Nesting, nesting, 1,2,3…

"N is forrr..." "Eggs!" Nailed it.

“N is forrr…”
“Eggs!”
Nailed it.

I’ve been nesting hardcore around here lately. Now that the busyness of the holidays is over, I’ve suddenly realized that the next big event is… baby! And that occurs in approximately a month.

Sooo, it’s go time.

We have to do ALL THE THINGS: clean, move furniture, organize, find all the baby stuff that we stashed after Dom left the infant stage, order everything from Amazon so it gets here in time…

But in reality, there’s not that much to do. We do have some fairly serious furniture-moving ahead of us. After the “study” officially became Dom’s room, the desk and printer and small filing cabinet and Rubbermaid drawers full of random stuff moved into our bedroom…and since New Baby will be inhabiting our room for the time being, the “office” stuff needs to find a new home. (Likely, the kitchen? Because in our weirdo apartment that’s actually quite spacious.)

But speaking of New Baby inhabiting our room…that is a temporary set-up, girl scout’s honor. I did NOT enjoy having Dom share our room for the few months that he did. And since he only moved one room over and still shares a wall with us, it wasn’t a huge deal for me to kick him out. But it’s going to get real cramped up in here, real fast. So as soon as the lease allows (June) we hope to move into another, larger rental space. Like, a house.

The possibility of moving in four or five months is kind of cramping my nesting style. I’m not nesting in a sentimental and homey way; I’m nesting in a primal, organizationally-focused frenzy: Christmas stuff OUT, random crap thrown everywhere SORTED, unnecessary things PITCHED/DONATED…don’t get in my way, y’all.

Yesterday I tackled the organization of Dominic’s closet. Because we have minimal storage space, his closet became a catch-all, and throughout the last two years it has also become littered with outgrown clothes sorted by size in plastic bags. A big accomplishment was cleaning out the HUGE Rubbermaid tub filled with very old stuff from the past that takes up a lot of space in the closet. It mainly holds “desk stuff” from when Paul and I had our own desks…we’re talking college-aged stuff. Now the tub holds Dom’s outgrown clothes which freed up a lot of closet space and helped me find stashed baby items like all the pieces of the pack-n-play, the boppy, a bunch of baby bottles, etc. Unfortunately, even the most frenzied clean-out rampage doesn’t kill off my pack-rat tendencies, so there’s a small cardboard box of residue from that tub sitting on…the dining room table. Fate TBD.

Mostly, I realize the urgency of “nesting” (namely organizing and cleaning) is based on the belief that there’s no time or energy to accomplish these things once the baby comes and that I’m desperately going to NEED these things to be done by that day. It’s helped me to realize how much I’m projecting my experience of the postpartum days with Dominic onto these forthcoming ones. They passed in such a fog of sleeplessness and anxiousness combined with a painful haze of nursing problems for two and a half months. There was lots of stress and scary snow-laden trips to the pediatrician and lactation consultant. And while I’m not guaranteed anything better (especially with the snow) I also believe we’re going to do better this time.

Brand-spankin' new baby. Clueless mom.

Brand-spankin’ new baby.
Clueless mom.

New babies are hard regardless, and every time I crawl into bed and think about not getting up until the real, post-6 a.m. morning comes, I know I have a rude awakening on the horizon. But at least this time I know how low to set my expectations; I have a better idea of what postpartum days with a newborn look like; I’m optimistic about how nursing is going to go this time around; and I have seen the reality of the phrase “this too shall pass.” Even if not for many, many months.

So. This kind of nesting feels good because I love checking stuff off my to-do list. I’m storing up that good feeling for those days when the to-do list never gets written, let alone accomplished. And I’m setting the bar for all of us reeeaaal low. If you’d like to pray for us, we’d love it. And please be kind enough to let me forget I wrote all of this as I weep over cold coffee in a sleep-deprived stupor 😉

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Peace on earth, good-will to men

Merry Christmas, friends! On this sixth day of Christmas, I wanted to share some thoughts about “the holidays.” It seems to me that Christmas and New Year’s can be the most joyful and difficult times for so many people – quite a feeling-filled and polarizing way to end the calendar year. People who’ve experienced significant suffering and difficulty seem to feel it the most at this time. “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays,” wrote Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on Christmas day in 1861, the year after his wife died in an accidental fire. Two years later, Longfellow’s son would be severely wounded after he ran away to fight in the Civil War. That was the year Longfellow wrote the poem “Christmas Bells.”

    I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

This poem has become a song played alongside every other Christmas carol around this time of year. I’ve always liked it, but when I read the story behind it it took on a greater meaning. Now that my family has celebrated Christmas day of 2014 alongside the first anniversary of my grandmother’s death, I think I can claim “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” as my new favorite Christmas carol.

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Grandpa and Grandma with Dom

We didn’t know my mom’s mother was going to die when she went into the hospital last December, but she ended up being discharged heavenward by the end of her stay. It was a cold, dark winter evening on December 25th when her life ended here on earth, and it made Christmas day very different that year, and now, every year going forward. We won’t celebrate that day quite the same way ever again.

You have to wonder at the goodness of something like Christmas when death touches it… but in reality, our hope isn’t in a gooey, feel-good type of Christmas. It’s not wrong to associate those kinds of feelings with Christmas, and I have fond memories of thinking of this holiday as inextricably linked with glowy lights and family and peaceful feelings. But as we grow up, we inevitably experience sorrow and heartbreak, and even if it doesn’t come right on December 25th, we’re bound to remember the hurt along with the joy during any celebration.

Our hope lies in the reality that God is not dead, nor does he sleep, even if it seems that he does and that he is deaf to our cries of sorrow. This year Pope Francis shared joyful Christmas greetings in his Urbi et Orbi message, right before he called our attention to the plight of persecuted refugees in Iraq and Syria. “Truly there are so many tears this Christmas, together with the tears of the Infant Jesus,” the pope said.  Our God hears us. We trust in him and fully believe that the same God who rejoiced to send his son to us also sorrowed at his suffering and death.From-The-Crib-To-The-Cross-300x300

And that’s just it: the joyful news of Christmas is caught up with the reality of the cross: that Jesus was born in flesh like ours so he could also die in it, and put to death all the evil that plagues our humanity. When we said goodbye to my grandmother on Christmas day, we let her go in the great hope that she died accompanied by God’s great mercy.

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Grandma’s high school photo

Most versions of the song “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” after the narrator’s despairing words, let the last stanza build and swell strongly with the proclamation “Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: God is not dead nor does he sleep. The wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth, good will to men.”

So Christmas isn’t quite the same anymore, but it’s still beautiful. There are countless reasons for us to bow our heads and mutter, “there is no peace on earth.” But we have a great hope that there’s more to this life than vague feelings of temporary happiness that come with the holidays, sprinkled among a timeline of pain and suffering. The Wrong shall fail. The Right prevail. 

May you know peace in your hearts this new year.

7 Quick Takes Vol. 7: Gratitude Edition

Seven Quick Takes

Now hosted at Kelly’s!

Thanksgiving is over and gone. It was last Thursday. But I’m going to be the lamest of lame and squeeze a post out of it. #sorrynotsorry

This is a “things I’m thankful for” quick takes, but it’s more of a “first world” kind of gratitude. I know there’s nothing that’s too small to be thankful for, but I’m going to skip the obvious big ones, the Thanksgiving-dinner-classics, the ones that, if skipped, cause people to think you’re a serious ingrate. So I’m not purposefully ignoring faith, family, home, job, etc., I’m just giving the heavy hitters a break and calling some little guys up from the minors.

1. Maternity pants during Thanksgiving

Extended panel, baby

Extended panel, baby

The first time I tried on a pair of maternity pants, my first thought was, “I need these for Thanksgiving.” This is the second TG holiday I’ve been able to wear maternity pants for a legitimate and obvious reason (pregnancy) but was secretly glad because they are SERIOUSLY forgiving in the overeating category. I considered them last Thanksgiving (when I was very much not pregnant) but chickened out. This year they were back. Three words, friends: elastic tummy panel.

2. Tissue boxes that randomly match your bathroom decor

Down to the exact hue.

3. Expectant mother parking at Giant Eagle

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It’s real. And it makes my cross-parking-lot-waddle much easier.

4. A good pen

how ancient do I sound when I say this?

How ancient do I sound when I say this?

You know what I’m talking about. I don’t do nearly as much writing by hand as I used to, which makes finding the right pen at the right time so much the sweeter.

5. Online shopping

What a gift for introverts. Especially during “the holidays.”

6. This thing:

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Affectionately known around here as the “bloop-bloop.” I’m not sure I would get into my car without it. I’d probably still be fumbling around in a parking lot, dropping stuff and trying to restrain my kid by his coat with my teeth.

7. Cozy cozy bedding 

There’s nothing like crawling into your warm, cozy bed at the end of the day and snuggling down under a pile of wonderful blankets, especially now that it’s cold outside. When Paul and I were putting together our wedding registry, we went back and forth a bunch of times about adding a down comforter. It is totally unnecessary and expensive and what if we ended up with a down comforter and no utensils? But we went for it and a kind soul bought it (and we still got utensils) and it’s one of my favorite things. It’s. so. snuggly.

Cheers to the little things! Happy weekend!

 

Five Favorites (Vol 1!)

Yay! First time five-favorite-er here. I’m excited to share five random faves with the masses. Linking up with Jenna at Call Her Happy.

ONE

downloadAquaphor Healing Ointment

Because the weather has taken a decidedly wintry turn, and tis the season for cracked knuckles and dry dry dry skin. I only use this on my hands, and usually only right before bed because it is kind of thick and greasy, but the results are so magical. (Only last winter did my husband share with me that he learned in med school that there are differences and gradations of what I only ever called “lotion.” Apparently lotion is the worst in terms of actually fixing dry skin, cream is better and ointment is the best. This stuff is the best.)

TWO

The Piano Guys

This cello/piano duo + production team creates mash-ups of pop hits and classical pieces. They began as a YouTube sensation and now tour and do crazy things like film themselves playing music on the Great Wall of China. We saw them live when they came to Cleveland, and they’re very entertaining. The main reason they’ve been favorited, however, is because Dominic LOVES them. He loves watching their videos (on the ‘Tube or on the six-song DVD that accompanies their albums) and he loves listening to them – and he now refers to all classical music as “plan-o guise.” That means we bought their CD and I get a break from mind-numbing VeggieTales Silly Songs or Sesame Street in the car. WIN.

THREE

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Glory Days in Tribe Town by Terry Pluto and Tom Hamilton

Okay, so I haven’t read this yet but we just received our free copy in the mail because Paul is in this book! It has several sections containing the fans’ memories of the Indians’ glory days, and Paul wrote in and made it! He’s on page 85. Fame and fortune, here we come.

FOUR

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Tiramisu

This was one of my birthday treats, made by Paul’s sister and mom. There was a lot left over, so I’ve been, uh, eating it every day since then. I am NOT even tired of it. Just sad it’s almost gone. Based on some enthusiastic kicking, New Baby gives it two thumbs up.

FIVE

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Paul

Is it cheating to put him as a favorite? Just trying to be positive here! Dominic clearly loves his dad. We had a nice stretch of Paul home on vacation and working easy rotations, and now that he’s gone a lot again, Dom has been missing him. He’s probably struggling with a lot of things, I think, like having to wear boots anytime we go anywhere, teething (maybe?) and a serious lack of outside playtime. But it’s so clear that he also just misses his dad, and is so happy when he’s around. I love that he loves his dada.

 

Respecting the Rights of Women

I saw this story on the front page of Google News this morning:

Sterilization Drive Leaves 8 Indian Women Dead

A total of 83 women, all poor villagers under the age of 32, had the operations Saturday in a hospital outside Bilaspur city in the central state of Chhattisgarh. All 83 surgeries were conducted within six hours, said the state’s chief medical officer, Dr. S.K. Mandal.

Each of the women had received a payment of 600 rupees, or about $10, to participate in the program, Mandal said.

The women were sent home Saturday evening after their surgeries, but more than two dozen were later rushed in ambulances to private hospitals after becoming ill. By Tuesday, eight had died — apparently from either blood poisoning or hemorrhagic shock, which occurs when a person has lost too much blood…

India’s government — long concerned about rapid growth in a country whose population has reached 1.3 billion — offers free sterilizations to both women and men who want to avoid the risk and cost of having a baby, though the vast majority of patients are women.

In many cases, they are offered a one-time payment for undergoing surgery of $10-$20, or about a week’s pay for a poor person in India. Hundreds of millions of Indians live in poverty.

India has one of the world’s highest rates of sterilization among women, with about 37 percent undergoing such operations compared to 29 percent in China, according to 2006 statistics reported by the United Nations. During 2011-12, the government said 4.6 million Indian women were sterilized.

(full article)

This is disturbing on many levels, firstly because of the injury and loss of life. But the larger picture here should disturb you greatly. This is a government-run program that pays people to be sterilized. And the majority of those being sterilized are women. This is such a grand show of misogyny, I’m waiting for American feminists to start calling for an end to this horrendous practice. After all, this way of thinking isn’t unheard of in our own country. Former vice president of Planned Parenthood Frederick Jaffe wrote a memo to the head of the Population Council in 1969 summarizing some ideas to help combat overpopulation. The document is available here. The final page contains a table with ideas culled from different sources with ideas like “Reduce/eliminate paid maternity leave or benefits”, “Require women to work and provide few child care facilities”, “Limit/eliminate public-financed medical care, scholarships, housing, loans and subsidies to families with more than N children”, and “Compulsory sterilization of all who have two children except for a few who would be allowed three.” The entire table is worth reading. It’s so unbelievably misogynistic and anti-choice, it’s hard to believe it’s real.

Yet today in India, women are being paid to be sterilized. Why is the discrimination and abuse of women the answer to the problem of overpopulation? How can we be okay with the government telling women what to do with their bodies? Instead, why aren’t women being empowered with knowledge about their bodies and their fertility? Instead, why aren’t they being educated so they can make their own decisions about what to do with that knowledge? Instead, why aren’t they given opportunities to start and grow businesses so they can rise above poverty? These aren’t solutions that can take place within the span of six hours, like paid sterilization. Apparently, the government of India doesn’t believe enough in the dignity of each human person to invest in solutions that take time, that will have a lasting impact and that respect the rights and dignity of women. The question is, do you? Does the Jaffe Memo sound right to you? Does it sound like something that respects women and men, and empowers them to make their own choices?

A government is not put in place to make decisions for people, decisions like how adults should plan their families or educate their children. A government’s place is to provide conditions for people to thrive as they exercise their judgment and make the best decisions they can for their health and families. If a woman decides that working only part-time after the birth of her child is the best thing for her family, her dignity as a human being demands that she have access to working conditions that facilitate this decision as much as possible. And no politician should be dictating what choice is the right one for her. I have a hard time believing it would ever be acceptable for a government to pay women to have their functioning reproductive systems disrupted because the government believes it’s the best thing for them.

I hear this line of reasoning far too often in my own country.  You have Bill and Melinda Gates, who believe shipping contraceptives off to Africa will help the poor. The Gates Foundation website states that “…more than 220 million women in developing countries who don’t want to get pregnant lack access to contraceptives…” as if pills and condoms will fix their problems – and are the only way to fix their problems. What about this Nigerian woman’s suggestions? She says what Africans really need are things like better healthcare, better education, and the prevention of domestic abuse and sex trafficking.

We need to speak up for the rights of women, especially in these impoverished countries. We need to speak up for their right to education and autonomy, to make sure they can support themselves and their families. Instead of giving them a week’s pay to be sterilized, as if they were no more than stray pets, let’s respect their inherent human dignity.

Up, Down, Across

My kiddo is obsessed with elevators.

We cannot walk past one without many excited exclamations. He also can’t pronounce it at all, and it comes out sounding kind of French, like “el-eh-bel-UR.” Only all smooshed together. Elebleur.

We refer to Target as the elevator store. I’m pretty sure the main reason he likes going to the library is the elevator. HEAVEN FORBID we walk past an elevator and NOT RIDE ON IT.

When one of our pieces of technology makes the “new mail” ding, Dom cries “ELEVATOR!” or “elevator DING!”  If you accidentally clink glassware together…yep.


Oddly, he won’t walk onto an elevator himself once the door opens. We have to hold him. He has a strange reverence and awe in the face of the elevator.

The other day I was cuddling with him on the rocking chair after an uncharacteristic early waking from his nap. I think he was sleeping, or partially sleeping, when he started talking. One of the things he said was “elevator.” Paul recalls being out walking with Dom when he stopped and pointed to the screened-in porch of one house and, obviously reminded of his favorite transportation device, started yelling “elevator!!” over and over.

It’s safe to say he likes them.

So we searched the library system for a book on elevators and ordered Up Down Across.When I picked it up off the hold shelf, I almost returned it right away because it was clearly not a fun children’s book like we thought. I ended up bringing it home anyway, and Dom has had a ball looking at the six full-page pictures in the book that show…elevators. Can anything be more boring than a photograph of an elevator?? One of them is literally a color photo of fake wood paneling. He still gets excited when he sees it.

IMG_20141105_125157_639Oh kiddo. You never fail to make us laugh.

Happy Feast Day, St. John Paul II!

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CatholicVote.org

To commemorate Pope John Paul II’s first feast day as an official saint, we threw a party! I searched the internet for some Polish-pope-saint inspiration but pickings were slim. I know this will quickly change (because a saint as awesome as John Paul is sure to inspire his share of parties) but here’s my contribution to Google results for “john paul ii feast day celebration.”

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Our tablecloth featured the polish flag (just two layered plastic tablecloths) and a centerpiece designed by the talented Katie. She contributed this legit photo of John Paul acquired in Poland. Our friend Jenay brought the statue, and this framed quote of his is one of my favorites.

“Freedom consists not in doing what we like but in having the right to do what we ought.”

Fun fact: Katie finished up the centerpiece and then wistfully noted that some red flowers or a rose would complete the array perfectly. Since I wasn’t hiding any fresh flowers in my closet, I told her we’d have to do without. When our friends’ young daughter arrived, she presented me with the pictured bouquet of bright red leaves.

We had a nice Polish flag garland made out of construction paper and ribbon; the Polish flag is ridiculously easy to make if you can use scissors. (Apparently one version of it includes the Polish coat of arms but ain’t nobody got time for that. Dual-colored paper blocks FTW.) And of course, this party was the perfect excuse to become the owners of a Vatican flag. Thanks, Amazon.

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Katie contributed her household t-shirt complete with papal crest and our buffet table held the JPII shrine. I loved that our guests each brought something of their own to help decorate. When we were planning, I realized I owned a small amount of John Paul II paraphernalia. But that’s what friends are for! Amber brought the JPII/John XVIII canonization photo and Margaret contributed the photo of John Paul II embracing her as a baby. (None of us was jealous or anything.)

This is was a great opportunity to display some of JPII quotes and since it was my party I picked which ones.  I also cleared the library out of photo biographies and left them out everywhere.

“You are our hope, the young are our hope. Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it.” 

“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”

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 Our dinner had a Polish theme. Paul and I went to the West Side Market for pierogies andPicMonkey Collage2 kielbasa. The main course was this kielbasa and cabbage recipe that turned out pretty well! And the pierogies did all the work on their own. (Here’s a homemade recipe if you’re into that.) Our friends contributed drinks, tossed salad, carrot salad and cookies and apple cake. I also made pope cake, which is never a bad idea. I used this recipe from Melody, including the part where you buy puff pastry instead of making your own. (See above side note regarding Polish coat of arms.)  It was served in an authentic Polish pottery dish.

We had such great conversation around the table. Our guest David suggested we each share how JPII has made an impact in our lives. What struck me was how many of those gathered had seen him in person, and what an impact that left each time. John Paul was certainly the type of man whose presence itself was a gift to those who encountered him.

Proof that people came.

Proof that people came.

At the end of the meal we all prayed the official Vatican prayer to John Paul II. Everyone went home with a St. John Paul II holy card.

It was such a great evening. There was good wine, good food and good people. As Paul said afterward, John Paul II would probably have been happy with that gathering.

Party favors. AKA pope swag.

Party favors. AKA pope swag.

P.S. Why do Catholics do crazy things like celebrate dead people with parties? Here’s a nice explanation if you’re new to the idea.

7 Quick Takes Vol. 6

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1. Ahhh, vacation block. The most wonderful (two) time(s) of the year. Med-peds residents at UH get two 2-week blocks of vacation every year and we’re into the second half of one of ours now. It’s a staycation for us this year but there has been plenty to keep us busy… and this is probably the last time we’ll have quality time as a family of three in this here apartment. So get ready for a photo-heavy, content-light vacation (thus far) recap post!

2. We’ve had a trip to the Natural History Museum…

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3. …a visit on free day to Holden Arboretum…

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4. …a walk in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens….

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5. …quality time watching playoff baseball…

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6. …our third anniversary! View my thoughts on our second one here; this year’s sentiments are basically the same plus one year and one in-utero baby. Thanks to Paul’s mom and brother, who babysat for us, we were able to go see Les Miserables at Playhouse! It was fantastic.

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World’s largest outdoor chandelier. #Clevelandpride.

7. Also, technically this came before vacation started, but I was proud of Paul for running in Cleveland’s Color Run. It was a cold morning but it looked fun. (The tagline is “the happiest 5K on the planet” sooo…) He didn’t have much time for training but still kicked the race’s butt and wore his (mostly pink and purple) colors proudly.

Dom was overwhelmed by the atmosphere

Dom was overwhelmed by the atmosphere

 

Head over to Jen’s for more 7QT and party on!

7 Quick Takes Vol. 5: Ultrasound Edition

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1. Last week we had our 18-week ultrasound wherein baby got the head-to-toe and we counted fingers, etc. (I think Dominic’s big ultrasound was at 20 weeks, but whatever. Due dates are totally bogus anyway.) I gotta say, this kid’s looking pretty good already.

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2. We opted not to find out if baby is he or she just yet. Anyway, Paul and I looked away when told; Dominic did what he wanted. So if you want to know real bad, you can try to get the 20-month-old to tell you.

3. Usually the 3D photos creep me out; a little too alien looking for me. Not sure if it’s just a second-time-around thing or what, but I kind of like this one. Look at that cute snuggly baby!

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Ready for my close-up

 4. Toes! Both of my children were very stingy with showing one of their feet to the ultrasound tech. Makes things a little uncomfortable for mom, kiddo. I just had to question whether jiggling my belly with the magical ultrasound wand really gets babies to change position. It really seemed like baby was getting more stubborn as time went on.

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5. So, as stated, we brought Dominic with us to this appointment. He did wonderfully (for a 20-month-old) and seemed delightfully oblivious to the significance of what was going on on the screen. Crazy moment: listening to Dominic use his new words and speak his unintelligible language while I watched his sibling squirm around on the screen. I told Paul later that it seems I’ll never stop being amazed at Dom’s development and growth. It gets more and more fun as he grows, learns new skills and tests out his power of speech. Yet here on the screen was another, whole new person who would develop in his or her own way (and is currently doing so at an amazing rate). And soon, he or she will burst onto the scene and we’ll have TWO people who will blow our minds daily. It’s hard to describe the feeling I had in that room.

6.  We’ve sort of nicknamed the baby “New Baby” for now. That’s how Dom knows him/her. (For the record, Dominic was “Peanut.”) I love asking him where New Baby is. He usually points to my tummy and says “inside” but every so often points to himself or at my shoulder. Sooo, working on it. Suggestions for age-appropriate pictures books explaining the “new big brother” thing appreciated.

7. Also, calling baby New Baby makes me think of this sketch (about 2:05 but the whole thing is good).

More 7QT at Conversion Diary!