Wednesday, November 30, 2011

dogs and babies

This post was not in the plans for today, but Bennett is on a nap strike, whimpers and whines unless he is right next to me on the couch.  I think (hope) if I sit here long enough he will sleep.  I want to clean the house because we are having a bundle of people over Saturday for a cookie decorating party, but Bennett needs me to help him sleep.

So, Isabel.

I love her sweet puppy self, but she makes life difficult.  Some days I think I will lose my mind if she barks and wakes Bennett one more time.  Poor dear gets shouted at far more than she is used to, and she gets less walks too.  I had no idea it would be so difficult to manage a dog and a baby.  I feel like I have a toddler who can't communicate, but always wants my attention, as well as a newborn (can I still call Bennett a newborn, or are we past that stage?).

If Isabel was better on the leash I could walk her when I head out with Bennett.  When we adopted her from the humane society her intake papers said, "likes cats, loves children, good on walks, knows how to heel."  Lies, every single one.  Children scare her, she tries to kill cats, and when she is on leash she pulls and tugs like mad.

She is a smart dog, I am certain we could train her to heel, but we've been too lazy.

Now that we have a live tree in the house life is even more complicated. Isabel likes to lie under the tree, which makes needles go every which way, and they end up all over the house because she gets them in her fur and then walks around.

I like real Christmas trees.  I love real Christmas trees.  Why do I always forget how much of a nightmare a real Christmas tree is?

At this very moment there is plenty of room for Isabel to curl up on her bed next to the tree, but she is half under the tree instead, whining.

I just read over this post and laughed - quietly - Bennett just drifted off.  How blessed am I that this is what I have to complain about?

! Isabel is now scooting even further under the tree and attempting to eat the branches, or maybe she is licking the extension cord ... now I have to stop her without waking Bennett.

There will be nineteen people in this here house come Saturday. Thank goodness I have friends who love me even if I have evergreen needles all over the house and a dog who will not stay off the tree skirt. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

He rolls!

I put Bennett down on his tummy this morning, stepped out of the room, heard him fussing, so rushed back in and found a confused baby on his back!  He was quite upset by the whole thing, and of course won't do it again so I can capture a video.

Yesterday I read a fabulous bit about baby milestones and how useless they really are, but as soon as Bennett rolled I wanted to hop on Google and find out if my baby was rolling early, which would make him a genius, of course.

I'm just so proud of him.  I feel like he's the first baby who has ever discovered how to do this.  Silly, I know.

Babies are fascinating!  I wonder if he will roll again soon or if he will take a break for a while.

Before I start laundry a random question for you smart people: Bennett likes to hold onto something when he is falling asleep, a blanket, my hand, my shirt.  When is it safe to leave him alone with a blanket or lovie?

Monday, November 28, 2011


While reading through a parenting book this weekend - toxic stuff, I tell ya - I realized I have very little confidence as a parent.  I constantly think I'm doing something - everything - wrong.  Honestly, I expect someone, some parenting deity, to swoop down and take Bennett away if I don't do exactly right.  And I think it may tie in to losing Charlotte, to feeling like I did something wrong with her.  Every time I think I put those feelings behind me stuff comes up - you know stuff - and it makes the doubt come back.  And it comes back stronger because it's fueled by so much hate.

I should NOT be sitting here typing this.  I should be readying Bennett and I to head out to get my hair cut, but I would rather sit here and be sad, soak in missing her.  I haven't had much chance to do that since Bennett arrived, and while I think that is a good, healthy thing, I miss the wallowing a bit.

The holidays are full of such joy this year, but there's a fair amount of sorrow too.  I feel like I'm waiting to see which one is heavier, how the scales will tip, if the happiness of Bennett's first Christmas can outweigh the sorrow of a second Christmas without Charlotte.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Calm Your Crazy: Picture Update

The holidays are upon us!  I know this because we've had three Thanksgivings and I'm exhausted and yesterday morning J looked at me over a mound of peeled potatoes and said, "Angela, calm your crazy."  There will be much, much more of that kind of talk around here as Christmas approaches.

Bennett has a lot of cousins!  They are all fascinated with him.

Grandpa can put any baby to sleep, whether you want them to sleep or not.

My sister's daughter outgrew this toy so she is letting us borrow it.  Bennett LOVES it.  When he kicks the blue piece the things above his belly spin - very technical description, I know.

Mama, it's spinning!!

We bought our tree this morning!  We found a great tree farm that allows dogs and with our Groupon it was only $15.00 for our tree (normally $25.00, I love the Northwest).

I like the saw in this picture. 

Isabel ran and ran and ran and ran and jumped in the creek and ran and ran and jumped in the creek ...

J chopped the tree down, dragged it out, and then we realized we didn't have any cash so I walked the farm with a sleeping baby while Isabel did some more running and jumping in the creek.  I felt like a pioneer woman from a Willa Cather novel wandering the plains, except there was a bonfire and cider if I got cold. 

We have a tree!  Now we need to decorate it.

Here's a few random pictures of the boy from the past week.

It is getting difficult to take pictures of him, he is always on the move.

We have been running here, there and everywhere.  Bennett is exhausted.  He slept in his crib last night (!!) from 8:45 pm -1:00 am.  It was astonishing, unexpected.  And I managed to keep the checking to a semi-normal level, although I was panicking inside.  I appreciate all of the comments on the sleep post, by the way.  We are slowly figuring things out - although as soon as I think that Bennett goes and changes his mind on when, how, where he is going to sleep.  

I'm cranky, REALLY cranky, so I should go consume a bit of chocolate or curl up with a book or go to bed so J and Bennett will continue wanting to live with me. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Two Minutes

I have two minutes before I need to feed and dress B and scoot out the door. I didn't realize I would be sad today, that the tears would hover close to the surface.  Our second Thanksgiving without her, our second Christmas just around the corner.

deep breaths,

deep breaths,

deep breaths.

My heart is with everyone who is missing someone at their table tonight.  And for those with fresh grief, my heart aches for you.  That first year cuts deeper than one can imagine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I only have a few minutes, but must ask, how does your baby sleep?  I am going out of my head trying to get Bennett to sleep without being held.  He sleeps wonderfully as long as I am holding him or sleeping next to him, but if I try to put him down he wakes up and cries.  I won't - or maybe it's can't - let him cry it out so when he fusses I either pull him into bed with me or pick him up and begin the process all over again.

All day every day we play, he nurses, he falls asleep in arms, I gingerly set him down, he wakes, I pick him up, he falls asleep, I sit with him until he wakes to play or nurse ... At night it take TWO to THREE hours to get him down.  He doesn't cry, thank goodness, but he fights sleep like it's the devil itself.

I am shaking my fist at Weissbluth and Sears and all other sleep books.  I'm frustrated, but not tired, because he does sleep well at night as soon as I cave and pull him into bed with me.  J insists he doesn't like the co-sleeper, but he doesn't seem to like his crib either.  Yesterday was a good day.  He napped in his crib in the afternoon, on our bed in the morning.  So there's hope.  I'm just tired of spending all of my time putting him to sleep or holding him while he sleeps.

Perhaps I'm not following the best schedule for him?  I would love to put him down when he is drowsy, let him self soothe, but that doesn't work AT ALL. Does that ever work??

Sometimes when I lay him down he does fine until his pacifier falls out, but he won't fall asleep without the pacifier.  So of course I am wondering if we landed ourselves in a real mess by giving him a pacifier in the first place.  He receives such comfort from it though, and goes to sleep quickly when we give it to him.

I am doubting myself for so many reasons.  Sometimes I just don't get this parenting thing.  I have friends who scoop their sleepy babies up, pop them in their crib, and BAM the babe is out.  Even if Bennett is fully asleep he rarely stays asleep when put down.

I know he is young and I should enjoy him because he will only be this young once, but it would be nice to have a moment to clean the house, fetch lunch, start dinner.

Tell me it's just a phase.  Please.  I've been telling myself that for six weeks now, but hearing it from another party might help.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Give Thanks

I am not going to have time to write this later in the week.  I have twenty pounds of potatoes with my name on them.  Send help please, that is a whole lot of peeling.

I think it's a little silly that we celebrate the harvest with pumpkin pie and turkey, but I love that Thanksgiving is a family holiday wherein we appreciate all we have been given.

And we have received so many blessings this year.

I am thankful for the usual - the house, J's job, food, clothing, family, friends, a loving Savior - but this year I have BIG things to be thankful for: kind caregivers who walked through a very difficult pregnancy with me, new friends (and old) who really, really get me and my particular brand of crazy (these friends are like family and I've learned that such friendships should be cultivated and cherished), a family who patiently waited for me to work through my grief.

And then there's Bennett's birth, a terrifying and amazing moment that produced one wonderful baby.

He still gets hiccups all the time.  J calls them the Bennetts. 

I am also thankful for this blog, which gives me an outlet, a place to share all about our little lives in this soaking valley in Oregon.

I must give special mention to my mama this year.  When Bennett was born she knew I didn't want anyone at the hospital, but she said she would stay at a nearby hotel to preserve her own sanity.  Two minutes after Bennett was born I asked for my mom.  Ten minutes later she was running through the hospital to the labor and delivery ward.

On Sunday my mom showed up to see Bennett dedicated at both services.  J and I smiled, silly Grandma anxious to see every moment, but then we needed her.  We loaded her up with baby paraphernalia and our jackets while Bennett was dedicated in the first service.

Yesterday she helped me grocery shop because J is so busy at work this week he can't spare a moment.  She has stayed over every Thursday night so I can have a break, get some sleep.  I could mention hundreds of other moments when she helped me, but I will spare you that.  I would be less of a parent without her, that is for sure. 

And of course there is J.  We have been through a lot in five years, but we are still standing strong.  He is watching Bennett tonight so I can go see Breaking Dawn with friends.  It will be terrible, yes?

Happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers (and you Canadians too, I think you celebrate it, only earlier).

Whether you celebrate or not, what are you thankful for?

Monday, November 21, 2011


Okay ... So ...  I'm here.  Bennett was dedicated yesterday and I want to share pictures, so here I am.  You all have flooded me with comments, emails, and love.  Thank you.

Bennett did not poop for four (!) days so he was required to stay in diaper only until just before church.  He pooped a ton in the morning, made it through the dedication at the end of first service, pooped, was a stinky sleepy boy for the dedication at the end of second service. I am so glad I learned just this week that onesies are designed to go down as opposed to over the head for incidences such as these. My mom has eight grandchildren, she said it's the most amazing blow out she has ever seen. 

Hanging with his block while J and I finished readying ourselves. 

I bought these sweet booties from Etsy.  I bought a brown pair with red piping too.

I was so excited I went a little crazy with the pictures. 

We were in the center at the end of second service so it's hard to see us.

Pastor praying over Bennett.  Sweet boy did so well, he chewed his fist throughout the first dedication, slept through the second.  The pastor mentioned his sweet disposition while praying over him.

After the dedication the congregation is invited to bless the parents and babies.  First service tends to be older folk, we got swarmed.  Second service was a lot calmer, we were able to get a good family picture.

We went out to lunch after.  Bennett received presents!  I had no idea that would happen, we should have invited more people. (I'm kidding).

Cousin love while Grandpa looks on. 

We had our first Thanksgiving, a pre-Thanksgiving, with friends on Saturday.  It was SO much fun.  I can't wait for Thanksgiving two and three on Thursday and Friday.  I am thankful for a bundle of things this year, but top of the list is definitely this guy:

Hanging out while J makes pies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I'm quitting.  I wanted to blog every day, thought it would be good for my creative brain but this is not the month for it.  I'm hurting, really hurting.  My pride is bruised.  I don't like being called foolish, brainwashed, manipulated. Last night I said to J, "The Bible says 'love thine enemies,' but it should say 'love thine enemies even when they call you stupid.'"  I need that codicil.  I don't feel much compassion right now, even though I know the comments and negativity come from a place of deep emotional pain.

I ache for my midwife.  She hurts for me.  I want people to understand our relationship, the friendships she builds with her clients, but I can't because hearts and minds are closed.  I need to stop beating my head against the proverbial wall.

I feel guilty and ashamed for sharing Charlotte's story.  I know this blog has helped others, and it's been a large component of my healing, but now it's causing pain.  I never wanted that.

I snapped at J last night because I am sad and hurt.  That's not okay.

B needs me.

And J needs me.

Happy, confident, calm, not angry or bitter.

This morning I never want to blog again.  I know this feeling will pass.  I'm just really, really hurt.

I need to sit with my grief, find forgiveness, rediscover peace.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What We're Reading Now

These are trying times.  I want to hide, pretend I've never heard the word midwife, but that would be unfair, unkind.  Thank you for helping me be brave in the face of all that is happening.

I want to talk, write, think about something happy so here's an update on what we're reading.


The boy goes crazy when I put books in his lap. 

Bennett likes this book because it has slide out pages.  Recently he's learned how to track movement like that with his eyes.  I like it because it's large, with simple illustrations, and a few odd animals such as the xenops, which is a bird that belongs in the ovenbird family.  Thanks Wikipedia. 

This is our number one book right now.  Bennett loves the illustrations.  They're high contrast which makes it easier for him to see them.  I love Nikki McClure, I have a few of her prints around the house.  She's a Northwest artist, lives up in Olympia, Washington.  She takes a single piece of paper and an X-acto knife and creates these incredible works of art.  McClure worked on this book while her son was napping.  She purposely left it unfinished. 

This book is a fun one.  I love the illustrations, they are simple, but incredible.  Barroux is a well known artist and book illustrator.  I bought the book because his name is attached, but fell in love with the concept.  Each page features a pet, and then flips open to reveal an extraordinary pet.  For example: "A dog needs a raincoat BUT ... a frog is waterproof!"  I laugh out loud when I read this one to Bennett.


I always have two or three books going at the same time.  My 'to read' pile is staggering, I'm afraid it's going to take over the house soon.  And then I go to the library and check out books, which means the 'to read' pile has to wait a bit longer.

I love chick lit.  Hate the category, but love the books within.  I've always been a bit ashamed of my chick lit. love.  I have a degree in literature, I should be reading Chaucer, not Bridget Jones Diary.  I'm four chapters into this one and I don't know if I will go much further. 

The Grief of Others requires lots of deep breathing and many breaks to collect myself.  It's a fictionalized account of a family who loses their third baby when he is born with anencephaly.  I'm struggling with this book.  It's well written, the story is good, but I cannot relate to the mother AT ALL.  In fact, she makes me a little crazy.

I love Elin Hilderbrand.  I read all of her books when I was pregnant with Bennett.  When I saw a new one at the library last week I squealed with (quiet) joy.  Hilderbrand's novels are all set on Nantucket and they are all, every last one of them, big fat beach reads.  Silver Girl is about a woman whose husband fleeced a whole lot of people in a Ponzi scheme, a la Bernie Madoff.  She escapes to Nantucket with her formally estranged best friend while she waits to find out if she will be sentenced as well.  There is vandalism, slashed tires, photographs taken from afar, and a little bit of romance.  Silver Girl clocks in at a whopping 405 pages.  I started it yesterday, I'll probably finish it today.  Hilderbrand's books are so compelling. 

Here's a couple more pictures of Bennett reading to brighten your day. 

Monday, November 14, 2011


This will be a general update post with lots of pictures but I need to say something else first.  My story and my midwife have been dragged even further into the anti-midwife mess.  When I noticed my stats rising steadily today (over 100 new visitors, usual is 30-40, well over 600 page views, 350-400 is typical) I sought out the source.  Another site has linked her birth story, nasty things are being said.  My heart is hurting, I am so sad, so much grief is rising to the surface.

Her rose is still blooming.  I would like to believe she wants me to know she's near during this difficult time.


What can I say?  What can I do?  Do I fight back?  Do I stay quiet?  Do I let these people say horrible things about me, my baby, my midwife?  Please pray I find peace with this, and that the Lord will give me the strength and wisdom to ignore these people.  And please tell me you love me, or at least like me, because I could really use it today.

Enough of that mess, how about a long update with lots of pictures?

The fridge is on the blink.  Of course we didn't notice until it was too late to save anything that wasn't frozen.  We've been without since Saturday, won't have the necessary part until Tuesday afternoon.  Repair guy on a Sunday plus part plus instillation on Tuesday has me shuddering.  This fridge has been nothing but trouble from the start.  J purchased it used this summer, didn't measure it, almost couldn't fit the thing through the doorways in our little house - at one point I heard him speaking with his friend on the phone.  While he scratched his brow and said, "No, I don't think there are any windows I wish to remove," I made frantic slashing motions across my throat.  I was planning a big market shop on Sunday afternoon so we are very low on food.  Toast has been the main course around here, and sandwiches, but only peanut butter toast or sandwiches because we have no cheese or meat.

Hoping to get a bite of my toast.  Isabel loves peanut butter.

We've been to church twice.  Bennett snored through his first service, happy as could be.  This week the music was rather rollicking and he cried a bit in terror. I wear him in a sling so was able to calm him back to sleep quickly.  Next week is his dedication.  I've always been sad that Charlotte wasn't dedicated so I am looking forward to it.
On our way to church. 

A few recent pictures:

Sleepy baby, mama kisses.
Am I the only one who takes pictures at night when I'm bored and afraid if I move too much the babe will wake?

Before nursing.

After nursing.  Look at those cheeks!  

We have a fire going most days now that the weather has turned.

J's car needs new brakes so Bennett and I took him to work this morning.  New brakes plus fridge issues plus hospital bills come due plus the holidays equals buckets of thankfulness for J's job.

Why are we awake?  Why do you keep putting me in this bear thing?

Is she coming too?  I don't understand what's happening.

After we dropped J off at work we met up with my sister and her little ones at the outlet stores. 

Why do you keep dressing me in clothes with ears?

 Two very exciting things happened while there: 

1. I found my holiday outfit!!  

I need to pause for a moment here and thank the wonderful people of Ann Taylor Loft for being patient, bringing me stacks of clothes, letting us take over their dressing rooms, mixing a bottle for my niece, and helping me find an outfit I'm comfortable with.

I even bought a sparkly headband - can you believe it?

2. The Gap and I are back on!  Bennett is excited about this.  I think.

I found wide leg trouser jeans on sale for $25.00!!  I need a friend to hem them for me, but I LOVE how they fit.

A friend posted a picture of her baby's ear on the book.  Within the larger part of the ear a heart was easily seen.  I looked down at Bennett the next time I was nursing and saw he had a heart shape in the smaller part of his ear.  It was hard to get a picture - can you see it?  

Do all babies have hearts in their ears?


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