Dave can tell you the very moment he realized I really loved him and wasn’t just hanging around his place to watch his Tivo and have great sex. It was the day I spread 100 paper hearts throughout his apartment while we were dating, each one with a reason why I loved him written on it. Admittedly, one of those reasons was “You let me record my favorite shows on your Tivo,” – (It seems superficial, but I had no cable at my place. It was a BIG deal.) – and another was “The PHENOMENAL sex!” But there were 98 additional reasons that were hard to deny. He loved those hearts. He still has them! (If I happen to die before him, I will use all my ghost power to retrieve those hearts from the closet and spread them on the bed to send him an ‘I love you’ from beyond the grave. Or to foil his plans to sleep with someone I don’t like.)

As this Valentine’s day crept closer, he mentioned, again, how special that gesture made him feel. The written word is a powerful thing. And so, we decided to do something similar for the girls.

Today, we woke them up and gave them each a large paper heart that read:

Mommy and Daddy love you,
there is no doubt.
If you’ve ever wondered why,
you’re about to find out.
There are twelve pink* hearts
each one’s like a clue
with one of many reasons
we’re crazy about you!

Go find them!

The search begins...

*All the hearts weren’t pink. Lucy’s were. Julia’s were purple and Phoebe’s were yellow.

Why We Love You Hearts

We hid them around the house and sent the girls on a chase to find them, which they LOVED. Then, they brought them to breakfast and we read them together while we ate.

You guys, the smiles on their faces? Incredible. You could see how good it made them feel to hear those words. And then to have a sister chime in with, “That’s true! You really do tell amazing stories. Remember the one about the candy forest?” Priceless.

And it wasn’t just the kids that felt special. Last night, after they were sleeping, when Dave and I sat down together to write on their hearts, we talked about why we love our kids. We didn’t write the same twelve things for each of them – every heart was unique, as our girls are. And we couldn’t help but feel so very proud and grateful to have those girls in our lives. That alone made it an exercise worth doing.

Before heading out the door to school, Lucy stacked her hearts up neatly, held them to her chest and said, “I’m going to keep these and when I feel sad, I’m going to read them.”

And then we sent them out into the world armed with the Valentine cards they’d made to give away. (Well, we sent Julia and Lucy off to school. Phoebe is in my lap eating peanut butter toast.)(Now I’m wishing we’d made a Valentine card from Phoebe, too.)

Julia's Valentine

Lucy's Valentine

I know the lollipop picture idea has been done and done and DONE – by everyone! – but I still loved it and wanted to do it. The girls did, too. Plus, it gave them a crash-course in Photoshop. Real life skills FTW!

How are you celebrating Valetine’s Day?

Sugar

by Leslie

It’s Valentine week, so I’ve been making my go-to Valentine cupcakes for the girls’ school parties and not sampling any. Not even a frosting tipped finger has passed my lips!

My go-to Valentine Cupcakes

I also didn’t make any extra, which was an unpopular decision at my house, but my gestational diabetes has been determined to be “under control” and I’m not fucking that up – even for heavenly, delicious, made lovingly from scratch cupcakes that would probably taste better than sex feels.

It’s actually pretty easy to avoid them when I consider the squishy-faced baby I’m baking in my proverbial oven.

Baby face

Kissing those cheeks will be sweeter than any dumb cupcake.

Jackson 31 weeks, 5 days

Yesterday, Jackson’s heartbeat couldn’t be found for our non-stress test. The nurses chased it for nearly half an hour while he was busy deep-sea diving in 40.6 cm of amniotic fluid. (FORTY.POINT.SIX.) He preferred to kick the sensors on my belly, probably because the monitor made a fart sound every time he did it. (Even in utero, any child of Dave and mine would know that’s funny.) He did, however, ace his biophysical profile, again. And we watched him clap his feet together.

Jackson's Feet

Clap.Clap. Clap.Clap.

Adorable.

You want to know what isn’t adorable? When your maternity shirts no longer cover your belly, so the bottom half peeks out and the stretchy panel in your pants shows.

Would it be okay to wear pajamas for the next five weeks?

One of my sorority sisters is pregnant with her first child and recently asked a group of us what she needed for the baby. The answers started to roll in and they really got me thinking. Babies actually need very little. They need some stuff to wear, some stuff to eat and someone to love and care for them. All the other stuff? Cribs, strollers, baby monitors, bath tubs, swings, pack ‘n plays…all that junk – that’s for us parents. The baby doesn’t need any of it. Not even diapers.

(Me? I need diapers for my baby. Natural infant hygiene works for some. Diapers work for me.)

The way you parent really is the factor that determines what you’ll need to care for your baby. But how do you know how you’re going to parent before you start? Sure, we all have ideas of what motherhood looks like or what we want it to be beforehand. But after three kids, I’ve found the parent I am is a whole lot different from the one I thought I’d be. (I thought I’d be J.C. Wyatt.)

When I was pregnant with Julia, my baby registry was enormous. I thought I needed everything and NOW! BEFORE THE BABY COMES! Oh, you should have seen my 8 month pregnant meltdown when we didn’t have a baby tub, yet! (She cannot come without a baby tub! How will we bathe her without a tub? David, this is impossible. My kid has no tub! I’m a horrible mother!!!!)(Poor Dave.) But anxious meltdowns aside, getting ready for the baby is mostly fun, especially when you have help in the form of baby showers and gifts. Looking back, however, I see so much waste.

Pack ‘n play – never used.
Baby swing – did not use.
Crib – did not use until Lucy was born.
Baby tub – DID NOT USE. (And then Dave’s head exploded.)
Bottles and sundry accessories – did not use.

Instead, the baby slept in our bed, I carried her in a Moby Wrap, bathed her on a sponge in our tub and fed her from my breasts. That’s a lot of money we could have saved. But I had no idea I’d prefer to “wear my baby” or “co-sleep.” I’d never even heard of that stuff until I was already doing it. And the idea of waiting to see what we needed and buying as we went? That wouldn’t have worked. (See baby tub meltdown above.)

So, I never answered my sorority sister’s question.

Now, with baby number four waiting at the gate, I have my list for him and it’s pretty simple.

Diapers
Onesies, sleepers, and socks (Dave has this thing with getting him not-girl clothes.)
Bassinet for the ground floor (I love this one!)
This new awesome monitor. (Remember the old one? It’s time to upgrade.)
Car Seat (Zoo animals!)

I think that’s it. I already have a bouncer and blankets. Anything else we can pick up as we need it. (See how different I am from my baby bath tub meltdown days!?)

Now parents, tell me, what items did you rely on most to take care of your baby? Did you turn out to be a different parent than you thought you’d be?

Cats of all kinds.

by Leslie

Julia and I don’t have the best track record when it comes to Valentine boxes.

Remember The Unicorn? I don’t even have a picture of last year’s box because it was supposed to be a cat that ended up looking like a bunny and it was at the last minute and the arguing and whining distracted me from capturing that beautiful memory.

This year was much more successful. I did not argue or whine! Mostly, I stayed out of the way and let Julia do it herself. I did give her a deadline (we’re just no good at the last minute stuff), helped her Google for ideas (she liked the Valentine Kitten box from Calling All Sleepyheads), and dug up some supplies. Then she created this:

Julia's Valentine Box

She is exceedingly proud of it.

Meanwhile, I took my favorite picture ever of my real cats Picasso and Holy Guacamole!

Picasso and Holy Guacamole!

I love this picture because it captures so perfectly the dynamic of their relationship which is:

Idiot cats

Today, I am 31 weeks pregnant and according to Jackson’s ultrasound measurements, he weighs about 5 pounds. This means he’s A Very Big Boy.

Jackson 30 weeks, 6 days

He’s also a very healthy boy, because today, for the first time, he scored in the healthy range on his biophysical profile. My big boy scored an 8! AND! And my amniotic fluid was measured at 36.5 cm when last time it was 38 cm and while they said the difference was negligible and not considered to be going down, but rather remaining stable, Dave and I still played The Safety Dance and did the robot on the way home in the car.

Sometimes you take a win wherever you can get it, even if you have to reach a bit. So, allow me to reach:

I’ve really never been a fan of the idea that Shit Happens. I’m more of fond of the idea that Shit Happens FOR A REASON. And it is usually my primary goal to find out what that reason is. So, I’ve been wondering why we’re experiencing all these issues with Jackson and this pregnancy. What did I do? What am I supposed to learn? And more to the point, How is this my fault? (Because I totally know it’s my fault.) What did I do? And while this all may just be a case of Shit Happening, it makes me feel better if I can discern something greater than that from it.

I felt like, maybe, I got that something today.

The doctor we met with this morning was a geneticist. She wanted to talk with us about Dave’s myotonia congenita and the possibility that Jackson has inherited it. In the past, we were told there was nothing we could do about Dave’s condition – it’s just something he has to live with. We hadn’t been encouraged to have the girls tested because the test (a muscle biopsy) is painful and, again, if there’s nothing that can be done about it, why? But today, we heard different. Today the doctor told us that absolutely there are things that could be done about it – things that mean Dave may not have to live with the symptoms of this disease for the rest of his life. We were told that if Dave underwent some genetic testing and DNA analysis, we could confirm his diagnosis and get specific about it – and from that information, we could also determine if any of the kids have it with a simple blood draw.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just hanging on to anything that ends with my baby being born well, but I like the story that goes, “Jackson was born healthy, but if we hadn’t had all those issues during the pregnancy, we may have never found the treatment that makes Dave pain-free.” So, that’s the story I’m telling myself today.


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