Thursday, December 30, 2010

The baptism

I'll admit it; I'm superstitious. Technically the church no longer promotes the concept of Limbo, but the damage was done. Just the idea of my babies being stuck somewhere else for eternity is enough to make sure I get them baptized as soon as possible. My mom was baptized within a few days of her birth and I was only a week old. I had My Little Helper baptized when he was 3 weeks old, allowing for a bit of a recovery for me. It was also Grandparents' day which I thought would be cute.
My parish does baptisms every few months, all together, during Mass. This is supposed to remind the parishioners of their own baptismal promises and a community building moment. I get this, but for me, I prefer the intimacy of a private ceremony after Mass. All your family and friends can gather around, everyone can make a sign of the cross on the baby, people can stand wherever they want to take photos, there is no rushed feeling because you are causing a delay in everyone else's Mass experience. When my first was born, the communal baptisms were only happening quarterly and he was due the weekend of a baptism. That would have meant he would be 3 months old before he would have another opportunity. That was too much for me to handle so I had him baptized at the Cathedral where my mother is a parishioner. They offered private ceremonies and I loved the experience.
We have a new parish priest now and I began to accept that a baptism during the Mass would be just fine. It turned out that the closest baptism to Baby Boy's birth would be the day after Christmas. Yikes! I convinced myself that we could make it work though even though the baby would be at most one week old. I could heal from surgery by then, right?
My family has no heirloom gown for some reason, so when My Little Helper was born my mom made one. We picked out nice Irish linen and she did a lot of tat work for the hems. My great grandmother, who is the Catholic patriarch of the family, used to tat so my mom wanted to incorporate her into the gown. I intend to make this gown a new family heirloom. At some point I'll embroider names and dates inside the hem. I have a habit of wearing white to baptisms. It was easy enough at the first one because I had a summery maternity dress that I could wear. Eyelet won't work in December though so I spent more time than I should have waddling around looking for a winter white dress to wear. I finally found a white with gold brocade one that I loved. I ordered the largest size and had it shipped to me. Maybe the baby would arrive early? If I wore enough layers of Spanx it just might fit, right? I knew I was being extremely ambitious in the abilities of my post baby body to bounce back. I then began searching for a hat to wear with it. I discovered an amazing little hat shop CrowningLori which had just the hat I needed. I also had a back up outfit planned which included a hat already in my collection. But the night before the baptism neither dress fit. I'd have to be content with a purple maternity dress. And none of my hats would match it!Well, it all turned out alright in the end. Our godparents were available, even though it was a holiday weekend, and all my family was in town too. Did I get all the photos I would have liked? No. Did I feel rushed? Yes. But my son is baptized and he was so good during the ceremony; he didn't make a peep when the holy water was poured over his head. (The preschooler, whose parents had said during our sacramental preparation class that they had waited to baptize their daughter because they thought it would be easier, screamed bloody murder and refused to let Father pour water on her. I can't understand why anyone would want to wait. Babies don't know what is going on; it doesn't occur to them to protest.)
Because this is a second baby and we had no need for a baby shower, we decided to have a post baptism, meet the baby, Christmas open house party afterward. We didn't have our annual trip to Peacock Lane, but I essentially did the same set up. We ordered a cold cut & cheese tray and a fruit platter which we picked up on our way home from Mass. I baked a cake and made a red, Christmas-y punch, and coffee and tea. Very simple. I knew I would have neither the time nor the energy to get to ambitious with this.I used as inspiration the baptism of my twin godsons. Back then I offered to make a cake for them because I had discovered these cute priest, and baptismal font decorations at The Decorette shop. I made twin little cakes, frosted in white and they looked so sweet. Unfortunately the funeral for their grandfather was the day before, but as a result the house was filled with flowers, including a bouquet of white, long stem roses. It was such a beautiful centerpiece for the party.I had sent Mr. W to the store to buy all the supplies for cake making and asked him to pick up a white bouquet that hopefully had white roses and babies breath in it. He is so good to me that he made the florist add those things in to the one he found. Yes, I am crazy and made a cake on Christmas day between opening presents, going to my mothers for dinner just 6 days postpartum! It is a pretty easy recipe though and it turned out very sweet, I think. Could I have done a better job ironing the tablecloth? Yes, but I hoped that my family and friends would overlook that detail. The punch was cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, and 7 up. It was my first attempt at making an ice ring. I froze cranberries and sliced clementines in the bundt pan. It didn't turn out quite as I had hoped, but it is the thought that counts.
We had a nice turn out of guests who came and went during our open house. I think we planned it just right and now we can relax. We have nothing else to worry about or get ready for; we can just enjoy our new son.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our son has arrived

I never made any progress on going into labor on my own. I ended up scheduling a cesarean section for my due date. Since my dr wouldn't let me go past that date anyway, I figured I may as well have it scheduled in advance and I could cancel it hopefully. For some reason the hospital scheduled me for the first surgery of the day which meant that I had to be at the hospital at 6:00 am! So early! I wasn't sure if I'd be put in a smaller room than last time since I wouldn't be laboring at all, but it was an equally large room so that was nice. And Mr. W packed himself some blankets since last time the daddy bench for sleeping was right underneath the vent. It made sense in August for the air conditioning to be on, but I was surprised it was cranked up in December too.
Things did not start out great considering the nurse who administered the IV messed up and had to do it again. That ended up hurting, and even now over week later while I am home I have an enormous bruise on my hand. Then after I went into the operating room, the anesthesiologist who was administeting my spinal couldn't get it in correctly either. I was already psyching myself out over the surgery so this didn't help, especially because I felt like I was so precariously perched on the operating table having to lean forward to give her an arch to my back. With as large as I was I felt so unbalanced and thought I'd fall off the table. It turns out this left a giant bruise on my back. However, for as much as my doctor does not remember things about me off the top of his head, he did remember that I'd hated my first c- section and was telling everyone in the operating room that they had to make sure it was a better experience for me this time. The anesthesiologist told me she would be sure to make sure I didn't have the shakes this time. Whatever she did, it helped because my arms were not thrashing about during the surgery. They didn't begin to tremble until after I was sewn up, transferred to a hospital bed to be wheeled back to my room.
I'm not going to lie though, I was scared and unhappy during the whole surgery. It is hard for me to be excited about the baby coming out when I'm in that condition of just wanting it to be all over. Obviously they need the OR to be well lit, but having to lay there facing all those lights I couldn't help but cry. If I'm ever able to get pregnant again I will remember to bring sunglasses into the operating room!
He was a big baby! That was the first thing all the nurses and my husband were talking about after the doctor pulled him out. And hairy to apparently. With both my sons one of the first things the operating team has said was that they have red hair. I didn't really think so with my first son, and it has maintained a blonde appearance. So I was a little hesitant to get excited while I was still being stitched back up. But they kept commenting on how hairy he was. Mr. W said he had a mono brow that merged into his side burns. I couldn't see from the lights, the drugs, and the tearing up so all I could do was lay there and think, "Dear God, what did I just give birth to?" When I finally was able to see him though, I was relieved to see that he wasn't obviously hairy. Although he does have the hairiest ears I have ever seen on a baby! The hair grows in different whorls on each ear. It is pretty darn cute. He tested very well getting a 9.9 Apgar score. It was nice to hear that everything was normal since I couldn't see what was going on. Cesarean sections are such abnormal experiences in my opinion.
The nurses had all been placing bets on how big he would be. My doctor seemed to smugly be saying that there was no way that I would have been bale to deliver such a big baby vaginally. When they finally weighed him we learned he was 9 pounds 6 ounces!!! I was dumbstruck. 9 lbs 6 oz!?! How could he be so big? I thought My Little Helper was a big baby at 8 lbs 6 oz... and he was a week overdue! This baby was a full pound heavier and had a week less to grow. I conceded that it probably was best that I had the c-section.
He was born at 8:10 am and by 8:45 we were back in the room and he was on the breast. Latching seemed to be a little easier this time. The fact that I know I can successfully nurse gives me more confidence going into it too. As before, nursing isn't a cake walk in the beginning. I don't see how any mother who has had a c-section is going to have her milk come in early enough that the baby won't lose 10 % of their body weight. Honestly there is so much pressure on you that if a mother was on the fence about nursing or formula feeding I can't imagine why she would not go with formula. Since he was so big I decided I wasn't going to let his weight loss stress me out. My milk would come in. If my older son made it, this one would too. I pretty much decided I wasn't going to worry about what the nurses and lactation consultants were saying. I think it is like too many cooks in the kitchen. Everyone has their own idea of how mothers should do it, and often times the information is conflicting. So we did what worked for us the first time and ignored what didn't.
Now that we are home we are settling into somewhat of a routine. Our Little Helper seems to enjoy his baby brother. My mother comes once a day to help out for awhile because she is one winter break. Her newest grandson's arrival was very well timed!
We are so grateful for our Christmas gift!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And the nesting doesn't stop

I'm showing no signs of going into labor so I'm still running around trying to get last minute things done (and hoping it will bring on some contractions!) When I cleaned our the floor of the coat closet, I found some hardware I purchase years ago at Rejuvenation, but never used. I don't need it now so I decided to try to return it. In a phone call I learned that they no longer have this part number and likely don't carry it. I was willing to go in and try my luck. I was unable to make a return, but while looking through the salvage department, I finally found a match for my bathroom light shade!
These light shades were among the many things my grandmother A left behind. It turns out whenever she move move out of an apartment she would take the shades with her. Not nice. But, we never took the time to find their original homes so I installed them in our upper bathroom. When we fixed the floor in there my carpenter's accidentally broke one of the shades when the took the tub out. Not to self: always remove shades and leave bare bulbs when renovating!
That was about 2 years ago and I have been hunting for a replacement ever since. Trips to Hippo Hardware, Rejuvenation, 1874 House, The Rebuilding Center, and the Aurora colony have turned up nothing. Well, nothing but advice and opinions. Apparently this basket weave shade wasn't super popular, but common enough that most dealer had seen it before, they just didn't have it. One dealer told me that mine must have been sandblasted because usually they were a painted shade. That seemed unlikely to me. But today I finally found the shade and it was painted!
They had two shades but were willing to break up the pair. I figure maybe I can learn to paint lampshades and make my plain shade match this one. What can I say I'm in full nesting overdrive, want to check this shade off my to-do list, but didn't want to pay $45 each. Pink isn't my color, but I think these dogwood flowers look cute in our bathroom.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Feast of St. Lucia

Last night I made luzzekattor again from Cooking With the Saints. Last year I killed the yeast and assumed I over kneeded it. So this year I was careful to measure the temperature of the liquids before I added the yeast. But once everything was incorporated, it still wasn't forming a proper dough. I was so disappointed; I'd used up all our saffron, and saffron ain't cheap.
I made a note to myself to use less flour next year when Mr. W looked at the recipe and decided that they had incorrectly converted some of the measurements from metric. That made me feel a little bit better, so with renewed spirit I decided to add some more milk to the dough in the hopes it could be resurrected.
After a few hours I was successful; the dough had risen! I hadn't killed the yeast this year and was able to move on with the directions. After forming the buns I left them out over night to do their final rise. I contemplated leaving the oven on over night, but didn't. I'll need to wake up more than an hour in advance next year because it took nearly an hour for it to reach 475 degrees. Frustrating when they only need to bake for 10 minutes and I can boil the water for coffee and tea in that time. Alas! It was worth it in the end though to have proper buns.
Since I'm tired and pregnant I didn't spend a lot of time setting up the breakfast tray this morning, but I did bring in some fir boughs from the back yard and added a candle to represent the light. My little helper was not in much of a helping mood this morning so I didn't get really good photos of him in his new nightshirt.Once I discovered I'd have two boys and no one to wear the St. Lucia crown for a few more years yet, I decided I need to to focus on Starboy outfits. This calls for tall, cone shaped hats decorated with stars. In my mind I imagine Swedish boys in nightshirts and night caps following their sisters into their parents bedrooms with the breakfast tray. I decided to search for night shirts and night caps on line. I found them at Gleneske of Ireland. So cute! I ordered the grandfather nightshirt in a size 5 figuring that would give my 3 yr old with a big head at least a year or two in the night cap. Nope! His noggin is so big that I can't get it on him at all. A little disappointing, but seeing him running around in the flannel nightshirt makes up for it.

Window Restoration Part II

I'm so happy, the window repair men finished up today! All our windows have been weather stripped, second panes of glass added, every sash is operable and we have storms on the down stairs windows. We are going to have such a nice snug house into which we'll bring this baby home!
I posted before about the beginning of the process. I am quite pleased that I misunderstood the estimator when he described how the secondary pane of glass would be added. He was showing me the loss of detail on the inside of the sash, but when the new panes were added, they were added to the outside of the window. So no interior Linktouch up work is required and we don't lose the look from the interior.After the second day of work Mr. W said he already felt warmer in his office, and at that point the windows had just been tacked back in place. I was very please to learn today that the two windows in the hallway are in fact double hung rather than single hung. When the lead paint was stripped off a few years ago, the carpenters were unable to get the upper sashes to open. Well now both are functional; this will come in handy keeping the cats from escaping out the window in the summer.
I haven't ventured outside yet, it's rainy and it's hard for me to get my 39 week pregnant feet into boots, but I'm sure the storm windows look good from out there. I do know that I will be even more motivated to try to get the house painted this summer since the storms are primed and will be standing out.
We have been very happy with Chosen Wood Windows. They were prompt, clean, efficient, and well priced for the quality of work. I'm so glad we chose to restore the windows rather than replace them.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


As we get closer to the due date my nesting instincts have kicked into high gear. I'm not content to just nest in my own house though, I even encouraged a project at my grandparent's house. After about 60 years of wall to wall carpeting in their house, I got someone out to refinish the original wood floors of her mid century ranch. This will make getting around much easier for my grandfather who now uses a walker.
In my own house I had to reorganize the coat closet adding a shoe rack and boot tray. I'm now on the look out for a nice antique umbrella holder! I already posted about our window restoration. We did lots of organizing and purging in the basement as we began to move baby stuff back up to the nursery and packed away some of the toddler toys my little helper has out grown. Since the baby will sleep in a bassinet in our room for the first few months we have decided to hold off on setting up the crib in the nursery for now. I'm hoping that this will help make the addition of a baby brother a little easier; let him get adjust to that first before the reality that they'll be sharing a room.
I also had to get on reupholstering the wing back chair for the nursery. This chair was originally my great grandmother V's, then my grandmother A's, and then mine. Since both were heavy smokers it stunk when I got it and had a giant hole in the seat cushion. I had the brilliant idea of sewing a slipcover for it. So my mom and I made up a pattern and did it. It turned out okay, definitely NOT professional looking, which was fine for a reading chair in our bedroom. But the truth is I seldom ever read in this chair and it took up too much space in tiny bungalow bedroom. With my first son I used the rocking chair my mother used to nurse me and my sister. I decided the wing back chair would be more comfortable, it also has an ottoman, and it would fit a parent reading a story to two children.
I found the perfect nursery fabric last summer before I was pregnant and took everything to my uncle's girlfriend who is an upholsterer. Unfortunately right after she got started we learned my uncle had cancer. I told her that obviously my chair was NOT a priority. Then after my uncle died, I told her it wasn't something she needed to worry about. At the time she hoped the work would help keep her mind busy and off her loss. It turned out a back injury would prevent her from completing the project, which I didn't learn about until this summer. With all our traveling I didn't find and line up a new upholstered right away; when I finally did I learned that they were all so booked out that I likely wouldn't have the chair completed before the baby arrived.
The upholsterer I chose, Lisa's Upholstery, is located in the Hollywood Antique Mall building. She and her employee were great and managed to complete the chair faster than the anticipated, I was able to pick it up today! I think my large girth when I dropped off the chair may have played a part too. Because I want the nursery to have a depression era feel, as though that room was remodeled during that period, I selected a brushed fringe and ruffled skirts. The muted colors of the fabric give it a vintage feel too.I am so, so happy with the way it turned out! I waited such a long time for it too! Good thing my tastes remain fairly constant. I feel like the nursery is very complete now. Well, except for another baby...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Window Restoration Part I

I'm typing from our home office with no windows and quite the cross breeze for a December day. Today begins the restoration of our 104 year old single pane wood windows. Most of the windows in the house are original and the second story windows have awesome 16 pane divided lites on the upper sashes. On the main floor we have several windows with leaded glass upper sashes.
When previous owners renovated the kitchen the replaced the original windows at the rear of the house. I feel fortunate that at least they selected new wood windows, even though I think we lost some muntin detailing.
My plan with the windows in this house has been two fold: 1) Improve or restore functionality and 2) Improve or restore efficiency. During the process of stripping the decades of lead paint from the wood work in order to restore a stained wood finish, I made sure that the windows that were painted (and sometimes nailed) shut were rendered operable again so that we could create ventilation in the house again. How wonderful it was to be able to open the double hung windows upstairs in the summer in order to cool it down before bedtime! The downside to some of this is that the paint was acting as a seal for some of these windows...once operable again they began to rattle when it was windy out. They needed to be weather stripped.The other problem with efficiency was that the single panes of glass allowed too much of a heat exchange with the outside temperature. Unfortunately the easy way out of this for most people is to pitch their vintage windows and replace them entirely. Often times vinyl will be used because this is the cheapest alternative. ***shudder*** Being an old house lover this was entirely out of the question for me. While I'm glad the previously replaced windows were wood and not vinyl, I knew we could do better with what remained.
The best option is to have wood storm windows made. With this option one does not lose the integrity of windows and nothing needs to be removed from the interior of the house and the casings and mouldings are all left intact (which means no touch up work.) This is the option we selected for the single pane windows on the first floor. Mr. W is willing to pull out a ladder and remove and install them bi-annually so that we have a heat buffer in the winter and ventilation in the summer.
The second story was a different matter. He isn't a fan of heights to begin with and the thought of having to haul storm windows up a ladder did not seem like a good idea to me. So we went with the option of having a second pane of glass added to the sashes. We'll end up losing a little bit of the detail of the sash from the interior, but it is a minor amount compared to the advantages of being able to reuse the window and gain insulation. Most of the windows upstairs are a single, one lite sash. Four of the upper sashes are the 16 pane divided lites, two in the office and two in the hallway. Rather than try to cut in to the wood that many times a 'slip' is added to the exterior of the sash which will cover the glass and has a very low profile, metal moulding holding it in place. I'm normally not a fan of metal, but these are very unobtrusive and we are able to keep our awesome divided lite sashes.
The window company is also doing some repair work to the windows. A few of the original sashes were broken so new glass will be installed. I'm a little sad to lose the original 'wavy' glass, but we just can't have cracked windows. In the office the two lower sashes were both plexi-glass!!! How on earth that got over looked in an inspection is quite beyond me. I anticipate that with the addition of two panes of real glass in the windows, this room will be much more comfortable, especially since it faces south.
It will be a three day process, but it is well worth it. In addition to getting an end of the year discounton the labor and materials, we also will be able to take advantage of the Obama tax credit for improving efficiency.
Mr. W joked this morning that this was my special window day and also my Christmas present. I questioned why fixing wood windows was just my gift. Then I asked if the tax credit was his gift. He agreed that it was and continued that the baby was my gift and the baby tax credit was his gift. So there you have it, the division of happiness in our household.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today My Little Helper and I went to the school Mass. I love going to school Masses ans seeing all the children in their uniforms, especially the plaid skirts. I can't wait to have children in uniforms!
It was such a nice day today so I called Ms. Mc to see if she was free to have the children meet at a park playground.
When I listened to her message after Mass I learned that unfortunately her youngest had just gone down for a nap. I decided to run a few errands since we were in the car and considered going to The Grotto since it was so nice out. When I heard back again from Ms. Mc she actually suggested that we meet later that day at The Grotto for the Festival of Lights. I agreed that it would be a perfect way to celebrate the feast day.
We met there at 4:30 because neither of us checked to see when the gates opened so we had to wait half an hour before we got in. Coincidentally the afternoon sun was replaced a rainy downpour. My son was a little apprehensive about walking through the woods at night, he's still a little worried about ghosts from Hallowe'en. I had to talk him through all the angels and images of St. Mary and St. Joseph and that this is a special, happy time as we prepare for the baby Jesus. Once we made it to the end of the path and the culmination with the giant nativity scene he was still saying it was "too scary!" Such a change from last year when we could barely pull him away from the nativity and tourists were taking pictures of him in his bee rain coat.
The first choral concert of the night as starting soon inside the church so we decided to go listen since the petting zoo wasn't quite ready yet. We heard Grant high school's acapella choir. I was surprised that they were able to sing so many religious songs, being a public school. One always hears stories about how Christians can't do anything in public schools these days. Apparently they can still sing songs about God at Christmas time, even if they can't really call it Christmas anymore.
The boys enjoyed petting the animals which included a pony, much to my son's enjoyment. It is funny, he asked if he could ride it, quite the turn around from the massive fit he pitched when we put him on one at the Oktoberfest this year. They also enjoyed a very large, soft, white bunny.
By then Ms. Mc was worried that her youngest was hitting his threshold so we went to Gustav's Bier Stube for fondue. She and I are always looking for excuses to go have fondue! The line was so long for Gustav's that we ended up getting a table at the adjacent Der Rhinelander restaurant first. She thinks it may even be a better deal because the fondue is included in the price of your meal. In any event the food was just what we needed. I had arranged for Mr. W to come meet us there for dinner after work. All in all it was a nice day.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

in the hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there...
So I'm slothing quite a bit in these last few weeks of pregnancy and filled a plate with store bought shortbread cookies to leave out for St. Nicholas. My Little Helper was excited to carry the cookies out to the fireplace and helped his Daddy to hang up the stockings. This morning he couldn't wait to head down stairs for cookies, only to discover the plate was empty save a cookie with a bite out of it. All the milk was gone too! He looks so disappointed! But what was bulging out of his stocking? A candy cane, chocolate gold coins, a book, a harmonica and some silly putty. But most exciting were the four clementine oranges!! He was so excited he insisted on eating all of them for breakfast. At least I won't have to worry about scurvy for today!
I have been going a little crazy buying matching pajamas for the boys. Last night we put Our Little Helper to bed in red and white striped jams from Hanna Andersson. Hannas are the cutest and the matching slippers are the only ones he is willing to wear. I'm looking forward to two little boys in striped jams next December!
St. Nicholas left some traditional bottles of Samichlaus beer for Mr. W and I was fortunate to receive a tub stopper and a basin drain guard. Mr W has owned in this house for 10 yrs and finally, after a request of St. Nick, I will be able to take a bath in our upstairs tub. Hooray!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

37 week appointment

I went to this week's appointment completely alone having left the boy at his great grandma's house. I'm still high and closed so there is no concern that this baby will come anytime soon. In fact he tried to see if he could strip my membranes, which he couldn't. (I'm not sure that I would have wanted to this early anyway.) He decided to switch my next appointment to a Friday in the hopes that by next week he can strip my membranes, at nearly 39 weeks, so that I can go into labor on my own. This means that the final appointment would be the day before my due date. I'll need to clarify whether this means if there is no progress that day that he'd operate that day, or schedule me that day. Either way, we are getting closer and closer to having another baby so we need to finish all our last minute nesting.
And the results from my non-scientific experiment are in: pregnant feet swell up just as much in December as they do in August. I was really hoping I'd avoid swollen feet this pregnancy, beyond our trip to humid Japan. But my feet are ridiculously big, even as cold as it is in December. Unfortunately, unlike August when it is social acceptable to wear thongs everyday, I can really only fit into my galoshes. Which isn't a pretty look. Plus it seems to compound the sweaty foot factor. Oh little baby! What I go through to get you here with us!