Thursday, April 21, 2016

(49 Months) 4 Years + 1 Month

I couldn't really decide, so I made three different versions ...

- On the heels of her 4th birthday, the Bean already started talking about when she's 5 and even 6.
- She had Big Girl trip to the Bay Area with Daddy to stay with Mimi at Aunt Patty and Grandma Lambie's house.
- She's obsessed with "bad guys," and all things concrete (e.g. tall or short, old or young, bad guys or good guys, etc.)
- "Today," she said, "somebody just called Beebee and tried to sell him drugs."
- "Well God made us like that." When questioned about what she knows about god, she refused to speak further about it. I essentially explained that some people believe in a god, and others do not, and that there are a lot of what we call "religions" in the world, including words like Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.
- "Because men are stronger than women ..." Yikes. I better work hard to model various kinds of "strengths" that I, and women in general, embody!
- "Yeah but why do grown up women have hair on their vaginas?"
- "When will I get my teenager teeth?"
- When trying get fleece zipper: "I'm still learning, but I'm almost ready."
-Driving to daycare, talking about how I have a patient first thing this morning. 
"Does he have a brain injury?"
"Yeah, he did."
"From war?"
"Yeah, actually."
"Did they used to use swords and now they use guns?"
"Yeah, I think. Did daddy tell you that?"
"And did he have to go to the hospital in an ambulance?"
"I don't think so. Actually he's the one who drives the ambulance. He's called a medic."
We arrive, after a couple seconds of silence, the conversation seemingly over.
"Mommy? I'm gonna be a speech pashoshogist and do you want to work with me?"
- Playing in the yard with Gus, pretending a big stick is a gun. "Bam. Bam bam. Paul Bunyon has got nothin, babe!"
- Putting her down in bed one night, she bumps a sensitive finger after having picked it raw that day: "Fuck it, ow ... I know it's a bad word though."
- "Oh I know pregnant. When you do sex and a baby grows in your tummy."
- "Bad guys are assholes."
- She is constantly talking about Elsa, particularly her hair or her dress. Because I have longer hair than she does, she likes to pull my pony tail down to my boob and tells me, "I want you to be Elsa."
- She's been quite a Mama's Girl lately, and I've mostly been eating it up.
- Taking taekwondo and Irish Dance classes on Thursdays at the Garden Home Community Center.
- She's been enjoying our mostly sunny weather, and is pretty keen to remember to put on sunscreen.
- She developed a habit of picking up garbage when she sees any on the way to April Hill Park, and then throws it in the garbage. I tell her how proud I am that she cares about her neighborhood and the Earth. 
- She had her first successful sleepover, when we were in Bend; Gus kindly gave up his bed to her, and two nights in the row she slept there with mostly no difficulty (aside from the fun parts of slumber parties like staying up past bedtime talking and giggling.

And photos from the month, in reverse order (most recent to oldest):

Baby-wearing hippie.

My new "Francie ring" - Lisa Leonard silver and gold and aquamarine.

Singing and dancing in her Elsa dress.

Lion cubs - Libba with Belle and Walker, Dee with Monroe and Harlow, and Jo with Francie.

Rocking her new skirt handmade by Mimi and her new backpack from Uncle Brian and Aunt Jen.

Ballet outfit in Irish Dance class at Garden Home Rec Center.

After Bend, Francie kept telling us she wanted to go to school with Gus.

Pajama-jam - Josie, Gus, and Francie

My Happy Birthday Band - Francie, AJ and Gus


A sunny trip/picnic to the park.

I just adore those knobby little knees! Maplewood's very own Little Miss Sunshine.

We've been talking about a lot of deep stuff this month - bad guys, crime, war, god, death.

Kisses for Baby Hannah.

Out to ice cream in the sunshine at Salt & Straw with mama and Beebee.

We've been reading her human body book a bunch.

Irish Dance.

Taekwondo with Teacher Ruth. She likes it because she "gets to kick."

Home from her trip to SF with Mimi.

My favorite - California poppies and my best girl.

Big Girl tea party - Mimi and Francine.

Monday, April 18, 2016

(Camino) - 1 Month Countdown

T minus one month! Until my dad and I fly out on a red-eye to Block Island (via New York city, a rental car, then ferry ride) to meet my new niece and celebrate my big brother's 40th birthday! A few nights back east, and then another red-eye to Madrid and then Leon, Spain to walk a small portion of the Camino de Santiago.

My mind has started to be filled regularly with thoughts of the Camino - what to bring, how to prepare physically, taking good care of my feet, getting Alex versed in house-management and bill pays, his parents set up to manage the Bean's schedule, creative goodies to leave behind for the family, how to manage technology and communication while abroad, strategies to stave off anxiety (especially if I get pregnant before then; I'm a devoted follower of Murphy's Law), making packing lists and to-do lists and checking them twice.

I am excited about the adventure, but mostly just neurotic. Even before short trips I like to get all my little duckies in a row. In this case, I feel like I need to get most of my life in order before embarking on such distant and lengthy travel away from my job and my house and my husband and my daughter and essentially everything that has become "home" to me. Don't get me wrong, I love change. But I also like to have all my papers filed, bills paid, bank accounts reconciled, laundry washed and folded and put away, every craft or writing idea I've ever had started and ideally finished, and in a dream world even have all my technology updated and organized. The thing is, I take all my anxiety out on my belongings, trying to get them in some exact order, rather than actually being mindful that my nerves are related to my fear of flying and my separation anxiety. But I think it's a pretty innocent way to exercise some (false) control, and it always feels reeeeeeally good to come home to a clean house/office/bedroom/head.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Starting My 35th Trip Around the Sun

Me and the Bean "cheers"ing some ice cream at Goody's in downtown Bend on our way out of town last night. She insisted we have some kind of sweet treat. I told her we had cake on her birthday because she's just so special. "But you're special, too!" She protested.

34. Like whoa. And apparently birthdays in my 30s give me a touch of the depression and lend themselves to an easy cry. Granted I haven't exactly loved birthdays, not since my 9th birthday in 3rd grade when my cooler, older neighbor friend, "Stacey Treeman," relocated my birthday party to her cooler, richer house with horses. And, my gertie ball popped. At least I got Mouse Trap? And, to no surprise, my oldest-friend, Dee, stayed with me at my house while I pouted about being deserted.

This year, at 34 rather than 9, I did still have some version of a sleepover - at the Franzkes in Bend. I got to sleep in, play homie from work with my family on a Monday, wake up in Central Oregon to my previous daughter singing "Happy Birthday," homemade pancakes and bacon with the Franzkes, a yummy iced mocha, and an overstimulating job fair.

In reflecting on the past year, no one thing stands out to me. I suppose it's been a year of self-exploration and self-reflection, maybe in preparation for the next year's changes. My 34th trip around the sun was marked with highs and lows, of course, but nothing overly dramatic in either direction. And really, no major changes. Same house, same job, same family, same city, same friends, same hobbies. All of which I am very grateful for and enjoy ~99.9% of the time! One might even call it a "grown-up year."

In looking ahead to the upcoming year, it might very well be marked by transition. Work changes, for sure; I don't really know what is next for me professionally. Family changes; I'm very much looking forward to becoming an auntie! Adventure; my long trip/walk in Spain with my dad, a possible summer off with my family, with plans for Michigan, local hiking and biking and camping, and Erika's wedding.

While I continue to worry about the depressing fact that nothing about my superficial looks will ever get better with age - Alex has a very optimistic view on aging and appearance, particularly for men. He likes that as he gets older, the number of attractive women he can appreciate expands, because he still finds youth attractive and alluring, but he also appreciates women his own age. So at 20 he had only 10% of the female population to lust after. At 35, he gets about 25% of the female population to ogle, and to think that when he's 60, he'll still like women in their 20s and 30s, but then also 40s and 50s and 60s!

And because the Bean can't be the only one who gets all the fun ...

Yearly Birthday Interview - Jo @ 34 years
What is your favorite color? green
What is your favorite toy? my iPhone
What is your favorite fruit? blueberries or apples
What is your favorite tv show? Californication, always. But I've also thoroughly enjoyed Parenthood, Girls, The Affair, and right now we are making our way through Showtime's Shameless.
Favorite movie: I really liked Spotlight, which was nominated for several Oscars this year. And I LOVED Room. My favorite all time movie is probably What About Bob.
What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch? just like the Bean, mac n cheese
What is your favorite outfit? My lululemon black stretchy pants and Athleta cream sweatshirt with thumbholes
What is your favorite game? I did learn to play Settlers of Catan this year
Favorite sport? hiking??
What is your favorite snack? bars
What is your favorite animal? wolves
What is your favorite song? at this very moment, Teenage Dream by Adrian Lux and Catch & Release by Matt Simons; I have been listening a lot to the "Beautiful Girls" Pandora station, as well as one for Hozier, Breezeblocks, and Atmosphere
What is your favorite book? I just finished "When Breath Becomes Air," and I think it will make my Top 10 Favorite Books Ever list, alongside "Into the Wild," "The Bell Jar," "Wild," "Waiting for Birdy," "Bad Mother," and "To Kill a Mockingbird."
Who is your best friend? Stacy Muffly Shine! And Rachel, Katie, and Erika.
What is your favorite cereal? I guess Kix, but I eat/drink Isagenix smoothies nearly everyday for breakfast.
Best part of school? that Francie's doesn't cost an arm and a leg; as for work, I love my coworker, Rachael, but also really enjoy working with certain, motivated patients on study skills training
What is your favorite thing to do outside? walk, hike, go to the park for summer evening picnics with the fam, camp, play at the beach in Tahoe Vista
Favorite place to go? Tahoe, Maplewood Coffee Shop, Target, Athleta, Mary S Young, Block Island, Telluride, Forest Park, The Gorge, Central Oregon
What is your favorite drink? today, 1/2 diet coke and 1/2 root beer; but also, Arnold Palmers, iced lattes, gas station coffee, Moscow Mules, Oregon Chair
What is your favorite holiday? Christmas, hands down; followed by the Bean's birthday
Favorite thing to do with mama? na
With daddy? na
As a family? play outside in the sunshine, especially in our neighborhood, with good friends, or at a new park; or camping
What do you like to take to bed with you at night? whatever book I'm reading, one of my water cups, my iPhone
What do you like to eat for breakfast? chocolate Isagenix smoothies, with almond milk and frozen blueberries
What do you want for dinner on your birthday? don't care, maybe Umpqua chocolate peanut butter ice cream
What do you want to be when you grow up? an SLP, but paid for my knowledge, thoughts, opinions, writing, speaking and teaching; or an actual writer
Where do you want to visit someday? the Camino, and Iceland, and also Canada via rail
When or where or who might you marry someday? I'd choose Alex all over again
What is one thing you want to learn some day? to play the piano, patience, enlightenment
What do you wish for? peace - on earth and inside of me
What makes you happy? sunshine; small doses of freedom; intellectually stimulating reading, writing and people; finishing a project; cuddling with my family; walks; texting regularly with my HS or college ladies; being out and about; having epiphanies; helping people I truly connect with and feeling like I helped them; anything related to psychology, brains and behavior; people-watching; the wind blowing my hair; when it's warm out but I'm in the shade
What makes you feel afraid? delivering another baby; earthquakes and tsunamis
What makes you laugh? my husband and daughter, on the daily; my BFFs, for sure; those silly memes I follow on IG like @beigecardigan; shit my dad says, when re-telling it to Alex; a few of the characters on Shameless; Lena Dunham
What do you do that is kind? one of the reasons I chose my work is because it is a helping profession, and ultimately it does the world better, which is a version of kindness; give homeless people whatever snacks I have stashed in my purse; buy my husband beer he might like; try to think of my daughter's feelings before my own
What is something you do very well? sleeping; weekly meal planning and stocking the house with goods; relaxing when I'm tired; giving gifts and sending cards and writing thank-you cards (except for F's 4th birthday this year); getting enough exercise to keep my heart healthy; having new ideas; hugging and kissing my girl
What is something you’re not very good at? waking up in the morning!; self-control, as in picking my face, limiting my sugar intake, cutting back my spending; answering my phone, listening to voicemails or returning calls, both personally and even at work; keeping the same job for a long time; being present during sex;
I am very proud of … learning to be a better wife and mother by looking closely at what I bring to our relationships, and making sincere efforts to mostly change the negative behaviors or communication to strengthen our family ties
If I were president I would … be the first female president!; not try to be a world superpower; forbid adolescents and young adults to have babies or do drugs or vote until their brains are mostly developed at 24 years old; cap maximum income for rich people around $300K/year; hire all those good marketing, PR, and sales people for things like Apple and Nike to manage public service campaigns to increase our society's value placed on things like mindfulness, kindness, giving back, compassion, environmentalism, physical and mental health; put way more money into education; change the higher education system with regard to debt; make female reproductive rights a non-issue; ensure EVERYONE has access to education, food, shelter, hygiene, healthcare and basic safety; focus more on the issues within our own borders and less on those abroad

5' 4 and 3/4" on our home growth chart
~ 132 lbs on our home scale in the morning
I comfortably wear a size medium top and size 6/8 or medium pants, and size 8 shoes. I like to wear mostly dresses and boots for work, and some version of Athleta, Nike, or lululemon stretchy or sweatpants at home, with some kind of "cute" sweatshirt or long sleeve shirt. My hair is (dyed) blonde, and is long and past my shoulders, but not long enough to satisfy Francie's desire for me to have Elsa-like hair that goes in a braid all the way past my boob. I like to wear my hair down, pulled back in a low pony, or high up in a knot with a big biting clip. My skin is aging and marked by both dryness and residuals of obsessive face-picking; thank god for Bare Minerals makeup. Gravity is slowly taking its tolls; just yesterday I told Alex that my knees seemed lower to the ground this year than last. My eyes are grey and small and squinty; I wear contacts most days, promptly changing into glasses (along with my sweatpants) at home. I wear the same Bare Minerals makeup that I've been sporting for the last 7 years, and take about 20 minutes to get ready in the morning (I'm a night showerer). I've been mostly very healthy, without any major illnesses or injuries (knock on wood). I do take daily meds, including 100 mgs of Zoloft since 2010, Adderall 3x daily on work days, the occasional Ativan for travel, and the occasional Vicodin for menstrual cramps. I don't drink or use marijuana, and fortunately can't afford any other substance abuse habits. No cavities filled this year, but I always anticipate I will have some, and am grateful they invented that nice white filling. I exercise fairly regularly, anywhere from 2-6 times per week, averaging about 4x. In the winter I primarily rely on 30+ minutes on the elliptical in our room while watching Nashville or Quantico or some other ABC/NBC show in the evening. Now that the days are longer, I've been "wogging" outside much more regularly, and enjoy taking myself to Forest Park on Mondays after work. I rarely lift or do yoga these days, and know that I really should. I've never felt as good as I do when I'm practicing yoga regularly. I take a daily prenatal multivitamin, the gummy kind, and sneak spinach into my breakfast smoothies to make myself feel healthy. I think about meditating almost daily, and have gone through spurts of committed mindfulness meditation practice throughout the year, but nothing current.

Typical Week/Day:
I work part-time (0.5 FTE) at the Portland VA Mondays-Wednesdays, usually in Vancouver on Monday, between both campuses on Tuesday, and in Portland on a shorter Wednesday. I typically have Thursday mornings at home to myself, with the Bean at half-day daycare, which was intended to carve out time for me to write weekly. It's been more of a triage day, as in, whatever tasks are most pressing (birthday gifts, finance updates, paying bills, catching up with emails, planning trips, home management-type things). On Fridays since January I see my therapist in North Portland. Previously I was seeing a therapist through Kaiser, usually on workdays. Thursday afternoons and most Fridays are Mama Days; we like to be lazy in the morning, and out and about the rest of the day, with a break for Quiet Time for us both in the afternoon. We run errands, get together with friends, go on our own adventures to the park, hiking, Children's Museum, zoo, shopping, etc. On weeknights Alex and I often watch an episode of TV after Francie goes to bed; but with the longer days and me exercising in the evenings, the Bean often doesn't go down until after 8, and Alex and I don't feel like we have time for TV, prepping for the next day, showering, and reading before bed. A few nights per week we watch an episode of Shameless on Showtime. I am typically in bed between 9:30 and 10:30, and asleep between 10 and always before 11. I set my alarm every morning for 6 a.m., but don't usually crawl out of bed until 6:45 or so, trying to leave the house for work by 7:30. I'm a serious snoozer, and waking up is probably the single most difficult part of my day (thanks, maybe, to Zoloft). Alex and I share the cooking and kitchen cleanup load during the week, and I typically meal plan and grocery shop each Sunday. I do most of the (light) housekeeping and manage all things Francine, and Alex is in charge of the outdoor and car chores. Neither of us is the best homemaker, so chores don't necessarily happen with any regularity, but rather in a compulsive-like fashion when we are preparing for company or I'm a crabby biatch. Our weekends vary dramatically, but we tend to have some kind of plans most weekends, whether it's for one or all of us to be out of town, for house-related projects, birthday parties, hosting company ourselves, whiskey club, holidays, or catching up on chores and errands. We definitely enjoy or family time, and are pretty greedy to protect it on Saturday and Sunday.

Sleep, Food/Drink, Potty:
I usually go up to get ready for bed around 930 or 10, and am asleep by 11. I wake up on workdays around 6:30, and try to stretch out my lazy mornings on Thursday-Sunday and not crawl out of bed until after 7. I take a loooooooong time to feel awake in the mornings. Like our Bean, I am not a picky eater. Every morning I drink a chocolate flavored Isagenix smoothie made with almond milk and frozen blueberries. Recently I have started drinking gas station coffee, which I'm pretty sure has added 5 lbs to my frame since Christmas. I pack my lunch at home each morning, usually leftovers from dinner the night before. I rarely take a lunch break at work but just nibble throughout the day. We eat dinner as a family most evenings, sometime between 5:30 and 6:30 or so. With Alex in the weight room every day after school, we've worked it so I'm on dinner duty on Tuesdays-Friday, and he takes care of the weekend and Monday. I do all of the planning and shopping. We don't eat a set dessert, but I often graze on chocolate chips or Jujubes or sometimes ice cream once F is in bed. I've lately been eating an absurd amount of candy, throughout the day and into the evening. It's gross. I am very well potty-trained, but still like to pee in the shower. No one wipes my ass for me. We actually have those flushable wipes, which someone bought by accident in place of baby wipes, and we keep a pack in each bathroom. Alex loves them, but I can't stand the idea of such a ridiculous luxury, so I'll stick with the good ole Costco house brand of TP.

I have learned that, technically speaking, I am an introvert, in that I am totally exhausted after a day spent with other people. I'm perfectly comfortable and confident in social settings, and feel very close to my HS/college girlfriends, but very easily satiated by interactions with my fabulous colleagues and awesome neighbors. I like to be among people, but not necessarily socializing constantly. We also have a small but great network of friends via Alex, men who happened to marry women that I adore. And we are lucky to actually enjoy our families, although time spent with our brothers is far less than we would prefer. Emotionally, I'm retarded. Like the actual definition of the word. But this I'm learning more about and working on. It's simultaneously interesting and fulfilling, and really kind of awful. But I am lucky to have my coworker/friend, Rachael, to debrief all things therapy with. We are a bit like two peas in a pod in this aspect. I'm definitely not anxious or consistently neurotic like I once was, and considerably less moody. But I really, really suck at intimacy and being mindful and feeling whole. Some might describe me as having a "strong personality," which I think is just code for calling females bitchy. I can be hyper-critical, but really only of myself and my innermost circle (e.g. Alex). For those more separate from me, I tend very open-minded and non-judgmental and compassionate. That's not to say I'm without strong opinions. About parenting, value systems, behavior, how the world works, on movies and books and music. I ask a TON of questions and thrive when I have a million thoughts and ideas running through my head, really enjoy intellectually stimulating anything, have a short attention span for things that don't interest me, love to be moving in a leisurely but purposeful way (e.g. Walking, running errands), am a pretty devoted and loving mother, a loyal friend, a difficult but rewarding (?) wife, have some caregiving-type inclinations with my dad and brother, have a 'sharp tongue', prefer instant gratification, need a very fine balance of routine and novelty, am highly organized and goal-directed (but no longer very efficient), oriented to the big picture rather than perfectionistis about smaller details, have a low tolerance for stress (aka highly neurotic), and am learning that creativity really feeds my soul.

Just like the Bean, I am very verbal, both in speech and in writing. I've still got all my cognitive capacities and communicate easily. What I don't have is the energy/motivation to do all the things I want to or "should." But I think that's just a key element of adulting.

Buying coffee. Being out and about and socially or intellectually stimulated. Nature. Green, especially in nature. Jujubes. Chocolate chips. Umpqua chocolate peanut butter ice cream. Kissing the Bean's soft sweet cheeks. Listening to music. Podcasts. Reading. Writing. Thinking about and making and shopping for and giving gifts for birthdays and Christmas. Family time. Smaller crafts and hand-stitching. HBO and Showtime TV programs. Instagram. Brain injury, compensatory cognitive strategies, and study skills. Earning money. The sunshine, but enjoying it from the shade. Walking/hiking. My new therapist. Travel to see my friends and family. Drinking water from a straw. Making lists and plans. Helping severely impaired or motivated veteran patients. My husband's jokes. The freedom I feel when driving in the car on a country road or walking/running at dusk. Maplewood and April Hill Park. Powell's Books and Joann Fabrics. Texting with my BFFs. Hanging out with my cousin and her hubs. When people thing F is funny/sweet/precocious. When I am present and patient and enjoy the small moments. Forest Park.

Waking up in the morning. Having to be at work at certain times and for certain hours. Bad skin after picking. Earthquakes and tsunamis. Talking about Alex's truck. Tantrums. Traffic! Ferry boats. Not getting enough sleep.

And for a few photos - this is how we celebrated my birthday, in Bend with the Franzkes (this year was their 5th wedding anniversary!), a personal day from work, and an afternoon Bend - La Pine school district job fair, capped off with family ice cream cones from Goody's before making the drive home to Portland.

The Birthday Band.

A quick bday hike up Pilot Butte.

The Bean's first "slumber party" - Gus was such a sweetheart he gave her his bed and slept on the floor.

Francine, Gus, and Josie.

My kind of girl, double-fisting dinner.

Backyard fun.

Friday, April 15, 2016

(Stuff Jo Writes) - Portland Moms Blog: Secondary Infertility and What to Say When You're Trying to Conceive

When I shared my most recent PMB piece on FB, I commented about how Alannis might think it ironic - the fact that my article on infertility posted the very same day I decided to re-embark on the fertility evaluation process, finally completing the HSG exam that was first recommended last July.

This post started in response to the myriad of "what not to say to ..." articles that inundate my social media/mommy-blogger feeds. I've grown weary of other people dictating what we should and should not say to various subgroups of people. I'm all for being sensitive and politically correct, in the name of respect, but only to a certain point. If someone means well, and they've spoken somewhat out of turn, or said something that happened to offend, instead of making gross generalizations of what's appropriate and what's not, how about we seize the teaching opportunity and share our individual experiences, you know?

I was also thinking about the story from an angle of, "when people stop asking you about having another child." The Bean is so old now that people don't even inquire about our family plans anymore. I'd prefer people ask questions and make comments, generating candid conversation about real life, rather than tiptoe on eggshells for fear of making me aware of something I'm already starkly aware of. It reminds me of how awkward people were following my mom's death, like, don't mention Mother's Day, or she'll remember that she doesn't have a mom and collapse into tears. Well guess what, folks, I'm pretty much constantly aware that my mom is gone, that my uterus is hostile, and that my Only Child is the cutest one on the block, if not the whole universe. So go ahead and say speak whatever is on your mind, whether or not it might be interpreted as rude, and let's have ourselves an interesting chat.

Secondary Infertility and What to Say When You’re Trying to Conceive

The Internet is full of “expert” advice about how to sensitively talk, or not talk to your friends and loved ones about reproductive health, family size, and secondary infertility. But what’s more annoying than those asking ignorant questions or making obtuse comments is when people stop talking to you all together about your dreams, feelings, or struggles related to your family plans for fear they will offend or upset you.
Trying To Conceive, Secondary InfertilitySo instead of ordering people what NOT to say to someone with infertility, let’s drop the world-revolves-around-me mentality and empower ourselves with better responses. Like I tell my four-year-old daughter, “you’re the boss of your own body.”

To read the rest of the article, click here.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Random Thoughts for the Day

I found $5 on my walk at Gabriel Park today. I couldn't run because it hurt my jaw, something akin to a sinus infection. I guess it's a good thing I start taking antibiotics tonight, in preparation for the HSG evaluation tomorrow. But also, walking for exercise should be preferable these days, with the upcoming Camino. 

I have so many things flying through my mind. Things to do, things to think about. Work. Finishing up at the VA and prepping for other work. The Camino. Gear, training, electronic preparations like offloading my iPad and iPhone. And all the other things I want to get done before then, like projects and gifts for Alex and Francie while I'm gone, crafts and gifts for Baby Girl Hartman, for Baby Girl Menne who will be born whil I'm gone. My brother's 40tj birthday. Wrapping up Full Circle business and finances. Writing - my blog, Portland Moms Blog, for me, old story ideas. Regular house stuff, like cleaning and laundry and meal planning and a Costco run. Fertility. Summer plans. On my walk yesterday I was daydreaming about painting the office wall with chalkboard paint so I could map out all these thoughts. Put them on paper the way I tell my patients to do. 

I already finished reading When Breath Becomes Air, the best book I've read in quite some time, and I have had it less than a week. I first heard about it on NPR when it was just released, and happened to spot it at the library when I was picking up another book I had on hold. It was a fast read, smart and well-written with interesting prose and profound but simple ideas. 

Like I mentioned, I have that HSG imaging study tomorrow, and the part I'm most nervous about is the taking of antibiotics. I don't know that I have had to take any in at least 5 years, if not 10. I mean, what if I develop a spontaneous allergy to this one? We don't even have an epi-pen. Or what if it fucks up my gut biome for a whole year, like I read about. And the super-bacteria? I want no part in helping to create it. I'm also nervous about all the steps involved in this test - scheduling the exam for day 7-10 of my cycle, picking up a pee cup from the lab, the antibiotics and hydrocodone. Starting the antibiotics tonight, stopping fluid intake by 9 pm. Urine sample first thing in the morning, drop off at any Kaiser lab before noon. Possible follow up blood work. Take prophylactic pain meds around noon. Arrive to the Kaiser Westside facility by 1, continue taking the antibiotics twice daily for 5 days. Okay okay, so when I write it out it doesn't sound so bad. But there's something about the details and the timing that stress me out. And also the not drinking water after 9 pm thing. Like, what if I get thirsty?

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Back on the Baby Train

If you feel like you can't keep up, just imagine being Alex. Or me! I can barely keep up with myself sometimes. 

As for family planning and fertility, we more or less stopped trying, and actually preventing, during the Winter. More recently, and I couldn't even tell you when, I was ready to throw out the condoms. I think it maybe goes without saying that Alex has been consistently, unwaveringly, eager to throw out condoms, for myriad reasons. 

On the eve of the eve of my 34th birthday  I find myself on a Saturday morning at the Beaverton Kaiser pharmacy picking up: hydrocodone, antibiotics, and a urine sample cup. And my own mental timeline that I best get knocked up in the next three months if I want to keep myself off that "advanced maternal age" list. Nearly 9 months after the referral was initially placed, I am finally scheduled to get that HSG test in radiology. 

They will catheterize my uterus and inject dye into my Fallopian tubes to check for blockages and what not. This is Kaiser's final step in infertility assessment before initiating any kind of treatment. It's not supposed to feel real comfortable, so I'm arming myself with some Vicodin and a full day of daycare for the Bean. And then probably some chocolate peanut butter ice cream. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Little Miss Sunshine

In my most narcissistic of moments, I think I legitimately have the best, quirkiest, sweetest most interesting and fun and special kid in the whole wide world, and like I somehow deserve her. We have had a great last few weeks together. We are just connected and patient and filled with joy, for the most part. My therapist would say I'm "atttuned" to her. But seriously, find me a cooler 4-year-old daughter.  

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Not "solo" in the sense of the red keg cup, but "solo" as in alone. By myself. Party of one. Spring Break 2016 found our little family on each of our own adventures - Alex sailing on Sugar Pine in the San Francisco Bay with his brother and dad, Francine with her Mimi on a Big Girls Trip in Vallejo with Great Grandma Lambie and Great Aunt Patty, and me at home in SW Portland on my own solo staycation. It has now been two weeks since our solo vacays, but tardiness is just kind of how I roll these days, especially when it comes to writing in general, but blogging specifically.

During the decision-making process - whether I, too, should join my fam on a trip to the Bay Area - I was conflicted and angsty. Ultimately, I decided I should seize the opportunity and spend an extended period of time at home alone, with the hopes of being productive, relaxing, and desperately missing my husband and daughter. In reality, it was all a whole let less dramatic than I anticipated, on all fronts. I was less productive than I intended. I relaxed some, but has this anxious sense that I should be doing more. And while I missed the family, I certainly wasn't crying myself to sleep in their absence. My bestie, Katie, said it best: "I live in a constant state of emotional conflict since having a child."

On the plus side, I don't think I ate a regular meal in over four days. Seriously. What I did eat: mac n cheese, several (protein/granola) bars, an entire box of Jujubes, part of a box of Dots (before I threw the rest away), lots of Tillamook chocolate peanut butter ice cream, several Hershey kisses, goldfish and Ritz crackers, at least one or two Isagenix shakes each day, and maybe some cheesy toast. So yeah, not a single vegetable, let alone a green vegetable.

Some 96 hours to myself, save for a short work day Wednesday, and I still don't think I completed even half of the things on my To-Do list.

What I did do: go shopping at Athleta (despite my promise to not spend any money); watch two Netflix movies over the course of four days; walk/jog/hike daily; sleep in; watch a Brene Brown TEDTalk, become interested in the notion of shame, discover the research into "toxic shame," and spend hours crying about it (that's for another post, or maybe just for my therapist or even my own head); catch up on a few emails and computer tasks; relish every picture text I got from Alex or Mimi; do just a little bit of reading and writing and crafting; and manically clean the house in the 60 minutes before picking up Alex and Francie from the airport.

Brian and Alex sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge in the beautiful SUNSHINE!

Their view for a night.

Big Girl tea party with Mimi. Elsa dress? Check. Princess crown? Check.

A few of my favorite things - the Bean, California poppies, and sunshine.

Forest park hike/jog. Solo selfies are really kind of depressing. I'm glad I'm not a teenager.

(48 months) - Francie @ 4

3'3" on our home growth chart (20th percentile)
31.6 lbs on our home scale (20th percentile)

She is comfortably wearing 4T clothes (but I continue to squeeze her into 3T, because we're cheap like that), and is in size 7.5 shoes (I think?) Given that she is obsessed with Frozen, she is in a phase of liking to dress in fancy clothes and shoes. But fortunately she doesn't much worry about whether or not she gets her nice clothes dirty. Her hair is still strawberry-ish blonde, and it has been more or less growing out for the last several months. She likes to wear it in pigtails or a single braid these days. Her skin is beautiful and supple and soft and peaches and cream, but maybe that's just compared to my rapidly-aging hands and face. Her eyes are blue, and small and squinty like her parents. She still has those bags under her eyes, but no one ever comments on her "looking tired" anymore like they did when she was a baby. She got two cavities filled right after she turned 3, but has since taken fluoride tablets nightly and brushes twice daily, so we're hoping that solves the problem. Then again, she actually eats treats on the regular now, so there's that.

My dad jokes that she doesn't walk anywhere, but is always darting form place to place. Or skipping, jumping, dancing, or hopping. But I am aware that she walks at a molasses speed anytime we are actually trying to get somewhere with a purpose. She likes to dance or do yoga, swing, swim, ride her scoot bike, and has recently become obsessed with soccer. Not necessarily playing it, but talking about playing it. Only recently did we discover that we never really throw a ball with her, so yeah, she throws like a girl (and there is a definite reason for that description).

Typical Week/Day:
She goes to full-day daycare/preschool at Vermont Hills Family Life Center at the Lutheran church less than a mile away on Mondays and Tuesdays, and half-days on Thursdays. She spends Wednesdays at our house with Beebees. Lately, on Fridays, she is either in school, or someone watcher her for a few hours, because I have therapy appointments then. "Mama, are your going to the feelings doctor?" Yes, sweet pea, yes I am. She much prefers half-days to full days of school, I think because then she doesn't have to nap. The rest of Thursdays and Fridays are still "Mama Days" and include anything from errands to the Children's Museum to coffeeshops, playdates or the park. Saturdays and Sundays are "family days," which are, obvi, her very favorite. She typically wakes up with Alex to have breakfast during the week, around 5:45 or 6 (while I laze around in bed pushing snooze another 7 times). Then she and I get up and start getting ready around 6:30 or 6:45. On work/school days we try to leave the house by about 7:30 or so. I typically pick her up from school around 4:30 or so, but now that the days are longer and the weather nicer, Alex sometimes picks her up on Mondays and I take a run/hike in Forest Park. Her daycare provides lunch and snacks for her, and we usually have a family dinner every evening around 6ish. We try to start bedtime routine by 7 p.m., which may or may not include a bath or shower, definitely includes teeth brushing and hair combing, and one book each per parent. Alex primarily heads up the majority of the bedtime routine, and I come in for the reading and then I lay with her every night while she tries to fall asleep, making it out of her room some time between 7:45 (on a good night) and 8:30 (more typical). Lately she has been great about sleeping through the night in her own bed.

Our weekends are totally variable. We like to sleep in as long as possible, which might be 7 or so, and I tend to get up with her on weekend days, because Alex is so generous about trying to let me get more sleep on the weekdays. We might have a totally lazy day at home or around the neighborhood, or have plans with birthday parties or errands or vacations out of town.

Sleep, Food/Drink, Potty:
Francie naps at school, going down around 1 p.m., but very rarely naps at home. We do institute a daily 1-hour Quiet Time, which might start any time from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. She typically goes to sleep at night between 7:30 and 8:30, and wakes up around 6 a.m. on weekdays, and just before 7 a.m. on weekends. She will still sometimes fall asleep in the car, and especially if we are on a longer drive. We are lucky that she is not a picky eater, although she's not great about eating a diversity of food, especially at dinnertime. She definitely has her food and drink preferences, which include more sweet, salty, or junk food-y things than I would otherwise dictate. She certainly likes her sweet treats, and even started asking for "dessert" regularly. Favorite foods include yogurt, mac n cheese, crackers or any kind, berries, and bars. She mostly only drinks water, but would love to have juice. She is fully potty-trained, and is learning to wipe her own butt after a poop. But it grosses me out so much to let her spread poo particles all over her sweet cheeks, so I would prefer to just do it myself. She does still wear a diaper or pull-up to bed at night, which is usually wet when she wakes in the morning.

Inconsistently SO outgoing and occasionally shy. Generally more outgoing and precocious when the attention on her is not deliberate, like out and about in public, and more shy when she seems to feel put on the spot. Very caring and compassionate and prone to "help," particularly if someone is hurt or upset. Very curious - asks lots of questions. Loves to play with friends. Loves school. Plays equally well with boys and girls, no clear preference for gender of playmates. Perfectly happy to play with kids she doesn't know - and happy to ask if she can join. Seems to prefer big kids to younger kids these days. But still talks about her love of babies. Can be very sassy, bratty and melodramatic at home with her parents. Pretty good at expressing or verbslizing her wants, needs, feelings. Seems easily prone to shame and thus obedience.

Very verbally driven (no surprise - Language Arts teacher + speech-language pathologist). Loves to talk, ask questions, think about things and ask more follow-up questions later. Has been really into writing letters, her name, talking about spelling. Likes to read and tell made-up stories. Reads books but mostly just before bed with mama and daddy. LOVES music (dancing and playing to the Frozen soundtrack, mostly). Appears to easily understand basic math concepts and interested in numbers. Recent interest in building - Legos with grown-ups, building forts, puzzles. Very interested in grown-up concepts. Asks questions about swearing, sex, private parts, God, souls, war, good guys vs. bad guys, death, family relationships. We can imagine her being interested in arts or theater or dance, or some kind of human service. She clearly LOVES all things medical - we joke she's either a budding hypochondriac or a future doctor, or both! She insists we read this one book about the human body, mostly liking the parts about how babies develop and are born, how kids grow up. We also have a book about human bodies and how babies are made, which she hasn't looked at in awhile, but is very curious about. We try to be open to discussing any and all topics with her, treating her like an adult-in-progress, but just putting the complex concepts into language she is more likely to understand. So far, although she has heard every swear word in the book a hundred times over, we use a lot of potty humor at home, and she legitimately knows that a man puts his penis in a woman's vagina to make a baby - she has yet to talk about any of these less 'appropriate' subjects in 'mixed company.' She seems to have a very keen sense for when and where certain things are done or talked about, and where they are not. As an English teacher, nothing makes Alex more proud than the few times she's tried on swearing herself and used it in "appropriate" contexts - "the bath is reeeeeally fucking hot." All that said, maybe these are just things we tell ourselves because we can't reconcile the fact that we talk to her about grown-up matters that we know for a fact our peers are not discussing.

Frozen. Elsa and Anna. The Frozen soundtrack. Fancy dresses and shoes ("I want to wear my Elsa dress again today," "I'm putting on my Elsa shoes"). Recently, soccer. School. Playing doctor, ambulances, emergencies. Asking for medicine. Taking medicine. Talking about her mild injuries. Putting one braid in her hair (like Elsa!) Putting on sunscreen. Chewing gum. Asking for makeup/chapstick/contacts. "Helping" to bake and then insisting on tasting everything. Riding her scoot bike. Riding her scooter. Going to the park. Swinging! Playing with her parents. Going to the coffee shop. Getting treats. Caillou, Daniel Tiger, The Cat in the Hat. Talking about movies. Playing outside. Going on trips. Mac n cheese. Birthday parties. Birthday cake. Sending "happy birthday" text videos to friends and family near and far. Going for walks after dinner in the nice weather. Checking the weather. Choosing her own clothes. Making people laugh. Singing and dancing and playing pretend. Babies. Mama Days. Daddy's attention.

Naps. The prospect of naps. Driving on the freeway (for fear of, yup, falling asleep, hence, naps). Going to bed at night. Missing out on any fun. Being ignored. Spicy foods. Eating dinner. Having her tangly hair brushed. Whole school days (see above about naps). Leaving school when they are playing outside. Leaving the park. Leaving a party. Talking on the phone or FaceTime for longer than 3 minutes. Sitting still. Bad guys. Nightmares about sharks or alligators eating her. Bugs in the house. Her parents insisting they help wipe her poopy butt. When Mama and Daddy walk faster than she rides her bike. When her parents try to talk to each other in her presence. Not being the center of attention.

In a Nutshell:
When she is cheerful, and I'm in a good place (patient, open, fun-loving), there is not a more delightful child in this world. Overall, she could be described briefly as curious, verbal, caring, confident, loves her family, and willing to try new things.

- Dropped a weight on her second toe; I would have SWORN that it was broken. I have never experienced the blood-curdling scream that is my very pained child; she took nearly an hour to calm her body down

- "Maybe at Christmas if my toe still hurts I can ask Santa for a cane."

- And later, "My toe still hurts. Fortunately doctors won't cut it off though."

- Belts it out alone to the Frozen soundtrack; the CD plays nearly 24/7, and always when friends are over

- Recognizes "princesses" or defines "pretty" by the length of a fancy dress - to the ground is the very prettiest

- Family movies on the regular - Mulan, Lion King, Frozen

- First movie in the theater - Zootopia

- TV/Netflix shows a couple times per week, including The Cat in the Hat, Caillou, Daniel Tiger

- Reading another Ivy and Bean book aloud at bedtime together

- Soooo excited for her birthday; "xxx more sleeps until my birthday!"

- Chose new shoes, $60 little plastic-something ballet-like fancy shoes, for having earned a full jar of marbles (for staying in her own bed at night)

- "Mama do I look a little higher than I did in my old shoes? Like a 4 year old?"

- Francie, talking to me about,  you guessed it, Elsa and Anna: "You wanna know something funny about their parents? They're dead but you can still see them! But you can't see your mother."
Me: "No, I wish I could. That would be cool."
Her: "You can see her in your heart (she says with her hand over her heart)."

- Me, getting the mail, the Bean, playing in the from yard with her (pink) bubble wand like a sword;
"Be careful of the bad guys."
I return from the mailbox.
"I'm not a bad guy, I'm the doctor. I'm saving the children and killing the bad guys."

- Avid scoot bike rider, still tentative about her scooter

- Newly discovered love of soccer, "like daddy"

- Wants to be a doctor or speech pathologist, and is clearly obsessed with ambulances and fire engines and all things "emergency" or "brain injury" or "surgery"

- Frozen lover

-  "I wish I was magic like Elsa. I would be a superhero and put all the bad guys in prison."

- One day when I'm tired after work, she says to me: "I have the energy and you don't. I can give you some of my love" (Puts hand over her heart and then to mine)

- Keeping me company while vacuuming my room, she says: "Mama. I want to tell you something." She runs over to me and gives me a hug and a kiss and says: "I think you're really good mama."

- But then this morning at breakfast we are talking about how her Teacher Liz is both a teacher and a mama; I comment about how I bet Teacher Liz is a good mama because she's so warm and caring and energetic too. The Bean proceeds to tell me that I'm a "medium mama," that I'm "good" at some things and "bad" at others, like always listening to her

- Usually says she wants to be a doctor, or maybe a baby doctor, when she grows up, but in her 4th birthday interview she said she wants to be a speech pathologist like her mama, so we can work at the hospital together; on that note, I'm pretty sure she thinks I'm a doctor (and no, Alex, I don't tell her I am)

PHOTOS FROM THE MONTH (excluding her birthday):

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