Friday, May 24, 2013

How's the family?

It's Edison-Albright family update time!
We are doing pretty well, all things considered. We still have our snow shovel sitting on the front porch, but I think that's less because of household upkeep neglect and more because Sean isn't convinced we won't get one more big snow. Being able to get out into the world and take walks together as a family has improved life for all of us.  We sing songs, we scout for bunnies, we name things ("tweet tweet!" "truck!" "Baba house?") we say "hi" to neighbors and neighbor dogs. The neighbors are mostly too busy to say "hi" back, being very focused on their yard work.  We are not nearly so busy and focused.  I like that about us.

Here's a little more on each of us and how we're doing these days.

Hank the Dog continues to be a good and faithful companion and member of the family.  The change in the weather and more frequent walks have put a spring in his step.  We had a good check up with the vet who was very pleased with Hank's beauty, gentleness, and good overall health.  The broken leg that brought him into our lives three years ago is starting to give him some trouble, which we knew was going to happen.  For now, a daily glucosamine cookie and keeping him a little underweight seems to do the trick, although Hank isn't a huge fan of our efforts to keep him thin and trim. In human years, Hank would be about the age of a college freshman, and he believes he has a right to the Freshman 15.  In dog years, Hank is still quite young but definitely not a puppy anymore.  He's pretty calm, he doesn't worry as much, he doesn't destroy and eat non-food items.  If we leave the kitchen garbage can out while he's home alone he still feels it's his duty to knock it over and eat all kinds of terrible things, but that's just a given.  He'll also steal crackers right out of Walter's hands, which encourages Walter to use his burgeoning verbal skills to say, "No, no Hankee." Walter and Hank love each other and it's funny how similar they are in some ways.  They both want everyone they love to be together, with them, all the time.  I guess that's not such an unusual thing to want, but Hank and Walt both take special notice of who is present and who is not present: Hank by "counting" (taking stock of all the members of his pack that he can see, then searching the house for anyone who might be missing) and Walter by naming, immediately asking for all the people he wants to see by name. As you can imagine, Hankee is frequently named, especially in the morning when Walter wakes up and sings and talks to himself in his crib.  Eventually Walt moves from practicing his favorite songs to calling for his favorite people. "Umma! Baba! Grandma! Pop Pop! Mama! Dada! Hankee!" Hank listens for this every morning and, when he's called, goes downstairs and sits outside Walter's door, sometimes bringing him a toy or a dog bone.  If we don't move fast enough to get Walt out of his crib in the morning, Hank comes and gets us, pressing his cold nose into our sleepy hands until we get up and follow him to Walt's room.

Walter wakes up between 5:45 and 6:30 every morning and usually he wakes up happy and chatty.  At 19 months old he's funny, communicative, shy/slow to warm when directly approached by strangers or in crowded places, increasingly confident and accurate in his singing, trying out three word sentences and experimenting with the possessive ("mine" "Mama ice cream" "Hankee ball.")   He loves bunnies.  Two of his favorite books are "I-am-a-Nummy" and "Mama Nummy.  Baby Nummy" (Runaway Bunny.) His favorite book is a collection of eight Curious George stories.  He likes flipping through the pages and looking at the pictures, naming everything he sees.  He especially likes the stories that include illustrations of bunnies. He'd read this book all night if we let him, so we've started giving him a two minute warning and telling him to choose a last picture to look at before we move on to another book. Expectation management is something we've had some really good success with and it feels like a big parenting win when we say, "One more and then all done" and he nods and repeats, with his pointer finger up to indicate "one": "One more. Ahhh-nahhh." Sometimes he still protests when we end an activity, but knowing the end is coming does cut down a lot on the angst and the whining.  There's a reasonable amount of both of those in our lives these days.  Sometimes it feels like we're really ramping up into some terrible two-ness, but we're guessing the worst of that is yet to come.  I sound fatalistic and doom-full, but really we're just trying to brace ourselves and keep perspective. Walter is strong in every way: his body, his mind, his will.  We are crazy proud and love this about him.  If the months to come are anything like these past few months, the joy and delight will outweigh the tantrums and meltdowns.  We'll figure it out together, whatever comes!

When it comes to figuring it out and making it work, the family prize goes to Sean.  I've done a lot of traveling the last two months, leaving Sean at home with Walt and Hank.  I'm also pregnant enough that I've had to give up some basic Walt care things.  For example, Walter doesn't fit on my lap during bedtime story time anymore. Sometimes he sits next to me to read together, but more often he sits with Dada while I sit nearby.  Walt and his Dada have always been close, but that bond has definitely grown in significant ways since we weaned and started preparing for Sally's arrival.  A dear friend from the congregation said that, when her second child arrived, her first child and husband became inseparable. "From that time on, they were a pair," she said. For a Mama, there's a little wistfulness in that changing relationship, but mostly joy. So far, it doesn't seem like my relationship with Walt has suffered at all ... I think he has a big heart, which expands to include more love without diminishing his love for anyone else.  Walt takes after his dad in this way, and in many other ways.

Sean is doing pretty well, although he seems to have reached the "aaghgahaghahh falling apart" phase of the pregnancy.  We've decided that strange health problems for the dad are just part of the way we do pregnancy in this family.  He's OK, but tired.  With any luck, he'll get some good sleep next week while he's away for his yearly training for work. [*Edit*: Sean just called to tell me his training was cancelled. Figuring out if he can get to the one a week later, now.  Life is exciting.]  We hope for that every year, but the training usually isn't particularly restful, what with the stress of travel and the exhaustion that only sitting and listening to people talk for hours can bring. Last time Sean went for training while I was pregnant, this happened.  This time, we're prepared: Baba is coming to stay and help me take care of Walt and Hank while Sean is gone.  I'm not quite resilient enough to parent solo these days.

That said, I'm doing pretty well.  I really look pregnant these days, but I'm not as swollen and huge as I was at this stage with Walt. The heartburn is bad but usually not unbearable and I have some coping techniques that are working pretty well.  My favorite of these is the ice cream, prescribed by Dr. M.  "You need to increase your intake of carbs," he said, "Specifically ice cream." I didn't think it was going to work, but it did.  I started gaining weight, staying hydrated, getting hungry, sleeping better and I stopped throwing up.  Ice cream is awesome.   My energy improved with the ice cream diet, too, but I'm starting to slow down as we transition into trimester three.  I have good, productive days and I have days where I move slowly and not very well.  I get hazy and my words get mixed up, which is always exciting for a pastor and her congregation.  But my congregation is familiar and comfortable with my humanity, so it's OK. I'm trying to live for today and not worry too much about the further pregnancy-related debilitation to come, but if you know me you know that I'm not very good at that.  Still, I have been pretty successful, especially during my travels, at taking time to enjoy this pregnancy, to sit and do nothing but pay attention to Sally and her movements, to talk to her and give her a gentle in-belly hug and rub.

Sally seems to be doing very well indeed. She's becoming a good mover, especially at night around 10:30 or so. I love her bumps and rolls, her rhythmic tap tap tapping.  I think she may be musical, already.  Dr. M. and Nurse B. are pleased with her growth and her strong heartbeat.  After our 7 month appointment coming up (complete with glucose test ... blech) we'll be moving to appointments every two weeks, which is exciting and nerve-wracking and wonderful.  I'm looking forward to getting to hear her heartbeat more often and to transitioning into the imminent arrival part of pregnancy.  Of course, we have a lot to do to get ready for our Sally bug.  But, at this point, even that is more exciting than stressful.  I'm starting to imagine our growing family in a new way, in a way that feels more real and close.

I felt like I knew a lot about Walter when he was in the womb.  I got a sense of his personality right away: I just knew that he was strong, and boisterous, and big in every way. I don't have as strong a sense of that with Sally, or rather, I think I might, but I'm second guessing myself much more than I did with Walter.  I'm unsure in part because I don't want to just compare her to her brother, and I don't want to make assumptions about her because she's a girl.  But I think it's fair to say that Sally is very sensitive to her womb-environment in ways that seem remarkable to me: during our ultrasounds, she's been tense and jumpy when I'm tense and jumpy, and then she calms down as soon as I calm down.  I've noticed this with her movements, too. It makes me anxious about exposing her to my anxiety (which is self-defeating, clearly.) It also makes me curious to see if this will continue after she's born, and I'm excited to watch her grow and see how she interacts with the world around her.

We're doing well these days, we Edison-Albrights.  Our yard is unruly, but the bunnies prefer it that way.  And we enjoy every bunny that hops our way!


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