Saturday, September 3, 2011

What's Up, Buttercups?!

I know, I know; I have been seriously MIA & suck. No worries, as I am told this daily. Well, I'm pretty sure that, "You are meaner than Cinderella's Step Mother!" is at least the 6 year old's way of saying that. Yes, I know this, too: SIX? Wha?

This was taken on the morning on her birthday. This is right after she opened this dollie, who has been named Rosalinda, that I made for her. Her birthday was actually the day after the last day of school, but her teacher still let her celebrate her birthday with her class. I gave her the choice of having whatever cupcake or cookie she wanted to bring in. She chose eclairs. Oh, my young lady with the refined palette!

We had a wonderful but short summer break together. She only had eight short weeks off of school, so we didn't really go anywhere n vacation. We sent her to a wonderful summer day camp on Sanibel Island at the Sanibel Sea School. She spent the whole week on the beach, on a boat, or in the ocean. She loved it. If anyone out there vacations on Sanibel Island, know that they have a year-round program where families can come spend a day at the school.

This is her heading out to watch the dolphins swimming in the wild. This is actually the only way she has ever seen them & she is saying she doesn't really want to go to Sea World in the fall because she doesn't think it is right for them to be kept in small pools when they are "use to having the whole ocean". Again; our little activist in the making.

The second camp she went to was at Florida Repertory Theatre and at the end of the two week camp they performed Seussical the Musical. She can perform on command the entire hour & a half show. I think I can, too. I made this dress (pattern here) for her that has various Seuss characters (fabric here & here) all over it this spring, & I am in process of making one for her little sister, who prefers The Cat In the Hat & Fish.

Speaking of the little sister, she will hereforth be known as MiniHe. Yes, she is still a girl, but just the spitting image of The Huz, so a little version of him. She is every bit the large personality of MiniMe, yet even at not quite two, definitely her own person. Together, they light up my days. MiniMe is an even better big sister than I ever could have imagined. She is patient, loving, understanding, and an excellent role model. I'm so glad they have each other. I wish I had one or the other as a sibling. I am grateful I get to be at home with them.

MiniHe is a big fan of Stitch, as in Lilo & Stitch, & it is quite an appropriate object of her affection, as Stitch has a proclivity for stealing left shoes. I was almost arrested for shoplifting when Violet put some shoes in my bag without my knowledge. She is also a stitch herself, doing things like putting Stitch on the potty, & plopping a piece of brown clay in the bowl so we could pretend he is potty training just like she is. MiniHe is also fascinated with ears. The Huz likes to pretend he stuffs his iphone into her ears, which she buys hook, line & sinker. As such, she tries to put random things in my ears, like brushes. She will brush my hair for hours, which makes me feel pampered but her sweet, gentle little strokes which she takes little breaks from to peek around my shoulder & get kisses.

The reason I have been so busy isn't just because of our sweet girls, however. I am working n building a business that will help us be able to move back to Detroit, and I have just launched it this week. I have a lot of products to add, still, but please check out hoppytoddle the store, here. & by all means, tell your friends! If you have products you cannot live without, let me know about them.

I've missed you, blog friends!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Things are better...

I need to write, for posterity, the awfulness that was the last part of the school year for MiniMe, but for now, know that since she has been home with me for a week now, things are MUCH better. Even the last few days, when we have all been sick, even Guppy #2, things are much improved. There is more love, more affection, more joy. & the girls? Well...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

I need some help

I'm sorry I suck so much & haven't been posting. I'm sure most of you know that Guppy #2 is now sucking of most of my time with her nursing. We have finally gotten to a point where I am bathing regularly, but I'm still barely keeping my head above sea level. Biggie has finally relented & is paying for someone to come clean our house a few times because he is working such insane hours he is really not home enough to be of much help. Our house isn't that bad, honestly. It's more that I am stuck in this house, sitting on the sofa nursing, trying to revel in the beauty & wonder of motherhood, & I feel so guilty that our house isn't clean & resentful that I can't clean it & have to sit in it that we're going to try this to see if it helps my nasty mood.

Yes. I'm in a nasty mood. I love Guppy #2. She is an awesomely happy, beautiful baby. I am so lucky to have this new little ray of sunshine in my life. She is all good. The problem is with MiniMe. & boy, am I heartbroken.

She isn't resentful of Guppy #2. She seriously thanks me if not daily, sometimes more than once a day, for her new sister. She loves her dearly & honestly threw her hands up in the air one morning when I was driving her to school saying, "Praise God, (for my new little sister)!" I'm not kidding. It was sweet & I had to stifle my giggles at the Jerry Faldwellness of it all.

However, MiniMe is seriously not happy. & I'd have to say it's mostly with me. She has told me nearly daily for the last 2 weeks that I am the meanest mom ever, that she doesn't love me anymore, that she wishes she could go live in another world where I am not. One night when my mom was visiting & I asked her to pick up the tea party of toys that had been going on under the dining room table for 3 days she said that she, "...wishes lighting would strike my mom & die her." I expected all this eventually, just not at age 4.

So, I'm heartbroken. I know I need to stop expecting her to understand so much. She is four, & sometimes she is so mature I forget that her maturity in most things is exceptional & shouldn't be expected at all times in all circumstances. I know I need to be patient with her & listen to her so that she feels she is important to me. I know I need to find ways to not resent that now that I have less time to spend on her she needs more because things have changed & she's doing it out of a need for security. But I'm having a hard time of things with her & I am really sad that this girl who has consumed my life for the past four years now suddenly seems to be scared of me. It hurts. A lot.

I feel like all could be righted by a return of our bedtime ritual of stories followed by ticklies in the big red chair while I sing her lullabies. I thought that the reason I was having such a hard time with the ritual before I gave birth was because of my big pregnant belly. Now I realize that in fact MiniMe has grown to a size where she no longer really fits very well in my lap. Coupled with the fact that Guppy #2 has a pattern of wanting so be really high maintenance in the hour before & the hour after MiniMe's bedtime, and I cannot remember the last time I got to read MiniMe a story & give her ticklies.

She feels so lost to me. I tell her when she sees all of the things I do for Guppy #2 I want her to know that I did all of those things for her when she was a baby. When she tells me that Guppy #2 is the sweetest & most adorable baby in the whole world I tell her that while that may be true now, I think she was cuter. I lay in bed at night after I've finally gotten Guppy #2 to sleep, trying to quiet my mind in the midst of Biggie's snoring, & tears roll down my cheeks. My heart telegraphs across the house to where MiniMe is sleeping. I get up & go in & I pick her up. I rock her on edge of her bed & sing her the song from I'll Love You Forever.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

the best gift

Once we got in the car things really seemed to get going. Of course we were almost out of gas. Of course my contractions got more intense. The one I had as we were leaving the subdivision had me whining like MiniMe, pushing my feet against the dashboard, calling out to The Huz. I listened to my hypnobabies tracks on his iphone as The Huz drove up I-75 at 90 miles an hour.

I realized no one had called Christina, the midwife, to let her know I was on my way up there at this point. When I called her I couldn't really talk at first because a contraction hit as soon as she answered. I got through that, told her what was happening & she asked us to come to the birth center before we checked in to the hotel. We had to wait for a while because Christina was seeing another patient. I was okay, leaning over things, bending over at the waist through contractions, which were slightly less than 10 minutes apart at this point, but some were closer to 5 minutes. I don't remember much about the exam except that I was dilated to 3 cm, 90% effaced, & the baby was at 0 station. All signs pointing to baby coming soon. We had to go to the hardware store to get a coupler to run a hose from the faucet to the birthing tub & Cheryl was having a hard time finding a birthing tub for me. I had procrastinated, not gotten one myself, & had asked her to take care of that for me. Now she was having a hard time doing that.

When we got to the hotel we were disappointed. I had done a lot of research to find a hotel with 2 separate bedrooms so that my mom & MiniMe could be there comfortably, as well as a kitchen. The space was huge, but not as clean as we would have liked & awkward in ways like the toilet was too close to the wall.

Biggie left for about 15 minutes to get us some food. I hadn't eaten very much at all & had thrown the nachos up in the middle of the night. Even so, I couldn't really eat more than three bites. I don't know if it was excitement, fear, dread, or any combination of the three, but I just couldn't eat. Even though I was most scared of running out of energy, it was like my body didn't care about being reasonable. I guess this could be called Lesson #1 in Go with The Flow. No matter how much I thought I needed something, my body had ideas of its own.

I remember I was sitting on the sofa near the window when Cheryl got there. She came & hugged me before she brought in her things. We were excited, but not as excited as I had thought we would be. I remember that I had told myself to prepare for waiting a long time before she got there because I would have a long labor. I didn't feel like we had been waiting very long. Honestly, everything was just going along so smoothly. Yes, I had been having regular contractions for almost 24 hours, now but they were more than tolerable. I had actual breaks between the contractions where I could walk & talk & pee & just be fine. The difference between this labor, my labor, & the labor that was forced upon MiniMe & I was about the size of the Grand Canyon. I could do this labor, in fact, I was. & it was at this point that I really realized that I was. My mom came in with MiniMe around this time & I hugged her goodnight. They went upstairs for stories & ticklies without incident.

Cheryl kind of took over for Biggie at this point when I had contractions. When one came, she knew, & she got to applying the counter-pressure in my lower back quickly. While her hands weren't as strong as his, she had brought a sock filled with rice that I wish I had spoke out about, that it was more helpful so she would have used it more. She suggested I move to her birthing ball & I sat on it while leaning over the arm of one of the sofas. I remember talking to her while I was sitting there, as if it were just another day, & I wasn't pausing from time to time for a contraction. Things seemed so normal. I didn't think about how things were going, how quickly things were going, because I felt like I was going to jinx myself. In the split seconds that Biggie called attention to how regular & close together my contractions were, I acknowledged it briefly, but with caution. It wasn't that I had a sense that something was going to go wrong; not at all. I just felt like things were going so well that if I said so somebody else would correct me, saying something like, "Oh, but your contractions are only (fill in the blank) this long," or "Yeah, but I really don't think you're going to have this baby tonight." When I look back on it now I can articulate that I somehow didn't feel like I could have a normal birth experience because I was so afraid I couldn't.

At some point when I was sitting on the birthing ball I got up to go to the bathroom & had blood, bright red blood, coming out of me. I was alarmed & called Cheryl to the bathroom. She said it was normal. I had to ask her a few times to repeat that it was. I went back to the ball, still having what I felt were good breaks between the contractions, but the contractions were becoming more commanding, more authoritative. Biggie & Cheryl asked me if I thought the should start getting the birthing tub ready & I said yes. Cheryl had not been able to find a tub for me but had instead borrowed the back-up one from the birth center. When they were almost done filling it I had gotten up to go to the bathroom again. After I got up from the toilet, another contraction hit. I leaned over the sink waiting for someone to come help with the counter-pressure, & I felt a pop that I knew was my water breaking. Cheryl came in & confirmed that it was & that there was no meconium staining. Biggie didn't believe that was what it was because there wasn't a lot of fluid. Both Cheryl & I explained that because the baby was so low her head was acting like a cork, keeping most of the fluid behind her in the uterus.

I got right in the tub after that & the contraction I had almost immediately was absolutely devastating. I couldn't move, it was so crushing. I was scared. I thought when I got in the tub things would calm down a little bit like they had that morning. It was the exact opposite experience. I crawled over to the side of the tub & clutched Cheryl's hands. I remember begging her to make Christina be there. She assured me she was on her way. When a contraction would come she would remind me to "breathe for the baby" which I knew I needed to do, but I still found annoying. I was going to tell her it's hard to breathe when you're trying to keep from biting off your own tongue, but she was pretty pregnant herself at that point & I didn't think it was appropriate. Biggie asked me if I wanted him to get in the tub with me & I gave him a resounding yes, as if it was the stupidest thing he'd asked me in days. The tub felt so big, & I so unsteady, I felt like I had to hang on to the side or when a contraction came I might just drown. I remember at one point that Cheryl was on the phone with Christina. I was starting to get panicky that I was going to have the baby or something was going to go wrong before Christina could get there. I was mad. It seemed like years I was waiting for her to get there!

When Christina finally got there the first thing she did was check the baby's heartbeat. I haven't remembered to ask her about this, but when she first tried to find it, it seemed to me it wasn't there. It seemed like she then tried lower & got it, the precious sound, but like it was much lower in my abdomen then she had expected. It was there, nonetheless, & it reminded me that I was going to meet our younger daughter very soon. At that moment I felt a glimpse of this girl's personality. I felt that she, like her older sister, was going to be a force. I felt her preservearance & strength. Her beauty.

The contractions had now become at least four times bigger than myself. Not the pain, but the shear force of the contractions was terrifying me. I vocalized my fear & everyone reassured me. When Christina had first got there I realized my body was pushing the baby out on its own, but I had been scared to release myself to the power. Now I couldn't hold anything back. It was almost mechanical, electrical. I asked Christina to check that I was actually fully dilated; that there wasn't any bit of my cervix in the way, & I think she kind-of laughed at me. She did reach down there & told me that there wasn't anything there but the baby's head. She encouraged me to reach down & feel for myself, but I was too scared to. I felt like if I didn't have myself in the right position when a contraction hit I would collapse, doing something like fall into the water or out of the tub or just something completely ridiculous but completely reasonable to me. I wanted to tell Christina how ridiculous she was, maybe I did, but I know I did panic at this point. I knew I was going to tear & I was trying keep it from happening. At the same time, I didn't feel like I could endure very many more contractions. All of the planner & obsessive parts of me were freaking out: "You can't push- you'll tear!" "You have to push; you're going to run out of strength!" Polar opposite, classic gemini thoughts running around my skull, waving their hands in the air like they were keeping bats from getting in their hair. Finally it occured to me that I didn't have very much say over pushing or not because my body was pushing the baby out & that it didn't seem to care very much that I might tear & that her head was the biggest part of her body & after that, it was all but over. So I relented. I just let her come & the force was so humbling, I was truly beside myself that my body was so amazing.

Biggie caught her & I had to be told she was out. She came so fast & so powerfully that I didn't even know until I heard her sharp cries. I turned around, sat on my butt & they handed her to me. It didn't seem real. It was so normal & so strange at the same time. But she is here: Miss Violet Caroline. Seven pounds, nineteen & one quarter inches. At 9:45pm on November 12, 6 days before her due date. Only THREE hours of hard labor, with really no pushing on my part but for maybe two contractions. I did tear enough that we had to go to the hospital, which is a story in itself, but I'll post this & let it be for now. I'm sorry it took me so long.

Monday, December 28, 2009


So. Let's go back to Sunday, November 8th, shall we? See, MiniMe's class had an assignment to dress as their favorite book character. She picked Ella the Elegant, so we had to get her a big, floppy red hat. I am so smart (S-M-R-T!) that I called all of the goodwill & thrift stores instead of trapsing all over town whilst extremely pregnant. I found a hat on the south side of town (I can't type that without giving props to Journey) & since we were down there I decided to go on a culinary adventure. I got food poisoning. I believe it was the tartar sauce & not the fish sandwich, but regardless. I puked well into Monday night & still wasn't up to eating much on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, November 11th, I woke up with contractions about 15 minutes apart. I had an appointment at the birth center that day, so I was as calm as an Ansel Adams portrait. Doo-to-do. By the time my appointment rolled around I was no longer contracting. It's alright. I had some. I had some bloody show. My midwife, Christina, discussed where we could put my heplock. She palpitated mah bellah to figure out how the baby was laying (head down, facing the passenger side), & she estimated the baby was approximately 7 pounds. She offered to do a pelvic exam to see if I was dialated. I said, "Nah. Why? It's not really going to tell us anything. So I'm dialated; it doesn't tell us much else. I'll just wait for the contractions to come back."

You must know that EVERY pelvic exam I had when I was pregnant with MiniMe sucked ass. They were EXTREMELY painful. I wanted outta there. Oh, & nachos.

My mom had come with me to the appointment in case I was still contracting, as it's an hour drive to the birth center. We went to have dinner, I got my nachos, & we went home.

Around 9pm Wednesday night I started having contractions again. They were 15 minutes apart all night long. They weren't really painful, but I was tired. I took some skullcap. No sleep. At 3am I got disgusted & took a benadryl. I slept from 3am to 6am. Ugh. The Huz got up & took MiniMe to school at 7:30. We he came home I called Cheryl, my doula. I told her I was worried because I was tired & was getting no sleep. She told me to get in the bathtub & listen to some of my hypnobabies tracks. The contractions did slow down & I was able to come up with some visualizations that I felt would get me through. I was in there for over two hours, only having about three contractions, but when I got out to go to the bathroom they came right back.

I had to break the news to The Huz that he needed to call & book our hotel room. He was under the impression that he was going to go to work. Um, no. I had him bring me a pad & pencil so I could make him a list of things still needing to be done or packed. He was acting a little hen-picked, but he got everything. He called my mom & asked her to pick MiniMe up from school. I got out of the tub & started getting a little testy. For prosterity, this is the last photo of my beautifully pregnant belly. Note the lack of stretch marks...

I have a lot more to report, but am swamped, so I'm going to leave this post as is for now. I promise, I'll post again soon. And when I say soon I do mean like within a week.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One More Year

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I'm trying to keep this from being a hard time of year for me, but it isn't working very well. My dad's birthday was August 8th, & it was two years ago today that he died. His birthday snuck up on me & I didn't even realize what it was until the evening. That was a blessing. But ever since that day, I've been eying the calendar, keeping myself busy, trying to not mark the days.

I keep going back to the last time I saw him, in April of 2007. We had made one of those vacations that's not really a vacation that those of us who have moved away from their families have. Ten days of crazy driving, literal itineraries, literally a guilt trip.

This is why my dad never wanted me to get married. He never wanted to share me. Many, many trips were made from wherever I was living to his house. I would lay in the grass in the warmer months, split wood in the winter, or sweat it out in the house. (He heated his house with wood & it was usually around 85 in there!) I got there when I got there & I left when he had to go back to work. We would work on my car, wax it, mow the lawn, go into town to rent a movie, visit with his neighbors, go fishing. Just sit at the kitchen table & talk.

That last visit was nothing like that. MiniMe was 18 months old. My dad's brother & his wife had come over because they'd never met her. Dad spent most of his time on the front porch where he could smoke. MiniMe was stir crazy from all of the driving. We decided to bundle her up & take her to the cute neighborhood park up the street, even though it was in the 40's.

My dad had booked & paid for us to stay in a hotel near his house. He knew it would make it easier for me to negotiate spending time with him. It hurt me to think that he felt like he had to weigh things in his favor, but I let him do it, mostly because he wanted to.

As we all watched MiniMe scamper around the park, we were all fairly quiet. I know my Dad & I were thinking the same thing. She was exactly the age I was when he & my mom divorced. She looked so much like me I could tell it pained him. I felt like I was breaking his heart. I ached for him. I didn't know how to make it better.

But MiniMe did. In her innocence, she was just herself. She scaled the apparatus with no fear & sufficient grace. My dad was amazed by her. Her joy healed the pain. Her giggles were contagious. He commented on how capable she was & how he could tell we didn't chase her around, waiting for her to fail, & how he thought that was the way it should be. I watched him circle the park with his camera in one hand, cigarette in the other. I wasn't happy with how he looked. He looked sick. He had gained weight. His always there cough was worse than normal. He was quiet, with a fake smile plastered on his face. I wanted desperately to drag him out to the barn & ask him what was wrong, but I was afraid. I was afraid of leaving The Huz to have to run interferance between MiniMe & my family that he didn't know very well. I was afraid of what my Dad would say, more, though.

We left early because we had to get MiniMe to bed. I said goodbye to everyone, but to Dad probably at least six times. I just wanted an excuse to hug him. But everytime I did, I pulled way feeling a littel nauesous. He reeked of cigarettes. His body felt tough, like over-cooked chicken. His arms were thin & frail. It scared me.

We intended to go back the next morning, but when I called & grandma told me Dad had already left to make a run, I didn't want to. I didn't want to go back to my Dad's house, be fawned over by m grandmother or stepmom. As I've said before, that's not something I did when I was at his house. I wanted to see him. At the same time, I was kind-of glad that he had left. Being there now was awkward & awful. It was too much of a reminder that things are different. Too stark of a difference because I had changed so much, not necessarily for the worse, mind you, but drastically, none the less. Seeing my father, physically being with him, was strange because we had been apart for so long. When we spoke on the phone every week it wasn't so obvious. We were always the same. To see each other made the changes so exaggerated it was disconcerting.

We were in Michigan for several days after we left my Dad's & his route at that time was north through the Upper Peninsula, down through Wisconsin, into Chicago, over to Cincinnati, north through Toledo, than back to Port Huron. He called me on my cell phone a few times while we were there. His mood was cheerful, better than it had been on the playground. He talked about MiniMe in a way that told me he did see her as her own person. He expressed joy at getting to be with her. He was happy that I was home; that we could talk about where I was at the time & he knew what I was talking about. He would call when he knew my phone would be shut off to leave me messages telling me things he couldn't say to me in real time. Sweet things. I remember that I saved his voicemail messages from when we were there for like three months after that trip. It made me feel like I was still there.

Thinking about this trip has brought me a sense of peace about my Dad. I realized that looking back, it wasn't physically being in my Dad's presence that I needed so much as the connection. I have decided to convince myself that the connection is still there, even if the talks, the hugs, the smiles are not. Thinking about the overwhelming smell of cigarettes, the sorrow of things lost, I am trying to convince myself that we are liberated from those trappings, now. What it is truly is reminding myself that I am still me. I do not need his validation or even celebration, no matter how much I miss it. I ams what I ams & I only need to be a little more assertive of that. It was not he who made me, it was me all along. But still, it sucks that I can't talk to him about our plans, about this new daughter, the one in my belly & the one I'm becoming, about everything. I refuse to be one of those people that sits around talking or writing letters as if he is still there. It's too morbid. I'm looking for something more uplifting. That's what I miss.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Parenting Rationalizations & Pep Talk

MiniMe started VPK (Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten) last week at the local Catholic School. She did great adjusting to the mandatory white leather shoes. She got up & put her uniform on all by herself. She thinks it's cool that I turned one smaller drawer of her dresser into a school-clothes only drawer & as long as she picks from that drawer, she can wear whichever shorts, shirt, sock combo she chooses. I wonder how long it's going to take her to figure out that there are seven sets of exactly the same shirts, shorts, & socks in there.

MiniMe 'signing in' on her first day

The way that they transition the kids is pretty good. Half of the class came on Wednesday, the other half on Thursday, then everybody comes together on Friday, then everybody gets a weekend back home with the fam before they start again. Sigh. Well, today, the Tuesday of the first full week, sucked. I forgot a few things I had learned back when I was still a working mom & MiniMe went to 'school'. They are my parenting transition rationalizations & they have proven true several times, so I'm sharing them.

1. Even if kids don't have separation anxiety, they will be difficult. When they go somewhere new, like a new school, new dance class, etc., they don't really know anybody. Because it's a new place with new people, many kids don't feel comfortable speaking up when they really want to. They don't feel secure, yet. Even in a very assertive child such as MiniMe, they don't know even who to go to when they have a problem or need help. They don't know if their needs are going to be met. It takes time, experiences, for that comfort level to be built up. The rules & expectations need to be felt out so that security can be established.

2. When kids are with their families, they know what to expect. They feel loved. They trust that they will still be loved. They feel secure enough to be themselves. They feel secure enough to work through the feelings accumulated throughout the day & unwind.

3. Because I am Mommy, I get the shit. Because I have done such a great job providing MiniMe with that sense of unconditional love, been consistent, holding fast to the rules & expectations, all while maintaining a cool, calm attitude, I am rewarded by being the dumping grounds for all the frustrations, challenges, lack of hugs. I am supposed to be comforted by reminding myself that the reason MiniMe is such a nasty little viper when she comes home is not because she thinks I deserve to be spoken to this way, but because she knows that even if she does, I am the only one (at least that's around) that will see her act this way & still love her. It's like she's trusting me with a secret; that she can be reaaalllly beastly, ugly, mean.

4. My job is to find a balance between reassuring her that she will find her way, that things will get more comfortable at school, and not letting her turn me into her own personal punching (& kicking!) bag. I have to remember that she still needs all the hugs, kisses, ticklies, snuggles that she has always gotten, but we have less time to squeeze them in. I cannot allow her to shout & bellow for me to, "(fill in the blank) RIGHT THIS SECOND!" I must make it clear that she is still expected to maintain a respectful tone & attitude, speak in her nice voice, use her words, cooperate.

Okay, now that that's out there, can I just say that it sucks & spend my time between laundry & dog-washing to have a little pity party for myself? Oh, & how long do I have to wait to teach her the Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Catholic School Girls Rule"?