Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What a Week I'm Having

Of course I don't feel like life with two sons is "real" yet. I mean, I've had non-stop help for all of Ollie's month of life. I am starting to freak out at the thought of being alone. I mean, what if Rhett is acting up while Oliver is crying? What if I need to run to the grocery store? Seriously. I am not ready for all that.

Otherwise life has been pretty dang good. Sure, I'm ready for the end of a routine-less existence, but that's life with an infant, right? Until then, my thoughts have been as random as my movements, desires, and moods. Here are some of the things I've been thinking and experiencing.

Chuck loves putting our babies in funny positions. Could Bruno be a more patient dog? No. Could Ollie be cuter? No.

Moms are awesome. I mean, who would think to wash not only my shower curtain liners but also the bath mat in my bathroom?! That bath mat is now so luxurious that I am determined to wash it again--and at a point in time less than three years from now.

My dad is worse than a teenage girl when it comes to telephone use. It's pretty dang funny. What can he possibly have to say?!

Speaking of my dad, my house is freezing (ask me later if you don't know why). But the good thing about a freezing house is that sweatshirts can be worn! Soup in the summer isn't out of the question! Remember when I asked about what temperature you'd keep your thermostat if money were no issue? Well I know now: I'd keep it higher than 70, maybe 72. Emily, 65, really?!

While most of my body is feeling pretty dang good after giving birth, I'm still having problems with my wrists and hands. I think the carpal tunnel is getting better, even though I can't wear my wedding rings yet and still need the braces at night. However, I developed a case of tendinitis (yes, that's really how it's spelled even though I have tendons and not tendins) of the wrist. This tendinitis really hurts. And I mean really. I can barely feed Oliver, or lift him out of the bassinet. It's pretty depressing.

Oliver is being blessed on Sunday. It's pretty exciting.

Before Oliver was born, I wisely thought we might want cookies but that I might not feel up to making them once he was out. So I made two batches of dough (yum 1 and yum 2), rolled them into balls, and froze them for later; I got ten cookie-sheets-worth. Do you know how many bags are left? Less than two. Do you know how many actually made it to the oven? Exactly two. Frozen dough is awesome.

Rhett said something awesome the other day. After finding his car smashed by a tree (okay, maybe I exaggerate), my dad said, "Well, I need a Coke." Rhett, from the kitchen table yells, "No, you don't need a Coke, No Google, you just want a Coke." Do you think he's heard that before? I love kids. Well, I love my kids.

I really and truly pined to experience a natural disaster. Not one in which people were hurt, but a real one nonetheless. But I wish that no longer: not as a mom and not as a homeowner. Too scary and too much at risk. I mean, sure the earthquake experience is kinda fun now, but certainly not when it was happening. And the hurricane at first just seemed like a regular rain storm, not too unusual for Maryland (hence the picture of Rhett of playing in the rain). But at Oliver's 1:00 a.m. feeding, that wind no longer seemed so innocent. And at 6:00 a.m. when I found the tree on my dad's car, not innocent at all. In fact, quite guilty. Amazingly, the 6" of rainwater in our window well caused no damaged and my dad's car suffered only small dents on the top. It could have been so much worse!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Shallow Thoughts by erin

1. Do you wet the toothbrush before you use it? And if so, before or after the toothpaste application?

2. Do you know what the terms "rising junior" or "rising sophomore" mean? Have you ever used the terms?

3. Swimming: did you do it? And I mean, was it a large part of your growing up? Did you have a membership to a pool and/or belong to a swim team?

4. Do you catch the bugs in your house? If not, what do you do with them if your bug catcher isn't home when a bug is found?

P.S. I promise an update of what's happening here, but you know...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Please Excuse the Blog Absence

while we get ready for the hurricane! Ugh. So done with natural disasters.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I Know I Said I Liked Natural Disasters...

...but I prefer them of the "non-scary" variety. Maybe you heard about D.C.'s 5.9 earthquake yesterday, probably because D.C.'ites love to overreact about everything. And maybe you even remember when we had a small earthquake last summer. I loved that one.

But yesterday's was different. I was home and all other adults were gone. Ollie and I were doing laundry while Rhett was "napping." When the shaking started, I simply thought the washing machine was unbalanced. It was soon clear that this was not just the washing machine; that's when the freaking out started. (It was also when I started hearing crashing upstairs, mind you.) I was downstairs, you know, the floor upon which first floors have been known to collapse. Not only was I downstairs, but I was downstairs holding my newborn son while my three-year-old was upstairs, clueless as to what was going on.

Yes, yes; I'm fully guilty of freaking out when (thankfully) nothing bad happened. But I'm also fully guilty of just wanting to make sure my little boys were okay. So sue me.

Bring it on, Hurricane Irene! (And by "bring it on" I mean, bring on a rainstorm that doesn't flood my basement or cut my electricity, but does bring some fun thunder and/or lightning and maybe some good puddles for Rhett.)

Monday, August 22, 2011


Bruno's food container. We started with a hideous plastic thing when we lived in the apartment because we didn't want squirrels on the porch but nor did we want a bag of dog food in the apartment. When we moved into the house, we just kept it in the same hideous plastic thing. But when I saw Kiki's tutorial here, well, we've been looking for that canister ever since. We finally found it the Saturday before Ollie's arrival and I Silhouette-vinyl'd it that very same day. I'm super pleased with it.

Chuck painted the boys' room the week before Ollie was born, so then we were ready to hang the curtains. Now it's just a matter of moving the boys into the room (which won't happen until after my parents come and go). I love how the grey walls turned out. I saw this absolutely lovely room and just copied the color, since I thought it was perfect. And hey, Marylanders, anyone looking for a queen-sized bed?

When I couldn't find Rhett's old burp cloths, I wasn't that sad because HELLO! Another project!

Chuck recently acquired a new iPad2. I don't often get to do projects for Chuck (if you think little boys are hard enough, try adult boys), so when he asked me to make a cover for his new toy, I quickly said yes. A quick internet search led me to Candice's tutorial here and I adapted it for the iPad.

And just for fun, one pic of Ollie:

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Mathematical Statistician

Apparently no one knows what a mathematical statistician does. (I'm pretty sure this includes my parents, so don't feel bad if it includes you.) My friend Todd is a neuroradiologist (see his family's blog here) and he recently did a series of posts enlightening people to what it means to have his job. Oh yeah, even this neuroradiologist doesn't even know what I do, so now you can feel really good about you!

Anyway, I won't say much about exactly what I do because I like keeping work and this blog very, very separate, if for no other reason but to protect myself. So forgive me for being vague.

At a minimum, most statisticians' jobs require a bachelor's degree in math or stats. If you end up being a biostatistician, then you likely need a master's in it. Anyway, I have the bachelor's in math (with an emphasis in stats) and a master's in stats. Which on paper, should mean I'm qualified for most jobs. In practice, I feel qualified for none. The second Bachelor's degree in Geography was just because I like maps.

Anyway, I happen to work on one particular survey that goes out every year (think Census but instead of every ten years, mine goes out every year). And it surveys businesses, not individuals. We don't survey all businesses in the United States as there's about seven to eight million of them in existence, so we do something called sampling. This means sending forms to a selected group of businesses that we hope represent the entire population of businesses. After we send out the forms, data start coming back in. Then we enter the data and start analyzing.

But what does that mean for me and what I do? Well, before we can decide which businesses to sample, we need to decide how many units we're going to sample. That process is called allocation. So I work on that too. After we allocate, we get to select the units, or do the actual sampling. Of course, all of this is done with computers, but there is some manual intervention to make sure we're not taking too many units in some industries and too few in others. The data are collected and entered into a computer, but not by me. Once they all come in, we start the analysis. Actually, as a government agency, we don't do much analysis, just a lot of reporting facts. However, because sampling was involved (as opposed to getting data from every single business), we need to do something called significance testing. If we claim that something increased, we need to make sure it did, rather than just the numbers changing due to differences in sampling. So I test statements to make sure they are correct.

Because our survey is annual, I get to repeat these tasks yearly. Every year things change and we have new things that come up, so it's not as monotonous as it sounds. Tweak this here, tweak that there. It's all very exciting.

Sometimes I get to work on other "pop-up" projects as well. I really enjoy the ones where I get to learn new things, especially when it comes to programming in SAS (a statistical package that's super cool). I also get to take courses on stats stuff.

And sometimes I even get to travel. When I do that, I'm usually giving some sort of training to the non-D.C.-based staff working on the survey.

So that's my job. Clearly there's more to it, but I don't want to lose you. Oh yeah, and I get to enjoy a lot of air conditioning.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rhett Update

The other day I was cooing with baby Oliver when I looked over at Rhett, who was sitting on the couch "reading" a book. He had stopped reading and was looking at me with the saddest eyes I've ever seen on his face. I immediately started crying for this poor boy whose life had been upended with the addition of a new baby. Even now, it makes me cry just thinking about that sad face of his, and his what-he-thinks-is-sad new reality.

And sad he is. As much as we try to make time for him and do fun things for him, it'll likely never be enough--simply because it will never be 100% again. Sadly, I think he understands this. On some level, my poor older child knows that from here on out, he has to share his parents with a crying, pooping, sleeping baby. His life is hard right now. (Of course Rhett doesn't think of poor Oliver who will only get his parents to himself at a time when he doesn't want parents at all!)

How's he dealing with it? As expected. Thankfully he's gentle with Ollie; it's my buttons he's pushing. He knows what angers me (yelling in the house, running in the house, opening the door during a time-out, not obeying, etc.) and he does all of these things with such intensity that it's maddening.

But through this, I'm still so glad to have him around. I didn't expect this, but oh, how I do! When Rhett was a baby, I was so bored most of the time. I had no idea how to entertain a child who couldn't even see 12" in front of his face. But now, I have Rhett to entertain me while Ollie is doing his baby thing. I am so relieved that even through Rhett's antics, I can enjoy having two sons.

Here is what Rhett is up to (between button pushing): Acting. Oh my land. The boy absolutely loves to act. In fact, if he makes noise before 6:00 a.m. Rhett Daylight Time (6:30 a.m. EDT), his punishment is that he doesn't get to act for the day; that's how much he loves it. What does he act out? His books, of course! His favorite is anything by Berenstain Bears. More often than not, it's the "In the Dark" or "Messy Room." Chuck LOVES (sarcasm anyone?) acting as Bears because he frequently gets cast as Sister Bear. I get to be Mama Bear and Rhett is always Brother Bear; in fact, on Monday we made a trip to the thrift store to get a red shirt and blue pants--you know, so Rhett can have Brother's outfit (it was totally Rhett's idea). In addition to the Bears, he loves acting out any story of Frog and Toad. He's always Frog. Chuck or I gets to be Toad. As repetitive as this acting can be, he loves it, so we do it.

Also, he loves playing with anything Little People. We found this Little People set at the thrift store and gave it to him one time-out-free day and he just loves it. He makes up stories, sends people to time out, has police chases...anything. I love the kid's imagination and am quite happy to sit around and just listen to him.

Finally, he has really grown to love music, especially kid music. But he has some variety in his taste. For example, he loves the song "Knock, knock, knockin' on heaven's door" by Guns 'n' Roses. That's right: my boy is listening to some Axl and Slash. Although I shouldn't be, I am pretty happy about this.

So while yes, in some ways having Rhett around has been hard because he has been acting out, but in other ways it's been so nice to have the little dude around. Chuck and I love both our boys!

The prince and the pea?

Eating birthday cake batter.

Although we didn't know it, this picture was taken only hours before Ollie joined us. Look at that belly! And my sing-a-ma-jig birthday present.

At the hospital.

How this kid plays. The cars are lined up for some crazy reason.


Monday, August 15, 2011

What I Learned from My Calling

It's over. I was released. After more than 2.5 years, my Wednesday nights are empty again.

When I read obituaries in the Salt Lake Tribune, I see this text often: "LaRue loved serving in _____." I'm really not sure I could say that about the Young Women. To be fair, I'm not sure I could say that about any calling, really; it's just my personality. I'll do it because the Bishop asks, and I'll try to do the best job I know how. However, I'm pretty sure I'll never be one of those women who really loves doing any church job. I'm okay with that.

I will say, however, that I really did enjoy it. Yes, it took a lot of hours and feelings of guilt ("Am I doing enough?"), but I love that age of person. Even though I don't want Rhett to be a teenager now, I still really look forward to when he is. I feel I relate to them so much better than to Primary-aged kids and sometimes even better than I relate to the Relief Society. So now that I'm released, I really do fear what comes next, because for me, the new calling could be so, so much worse.

What did I learn? To be honest, most of what I learned was about parenting teens. Or, sometimes, how not to parent teens. (And just so you know, most of this is recorded for my sake, since obviously they are the things that bothered me. Please take no offense as none is intended. I know I have no teens yet and therefore my stances could totally change in the next ten years. Won't this be a funny post then?!)

1. Teaching the Gospel at home really does matter and make a difference. If I didn't know anything about the parents of my girls, I could easily split them into two groups: those who got Gospel instruction (meaning FHE, scripture study, prayers, discussions) at home and those who didn't. It really does make a difference. So sometimes when I feel like I don't want to do that kind of stuff at home with Rhett and Ollie, I am reminded of how much they'll need it in 10-15 years and I'm pulled right back to it. Seriously people, it makes a difference.

2. Church stuff (mutual night, Sunday classes, youth conference, girls' camp) isn't optional. I'm sorry if you don't want to go, but you're going. You're going because you need to support leaders who planned activities. You're going because you need to learn that that's just what we do as church members. You're going because you know that once you get there, you always have a good time. The end.

3. Electronics are not necessary when you go to these church activities. Okay, okay, I may not have a fancy iPod with my scriptures on it (whoops--now I do!), but do I really need it? No, I have them in hard copy. To have the electronics (phones or MP3 players) is simply a distraction (in my experience). And your phone? Honestly? You can't go three hours without texting your friends or playing Angry Birds? These things simply don't belong at church for the youth. I went through YW without it all and I survived. If there's an emergency, adults will have the ability (re: legs) to contact parents (who are likely just upstairs in Relief Society/Priesthood/Primary).

4. Manners matter too! It's amazing to me how many of the girls when given a treat or after a lesson, don't remember to say thank you. Really?!

5. I'm not sure if this is a function of living outside of a heavily-Mormon-populated area or just my ward, but when the youth don't see each other often (most of my two dozen girls were spread out over 12 or so schools, meaning only one or two at each school), the cliques that I experienced during YW days in Utah don't exist here. These girls never get tired of seeing each other. I had very little (if any) backbiting, for which I am truly in awe. The girls really amazed me in this.

6. Youth will never know what a sacrifice it is to be a leader of youth until they are such a leader. Sure they love (for the most part) attending mutual, camp, sleepovers, etc. But they really don't know how much you don't. They don't know how much the leaders would rather be at home with their own families (you know, spouses we chose!), than at _____ (camp, mutual, youth conference, etc.). Especially when going to _____ requires either the mom or dad to take off work to watch kids or be at camp. It's a sacrifice for sure. A sacrifice we'll do willingly, but a sacrifice nonetheless.

7. Learn how to commit to things. If you say you're going to do something, do it. Don't pull out of something big (cough cough, Girls' Camp, Youth Conference) two days in advance. You know, after monies have been paid and meals planned and transportation arranged. On the flip side, if you want to do something, tell planners in advance! Two days notice is bad enough to pull out of something, but it's even harder to want to go in. Make a decision and then stick with it (emergencies excepted, of course).

8. To have a youth in the YM/YW programs might mean that you as parents have to get involved (should work/family schedules allow). It means that you might have to go to camp; it means that you might have to go to youth conference; it means that you might have to chaperone a youth dance. I feel so strongly about this that Chuck and I have already had conversations about the activities we'll be attending once the boys are old enough (he: Boy Scout camp, me: pedicures while the boys are at Boy Scout camp).

9. Finally, laugh. Seriously, teenaged girls are about the funniest things on the planet. Remember the hyper? It still makes me laugh. These girls are energetic, creative, and just plain hysterical. I will miss them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Maternity Leave: Flashback Friday!

How awesome is this picture of Chuck and his family at Chuck's mission farewell? And really, that red hair? Linda, what were you thinking?!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week in Review

What to say? Actually, my problem is what NOT to say.

1. Rhett. Sometimes he's absolutely lovely and completely understanding of what has happened to him. But other times, oh boy. Who can blame him? This is the biggest change he's ever had to deal with in his short three years. We're trying to be understanding, but that doesn't mean we can ignore the hitting or kicking (us; not the baby, thankfully). I think he'll be okay though. We're definitely trying to get in the "mom and me" or "dad and me" time, and yesterday we even got a Frosty out of it.

2. Bruno. Certainly gets the worst of it. Poor thing hasn't been on a walk in weeks until yesterday morning. He's getting chubby. As soon as I feel up to longer walks, Bruno will definitely be joining me.

3. Chuck. He's really been the superstar through all of this. Last night was the first night I gave Ollie a middle-of-the-night feeding, and it wasn't even that middle of the night. He's been up with Ollie for every single thing since Ollie was born (which means that I've been getting full nights of sleep--totally helping my recovery).  He's played hours of Little People with Rhett. He's taken Rhett to church, the park,swimming, and likely the movies today. He's incredibly supportive and helpful and just completely amazing. AND he doesn't have to go to work for nearly two more weeks. Everyone (and I mean everyone) should be this lucky.

4. Me. I can't believe how much better this recovery has been compared to Rhett's. With Rhett, I could barely walk for what felt like weeks; this time, I was fine two days later. (But as before, my first trip out was to KMart; why oh why do I continue to go there? How I detest that store.) With Rhett, I felt like my whole world had changed, and mostly for the worse. This time, life's pretty much as it was, just now with two lovely little boys instead of one. It's just been amazing and such a tremendous blessing to feel as good as I do.

5. Ollie. Sweet, sweet Ollie. For obvious reasons, Chuck and I have so much more confidence about this one than we did with Rhett. With Rhett, we relied very much on books and people to tell us what we should be doing. But this time, I think we trust ourselves so much more. I don't know; maybe we're not that different, but it just feels different because we're not doubting ourselves and our decisions all of the time. It's nice. He's a great little baby who is napping well during the day and sleeping at night. He gets a little fussy come evenings, when he wants to be held. I can't complain about having to hold a sweet infant though.

6. Everyone else. Seriously, I feel so guilty about accepting everything that everyone gives us! There are so many more that need help when compared to us. I mean, I have a husband who is home for weeks. As soon as he goes back to work, my parents come to stay. And beyond that, Chuck's parents are 3.5 miles away. Meals? Got that covered. We have the fridge more full than it's ever been and a freezer that's packed with frozen dinners. Rhett? Again, with two adults, we're good. If Chuck was back at work, I could see needing the help, but really, we have only two kids and it's totally manageable when both are home! I just feel so dang lucky. If I wasn't so sure we were done, I might consider having another--just not in August.

Ollie's first successful thumb sucking.

Ollie's first tummy time. The kid doesn't actually hate it! This one is going to love stomach sleeping.

Grandpa came for a visit!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Maternity Leave: Things to Not Take Advantage of Ever Again

  • Not needing four pillows (one for head, one body pillow, and two for feet raising) in bed
  • Not needing wrist braces (well, I still do, but some day, maybe...)
  • Being able to reach things (like from cabinets or the sink) because belly is no longer in the way
  • Wearing normal clothes
  • Running and exercising
  • Being able to sit like a lady
  • Being able to use my lap for things (like holding children or binders)
  • Not having a basketball on my lap or hanging from my body at all times
  • Being able to wrap a towel around my body and be covered
  • Sleeping on my stomach!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Ollie's Newborn Pics

When I saw this post over at Amy's Idea Room on taking pictures of newborns, I knew I wanted to try it. So I made the diaper covers just for this event. And this morning seemed as good a time as any, so here are a few of the best. Isn't it amazing that things sized for newborns are still enormous?!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Birth Story that Did NOT Go as Planned

The Original Plan
I was scheduled for an induction that would yield a birth on Wednesday. I was to go in Tuesday morning to be checked, and when no progress was found, I would be told to check in to the hospital that afternoon to start the process. Chuck and I would spend the Tuesday night hospital stay watching TV and playing Scrabble. Fun times. All of this would predict a baby being born the next morning with my regular doc. And with drugs. Very nice, eh?

The All-New-Planned-by-Oliver Plan
Tuesday morning I wake up with what seem to be real contractions. Interesting because I didn't think my body knew how to do this on its own. Go to the a.m. doctor's appointment to find that I'm dilated to a 2--awesome! The doctor doing the check (who is not my regular doc) thinks that a regular induction from this stage would give a too-early labor, which is not what I want because I want my doc. So we make a slight schedule adjustment and I go home.

At home we finish getting things ready: packing for all three of us, and of course, birthday cake making for me. We finish all the last minute preparations as well as some dusting and sweeping by me. But by noon, I'm not feeling great...AT ALL. When Rhett goes down for his nap, so do I. I lay on the couch watching TV while Chuck finishes laundry and times my what-have-now-become regular contractions. For all of nap (nearly two hours) the contractions are between five and six minutes apart and getting stronger. Chuck is pacing while I'm saying, "Are you really pacing?" At 2:45 we decide we've had enough and go wake up Rhett. We still need time to eat that dang birthday cake! So eat we do, and then get Chuck's mom to come pick up Rhett so we can head to the hospital.

We get there at about 3:45 and head to registration. We tell them that we were initially coming in for an induction, but don't think we'll be needing those services as my contractions are regular and strong. We're told to sit in the waiting room and they'll be with us shortly. SHORTLY MY FOOT. 45 minutes later, probably a dozen or so contractions later, and a visit from Chuck later, we are finally called back and put in triage. The triage nurse checks me and says, "Ooooh, well, you're a good seven." A SEVEN?! Are you kidding? From her face I was hoping for a four, but a seven?! That's ridiculous. The first words out of my mouth are, "Well, I'd like drugs if that's at all possible."

I'm wheeled back to a labor and delivery room and things are moving quickly. With the needles and blood draws and registration questions, oh yeah, and all those pesky drug-free contractions coming every couple of minutes, I'm not the happiest camper. When the doctor comes to check me (8!), she says that she doesn't dare check me again for fear she'll rupture my "bulging bag" and that would make this happen even faster. So I try to breathe through my contractions, and through my yelling. Not sure how great a job I'm doing. I keep asking for drugs and am told the anesthesiologist is coming, but who knows when. I'm also told to not ignore any feelings of "I have to push." Gee. Thanks.

Then I get one of those feelings, so I have to start pushing. I really really don't want to, but I can't not. Doctor breaks my water so there's nearly no turning back now.  The pain gets so intense that I say I want to stop and wait for the epidural so they try to accommodate me, but once again, baby and body have different ideas. I start pushing again and after two contractions' worth of pushing, little Oliver James was out.

The fun continues. Sewing my tear and pushing my uterus through the table are nearly as painful as the labor. Sheesh! But finally, I have that baby in my arms. And while I may not forget the pain that brought him into the world, I know it's worth it. Awwww.....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Okay, Lay it On Me

Okay people. With my due date falling sometime this week, I think I can handle it. If not, well, too late, right?! I want the good, the bad, and the ugly of adding a second child to our family. Don't be afraid to scare me. Go crazy. 'Cause really, even if it does scare me, maybe it'll just scare this baby out of me!

P.S. For any local Marylanders wondering if there's anything you can do to help at this time, really the only thing I'll need is visitors after about two weeks. I am the sort that doesn't like to take new babies out much, which means I end up staying in. Understandably, I get bored. And if you live far away, just call. If I'm feeding the baby or sleeping, I won't answer the phone, but I'll know you called and that will make me feel better.