed the baby at peach, lemon, apple, avocado, turnip, green pepper, papaya and cauliflower.  but i did capture week 23, mango.  literally on a weekday school morning when crosby asked for mango in her lunch and i only had one left and needed to capture it before i cut it.

which now that i look back, i realize it was a mango at 19 weeks, too, which is the result of following 2 different charts.  ok, done, letting it all go, and focusing on enjoying the present, which lately includes the movements of the baby noticeable now through the outside and the girls being able to feel them too with their hands resting gently on the bump, enjoying the magical moments in the preparations for christmas, and being off on break from school which allows for snuggling under blankets on the couch with hot cocoa and an afternoon movie.  i'm looking forward to a lot more of this on my to-do list.

Monday, December 21, 2015

cookie monsters

'tis december, and the month of cookies.  5 years ago, i started one of my favorite traditions- a cookie party with close friends- and it still remains one of my very favorite nights of the month and something i put on the calendar months before december actually rolls around and anyone is thinking about the christmas holiday.  each person brings half-dozen homemade cookies packaged up to share with each friend who comes, as well as a recipe card, and has to explain the meaning behind their cookie choice.  peppermint martinis are poured.  appetizers and cookies are tasted.  prizes are awarded.  and then we have several dozen cookies in a variety to nibble on and share with others over the next few weeks before the holidays.  it's simply the best.

another tradition we started after harper was born was making sugar cookies for santa.  i used to do all the decorating myself, but in the past several years, i have eager helpers anxious to get their hands into frosting and sprinkles.  we've invited friends over occasionally to help, and share in the wealth.  this year, our very good friends, lucy and molly, came over to help.  lu and harper were more interested in eating the sprinkles after decorating a few cookies each.  molly and crosby only wanted to decorate their one cookie to eat, after all, the toys and play time together were just beckoning them too much.  

my girls decorated a handful before our friends arrived.  and in the end, it was the mamas who were left to decorate more than half.  we also had to sample a few of them as we chatted and sipped our starbucks.  

i always love the finished products.  we prefer to make the frosting in more fun off-the-holiday-tradition colors, but keep the sprinkles mostly in standard reds, greens and whites.  and we always set aside our favorites for the santa plate, this year it was the ones with the most decor on top because we assume santa likes sprinkles.  i hope we're right.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

is that you, santa claus?

my girls were both a little leery of visiting santa this year.  harper just didn't want to go, and crosby didn't want to sit on his lap.  they both pondered what they would even tell him they wanted for christmas, even though they had both written out lists weeks ago with every detailed item that was desired.  but, in holiday tradition, we went.  i found a new santa location, without being in the mall and without being forced to purchase a photo package.  

harper knows there are santa helpers all around, and was convinced this wasn't the actual santa because his beard was too short.  either way, he was a great one.  he was able to convince crosby to get close by playing a musical wind-up watch.  it was a quick visit, enough to tell santa that harper wanted film for her polaroid camera and crosby wanted pj masks character toys.  santa was shocked that harper had a polaroid camera, and he had never heard of pj masks, so we knew that he wasn't the real one.  the real santa knows all.  but i tell the girls all the time that you just never know where santa is, when he's watching, and what magic he's tossing around.

i love this time of year.  it refreshes my soul, and puts me in the right place to just be mindful of all that we have.  the magic and wonder through our girls' eyes, the sparkly joy that lies around us everywhere, the beauty of giving to others.

a merry early christmas with lots of love to all.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

weeks 20 & 21 and oh what a month!

first off, our 20 and 21 week fruit baby...

i don't really get the fruit measurements.  i mean to go from a banana at 20 weeks to a pomegranate at 21 doesn't make a ton of sense, but oh well.  it's fun for the girls to see something tangible and know how big the baby is.  it also makes it crazy for me to realize that this tiny little piece of fruit is floating around in my rather large belly.  i think i was just starting to wear maternity clothes with harper around 21 weeks or a little after, and now, this.

and finally, i am thankful it's december.  our month of november was less than stellar.  i attended 3 funerals- one for a young student of mine from school; another for the father of a very dear friend; and the third for a very young boy within our community who died of an inoperable brain tumor.  going to funerals is tough.  going to funerals for kids and parents of friends of mine who are still much too young is tougher.  going to 3 funerals in 4 weeks being revved up on pregnancy hormones has put me just a bit over the edge.  it was a lot to take in and process.  and i still don't feel i've processed it all.

on top of all of that, smack dab in the middle of the month on friday, the 13th, we had our big ultrasound.  everything looked good that day.  the technician did seem to be taking a few extra pictures of the heart, but i assumed it was just because the baby wasn't cooperating in that area.  and when we weren't escorted into the back room to wait and talk with the doctor right after the scans like we had to with crosby's ultrasound, i breathed a sigh of relief.  but, 5 days later when i met with my ob-gyn for my monthly appointment, she let me know that they did in fact find something worth mentioning in the area of the baby's heart. 2 eif- echogenic intracardiac foci- were located in the left ventricle.  they're basically bright white spots, a mineralization of calcium that causes some extra thickening and shows up on the ultrasound like a bone would.  she said it was a soft sign for a chromosomal abnormality, specifically trisomy 21, or Down's syndrome.  there was nothing anywhere else on the scan that lead them to believe it was any other chromosomal issue.  it took a bit to process that as well, but michael and i decided that we would do some further testing.  essentially, we consented to a blood test, where they would take a sample of my blood, send it to a lab in california and spin it for 5 days to pull out the fetal dna.  then the lab would examine that and piece the dna together to determine if there was any abmornalities.  it had a 98% accuracy rate, and would help ease our minds with what we might be encountering.  we completed the test the monday before thanksgiving, and were told it would take 7-14 days.  we tried to not focus on it, and instead enjoy the holidays, but it was there.  it was present.  and finally, last tuesday afternoon, i received a call from the nurse with the results, that all 3 trisomies that were looked at came back negative.  meaning that 98% chance that chromosomally speaking, everything with this baby is fine.  i hung up and cried a deep lose-your-breath cry for a weight i didn't realize i was carrying.  we have done a lot of praying, and we knew God was holding our hands.

after losing maximus in october, then with the funerals and the genetics testing, i don't think my weeping hormones have really had a break since.  i'm really hoping for a happy, restful, somewhat-calm-despite-being-the-crazy-holiday-season december to allow me some time to reset before panic sets in when i realize the babe is due in just about 4 months.  here we go with lots of bedroom shuffling and preparations to do!

Monday, November 30, 2015

our thanksgiving tree tradition

ever since i can remember, my family has driven out to the christmas tree farm the day after thanksgiving to cut down our tree.  this year, that friday brought miserable rainy weather, so we delayed it by a day.  that saturday morning, we bundled the kids up, and this year decided to ride in the wagon to the back of the farm to pick out our perfect pine.  we went a little bigger than 12 feet this year, just slightly taller than last year.  this has always been my favorite tradition, and the one i truly look forward to to get into the holiday spirit.  here is this year's tree hunt in photos.