Friday, July 30, 2010

My Break Today

4 minutes 29 seconds that will leave you laughing for the next 24 hours.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

As Told In FB Status Updates

Perhaps I will finish her baby blanket before Avie goes to college. Assuming I ever get a working sewing machine.

Wore long pants on Memorial Day. In Utah. What the heck?!?

Whenever Betsy gets a time-out she now insists on "loves and kisses." I cannot fathom that someday when she's in trouble all she'll want is a quick retort.

Collard Greens: Nobody cooks 'em, 'cause nobody eats 'em.

Avie does NOT need any more blankets or silkies draped over her head. Thank you, Betsy.

Watching the video monitor while Betsy pretends to sleep. Why is she repeatedly telling herself she has a stomachache (a word I've never heard her use) and why is it being said so cheerfully?

Organized Betsy's dresser. Or one drawer thereof. Is that enough to call it a productive day?

Avie will take only one kind of pacifier: the kind we lost. Go us.

Are there any diet plans out there that mandate living off of Cheerios? I could do that.

Singing "The Memaws on the Bus" is getting a little old, yo.

Dinner, make thyself.

How long should baby acne stay around for? And how do I avoid ending this sentence with the word "for" without sounding uppity?

Betsy can now open the bathroom door. Goodbye, privacy.

I liked it better when Betsy's toys were her toys, instead of my cooking, cleaning, sewing, and organizing supplies being her toys.

I heart baby belches.

I think it has finally hit me that Scott has a real job. Too bad it's taken NEVER SEEING HIM to hit the point home.

Betsy just "taco"-ed her baby doll. Man, that was cute.

Betsy and I just watched our first movie together: the old R&H Cinderella with Lesley Ann Warren. She loved it. I loved that she loved it.

Definitively, there is nothing more delightful than the way baby feet stay scrunched in so close to the body.

It doesn't matter how delightful the day has been; bedtime seldom comes too soon.

Having two kids means a bit less time with your spouse than before. But the moments, now scarcer, are more treasured, more intimate, more sacred.

Hmmm. I think Avie is a pacifier baby. I've never had one of those before.

Drumroll please: Gospel Doctrine teachers... for the third time in our marriage.

Scott worked 70 hours this week. Hopefully someone will re-introduce us on his next day off. (Which, I think, is the Sunday after next.)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Baby Avie

It's a Saturday night and Scott is getting anxious. He'd like his wife back, and I have every intention of complying. Just ...not yet. I've been wanting to post these pictures all afternoon. The house is finally quiet -- me typing away and the baby rocker are the only sounds to be heard -- and I'm not going to give up the opportunity.

Avie has become a super-smiley baby -- like, looks you straight-in-the-eyes-and-smiles kind of baby. I have a hard time believing it's all accidental, you know? Whether they are or not, dang the sweet little expressions she gives are priceless.

back to sleep.

Gassy?  Nope.  This is the Real Thing.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A Happy Family: Welcome Avielle!

She's here! In all her tiny IUGR glory, our little girl has arrived! Determining her status as a high-risk baby and the ultrasounds, NSTs, prayers, fasts, and eventual induction that followed afterward is probably another post for another day. It can be summed up by saying we assumed she was already an awful lot like her mother -- maybe a bit high maintenance?

Turns out she's just as delightful and easygoing as a babe can be! Although, she's only a week old today, so I could be jumping the gun. Nothing like posting a sentence like that to jinx things, eh?

After endless deliberations, we chose the name Avielle just a few days before her arrival. I can't say why, but this time around it felt very important to have it mean just the right thing. There were names I fell head over heels for, but we just couldn't do it -- the meaning was too dorky. Like Charlotte (a feminine version of Charles, which means "full grown, a man") or Cecelia (a feminine version of Cecil, which means "blind, dim-sighted"). It just wasn't working. We came across Avielle, and I knew the meaning was perfect. It's Hebrew (note the -iel and -el endings all over the OT: Israel, Michael, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.) and translates as "God is my father."

I'm not crazy about the fact that this name is 100% obscure, but it is who my girl is. It fits. Also in its favor is that it ends -elle, just like mine. That's kind of nice, right? I think so.

Betsy is utterly entranced by her sister. Although it might seem redundant, I wanted to list all the cute little things Betsy has said about Avielle. (And whenever she starts in on one of these, it gets repeated about 10 times before she allows the dialogue to move on.) "I love her. I love that baby Avie!" "I love love you." "Baby Avie is so cute!" "I like you, baby Avie!" "I love my baby Avie's head" She adores giving hugs and kisses and holding Avie, holding her fingers and talking about how tiny they are, can say Avie's full name (Avielle Hope Shea) and is generally her ridiculously cute self.

But the sweetest of all our new-family moments is when Betsy tries to wrap us all up in a giant group hug whilst declaring , "We are a happy family! A happy family!" This is often followed up by a round of repeating"I love us," or "I love you, Momma; I love you Daddy; I love you baby Avie!" or some other sweet little statement of affection. It is precious, and while I'm not naieve enough to think it will be this way every day, I'm optimistic enough to hope they will always cherish each other.

Oh -- and no worries about Avielle's health. She weighed in at 5 lbs. 4 oz. and was an absolute trooper during birthing. Her heart rate never dropped, and she arrived in record time. She was thoroughly examined in the nursery and only given an IV for saline to thin out her red blood cell count. She's putting on weight well, nursing quite nicely, and snuggles up into such a tiny little soul I could happily nap the day away with her on my chest. Apart from her time with the biliblanket at home, nothing would ever clue you in to any complications.

I am so grateful to my midwives, whose incredible care of Avie and me made a difficult situation so much easier. They were patient beyond patient, and truly inspired. I'd also have totally lost it without my doula; okay, maybe I lost it anyway. I am now just trying to figure out how to show them my appreciation. I think chocolate is always applicable in situations like these, don't you?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

It's sleeping.

Tonight: So, Scott's at work and I'm trying to get Betsy to finish her toast by bribing her with canned peaches. (Um, very, very gross ones. In case you wondered.) She tells me she's "done eating toast," and, before I can even ask, she's followed up with, "It's all gone." She starts rapid-firing the "It's-all-gone" phrase, then becomes abruptly silent as I approach her chair.

I guess she still hasn't figured out the dropping-it-on-the-floor trick, because when I go to her chair, there's a huge slab of upside-down toast sitting smack-dab in the middle of her tray.

"You do too have toast! It's right here!" I tell her, turning it right-side up.
"It's sleeping." she replies.

Monday, March 15, 2010

15 minutes

As I am wont to remind you, this blog really is here for memory. Remembering what this moment in time was like, many trips-round-the-sun later, when it's all hazy with that rosy glow things get after a few years.

Not that things are terribly negative, mind you, but it's the haze that bugs me. I want to remember with clarity, precision. I want to remember so vividly that I feel I could slip back into that old skin and be perfectly at home.

What is there to remember?

  • Betsy accidentally locking herself in the bathroom, whining, and declaring, "It's annoying!"
  • Same forthright daughter announcing, "It's boring!" half way through every car trip -- and sometimes before she's even buckled in!
  • This delicate, sensitive life inside me, gliding and kicking in her own distinct way, preparing all of us for her arrival
  • How delightful this spring has been. I thought it would never come.
  • The waves of (job-related) hopelessness -- the way they wash in, crash ashore, and then recede. What it feels like to try to put your hope back together afterward, wondering if the actual truth, the truth-of-the-truth lies more in the pessimistic waves or the stories you tell yourself after a good night's rest, and knowing it's best to just not think about it.
  • Can't control economy. Can't control Home Depot (current job). Can't control professors. Can control our reactions. That's all.
  • Betsy telling us "I'm tiny, too!" when we talk about the upcoming baby sister. This could get interesting.
  • Feeling out of place in our student ward, but equally misplaced in our quirky little family ward. Where on earth do I belong? Please, Lord, just let me belong somewhere. In some aspect of my life.
  • The way your spouse becomes your total salvation, your total joy and consolation in circumstances like these, how you cling together as never before
  • The knowledge that apparently, the world can fall apart. But your marriage won't. Somehow it almost feels worth it, just to know that so assuredly.
  • Leaving things on the Lord's plate simply because mine is too full
  • Incessant anxiety about if I've done everything I should to grow a healthy baby, and how she already perceives this world to be, and if she forgives me for being the stressball I am, because I know it wreaks havoc on her sometimes
  • Knowing answers will come, but not for many more months perhaps. Knowing you and your spouse might not see quite eye-to-eye until the Lord finally gives his input on important decisions that aren't to be made for a while yet
  • Wondering what it means when everything lines up perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect... and then the world sends you free-falling. Did we misread the signs? How does 1+1+1+1=0?
  • Betsy getting so big she often insists on "reading" books to herself now, and how it thrills and devastates me all in the same breath
  • The continual name hunt, searching for a perfect fit for our tiny "baby sissah"
  • Betsy singing so many new, fun songs to herself! She had the first verse of "Five Little Monkeys" down pat after just a night with Aunt Michele!
  • Sending Betsy to timeout on an almost-daily basis, but always going in to find her pointing to Jesus. Then she talks with me about him, ending with, "I happy."

On second thought, I'm not sure I'd want to slip back into this little pocket of time, years from now. It kinda bites sometimes. But I'd happily slip back in for select moments -- moments of pure tenderness with my spouse, and thrilling two-year-old bliss with the sweetest wonder-toddler I know.

Friday, February 12, 2010

God Bless This Woman.

Because I try to stay active on the PCOS board soulcysters -- and occasionally a fellow cyster follows me over to my blog -- I thought I'd share a review of my acupuncturist that I wrote for her today. Most people have an "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" attitude to alternative medicine practitioners, and it always makes me sad. After all, if I'd stuck around with my first acupuncturist -- or abandoned the entire idea because of him -- I'd still be trying to raise money for IVF's instead of raising a growing family.

**I'd like to note, for the record, that this is a pretty incomplete record of our fertility attempts, but felt it was important to remain focused on the topic of acupuncture and acupuncture alone.

I began trying to conceive in July of 2005, and a year later, we were still empty handed; our medical doctors had performed tests, prescribed drugs, and afterward, gave us little hope unless we began ART (artificial reproductive technology.) As drastic as their measures seemed, I intuitively knew I wasn't as broken as those doctors believed, and began seeing an acupuncturist. Something about this man's treatment methods didn't suit me, though. We saw only limited improvements under his care, and within a matter of months I switched to another acupuncturist. While she was skilled, she spoke no English and never checked my pulses or made any attempts to check the progress of my symptoms. I trusted that she knew exactly what she was doing, but wondered if her treatments were really a custom fit for my body's needs. Eventually, my husband encouraged me to consider other methods, including dietary adjustments, and we were blessed to conceive two years after we began trying. Nine months later, I gave birth to a darling, healthy girl.

We were pregnant again surprisingly quickly, but it resulted in a very early miscarriage just before eight weeks. It was at this point, after my miscarriage, that I began referring to a book on my shelf that had been collecting dust for some time: The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies. Almost instantly, I began noticing symptoms of poor health I'd been ignoring to that point: cold feet, heightened anxiety, poor digestion, and short, scanty periods. When I conceived again, several months later, I had been working to follow the book's dietary suggestions, but knew my body's health was still sub-par. I again struggled to maintain a high-risk pregnancy, and several symptoms worried my doctor enough to require early ultrasounds.

I immediately looked up acupuncturists in the area and found Nina. My symptoms worsened as the pregnancy progressed, but Nina treated me regularly with both acupuncture and teas/pills. She is among the most nurturing, warm, healing souls I've been blessed to know. Under her care, my pregnancy progressed.

Late one Sunday night, I began bleeding. Doctors, I knew from experience, could offer no help this early on with a pregnancy except to suggest bedrest. But even when I called her so late at night, she rushed to her clinic and asked me to meet her. She introduced me to an acupuncture point neither of the other two acupuncturists had ever told me about, one which often stopped uterine bleeding. She prepared a special tea blend, gave me packets so I could make my own, taught my husband how to apply pressure to the point, and even sent me home with her special teapot. I am happy to report that the bleeding had stopped by the time I returned home. My pregnancy continued further, and another incident of bleeding occurred. Because of the herbs she had prepared and the acupuncture point she'd taught my husband about, we were able to again stop the bleeding, even faster this time.

I am now 28 weeks pregnant (with another girl!) and delighted. I've had many experiences with acupuncturists and feel somewhat educated on the topic of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Nina is very accurate and educated in the methods she employs; she reads pulses exceptionally well, she selects the points she uses thoughtfully, she is continually furthering her own knowledge with textbooks and articles, and she makes it a point to educate her clients so that they will understand how to further the healing process. But as wonderful as all her skill is, the highest compliment I can pay is that she is a healer in the true definition of the word. No doctor has ever been as personally concerned for me as Nina Isaacson. I feel that far more than chance led me to her, and she has become my friend -- as I believe all her clients would say of her. She wanted my pregnancy to succeed as much as I did. Even now, with my visits being infrequent, she continues to be mindful of me and my family.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Sentenced: a List of Betsyisms

Well, I meant to post this back in mid-January, but I confess I wanted a cute picture to accompany it. But with my computer, downloading, editing, and uploading a photo can take just about all the patience I have, which is less than fair to Betsy. So, although photoless, I'm finally getting around to letting you all into the newest aspect of her world: sentences.

Her progress delights me, but must confess I'm secretly a little sorrowful. Don't get me wrong -- I wouldn't want it any other way -- but there are parts of baby Betsy that we'll never get back. Already this morning, she's given me plenty of evidence she's almost entirely outgrown the one-word stage of life. We've moved on to the wonderful world of sentences -- sometimes partial, sometimes full, always entertaining.

"I sit down Mommy's lap."
"Books up high. Want books."
"Oh my goodness!"
"That's a mango."
"Daddy read Morning book."
"Mommy help me this thing"
"My tush hurts. Kiss it better." (You try explaining to your kid why you're not going to kiss their behind. It gets tricky.)

...But these are the more discernible. We often get things like:

"Daddy momma drive car Poppy Gigi" (Let's go to Poppy and Gigi's)
"Clean up, clean up, everybody share." (These are song lyrics, the last part says everybody do your share)
"Tail out?" (Can I have my piggy tail out?)
"Eat hungry food?"
"Remember Baby Sister?" (She's certain I've forgotten I'm pregnant. I cannot explain this.)

And a few are just her cute phrases/wordings:
ricey beans (rice & beans)
happy family
Daddy home
Hold you me

This week she cut her last eye tooth, and all she's wanted to eat is yogurt. After we ran out, I tried to feed her whole-milk pudding, but it was flatly rejected with her first declaration of "no like it," repeated in five-second intervals. (She'll eat the fat-free Yoplait but turns down pudding?!? Who is she?)

After much grunting and gymnastic efforts, she also managed to wrangle her arms out of her carseat this week, causing great fear in myself and obvious pride in herself. She was practically shouting "I did it!" also repeated in five second intervals. The car being only five blocks from home, and she so thoroughly pleased, I just couldn't bear to pull over and fix it.

Being the ultra-feminine thing she is, Betsy is also very into the world of dressing herself. Shoes and socks have always been her main interest, but matching them? Not so much. Now we also go for a second or third shirt, and more than one pair of pants. She takes that "a girl can never be overdressed" thing a little seriously if you ask me.

She's quite good at that little clean up part of things. While she probably didn't get that gene from me, it's cute to see her get out all her shoes and diapers, and then get them all put away again. Betsy is still enamored with her Learning Tower and insists on eating all her meals in it. I usually don't let her, but she is permitted to eat snacks in it and oh, she just beams. She likes to watch me prepare food in it, and this week impressed her nursery leader with the word bell pepper in her vocabulary.

Many of her favorite books have nicknames she'll request them by, such as morning book, melon book, Bah! book, daddy book, Fox Socks book, cat book, etc. She has learned to move the rocking chair ottoman in her room so she can reach her books, so now she'll literally bring out 30 or so books (three at a time) and pass them off to you. Once a sufficient number is achieved, she asks, "Read it?" and turns around and backs into you, waiting for you to pick her up. While this isn't new, it never gets old...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If There's One Thing I've Learned...

(It gets me every time -- increasingly so the older Betsy grows.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ask, And Ye Shall Receive.

Does anyone remember the one part of my probably-very-boring-post a while back where I said I loved family history, and loved getting to know these people, but what I wouldn't give for a picture? Well, as Betsy would say, Ta-da! I'm telling you, these ancestors of mine really know how to come through for a girl. It might not be the highest quality, but it's mine. They are mine.

Permission to Grieve

I spent a great part of 2009 mentally working through a bunch of emotional junk related to my miscarriage, or more accurately, my miscarriage and my fertility struggles. From time to time, I'd try holding down conversations about it. While others nodded their heads and politely chimed in at the right times, I was left still alone, wondering if anybody ever really got that same feeling I did. This was hardly their fault; I didn't feel like I'd really adequately expressed the whole of my experience to anyone -- so not only was it isolating, but it was also inexpressible.

Many months were spent with murky questions, unable to even express how I was feeling, let alone why. The conclusions I came to are still very preliminary, but it seems we restrict ourselves from experiencing pain when we feel our experience hasn't earned that right.

I deemed myself wimpy and overly emotional when I felt sorrow for the miscarriage, especially the further out we got from it. After all, I hadn't been terribly far along; I already had a child; I hadn't had to work and pray with all my might to achieve the pregnancy like I had with Betsy. It failed to meet an unspoken but very real Criteria of Pain. Earlier on, I'd felt guilt for the depth of my sorrow as I struggled with conceiving Betsy. Some women never had the joy of experiencing marriage at all; some women didn't have a uterus; some married too old to have children, and some even lost children to death. Knowing all of the trials other women had -- trials that were much more painful than my own -- there was a sort of silent obligation to bear up my burden cheerfully. (We all know I didn't really live up to it, but that's another story.)

Whether the emotion be grief, frustration, discouragement, sorrow, or even something the likes of hostility, it must be acknowledged. It must be worked through. We must ask penetrating questions of ourselves, and beyond that, we must mend ourselves, inside and out. There is a difference between trying to control an emotion and trying to ignore it. Healing comes in its own time, and in its own way, but it always comes through the same channel, which is the Savior. When we try to sidestep healing by invalidating, minimizing, or ignoring the emotion, it festers, just as an untreated wound would. It irritates; it itches; it incites pain and is more prone to another injury. Further, when serious internal wounds like broken bones are not properly dressed, it often heals incorrectly and incompletely, leaving the capability of that limb permanently compromised.

This analogy could be taken further, of course, but I think I've been on my soapbox plenty for the month of January, thank you very much. I promise to put it away, at least for a while.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ruminations on Time, and the Lord's Mighty Craigslist Powers

I'm pretty down-to-earth. Others might call it pessimistic, but I say my outlook is just a good dose of honesty and reality. Given this Mickellian outlook, I think I've handled this current time of under-employment most admirably. That doesn't mean I haven't occasionally whined -- let's be honest -- but those pouting sessions are due to shallow impatience. I just haven't felt that profound fear/worry/angst that so often overwhemed me other days on other issues.

I think part of that is because I have seen, with my own two eyes, the Lord pour blessings upon blessings on my sweet husband (and myself) to such an extent that whining really does feel a bit juvenile. (Too bad that isn't always enough to stop me!)

Also, I think it's because past experience has taught me how to be a little more comfortable in this strange element of time. I know it exists differently in heaven, and I think I might have grasped it a bit better. It's interesting, this concept that just because something isn't present right now in this moment of time, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. A lack of seeing is not the same as a lack of existence. And if something is mine, truly mine, seeing it doesn't make it more real, and not seeing it doesn't make it less real.

So, as Scott and I have been promised by more than one priesthood blessing, we will have a bright and blessed future. And really, I don't think that any sort of temporal blessing that will really change my life as drastically as I imagine. I guess if I know things are going to work out as well as we've been promised they will, all the anxiety is needless. Irrelevant. A promise from God is about as good of an assurance as one can possibly ask for.

If I don't need to spend the energy worrying, I suppose I could spend a bit of it counting my blessings. After all, we do have a few of them piling up. Not only did we get to spend Christmas with both his family and mine, but we have a beautiful daughter and another on the way -- blessings which so eclipse most others it's difficult to think of them sharing space in this little list! Still, I'm quite thankful for the Learning Tower we secured while in Washington for a mere $40 (!) Betsy loves watching me chop, and I find more ways to involve her in meal preparations every week. (Minor note: it has been a challenge to try to keep her away from bread dough and raw meat. But still sooooo worth it.) And as that was my treat, the Lord also blessed us with a special treat that Scott has been ogling for years: a Shelf Reliance. Some rich family in SLC put theirs on Craigslist for $100. It was the largest of all the SR kits, and had acutally never been used. They'd set it up, planned on using it, then bought a (fake) tree at an after-Christmas clearance and needed to get rid of the SR super-fast so they had a spot in the garage for said tree.

We figure we got the Learning Tower for less than 1/3 of its cost brand-new, and about the same for the Shelf Reliance. It's interesting to see so many beautiful blessings fall into place. And these are just the really big ones! We've had many smaller blessings come our way, all of them so personalized to our interests and values as a family that it leaves me with a conviction ever more powerful that the Lord is not only in my life, but loves my life. He sends small packages of affection, little reminders that he is seeing to my needs even when it's not in a terribly conventional way. A job isn't the only way to be provided for, and frankly, it's much easier to be reminded of his care when I am more dependent on him. I think a part of me will miss this season, miss the ease with which we can see the Lord's hand.

On another note, I am inclined to believe there's a possiblity that a few of these blessings are the result of our genealogical efforts as well. I do so love these ancestors, and some of them really love me back. I have wondered if, from time to time, one of them doesn't try to arrange something like this to help out in their own little way.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

musty books & white gloves

Besides passing the time being pregnant, (!) I also occasionally do stuff. Sometimes cook. Sometimes clean. Sometimes visit old cemeteries and talk to headstones. That's what I did in Seattle, where some of them were related to me. Well, the headstone itself wasn't related, but it was about as close as I could get. Wanted to get.

The information we unearthed (figuratively speaking... oh, I've been married too long) at the cemetery quickly raised more questions than it answered, such as: how can a woman, dead for three months, be deemed the mother in a birth certificate; and is Lillian Manchini also Lillie Costantino? That would mean she divorced Angelo...?

So, during the days when my in-laws were cozily enjoying the afterglow of Christmas day, I quickly found myself at the Puget Sound Archives sorting through old books and shussshhhing my daughter. Not quite the experience I'm sure Scott had in mind when he contemplated nine days off of work, but he was a true gentleman about the whole thing -- quite patient with his daughter, and very generous with his wife. (And visa-versa.)

I'd never been to archives before, and while I'm not sure such a place is typically described as thrilling, I can think of no more fitting word. Scott and I have been the family history teachers in our ward for 8 or 9 months now, and I've learned quite a bit about it. But something about putting on white gloves to scour huge, old, handwritten books is moving. Even when one of the things you're looking up is actually your great-grandparents' divorce.

There's always been a huge hole in our family history; my dad's father left the home when he was just four years old, and little is consequently known about that man's parents or sibling(s). I had no idea how much of an impact it all made in my life until I started working on finding these people. It took me utterly aback to feel such a powerful yearning to know them.

But the greater surprise has been the discovery that I do know them. I find I have bits of intuition, layered in documents and an understanding of Italian culture, and surprise myself by how often this intuition ends up being right. I find they are very involved in this process, in their own way. And you can't help but get a feel for someone when they've been looking over your shoulder and nudging you along for months.

There's still many more leads to pursue, a few mysteries yet to be solved, and countless names to be found. But while it will always be delightful, I have ceased being shocked when something falls into place in just the right way. The work I'm doing matters, and while the factor of chance are ever present in this world, there are unseen people working just as passionately as I am, perhaps even more so. And it's been a joy to get to know them. I just wish I had a few photographs.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Baby Sissah

Christmas this year typified years past in many respects: same sweet house, full of family; same looooong drive there, this time with a few more pit stops than usual; and same guest room we managed to secure last time, because we were then pregnant with Betsy. (What with beds being so rare, being pregnant is totally the way to go.) So, being the careful planners we are, and knowing we'd be up in Washington for Christmas, we decided to get me knocked up.

Totally worth it, p.s.

I am now twenty-twoish (threeish?) weeks along and can do a stunning impression of an octogenarian. Okay, maybe not, but it feels that way. Oooooh, it feels that way. I am generally not one to whine about a pregnancy -- they're too hard to come by for that -- so I guess it's best to say I can tell my body felt the toll of Betsy the first time around.

Just one or two days before the gender ultrasound, Betsy was playing with her baby doll. I took it from her and put her up to her high chair, asking her if she wanted to have a baby at our house. We'd been mentioning baby brothers and sisters at our house a few times, but I was still shocked when, after a moment of obvious thought, she announced, quite decidedly, "baby sissah." Scott was out of town at the time and missed out on her sweet moment (which repeated itself about a dozen times before I finally got her to bed that night) but she was more than happy to make similar announcements when he got home. Once I even tried to trick her into saying brother, but she would have none of it. Sissah it would be.

Lo and behold, we're having a girl.

Please excuse my right arm, as it was feeling a little camera shy. And also, I generally look much larger than this. I have no idea how wearing two shirts can possibly make me look smaller, but it is my magic shirt, and for its miracles I shall love it till the day I die.

We hadn't announced it to anyone in Scott's family except his parents and Kammie, who couldn't make it up, but Katie had seen us in November and had her suspicions. Still, the Weeds and the Tippets were thoroughly surprised. It was fun to have a little surprise to look forward to telling everyone. It also made this stage of the pregnancy feel different from the miscarriage I had back in April of last year. (Yes, miscarriage. Don't feel bad if I didn't tell you... we're still friends... I just kept it all pretty quiet.)

It was a wonderful Christmas and Betsy got the hang of "penants" pretty quickly, happily opening hers and generally playing with everyone else's. (Dang Momma didn't want to open the puzzles and such just to lose pieces before returning home!) The Lord generously blessed us with a wonderful family and a delightful holiday. And a bonus gift coming in May!