Thursday, January 31, 2013

Modern on Meadow remodel tour - week 8

We visited the house this week on a wet and gray day. The site was very muddy, but I'll take wet and mud over the cold from last week any day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Birthday Week

I must have blinked because this week Charlie has another birthday and he will be turning 4. 4! It does not seem possible. 

This weekend I spent some time thinking about the day he was born - how it changed my life forever, and how scary the day was. We had a tough go of it, Charlie and I, on the day he was born. Only the people in the delivery room that day know how very close we came to losing him. I didn't understand it at the time, I just knew things weren't going as planned. 

Reading back through my post from that day, it is mostly factual and doesn't really touch on the emotional ordeal we went through. I hadn't prepared myself for the complications, even though they tell you you should. Does anyone really allow themselves to think that something might go wrong? I think the fear would be paralyzing. 

The versions of the delivery that ran through my head were never that long, that intense, and certainly didn't end with my baby being whipped off to the NICU seconds after he was born. It took him a frighteningly long time to cry, his first apgar score was a 4. They held him up for me to have one quick glance and then a team of specialists took him away. 

It was after midnight (24 hours since we'd checked in to the hospital) when Ryan and I were dropped off in a quiet, cramped excuse for a room - without our new baby. After carrying Charlie for 9 months, I felt so incredibly empty and alone. A nurse came in to help me try to pump milk - I never imagined my first attempt at breastfeeding would be with a pump. Ryan and I cried together until we both passed out from complete exhaustion. 

We went to the NICU as soon as they would let us in the morning, but Charlie's poor little head was still so fragile that we couldn't hold him. We sat next to the incubator and watched him breathe and sleep, hooked up to so many wires and tubes. It wasn't until about 18 excruciatingly long hours after he was born that I held him for the first time. 

And then I wouldn't put him down. If I sat right next to the incubator, I could hold him while he was still hooked up to everything. I held him all day and the nurses said he seemed to be getting stronger by the minute. So I just kept holding him. I slept in the chair all night holding him. I could not put him down.

I didn't want to leave him in the NICU alone with strangers. I wanted more than anything to just take him home and never have to put him down again. I don't know how parents of preemies or babies in the NICU with much more severe problems get through it. There was a baby girl in the NICU next to Charlie and her very young mother went home for 3 days without visiting. I felt so incredibly sorry for that baby.

I wasn't able to keep holding Charlie. Although his head improved dramatically, he got pretty severe jaundice that required he stay in the incubator under lights. By then he was used to being held and just cried and cried alone in the incubator. Ryan and I would stand next to the incubator with our hands inside, holding onto him as best we could. It felt cruel and unfair. This went on for days. They moved us out of the NICU and let me stay in the hospital in an overflow on-call room - it was not an enjoyable stay. They finally sent us home after 5 days, only to go back the next day after a really high bilirubin test by a home health nurse. Oh how I hated going back. 

As painful as it was, we had our happy ending. Our stint in the NICU was short by most standards, and Charlie was the strongest, healthiest baby in the place. My biggest fears in life have always been 1) that I would never get to experience having children, and 2) that something would go wrong during pregnancy/childbirth. I've lived out my second greatest fear, and survived it. 

I wonder if that first week of Charlie's life, spent in a hospital and confined to an incubator, made a lasting impact. Would he have been a cuddly baby if not for this experience? Would he have been so indifferent about breastfeeding if he hadn't been fed through a tube for 5 days? (The lactation consultant in the NICU was a godsend. Without her, we wouldn't have had a prayer at breastfeeding. She would insist the nurses let me try to feed Charlie before giving him anything through the tube. It was her life passion to give NICU babies the opportunity to breastfeed whenever possible. She was amazing). 

Knowing Charlie like I do now, I shouldn't have worried so much at the time. He is incredibly physical and strong - a fighter through and through. I am so grateful that he is all these things. So grateful that he is mine and he is perfect.

He has his father's unmussable (is that a word?) hair, and my eyes. He runs fast and never stops talking. He may not be my snuggly child - but he's figured out that a hug and kiss will always make mom happy. He likes routine and can be a bit grumpy when we change things up on him (I have no idea where he gets that trait!) He still likes to be picked up and he will hold my hand when I offer it. I try to honor his requests to sit on my lap and to play with him in his room, because I know that someday, much sooner than I would like, he won't make those requests.

As he approaches 4, I can see that his face is longer, his body leaner - more like a little boy's face and body than a toddler's. This Spring he will play on his first soccer team, a year from now we'll be enrolling for kindergarten. It all goes way. too. fast.

But I think I'm going to like 4. Three was a bit tough and we had many, many frustrating moments - that same strong will that brought Charlie into this world can make for some epic battles. These days he really likes to be helpful around the house and he responds well to bribery (finally!). He is becoming very patient with Izzy and lives to make her laugh. His thoughts, words, and actions continue to surprise and amaze me.

As the first born, Charlie is our test case and we are learning as much parenting him as he is by growing up. I just hope we stay one step ahead of him - not easy to do at his pace.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Modern on Meadow (frigid!) remodel tour - week 7

I love our weekly house tours. I look forward to them and they are the highlight of my week. But this week, I wanted to be in and out and done. We toured the house when it was 18 degrees and I could not warm up for the rest of the day. Amazingly, they were putting the new roof on the house even in the bitter cold. It was a day I was glad to have my office job.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weekend in Pictures

What a crazy weekend of warm and cold weather. It must be January. Friday evening was warm(er) and we walked a couple blocks from our loft to Pizza Bella. I highly recommend the Egg pizza, and the Brussels sprouts. Yum. The walk home was into the wind and a bit chilly, so Charlie bundled up...

Hey Spidey! Can you see anything at all?

Saturday afternoon was a dream. We made our first trip to the park in ages. Oh how I miss the mindless and effortless entertainment of a park during these long winter months!

Also a perfect day for a tour of the new house. Charlie and Izzy seemed thrilled with their new bedrooms. We invented a game of 'kick the duct tape' while Ryan gave a tour to a couple friends.

Saturday night was a kid-free evening out with friends. Yes (anytime) Please. And Thank You. We ended up doing a sort of Westport pub crawl (remember Westport friends? It still exists and it was jam packed Saturday night). In case you want to experience it a new, we hit Port Fonda for drinks, Westport Cafe and Bar for dinner, and McCoy's for after dinner drinks (it was the only bar that appeared to have an average age above 22, but even that was a stretch).

Sunday afternoon brought a birthday skating party for two of our cousins. What fun!

It was a first both C & Iz, and felt like a first for Ryan and I. I can't even count how many years it's been. But this 80s girl has still got it. Aw yeah.

And then Monday - a holiday and no school for kids, and no work for Mom. It was a very cold day so we hunkered down inside and got creative with our indoor games. Charlie's new fave is 'hockey'. A game he invented using a plastic tube (from??) and smashing it against a small plastic football. I showed him a couple YouTube videos of some hockey, and he agreed that "Yes, Mom. It is hockey." And we promptly had to find helmets, masks, gloves and skates to wear. So, hockey or hit man, whatever you call it, we have our own set of rules and this game rocks. Note: this type of imaginative play takes a lot of effort and running around on my part to comply with all the game rules. See remark above about parks. Parks are my fave.

January is a tough month. The holiday lustre is gone, Winter is still here in full force, and Spring feels a light year away. But I know our time in our loft and downtown is limited. I will blink and we will be in our new house (Joy!). Even though we're anxious to be in our house, we are having fun in our current displacement digs. I plan to write more about that in the near future.
In the meantime, I hope more park dates are in your futures and mine very soon!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Modern on Meadow remodel tour - week 6

It's been another big week for our remodel, which was named last week and is now lovingly referred to as Modern on Meadow. In just a couple weeks we went from this....

Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy, sunny Friday in January

Happy Friday! It is a beautiful 60 degree day in January. A day like this in January is always something to shout about, but especially when you are in the middle of a construction project in need of some warm temps. A little good luck going our way, hooray!

Lots of flu going around, pretty scary. I hope those I know and love (and live with!) manage to avoid this fate. Maybe thinking healthy thoughts will help all of us stay healthy. I've included a link here to a video about how to think differently about the food we eat every day. The message is we need to care about our food, think about what it is doing for our bodies, and learn to appreciate it for the gift healthy food can be. I especially like this message because it is delivered by my very talented aunt, Cynthia Lair. Her TEDX talk was recently highlighted on the Huffington Post. Go Cynthia!

Have a happy and healthy weekend!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What's in a name? Remodel tour - week 5

This is an exciting week in our remodel process. We have the beginnings of our new second floor and our house has a name! A name? Yes, a name. See, it's kind of a big deal (our little home will be joining this lofty list!) and something I've been wondering about since we bought the house and signed on to work with our architects. All of their houses have names, special names that define the house and the design (check out Modern w/ Ranch - the house that first drew us to Hufft, Postcard House, and the Porch House, which was recently on the cover of Dwell). They told us that they like to see the house start to take shape in the first couple weeks of construction before they finally give a house its name. It's akin to waiting until your child is born to see if the name fits. Are you ready for it? Are you? (Need to know detail, our street is Meadow Lane). Our house is now and forever more to be called...wait for it...

Friday, January 4, 2013

We're going up!

Happy Friday! I got my wish and the snow is gone, and they are getting ready to go up with our new upstairs addition. So exciting!

Lots of buzz in the news this week about a JAMA article that said overweight individuals live longer than normal weight individuals. Before you get all excited and ditch your exercise routine so soon in the New Year, read this.
Last night when I pulled up to daycare to pick up the kids, I found the street in front of the center blocked by 10 police cars, lights blazing. Police tape surrounded the nearby intersection and went all the way up to the front sidewalk of the daycare entrance. My heart stopped in my chest. We had received an email earlier from the school warning us about the police cars and that there was a traffic incident not involving the school, so I had at least some preparation for all the commotion.
The traffic incident quickly morphed into a shooting, with a police officer shooting a man dead in the street. This all happened within direct sight line of the windows to the daycare, a mere 30 ft away. Way too close to home, especially in light of the school shootings only a few weeks ago. I walked into the building to find a lot of parents milling around asking questions. The kids were unfazed as the teachers closed the blinds on the windows and they didn't know anything out of the ordinary was going on. They were surprised and excited to see the lights of the police cars on the way out. The whole scene stopped my heart from beating a few times, and I felt sick to my stomach driving home.
I hugged the kids extra tight when we got home and we went about our evening. By bath time I was upset with them for splashing in the bath and covering the bathroom floor with water. But I spent more time putting each of them to bed last night - rocked Izzy until she fell asleep in my arms, and listened to Charlie chatter on about his day until his words came slower and fewer. The scene at the school was a reminder of how unpredictable life is, and how precious and finite our time is with those we love.
Although our daycare is on the fringe of what is considered a rough part of the city, these things can happen anywhere - as the Connecticut shootings proved. I can't wrap my kids in a bubble or keep them home every day to be safe. But I can love them bigger and better, hug them tighter and more often.
Hugs and kisses are the only thing on our agenda for the weekend. XOXO! 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Remodel tour - weeks 3 & 4

Remodeling in the dead of Winter has its challenges. Turns out that a roof full of snow makes it pretty impossible to tear off the roof and go up with the framing for a second story. And as the house is essentially open to the outside at the level of the roof, it makes for a very cold work environment. Brrr! Not to mention the ground is frozen, making it difficult to get started on new deck columns or any other exterior work. Of course we knew this was going to be the case when we missed our November 1 start date and began in early December instead. But this is Kansas, and there are warm days in December. But not many in January...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Craving kale

I need a post-holiday detox. Too much sugar and heavy, fatty foods and too little exercise over the past few weeks. Ugh. I just want healthy, fresh and light - my poor, abused body is craving greens. I made this salad a few weeks ago and it is my new favorite. I modified a kale recipe from O magazine, added quinoa (I used red quinoa) and came up with this easy and satisfying salad.

If you've never tried a kale salad, you are in for a treat. Massaging the kale with a little salt and oil is all it needs to soften up and be salad ready. Izzy loved this salad. Just go light on the red pepper and let the kids get their green fix, too!

Kale and Quinoa Health Fix

1 pound kale, stemmed and thinly sliced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp olive oil
8-10 large Brussels sprouts, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 cup quinoa, cooked
Crushed red pepper flakes
Juice from half a lemon

1. In a large bowl, toss kale with salt and 1 tsp olive oil and rub into kale to soften. Add Brussels sprouts and quinoa and toss well.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Pour dressing over greens. Squeeze juice of fresh lemon over greens to taste. Garnish with a pinch of red pepper flakes and serve.