Tuesday, January 29, 2013

lots of changes, max

10 points if you guess the source of the quote in the title line.

So remember that time when I said I was going to be unemployed come the new year? Yeah, well, that wasn't exactly true.

My big plan was to work 2-3 days a week with Chad, building, and give a few massages a week as I build my business, but then this whole pregnancy thing came along and I had to figure out what to do about a means of income while I'm in my "delicate" condition.

Last time, I had a perfect situation - the French teacher at the school was pregnant with her first, due in March, and I took over for her during her maternity leave...
wait...this sounds awfully familiar.
Could it be because this time, the French teacher at the school was pregnant (until yesterday - welcome, Brady!!), and now I'm covering for her again while she's on maternity leave?  Yes, that could be it.

It's bittersweet, this transition. I've been full time at the school now for five days and have been having a grand old time teaching French to K-12 students. It's definitely a lot easier this time - I know what to expect, I know most of the students' names, and it's the same time of year that I taught last time, so all the projects, exams, and general class content is the same.

The only difference is that I've been a most-of-the-time stay at home mom for the last 18 months. I've had a a few jobs that took me out of the house for a couple of days a week, but overall they were very flexible and this is certainly the first time I've been away from Finn full-time.

I have a whole new respect for moms (and dads!) who work full-time. There is SO MUCH TO DO in the limited amount of time available. I've found myself laying out outfits the night before, getting the coffee and breakfast prepped, and boy, I've been using my crock pot. Then there's laundry, dishes, general clean up, and of course, spending as much quality time as possible with the kiddo in the midst of trying to get it all done. How, in the name of all that is holy, any single parent does this on his or her own, I have no idea (Mom, you are a super hero). It no longer surprises me that fast food and convenience meals are so pervasive in our society - there's just not enough time for everything.

I'll just get back down off my soapbox now and get back to my own experience. Overall, I think we've come up with some strategies that work - a food plan, for sure, and doing as much ahead of time as possible. I try to do the dishes right after any given meal so they don't pile up by the end of the day, and get lunches and bags packed the evening before so there's as little rushing around as possible. It's tight, but it's temporary, and for that I'm grateful. I'm grateful for the opportunity to make money doing something I like that is appropriate for my "condition", for a limited amount of time, and that I get to look forward to spending the last two months of my pregnancy hanging out with the coolest little boy I know (and hopefully giving some massages).

The best part of this teaching thing? We get to start the day playing volleyball. So. Fun. Even though I got smacked in the face with it this morning. Still so fun.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I was a bit absent during the holidays, so I wasn't able to update you on Finn's hilarious new talent that he displayed in the middle of the Christmas Eve service at school.

Aside: Yes, we are THOSE people who attend church on Christmas Eve specifically for the carols. Until I figure out a way to rectify my Roman Catholic upbringing with our non-existent spiritual activities now, that's what works for me. There is something very appealing about those carols and that fellowship, but church as an institution just doesn't work for me right now based upon political and personal views that clash with those of the church. Just sayin'.

So we're sitting in the pew in front of some totally delightful people we know who I was pretty sure weren't going to get upset if Finn was slightly distracting...which, it turns out, he was.

Throughout the course of the mass, Finn was very social. He repeatedly said "hi" to everyone within (and some without) earshot, tried valiantly to single-handedly demolish every bible and song book within reach. He walked up and down the pew we were sitting in, sneakily pilfering toys from neighboring children. He wanted to get up, down, up, down, up and down about every 3.5 seconds and removed about half of the tissues from the box sitting near us.

But, somehow, he was an angel during the music - whenever the organ was playing and we were singing, he was silent, trying to figure out what was going on, perhaps, or maybe just enjoying himself. Either way, he was delightful during "Joy to the World", "Silent Night", and all the rest.

The fun started when the priest started his sermon. By that point, we'd been at the church for over half an hour, crammed into a pew with very little to keep him interested that wasn't going to also get him in trouble. Finn was getting antsy. I'm also pretty sure he was raring for another song, because, during a pause in the sermon, Finn bursts out (very enthusiastically) with the only song he knows -


It was absolutely hilarious. The priest never missed a bit, but we were in total stitches. It will most certainly be one of my very favorite moments of Finn's childhood - one that will get told over and over. I think it says a lot that I really like about him - that he's social, he's a performer, he isn't afraid to say what he thinks...but most of all, it says that he likes to have fun, and really - what's more important than that when you're 18 months old? Not much :)

For your enjoyment, here are a few more Christmas moments for you - only a month late:

Very serious discussions with Santa

Checking out the tree on Christmas Eve

Digging into Mama's stocking

Taking a little clementine break

First ride in the totally sweet vintage wagon I scored on Ebay (*pats self on back*)

Because really, who doesn't want their very own bean bag for Christmas?

Friday, January 18, 2013

his arrival

it only seems appropriate that my 100th post should bring us back to the beginning...

it all began on a sultry evening in july, 2011. july 2nd, to be precise. i had been placed on bed rest after consistently high blood pressure results, and i'd been...leaking...all day. being new at all this pregnancy hoopla, i wasn't quite sure what it was and was unable to reach my midwife. i wasn't ALL that concerned because it was three weeks ahead of schedule - he couldn't have possibly been coming now...right?


as it turned out, it was a saturday night, and the fireworks were being set off across town. we'd been invited to a little soiree, but since my bed rest was putting a damper on that, we decided to make some fireworks of our own.

ahem. (really hoping chad never reads this).

knowing perfectly well that sex can induce labor, we fell into our own dreamworlds and drifted off.

i awoke at about three in the morning for my customary bathroom run and noticed yet more leakage, made a mental note to call my midwife again in the morning, and went back to bed.

at about five am, i awoke with a strange sensation that i hadn't felt for...oh...about 37 weeks? it felt suspiciously like menstrual cramps, but i couldn't possibly have been getting my period because my uterus was...well...occupied.

for the next hour and a half or so, i drifted in and out of consciousness, wakening only long enough to notice that these crampy waves were happening at regular intervals, but they were so mild and i was so comfy and sleepy that it wasn't until about 6:30 that i finally nudged chad and told him it might be time.

first thing he said?

"oh, ok. i'll vacuum and walk the dog".

this made perfect sense to him, of course. the plan was to have a home birth and he wanted to make sure the house was clean for the baby (and the company), and obviously, the dog needed to do her business, whether or not i was in labor.

in the meantime, i'm still pretty comfortable, subtle waves happening every five minutes or so, but i still wasn't sure if it was false labor, if it was braxton-hicks contractions...etc etc etc. chad grabs the phone and hands it to me, and i consult our contact list that's been stuck to our fridge for months - first person to call: our midwife. her cell sends me directly to her voicemail.
second person to call: our doula. she picks up on the second ring, even though i'm sure she was dead to the world just before i called. without a directive from the midwife (home birth, hospital birth, somewhere in between), we weren't sure what the plan was, but as she was still mia, we were in a bit of a pickle.
third person to call: my midwife's partner, who i've never met. she lives far enough away that we figured we wouldn't need her at the birth - a midwife and a doula would be plenty, and she had a client of her own who was due around the same time, so sticking close to home was the best solution for her. long story short - she was able to get a message to our midwife's husband, and she gave us a call.
in that call, it was decided that we would make the trip over to the mainland and give home birth at our midwife's house a whirl - we figured it was a "best-of-both-worlds" situation - home birth, but close enough to a hospital so that if something went wrong, we'd be safer than on an island.
then, that was undecided after her hearing about my leakage overnight, and my continued high blood pressure rates. the hospital it is.

 by this point, it was obvious that we needed to get moving - the  next ferry was going to leave in about half an hour and we should really be on it. luckily, it was at that moment that my sister arrived, having been told the news, and helped get all our junk together to bring to the hospital. man, there was a lot of junk.

it was about this time that i finally sat up for the first time...and WOAH. things started to change tout de suite. all of a sudden that magical gravity reared its ugly (and i mean ugly!) head and i was in L-A-B-O-R.

by the time we got to the boat landing, ready to get on the 8:45 ferry, the contractions were coming about 2-3 minutes apart - meaning from the beginning of one to the beginning of the next. i know because i was clutching my watch like it was going to leap out of my hand and do a little jig on the deck of the ferry boat. i'm pretty sure chad was 100% sure that he was going to have to deliver our baby in the middle of penobscot bay and gave me many, many chances to change my mind and fly over instead. i was in no fit state to be changing my mind, though, and on to the boat we drove.

to the sounds of npr's morning line up (ah, nothing like some deep breathing and a good ol' pukefest to the dulcet tones of click & clack), we rode across the bay for the next 75 minutes, and to be honest, it was probably the best thing that could have happened. i was able to get some good laboring in before we got to the hospital, we called all concerned folks once our cell phone started working, chad and i got to spend some one-on-one time together, and by the time we got to the hospital, and our doula, hope, met us (and pried the timex out of my hand), i was about 7 cm. dialated.

of the fears i had about a hospital birth, right up there were being offered drugs i didn't want, making me lie on my back through the labor, and forcing me into a c-section. i am happy to report that absolutely none of these things happened. there was some unpleasantness associated with getting an iv in my arm (my chosen laboring position of "on all fours" was not conducive to them getting a teeny needle in my vein), but i understood that i'd lost some fluids and it's important to keep hydrated.

the craziest part about labor is how completely present but how utterly in my own world i was. there were times i couldn't even answer simple questions, but i think it kept me from feeling the full brunt of the labor paints. i was definitely in what they call "labor land". don't get me wrong...i was definitely feeling - shall we say - "sensations" (hahahahahaha), but i truly think that being in that state helped make things more bearable. there was not a time when i thought "i can't do this".

*OK - just want to jump in here and say that i had a pretty freaking awesome labor - i mean, it only went on from about 8:15am-1:45pm, so who knows how i would have handled some sort of epic 30 hour delivery. i am NOT trying to be a big fat show-off and be all like "i'm such a badass" - i very well might have been begging for drugs in another situation.*

throughout the labor, i knew that i wanted to give the birthing tub a whirl, but for some reason was unable to express that, so i was uber-grateful when one of the nurses asked if i wanted to try the tub and i could eke out a "yes". i think they were relieved because i kept saying "no" when they made offers or suggestions, so this time they sprang into action and i'm pretty sure it took about 2.2 seconds for the tub to fill up. the water and buoyancy was a HUGE relief to me, as well as the warmth, and i think that's when things really got going. i'm not sure of the timeline, but i'm pretty sure that it was less than an hour from the time that i got in the tub to the time finn was born.

i wasn't expecting it that soon, though because i hadn't noticed going through "transition", when things get really crazy, and i didn't *feel* like pushing, so when they suggested i give it a try, i was a bit at a loss, not really knowing what to do and knowing that when i did try, there was a super loss-of-control sort of sensation that i didn't know if i was ready for.

luckily, through all of this, hope kept offering me juice, and i literally think that's what made all the difference - if i was a poet, i would write an ode to cranberry/orange juice. it was icy cold and delicious and gave me that little smidge more energy that i needed. oh, cranberry/orange juice, how i love thee.

man, some of the noises i heard coming from myself during that last 45 minutes would have terrified me the day before, but in the moment, they were exactly what i needed to hear. my midwife and doula kept encouraging me to release the tension in my muscles (jaw, toes, etc) and focus on lowering the tone of my sounds, all the while maintaining a heavy pressure on my sacrum. the combination of all of these really helped me focus on the job at hand, and i think after about five pushes, finn was out and in my arms.

it's impossible to describe those first few moments of seeing a brand new life - a life that you already know so well but that you're somehow meeting for the first time. how those eyes seem to take everything in at once, how completely otherworldly he seemed and how completely perfectly formed every part of him was. we sat that way for a while, just gazing at each other - i don't even really remember him crying, though i'm sure he must have. i wasn't even sure he was a "he" until someone reminded me to check. we didn't even have a girls name ready, so i guess we knew all along that finn was finn. who else could he be?

all those other reasons i was nervous about a hospital birth dissipated immediately. we delayed the clamping of his umbilical cord until it was done doing its job. when i moved from the tub to the hospital bed, finn was placed against my chest, where he bobbed and weaved a bit before he got latched on. he was not out of our arms for a moment for the first few hours, even to be weighed, and was never bathed at the hospital at all, allowing the vernix that he was born with to absorb into his skin.

it was perfect - exactly as i had imagined it. but with an added bonus - room service :)

so. that's my story.

after an experience like that, how could we NOT choose to go back to pen bay for the birth of our second child? i am so excited to work with these health professionals, this compassionate, understanding group of individuals who absolutely restored my faith in the medical establishment from a machine to a place of soothing comfort. i am so grateful and so humbled by the birthing profession and can only imagine watching the miracle every day.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

family photos

Ahhhh, beyond excited, and maybe just a little OCD...

We've booked our second family session with the AMAZING photographer who shot Finn's newborn images, scheduled for mid-September, when baby #2 will likely be about 2 months old (I'm presuming he or she will make an early appearance, as most siblings to early kiddos come early themselves). I just cannot wait for Amanda to capture the first "official" images of us as a family - all FOUR of us. Four is it, by the way. As fun as this parenthood gig is, we don't want to be outnumbered. I can't tell you how relieved I was when the woman doing the ultrasound verified that "there's only one in there".

I know this is a small, superficial thing, but it represents the completion of a goal, and since I'm the one who has about five complete knitting projects that just need to be blocked or tidied up in some way, but never quite seem to do it, it's a big deal to accomplish a big goal. Of course, it's not like I have a choice about this one - the baby is coming, one way or another.

There's so much I want to be done by the time the baby comes - SO SO SO much I want to do to the house, but it's just not going to happen, and these photos will reflect that - and through the years, hopefully Amanda will come out again and capture the changes - not only in us, but in our lives, in the place we spend our time. I love the idea of these moments being frozen in time - there's a real art to portraying something in a still image that exists in reality, and Amanda is a pro at it.

So yeah, I'm definitely pinning image ideas, and I'm spending time on Ravelry and Etsy picking out *just* the right outfits for the little ones to wear (read: puke all over).

Our real family, complete and in living color. Can't wait.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


island hopping

In the hopes of expanding Finn's social circle (you know, considering there are SIX in his class), we've gone over to our neighboring island, North Haven, for the past two weeks.
The first time was to go to Kindermusik, which happens for an hour on Thursday mornings.
The second time was to attend a preschool for 18 month-3 year-olds for 3 & 1/2 hours on Friday mornings.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar to island life, island hopping is a pretty regular thing around here. Many people have their own boats to get from one side to another, and if you don't have your own boat (like me), you can call a water taxi to come and fetch you - from a real pay phone, even! This happens daily as there are at least two teachers who live on Vinalhaven but work on North Haven. The water taxi is a skiff that comes tearing across the thoroughfare in about 3 minutes. If we're lucky, Foy will be driving, which means he's very considerate of small people who may not take too kindly to the wind and noise the boat makes, so the return journey takes more like 5 minutes.

So - not your average commute, but, in my opinion, much better than taking a subway.

I have to say, I'm a big, big fan of going over to North Haven. They have a lovely community center where the preschool is and a lovely little waterfront community. I have to say, the three hours I spent there last Friday while Finn was playing happily in the next room were some of my favorites during the week.

Normally, I drop Finn off at daycare and don't get to see him interact with the staff or the other kids. At Waterman's (where the class is called "Little Urchins" - does it get cuter than that?), I could hear his interactions the whole time (and watch as the staff members ran with the kids to look out the window and look at the big trucks driving by). No, I wasn't that crazy stalk-y mom watching her kid the whole time, but while I drank my hot chocolate and chatted with friends, it was nice to hear my kiddo having a blast getting to know a new place and new people. That kid is a wicked socialite.

We'll be headed back over again this Friday, but not again until at least March because I'm going to be taking over as French teacher for a while as the permanent teacher goes on maternity leave.
Oh yeah, here's a funny story: Two years ago, I was the long term French sub while the teacher went on maternity leave and I was also pregnant at the time.  This time? Same deal.
It's a great school, though, and an amazing community of teachers who I'm happy to work with for a while. There's a lot more to talk about on this topic, so I'll leave it for another post.  Til then, hope you're all having a simply lovely week.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

little things

So I'm still trying to capture Finn's new obsession on camera, but you'll have to take my word for it now. I promise a video if I can get one.

Step 1: say "tissues". This comes out more like "tiss-hews", which really could not be cuter. No really.
Step 2: find the box of tissues in our living room.
Step 3: remove one tissue
Step 4: hold up to nose and blow lightly, then crumple up in hands thoroughly
Step 5: toddle at breakneck speed to the bathroom, open the toilet lid, and throw the "tiss-hew" in. Pretend to flush the toilet.
Step 6: Repeat.

Oh man, that 5-6 hour is torture with this kid, but stories like this make it all worth it.  Also, the fact that he ate like a champ tonight.

It's the little things.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Oh goodness, I don't know where to start. Hoping you all had a wonderful holiday season. As for us, it was a huge success. Kept it really low-key and relaxing, but had some good times with family and friends. A highlight for us was taking Finn out snowshoeing on New Years Day with friends - it was his first time out in the Kelty backpack in a while and he was seriously digging the snow and company. Luckily, the snow stuck around for a couple of weeks and is only now starting to melt away. I'm sad to see it go, but do enjoy me a good January thaw when it smells almost like spring and you can walk around without a coat on if you're staying good and active. We were able to enjoy the snow sledding and snowshoeing, beating down a trail just across the street from our house down an old logging road that will soon belong to the local Land Trust (I cannot wait for there to be a Land Trust trail across the street. Can't wait!).
My, my...there's so much to tell, but I'll save some of it for posts in the next few days - don't want to go through another writers block by using up all my goods at once!
We did get to our first visit with the midwives last week, which was wonderful - turns out we were spot on with our guess that Baby #2 is about 12 weeks along and - lo and behold - s/he has the same due date as our Finnley James - July 23rd! Seems so surreal, but we're going to be a family of four in about 6 months! This pregnancy is already quite a bit different than my first, but that's to be expected. We won't find out for another 7ish weeks, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say "girl". We're so excited and terrified at the same time, but feel like we're in a good place and ready to welcome the person who will complete our little family.
It's got me thinking a lot about birth - Finn's birth specifically, but birth in general. I'll probably share the longer and more elaborate story of the day Finn arrived sometime soon. The first time was a bit of a vague description since I was talking to a national audience, but I feel like it's a story I want to share now and get down so that Finn can read it some day and realize what a totally amazing miracle he is - that all of us are, really. It's such an incredible, humbling experience. Even though I was there and a part of it, I feel like a bystander, that it was so much more than me pushing out a baby - it was all of us together, making it happen.
God, I'll be glad when these pregnancy hormones make me a whole lot less sappy.
For now, enjoy these images of Finn and his sibling and I'll be back soon.