Sunday, September 30, 2012

After School Play date

I had a sous chef the other day when we made pumpkin cookies...


Actually, I had two sous chefs. Wait, let me back up-- Thursday is my carpool day. LMC and I drive to Chinatown/Downtown to pick up our best bud, An-Ew, before driving down Constitution to Maryland to school.

Two backpacks. Two lunch boxes. Two car seats. Two smiles. Two bobbling blonde heads running, holding hands, and ready to start their day.

This past Thursday, we invited An-Ew to come home with us and play. And play. And play. And play some more. Until we decided to make yummy cookies. Since An-Ew has recently been released from the peanut jail, we decided to take this anti-allergy for a spin and make cookies that involved almond extract.


So, like I said-- I had two sous chefs in the kitchen to help me measure, pour, and prepare these cookies.


Rolling out, cutting up, and decorating cookies takes a lot of patience for a three year old. I mean, a lot. First, we have to figure out the ingredients, then measure (not to mention take turns measuring), mix, cool the dough, split the dough, roll the dough, cut the dough, re-chill the dough- now cookie shaped, and then... finally... the sugar gets to be sprinkled.... before cooking. The two were so very patient. And before long, we got a third Sous Chef. (and technically, a fourth- though at five months... she did more milk drinking than cookie eating.)


After discovering one set of sugar was not enough for the three sous chefs, we opted for overindulging their tiny fingers with three sets of colored sugar. Some of us were more talented at eating the cookie dough (mine), tossing the pixie dust (mine again), while others were better at mashing the dough in their fingers (sous chef #3).


All being said, even this chaperone had a great time cycling out prepared cookies for cookies waiting to be accessorized.  Hands washed, all three sous chefs made their way to LMC's room, before devouring the almond extract cookies and moving on to jumping on the couch and off the couch. And not a hive was found!

Yeah for being sprung from the peanut jail!


So, try 'em out-- they're pretty yummy and have an excellent consistency for roll-out cookies.

Jail Break Cookies 
(cut to the shape of pumpkins-- or half-eaten pumpkins if my daughter is helping)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg (yes, I know you are thinking two eggs-- so was I, but I trusted the recipe and was pleased with the results)
1 tbsp vanilla extract (since you've totally already made your homemade vanilla extract, you should use that)
1 tsp almond extract (I have no idea how to make this- vodka and almonds, maybe?)
2 3/4 cup AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (make it a little shy if you are using salted butter. I am not saying to use unsalted butter, but if you are-- use the whole tsp)

Cream together butter and sugar until yummy, light and fluffy. Fend off the three year old fingers. Beat in egg and extracts. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill dough. Divide dough into 2 (or 3- depending on your number of sous chefs) balls. On a floured surface, role act ball into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dip cookie cutter into flour before each use.

As they cut cookies, I placed them in the fridge to keep them from falling apart before decorating.

Bake cookies on parchment paper 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

Hide from small fingers and stalking husbands.

Getting closer

When LMC was coming along, I had a book.

Now I have an app.

My app says that I needed to have purchased diapers, wipes, layette items, etc by now. While an overachiever in the planning department, an underachiever in that actual preparedness department. We lacked such items.

Off to Target to get diapers and the like. And those tiny diapers! They are miniscule. But, we are getting closer and I thought it fitting to share a few pictures of the nursery and more- like those bottles I should have purchased weeks ago, according to my app.






Friday, September 28, 2012

Third!

Sweet Heavens, Almighty! I'm in the home stretch!

Today, oh sweet goodness, today! Today starts my third trimester.

Little MB sleeps, kicks, and generally just makes her presence known. And this pregnancy has been so very different. So, SO much better. Some days I think I might be able to do this again... and then there are those days that I have to laugh because this is tough.  Last week was my last flight to Augusta as the doctor has grounded me from long distance adventures.

Like the other day, I was in Augusta and had to call my mom to help me out of the shower. That was humbling. And funny. Not so funny that I am going into details as it truly was humbling. Those are the days I want to table pregnancy.

Or, traveling with LMC on a plane. With a belly. And she has to water her garden.

Have you been on an airplane lately? They're kinda small. And then, the bathroom is just a haha kinda funny.

It's probably 18 inches by 18 inches, not counting that silly small stainless steel bowl they call a toilet. Not to mention the three year old. Lil' MB is doing the polka on my bladder. And to get up, finagle that wild three year old and the incubating one down the exasperatingly small aisle to the bathroom- it's a new level of comedy that words cannot describe. If my fellow travelers were not staring at me, they were begging to not make eye contact with me, finding their shoelaces much more interesting than us. Seriously? They're shoe laces. That little tab at the end is called an aglet. The running LMC and pregnant mother are more entertaining. Stare. I would if I were in your aglet ended laces.

Standing in place and reaching my right hand over to my left side to lock the door with my back to it while LMC is standing on the lid seems to be the best scenario. Then, only to move her to the sink, drop her pah-nies, lift the lid with my foot while holding the child who is SCREAMING with glee, "MOMMY! I GOTTA GO [water the garden]!" ... to move her back to the potty where she has discovered that button that's lit up with the word "FLUSH" over the top. She presses it as the water starts to flow. And screams, crawling up her mother who can barely see the child from over the belly... still tinkling. 

It gets on the floor.

It gets all over the floor. It doesn't get on the mother. Surprisingly.

And at this point, only one of us has been to the bathroom... the other has a new hate for the jumping trampoline that has since been renamed from bladder.

Try cleaning it up without getting your head in the toilet vacant of three year old relief as you drop paper towels on the floor and pick them up by sliding them up the side with your shoe. Oh, with LMC sitting on the sink, clapping her hands and saying, "Mommy! That button is LOUD! Please I press it again?"

Like I said-- I've been grounded. I don't know why doctors ground pregnant women. We ground ourselves when the time is right. Welcome to the third trimester.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

GD be damned!

Okay, so maybe I should have a better title that does not involve profanity. But, seriously! NO gd-GD!

Who is your daddy?

I was at lunch with a friend, what we were calling my farewell lunch as I had already determined that I would have diabetes by the end of the day.

The phone rang.

It was the doctor.

I pick it up with a, "I have diabetes, don't I?"
"Excuse me? Is this Mrs. Cagle?"
I sigh... "Yes, this is Mrs. Cagle. I have diabetes, don't I? You can tell me. I can handle it."
"Actually, no. You don't."
"SHUT! UP! Seriously?"
"Seriously. No diabetes."
"Are you sure?"
"Yep. You're in the clear."

I high-five Alice. She is looking at me while the lobsters crawl out of my ears with a question on her face. I am doing a little shimmy shake dance in my chair. The waitress passes a glance my way.

Talking to the nurse and for Alice's benefit, I say, "So- you're certain. I do NOT have gestational diabetes?"

"We're certain."

"Schwing! That's awesome. Who's your daddy?"
"Mine is Bill."
"Hah! That's awesome. And guess what? I don't have diabetes! Thanks, dude! See y'all next week."

Another high five to Alice.

I squeaked by with [a good fasting number], two passes and a fail by one point- but a squeak is a squeak. And I squeaked.

It counts.

I squeaked with glee at the news. And we celebrated with a piece of Key Lime Pie and two forks.

Stick it, gd-GD!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Break Room

As I sit and type, I am reminded of my first days working post college. I am sitting in a small break room, surrounded by a noisy refrigerator, a water cooler, and white-white walls. A bulletin board hangs crooked above a fake plant in a faded brass bucket and signs tell me how to exit the building in case of an emergency- how to exit the 900 square foot space with four doors out, all clearly marked with bright red signs and arrows.

I am sitting and waiting. If I weren't married and pregnant. If I weren't already a mother. Rather, if I were wearing a Boy Scout uniform in the middle of Georgia, I would swear I am 10 years younger and planning a jamboree while eating lunch and giving secret handshakes to Eagle Scouts as they walked by.

When I was pregnant with LMC- I did my best efforts to hide the scenes behind the curtain, until it got to be too much. After releasing the insecurities, the fears, and the unknowns... I felt better. Now, I am aiming for the laugh, rather the cry.

This time though, I am a little more prepared and can come to these things with a small sense of humor. Not Boy Scout uniform sense of humor, but humor-- nonetheless. This time- this pregnancy has not been as bad as the last one. My days are not spent hanging over the porcelain god. My evenings are not chopped into 84 pieces as I get up and down from the bed all night long. Some of the problems I had (and too embarrassed to mention) are not here this time around.

But, some are.

In the past few weeks, I have been to see a high risk doctor. This is what happens when your doctor walks into a darkened room and finds his patient wearing sunglasses with a three year old playing quietly next to her. Sobbing, I tell him the my 34 year old brother had a stroke and my husband works 100 hours a week. He recommends a follow up appointment with a specialist and sends me on my way.

Men, even doctors, don't know how to deal with crying women.

The high risk doctor asked me four questions a week later, deemed me healthy and this a pointless visit.

thankyouverymuch- I could have told you that.

I switched practices.

Not that I doubted her... or him... or them... but, I like hand holding and warm and fuzzy. Babies are cute and cuddly (and screaming urchins) -- and I need warm and fuzzy.

New doctor referred me to a cardiologist based on the joke that was LMC's delivery. New doctor was warm and fuzzy. New doctor gave me a hug on the way out the door. New doctor and New nurse have both called to check on me and promptly relay information on test results.

New doctor told me I needed to be tested for preeclampsia. I hate being tested for preeclampsia. It's just too embarrassing to go into details. With LMC, I had to do it... twice. Maybe next time I'll tell you about it. My mother might kill me. This time, I had the pleasure of this test under the very watchful eye of my curious three year old. Just think biohazard orange container and taking the metro to the lab.

Cardiologist checked my ticker and I'm in great shape.

Pre-E test was negative.

And then, I failed my one hour glucose test. It was a good'un, too-- 164 with a fail at 130. Whoops.

Which leads me to the here and the now. Despite my best efforts to be prepared, I am a human pin cushion. Of the four veins in my arms that are deemed needle worthy for blood draw- two are already blown and I have some beautiful bruises. I have two more draws waiting for me from the phlobotomist who doesn't know when to speak what is on her mind.

Truly, this is saying something coming from me.

For instance, "What? You're six months pregnant? You're BIG for six months." (thanks? considering I have only put on 10 pounds... thanks)

Or... "You know, this vein is already bruised up pretty good. So, I'm just going to keep pulling from it so as not to hurt your other arm." [SERIOUSLY?!]

Or... "You have a daughter. So now you are hoping this one is a boy?" .... "Oh, it's a girl? Then you need to try for a third." .... "Your other child is three? You sure waited a long time to get pregnant again, didn't you?" ... "Geez, how old are you?"

She needs a backspace key.

Mentally, I am readying myself for Gestational Diabetes, Part II. The gd-GD will not be ideal, but it will keep me in line. There is more than just me at stake. There's a little girl who has no control of the situation, but can only stay warm, incubate, and continue to be so very loved by so many people. So, here I sit... in the break room.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Y'all! It's FALL!

I've been thinking about fall since the first really hot day. It was 99 degrees in the garage with no air circulation. LMC was showing me how she could hop in and around the car. It was hot. Damn hot, as my aunt would say.

And then, my mind drifted to cooler times known as fall. Fall is just beautiful up here. The leaves lackadaisically change from green to the colors of the season. The breeze is cool and the air is perfect hovering in the seventies. Cool enough for jeans or a long sleeved shirt, but certainly not both.

Now- here we are. The windows are open and the breeze catches in our curtains. LMC and I just got back from the roof where we snipped rosemary and branches for an arrangement. Yesterday, I pulled out a large vase and filled it with autumn ornamental balls. My little turkey runner and dish clothes are about to be pulled out and ironed before being placed on the table and oven- where they will, most certainly, get in the way.

The bathing suits are still within reach, but mostly they are in a box up top on a shelf. Our home smells like a harvest, thanks both to the rosemary and fall scented candles.

It's fall.

This afternoon, or maybe this weekend, LMC and I are going to trace our hands and make turkeys to hang on those same branches we just snipped. We'll surprise Husband with our handy-work. Get it... hand-y?

Last night after dinner of chili and cornbread, LMC and I were laying on the couch watching tv and the breeze was blowing in from outside. She looked at me and said, "I gonna be a good big sister. I no drop her. I hold her and kiss her. She be a sweet baby." Husband and wife smiled. "Mama? She gonna cry?" I replied that, "Yes. She will. But, we will love her back to happiness."

"I help?"

Absolutely!

"It's okay I put my arm around her right now?"

Sure, sweet potato.

"It's okay I kiss her?"

Sure.

Thanks, Mommy.

It's fall. And I am looking forward to the walks outside, sleeping with the windows open, simmering soups on the stove, sipping warm drinks, and enjoying the wonderfulness that this season brings. It's our last one up here- so we better make it count. Soon enough, I'll be laid up post surgery, snuggling two sweet ones, and making plans for spring. But, right now-- it's fall. Made just right for the two Cagle girls.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Big Dreams for a Rainy Day

About a month or so ago, Mama called me and said, "I just left Costco and they have a full skeleton that I want you to buy for LMC."

You might be wondering why Mama wanted me to buy a complete skeleton for LMC. I already knew. Because she is the smartest grandmother in town. She wanted me to buy the skeleton because she wanted me to teach LMC the rest of the bones. Cool, right? 

The ones she already knows are a great parlor trick and we have a lot of fun with them- but to actually gain some knowledge, rather than to just impress second cousins and strangers on the metro would be pretty cool, too.

LMC and I dropped what we were doing and headed off to Virginia to visit our Costco.

No skeleton.

They did, however, have rain boots and a matching umbrella. And really, what does a three year really want to do on a rainy day? So, we picked up the rain boots with the money Mama had placed in my account. We called and thanked her for the Pokie-Dot-ted boots and umbrella.


Usually, when it rains outside it is one heck of a storm shaking the windows and pelting the ground. Too much for a three year old to venture outside with her purchases. So, she sits at the window- crisscross applesauce (the new version of Indian style) with her rain boots on her feet and umbrella above her head. Today was a little different. The rain started the way it always does, but it slowly started to wind down. Once it got an acceptable level of drizzle for this Mama, I rounded up the little girl wearing her boots and holding her umbrella and told her we were heading out. 
She leapt at the chance and tore down the hall, to the elevator, and out the door to see the magic that is rain.

"Mommy! Come out in the rain! Come join! I have dee magic umbrella! Come!"
No. It's wet out there. -- from the safety of my cover.
"Mommy! Look! Look at the water! WOW!"
Pretty neat, right?
"YEAH!"



She found a few small puddles and did her best to make big splashes in them. She spun her umbrella and ran back and forth along the path.



She screamed. A lot. With her outside scream.
"Mommy? I scream with my big, big, BIG voice?"
Sure, sweet potato. Scream to your hearts content.

Those screams of glee quickly melted into pelts of laughter.



She explored holes, nooks, crannies, and continued to run. The rain kept coming. Someone opened a window to enjoy the first hint of fall with the cool breeze. As the breeze went in, a little Allman Bros. poured out and it made me think of home, or maybe just of Athens and youth.

There are those moments in life when you decide that you want to live it to the fullest- usually in college, surrounded by comrades with a few on the table and a few waiting to be had.

Big goals.
Big dreams.
Big talk.

About two years ago, I had a friend quit his Atlanta CPA job in order to travel to India or Greece or Honduras or someplace where he could bike naked and grow a beard. God Bless him. He's in Telluride right now after spending over two years hopping around; skiing in the winter and I have no idea in the summer. Cool kid. Smart as can be- and for him, he's doing it to the fullest.

For a moment, part of me was jealous. Not the biking naked part- rather the drop it and go. Just for a moment. I looked around and saw both my husband and my daughter and wanted to be nowhere other than where I was at that moment.

Another hit a quarter life crisis about six months after her marriage. She dropped it all, got on an airplane and flew to Thailand with a backpack and an iPhone. She teaches three year olds now. To her fullest.

But for me? It has evolved. It is not about the travel, the sites, to see and taste and try and be and be remembered. It's this little girl. It's the Husband I sleep next to. Living life to the fullest was taking her outside to experience the rain. And find puddles.


Until she had to, well....


You know....

We got a package in the mail

My friend, Alice, says that all wonderful things come in the mail. She's right. Mama overnighted a box of goodies for my daughters. There were jammies that glow in the dark and turtle necks for the one who has two feet on the ground. There were also tiny little pink socks that will soon hold ten tiny toes.

It makes it real. Those kicks I feel, the mood swings, sleepies-- all those things make it real, too. But, seeing those initials sewn into a little pink dress and tiny white bloomers- it makes it a different kind of real.

But, real nonetheless.



are you excited as I am to see both little girls in their little pink nightgowns?!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First day of school, parts one and two

I just adore where LMC goes to school. The teachers are lovely. The parents are great. Everything is as fair as it can be. It is a Christian based private school where the parents volunteer in several ways. It helps keep costs down and have parents be involved.

There are duty days- I have 14 this year, volunteer jobs, and a Saturday work day. My volunteer job is to organize the teacher appreciation luncheon. I prefer the word host over organize. School doesn't come cheap either- gone are the days of Reid Mother's Day Out where we paid $80 a month. Don't ask. Just don't ask how much it costs- it's still the cheapest around and we all think it is a perfect fit for this family.



There's no peanuts, no guns (even imaginary), a blessing before lunch, and since it is so small the teachers know all the kids in all the classes. Some classes walk to the library once a week to check out books. All the kids get to go to the park for thirty or so minutes. There is an art class, music class, and a Christmas Pageant.  I think they even do something for Thanksgiving, but will keep you posted on that.

Her school is a hybrid academy, which means the kids go to school three days a week in the morning. In the upper grades, they are expected to be home schooled the other two days. A nice blend, making it the best of both worlds. The kids get school friends, school activities, and the parents get the opportunity to have a hand in their education.



Home schooling is not my idea of a good time. Not gonna lie. I have complete and total adoration for those that do and I have several friends that tackle their children's education with such grace that, well, I just admire them for the strength and courage that they possess... that I lack. They never say it is easy, rather they say it is very rewarding.

Rewarding-- code word for HARD



Yesterday was a great day- LMC packed her lunch (three potato chips, four applesauces, six fruit bites- AKA Dora bites, two drinks, and only one meager pack of goldfish. If the apocalypse came, she would be A-OK), let me fix her pig tails with hardly a battle, and picked out her dress. We strapped into the stroller and walked [in the hot, muggy morning air] to school. On the way, we ran into her best bud, An-Ew and Mama Bits as it was also his first day of school.



His very first day.  LMC took his hand and said, "Come on, An-Ew! It's a school day!" And off they flew down the sidewalk, barely touching the brick path with their excited little pitter patterings. They stopped at the crosswalk and waited for the moms to catch up as the muggy-mugginess wrapped us in a sweater of sweat and heat. It hardly fazed the two students.


It was a great day. She told us all about it on the way home in her very first carpool. Mama Bits and I are giving carpool a go- she drives Tuesdays and Fridays, while I have Thursdays. In the backseat they sat, trading stories of who did what- mostly make believe stories- but stories, just the same. Mama Bits and I traded notes about the classes and both decided that this is a great place with great friends waiting to be made.



Today, we started School #2.



So, homeschooling ain't for me. That being said, teaching LMC all kinds of things is something I find entertaining. At Target the other day, we found a BrainQuest book for Pre-K that has all kinds of cool exercises from ABCs, numbers, Phonics, to problem solving, and science. It is a little advanced, but nothing we can't handle.



The hardest time we had was figuring out how to hold the damn pencil. I tried 15 different ways of teaching it to her- all an EPIC fail. If you have any insight those of you that are familiar with this that don't involve that blasted triangle, I'd appreciate your feedback.



We colored "A" and "a" as well as drew a bunch of zeros. She solved the maze and she wanted to hold her pencil "like Tinkerbell does." My thought is that we will "play with her book" on the days she is not in school as long as she is enjoying it. It is a fun thing for us to do together that she is really excited about. She even has her own pencil with her name Sharpied on it.


For almost two hours, she sat enthralled at her book, her pencil, my smiley face drawings when she did something right and questioned my "Xs" when she missed something. At the kitchen table, with the house a mess at our backs- I set it all aside. No music, no phone, no email- nothing but mommy and daughter time. We wrapped up the first lesson with her saying, "Let's do more, please!"

Tomorrow, I promised. Tomorrow we will go again, starting with the letter "B" and go from there.

Until it is no longer fun. That's the deal.