Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Valentine's Day

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Nell was coloring with a red crayon and drew something that inadvertently looked kind of like a heart.  So, since Valentine's Day was rapidly approaching, I turned her artwork into a Valentine's Day card for her Daddy.

Nathan and I have never been a couple that went out to fancy dinners or bought one another expensive gifts for Valentine's Day, but celebrating Valentine's Day with a toddler can be all kinds of fun!  I wore a pink shirt, dressed Nell in pink, and served heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast.

Dinner was our usual Friday night dinner: pizza!  But it seemed especially appropriate since pizza is my Valentine's number one favorite food.

I know.  Valentine's Day was last week already.  And everybody and her mom makes heart pancakes on Valentine's Day.

Basically, the photo of Nell is the real reason for this post.  Because she's cute.

Friday, February 14, 2014

29 weeks

From earlier this week:

Somehow in the past couple of weeks I feel as though I've managed to double in size.  A couple of friends and students' parents have commented, "The baby has really grown in the past week!", which is a nice way of saying, "Been eating a lot lately?", or "How are you still bearing your own weight?!", or "Excuse me, I momentarily mistook you for a school bus."

Yes, word to the wise: commenting on the baby's size is allowed.  Blame it all on the baby!

It's probably not a good sign that, with 2+ more months to go, I'm already feeling like there can't possibly be much more growing room for this little girl within my torso.  

A picture with the pajama-clad little lady who's been a little under the weather and subsequently a little on the unhappy side this week:

Dear little one, 
I can't really decide if night times are the best part of my day, or the worst.  On the one hand, I spend pretty much all day every day looking forward to the time when I can go to bed.  (That's the third trimester in a nutshell for you!)  On the other hand, I have a lot of pain in my hips at night, and have a hard time getting comfortable.  Not to mention, it's already getting hard to roll over from side to side in the middle of the night.  What I definitely love, though, is feeling you start to wriggle around once I'm lying still.  My bedtime seems to be your cue to make your presence known one last time each night.  My midwives say you are healthy and right on track for growth!  Aaaaand, for the time being at least, you're head down and hanging out just where we want you.  Good job, little girl!

{previously: 29 weeks with Nell}

Thursday, February 13, 2014


Today was one of those days where I'm looking back on several motherhood moments that aren't exactly my finest.  The day seemed aimless.  I didn't get much done.  I felt impatient and frustrated with my toddler, a.k.a. Princess Grump.

We had a snowstorm today, and spent the day indoors.


All my students ended up canceling for today, but Nathan still had to go in to work, so it was just the two of us all day, Nell with a bit of a runny nose and me hobbling around thanks to a lovely little condition I have in which basically, pregnancy makes your ligaments stop holding your joints together properly and IT HURTS A LOT.  And you don't even get a reprieve at night, because it actually defies all logic and hurts even more when you're trying to lie still and get some sleep.  But far be it from me to complain; I did, after all, get in a whole four or five weeks of feeling good between the hyperemesis and then this setting in.

Nell woke up from her nap this afternoon in a royal funk, and weirdly refused to be picked up, didn't want to be snuggled, didn't want me near her, but wailed louder than ever when I offered her some time to herself and started to leave the room.  Toddlers!  They can be among the world's greatest mysteries.  She refused her lunch in a state of near hysteria, and only finally settled down when offered a rare afternoon nursing session.  After that, the same lunch that was previously inconceivably offensive was gobbled down with tacit approval, and followed up with a whole grapefruit, one of her latest loves.

{"Fine.  That meal was acceptable after all, Mom.  But merely acceptable."}

Her satisfaction was short-lived.  I even resorted to putting on a ridiculous toddler show on Netflix late in the afternoon -- something I haven't done except when the days of hyperemesis were leaving me practically incapacitated -- to pass the final minutes until Nathan got home.  I did this partly because Nell was just fussing constantly, and partly because I needed to lie down because I felt like I couldn't breathe very well.  Great!  Oxygen deprivation has set in already and I still have ten more weeks to go.

We had grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup for dinner, and I managed to touch the outer edge of my thumb against the frying pan for the split-est of seconds, which somehow was enough to raise a white blister and cause a lot of pain.

Did you know that some people claim aluminum foil can help heal a burn?  No joke.  My burn was feeling OK only so long as I was running it under cold water or holding ice in a towel on it, and an hour and a half later, still in pain, I found myself turning to Earth Clinic - a site I love - for advice on treating burns.  The aluminum foil trick seemed too bizarre NOT to try, so try it I did.  And within five minutes that darn burn was feeling significantly better.  Within ten minutes it didn't hurt.  In twenty minutes Nathan found me and asked if I was protecting my thumb from aliens, and I took off the foil.  The pain hasn't come back!  Placebo effect?  Or can this possibly be real?

Nell got super cute and sweet after dinner, which she likes to do so that her Daddy will be charmed and wonder what her Mama could ever find remotely difficult about such a sweet little cherub.  

Really, though, it's so nice that even runny-nosed-cranky-pants days can end with snuggles and happy bedtimes.  It may take her a while to fall asleep sometimes, but who can complain about a happy girl that likes to snuggle and oh-so-cutely insists on Mama or Daddy lying beside her and singing a bit at bedtime?

{And usually just when I think she's drifted off to sleep, she turns toward me and declares, "LA!", which means, "Excuse me Mama, I didn't give you permission to stop singing."}

Sunday, February 9, 2014

28 weeks

From last week.  Because being up-to-date with these things is overrated, right?

A few appointments ago, after I had started feeling better and been able to stop taking Zofran for my hyperemesis, my midwife joyfully exclaimed, "You look so much better!  Your face is fuller!"  

I replied, "Yes, I noticed that too... but I wasn't quite as thrilled about it as you are."

A full face.  Just what every woman wants.

Readers, try to contain your jealousy.

Dear little one, 
You have started flip-flopping around SO MUCH more this past week!  You're a wiggle worm -- with a penchant for flailing against my bladder, it would seem.  I've read that if something unexpected happened now and you were born early, you'd have a 95% chance of survival!  It's nice to know we've made it this far with you still safe and sound.  I'm definitively into the third trimester now, and I'm so, so tired.  Sometimes by the time I've put your big sister to bed, I want to crawl right into bed myself... yes, by 8 pm!   
It's a strange sort of miracle how mothers can survive with sleep deprivation.  These days I feel a little grumpy when your sister wakes me in the middle of the night (shh, don't tell!), but I have a feeling that once I'm holding you in my arms, I'll be ready to do regular night wakings and night feedings all over again. Love is such a weird and wonderful thing. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

What's in a Name: Ellen Cecilia

It probably won't come as a surprise that the topic of baby names has been on my mind lately.  And it's definitely a subject of discussion around here, what with baby number 2 due to arrive in less than three months now.

Oh, and speaking of baby names, if you haven't read the post How to Name a Baby from Wait by Why, you should.  Humorous, interesting, and with cute stick figure sketches... what more could you want?  Read it.  Really.

{this picture was taken while I was in labor with Nell; Nathan was doing some last-minute considerations!}

I have a few general considerations in mind when trying to choose baby names.  I find myself drawn toward names with either different number of syllables in the first and the middle names, or with the emphasis on different syllables.  Maybe this is in part because my parents chose names for myself and my siblings that follow this pattern:

EM-il-y ANN-e
SAR-ah ma-RIE
JON-a-than DEAN
CHRIS-to-pher ED-ward

I am personally somewhat less drawn to names where the first and middle names are both two syllables, and both with the emphasis on the first syllable.  I think maybe a lot of people think this way, either consciously or subconsciously.  And since probably a majority of names have emphasis on the first syllable, I think it makes sense why so many parents choose middle names like Marie or Elizabeth, names that switch up the emphasis in the overall flow of the name.

So, when Nathan and I were working on choosing names, this was a definite consideration in my mind.  And I must say, I'm rather pleased with the outcome of Ellen Cecilia!

Another important thing to us is the meaning of a name.  Sometimes I forget that this isn't an important consideration for everyone, and not everyone is weirdly obsessed with looking up names and their meanings like I am.  But meaning was definitely an important consideration for us.

And a third consideration for me is the popularity of a name.  I tend to want to avoid the top ten list, and in fact, the top twenty, and probably even the top 100.  In fact, when I find a name I like that barely registers on the (my favorite baby name website!) name voyager graphs in recent history, I'm pretty pleased about it.  I usually like classic names, and quite a few 'old-fashioned' or vintage names, but tend to avoid not only the currently popular names, but also any names that sound trendy or modern or androgynous.

{Just my personal opinion here, folks!}

I had heard the name Nell as a given name, and really liked it.  I remember suggesting it to Nathan early in my pregnancy.  His response was, "Nell?  That's not a name."  I pointed out that it was, indeed, a name, and looked it up on to show him some name stats.  He didn't seem to like it, though, so it fell by the wayside in our name conversations.

Months later, I mentioned a violin student of mine by the name of Nell.  Nathan commented, "Nell.  That seems like a name you would really like, babe."

"Well, I do really like it... I've told you that!"

He had no recollection of our previous conversation.

Together we ended up deciding that we'd use Nell as a nickname for Ellen, but curiously, we first agreed on Nell and then decided on her given name of Ellen, which means "light."

We often get asked about using Nell as a nickname for Ellen.  Apparently a lot of people assume it's a nickname because it is close to Ellen spelled backwards.  Umm, actually, that has nothing to do with it.

Nell is a medieval nickname for Ellen in the same way that Ned can be a nickname for Edward; they come from the old-fashioned endearments "Mine Ellen" or "Mine Edward," abbreviated: Mine Ellen > minellen > Nell.

And yes, we do call her Ellen and not just Nell, and no, we don't only call her Ellen when she's 'in trouble'!

As for middle names, we were still undecided about Nell's middle name when I went into labor.  We talked about it some during the labor, and in the end, we didn't settle on it until after she was born.

Nathan was suggesting Jane.  I liked Cecilia, who is the patron saint of church musicians.  It seemed fitting, given that Nathan is a church musician, and also, that my processional at our wedding had been Handel's "Ode to St. Cecilia's Day."  I actually can't remember when or how the name Cecilia occurred to me, or whether I liked the name first or thought of the patronage connection first or what.  But somehow, it became my top middle name pick.

{Despite the fact that the meaning of the name Cecilia is 'blind.'  Maybe not the nicest name meaning ever.  So we like to just think of the saint reference and kind of sweep the actual meaning under the rug in this case.}

In the end, since I had just given birth and since my friend Story was there agreeing that Cecilia was a beautiful choice, I won on the middle name front.  Actually, Nathan really likes it too.  So, we both won.

Now the question is, will we be able to come up with something we both like as much for the new little lady joining the family?  And if we're not in total agreement, whose vote should carry the most weight? I think it should be the one doing all the hard work in this whole baby-growing process, ahem, but oddly enough, Nathan thinks his opinion is equally valid.  Men... who can understand them?!

What do you think?  Share your favorite baby names, your kids' names, your future kids' names, and your name-selecting wisdom with me!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

27 weeks

From last week, at 27 weeks pregnant with this little lady:

And here's Nell riding the bump:

Dear little one,
Well, the nightly heartburn has arrived, just like I used to have with your big sister!  Not so much fun.  Frequent restroom trips, too, oh, and I've started seeing a chiropractor in hopes of alleviating the pain in my back and hips.  It's fun having your big sister here as an ever-present reminder of how very worth these minor inconveniences I know you'll be.  Speaking of your sister, she loves babies so much right now, and points out every baby we see -- whether in a book or magazine or in church or the grocery store -- with great delight.  She has also recently developed a real affinity for dolls, and is loving her "baba" (baby) doll I got her recently.  She carries her everywhere, pats her gently, and even sings to her.  Aside from the occasional drop on the head that poor doll suffers, I'd say Nell is pretty ready to be a big sister!