Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

  • The Night Before

    Date: 2015.04.13 | Category: Family, Food, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Twins | Response: 6

    This is it: the last day before our twins arrive.

    I am a huge whirl of emotions that range from extremely excited to positively terrified. How am I going to do this?

    Today was not what I imagined it would be. In my head, I pictured my last day as a family of four, snuggled up with my kids, playing games with them, sitting outside while they played as the four of us basked in our last calm and peaceful day together before the babies arrived.

    The reality was… well it wasn’t that.

    The girls know something is up and they were acting out. Sarah literally clung to my body all day. If I dozed off on the couch, she would jump on my legs or back immediately to get my attention. If I tried to maneuver myself off the couch, she would clutch onto my arm with a death grip and hold me down. I love to snuggle with my kids, but this all consuming clingy thing was overstimulating. Everything on my body hurts, from my hips and back to my skin and hair. Just touching me was enough to make me want to scream.

    Norah woke up in a terror. She was screaming for “”PANCAKE! PANCAKE!” from the moment she woke up. She clung to her daddy, hovering between his legs while he attempted to make the requested pancakes, our traditional weekend breakfast. She did cheer up some after she ate, but was still into everything: yanking cups full of water off tables, throwing her cup and smashing her sister’s toe, crying over having her diaper changed. Time out, our go-to miracle worker, had absolutely no effect on her today.

    Oh, and did I mention that Mark has a sinus infection on top of all of this? He had to go to Quick Care with fever yesterday morning, where they promptly gave him antibiotic and steroid shots, the latter of which kept him up all night last night. And of course I don’t really sleep anymore either. So we were both exhausted and cranky and generally feeling bad.

    By 10am, I was frazzled. We were all sitting on the floor in Sarah’s room and I was trying to pack the girls’ bags for their grandparents’ houses. The girls were more interested in ignoring everything I said and making their big mess into a giant mess. It was overwhelming. How could I possibly handle four children when I was barely keeping it together with two? I had to leave the room freak out and ugly cry for about 30 minutes.

    Shortly after that, my friend Kelly came over and brought communion. I don’t think she was expecting to walk in and see me in tears, but she hugged me and immediately started consoling me. By the grace of God, the girls let the three adults pray together and receive the host without interuption. Immediately I relaxed and so did Mark. It was truly what we needed in that moment.

    After Kelly left, we fed the kids, got Norah down for a nap and Mark got a chance to rest while Sarah and I colored My Little Ponies together, just the two of us, for almost an hour. Then Mark and I traded out and he got to spend the next 45 minutes building Legos with her, enjoying the one-on-one time. About the time Norah woke up from a nap, Nana showed up to get Sarah. We said our goodbyes to her, then got to spend some quality and happy one-on-one time with Norah. She loved dancing and clapping with us. My mom came to collect her a short time later, and she was thrilled to go with her Mimi.

    My sisters came over around 4:30 and put in a solid two hours of cleaning my house for me and provided some much needed conversation and distraction. My friend Stephanie showed up with two lasagnas for our freezer and big hugs and well wishes.

    After they left, Mark and I decided Mexican food sounded excellent, so we picked it up, brought it home and got to have an entire conversation uninterrupted in a quiet house – an unexpected date night that we desperately needed.

    And now here we are. It’s 9pm and we have to be at the hospital at 5am. I didn’t know if we’d make it to goal day. I had three days this past week with regular contractions that had to be stopped by medication. It’s had me on pins and needles, adding an additional level of anxiety. But, by the grace of God, we have somehow made it to goal day.

    I have had so many people call, text and message me to check on me today and tell me they are praying for and thinking about us tomorrow, and that has meant more to me than anything. I’ve done this c-section thing before, but I’m still extremely anxious about it. I worry about the babies and hope their lungs are developed enough and we don’t have to go to the NICU. I pray that everything will be perfect. How many twin moms are lucky enough to make it to 37 weeks? Most are not. Even at the OB’s office I started getting cheers and proud congratulations every time I made it to another appointment.

    We are here. We are at the finish line. It doesn’t seem real, but my body says otherwise.

    I am so excited. I am so worried. I am so happy. I am so anxious.

    We can do this. We will do this. This is it. Whew.

    We appreciate all your love and support throughout this whole pregnancy, especially through delivery tomorrow. Please pray for the three of us, or really the six of us. We all need your love and positive support now and over the coming months. It’s going to be wild and it’s going to be wonderful.

  • The Biloxi Adventure

    Date: 2015.01.04 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Friends, Holidays, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah, Travel | Response: 2

    Adulthood friendships are unique. Chances are if we are friends as adults, then we have common values. With our friendship time limited due to family and work, it takes a special bond and sometimes quite an effort to keep a strong friendship alive. I am so blessed to have several women in my life who I count among my close friends, who keep me sane in times of stress and who blow me away with their generosity.

    So for me, the part of the holidays I was looking forward to the most was the opportunity to spend four days with my very best friend in Biloxi. Susan and I were roommates for three years in college, and when we hang out there are no obligations or expectations. We eat what we feel like, watch our girls play and no one complains when we wind down for bed at 8:00 p.m.

    This trip was especially important, because due to life and work circumstances, we likely won’t see each other again until a couple months after the twins arrive. I’m not going to dwell on that right now because it makes me too sad. So, on with the happy!

    Our trip to Biloxi was perfect (well mostly perfect – the four of us did have mild colds, but we pushed through them).

    Susan’s daughter was forced to share all of her new Christmas toys with my girls, and, for the most part, did pretty well with it. They all wanted to be in costume the whole time, which was fun.

    Our first full day there, Susan and I got to spend the morning together, kid-free. We were mostly running errands, but then we stopped at a local coffee shop and got to just sit and catch up without anyone demanding our attention. It was so cathartic, and I think we both needed it.

    We ate a lot of delicious food and had a great time taking the girls on a “nature walk” and to the park. It was just a little “froggy” out, as Sarah would say.

    The great thing about having a friend who lives on the Gulf Coast is the proximity to beaches and the nice temperature increase. It was about 10 degrees warmer than home, with temps in the low 70’s most of the time. That meant getting our feet wet wasn’t out of the question.

    And building sand castles is always fun.

    Though Norah did get royally pissed off after she made a break for the ocean, face-planted into the cold water and was forced to get out despite the fact she thought she could swim just fine by herself.

    Oh, and Mark was there, too.  We had to tag team chasing down the baby.

    Our last night there, the three grown ups went to The Half Shell, a nice New Orleans style restaurant, and enjoyed ourselves so much. I, of course, couldn’t drink, so I volunteered to be DD. The seafood was outstanding and the key lime pie some of the best I’ve ever had (it’s not good, after all, unless it makes your mouth clench up a little from the tartness).

    And while we had our share of mishaps on the trip with the kids (Susan’s daughter stole my toothbrush and ate Mark’s toothpaste at one point and Norah decided the toilet was an excellent place to play), overall the trip was so nice and so much fun. I’m so thankful we got to do it before it gets too uncomfortable for me to travel.

    And I think it’s safe to say the girls had a great time, too. You know they did when at least one of them does this as soon as we hit the road to drive home.

  • Your Burning Questions

    Date: 2014.11.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Life, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy | Response: 4

    I have to admit, even through the shock and tears of finding out we were unexpectedly expecting twins, I have loved sharing our news with people and watching their reactions. People almost always fell into two camps: 1) They were overjoyed and extremely excited, or 2) They were vaguely horrified. The second camp was hilarious because I often found myself reassuring these folks that, no really, we were going to be ok. Everyone has been just as shocked as we are though, and their expressions and physical reactions have been hilarious. From yelling out obscenities to nearly choking, it’s been pretty entertaining.

    I’ve also found myself answering a few of the same questions over and over, so for those who are dying to know, here they are in no certain order.

    1)   Do you know if they are identical?

    We do know that they are not identical – they are fraternal. That has to do with their yolk sacs and the number of placentas. Plus, we just found out that they are a boy and a girl, so no chance of being identical there!

    2)   Do twins run in your family?

    Yes, there are lots in Mark’s family, but there are none in mine. Which is crazy, because fraternal twins come from the mother. Oh well, got to start somewhere I suppose!

    3)   How old are your girls?!

    When the babies are born, our oldest will be turning four and our baby will be 18 months. Yes, I know, it will be insane.

    4)   Are you going to move?

    Nope! We love our house and our neighborhood and we have way too many stressful things going on right now to be worried about trying to sell/buy a house and keep our house clean for people to look at. If we need to in a few years, we will look into it. In the mean time, I’m taking the advice of my good friend Katie and stacking those kids up.

    5)   When are they due?

    Well, that’s kind of complicated. Their 40week due date is May 4, but with twins they won’t let you go past 38 weeks, so the latest we would have them is April 20. In all likelihood though, we are going to do our best to make it to 36 weeks and hopefully have April babies.

    6)   Why did you wait so long to let people know you were expecting twins?

    I was very emotional and unsure of everything for a while and I had to come to terms things and arm myself with some of the comments I knew people would make so I wouldn’t take them to heart.

    7)   What do you mean? What kinds of things would people say?

    In no particular order: “Again?! Or Already?!”;  “You know how that happens don’t you?” (Me: Why yes, I have a very happy marriage, thankyouverymuch); “Your life is going to be insane.” Plus there’s always those looks from people who are obviously thinking, “Glad it’s not me!” Note: I know almost all of these people meant nothing mean or hurtful by their comments, but when a girl is already stressed and worried, sometimes she just needs to think happy thoughts.

    8)   But you look like you’ve lost weight!

    Hey thanks! Some of that I can take credit for. I dropped nearly 20 pounds before I got pregnant, and then once I got pregnant I dropped another 13 or so (not on purpose). Thanks morning sickness. I’ve been really struggling to put on any weight this pregnancy at all (and I NEVER thought that would be a problem, especially with two on board!)

    9)   What’s been different about this pregnancy compared to your others?

    Well, we’re still pretty early into this whole thing but there are some biggies: 1) Morning sickness. I had it with both girls, but never lost a significant amount of weight with it. It’s been more like all day and all night sickness this time and it’s lasting much longer. 2) Fatigue! But that is more than likely from taking care of two on the inside and two on the outside. 3) All the ultrasounds and doctor appointments have spoiled me this time. Instead of every four weeks, we go to the OB every two, plus a high risk appointment thrown in there so that I go to a doctor and have an ultrasound 2 or 3 out of 4 weeks of the month. It’s pretty amazing.

    10)  Are you ok?

    I really appreciate people’s concern, but I’m happy to let you know that, Yes! I really am ok and very happy and excited now. People have been private messaging me and calling me and offering to help in a variety of ways: from hand-me-downs to bringing food once they are born to throwing a diaper shower to coming to visit just to stay and help around the house while we adjust. I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of love and support in our lives. We are more than ok, we are excited to welcome and meet the two new members of our family in the spring, and can’t wait for you to meet them, too!

    P.S. If you like this sort of thing, here is their most recent “picture.” Baby A is on top and is the girl, Baby B, the boy, is being crushed on the bottom. Poor little guy.

  • Biloxi

    Date: 2014.07.08 | Category: Family, Friends, Holidays, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Travel | Response: 4

    Ever since our beach trip in May 2013, Sarah has been begging us to go back to the beach. She has set up towels in the living room, put on her swimsuit and pretended to swim through the water. She jumps in her kiddie pool in the backyard and tells me she’s a mermaid in the ocean. She spreads newspaper across the living room floor and calls it her beach picnic.

    So, it was with regret that I had to tell her that because Mama had a baby and burned all the vacation time on maternity leave, that a beach trip was not going to happen this year.

    She persisted in playing beach though and continued to ask when we were going to go to the beach.

    ***

    Last year my best friend Susan was assigned to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. It was with a heavy heart that I said goodbye to her and her sweet little girl as they packed up their bags and moved over six hours away.

    She’s been able to come in town a few times and visit, but the trip for us to go see her was impossible for a while due to new baby and my total lack of vacation time.

    Fortunately though, July 4 fell on a Friday this year and I figured it was high time to make a trip down to Biloxi and see my best friend.

    And while I vaguely knew there was a beach in Biloxi, I was thrilled to drive along it as we made our way to Susan’s house. Sarah cried out in delight when she saw it, yelling “Hey beach! Hi beach!” and then sobbed dramatically when we turned off Beach Boulevard. We had to reassure her that we would be making a trip or two to the beach while we visited.

    ***

    My reunion with Susan was sweet and we made the most of it by drinking wine and catching up while we watched our three girls play with one another. We took turns cooking and picking up food. And, of course, there were a couple of trips to the beach.

    The beautiful thing about Biloxi beaches is, that while they may not have the glowing blue water the Florida beaches have, they are relatively shallow and don’t have strong waves. That means they are perfect for adventurous, beach loving little girls.

    We did lots of other fun things too, like visiting the swimming pool and splash pad, tried out some amazing BBQ and event went to a Diners, Drive-In’s and Dives restaurant (Blow Fly Inn, anyone?)

    All of that was fun, but getting to hang out with my best friend for four days was the best part of all.

    Oh yea, and the beach was pretty nice too.

  • 3rd Birthday: The Party!

    Date: 2014.04.29 | Category: Birthday, Family, Food, Friends, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Sarah | Response: 7

    Sarah’s third birthday party was a great success!

    Per her request, we made the party Frozen-themed. We had it at our house and opened up the backyard to a bunch of her friends.

    I love throwing her birthday parties. Some people may roll their eyes at the detail I put into birthday parties (*cough*Mark*cough*), but I sincerely enjoy planning and executing all of it. Plus, this year she was old enough to appreciate so much of it and was so excited.

    Plus my mom and both of my sister (one of whom is 9 months pregnant) helped me pull it all together.

    Here’s the birthday girl’s spread! It included carrot Olaf cupcakes and vanilla princess cupcakes, plus lots of blue, purple and white food.

    The birthday girl had a special shirt from my friend Kristen at Evangeline Made.

    Norah had her own birthday appropriate shirt too.

    We had so many of our best friends come, including my best friend Susan (who lives in Biloxi now) and her family – I guess Norah can be included as part of her family. Susan is like her auntie after all.

    The kids had fun jumping on Sarah’s new trampoline…

    Playing on the fort…

    And decorating cookies at the station we set up with our old front door (hey upcycle!) Mom baked all the cookies in the shapes of snowmen, snowflakes, crowns, castles and shoes. I’m sure the parents appreciated me setting out lots of sugar for their kids to eat. The kids liked it anyway.

    Everyone was so generous and Sarah got lots of goodies including her beloved Doc McStuffins dress up outfit.

    And everything else a princess might possibly need.

    Oh, and we had some very special guests! My sister MC and her friend Kirstie came as Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. Sarah absolutely loved it and all the kids took turns greeting the princesses and taking pictures with them.

    We gave out Frozen coloring books for party favors.

    It was an awesome third birthday party and I’m so glad it was such a great success.

    P.S. This photo of Mark and my nephew at the party is my favorite.

  • Saturday, Saturday

    Date: 2014.03.26 | Category: Baby, Birthday, Family, Friends, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 3

    I feel like my last few posts have been a bit of a downer, so let me tell you about some of the really great things going on, because there are so many!

    This past weekend was so wonderful.  On Saturday we went to a birthday party for two of Sarah’s best buddies. The twins live right down the street from us and had an awesome cowboy birthday party.

    Sheriff Sarah was thrilled with her cowgirl outfit. (Pardon our concrete floors – we’re having new ones installed Monday).

    There were pony rides that went really well… until the pony actually started moving.

    There was a petting zoo of goats…

    And bunnies and chickens.

    There was an awesome set up for photos, though Norah was unimpressed.

    Also, cupcakes!

    That night continued to improve.

    Mark and I finally had a night out with just the two of us – the first in months.

    We started out at The Blind Tiger, our old haunt back before kids that serves up great food and beer. We knew the bartender and the owner and had a great time kicking back and enjoying ourselves. They had Abita Strawberry on tap – a local and seasonal favorite, which made the evening that much better.

    From there we left to go see  the Elton John in concert. I won free tickets from our local newspaper to go to the show – something amazing in and of itself.

    The show was so good. He played for three hours straight, singing tons of hits. They had a camera on his hands so the audience could watch him play piano. He was full of energy and knew how to work the crowd.

    And check out that crazy chandelier that kept changing colors and moving all around. Truly an amazing and fun show.

    We got home late, but we had a great time. Thanks to my mom for watching the girls for us and allowing us some much needed down time.

  • The End of the Year

    Date: 2013.12.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Halloween, Health, Holidays, Home, Kitties, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sam Cat, Sarah, Travel | Response: 1

    As I was looking back through photos from this past year, I found myself in awe over just how big my Sarah girl has grown. She looked like such a little baby way back in January, but now she is a big, talking, silly little girl. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about 2013, but we, mostly, had a really fantastic year.

    I typed up a pretty lengthy summary, but feel free to skip all that and just watch the video. :)

    2013 from Jessica Rinaudo on Vimeo.

    In January we found out we were expecting another baby, which changed our whole world. Sarah would no longer be an only child, and my yearlong obsession with getting pregnant again came to a close. We let our families know we were expecting by allowing Sarah to walk into their homes proudly wearing a “Big Sister” shirt.

    In February we took Sarah to her first Mardi Gras parade – the animal parade downtown. We missed the others we had planned to take her to thanks to illness. She also got sick on Valentine’s Day  for good measure. We also got to see our little bean on the ultrasound for the first time that month too!

    In March I quickly discovered that pregnancies show much faster the second time around. We spent a lot of time playing outside and going to friends’ birthday parties. We spent Good Friday at the pediatrician’s office after Sarah landed herself with croup. This meant we couldn’t go to church for Easter, but Nana and grandaddy were willing to let her come around them, so we visited there and hunted down a few Easter eggs.

    In April Sarah turned two and we celebrated with a Alice and Wonderland themed “Mad Tea Party” in our backyard. Friends and family came and jumped in the bounce house and ate homemade cupcakes. A few days later my nephew Jacob turned two and we celebrated at his construction themed party. Sarah also got to meet her “Italian granny,” Sr. Martinette Rivers, while she was home for a month.

    May was super exciting! Not only did we learn that we would be having another little girl, but we took Sarah on a big vacation that included her first trip to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We hit up the aquarium and ate lots of great food before heading to the beach in Florida. We stayed there with Susan and her family and had a great time in the sand and water. Sarah still talks about the beach all the time. We will have to plan another trip in 2014!

    In June my friend Tammy and her daughter Kiri came down for a visit from Indianapolis. I also got a new, bigger, family- sized vehicle that month to replace my tiny, but wonderful, Honda Fit. I also went to my conference in Denver in June with my friend Becki. In addition to the conference (where we won a big award for our magazine!), we ate at a lot of Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants, went to the top of a mountain and checked out some campy museums. That was the longest I’d ever been away from Sarah!

    In July our cat Sam ran away and never came back. We held out hope for a long time without any good news. We also went to Austin in July to visit our friends Dana and Scott. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool with the kids, and I loved the comfort the pool gave my growing pregnant body. Mys sisters also threw me a “Baby Sprinkle” in July, where close friends and family came and brought lots of goodies for baby #2, including some much needed diapers!

    In August I started having excruciating pain in my right side that lead to several rush trips to the OB’s office and lots of tests. A GI doc finally figured out that I had a bulging ligament that was pressing on a nerve. When the baby would move a lot, she would hit that spot and it would get inflamed. It was horrible! We also went to Baton Rouge in August to see my Aunt Amy get married and I had a great time with my whole family and spent more time in the pool!

    In September my coworkers threw me a baby shower and we started preparing ourselves for Norah’s scheduled c-section on September 23. Due to some horrible problems with Sarah knotting up her hair, we took Sarah to get her first haircut. On September 11 I was rear-ended and, for the sake of my 9 month pregnant baby, was taken by ambulance to a hospital where I stayed overnight to make sure we were both ok. I also had a false labor run on my sister’s birthday, and then went into labor for real on September 20, three days before my scheduled section. We welcomed Norah into the world at 12:38 p.m. and were immediately in love with our beautiful little girl.

    I started October off by turning 29! Cassie came to visit from Pittsburgh and helped us clean and paint our house while she was in town. October is also  when we began the long, hard road of dealing with colic. Norah kept us up every single night screaming hour after hour after hour. It quickly unfolded into months of sleep deprived torture. Mark and I learned the true meaning of being a team and worked out a way to take shifts with her all night long. It was terrible. We also took both girls trick-or-treating in October. Sarah went as Olivia the pig and Norah as Minnie Mouse.

    November gave us no relief from the colic, but we learned that Norah loved the Moby wrap and we put her in that often. Sarah also learned to start sleeping through the long nights of screaming. We also took Norah to meet her great grandparents who live an hour away. We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents house.

    In December we started counting down until Norah turned 12 weeks – the magical age when the doctor and several friends said colic usually stops. At 12 weeks and 4 days old, Norah slept through the night for the first time because she found her thumb. We rejoiced! We took the girls to meet Santa (Sarah hated him, Norah liked his beard). We decorated for Christmas and then celebrated it with our families. It’s also the month Norah got her first honest to goodness cold – the same cold the whole family managed to share just in time for the holidays.

    A new baby, a couple of big trips, a new car and a lot of love. You were good to us 2013!

  • When Cassie Comes to Town

    Date: 2013.11.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Food, Friends, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Sarah, Toddler Time | Response: 4

    I am constantly awed by the amazing people I have in my life.

    Take Cassie, for example. As soon as I told her I was pregnant, she volunteered to fly down from Pittsburgh and spend a long weekend with me to help out once the new baby arrived. And this was coming from a woman who was about to give birth to her fourth baby under age 5. Sure enough, as Norah’s delivery day started to approach, Cassie booked her flight to Shreveport. This meant her husband had to take off work to keep their four children and she was leaving her 7 month old who refused to take a bottle – all so she could come help me. I was so humbled and thankful!

    She insisted that she was here to help, not on vacation. She planned what she was going to cook in advance, then sent a grocery list to me so Mark could go shopping before she got here. Once she arrived, Cassie went into full on help mode. She immediately tackled and cleaned my kitchen (no small feat) and then put together dinner for the whole family while I sat on the couch and had a glass of wine (don’t worry, I bought her a bottle too and poured her up a glass while she cooked).

    Friday Cassie decided it was high time that we paint the entry hallway and living room – a project I’ve been telling her I was going to do for over a year. While I laid down with Norah, she watched Sarah and managed to take down the awful border in our hallway. Then, together the four of us went to Lowe’s and stocked up on paint.

    We got back and immediately got to work priming the hallway. From the hallway we moved into the living room – moving furniture and priming and painting trim.

    That was the most physical activity I had done since my c-section, which was tough, but I was so excited to finally see it all coming together. Mark was skeptical about the paint choice at first, but as it started coming together he finally saw my vision and jumped in on it, helping Cassie finish when I could go no more. In the midst of all this, Sarah dumped half a gallon of white primer on our carpet, and Cassie scooped down on it and immediately got to work on it. Together we scooped as much paint as we could off the floor, then she took the Bissell Green Machine to the spot. You can barely see it now!

    Is this girl making you tired yet? Not to be outdone, she wanted to run her first 5k out of state. Saturday morning Norah and I were going to take her to the race site, but I woke up feeling terrible – congestion and sore throat – and poor little baby Norah was congested too. Mark volunteered to take her instead while I laid down and tried to rest some more. While I was at home sleeping, Cassie won first place in her age group and 15th overall, earning herself a trophy. Once she was done with the race though, the car battery was dead and Mark had to call his sister to come and rescue them. But they got donuts on the way home, so that made up for it.

    After running that race, she came back to our house and helped Mark finish painting. Neither one of them would let me help because I felt so bad, so I supervised while I finished proofreading for work. Sarah, however, insisted on helping.

    Then, later that afternoon, Cassie took Sarah to go pick up her trophy, then on a long walk to Mark and I could have some quiet time in the house together. Sarah is totally smitten with her (and her trophy). She still asks me about Cassie most days.

    On Sunday, her final day here, we all went for brunch at Strawn’s, a local diner, where we met up with my sister Shannon, her husband and my nephew for some delicious food. It was Norah’s first trip to a restaurant and she did great!

    How do you ever repay someone for all of that? Well you can’t really, but we did what we could by feeding Cassie lots of really good food from local places. And we bought her wine, because wine always makes people happy, right?

    I can’t begin to express how grateful I am for her visit. Having a colicky baby and not getting much sleep makes the days difficult, especially with an imaginative, active two-year old who doesn’t nap. Cassie came in, let me sleep, cooked, painted and cleaned my house, all while entertaining my two-year-old. It was such a nice break and stress reliever. The best part though, was being able to hang out and talk in person. Sure we text and chat pretty much every day, but it’s not quite the same.

    So to Cassie: I thank you!

  • Life’s Surprises

    Date: 2013.09.17 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Me, Sarah, Work | Response: 3

    This is my last week of work before baby arrives. Some people have made it clear that they think I should be at home by now… I guess sitting around and waiting on baby? True, last time the week before baby arrived I was home, but that was only because I landed myself with a terrible upper respiratory infection.  This time I’ve opted to keep on going. After all, the only thing I’d be doing at home is sitting around, staring at my feet and making myself even more anxious. Maybe baking. I’ve been doing a lot of that to relieve pre-baby anxiousness. But then I would eat all the baking too.

    Plus, I have a mostly desk job and I’d rather be sitting around doing something, keeping my mind off of things and earning a paycheck.

    I’ve been surprised by how much pre-baby anxiety I’ve been facing this time. But it’s not about what you would think. I’m not worried at all about having another baby or bringing baby home. I’ve done that before. I have every confidence that I can do that again, and hopefully better this time.

    Instead I’ve been waking up at 3 am worrying about the financial implications of having another baby, work while I’m out and how Sarah will do when I bring baby home – and how she’s going to be while we’re at the hospital for that matter. I also worry about the actual process of the c-section and pray that my mind will be in a good place that day.

    Yesterday was the hangover from one such night. I got to work tired and anxious and had trouble focusing on everything. The work day slowly clicked into place though, and I went about tying up lose ends and settling into the daily rhythm, focusing on other things.

    On my lunch break I went to the police station and collected the police report on my car accident and learned, much to my great relief, that the other driver did have car insurance. I’m not sure what all it will cover health bill wise, but it will definitely cover all the damage to my car. We will wait and see what happens now.

    After lunch I learned that our magazine had been recognized in a national newspaper again – this time for a story I wrote on some local kids who went to World Youth Day in Brazil! That gave my spirits a huge lift and the great boost in confidence I needed.

    And then, at the end of the day, something really amazing happened. I can’t go into all the details here, but through the kindness of people I work with, one in particular, I learned that I will not have to stress about finances during the course of my maternity leave. This is the biggest blessing I could have ever hoped for. I teared up and felt a huge weight slide off my shoulders. Suddenly, I could breathe again and move forward during the last week of my pregnancy with one of the anxiety balls that’s been sitting in my stomach gone.

    Not to be outdone, after work, both of my sisters came by to return my jogging stroller. And while I was fixing dinner, they took it upon themselves to clean up my living room.

    It’s days like yesterday that really open my eyes to how really and truly blessed I am by God and the people in my life.

    Now, today we try to do something about Sarah’s hair twirling problem that has spiraled out of control.

    Six more days.

  • The Home Stretch

    Date: 2013.08.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 10

    Well, we’ve made it to the final four weeks of pregnancy. Due to complications during Sarah’s delivery, we will have to have a c-section this go round. And while I was extremely anxious and upset about it when I found out, I have some great friends who had very positive experiences with their c-sections talk to me and tell me how great their experiences with their own were. My doctor, too, answered all my questions and allayed a lot of my fears about the whole thing. I’m just trying not to focus on the fact that I will be awake while they slice into my stomach, because that totally freaks me out.

    An unexpected boon to the scheduled c-section is that I have a concrete date in my mind for her arrival. She will be born on her scheduled date of September 23, or before. That’s my light at the end of this hot, huge tunnel.  I’m really happy about that date too because that’s the second day of fall and will make her a Libra like her mother. She will come right in between my sister’s birthday and my own birthday.

    As we wind down this pregnancy I’ve continued to struggle with bad ligament and nerve pain, both on my left and right sides. When it hits, it’s agony and I have to lay flat and take something until it subsides. This has cut me off from all photography gigs, both freelance and at work. And Sarah has figured out that she can get away from me by dropping to the floor where I can’t bend down and reach her. Little stinker.

    Speaking of Sarah, we pulled out her baby Minnie Mouse and she has been calling Minnie her baby and being absolutely adorable with her. She rocks her, sings to her, carries her around, puts her down and covers her up for “night night” time (though we did have to talk about how we don’t throw baby on the floor when we’re tired of her). Sarah has also started clearly labeling things as “Sister’s clothes” or “Sarah’s toys,” making it clear what she’s ok with Sister having and what is irrevocably her own.

    I’ve also been so surprised and thankful by several extremely thoughtful gifts from my girlfriends. I didn’t really expect much for baby #2, but it’s like my friends are taking it on as a challenge to find the perfect things.

    Kacie sent me a package from Sephora with bath stuff for baby and bath stuff for mama. Susan picked out the perfect prints for baby’s room. Stevi sent me diapers and baby Tylenol (aka mama’s savior).

    And Becki? Well Becki drove all the way to Dallas to stand in line at an event she didn’t have tickets for so she could see and record Neil Gaiman (my favorite author), and then get him to sign books dedicated to me and my girls. I still tear up when I think about it. I quizzed her on him, of course, and she said he seemed just as wonderful in person as I think he is.

    I have the best friends and the best family. Little Sister has no idea what a great group of people she’s being born into.