Eggs, like chickens!

"Mom, when do you find out what the baby is going to be?" Aidan asked a week or so ago as I was putting him to bed.

"When it is born," I said.

"Why not before?" he asked.

"Because we like it to be a surprise," I told him. "But I have to warn you Aidan, we are kind of guessing it's a girl, although we don't know that for sure."

"Well that's ok, you can have a boy next time," Aidan replied. I chuckled.

"No, there won't be a next time, Aidan," I said.

"How do you know?" he asked, sitting up on his make-shift bed. (He has decided he prefers to sleep on the floor of the playroom rather than deal with sharing a room with Liam who is not always ready for sleep.)

"Well, we will do a medical procedure to make sure we can't have any more babies," I explained.

"They can do that?" he asked. "How?"

I paused for a moment, not wanting to dive into the details of vasectomies since that would require explanation of WHY that would work.

"Um, well you see Aidan, they can do what is called a tubal ligation," I said, hoping to stop there.

"What's that?" he inquired. Doh. Where to begin....

"You see, in each female body there is an organ called the uterus. Let's say my fist is the uterus," I said, holding up my fist. "Keep in mind though, my fist is bigger than an actual uterus."

"Wait, I'll get something smaller then," he said, running over to the play kitchen and throwing me a small bunch of green plastic grapes.

"Great, so, let's say these grapes are the uterus," I went on. "So, the uterus starts small like this but can grow and grow while a baby is made inside," I explained, rubbing my big ol' belly and showing him about how far up my uterus had grown. He was impressed. "Off to each side of the uterus are these little organs called ovaries," I said, making little o's with each hand above the grapes.

"Ok, let me find something for the ovaries," he said. I stopped him and told him we didn't really have time for all the visuals.

"The ovaries are connected to the uterus by tubes called the fallopian tubes. A tubal ligation is where they make little incisions in a woman, one for a camera so they can see and another for this instrument that has something like a laser on it to cut the tubes to prevent women from having babies," I said, emphasizing the idea of lasers in hopes it would steer him toward another subject, like Star Wars perhaps. Or anything else really.

"Well, how does that prevent her from having babies?" he questioned, ignoring the bait.

"Sooo, the ovaries have all these little eggs in them and ever so often they travel down the tubes into the uterus where they can grow into a baby. If the eggs can't travel down the tubes, because the tubes are cut, then they can't get to the uterus to grow into a baby," I explained, hoping to sidestep any further questions about just HOW that egg becomes a baby.

"So wait, ALL girls have eggs inside them, like chickens?" he asked.

"Generally speaking, yes, although not anywhere close to that big!" I said. "They are formed when we are growing in our mommy's tummy so we have millions of tiny eggs waiting inside us when we are born."

"So, then Madeline can GROW A BABY?!" he asked, freakily excited.

"No, she can't right now because her body has to mature first," I said, wondering when this conversational workout would end.

"What do you mean, mature?" he wanted to know. Of course.

"So, right now you and Madeline are little kids but in a few years, around when you become teenagers, you will go through what is called puberty. During puberty, your body will become more adult-like. So, you know how daddy has hair under his armpits and on his face? Well, you will start growing hair like that. Your voice will change, get squeaky at first and then deeper and you will start looking more like a man."

"What about Madeline?" he asked.

"Well, she will go through a similar process, only she will become more like me and then will be able to have babies, you know, after she is married," I explained.

"Well, of course she has to be married first," he said. "But...."

"But now it is time for you to go to bed," I said. "Good night!"

"Ok, good night."

Ooo, ooo, ooo, ask me another one!


On the Charts

"I am the entertainer,
And I know just where I stand:
Another serenader,
And another long-haired band.
Today I am your champion.
I may have won your hearts.
But I know the game,
You will forget my name,
And I won't be here
In another year,
If I don't stay on the charts." --Billy Joel

Enter Liam: We had a consult and weight check at his doctor's office yesterday. I was sure it was going to be bad as the little tyke has been hovering under 25 pounds for months and is still straggling far behind his peer group in developmental skills.

Weighing in at 24 pounds, 11 ounces and a bit over 35 inches tall, his doctor got all excited.

"Look at that! Liam is on the charts!" he exclaimed, pointing to his computer screen. Sure enough, there was Liam's little weight dot, just barely touching the 3rd percentile line. "I mean, it isn't the best growth ever but it has been a long time since he's been there," he went on, maintaining his optimism.

Meanwhile, I was marveling over his height, securely in the 25th percentile. While that doesn't exactly make him the Jolly Green Giant, at least he could wear the pants of Little Green Sprout now (assuming he can use a belt of course.)

So, I guess all those bags of potato chips are working, sort of. Better keep it up Liam because as Billy Joel points out, you won't be here in another year if you don't stay on the charts! (Hey, he said it, not me!)

Now, on to the geneticist we go! Hurray!


Have a Little Faith?

"There is a prayer which especially in our times would be so apt: ‘God in heaven, I thank you for not requiring a person to comprehend Christianity, for if it were required, then I would be of all men the most miserable. The more I seek to comprehend it, the more I discover merely the possibility of offense. Therefore, I thank you for requiring only faith and I pray you will continue to increase it." --Søren Kierkegaard

"...doubt is conquered by faith, just as it is faith which has brought doubt into the world". --Kierkegaard

"Mom, is Santa real?" Lily asked me on the way home from picking up Madeline.

Long pause as I contemplated asking her to define real.

"Well, what do you think?" I asked back.

"Of course he is real," Matt interrupted. (Matt is the child we take home a few days a week as part of our carpool. Name has been changed for privacy.)

"Uh, how do you know?" Madeline asked. "Maybe it is just your mommy and daddy giving you presents." I cringed. Is the gig really up this early? Gulp.

Matt came to the rescue. "I know...because, um uh, last year we went to my grandma and grandpa's cabin and, um when we got back there were presents in our house from Santa!"

"Maybe your neighbor left them there," Madeline suggested. Seriously kid?! What gives?

"Yeah, maybe my neighbor IS Santa!" he said excitedly. Oh gee, this is not going well.

"Mom, I don't know if Santa is real or not," Madeline said, pointedly.

"Well, you better figure it out because I am guessing Santa won't waste his time at our house anymore if you don't believe in him," I said.

"Moooom, I do believe in Santa," she said. "I just don't know if he is real."

My bad.

But you know? For a five year old, that's pretty deep. While I am not going to start calling her Kierkegaard just yet, I have to admit, that she has pinpointed faith in a tiny nutshell for a lot of people. Then again, we were talking about Santa....

And then there is Lily....

On the way to church this morning, all was quiet when Lily confidently spoke up.

"You know mom, I believe in Santa and God AND the Tooth Fairy." (Probably in that order, too....)

And just so ya'll know, I took it as words of affirmation in a parenting job well-done....after all, I am in fact two of those figures and that is not as easy as it seems. Why, just the other night I almost totally blew it on one of them when Madeline lost her first tooth around 7:30 p.m. It was bedtime and she brushed the thing right out of her mouth.

"MOOOOOOM! MY TOOTH JUST FELL OUT! MOOOOOOOM!" she screamed wildly as we all went running up to see.

Now typically, this would not be a problem, but Kurt was out of town all weekend and I had no cash on me, well, not the right amount for a first tooth anyway. And I wasn't about to rush 4 kids out to get change for a $20 bill. I thought about calling a neighbor for some help but instead decided to wait until they were all asleep and then go see if any of their piggy banks had the money in it. (Ok, throw me out of the running for parent of the year here but in my defense, I would have paid it back later!) Liam only had a $20 bill (why in the world would my TWO YEAR OLD have a $20 bill? I don't know and if you ask him, he won't be able to tell you either!) Aidan had the $5 I was looking for but it was the only. bill. he. had. left.....meaning, I couldn't really take it because if by chance he decided to count his money in comparison when Madeline ran around showing what the Tooth Fairy brought her, he'd realize it was gone and probably figure me out. Lily's piggy bank yells when messed with (dang Money Monster!) so I didn't bother with hers and Madeline had everything BUT a $5 bill in it. Of course.

It was then getting late so I rummaged through my closet, looking for bills that I may have left in any of my pants pockets. The only thing I found was a ten. It would have to do. (Just in case Aidan asked, I came up with a good reason why Madeline's first tooth made her $5 more than his: because the Tooth Fairy likes Madeline better....kidding! I would have told him that the Tooth Fairy loves EXTRA clean teeth and since Madeline had been brushing hers when it fell out leaving it sparkly white, the Tooth Fairy probably felt it was worth just a little more....what can I say, they taught us about the BIG LIE theory in middle school and I guess it just stuck.)

At any rate, as the Tooth Fairy was quietly sneaking back into the girls room to retrieve the tooth and place the money under Madeline's pillow, the snoring Lily popped her eyes wide open and looked straight at me. I froze.

"What are you doing?" she asked, more asleep than not.

"Just checking on you," I said while stealthily sticking the bill in my pocket.

"Can you get me some water?" she asked.

"Why, of course," I said. Phew, that was a close one.

She was asleep when I got back and the trade went off as planned. It does make one ponder: Who came up with this idea anyhow? And why do so many of us go along with it?!

Forget the chickens. I believe there is something totally awesome right over that cliff....I just don't know if it is real. And that, my dear readers, is Graceful...Like a Lemming.

Have a great week! :)


"Now, wipe that chicken off your face and get up on stage!"

Apparently, September is National Chicken Month! Who knew?!

"For over two decades, the National Chicken Council has banded together all of the major chicken producers in the U.S. to promote chicken sales in September, turning a once slow month, as the summer grilling season waned, into one of the year’s best performing sales periods." --National Chicken Month Consumer Info

So, I went to this site and lo and behold, by registering, I get to use all their great chicken photos! And how disappointed was I when I found out, they were all either cooked or ready to be so.....(Reminds me of a couple years back when Kurt and his brothers went on a Rush tour, 6 shows in 9 days or something like that, only to return and get me all excited that Rush had chickens on stage at every concert. I was in la-la land about the idea of live chickens prancing around on stage. Come to find out, they were rotisserie chickens, like 40-60 of them per show....roasting....during the concert....something about Geddy Lee wanting to balance our Alex's guitar amps with machines of his own....it's supposed to be funny....I guess we had to be there....)

Anyhow, I have to admit, that the pictures I now have complete access to make my mouth water! So, eat up, all ye chicken lovers! (Never mind the fact that if you're thinking about it in light of this blog, it makes for one sick image...For example, that is obviously not Roasted Liam as he doesn't have that much meat in his whole body!)

ANYWAY, school is in full swing, and we are happily returning to our routines. One of my favorite activities is walking the nearby lake with friends. Usually this means I am pushing at least two kids in a stroller and sometimes it means overhearing fabulous conversations, like this one earlier in the week:

I was walking the lake with the girls in the double stroller when Lily started whining a bit and said, "Mom, we need to go home! My eye hurts REALLY bad!"

Before I could say anything, Madeline looked over at her and responded, "Um, then stop poking your eyeball with your finger, Lily!"

Hee hee, now THAT is funny...or maybe you had to be there.

Happy National Chicken Month!


IT'S A....


(Sorry...I couldn't help myself!)

So, we had our ultrasound a week or so ago, during which I had flashbacks to when I was pregnant with Madeline. Like her pregnancy, early blood testing says this baby is at higher risk for special needs (shoot, aren't they all in one way or another?) As with her, we were sent to the genetic counselor (who confirmed nothing we didn't already know) and did a Level II ultrasound (always pretty nifty if you ask me). And although everything looks great with baby, there is a slight variance in the placenta which means we will have ultrasounds every 5-6 weeks to check on growth. (They call them placental lakes, of which I have 3, and from what I understand, they are basically varicose veins in the placenta.....hardly a surprise since I seem to have them everywhere else during pregnancy, so why not there?!)

At any rate, the difference between Minnesota and California is this: when we told them in CA we would not be having an amnio, that it would not change our path at all, they gave us a hard time. They put pressure on us to have one done "in order to make an informed decision" and when we again declined (over and over) they made us sign a waiver saying we were opting out. Here in MN, they mentioned it once in passing and when we didn't jump, they left it alone, congratulating us on the pregnancy and reassuring us that, although they couldn't tell us for certain whether the baby would have that extra 21st chromosome, everything looked as good as possible. That's good enough for this Mother Hen!

Tomorrow starts the new school year and I must admit, I am surprisingly a little emotional with Madeline going off to Kindergarten. (Can anyone say pregnancy hormones?) Just last night I was thinking about how fast the time has gone. I recall being a few days shy of my due date with her when the contractions started. My mom urged us to leave and we arrived at the hospital, six centimeters dilated....nine by the time we got settled into the room. She was born soon thereafter; quick enough that I actually felt a little cheated, though I would never admit that out loud! (For the sake of comparison, Aidan's labor had taken 12 hours from the time we got to the hospital. With Madeline, I hardly had time to settle into my room before she popped on out....And for the record, I would be totally okay with that this time around....and also for the record, it is not okay for anyone other than the mother (I'm talking to you men out there!) to use the expression "popped on out" as that doesn't exactly describe the birthing process...)

And yet, it has been over five years since she was born and now this sweet child, who regularly tells people I am not getting fat, I am just growing a baby, is off to Kindergarten. I assume my mom can remember me going off to Kindergarten and yet now I am pregnant with baby number 5....And my grandmother can remember birthing her 5 babies and now her 5th granddaughter is sending her own 5 year old off to school...you get my point. This life cycle thing goes way too fast. I've long thought that the easiest way to slow down time is to be pregnant, or at least waiting for something important. Yet, the perception of crawling time doesn't linger, and unfortunately, time and precious memories often get lost along the way. (Which is why I really need that new camera, Kurt! hee hee) But, that brings me back to this heart tug I am feeling. Madeline will be off on a new adventure, one more step closer to independence. While I am joyful for her excitement and thankful for her health and happiness, there's still that part of me that can't believe we are already here. And in a blink of an eye, she'll be the mom sending her child off to school......which would make me the grandma! YIKES! Who has control of this speeding train anyway??? I need to have a talkin' with them!

And so, (she says, raising her proverbial non-alcoholic sparkling beverage) to all of you out there who are celebrating the fresh start of the school year, while also mourning the passing of yet another summer:
Chin chin!
Bottoms Up!
Pura Vida!
A Votre Sante!

And, while I highly doubt I will feel this way a week from now, could you please pass the tissues?!