Wednesday, August 18, 2010

a lot to report

A lot has happened in the Vaughan household over the past week. Last Friday (well, two fridays ago now...) was Roan's preschool graduation. It was such a sweet ceremony. I will admit I was a bit dismissive of it initially. Before we left for it, Arwen asked me whether I was going to cry. "Oh give me a break. The whole thing is silly to begin with." But wouldn't you know, the minute I saw her rounding the bend, wearing her pink cap and gown I started bawling. Oh how our little baby is growing up!

(These are her the morning of her graduation. She looks so contemplative doesn't she?)

Here the kids are on the stage. They were so precious. Notice Roan is the grumpy looking one at the top far right with her hair all messed up, sitting by herself and pouting. Apparently she woke up from her nap just not quite herself. She snapped back to her usual sunny disposition right after all the cameras stopped snapping and the videos stopped rolling. Oh well!

The ceremony was so sweet. They called each child up to get their diplomas, which were watermarked with a photo of them in their cap and gown. They gave each child a chance to say what they want to be when they grow up (adorable!!!). And they performed several songs and dances. Then we had snacks and kool aid, and each child got a ballon and prize bag with coloring books, crayons, bubbles and other fun stuff. But the most touching thing was that each child was given a "Like Book" where Mom and Dad can write down something they like about the kiddo every night. And for the past several months, their teachers were doing that for them once a week. Some of the entries were very touching.

Here's Roan with one of her best buddies Gracie


Us with her teacher Mrs. Martha. What an amazing woman she is!

Giving the new coloring book a spin

Sharing kool-aid

Blowing celebratory bubbles

Then we went out to celebrate at a kid friendly pub down the street, complete with ice cream sundaes. It was a wonderful! [PS. I hope to post some videos soon, but they need a little editing and I didn't want to hold up this blog entry any longer.]

On Sunday we got to meet Roan's new teachers, see her new school (Compass Montessori), and meet some of her new classmates. She got a chance to play on the playground and see the fish that live in her class. They also have fire-belly toads that will be returning to the classroom soon. She was really excited about her new school and wanted to go immediately.

After the meet & greet, Compass hosted a picnic at a huge park, complete with bouncy castle, snowcones and cotton candy. It was great to meet some other parents on the playground and give her a chance to make some friends. I have to say it was quite impressive to see the kids playing - in general - very well together. They seem well behaved and respectful, even the older ones. (Roan's campus goes up to 6th grade, and the other campus goes through 12th).

We also did some babysitting for Logan while Jen & Micah were at the Mile High Music Festival. These two cousins love each other so much, it's adorable!

I thought I got a video of them, but apparently I only snapped this one photo of Roan feeding Logan. She so enjoyed herself. Someone's ready to be a big sister!

On Monday Roan had her first swim lesson. I didn't manage to capture much at all, just two short clips before class started. She was SO excited. It was great. I think it's 5 or 6 other kids around her same age all with a 20-something young man named Isaac. At first glance he didn't strike me as someone very experienced with kids, but clearly the guy knows what he's doing. He had all the kids paying attention, doing as instructed, and Roan at least was doing things I never can seem to get her comfortable with. We saw her raise her hand to be the first one to "swim" on her back (with his help) -- something she usually fights us on. It was great to see her really enjoying herself.

And then Tuesday was Roan's first day of school. She was excited, and so were we. We had all her school supplies together, her lunch packed and her clothes laid out the night before. She picked out a dress Lolli made for her with her name on it, so all her new friends at school could learn her name on the first day.

She also took along a new school bag I sewed for her. It was a fun project. The school asks that you get a small canvas bag for your child and decorate it together. I had intended for her to pick out patches that I could either iron on or sew with minimal effort. But the store had a really lousy selection, and they were pricey to boot, so I decided to just do it all from scratch. The best part of this project was I didn't have to buy anything other than the bag -- the rest of it was all scraps I had lying around. She said she wanted an ocean scene, so she picked out what sea creatures she wanted and what colors they should be (a brown & green jellyfish, a pink shark, a yellow fish, a red eel and a blue whale). I think she had as much fun with it as I did.

Being the classic Type A parents we are, she was the first kid in the classroom on the first day. Her teachers were all so sweet (there are 3 for the 27 children). Here's a photo of the classroom before the other kids arrived. It's full of inventive and inviting materials that spark the natural curiosity every kid possesses. The room is also very thoughtfully prepared to enable the kids to be very independent. They are responsible for carrying their own school bags, putting them away in their cubbies, changing into their school shoes, and selecting a work mat and an activity to play with until the school bell. Then at exactly 8 o'clock a kindergartener (the class has 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds) rings a little bell and politely tells the children to put away their playthings and sit in a circle together for "First Meeting." It is a pretty impressive thing to see in action.

This is Roan on her first day, playing with the pink playdoh she picked out and making a new friend, Storey, who is a kindergartener. When we tried to give her a hug and kiss goodbye, she could have cared less. She was in the zone. She is really ready for this next big step!

And in other news, I keep getting bigger. My weight gain isn't too bad, but my circumference is overwhelming! It's weird though how the pics don't always convey the full story. These two photos were taken 1 day apart. And it's not like that grey dress really hides things-- I looked much bigger in the mirror than in the photo. The one in the blue shirt is much more true to life.

This is from this week, Week 22

Literally everywhere I've been the past two days -- post office, grocery school, Roan's class -- complete strangers have made comments like, "Oh when's the baby due, any day now?" And I'm like, "Uh, no, I still have FOUR MONTHS to go, but thanks. A lot." The first 5 times were kind of funny but it's starting to make me self conscious. And it's not coming from clueless bachelors. It's always women. Usually who are toting one or two kids along behind them. WTF?!?

Maybe I'm reaching a plateau. I've heard that with the second you show much sooner, but you don't usually end up much bigger than the first time. At some point the expansion slows down. This is what I have been told. But this is a Schlobohm boy I'm carrying here, so all bets are off. Will the growth curve remain exponential, or will it level off? It's gonna be what it will be so I might as well sit back and just hope I can still fit into my elastic jeans two weeks from now. All I know is if things keep going like they are I'm going to grow out of my huge fabulous maternity wardrobe in no time.

He is kicking a lot more. Today in yoga class he was dancing the samba or something. It was nice. This past week I've also experienced some not so great pregnancy side effects. One morning I woke up with a mystery bruise on my belly. Probably all the extra blood flow and stretching popped some blood vessels near the surface. And then for the past few days I've been experiencing what is apparently "round ligament pain". I had heard of this and always envisioned it would feel something like a tight hamstring, only in the baby belly area. But it's quite different. It feels at times like an intense stabbing pain that in some cases is so great it caused me to cry out involuntarily. Sometimes it's more mild. When it happens - always in the same spot - the surface of my belly there feels incredibly tender. But then it goes away. I'm under the impression that this is pretty typical for around 20+ weeks and that it won't necessarily stick around till the end. I'm starting to wear a maternity belt for support, which should help. Anyway that's it for The Pregnancy Report.

In House News, we have done our final walkthrough on the house, and now have a close date: this Thursday August 26th, just 2 days before Arwen's 37th birthday! Our To Do List has grown quite long as you can imagine. But we'll get through it one thing at a time. This is an exciting time of so many new beginnings for us!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Today was a really nice day. We have our friends Xave & Ginger in town, which is always fun. I got to go to yoga today, which always puts me in a good frame of mind. We had our first Compass Montessori playdate - fun! And then we went to a wonderful backyard BBQ at Kelly and Lee Ann's house with the Wagners and the Longs. Now we're pooped and I can't wait to go crawl into bed.

But first I realized I didn't post this week's belly photo. Here it is, 20 weeks.

Also I don't think I've given an update on the house. We had the inspection on Wednesday and it went much better than we expected. The foundation looks great, the wiring has been updated, the plumbing is in good shape, and we won't have to replace the roof. Honestly, we've never had such a good inspection on any house we've tried to buy. So, we're pretty pumped! It's looking like this thing is really going to happen.

Today in yoga class during our meditation I realized how much this house means to me. Here I've been trying not to get emotional about it, and not get my hopes up. But I realized today that like it or not I am pretty invested in it. The yoga instructor had us close our eyes and picture ourselves in our "special place." Before today any time I did that I went to an imaginary place that's a field full of wildflowers with a big rock just right for sitting right next to a free flowing stream. Always that was my place. But today I found myself sitting - in my imagination - in the front gardens of the new house, under the grape arbor, taking in the poppies and smelling the Russian sage and lavender, and feeling so at peace.

I realized that after moving so much throughout my childhood, and on into my adulthood - about every 3 years on average - that I've not really had a sense of place to ground me. Now for the first time we are buying a house simply because we love it - not because it fits into our long term strategy for building our real estate portfolio (although it does that pretty well too). This is not so much a strategic move as a quality of life move. Although with the good deal we're getting on the place, and the sweet setup we have on the Wolff house for making it a rental, luckily the money part makes it a no-brainer. But we are buying this house because we love it. Because it's just the kind of space we have wanted to share with each other and with our children. And it's the first time I've ever been looking at a move into a house that maybe we just might stay in for a long, long time. Arwen grew up in the same house for his first 19 years, so for him this isn't exactly a first. For me, it means a lot. I wanted very much to give my kids a special place to grow up in, to make memories in, to come back to when they are older. And this just might be it. Pretty neato.

Something else I've been thinking a lot about is what a different experience this pregnancy is for me than Roan's was. It's only now with some distance that I can see how tightly wound and anxious I was the first time around. I focused on making lists, reading books, setting goals, and accomplishing things in the thought that that would somehow get me "ready" for parenthood.

What I didn't realize is what a toll that would take on me. I never really learned how to relax or how to slow down and take care of myself. Later I would learn what essential skills those are. It's no wonder that by the end I was a very miserable person. This time around there are no lists. Well ok there's one VERY short list but I don't even check it very often. (I sound like a drug addict... "I can quit any time!") But really my whole perspective is different. I am busy, sure. Work is busy, the new house and Roan's new school, and just life in general keep my days full. But I am regularly checking in with myself, making sure I'm taking things in stride, choosing peace and positivity over worry and stress. Sometimes it's little things. Like listening to my body and taking time to stretch or get in the bath or switch out of street clothes and into jammies. The old me always put myself last and then when I fell apart was at a loss as to why. I'm trying to be present and aware, and it seems to be paying off.

I don't know whether these good feelings will last. Or if as the pregnancy wears on and takes a greater toll on my body and mind I will grow more and more tense and anxious. But I don't think it will. Last time at the core I was fundamentally anxious that something would be wrong with Roan or my ability to care for her. This time I am at my core serene in the feeling that everything will be just fine. It's a nice place to be.

So before I sign off, a few pictures and videos. Roan has been spending some time with her little buddy Gracie lately. They are so cute together. Here we all are in the backyard the other night.

Here they are singing a new song over dinner about how great Kindergarten is.

And here they are playing in the hammock.

Also I should mention that despite the initial shock, I think Roan is adjusting well to the idea of having a baby brother. She spent the evening at tonight's BBQ running between Jack and Logan, having so much fun playing with the two of them. And on the way home she was singing a new song she made up that has just one simple line: "Baby brother, baby brother, I love you, I love you..." Aw, my little sweetie.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

it's settled!

Well today was the big day: We had our 20 week ultrasound, and we got to find out what we're having: A BOY! I am so surprised! I didn't have any strong feelings, but I was leaning towards girl. It is such a trip to know I'm growing a little boy in there!

Roan went with us. She was really excited to come along. Everyone at her school knew that today was a big day, and everyone had a guess as to what the baby is. I brought along the video camera so we could capture Roan's reaction. I was pretty sure she'd say some adorable things. Right as we got to the doctor's office I realized I'd charged the battery but the tape was full! I was bummed, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. When the ultrasound tech located the spot, it was so obvious I blurted out, "It's a boy!" Roan replied, "Nooo! I wanted a baby sister!"

Maybe not the warmest initial reaction, but she's since changed her tune. "I've got a baby brother" she said tonight proudly before marching off to bed.

I personally am so grateful to have this little piece of technology available to provide the luxury of some time to process the idea of this new addition. He's still a mystery to us, and there will be lots of surprises still to uncover. This is just one little insight into who this little person is.

Wow, a boy. I just never pictured myself being a mom to a boy. Wild!

Here are some 3D pictures they took of our little boy.

His legs...

And several of his precious little face...

He is already a bit on the big side. His head is in the 91st percentile (LARGE!) and he's measuring about 5 days ahead. Which actually could just be due to the way the ultrasound machines work - it's not uncommon for babies to measure a couple weeks ahead or behind. My tummy (actually my uterus) when measured from the outside is coming in at 23 weeks. So it's not just my imagination that I'm bigger than average. I'm 3 weeks ahead!

We also went ahead and scheduled the date for his birth. My doc is booking the morning of December 16th for the C-section. She has left it totally up to me whether to go the C-section route or to try for a VBAC (vaginal birth after C-section). I have not hesitated for a moment in my feeling that the C-section is the right choice for me. I'm glad that these days moms are getting to make their own choices on this. I just know that for myself, after all I went through with Roan's delivery, I just don't have it in me to try for that again. You really have to come into the labor room with your "game face" on, really believing in your heart of hearts that you can do this. And I, frankly, am not a believer. I just could not go through another labor when there's this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that it's probably going to end up in a C-section anyway. Plus having two cuts on my uterus instead of one (because they had such a hard time getting Roan out) would make me nervous - rightly or wrongly - about uterine rupture.

This will be a really different birth experience for us. Last time my point of view was about 180 degrees different from where I'm at now.

Thanks for sharing this adventure with us.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

houston, we have a contract

We got the official bank acceptance of the short sale offer today. And they pushed back the foreclosure date (and closing deadline) from 8/31 to 9/10. And then our realtor called us back to confirm the bank has taken foreclosure off the table completely until the deal closes. It almost sounds too good to be true. We're still going to shoot for closing by the 31st just in case. I would be jumping for joy right about now except I've decided this short sale thing is so unpredictable the whole thing could come off the rails at any time, so I'm trying to keep a cool zen type attitude towards it. If it happens, then great, and if not we'll be happy where we are.

For what it's worth, Roan has declared she wants to move into the new house now. And she wants to start her new school tomorrow. And she cannot possibly wait until Christmas to meet the new baby. I guess all the anticipation is starting to get to her. At least she is revealing herself to be remarkably adaptable.

Oh and she and Arwen are in open disagreement about the sex of the baby. He mentioned in the car that he thinks the baby is a boy. "No Daddy!" she declared, crossly. "I think the new baby is a baby sister! It's not a boy!" Let's hope they don't come to blows at Thursday's appointment.

Tomorrow is the home inspection. It will be interesting to see if anything major comes up.

Monday, August 02, 2010

just 3 days to go...

Yes that's right. I'm counting down to the big ultrasound on Thursday. Although I'm not sure whether I'm more excited about that or getting the official welcome packet for Roan's new school - something else I'm eagerly awaiting. She's starting Compass Montessori on the 17th, and it's like REAL school, oh my gosh. If we don't get her there by 8:10 she's tardy for goodness sakes. There are lists of school supplies, frowned upon items for school lunches, PTSA meetings, and school picnics. She'll be going into a classroom with 3, 4 and 5 year olds (that's pretty much how Montessori works). The class is about double the number of kids she's used to, but we think her time at Lightway has prepared her. I'm so excited my baby is starting school!

Waiting, waiting, waiting. Seems that's all we're doing lately. The other thing we're waiting on of course is to hear back from The Bank on whether or not they're going to accept our offer on the short sale. We thought we'd hear back 2 weeks ago. Then last week we were sure the official notice would come. (We got a verbal acceptance.) But still we're waiting. Now we have less than 30 days to close on this house or it will go into foreclosure. 30 days is a fairly tight timeframe to close on a house (unless you're paying cash, which we're not!). But trying to pull that off with a short sale, when that involves not just the seller but also a bureaucratic institution that moves at a glacial pace, it ain't lookin' good, I have to say. It will probably take a minor miracle. But then we've been the beneficiaries of a few miracles over the past few years... two in particular jump to mind.

To pass the time we've been distracting ourselves with our hobbies. The garden is getting going. We're not harvesting much other than lettuce and chives at this point, but the tomatoes are getting close. We planted a few different varieties. Can't ever have too many tomatoes, far as I can tell.

This, if you can believe it, is going to be a cucumber. I'm really confused because I thought it was a pickling variety. Don't think I've ever seen a jar big enough to hold this bad boy though. It's downright obscene!

Roan was pretty excited about these carrots we pulled out of the ground. It's from a seed packet that had a rainbow assortment of different colored carrots. The one she liked best was the tiny baby carrot that came up by accident.

Our grapes are back this year. Hopefully this fall we'll have a nice harvest. Grape jelly here we come!

We've also been spending some time with our chickens. In the evenings we like to let them out of their coop to stretch their legs. Roan has finally given names to all the girls. The brown and black one (gold laced Wyandotte) is named Zoe, and it's her favorite. The tan one (buff Wyandotte) she named Willa, and the two black and white ones (barred rocks) are named Chicka Chicka and Boom Boom. I can't really say that I can tell them apart, truth be told.

Here they are hanging out in the run.

And here they are roaming around the yard, eating scratch and being sassy. Watching them is relaxing, much like watching fish in an aquarium. Makes for a nice way to wind down an evening.

And now here is a selection of photos taken by our youngest resident photographer in a series I like to call Roan Behind the Lens.

Ladybug & duckie

Mommy and baby

Sweet dreams, Baby Sarah

Roan has been particularly nurturing towards her babies lately. Sometimes it's quite touching, for instance the way she nestles Baby Sarah in her arms and whispers comforting things to her that only she can hear. And other times it's quite comical, like when she declares sudden attachment to a "baby carrot" or a "baby rock". Apparently there are many objects in this world - living and non - in dire need of maternal nurturing, and Roan fancies herself as just the gal to do it.

Here's a video of her in a rather elaborate bedtime routine for Baby Sarah, which includes reading her a bedtime story. I didn't start filming until after the elaborate dressing for bedtime routine was over - which included getting Baby Sarah into jammies, a big and mittens (?). Notice in the video how everything has to be "just so." She's a funny combination of me (Cancer - the nurturer) and Arwen (Virgo - the organizer). Anyway I just love watching how her mind works.

Ok, last remimnder - if you haven't already voted, vote! It's neck and neck between boy and girl!!! Which is pretty much how I feel - on the fence, but leaning slightly towards girl. Arwen just put $5 on a boy last night. He says he's positive. Can't wait to find out!