Sunday, September 28, 2008

Trading Places


Raising twins can be a bit of a challenge. Raising identical twins brings its own unique issues. For one thing, it is obvious they are twins and I get many comments about how I tell them apart as well as questions about whether twins run in my family. I should just say, "They do now," but more often than not, I launch into a long description about the different types of twinning and the chances of having twins. Fraternal twins happen when a woman drops two eggs during her cycle and both are fertilized, while identical twins happen when a fertilized egg splits. The tendency to drop two eggs is a genetic trait, and a woman who has one set of fraternal twins has a one in four chance of having fraternal twins again. Identical twins are a fluke of nature that happen at the same rate across all populations. My chances of having identical twins again are the same as any other woman, one in two hundred and fifty. Which always makes me feel as though I got struck by lightning or something. I already had my hands full when I found out I was having twins -- my kids were 4, 3, and 1 at the time -- and I figured sending me twins was proof that Heavenly Father had a sense of humor.

One of the first issues you navigate as a twin mom is whether to dress them alike. When they were babies, I'd sometimes dress them alike, but as soon as they are able, I've always encouraged my kids to choose their own clothes to wear.
Sarah and Allison almost never wear the same outfit, even though I buy two of everything when I find a good deal. One night this week the girls decided to wear the same pajamas. They were so excited about their original idea. Sarah came running upstairs first, “Mommy, I’m wearing the piggie shirt and Allison is wearing it too. We match!” Allison was equally enthusiastic about matching Sarah: “Look, mommy, we are being twins!” A bit later, as they sat on the couch next to each other in their piggie outfits, I told them that someday, they could try to trick people by wearing the same outfit. “Sarah, you could wear the same clothes as Allison and pretend to be her and no one would know!” Her eyes got all wide and excited about that possibility, then she said, “Yes, or I could pretend to be a bear!”

Allison & Sarah are mirror image twins; as they were developing, they often had features opposite one another. When Allison would get a tooth on the left side, Sarah would get it on her right. When they crawled, they each stuck a foot out to the side, but it was the opposite foot. What’s interesting is that while Sarah is right-handed, Allison is ambidextrous. She uses both of her hands interchangeably. In fact, she often uses them both at the same time. I’ve never seen a child color with two crayons or markers at the same time before, but Allison does it often:



My girls run the personality gamut from princess to boy scout. This morning, Allison asked me, "Mommy, can you make me more dresses? I really need more dresses to wear." Which is ironic because they own a ton of dresses and wear them nearly every day. There's nothing like wearing a dress to get you in the mood to dig in the mud, ride bikes, or search out creatures. No matter their attire, they are always catching snakes, roly-polys, worms, and the like, shrieking with excitement when they discover the smallest bug or the largest snake. Last week at our neighborhood dinner, Sarah ran around thrusting a praying mantis in everyone's face, exclaiming, "Isn't it so cute? Look at my funny guy" I silently closed my eyes and gave thanks it wasn't a snake.

"And Daddy is the prince!"

video

Allison drew this picture of "you and Daddy living happily ever after." She liked it so much she drew another, and another, and another, and took tape and pasted them all over the walls in our house. Isn't she sweet?

Cornbelly's

Yesterday, we went to Cornbelly's, a fall festival that includes a corn maze and lots of other activities. The normal price is 10.50, but they had a promotion where we got in for 93 cents. So it cost our whole family $7 instead of $70. We had a great time, and I got our first picture of all 7 of the kids together:



They even had a fun princess area, with lots of dresses, wigs, crowns and more, plus a coach:

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Let's hope this is a good sign

Michael came home from school the other day and told me, "Mommy, my teacher says she told her family all about me!"

Lunch

Scene: Kitchen, Michael packing his lunch for school.

Michael: "Mommy, I like bringing bananas to school. Do you know I like bringing bananas?"

Me (out loud): "That's great, Michael. Bananas are really good for you."
Me (in my head): "I'm doing such a good job teaching healthy eating habits."

Joey: "Yeah, there's this kid at school who always brings fruit snacks and he trades Michael for a banana."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Extremes of Emotion

My son Joseph has always been a challenge to raise. He's loving and fun and adorable and sweet, but he's also strong-willed and stubborn and emotional. I think the politically correct term is spirited. When he was a toddler, he frustrated me on a daily basis. He hated being restrained and would scream at the top of his lungs if I tried to buckle him into a stroller or car seat. When he was happy, the whole world knew it; he'd give me huge hugs and tell me I was the greatest. If he was sad, he cried for long stretches. And if he was mad, well, some memories are best left alone.

I've always thought that Joseph came prepared to conquer the world. And lately, he's doing it. He's mastered fishing, rockhunting, backpacking, reading, and learning. His favorite book right now is the Utah Field Guide to Fishing. He pores over rockhounding books and wants me to take him to obscure places in California, Nevada, or Utah to get fossils. He loves to explore the forest behind our house. He digs for worms and catches grasshoppers for the twins. He works hard, when he puts his mind to it, and he adores his family. Ask him to empty a dishwasher and you'll likely get a battle. But ask him to help with Eliza, and he's right there ready and willing. He'll take her outside to play or push her stroller up and down the street for an hour. No wonder she idolizes him.

But Joey still lives life in extremes of emotion. When he was three, he loved his older sister Lillian and told us he wanted to marry her. We told him that wasn't possible, and he wept tears of real sorrow.

Two days ago, Joey came home from school with a small snake he'd caught. He was so excited. He showed it off to his siblings. He let the twins help him get grass and dirt to fill up the terrarium. He took it to show his friend. He wanted me to buy him mealworms to feed it. He told me I was such a nice mom to let him keep a snake even though I don't like them. He was on top of the world.


Yesterday, Joey came home from school and rushed through his homework so he could spend the afternoon with his snake. A few moments later, he came in upset and crying, because the snake had escaped the terrarium in the garage. We tried our best to cheer him up, but he felt such sorrow. I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. We pointed out that he would have let the snake go in a week anyway. Lillian and the twins helped look for the snake with no luck. I reminded him that he still had all of his family to love him, and Eliza gave him a huge hug. But he still cried tears off and on throughout the day.

You think they might be sisters?

So what do you think? Do you think they could be sisters?

Eliza:

Harmony:

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sarah's Fish



Sarah went fishing early yesterday morning with Joey, her dad, and our kind neighbor friend. They got home a bit later than expected because they really wanted Sarah to catch her own fish, but it wasn't happening. Finally, with a bit of luck, Sarah caught one and was so proud. She brought it home, stroked it, loved it, then devoured it for lunch after DH grilled it for her. She certainly enjoyed her stint at the top of the food chain.

A good reason to have kids in your forties

Today at Church I was talking to an sweet older couple who live near us. Here's about how the conversation went:

Wife (handing me back Harmony): "Oh, she's such a doll!"
Husband: "Do you still want a dozen?"
Me: "I don't know; we'll see how many come. I'm only 30, so we've got time."
Wife: "Oh, well, you do have time. You could have kids until you're 40 or 45."
Husband: "Oh, I don't know, 45 is pretty old to have kids."
Wife: "I don't think so, dear. Sue Ellen had her last baby at 45, and he wasn't even retarded!"

Annoying Neighbors

We have a family that live near us that can be pretty annoying. They don't have any concept of personal space, they harass our cats, they steal from us (we're still hoping they'll return all the dishes they took!) and they are always hanging out, begging for food. They also keep us up at night with their racket. If they weren't so entertaining, we might have a major problem.




You may remember this family -- Back in June we adopted one of their children they'd abandoned. But we hadn't seen anything of them until a month ago when we began feeding our cats on the back porch. DH & I were alerted to their presence by a serious racket on our back porch one night. About 6 to 8 raccoons had climbed the flight of stairs and were gorging themselves on our cat's food. The first time I went out there, the one two feet away raised himself to his full 30 inch height and stared at me for a minute before taking off for the safety of the forest. Three of his buddies joined him. I looked over to the corner where we have a large bin with a lid we keep the cat food in. It looked untouched and I thought, “Oh good, they didn’t get into the big bag of food.” At that moment, the bin’s lid popped up, and a raccoon popped out!

They don’t seem excessively frightened by us – once when we caught them, one of them had his hand in the cat food and looked up at us with a nonchalant expression, just like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. Then he coolly wandered off and down the stairs. They are hilarious. Since then, they seem to show up more and more often, searching out the food. Most nights, we remember to bring the food in when it gets dark, but there have been a few nights we've forgotten. Last night, we had brought the food in but we heard tapping on the sliding glass door. We looked over and saw a raccoon with his face pressed up to the glass, as if to say, "Hey, where's my food?"

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Isn't She Lovely?





Harmony has grown up a lot in the last few weeks. She'll be six weeks old tomorrow and she's been smiling at us a ton this week. She's also gotten quite fussy and wants to be held constantly. I use our Baby Bjorn quite a bit to calm her down and get some housework done. This is the first time I've had a Bjorn to use with a newborn; we bought a baby frontpack/backpack way back when Lillian was born and thought we had it covered. It was a pain, though, because whenever I bent over or tried to do anything, the straps would fall off my shoulders. It was impossible to do much other than walk while using it, and even that was a pain because it made my shoulders ache in uncomfortable ways. The only good thing about it was that you could use it as a backpack, which we've probably done a total of 10 times over the years.

The Bjorn, on the other hand, is a dream. I can bend over, load a dishwasher, pick up a room, glancing down occasionally to grin at my adorable baby.

Thirty-Six Bags of Cereal

I went to the store this morning. Early. There was only one other person in the store that early in the morning, a fit, trim, young gal who looked liked she had just jogged to the store and was there to pick up a mid-morning snack. In fact, I heard her ask the checker, "Where do you keep the raisins?"

But this post isn't about her, even though she did look at me a bit strangely as I kept adding bags of cereal to my cart and then stupidly placed three cases of Campbell's soup on top of them because there wasn't enough room underneath and I was too lazy to move the 36 bags (yep, 36!) in order to place the soup on the bottom of the cart where it really belonged.

This post isn't about her because at least she had the decency to pretend she didn't notice me later on as I turned a corner and about 24 cans of cream of mushroom soup slipped off the top of the cereal mountain and rolled toward her feet. Though, on the other hand, she also didn't help me pick up the cans of soup, probably afraid to be associated with the crazy woman with cart full of cereal. Either that or she was wondering what kind of projectile might come her way next.

No, this post is about how organized and wonderful I am and how I'm tired of running out of cereal. This post is about one of my favorite websites, www.pinchingyourpennies.com, and about how I love my pantry.

So let me get on with it. When we built our dream house two years ago, I really wanted a big pantry. Like huge. In one of my first drafts of our home-to-be, I had a long room measuring 20 x 6 feet long. But one of the things you realize when you draw your own house plans is that every square foot of space has to be accounted for. Make your laundry room bigger by two feet? You just lost a closet in the next room over. Add a foot to the tight bathroom in the corner? You just lost another foot in your daughter's already cramped bedroom. In the case of our pantry, we were constrained by the wall it shared with DH's shop. Every time I made the pantry bigger and showed him the plan, he'd complain about how small his shop was becoming. So we compromised. I settled for a rather-large-but-not-excessive pantry and he got a smaller-than-desired-but-still-huge shop.

Of course, I also got a large kitchen, including a cabinet above our fridge that amazingly enough, fits more than 36 bags of cereal. (For the record, 24 of those bags were shredded wheat. The other 12? Sugary garbage I won't admit to feeding my children.)



I love our pantry. For the time being, we can fit all of our canned foods and other extras in it. Our main food storage is down underneath DH's shop and includes things like #10 cans, dried milk, wheat, flour, sugar, and the like, but everything else is immediately and easily accessible in my beautiful pantry:




We even had a corner free to put in our upright freezer, though we had a little hiccup when we found the freezer wouldn't fit through the pantry door! After measuring all angles and keeping several members of our ward's Elder's Quorum unoccupied for what I thought was an unacceptable length of time, my never-give-up husband persevered and got the freezer in the pantry by taking off the door. Gotta love husbands!



About a year ago, I decided I needed an easier way to organize and keep track of the cans of food and other things we buy in bulk. Though I had a rough organization, I went all-out. I wrote down every single type of canned food we buy, pored over our monthly menu plan, and figured out how many of each item we'd need for a year. Then I measured the pantry shelves and figured out how many cans would fit on a row and how high I could stack them. I figured out how much space a year's supply of each canned food would take up, rationed out the space, and made lovely little labels for each spot.



The floor became overflow, for when we buy more cans than will fit in the space allotted, and now I always know what we're running out of, simply by a quick glance at the pantry.

And how do I find great deals to fill up that pantry? I've found two websites that I love that do all the work for me, pinchingyourpennies.com and savvyshopperdeals.com. Both of them post lists of the best deals at each store every week and both of them match up the deals with coupons that come in the Sunday paper or that you can print at home. If you're in Utah, the Savvy Shopper even has a great shopping wizard that allows you to click on just the items you want to buy, then prints up a customized shopping list for you, complete with the coupons you need to bring with you. It's great. Pinching your Pennies has awesome forums that let me know when I can buy shoes for $5 a pair online or when Overstock.com has a great deal on some cool Christmas gifts. Because of them, I knew that cereal was $1 a bag this morning. Because of them, I knew that it was time to stock up on cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup at 2 for $1. Very cool. I don't usually use coupons because the volume of food we buy is so huge I'd never collect enough coupons for it, but I do stock up on some wonderful sales every year. So go take a peek at the websites. Both are based in Utah, but PYP also has deals by state, online, and more.

And next time you're at the store and some cans of soup come rolling your way, take pity on the poor woman and help her pick them up. Maybe you'll even burn the calories from those raisins you just bought.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm now one of "those women"

You know, those women? DH has always protested every time I cut my hair, saying that he doesn’t want me to become “one of those women who cuts their hair short just because they have kids.” Well, that’s exactly what I’ve done now and I couldn’t be happier. Even DH admits the hairstyle "isn't as bad as I expected." I should have done it years ago. It is amazingly easy to fix every morning in a matter of seconds, and I think it suits me.

Here's before:


And after:

Friday, September 12, 2008

On My Own . . .

(pretending he's beside me)

DH is gone to Virginia this weekend on a business trip, leaving me alone with seven kids. For some reason, I keep thinking of that line from the Incredibles that says, "You left Jack-Jack ALONE?!?" though I know the comparison is flawed. He started a new job a year ago that will require him to travel every few months to conferences, but this is his first one. He left Wednesday morning and comes home Saturday night. This will take some getting used to. I've been on my own before, but usually, it's because my crazy DH has taken a trip with three or four of the kids. In those cases, it's been a break. This time, I've missed him, and yes, all the work he does around here.

Not that I don't spoil myself when DH is gone. I've never liked cooking much, so it's the first thing to go when life gets stressful. Usually, if I don't get around to cooking something for dinner, DH will step in and make something wonderful. He likes to cook and I'm more than happy to let him. This time, we've had Papa Murphy's pizza for dinner twice and Chinese take-out once.

Bedtime is a bit trying, but at least it's only the younger four that need bedtime help. I love that I can just tell the 9, 7 and 6 year old to just "go to bed," and they do it. And I love that Joey and Lillian both like to help the twins to bed. They'll set up secret book hunts and have the twins search for the books they will then read to them. Lillian is much better at calming them down, mostly because Joey's a bit over-enthusiastic in his reading and ends up having the twins shrieking and jumping around instead of quietly lying down when he leaves the room.

Eliza is an awesome sleeper. Put her in her crib, hand her a pacifier and a stuffed animal, and she's out. It's a beautiful thing, especially since I remember the twins at this age climbing out of their cribs and bouncing off the walls instead of sleeping.

Harmony has not made up her mind whether to sleep at night or during the day yet, so I don't know what to expect. Last night was fairly good; I was up twice to feed her and she went back to sleep, but other nights she's been up for hours at a time and won't go back to sleep without a lot of trouble.

It's funny how much of a young mother's life revolves around sleep, isn't it?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Overheard at the Library

Near the children's book section, little boy clutching spiderman book:

"But mommy, I want this!"

"Sweetie, we don't get books about spiderman because they have things we don't believe in them, like hitting and fighting."

"But I WANT it!"

20 minutes later, near the checkout section, boy still clutching book:

"But Spiderman saves the day!"

"I'm sorry, but we can't get books about Spiderman."

"But I WANT it!"

Disappointed little boy leaves with his mother. Allison notices the spiderman book, picks it up and says, "Oooo, Spiderman! Mommy, I want this book."

"Sure, okay."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I'm Amazing -- But So are You!

In the last few days, I've had three people tell me that I'm amazing, mostly due to the fact that I have seven children. I won't lie; I think I'm amazing too. I think it's amazing my children came so close together; it's amazing that I was able to function through six pregnancies; it's amazing that my children are turning into thoughtful, dependable, loving individuals; it's amazing that I've nursed twins and four other children through their first year of life; it's amazing that I still want more children; it's amazing that I look for the good amidst the difficult in my life; and it's amazing that I try each day to be kinder, more patient, and more wise than I was the day before. The truth is, if I didn't think what I do is amazing, I wouldn't have chosen this life. I would have chosen something much easier and less fraught with frustration and difficulty.

But I think it's the difficulty itself that people find so amazing. We admire others who do tough things, who persevere despite the challenges they face.

And here's where I come to my message: you're amazing too, because your challenges are just as tough for you as mine are for me. That's one of the reasons we came to earth -- to be stretched by encountering trials and difficulties. In life, we have periods of rest and calm and we have periods where we are stretched, times when it takes every ounce of energy and willpower just to get out of bed and face the world, times when we feel overwhelmed by all that we face and times when we're unsure of what to do or where to turn. If we never felt challenged, we wouldn't learn to trust and rely on God.

Which is why God has a way of taking us to our limits, and not always in a way that is apparent to others. Sometimes, our challenges are given to us like burdens to carry and the very act of carrying previous burdens makes the additional burden easier. Having children is like that; if someone handed me seven kids nine years ago and said, "Here they are, good luck!" there is no way I would have been successful as a mother. But growing, stretching, and adding those children one (or two!) at a time strengthened me for the work and gave me insight and wisdom into raising them.

Other challenges come out of the blue and shock us to the core. So many of my friends face challenges that others cannot comprehend. While it is easy to see me, with my seven children, and think, "Amazing!" there are so many women who face their hidden challenges with courage and determination. I find that amazing. I think of a wonderful friend from high school, kind and beautiful, who has yet to find someone to marry. I think of a friend who had just had her fifth boy (on the side of the road on the way to the hospital!) and named him "Alden" because that was IT for them. Her road to mothering, and her optimism in facing so many males in her family, amazes me (If I'd had all boys, I think our "All done" would have come a bit sooner). I think of a mother of two who quietly makes the best of life and loves her husband despite his addiction.

I think of another mom of five boys who maintains her faith and tries her best to provide a normal life for her oldest son who is suffering from a brain tumor. Even her ordinary trips to the library become an act of courage. I think of two families I know who excitedly prepared to welcome their first child and then buried them instead. I think of another friend who lost her husband while she was expecting their second child. She faced that birth alone and carried on each day through grief and loneliness.

I think of a younger me, the perfect, confident mom of two, suddenly blindsided by postpartum depression. Trust me, compared to figuring that out, parenting seven is a breeze. And I'm sure my good friend with three kids born in under two years (one adopted) would agree that while her life is challenging now, its difficulties are not as painful as the many years she yearned for children and could not have them.

A mother with one or two children may see another with five or seven and wonder, "how in the world do you do it?" But the truth is, having one child and raising her the best you know how is an amazing act: navigating through those first sleepless months, learning to give and sacrifice and stretching in ways you never expected. Having two is a whole new ballgame: figuring out just how to meet everyone's needs when both children need you now; finding out just how far you can function without regular sleep, wondering what you're doing wrong when your children aren't the best friends you hoped they'd be. Having three is an act of sheer nerve: by then, you know what you're getting into and you do it even though you know they'll outnumber you. Having four . . . well, I don't know what having four is like because I skipped straight to five. But you get the point.

So whether you have two kids or twelve or none, you are amazing, because you reach forward, look upward, and just do your best with whatever life has handed you. The number of children we have is secondary; the way we meet our own life's mission is primary.

I salute all the wonderful women I know.

You are amazing!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Because Snakes & Four-Year-Olds are Such a Great Combination . . .

Back to School!


Random thought about the back-to-school scene:

* First grade can be a hard transition. Last year, Joey had a particularly tough time, and this year it's Michael. Going from half-days to all-days at school is hard; it's physically and mentally demanding.

* I love not having a kindergartner this year! Two years in a row were enough. That 11:30 pick-up is just a pain; I have four preschoolers this year but feel so free not being tied to that schedule. I took them all up to Salt Lake to the Tracy Aviary on Thursday, mostly just because I could. Trips last year had to be well-timed because of that darn 11:30 pick-up.





* There's something about having all one gender at home during the day. I'm still so excited about having four little girls in a row.

* I am totally not cut out for the yearbook committee chair position, mostly because I feel so self-conscious snapping pictures all over the school. I feel like I should really apologize and ask permission before I just go snapping that camera in a teacher's face. But I snap away anyway and mumble something about "just getting some pictures for the yearbook" as I beat a hasty retreat.

* At least I'm not the sole chair this year; my friend Wendy is co-chair with me. Considering she has a lot more talent and patience for creating the pages than I do, I think it's a great fit.

* Our school expanded its time by 15 minutes, getting out this year at 3:15 instead of 3:00. There better be a really good reason they are taking my children for an extra 15 minutes. Luckily, we live close by and the kids get home by 3:30, but still, by the time they get home, do their homework and chores, have dinner and do whatever other activities there might be, there's not a lot of time left to just be a kid.

* Which makes me feel guilty about making the kids do chores in addition to going to school. But not guilty enough that they get to stop doing them.

* I was looking through Michael's scholastic book order and a group of "Biscuit" books caught my eye. They were easy readers and reasonably priced and I was thinking about buying them until I read the sample page they presented. The words on the page were: "Biscuit wants to go to school. Woof, woof!" I guess I'm a book snob, but I refuse to buy any books that include the words, "woof, woof" in them.

* The best way to get homework done and out of the way is to make the kids do it right when they get home. Luckily, it's second nature for my kids; they get home and head to the kitchen table, dropping shoes, coats, belts, backpacks, and lunch bags along the way. Seriously, even though the front door is just steps from the mud room, it would probably take too much time and effort to actually walk in there and put those things away. Then again, the trail they make to the kitchen table is probably serving some psychological Hansel-and-Gretel-bread-crumbs-type-need, because it would be pretty sad if they couldn't find their way to the front door again; maybe they'd be stuck at that kitchen table doing homework forever.

* My child's teacher sends home notes telling us that their book report must be "at there level." Her weekly newsletters are similarly full of grammer and spelling errors. DH says I should correct the mistakes and send the notes back to school. Somehow, I don't think that would be the perfect way to develop a great parent-teacher relationship!

* The lists of supplies my children were requested to bring to school was a mile long this year. I filled up each of their backpacks with things we had on hand, but as a silent protest, I refused to go out and buy dry erase markers.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"But We are Sorry, Mommy"

Last Tuesday, the twins brought scissors with them to preschool. When we got home, they were playing quietly (too quietly, in retrospect) while I prepared lunch. When I called them to come to the table, there was an ominous silence. I called again. Sarah popped up from behind the couch and said, "We are cutting ours hair." Not again! I've been working for months to grow out Allison's bangs. They were finally getting long enough to pull back, and both she and Sarah looked cute, but different enough to make it easy for folks to tell them apart. With one swipe of the scissors, we're back to the beginning. It could have been worse. Back in November, just days before our family picture, they cut their hair back to the scalp. This time, Allison ended up with bangs about the same length as Sarah's, and Sarah cut a few odd "layers" into her hair. As I looked at their hair in display and sadness, Sarah said, "But we are sorry, mommy." Allison concurred, "We won't do it again!" What a life! Don't they look remorseful in the picture I got of them moments later?

Monday, September 01, 2008

Not Invincible


After having a pretty good week and feeling ready to conquer the world or at least my little corner of it, on Thursday afternoon, I ended up with mastitis. I shouldn't complain. I've had other complications from breast-feeding, like cracked and bleeding nipples, engorgement, and the like, but not this one, so I was probably due. It came on suddenly. Thursday morning, I was walking and feeling good, but Thursday night, I was swollen and in pain and had a pounding headache. That night was miserable. I had a fever, chills, and every muscle ached. By morning, I had hardly slept and felt miserable. I called my doctor's office as soon as they opened, only to be told that "the next available appointment is on Tuesday." TUESDAY? Hadn't I mentioned I was dying here? I must have sounded desperate (and I was about to cry) because they put a nurse on the phone and after listening to my symptoms, she called in a prescription for some penicillin-based antibiotics. They seem to be working, because Saturday was much better.

After sleeping peacefully for the first two weeks of her life, awake for just an hour once or twice a day, Harmony woke up this week. She's awake for much longer periods of time and has had a harder time soothing herself back to sleep. Which has been a lot of fun, though not so much fun when it happens at night. Friday night, she was awake from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday night, she was awake for an hour at 2 a.m., and last night, she was awake from 1 in the morning until 2:30. She was happy as could be as long as I held her. She'd even be good when I put her in her bassinet to (hopefully) drift off to sleep. I'd stumble over to my bed and lie down for a few minutes. Just as I was starting to drift off, she'd give out a wail and we were back in the recliner, rocking and enjoying each other. And truthfully, I love those moments in the middle of the night when all the world is quiet and it's just me and my baby. I love touching her little fingers and having them wrap around mine and marveling at how small and perfect she is.

And while Harmony's been more wakeful, she's also been more interactive, and it was sweet irony that it was Friday, my horrible sick day, that she gave me her first social smile, and all-out grin that seemed to say, "But I'm worth it, aren't I?"

While she was talking and grinning at me, I tried to catch it on camera. This was the best I could do:

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