AnneTennies's blog

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6 weeks later

It’s hard to believe it’s been six weeks since I went into labor with Chloe. However, I can’t decide whether it seems like longer, or shorter than that. Fortunately the memories of that not-so-comfortable day faded pretty quickly. Practically immediately, in fact! But it seems strange that Chloe’s only been in our lives for such a short time, too. Joe and I were talking about that when we were still in the hospital, though, too.

Well, six weeks ago I had never held a newborn, changed a diaper, or done anything else with a baby other than held one for a little while (and handed him or her back to the appropriate parent at the first sign of distress!) Now I can change diapers in the dark and multi-task like nobody’s business. Yesterday I went out to lunch with the church ladies and they were impressed that I could nurse her and eat my lunch with chopsticks at the same time.

All in all it’s going well. We’re still learning, of course. She gets fussy a while each evening (either when I start to get supper ready or when I plate it… we’ve had a lot of really late, cold or multiply-reheated meals) but we’re getting better at finding ways to calm her down. I’m looking forward to teaching her some sign language so we can find out what she’s asking for more quickly. It has to be really frustrating for her. Even when I’m trying to talk to someone who speaks a different language, we can use gestures to get a message across. And frankly, I’m not that adept at deciphering her cries yet. But we’re working on it.

I’m also working on using nap-time for something more productive than watching her sleep. (Notice I said more productive rather than more fun or more important.) I’m still letting a lot of things slide (vacuuming? huh?), but I’m slowly getting a handle on things. And I’m getting better at doing stuff either while holding her or (more often) wearing her, Kinda makes me wonder what other new skills I’ll pick up…

Muscles I didn't know I had

Recovering from childbirth seems to be an evolving process. At first, I just had a few tender parts… but now I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus. Not only do I HAVE muscles in my neck, face, etc… apparently I’ve pulled them. All of them.

Fortunately, Chloe is a pretty good pain-killer. And awfully pretty, too. It’s amazing to watch her development — it seems like her coordination improves right before our eyes. She’s a little fussy, but I think that’s more because I’m not sure what I’m doing yet. But we’re learning together.

The disheartening thing is that the doc told me to avoid green beans and broccoli while I’m breastfeeding. Oh — and brussels sprouts. So either I ignore his advice, or I won’t get to enjoy much of the garden’s bounty this year. :( I might try to eat the stuff in moderation and hope it doesn’t bother her.

40 weeks and still waiting...

No baby yet. My due date is today (which is weird) and we still haven’t gotten everything done that we were planning to accomplish before Junior (or Junioretta) arrives. No, I haven’t finished packing my hospital bag (although I finally started!). No, the cradle isn’t set up yet (although Joe and I each made a sheet for the mattress — and Joe decided that he likes my new sewing machine :) and there isn’t a cleared area to set it up yet. No, I haven’t finished the baby quilt I’m working on (although I made a lot of progress today). I think most of me realizes that we’re never going to get to the point I’d like the house to be in, even if we had weeks to go. But part of me really hopes we get closer, at least!

On a different note, Joe and I went to Milio’s for lunch today, and as we were leaving, another expecting couple came in… the guy asked when we were due. I said “Today” and he said “We’re due tomorrow.” So we might see some vaguely familiar faces at the hospital. Small world.

Me and a Tree -- lots of growth

37 weeks and an apple tree

We planted this 4-in-1 apple tree a few weeks ago, and it’s really doing well. We’ve had to pluck blossoms off several branches already, so hopefully lots of energy will be going into the roots. Joe did a neat job digging the hole, and put most of the sod back on after planting. It really looks like it’s been there quite a while, except for the fact that it’s pretty small!

I, however, am not even slightly small. My standard answer to “how are you?” these days is “huge.” And even though I’ve been pretty big for a while now, I’m not very good at judging how much space I require, so I keep bumping into things. When I bumped into something with my belly BEFORE I was pregnant, I barely noticed, since I was pretty squishy. Now, there’s no give at all, so even a minor bump hurts. The first time I particularly noticed this phenomenon was during a volunteer cashiering shift at the thrift shop. If you’ve ever cashiered, you’ve probably had a cash drawer open up and whack you in the belly. It normally doesn’t hurt, though. And I know I’ve almost knocked Joe over by bumping into him from behind when he stops suddenly. I tell you, pregnant bellies are SOLID. Weird stuff.

As of this week, though, I’m officially full-term. So, since my doctor doesn’t like to let his patients go past 41 weeks, it means I’m going to have this baby sometime in the next month. Maybe that’s why I was awake at 4am and thinking about all the things I should get done soon (packing a hospital bag, installing the car-seat (or at least the base), pre-washing the diapers, cleaning our bedroom so there’s room to set up the cradle…) Even with all the planning and preparation, the whole thing is still a little bit surreal.

Diaper Practice

Happily diapered monkey

We ordered (and received) our cloth diapers last week… prefolds, wipes and snappis from and prorap covers from (If you happen to be in the market, dy-dee’s prices are the lowest I could find (on anything they carry) but they charge for shipping, and nickisdiapers is free shipping on anything over 75, or on covers. And they have a lot larger inventory. She just opened a retail store in New Glarus, so I might have to check that out sometime.)

Anyway, we decided to try them out. As you can see, we successfully diapered one of Joe’s stuffed monkeys. We had a little trouble working around the tail, but my dad tells me that might not be an issue with our baby.

The diapers were (I think) the last really urgent thing we needed before Jr arrives. I’m sure there are oodles of things we’re missing that we don’t realize we needed, but between me and diapers, I think the most major newborn necessities are covered.

Merry Christmas to Us!

Ice Cream in our freezer

My parents bought us a chest freezer for Christmas, and it’s been in our garage for months now, waiting for the right occasion to carry it down to the basement. Well, yesterday had the right components (a nice dry day and another guy to help Joe move it!) So of course we had to christen it. How do you christen a freezer? If you know my family, this should be a ‘duh’.

The interesting thing was trying to decide what ice cream to buy. My original goal was just the largest quantity I could find, such that they wouldn’t fit in the side-by-side… but since I didn’t see a Schwann’s truck on the way to the grocery store, I had to settle with 5qt pails. I’m still confused why the Blue Bunny was priced so much higher than Dean’s or Schoep’s, even on sale. I was even MORE confused when I noticed that it’s a smaller bucket — only 1gal, 1pt. Go figure. It was certainly tasty, but I wouldn’t think it was any better than the other brands. Joe said I should have done a true comparison by getting all the same flavor but I thought that might be overkill. :)

So thanks, Mom & Dad! The freezer works!

Wonderful Husband!

Anniversary Tulips

So last Sunday was our 6th wedding anniversary, and Joe surprised me Friday night with a big bouquet of tulips! I divided them into several arrangements, so I can enjoy them all over the house. Thank you, honey!

(Update: I’ve been enjoying them now for almost a week, and they’re opening beautifully.)

Happy Pi Day!

I went to a Pi day party this evening. (March 14 = 3.14) We watched the movie Pi (I’m unimpressed, but it’s still probably better than Duplex) and dined on pizza pie, pumpkin pie, and blueberry pie. (Much more impressive!)

For anyone who feels like boning up on their number theory, go here.

Frankly, I think my dorkiness has channeled into a less mathy direction these days. So I’m going to talk to Sumomo and then veg out with a good mystery.

Cream Puff Dessert

I was flipping through a magazine last week and found a recipe for a Cream Puff Dessert. My parents came down for lunch today, so I decided to try it out. After all, it’s always good to have guinea pigs around for that sort of thing.

Anyway, the crust was cream puff pastry (boil 1 c water and 1/2 c butter, add 1 c flour and stir until you get a smooth ball, remove from heat, add 4 eggs, one at a time, stirring until smooth, spread on the bottom and sides of a greased 9×13 pan, and bake at 400 for half an hour) and after it was cooled, you were supposed to fill it (1 pkg cream cheese, 3.5 c cold milk and 2 pkg pudding — the recipe called for both to be chocolate, but I replaced one with vanilla), top it with a tub of whipped topping, drizzle it with caramel and chocolate ice cream toppings, and sprinkle it with sliced almonds.

I got as far as filling it, and then handed it over to my mom to finish while I dealt with some chicken. We left the finished dessert at room temperature for an hour or so until we were ready for dessert. The crust was very pretty and pretty tasty. I could see it being an attractive component of both sweet and savory dishes. The dessert as a whole was okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as the recipe made it sound. First, it was kind of gloppy. I think putting it in the freezer for an hour or two after assembly would help it set up better, but that might make the bottom crust a little soggy. Secondly, the filling wasn’t anything special. You couldn’t really taste the cream cheese, so it basically just seemed like pudding in a shell. We were comparing it to Joe’s chocolate pudding torte, and it just couldn’t stand up to the competition. For that, the cream cheese is combined with powdered sugar and a cup of whipped topping and spread on the crust as a cheesecake layer, and the pudding layer goes on top of that. I would consider trying to assemble the torte in the puffed crust, and drizzling it with the sundae toppings instead of the traditional chocolate curls, but I think the pretzel crust we usually use would probably beat it hands-down for flavor, even though it’s not as attractive.

We brought the leftover dessert to Becky and Josh’s house tonight for them to try, and they liked it quite a bit. So maybe it’s just that our standards are too high. But for desserts, high standards are good to have. It makes it easier to turn things down when you know they won’t make the cut!

San Diego Trip

Joe and I have been meaning to visit my brother Rob and his wife Andrea in San Diego since they moved out there three years ago, but we never quite found the time. Recently they started talking about maybe moving back to the Midwest this summer, so we knew our time was running out. The trick was to find a window between the end of morning sickness, and before I’m too pregnant to fly. (Every airline has its own policy… seems like they don’t like to land the plane for a passenger to deliver) Well, at my January appointment, my doc gave me the okay to travel, and I booked our flights that afternoon.

We were scheduled to fly out of Madison early Thursday morning, so we stayed with my parents Wednesday night. This meant we could sleep in until 4:30. When we left, our flight was listed as on time. When we got to the gate, it was delayed enough that we’d miss our connection in St Louis. AA taxied us to Memorial Union to catch the bus to O’Hare for a later flight. Fast forward to O’Hare, where our flight is delayed. And then delayed again. Then canceled. Joe started calling friends all over the country, checking where we might have a place to stay. The AA folks rescheduled us on a flight the following morning (which also ended up being canceled, btw) but we didn’t like that plan. We went to the main desk to see where we could get that evening. They couldn’t get us to San Diego, Seattle, Las Vegas, or back to Madison. They COULD get us to Orange County, which was only 75 miles north of San Diego. That flight was also delayed, but it got us to OC at 10:45, where Rob and Andrea were waiting for us. (note: if the plane had approached OC after 11pm, we would’ve been rerouted to LAX and bussed south to OC due to curfew violations. This is the one thing that DIDN’T go wrong) Our luggage, btw, was MIA until about 2am Saturday. Thank goodness I’m the one who packed our carry on bags!

So our San Diego vacation started when we woke up Friday rather than midmorning Thursday. We had unseasonably cool and wet weather (it rained about half the time we were there) but it wasn’t icy and 20 below, so we weren’t complaining! Unfortunately, Rob wasn’t feeling well, so we stayed low-key for the most part. It was nice just being away from day-to-day life and spending time with Rob, Andrea and their lovely cats. Friday we spent some time in La Jolla watching the seals laze on the beach, peering in tide-pools, and browsing through local shops. Saturday was a lovely day and we spent it at the zoo. I thought the pandas were particularly cute, but Joe was a bigger fan of the meercats and the firefoxes. We had an Italian feast for dinner at their church and enjoyed a concert from a wonderful pianist/singer; it was mostly musical theater or older songs like ‘Makin’ Whoopie.’ After church Sunday Rob grilled a lovely pollo asado (yes, I know it means roasted, but he grilled it) and we had some very good tacos. Afterwards, we had a leisurely afternoon playing darts, and Rob took us to Frye’s so Joe could get his fix. One last lazy morning talking and walking around the neighborhood (and thanks to Jr, it was a shorter walk than I otherwise would’ve enjoyed) and Rob took us to San Diego International for another traveling adventure.

I should mention that Mom called mid-morning to warn us that one of our flights (ORD-MSN) was already canceled. So we knew it was going to be another fun day. When we got to the airport, we talked with a very nice AA rep named Maria who bent over backwards to help us out. She booked us on a NW flight through Minneapolis, and it was only supposed to delay our return time to 11:15 or so (originally 10:30pm). So we went through security, and they didn’t notice that I was supposed to get the extra special security screening. (We ran into that on the way there, too. If your flight gets changed, the boarding passes look like you bought them at the last minute with cash, so we got thoroughly frisked and our bags inspected. They even swabbed the inside of each carry-on with something to get analyzed in a mass spectrometer. Fortunately, the security people (all three times we got inspected) were all very nice, and Baby didn’t get any extra radiation… just a few extra pats.) Anyway, in San Diego, I wasn’t targeted for the special screening, but while I was waiting for Joe, he mentioned it to his security folks, and they called me back to get searched. Apparently, if your boarding pass doesn’t get punched to indicate that you’ve been screened, they won’t let you on the plane. FYI.

So we wandered around the terminal looking for lunch, and discovered that San Diego airport food is ridiculously expensive. We saw a hot dog meal (included 1 hot dog, 1 soda, and an order of fries) for $9 or so. If you upgraded it to include 2 hot dogs, you were looking at over $11. We ended up splitting a personal size pizza and supplementing with granola bars and fruit leather courtesy of Rob and Andrea.
After all the hassles, it was really strange when the flight left on time with no problems. When we landed in Minneapolis, we knew we had over 3 hours to wait, and spent some time walking around the airport. Very nice airport, by the way… good place to have time to kill. We had a lovely dinner at TGI Fridays, and meandered back to our gate with plenty of time to spare. Particularly when the flight was delayed. And then delayed again! It was after 11 when our plane arrived, and after midnight when we got back into Madison. Late for us, later for my parents, who wake up much earlier than we do. But they were there to meet us, and our luggage made it safely back, too. Back to the house to stay another night, since we didn’t want to drive back home exhausted in the snow. It was a little weird, though. Sumomo was wide awake in the room where we slept, so he was making little hamstery noises, Makita (my parents’ cat) was meowing at the bedroom door hoping to get in, and Baby was wide awake and kicking me. It felt like a conspiracy to keep me awake. But when we got up, the snow had been plowed, and we were able to get back home without incident. Good times.

Lessons learned:
1. Bring more books than you think you’ll possibly need. I thought 2 would be plenty. I was wrong.
2. Bring more snacks than you think you’ll possibly need. I thought I was way overdoing it, but we polished off my stash.
3. When you get to a certain point in your pregnancy, turning sideways doesn’t make it easier for somebody to pass you in tight quarters. Airline aisles, for example.
4. When pregnant, clothes that fit when you pack them don’t necessarily still fit when you try to wear them a week later.

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