Hippo!

So, the other morning, I was blissfully unconscious since Kullervo gets up with the kids and makes breakfast while I sleep for an extra 20 minutes or so.

It is the best twenty minutes of sleep I get all night long.

Sweet Hank climbed into bed with me, crawled under the blanket and gave me a big hug.

Such a sweetie!

Such a sweetie!

Then he pointed at me, and hollered one of his new favorite words.

 

“HIPPO!”

Not so sweet anymore, are ya, punk?!

Not so sweet anymore, are ya, punk?!

 

Bible Blue

Kullervo has this really nice Bible that I was coveting.  Of course, I could have just read it myself, but it always feels like you should use your own Bible–somehow more personal or something.  His Bible had a soft cover that was just, nice to touch and hold.

So I got a new Bible the other day.

It's pretty!  It's blue!

It’s pretty! It’s blue!

Not only have I been sinfully coveting Kullervo’s Bible, but also, in our small group at church we have been talking about practices that we should be making into habits to be better Christians and bring us closer to God.  I need to read the Bible more often.

Not only have I been considering stealing Kullervo’s Bible and hiding it away for my own use, and condemning myself for my lack of hard core spiritual practices, but Oliver has been reading the Bible.  And he’s read more of the New Testament than I have.  I’ve read more of the Bible overall, but I’ve never read Acts, and he’s almost finished with it.

And he can’t win.

He is a MONSTER!!!!! (-ously fast reader)

He is a MONSTER!!!!!
(-ously fast reader)

 

So, I got my new Bible, and I’m reading Acts.  And I will stop the evil in my heart towards Kullervo for having such a cool Bible.  And I will stop self-flagellating for being a lazy Christian (in other words, stop scratching my pregnancy rash until I bleed).  And I will BEAT MY SEVEN YEAR OLD IN THE BIBLE READING RACE.  Dammit.

 

 

NaNoWriMo

Have you heard about NaNoWriMo?  It’s a really cool idea.  I’d never heard of it (although Kullervo apparently had) until a good friend of ours mentioned that he planned on participating this year.

The premise is that you commit to write a novel in November of at least 50,000 words.  You don’t win any prizes (except a finished work), it doesn’t cost money.  But there is online and real-life support, as well as the notion that committing to do something ambitious like that means that you’re more likely to do it.  It’s a lot easier to decide to do it and go for it than to get around to it when you have time.  You will never have time.

Anyway, I’m contemplating doing it.

I’ve started novels before, but stalled out at various points.

I’ve had ideas for novels (novel ideas, I might say), but never started writing them.

I am very good at laying on the self-guilt about taking time to write, which I love to do, because it interferes with my actual job–you know, taking care of the kids and the house and the husband and the dog and the cats.

So, taking it on is very appealing to me.

That said, my hesitations lie in the following:

I have an actual job–you know, taking care of the kids and the house and the husband and the dog and the cats.

Specifically, my two year old isn’t going to appreciate my taking any time away from him.

Who will clean up this face?

Who will clean up this face?

My dog still needs to learn to walk on a leash (she is horrible at it).

She's so good at lying down and napping, but so difficult on a walk.  There are ALL THE SQUIRRELS, and she and Hank team up on me to chase them together.

She’s so good at lying down and napping, but so difficult on a walk. There are ALL THE SQUIRRELS, and she and Hank team up on me to chase them together.

I still need to make all these meals for my kids, and shepherd them to all of their activities.

Lego club!

Lego club!

He built that in an hour at Lego club!

He built that in an hour at Lego club!

Kullervo would certainly be the most forgiving of the lot of them, aside from maybe the cats, one of whom has been missing for almost a month, while the other would like the extra time to sit in my lap.

On top of that, we have a baby coming in January.  And SO. MUCH. to do beforehand.  I still haven’t finished unpacking.  I have bags upon bags of baby clothes to go through.  The desk is a disaster.

Seriously, a disaster.  But, hey, look--there's my label maker!

Seriously, a disaster. But, hey, look–there’s my label maker!

The Harry Potter closet in our basement is filled with yarn and knitting and I can’t find my knitting needles, and as a result, the closet has vomited all its insides all over the basement.  The kids’ toys in the basement need to be sorted and purged to make a sweet play space for Hank, who is going to turn two in November and is beginning to want to play with toys as opposed to just hit things with sticks (although that’s fun too).

Wanna play?

Wanna play?

 

 

He does!

He does!

In fact, the sheer volume of all that has to be done as soon as possible is overwhelming.  I need to make a list to get my act together to actually get stuff done.  My trouble with my to do list follows one of two paths–when I find a notepad to make a list on, find something to write with to write it down, and sit down to write the list, I forget anything that needs to get done.  And, then, when I later think of what I should have written down, I can no longer find the notepad.  It feels like an exercise in futility fueled by the forgetfulness of pregnancy brain.

But, ever since I heard about it, I can’t get it out of my mind… I even have an idea for a story to start…

Enigmatic face... decision to be made later.  For now, it's probably time to make dinner or something.

Enigmatic face… decision to be made later. For now, it’s probably time to make dinner or something.

 

Yes, I Know How It Happens

I have mentioned that there is something about me that invites people to say awkward things to me.  Sometimes it’s annoying; often it’s just an amazing gift of someone else’s lack of better judgment that I get to enjoy.

I’ve been waiting for the comments.  I’m 31.  I’m pregnant with my fourth child, which in this day and age, makes me a young mom.  In fact, when I was pregnant with Henry two years ago (whoa… my kid is going to be two soon…), I actually had a woman yell at me for being irresponsible for being an unreasonably young mother.  Literally–she yelled at me.  At her own garage sale.  I didn’t buy anything.  I tried to thank her for clearly assuming I was younger than 29, but she was too busy judging me and showing off her lack of verbal control.

I don’t remember all of the times that it has happened with this pregnancy, but two have stuck out.  An old friend (for whom I used to babysit when I was a teenager), when he found out that I was pregnant again, said, “Do you know how that happens?”

And then, again today, I was dropping my kids off in the child care area of my gym so that I could take my zumba class.  A man was dropping off his three children, and commented that we both had three.  I patted my belly and said, “Three and a half, actually.”

He said, “Oh.  Well, you know how that happens, right?”

I know it isn’t meant as an insult… I hope it isn’t meant as an insult… In any case, I don’t take it as an insult.  It’s a “clever” response to finding out that someone is having more than the average number of children.  If you overthink it, it is offensive… but I’m going to give these men the benefit of the doubt and assume they were joking.

That said, I am not one to let those comments slip by if I can be quick-witted enough in the moment.

The first time I was asked, I responded by saying, “Nope.  Will you please explain it to me, in detail?”

Today I said, “Yep.  And it’s super fun.  Don’t you think?”

28 weeks pregnant!

28 weeks pregnant!

A Fall Wreath

I am not an artistic person.  Like, at all.  I find art galleries boring.  I can’t draw a recognizable stick figure.

Don’t get me wrong—I can be quite creative (it’s a hidden talent of accountants, and contributes to much of the financial fraud in the world…).  I can cook you a meal that you will enjoy.  I can spin my children’s nightmares into funny stories that aren’t scary anymore.  I can knit, and I can hold a tune well enough to not hurt your ears with both my voice and my fiddle (though maybe not at the same time).  I can come up with all sorts of creative ways to procrastinate doing housework.  I can be witty, and I can insult you in that Southern style that takes you until I’ve left the room to figure out that I was actually being nasty.

But I don’t find Pinterest interesting.  I don’t browse it for ideas, or for decorating eye candy, or for fun.  I don’t find making art projects to be anything other than messy and stressful.  I have to really work at being the kind of mom who helps my kids achieve their creative endeavors.  I think in words, and spend all day creating word pictures.  I think some people think in pictures, or think more abstractly, and are able to translate those ideas into something beautiful.  I don’t see pictures in my mind of how I want something I am making to turn out, and if I did, whatever I was trying to create would most certainly not turn out that way, but would be such a bastardized outcome that might scare my children because it would be so macabre.

This is in high definition contrast to my sweet Kullervo, who not only grew up the child of two amazing artists, but also is quite talented himself.  (Don’t listen to his protests—he’s lying.)  Along with being capable at bringing ideas to life, he is also my Myers-Briggs opposite, and thinks in concepts.  (Most of our arguments can be traced back to my very concrete literalness and his vague approximations.)

We have been wanting to put up festive seasonal decorations.  I wanted to buy a wreath for our door—we have a door!  It’s OUR door!  It should be decorated and look elegant!  Kullervo, who has a hard time accepting that I am so incompetent at something that would come so easily to him, suggested that we (I) make a wreath.  I gamely went along with it–people like doing this stuff!  It must be fun!

I will not make that mistake again (and I imagine that Kullervo will, next time, take matters into his own hands if he wants a homemade art project).  I went to a craft store and got supplies to make a wreath—a foam circle, some other stuff that looked fall-like, gold spray paint, wire, and a door hook.  How hard could this be?

It turns out, basically impossible for me.  And, messy.

I spray painted the foam gold.  I managed to stretch out how long I waited for it to dry for at least three weeks, just in case.  Then I wrapped some woodsy looking stuff around the outside, and cursed at how challenging it was to make it stay in place.  And I broke a pair of scissors trying to cut it to the right size, because they only make scissors for right handed people, and I can only use left handed scissors despite being a righty.

These used to be my favorite pair of kitchen scissors.

These used to be my favorite pair of kitchen scissors.

After securing the woodsy garland to the foam (not particularly well–I don’t really have the patience to care if it isn’t perfect, which is probably why I’m not cut out for this stuff), I took a fall leaves garland and tried to make that look festive.  I failed.

This is not festive.  Or attached.

This is not festive. Or attached.

I decided to take a break (from not accomplishing anything), and took my little one outside for a bit to play ball.  He wanted to play Superman instead.  Fair enough.  He probably recognized my need for a hero.

Our front door version of a phone booth...

Our front door version of a phone booth…

After I put him down for his afternoon nap, I tried again.  Dammit, I will not be defeated by craft materials.  I have standards, and they are (slightly) higher than that!  So, I persisted, and I’ll be darned if there isn’t now something relatively unsightly and unprofessional looking hanging outside.

This isn't very pretty either.

This isn’t very pretty either.

 

I hung it up where Kullervo can't miss it.

I hung it up where Kullervo can’t miss it.

After I hung it up, I found more doodads that I had not figured out how to attach.  So, I have precariously perched them on the wreath.  I plan to cry if anyone disturbs it.

After I hung it up, I found more doodads that I had not figured out how to attach. So, I have precariously perched them on the wreath. I plan to cry if anyone disturbs it.  That’ll show them.

I am pretty sure I have learned my lesson–this is not my cuppa.  Some people can make wonderful, creative, beautiful things for their homes.  I can too–they’re called children.  And dinner.

Next time we want a homemade wreath, I’m delegating.  And then I’ll be a good accountant and balance the checkbook.

Loss of a Tooth

Oliver is seven and a half.  This sweet child, bless his heart, has had to go this long without losing any teeth.  Other kids start losing their teeth in kindergarten… Hazel has friends who have lost teeth already.  And Oliver’s teeth were stubbornly hanging on for dear life.

I tried explaining to him that it’s a good thing–what with inflation on earnings from the Tooth Fairy, and the fact that the less time you have your grown up teeth, the less time you have to screw them up… but he wasn’t buying it.  He just wanted to lose his danged teeth.

I want to pause for a moment and contemplate with you how weird it is that this happens to us.  If some other body part suddenly became loose and wiggly and fell OFF OF OUR BODY, we would not celebrate.  We would go to the hospital.  I know that there are replacements standing in the wings for our fallen baby teeth, but it’s still so odd to me.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, Oliver’s tooth finally got a little bit loose.  He quickly learned that it isn’t all Tooth Fairies and rainbows, however, because biting into some foods was quite painful for him.  And when we’ve been on the go, having a husband who carries a knife around all the time has been handy when we give the kids apples to munch on… and realize that the poor child can’t eat them whole.  (The difficulty of biting into an apple with loose/lost teeth is a trauma I have not fully gotten over from my kindergarten days when Miss Linda wouldn’t cut my apple, which made me cry, and I hate crying in front of people, so I hated her from them on, and apparently have not gotten over it.)

Then, early Saturday morning, it happened.  Oliver’s tooth fell out.  He proudly pranced into our room at some unholy hour to show us (Kullervo).  When Hazel found out, she cried.  She’s apparently been holding out hope that she would lose her first tooth before Oliver did.

Oliver's first gaping hole in his mouth!

Oliver’s first gaping hole in his mouth!

Well, wouldn’t you know, in the excitement of the day (and of showing the unfortunate soul who came to eat breakfast with us that day), Oliver forgot to put his tooth under his pillow.  Which I realized at an unholy hour on Sunday morning, when I panicked thinking that we had not done our parental duties of lying to our children in order to create a magical world that can collapse on them when they are preteens and realize that we are big, fat liars.

Not only had Oliver forgotten, however… he had also misplaced his lost tooth.

Last night, he put the following note under his pillow:

Kullervo encouraged him to write this, but had no say over content... that was all Oliver.

Kullervo encouraged him to write this, but had no say over content… that was all Oliver.

Dear Tooth Fairy, I lost my tooth on our counter today.  Please still pretend I did have it under my pillow.  love, Oliver

This morning, when Oliver woke up, he found this under his pillow.

The Tooth Fairy, if you're wondering, was born a righty but was forced into using her left hand to write with... hence the handwriting.

The Tooth Fairy, if you’re wondering, was born a righty but was forced into using her left hand to write with… hence the handwriting.

Along with the note, Oliver received two dollar coins and six dollar bills.  It turns out that the Tooth Fairy, when looking for appropriate amounts of change, cannot count and gave an extra dollar bill.  Kullervo pointed out this morning that she’s a Tooth Fairy, not an accountant, so I should stop worrying about it.

Whatever.  I’m an accountant.

This Pregnancy Has Gone To The Dogs (Or, Rather, The PUPPPies)

I am not a hypochondriac.  In fact, I am generally nonplussed about stuff that happens with my body and just assume that it’s normal.  This includes getting scraped up (cleaning wounds?  That’s for ninnies!), splinters (it hurts to pull them out!), etc.  I don’t like taking medicine, and only do in extreme circumstances (like, after I have a c-section).  I figure that if I do a pretty good job of eating healthy foods, eating a balanced diet, and regularly exercising and sleeping, my body will respond appropriately and not mess up.  I’m also not fastidiously clean.  I mean, I wash my hands at appropriate intervals (post bathroom, pre-cooking), and shower semi-regularly (hey, I have three kids…).  But I don’t worry too much about dirt or bacteria or sharing drinks and food.  And I rarely get sick—which I attribute to my body having an incredibly strong immune system in response to my lack of fastidiousness.

Now, I just began my third trimester of pregnancy with my fourth baby.  When all is said and done, I will have spent four years–almost 12.5% of my life so far–pregnant.  And I generally have loved being pregnant, just loved the whole process in that super annoying way that makes other people hate me just a little bit.  I want to write a blog post about the best parts of being pregnant.

I won’t be doing that today though.

This pregnancy has been more challenging than the first three.  I don’t know if it’s because it’s the first time I’m pregnant when I’m in my 30s.  I don’t know if it’s because I got pregnant while we were in the middle of one of the most difficult, emotional, and stressful periods of my life, what with living in a temporary apartment with a school system that wasn’t meeting Oliver’s needs, dealing with Hazel being a sad zombie because she missed her friends in Chicago, buying our first home, packing and moving for the second time within a year, and not knowing anybody and feeling far away from all of my friends.  I don’t think it’s because I have three other kids at home, although I’m sure that contributes to me being really tired.

Regardless of why, this has been a rough ride.  I had a lot of nausea in the first trimester, and some wicked migraines.  There was nothing I could do for the nausea except wish that I was throwing up because at least then I’d feel like it was a productive way to spend my time.  (And, you know your nausea has to be pretty gruesome to be wishing to barf.  Just sayin’.)  And the migraines!  Tylenol was ineffective—if anything, it just increased the nausea.  I finally found some relief from it by using a blend of essential oils (I’ll blog more about that another time), but I hated the smell of it.  So, I’d have to want to avoid the migraine enough to withstand the strong smells… it definitely felt lose-lose.

My belly popped out early, which isn’t a terrible thing except that it means that I’ve spent a lot of time with clothes that don’t fit right.  Also, it opens to door for strangers to give me their unsolicited feedback about my body.  Honestly, though, I don’t mind that because it amuses me.  But my body shape has been weird this time around.  Fortunately, I’ve mostly only expanded in my belly.  I still wear the same jeans I was wearing before I got pregnant (these days I don’t button the top button).  But they’re getting uncomfortable.  That said, maternity pants literally fall off of me.  It might be that the elastic is worn out from being enormous at the end of other babies… but I really don’t want to spend a ton of money on pants when I am confident this is my last pregnancy.  So I feel like I don’t have any good wardrobe options.  (I should bite the bullet and go shopping, but trying on pants is challenging with a toddler.)

But then, a couple of weeks ago, the icing on the cake arrived.  My belly started itching.

Now, that’s normal, right?  The skin is stretching (welcome, new stretch marks!), all sorts of changes are happening.  Some itching is normal.  So I ignored it, like any good non-hypochondriac who generally assumes all things are normal with her body.

I got itchier and developed a rash on my belly.  The itching was pretty intense, so I tried putting Eucerin cream on it—they say to moisturize during pregnancy, and the bottle claims to be anti-itch.  I assumed the rash was because I have a mild form of dermatographism, which causes me to have a histamine reaction to scratching and repetitive rubbing sensations.  I really assumed that I was itchy in the normal pregnancy way, which was making me scratch without thinking about it, which was giving me an allergic reaction.

Then I woke up one day last week in the middle of the night because I was too itchy to sleep.  And I had scratched enough in my sleep to actually draw blood (whoops).  I mentioned it to Kullervo at breakfast the next morning, while I was still incredibly itchy.  He said that that didn’t seem normal; this was getting to be excessive.  And he suggested that I call the doctor.

Now, again, I’m not a hysterical person who calls the doctor at every weird symptom.  But I called, and they asked me to come in.  This was on a Thursday morning, and it had been raining hard for 12 hours.  The roads were so backed up that the thirty minute drive to my doctor’s office took an hour.  The doctor looked at me, and said that it looks like I have PUPPP (but don’t worry—it clears up soon after delivery, more than three months away), although it could be something more serious.  She wanted me to get some blood work done to rule out worse alternatives.  Of course, they couldn’t do the blood draw at the office.  So I left with Hank, we got soaked on our way to the car, and we drove to the lab, where we got soaked on our way in.  A phlebotomy student took my blood (and was very nervous about Hank), and we got soaked getting back into the car.  (Buckling your toddler into his five point harness in the pouring rain is not the most fun way to spend an itchy, rainy day.)

So, I came home, armed without any knowledge of PUPPP or what else I might have that is worse than wanting to rip my skin off of my body.

So I did what any good, new hypochondriac would do.  I googled it.  Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy.  Or, according to my research, cholestasis of pregnancy, which is a liver disorder (and which, I have since found out that I do not have).

Whatever you do, if you want more information about PUPPP, don’t do a google image search.  It’s gross.  It’s a rash—they’re always unsightly.  And some people get it everywhere.  It originates in stretch marks, and they don’t know why it happens, although it appears to occur almost exclusively in the first pregnancy, and in the final couple of weeks of pregnancy.  It’s possible that it is an allergy to the placenta, as steroid antihistamines often seem to help, but which I’m reluctant to take.  I felt cheated–this is NOT my first pregnancy.  And I am NOT in the final couple of weeks of pregnancy.

Now, when I say that it’s itchy, I mean that if you haven’t had this, you don’t know itchy (unless you’ve had some other excruciatingly itchy rash).  I’ve had a lot of people tell me since I found out, “oh, yeah.  I know how that is.  I was really itchy when I was pregnant too.”  Or, “Oh, I have springtime allergies and my nose is SO ITCHY then.  I know how you feel.”

You don’t.

You really, really don’t.

I appreciate your empathy and sympathy and all that.  But you don’t know, unless you are waking up multiple times a night because you are too itchy to sleep, and have filed your nails down to nonexistence in order to make sure that you don’t scar your body up (post-PUPPP scars from scratching are normal).  Unless you have googled your condition to see any ways that people have found relief, and asked on your neighborhood listserve if anyone happens to have a particular brand of soap because your husband isn’t home from work yet (of course this hits in his busiest work season of the year—extended tax filing season) and you’ve put the kids to bed, and the store that was supposed to have this magical soap that you have hung all your hopes on doesn’t have any.

That Thursday was a bad day.  I cried and cried—out of lack of information, intense uncomfortableness, bad weather, and generally feeling overwhelmed.  I also cried at the kindness of the people around me—one neighbor who I had never met ordered that soap for me and had it shipped overnight so that I could get it more quickly, and wouldn’t let me pay her for it.  Another neighbor offered to go out on a quest for things that could help.  And an old friend who had experienced it with her first pregnancy was my lifeline until Kullervo got home, telling me things that she had done that had worked, and giving me a protocol of how to deal with it.  So I cried because I felt sorry for myself, and I cried because I never expect people to give of themselves—even in small ways—so freely, and it always takes me aback.  And, of course, I’m pregnant and hormonal and all that.

A week later, I still have this rash.  Thankfully, it hasn’t spread—it is still isolated to my belly.   It is still waking me up at night, which, between that, a cold that has me coughing all the time so that I’ve lost my voice completely, and having to pee at least twice a night, means I’m not sleeping much.  But I do get brief periods of respite during the day—an hour here or there when I am able to forget about it, as opposed to a week ago when it was just a constant.

I gave myself that first weekend to cry, to mope, and to feel sorry for myself.  I am not good at being miserable all the time, so I told Kullervo that by Monday, I was going to have a good attitude about it, dammit, even if I had to fake it.

If you ever have this, or know someone who does or who gets it, here are the things that have helped me.  I run a bath with both witch hazel and Aveeno oatmeal bath, and wash my belly multiple times with Grandpa’s pine tar soap.  It leaves me feeling pretty raw, but it helps a bit.  In the morning when I am incredibly itchy, I use original Sarna cream.  It smells unfortunately and uncannily like Arm and Hammer cat litter, but it burns/cools (it has camphor and menthol) enough to give an hour or so of relief, if you can tolerate the smell.  I’ve heard the unscented doesn’t work as well.  At night, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I use doTerra brand Deep Blue essential oils (made of a mixture of wintergreen, camphor, peppermint, blue tansy, blue chamomile, helichrysum, and osmanthus essential oils), which burns (especially if I use the lotion—that’s almost unbearable), but provides a similar relief to the Sarna without the nasty smell that I just can’t deal with at night.  My doctor prescribed me a topical steroid cream which I have yet to use (I’m hesitant to use steroids while pregnant—or ever—so that’s a method of last resort that I have on hand), and a prescription for a steroid pack.

I consider myself fortunate that my case of PUPPP doesn’t seem to be as severe as others that I’ve read about, heard about, or seen pictures of online.  I’m hoping that it doesn’t get any worse than it is.  And I’m thankful that I didn’t get it with my earlier pregnancies, because it might have made me reconsider reproducing again… and so far I have some pretty phenomenal kids.

PS… there are no pictures on this post.  That’s on purpose, because the best options for a picture related to this post would be me in a muddy looking bathtub (thanks, oatmeal and pine tar), or a belly shot of my rash.  Neither is particularly attractive.