"So throw away those Lamentations,
We both know them all too well.
If there's a Book of Jubilations,
We'll have to write it for ourselves.."

-Josh Ritter

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's all over now.

For posterity, I want to record this conversation from dinner tonight.

Eric: We have a problem. I can'y find K-A-T-I-E-A-N-D-T-H-E-B-I-G-S-N-O-W.
Nora: Yeah, I don't know where it is either.
Me: Don't know where what is, Nora?
Nora: Ummmm...one of my books.
Me: Which one?
Nora: Ummmmmm....Katie and the Big Snow.
Me and Eric (in unison): Shit.
Nora: [hysterical laughter]

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

This may be my favorite piece of art in my house. I love the anatomically correct waddle juxtaposed with the free-form placement of feathers. I think she might have disregarded the assignment and tried to make a chicken.
That's my girl.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Snowy Saturday

There are sometimes benefits to being stuck inside on the weekend. Today, I used my evil mommy superpowers to get both girls to (briefly) hold still.

Heh heh heh. I feed off the cuteness.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Story of the Hat

I would like to tell you about my journey. It is a story filled with pathos. With drama. With fleece.

As you may know, I live in Duluth. Duluth, historically, is cold. Surprisingly, this does not stop people from procreating. Thus, I also have children. I would like to reiterate these points for any retailers in the audience.

1. I live in Duluth.

2. Duluth is cold.

3. I have children.

I feel that it is important to highlight this issue, as said retailers apparently have one shipping schedule for the entire continental United States. For outerwear. For babies. I personally feel this is wrong, wrong, wrong-in so many ways- Wrong.

I believe that my child, while admittedly furry, is not entirely capable of regulating her body temperature and may not enjoy being taken outside in a sleeveless onesie. If we were in Houston, maybe. (Please, refer back to Item #1.)

Thus, when I tragically lost the hand-me-down green fleece hat that had served us so well for Thing One and again for Thing Two in August to September (Item #2), I found myself in the market for another one. You can probably guess the next chapter.

There were no fleece baby hats. Anywhere.

Now, I am nothing if not resourceful and obstinate. I refuse to wrap my child's delicate, squishy head in a diaper. (Again.) Therefore, I made my way to the fabric store where I found a sale on fleece remnants. After much digging in pattern books, I had found a pattern for a cloth owl, many pages of dog coats and one, lonely pattern for infant fleece hats.

Sold! I snatched up that pattern, waved goodbye to the crafty owl and took my kid home. As Ellie had already outgrown a number of her hats, I figured that she would have outgrown the Extra-Small size and I proceeded to cut out and sew a size Small. Girl's got kind of a big head is what I'm saying. (It's like Sputnik- round but quite pointy in parts.)

So I made this wild hat, because if you can't wear insane combinations of colors and prints when you're a baby, when can you?

OK, so it was a little big. It'll keep her head warm, right? I grabbed her and took her to Nora's swim lesson. When I got there, I discovered that the hat had devoured my baby's head and was working its way down her chest. She was delighted by this, but I felt like maybe a whole-head fleece helmet was less than ideal.

When I showed the hat to Nora, though, she wanted one in the worst way, which gave me an idea.

As you can tell by her pajama/zebra hat combination, Nora has her own sense of style. This hat fits snuggly into her aesthetic. So, problem solved. The hat wasn't a waste of time. Hooray!

But, wait. My baby still didn't have a warm noggin. And Nora thought that it would be super-neat if she and her sister had matching hats for Ellie's first day of daycare. But it turned out that infant hat pattern only goes down to 18.5 inches head circumference. For reference, my (totally-not-a-pin)head is 21 inches.

Probably belatedly, I measured Ellie's head. It was 16.5 inches. In other words, not Sputnik. Not an orange on a toothpick. Not a gargantuan cranium. Yes, I was wrong. And patternless.

So, now I had a baby with a normal-sized, cold head, a pre-schooler who desperately wanted to demonstrate her sisterly bond and a pile of fleece. At this point, I was thinking about wrapping the fleece around Ellie's head, diaper-style. (Again.) Only Nora's enthusiasm prevented that end to this story.

So, I made up a pattern. I made it match as much as I could to the one Nora was wearing. It turned out well enough to keep one baby head warm. And now, she's wearing it inside, because she gets crabby if you take it off.

Someday, these pictures are going to come back and bite me. I'm picturing two sets of zebra-hat-related therapy bills. Whatevs. It's totally worth it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Big (Brother) Weekend

It was such an eventful weekend, I have to post twice. In addition to the cuteness, we had some pretty sweet awesomeness n the form of Uncle Jim. He flew out from Cazenovia, NY to visit us girls while Eric hunted.
We pizzaed, beered, aquariumed and generally had a pretty kickin' time. I feel like I have to mention that, because all the pictures are from my couch. Cute pictures, though.


Eric believes that Ellie is even more driven than most babies to get upright. She does seem to be focused intensely on pushing up, skipping right past all that rolling over and sitting nonsense.
Which is cute, until she has been bobbling around flail-tastically in your lap for an hour and your arms are ready to fall clean out of their sockets.
To assist Miss Evelyn in her push to become a two-leg, we pulled out the exersaucer this weekend. I admit, it is ridiculously early (11 weeks, really?). But just check out the sheer joy in this face:

And of course, the inevitable "help" from the big sister:

Look how reverentially Ellie checks out Nora's incredible motor skills. She can hold up her own head! And thwack! And stop thwacking! Amazing!

And the best part? All that exercise led to a big one of these:

P.S.- For those of you scratching your heads here, Ellie is actually tall enough to touch the base of the exersaucer. And to bounce herself up and down. I think Nora got that tall at approximately 5 months. You will notice some extra padding to keep her from flopping around too much, though.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Nora's Two Loves

Nora has decided that there are two things that she loves more than anything. One is her little sister.
Ellie is starting to interact much more, with gummy grins and silly looks. She also is starting to get upset if she's left alone, but she calms right down when Nora comes over to talk and sing to her, which Nora is always happy to do. She has an uncanny sense of what Ellie needs and she truly wants to make her sister happy. It's pretty sweet.

The other thing Nora loves? This guy:

That is Cotton, the Silkie bantam hen that we adopted. Unfortunately, she and the other bantam, Valerie, have had some trouble integrating into the flock. Like, I keep having to pull Valerie out of holes she has dug herself into to get away from the big chickens. So, we starting putting them in the basement in the brooder to give them some time away.

Last night, Nora insisted on crawling into the brooder with them (Thanks for making it strong, Eric!). She was feeding them little pieces of bagel while we talked about her day at school. Then came the best moment of the night.

Nora: I love you.
Me: I love you, too, kiddo.
Nora: I was talking to the chicken, Mommy.

Yeah, you thought I was kidding about that whole "two things Nora loves" thing, didn't you?
Let's end with the more endearing snuggle.

Monday, October 17, 2011

What's that I see, Mom?

It's not shots, is it?
Unfortunately, yes. Yes, it is. Ellie got her first set of baby shots this morning. It turns out that'll piss off a baby.
We also got to hear that Miss Evelyn is growing nicely. She is 12 pounds, 15 ounces and 23.5 inches long. That's in the 90th percentile for both height and weight (which makes her 50th percentile for height to weight ratio). That translates into her being a perfectly normal 3 and 1/2 month old. Except that she's only 2 months. She's also ahead on her milestones, especially gross motor skills. All of this has been referred to by our friends as "Lauering up." It's like she was restricted by my mere human womb and now has to explode out of it to achieve her true size and potential.
You go for it, kid. I'll try to keep up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Some cuties I know

We got some good family time over the weekend, down in the Twin Cities. And I got to take some pictures of some cousin cuteness.

Mary and Larry Lauer, surrounded by their grandkids.

Clockwise from top: Sara, Isabella, Nora Lee and Katelyn (holding Ellie)
Kate's father wants it to be known that that is not her baby.

Bella and Nora Lee trying to not look cute at a pumpkin patch.
They are not succeeding.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Family Picture Time!

Hey, want to see what we look like?
No? Too bad. Here it is.

In other news, today is the last day of my full time maternity leave. I can't believe that 8 weeks are over already. I started the day by snuggling my baby until I had to leave the bed to palliate my caffeine withdrawal. Then, I paid lots of bills, paid off some credit cards and slogged through finances. Then, I ate the last potatoes from the garden for lunch. Is the phrase "win/fail" a thing? Can I coin it? There have been few days in my life as bittersweet as this one.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nice to Meet You...Um, Do You Shake Hands?

Nora woke me up at 7:00 today, fully dressed and raring to go. This left us with two hours before she needed to be at preschool, so we have been playing. First, we learned about mail. I have been writing thank you notes for baby gifts, so she helped me put on return address labels and stamps and to lick envelopes. This lead inevitably to her wanting to write a letter of her own. I swear, I encouraged her to write to someone far away. I did. Instead, she chose to draw an elaborate picture of our neighbors with a chipmunk, peanuts and polka dots. And to mail it to them.
She's tickled and is now planning her future correspondence.

Then, we watered plants. Nora was asking the names of the plants and I told her that this is a jade plant:

Now, we know a young lady named Jade. Which goes quite a long way to explaining how these next two plants ended up named.

I would like to introduce you to....
Cindy the aloe
Aaaaaand Carl the Rubber tree.

This is why we have kids.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Pop Quiz

What happens when you take a fussy baby into the bathtub at 2AM?
Well, joy and hilarity ensue. But also, Hipster Hair!
That's right. My baby's stylin'. It's like me and Angelina Jolie are on a total wavelength or....oh my god, I need to get some sleep.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

More random favorite moments to share

I like the ernest, confidential look of this one. You just get the feeling that Eric is imparting some crucial fatherly wisdom to his daughter. Or they're talking about pooping. Either way.

My little hippy spawn demonstrates how to snuggle your baby in a kangaroo carry in a sling. And comes frighteningly close to getting it right.

And for your daily dose of awwwww....

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ellie's First Bottle

I have gone into this baby experience (ugh- that sounds so pretentious, but I can't figure out a better way to say it. Let's blame sleep deprivation.) with the rose-colored Nora glasses. And Nora had no issues with nursing. She took to the bottle like a champ. She never refused either it or the breast and, in fact, never really seemed to show a preference either way. She nursed up until I was ready to give it up at 13 months, then (figuratively) walked away and never looked back.

Any woman who has nursed a baby, but still planned to return to work at some point can relate to this, I think. Giving that kid a bottle is a very mixed bag. The lactation consultants will tell you not to do it too soon or else! You'll confuse the baby and she'll never take the breast again! She'll always want the bottle and every time you nurse will be a struggle from here on out! You won't have as much milk! Pumping is not as efficient!

Maybe not. But I also have a job that expects me to return to it eventually. The reality is that any child of mine is going to have to learn to take a bottle from other caregivers. That doesn't make it easy. The first couple of times someone sticks that bottle in a breastfed baby's mouth, she gets this perplexed look on her little face. It doesn't matter in that moment that there is breast milk in the bottle. I can't help but feel like I'm a giant traitor to this tiny being that depends entirely on me for sustenance.

And I'm not sure if the feeling of betrayal gets better or worse when that look disappears. Whether the baby is resigned to the bottle or excited about it, my hormonal lizard brain is telling me that she should be with me. All the time. No matter what. I'm sure no one will mind when I strap her to my back and start rounding on patients. Right? I could just whip out the boob in the middle of a meeting. That's totally professional. (OK- To give credit where it's due, I don't actually think that any one at my work would mind either of those things. It wouldn't be practical or good for the baby, though.)

So, that's the postpartum-emotional back story. All of which I lay out there to say that we gave Ellie her first bottle . She did not take to it easily, like Nora. We are experimenting with different brands of bottles to see what might work best. I'm not admitting anything, but secretly, that might have made it a little easier on me.

But when Daddy got to be the one to feed the baby, it made it worth it. Nora seemed to enjoy the novelty of the event, but Eric got the familiar old blissed-out-on-baby look. I can definitely understand that. Up until now, his role has been two-fold: holding the baby when she's already heavily sedated by boob or alternately, holding her when boob didn't work, I'm exhausted and she's royally pissed off. It's tough to have a rewarding relationship made up of those things.

So in the end, I'm glad that we've started trying the bottles. It's going to take a while to get it right and Eric is going to have whole days alone with her starting in only (gulp!) three weeks. While it's tough to let go enough to diffuse the love a little, I know that's it's good for all parties involved. I mean, hey- last night, I napped for two hours and awoke to find out that she had gotten a bottle. That's a pretty awesome trade.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


I just gathered up this batch of cuteness and felt compelled to share.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ho hum

There's not a lot to say here. We had an appointment with physical therapy to fit Ellie for a reflux wedge and to get some exercises, positioning tips and whatnot to help her be more comfortable. Suddenly, she is able to sleep for a couple of hours between feedings. I haven't been so thrilled to have two hours of uninterrupted sleep since residency.
I've been walking as much as I can, trying to get my pelvis back in shape, so that I can get the rest of me back in shape. Luckily, Ellie thinks that stroller time is the greatest thing ever. Eric, being the supportive husband that he is, bought a bug net for her. Now, if I could just have one for me! We walked 3.2 miles yesterday, which was awesome. I thought that it would be nice to use the Superior Hiking Trail to cut through Hartley Park from my house to the grocery store, which was less awesome. It was sort of like I would imagine Southeast Asia- hot, insanely buggy and terrible terrain for a stroller. Lesson learned- stay on the roads, or at least the packed trails.
Nora is currently delighted with a new hen who made her way into our lives. Her name is Tulip and she is not friendly. She is a good layer, though, and Nora loves going out to look for her little brown eggs.
Autumn is coming fast and the garden is definitely winding down. Squash marmalade is in jars in the fridge, salsa is made and apple is frozen. Leaves are changing and the air is cooler every day. I'm trying to not focus on the coming winter, return to work and upcoming challenges of integrating Ellie into our lives. For now, I think I'll just worry about today. My family is healthy and happy and all is right with my world. It doesn't stop the presses, but it's enough.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Big Day!

Today is Ellie's due date. I for one am glad to not still be pregnant and to have been snuggling my baby for nine whole days. I think the rest of the family feels the same. That's not to say that it's been an easy nine days, of course.
Ellie has been a bit, um, tough on me. She's nursing and has been taking For. Ev. Er. to eat. Big deal, right? Well, it kind of is when she eats for an hour, sleeps for fifteen minutes then wants to eat again. She hates her crib and cosleeper, leaving me sleeping in a recliner with her on my chest. She also seemed to like biting many times a feeding, something I was less than entranced with. And I'm talking about clamping down and not letting go until I pried her hard little gums apart. After Nora, who was an efficient eater to say the least, Eric and I were finding ourselves at a loss about it.
Then, last night, I gave up and left her where she was happily sleeping in her swing. I slept next to her- for 4.5 hours without her waking up or grousing. that's how it occurred to me that she hates being laid flat...like a baby with reflux would. When I mentioned this to Eric, he agreed and thought that maybe eating actually hurts for her. So, we made one change- don't lay the girl flat.
I gotta tell you- I haven't been bitten all day. Freakin' awesome.
Also awesome was her first doctor's appointment. Far from allowing a little thing like constant pain get in the way of eating (perseverence! That's my girl!), she has gained 11 ounces since discharge from the hospital. She only had to gain 5 ounces to regain birth weight (the goal), so way to go, Ellie!
We got a referral to PT to fit her for a wedge to prop her up safely in her crib, potentially allowing me to rejoin the adults in the master bedroom again. How novel.
Ellie also suffered the indignation of a bath today. Hence the fuzzy-headed little imp at the top of the page. When she's pre-bath, she has a tendency to get a little greasy. None of us can keep our hands off that hair. During said bath, she lost her umbilical cord. I had no idea that was so enraging.
Nora still seems to be coping well with our divided attention. She is certainly thinking hard about the implications of the new being in her life. But she hasn't complained directly about Ellie. In fact, she likes to read her a bedtime story and give her kisses every night. I'll work on getting a video of that one for ya.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Welcome, Ellie!

It's been pointed out to me by numerous people that this blog has not been updated in an embarrassingly long time. I've used many excuses for that in the past. This time, I think I'm going to go with the feeling that complaining about the discomfort of pregnancy, the behavioral issues of a four year old dealing with change and anticipation of a new baby makes for pretty poor prose.
Sure, there were good times- a wonderful trip to Grand Marais, a happy, growing belly and a lovely summer in Duluth. None of that can compare to the last week. And now, I find myself with something to write about and the time to do it.
I woke up in the middle of the night Monday night and the contractions that had been increasingly painful, but never more often than 10 minutes apart were lasting longer and were stronger. Thinking I was still in the irritating latent phase of labor, I took a Benadryl and a couple of Tylenol and tried to get back to sleep.
No dice.
Since residency, I've had the idea in my head that there is a lot of labor that just doesn't require medical intervention. Even having had a baby before, I hadn't had much practice with that (Nora was an augmented labor, to say the least). And the doctors tell you that you shouldn't even think about going to the hospital until your contractions are 5 minutes apart, last for 60 seconds each and Have been doing that for an hour.
So, trying to follow that line of thinking, I decided to get in the bathtub, read a book and time my contractions. Then, I would just see what happened. Well, what happened is that my contractions were pretty irregular. When I got in the tub at 3:30, they were averaging 9 minutes apart. An hour later, they were every four minutes. I wasn't sure what to do, but dreaded calling the neighbors, waking Eric and making the uncomfortable trip down Duluth's bumpy roads in the middle of the night- only to be sent home. I thought about trying to wait until daycare opened at 6:30. I thought about calling and talking to the OB on call. I thought about taking a shower and brushing my teeth.
In all, I thought for about 10 minutes before deciding that I needed to call the hospital and let them know I was on my way. I had to be in some kind of active labor, right? Surely, they wouldn't send me home when I was so obviously uncomfortable.
I did manage to brush my teeth and comb my hair before I woke Eric up. I had to get him to make the phone calls, since I couldn't seem to make it through those contractions and still breathe and talk and stuff. Eric didn't know the number for OB, so he called the main operator. They asked for his call-back information, at which point he responded, "REALLY?!?!? You call me all the time." They were less than amused by that.
The much-anticipated bumpy roads did seem to make me contract more. By the time we made it the 5 minutes to the hospital, I was contacting every 2 minutes and continued to do so through registration in the ER, the ride up to the OB floor and getting put in a bed. I must have looked impressive, because there was a resident in the room in minutes.
Even with some experience delivering babies, I was not expecting to be told that my cervix was 9 cm. My first thought was honestly that the resident must have over-estimated. However, we were checked in at 5:35 and I delivered without a hitch at 6:41 on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.
For my FP/OB friends, it was a perfect delivery. No drugs or instrumentation (no time for it!), no trauma, baby on the belly and nursing while still gross, Daddy cut the cord. It was beautiful.
And this was the view out my hospital window:
I want to remember that forever.
And that is how Evelyn Lark Lauer ("Ellie") joined our family. She is lovely at 7 pounds, 5 ounces with lots of dark hair. Of course, Daddy and I are head-over-heels in love with her. This was more of a surprise:

I've never seen a look like that on Nora's face- or any four-year-old's for that matter. I think that when she asked for a sister, she actually meant it! Now, let's see how long that lasts...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Perfect Easter

What makes the perfect Easter at the Lauers' house?


That is Nora with a newly hatched ball of adorable fluff. There were thirteen of these, of varying breeds, sizes and colors. They are still a little too young to have declared their personalities or sexes, so they still bear pretty generic names. For instance, the one above is Medium Chick. (There are three yellow chicks and the other two are Tiny Chick and Fat Chick). There are also Chickadee, who is black and white, Fuzzy Feet and a whole range of medium greyish/brownish ones who have yet to earn even that much of a name.

It was amazing to watch the chicks hatch with Nora. She had waited patiently for the last 21 days of incubation, but I'm not sure she understood the true awesomeness of holding a new baby chick. They like to snuggle and eat out of your hands. We have also discovered that they are remarkably tolerant, but can be vocal when they've had enough of being squeezed and loved. We're still working on the gentle thing.

As I've mentioned before, we can only keep the females and only five of them. So keep your fingers crossed that there are five ladies in the mix!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wish Fulfillment

Hooray! Nora got her requested birthday present and everything is going well. My due date is somewhere in the third week of August, not nearly soon enough for Nora, who will randomly assault my belly to "check if the baby is big yet."

The best moment of the pregnancy to date is the following conversation:

Nora: Yay! I want it to be a girl.
Me: Yeah, we don't really get to choose that.
Nora: OK. I'm the big sister. I'll choose. It's a girl.
Me: You don't get to choose either.
Nora: Who chooses then?
Me: God chooses.

And then, Nora said something to make me realize that I had not done the leg work to support that statement.

"Why? Does God get to be the big sister?"