ashwagandha thyroid

A Few of My Favorite Things: Mom Edition

Sometimes, when you really love something, you just need to spread the news. So let me tell you about a few of my favorite things right now.

IKEA Patrull Bathtub MatBeing a bit of a helicopter parent, I rarely leave the room when Soren is bathing. To put my mind at ease that he wouldn’t slip and fall to his death, I bought a set of non-slip shower treads at Home Depot. And I hated them. Half of them peeled off within the first few days, and the entire attempt was worthless since the circles covered such a tiny portion of the tub floor.

And then, while browsing at IKEA, I stumbled upon the cutest bathtub mat I’d ever beheld. And it was only $5. And Soren and I both love it. It nearly covers the entire length and width of the tub, and the plentiful suction cups on the bottom make it easy to securely attach it and then pull the whole thing up after each bath. The handy holes are perfect for hanging the mat to dry (although good luck finding a suction hook that will both stick to shower tile and hold up the alligator). Best of all, you can throw the mat in the washing machine to keep it as clean and fresh as the day you bought it. (Don’t live near an IKEA? Amazon sells the matfor $10, which is double the IKEA price but still a pretty great deal.)

IKEA Patrull alligator bath mat
Electrolux (by Sanitaire) Canister VacuumThe fact that I can call a vacuum a “favorite thing” is practically a miracle. See, I hate cleaning. I enjoy a tidy, well organized home, but I simply hate cleaning it. When Tim and I first got married and realized there were no more roommates to clean the floors, we figured we better purchase a vacuum for all 550 square feet of our apartment. We picked up a cheap Hoover stick vac and figured we were set. It wasn’t quite the worst vacuum in the world, but it was really only good for super light use. Once we upgraded to a two-bedroom apartment and got a few floor rugs, I knew it was time for something more serious. I’d been admiring the Dysons at Costco for years, but didn’t think now  was the time to spend $400 on a vacuum. So I went with a $100 Hoover upright, and after using it once I wanted to kill myself. It was colossal, really awkward to maneuver, and it consistently shot dust and dirt out the back.

For my next attempt at purchasing a vacuum, I read review after review online and felt more confused than ever. So I got smart. I went to an actual vacuum store. And I don’t know why anyone would do it any other way. Those people are geniuses! They advised me based on the size of my house, the types of rugs I have, and what style of vacuum I might like to use. They knew I was lusting after a Dyson (and they did have plenty of them in their store), but they also knew it wasn’t the best choice. Bless them. They set me up with an Electrolux canister vac, and I’ve been in heaven ever since.

Elextrolux by Sanitaire Canister Vacuum

3 Sprouts Storage BinWe hit a breaking point with the toys a few months ago. Most of Soren’s playthings had a home in some way or another, but the Duplos were a little out of control. Surprisingly, IKEA had nothing to offer me. I had resigned myself to the notion that we’d be swimming in Duplos forever when I saw a delightful storage bin at a friend’s apartment. It seemed perfectly crafted, really sturdy, and it was large. I was certain it was a fancy-pants baby boutique item way out of my price range, so I was amazed to find it on Amazon for just $20. Best of all, you can choose from a dozen different animals. When I asked Soren which he wanted, his initial choice was a pink elephant. Is it wrong that I went with my top pick instead? The same brand has other really tempting toy chests and laundry bins and wall organizers. And I better stop there before I fall for any more of them.

3 Sprouts Fox Storage Toy Bin

Acure Organics Shampoo. I am generally the last person anyone would want to look to for advice on anything hair or beauty related. The extent of my makeup routine is mascara once or twice a week. I’ve used my blow dryer about three times in the last three years. BUT, I’ve learned a thing or two while switching to more natural products in my bathroom over the past few years.

For nearly a year I did the “no ‘poo” method, using baking soda for shampoo and apple cider vinegar for conditioner. And I really loved it. But I started reading about how the combination of BS and ACV can potentially damage the hair or mess with the pH or something. And I got scared. So then I tested another DIY shampoo — coconut milk and aloe vera juice. And I looked like a walking oil slick. No go. Next, I moved on to Honest’s shampoo and body wash combo. I liked it. The scent was nice, it lathered fairly well (for a natural shampoo), and I appreciated the convenience of using one bottle to wash my hair and my body (and Soren’s). But when the last bottle was almost empty, I wondered if I should switch things up and see if I could love another shampoo more. I polled a group of friends, and the answer was nearly unanimous: Acure. With Acure, it was love at first wash. The scent is kind of powerful but really incredible — I actually look forward to my two hair-washing days each week because I’m so crazy about the smell. It lathers way better than Honest’s shampoo. And my hair is a little less frizzy than it once was. Try it.

Acure Shampoo

Onaroo Alarm ClockWho drops $40 on a clock for a one-year-old? I’ll tell you who — it’s the very same mom who needed a breathing monitor, a video monitor, a lifetime supply of glow-in-the-dark pacifiers,  and a $150 sleep consultation to get her kid (and herself) to sleep through the night. But seriously, this clock saved our sanity when Soren was nearly two and waking up for the day at 4:45 a.m. Every day. We’d tried absolutely everything, and his early rising was all but killing us. Enter the toddler clock. Using Troublesome Tots’ article as our how-to, we introduced the clock and haven’t looked back. And now we all get out of bed at 6:30 a.m. each day and we feel like a million bucks! He often wakes around 5:45 or 6 a.m., but he stays quiet and laying down until the clock’s green light tells him it’s morning. I’m so glad we introduced it before Soren turned two, because I think his habit of waiting for the green light will be super useful when (if?) we eventually move him to a toddler bed.

Onaroo American Innovative Alarm Clock

Misoprostol and Me: My Experience Using Misoprostol for Miscarriage

Most posts on this blog are written to archive our family’s history or to show off pictures of Soren for the grandparents. This one? Not so much. When I was searching the internet for information about misoprostol for miscarriage, I found other women’s experiences, posted on forums and personal blogs, so so helpful. So I’ll add another story to the world wide web, in hopes that it’ll help some other searching soul who is preparing for her own miscarriage. (A separate post describing more of the background on the miscarriage can be found here.)

Oh, and warning: Slightly graphic content ahead. Dad, this post is not for you.

On the day I learned, via abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds, that my pregnancy had “failed,” my midwife wrote me prescriptions for misoprostol and oxycodone. She advised me to wait a week for a confirmatory ultrasound, so it was strange to have the prescriptions and two-page miscarriage instruction sheet sitting on my dining room table for seven days while I waited, waited, waited.

After the follow-up ultrasounds showed the fetus was, in fact, not viable, I met with my midwife again and peppered her with questions about what the physical experience would be like. Tim and I had read five or six detailed accounts online of others’ experiences with misoprostol for miscarriage, and each person seemed to have a very different story. Among other questions, I asked if I would be awake all night if I inserted the pills at bedtime, as she recommended? How painful would it be? How much bleeding is too much? Or not enough? Would I know when I’d passed the fetus? What if I didn’t feel like I could flush the toilet? Should I eat a lot in advance in case I’m nauseous during the process and can’t eat then? Should I consider scheduling a D&C instead? How will we know if it’s successful? Would I be able to travel by Christmas?

I felt fairly confident in our plan to go forward with the misoprostol, and Tim and I decided we would get the miscarriage party started around 5 or 6 p.m. — late enough that I’d only have a couple hours on my own (while Tim would take care of Soren and put him to bed) but early enough that we’d have a good four or five hours before our own bedtime. As 5 p.m. approached, I started feeling really nervous, and a little anticipatory nausea hit me. And then we realized we needed to tend to other really important things, like dinner. Tim somehow convinced me that a Chipotle salad bowl was the perfect pre-miscarriage meal — not too heavy, but substantial enough to carry me through whatever blood loss and pain might come my way. To be honest, that dinner kind of hit the spot. But it did push our plans back by a bit.

7:15 p.m. I placed a towel on my side of the bed, then laid down with two bottles of pills and a glass of water by my side. I placed the four misoprostol tablets, one by one, as far into my vagina as I could reach. I popped one oxycodone pill right after. (I’m generally pretty against pain medication, antibiotics, etc. I birthed Soren completely naturally, I had a cavity filled a few months ago with no numbing, and I rarely turn to Advil for headaches. But in this instance, I didn’t hesitate to take the strong stuff. Doctor’s orders.)

And then, the waiting began. I was in the middle of reading The Bishop’s Wife, which was kind of fascinating, so I welcomed the forced bed rest. My instructions were to lay flat for at least four hours after taking the miso, so I considered myself ready for bed.

8:45 p.m. I started feeling super drowsy. Nap time. Figured it’d be good to rest up now in case I was awake a lot during the night.

9:30 p.m. Super weird dreams brought me out of my semi-slumber. My book — and the oxy — must have had some influence, because I was having crazy visions of abusive men trying to kill their wives. I woke up feeling a tiny bit dizzy and a little nauseous, but mostly normal. The mildest of cramps started to come on right around then, but they were so slight I wasn’t even sure I was feeling anything. Time for more waiting. We watched an episode or two of Parenthood — fun date night!

11 p.m. Nothing’s happening! I was expecting full on cramps and bleeding at this point. Since I was pain free and feeling totally normal, we decided to call it a night and turn out the lights. I had no trouble falling asleep, and most of my nerves had been settled by the oxy.

12:30 a.m. Woke up in an absolute panic that someone had entered the house and was standing next to Soren’s crib, ready to snatch him up. I startled Tim awake to have him check the monitor. Safe and sound. Must be the drugs.

1:30 a.m. Woke up to the feeling of warm blood — finally! This might be working! I went back to sleep, figuring I had some time before I’d need to change my pad.

3:30 a.m. Woke up again and felt like I should go to the bathroom to see how things were progressing. Tim insisted on accompanying me, which was a really good idea. As soon as I stood up, I felt a rush of blood come out, along with a very large clot — possibly the embryonic sac itself. Because it fell into my pad, I was really interested in looking at it. It was around three inches long and definitely looked like more than just blood. Not wanting to flush the possible fetus down the toilet, I asked Tim to save it. I sat on the toilet for a little while, figuring it made more sense to bleed there instead of quickly filling up another pad while laying in bed. I started to feel lightheaded and weak, so I leaned forward against Tim, who was standing in front of me. And then I guess I passed out. I’ve fainted probably five other times in my life, but it had been a good 10 years or so since the last time, so this caught me by surprise. And it really freaked Tim out. He caught me from falling off the toilet and cracking my head open, then eventually I jolted up, still totally out of it. The next thing I was remotely conscious of was someone saying my name, over and over. In real life, it was Tim, but in my passed-out state the voice sounded completely foreign — and I remember feeling like I was intentionally ignoring it. Strange how our bodies/minds do things like that. Eventually, I came to but felt pretty confused about what was going on. Tim escorted me back to bed, and I felt absolutely wiped. And Tim was terrified about my ghostly white face. He fed me apple slices with peanut butter to get some protein in me, and then I took a second dose of the oxy. I still hadn’t felt any pain to this point — and hardly any discomfort — but I was nervous I’d get hit if I didn’t keep ahead of the pain with the meds.

5 a.m. Of course Soren began crying and whimpering, “I want mama” from his bed. I swear he knows when something is going on that makes me unavailable. Luckily, he quieted quickly, and we all fell back asleep until 6:30 a.m., when Soren gets up for the day (his choosing, not ours).

6:30 a.m. Tim force fed me a bowl of cereal with strawberries, letting me know I was still super pale and was not allowed to make my way to the bathroom until I had some food in me.

7:30 a.m. 12 hours in. Realizing my pad was full, I crawled to the bathroom — so four hours since the last time I’d changed my pad. Another enormous clot came out, but this time it went into the toilet and I didn’t feel the need to fish it out for saving or inspection. After making it back to the bed, I was exhausted. I tried to read Soren a story while Tim showered, but halfway through the book I had to put it down — my arms couldn’t handle it!

8:30 a.m. I finished my book and took another dose of oxy, just in case. But realizing the drugs might be what was causing my lightheadedness and dizziness, I decided to make it my last dose. I still had felt no pain, so I figured I could move to Tylenol if cutting off the oxy led to some discomfort. Also to combat my weakness and complete lack of energy, Tim was practically pouring juice down my throat to keep me hydrated. He made an excellent nurse.

10 a.m. Started feeling really hungry, so I snacked on blackberries and a Cliff bar. (Note that this is all still taking place in my bed. I didn’t feel quite ready to get up and walk around.) I was so thrilled to realize I had felt normal about hunger and eating through all of this. I had been so worried I’d be too nauseous to eat, but that never was a problem for me. I’d read plenty of accounts where people vomited throughout the experience, so I was really pleased with my situation so far (minus the fainting incident). It all seemed a little too easy, which made me nervous the whole things wouldn’t be successful.

11:30 a.m. Another accompanied trip to bathroom showed a super full pad (again, a four-hour span) and a few decent-sized clots. I lunched in bed, then laid back down for a nap. Eating and reading sure was exhausting.

3 p.m. Another pad change, but it wasn’t incredibly full. No more pain meds, and still no pain.

7 p.m. 24 hours in. The bleeding really let up by the 24-hour mark, and the only discomfort I felt was a headache, probably due to all the crazy hormonal changes happening. I was feeling really worried that it hadn’t “worked.” But my body was definitely feeling the blood loss. I felt pretty drained and void of all strength. A good friend delivered a Vietnamese feast to us, so we had a family picnic in my bed. I didn’t even have enough energy to care that Soren was dropping noodles and peanut sauce all over our “picnic blanket”!

In the middle of the month we hit a small bump in the road that is our life plan. One night, when I was physically incapable of leaving my bed, a dear friend delivered a Vietnamese feast. Soren was thrilled when it turned into a bedroom picnic. Noodles and peanut sauce everywhere.

It was the perfect night for takeout!

Day 2: Not much action during the next 7 p.m. to 7 p.m. period (Saturday). I slept alright, but felt pretty exhausted in the morning. Bleeding was light most of the day. I took a shower, which felt incredible. Tim hovered in the bathroom, terrified I’d pass out again. I took a few naps here and there, and in the evening I made it outside! I walked the short distance from the house to the car, then we drove around to look at Christmas lights, sharing a Rancatore’s frappe among the three of us. Nice to be outside, but really nice to get back home to bed.

Day 3: On Sunday, after 48 hours in, I woke up with an incredible headache. Anytime I tried to stand up I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. I napped while Tim and Soren went to church. Around midday I could feel a lot more blood coming. I took a shower, and blood was just streaming out of me. Through the afternoon, I had to change my pad a few times in quick succession, and there were a few more large clots. By evening things slowed down again. This gave me hope that things were happening as we’d wished!

Soren didn't seem to mind a few days of playtime with dad while I laid around in bed. Although he did spend plenty of time cuddling up to me.

Spending hours upon hours in bed got old really fast. Soren didn’t seem to miss me too much. He did come join me for lots of cuddles, though.

Day 4: On Monday, I headed for the doctor’s office, where my blood work showed that my hCG levels had dropped from 88,000 (the day before the miscarriage) to 11,000 — a good sign, but not conclusive. The midwife recommended returning in a week for more bloodwork. Today was the first day I started to feel a little more “normal.” Still weak, still tired, but capable of picking things up around the house and doing a little more than just laying in bed.

Days 5, 6, 7: On day 5 the midwife said we were clear to travel for the holidays, so we jumped in the car and spent the next 10 hours traveling from Boston to Virginia. My body was feeling pretty good, and the bleeding was light enough that we didn’t need to make more than a couple stops to fill the car with gas and to get dinner. The day after  we arrived, though, (day 6) I was spent. I wouldn’t have expected a road trip to take it out of me, but I was completely drained. My mom and husband ordered me to stay on the couch while they pumped me full of water, iron supplements, and food. The next day — day 7 — was Christmas, and I felt a little closer to normal. A little stronger, no headaches, and very little bleeding.

From there, things have gotten better each day. On day 18 I returned to the doctor’s office for another hCG check, and the results showed my levels had dropped to 586. A huge drop, but not quite low enough to mark this whole thing as “finished.” I’ll go back in a week for another check, but I feel optimistic that we can call it a day — now that it’s been a month since I first got the news that the pregnancy was not viable.

All in all, I think my misoprostol for miscarriage experience was incredibly ideal. I felt no physical pain, and I was fortunate to be among the 80% of women for whom it works first try. Although doing a D&C in the hospital might have guaranteed successful results more quickly, I’d go with misoprostol at home every time after my experience. Now we’ll just hope I never have the need to choose again!

December 2014

Could there be a more festive month than December? It’s January 9, and I’ve yet to put my tree away — I just can’t bear to say goodbye to the season. It was a month of highs and lows, but filled with lots of holiday joy.

I came home one evening to Tim and Soren "folding laundry."

I came home one evening to Tim and Soren “folding laundry.”

Soren is still as much of a book lover as he’s ever been. Each week he approaches the librarians to ask about a book or author he’s been thinking about. He knows the names of half a dozen authors and likes to check out multiple books by one author. One of our favorites of late is April Sayre, and Soren has memorized her book, “Go, Go, Grapes.” I tried to catch him “reading” it on video and was semi-successful.

One afternoon Soren took emptying the dishwasher into his own hands. Anything with wheels is Soren's favorite thing.

One afternoon Soren took emptying the dishwasher into his own hands. Anything with wheels is Soren’s favorite thing.

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Just a regular morning conversation:

Another from the same day. Soren told me his Duplo people were “having a meeting.” I asked what the meeting was about and he said, “Heavenly Father.” He didn’t quite repeat the performance for the video, but close.

That night, Soren and I were enjoying dinner when he told me, out of the blue, that the pasta was “mighty tasty.” Melted my heart.

 

Soren spends a lot of time by my side in the kitchen. During this cooking moment, his best quote was, "It's a gondola!"

Soren spends a lot of time by my side in the kitchen. During this cooking moment, his best quote was, “It’s a gondola!”

"Now it's a bridge!"

“Now it’s a bridge!”

Every Monday after storytime at the library, Soren veers right when we should be heading left to go home. The fire station is like a magnet for my boy.

Every Monday after storytime at the library, Soren veers right when we should be heading left to go home. The fire station is like a magnet for my boy.

In the middle of the month we hit a small bump in the road that is our life plan. One night, when I was physically incapable of leaving my bed, a dear friend delivered a Vietnamese feast. Soren was thrilled when it turned into a bedroom picnic. Noodles and peanut sauce everywhere.

In the middle of the month we hit a small bump in the road that is our life plan. One night, when I was physically incapable of leaving my bed, a dear friend delivered a Vietnamese feast. Soren was thrilled when it turned into a bedroom picnic. Noodles and peanut sauce everywhere.

Soren didn't seem to mind a few days of playtime with dad while I laid around in bed. Although he did spend plenty of time cuddling up to me.

Soren didn’t seem to mind a few days of playtime with dad while I laid around in bed. Although he did spend plenty of time cuddling up to me.

Two days post-miscarriage I needed to get out of the house. I successfully made it from the house to the car, then we drove around looking at Christmas lights (and eating a most delicious frappe from Rancatore's). We swung by the temple to show Soren the condensed version of a life-size nativity. I took photos from the car, while Tim surely taught Soren something really important about the temple or the birth of the Savior or something.

Two days post-miscarriage I needed to get out of the house. I successfully made it from the house to the car, then we drove around looking at Christmas lights (and eating a most delicious frappe from Rancatore’s). We swung by the temple to show Soren the condensed version of a life-size nativity. I took photos from the car while Tim surely taught Soren something really important about the temple or the birth of the Savior or something.

We got the green light from the midwife two days before Christmas, so we jumped in the car and headed south for Virginia. I spent Christmas Eve day on the couch while Tim and my mom forced water and iron pills and water down my throat. By Christmas morning I was ready to party.

We got the green light from the midwife two days before Christmas, so we jumped in the car and headed south for Virginia. I spent Christmas Eve day on the couch while Tim and my mom forced water and iron pills and food down my throat. By Christmas morning I was ready to party.

Had to document the first present of the morning. Who knew happiness could be bought with a $5 potato head from Amazon.com?

Had to document the first present of the morning. Who knew happiness could be bought with a $5 Mr. Potato Head from Amazon?

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Don’t mind the eerie yellow glow from my failed attempt at shooting in manual. There wasn’t much light in the room, OK?

Truman and Soren had a few minor Christmas tiffs, but they still love each other.

Truman and Soren had a few minor Christmas tiffs, but they still love each other.

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New sparkly boots from Grandmama!

The other big winner of the day was the giant firetruck I happened to acquire for free. It's pretty much the greatest thing Soren has ever seen.

The other big winner of the day was the giant firetruck I happened to acquire for free. It’s pretty much the greatest thing Soren has ever seen.

Evidence that he couldn't put it down. It had to accompany us on our drive to Aunt Mel's for the Christmas feast. While we were there, Truman took a sharpie to the truck and literally marked it with a T. Magic Eraser to the rescue!

Evidence that he couldn’t put the firetruck down. It had to accompany us on our drive to Aunt Mel’s for the Christmas feast. While we were there, Truman took a sharpie to the truck and literally marked it with a T. Magic Eraser to the rescue!

The 26th was the perfect day for a trip to the zoo. Sunshine, 50 degrees, and lots of active animals. All nine cousins are pictured here, although Everett is hard to spot beneath the anteater.

The 26th was the perfect day for a trip to the zoo. Sunshine, 50 degrees, and lots of active animals. I had a hard time deciding whether to go — a day at home to rest in peace and quiet sounded lovely, but I wasn’t sure if I could handle missing out on the fun (I experience a lot of FOMO). My dad came up with the perfect solution — a wheelchair. I walked around for a solid hour before succumbing to being pushed around. I don’t think I regret that we didn’t get any photos of that. All nine cousins are pictured here, although Everett is hard to spot beneath the anteater.

Three little monkeys watching Mei Xiang (or is it Tian Tian?) in the panda house.

Three little monkeys watching Mei Xiang (or is it Tian Tian?) in the panda house.

I never would've expected the armadillos to be such a hit.

I never would’ve expected the armadillos to be such a hit.

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The next morning was another downtown day. Soren and Ev played around the Capitol Christmas tree while I waited in line at the Botanic Garden.

The next morning was another downtown day. Soren and Ev played around the Capitol Christmas tree while I waited in line at the Botanic Garden.

When we were in Virginia last July, Adriel asked Soren incessantly if she could hold him. Every time, he held out his hand to refuse. This time, he was all for it. These two had some great times together.

When we were in Virginia last July, Adriel asked Soren incessantly if she could hold him. Every time, he held out his hand to refuse. This time, he was all for it. These two had some great times together.

After a 45-minute wait, and after finally getting our party of 15 together, we made it inside. Soren's first stop was the water at the Garden Court. It's a miracle none of the kids ended up submerged.

After a 45-minute wait, and after finally getting our party of 15 together, we made it inside. Soren’s first stop was the water at the Garden Court. It’s a miracle none of the kids ended up submerged.

And then, the moment we'd been waiting for — the trains!

And then, the moment we’d been waiting for — the trains!

Quick flashback moment: One year ago.

Quick flashback moment: One year ago.

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Just one more flashback.

Just one more flashback.

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The day was too perfect to stop there (60 degrees!) so we had a picnic by the reflecting pool. Nine cousins and two grandparents.

The day was too perfect to stop there (60 degrees!) so we had a picnic by the reflecting pool. Note that Soren is the only kid with a coat on — I tried taking it off, but his shirt was drenched from playing in the fountains at the Botanic Garden.

Most of the kids were terrified of the birds that got a little friendly with our food. Soren's response? "I want to hold them!"

Most of the kids were terrified of the birds that got a little friendly with our food. Soren’s response? “I want to touch them!”

I couldn't bear to go back home with such dreamy weather, so we opted for a stroller nap. No complaints from this kid.

I couldn’t bear to go back home with such dreamy weather, so we opted for a stroller nap. No complaints from this kid (if he’s offered a pacifier, that is).

There is probably no memorial more fun and picture-worthy than the FDR.  Here are a few cousins waiting in a bread line.

There is probably no memorial more fun and picture-worthy than the FDR. One day I should go through all my old photos and compile every FDR memorial picture I have since it opened in 1997. Here are a few cousins waiting in a bread line.

Everett requested I take this picture.

Everett requested I take this picture.

Soren woke up in time to explore half the site. Despite the crowd of people waiting their turn to touch FDR and Fala, Soren took his sweet time.

Soren woke up in time to explore half the site. Despite the crowd of people waiting their turn to touch FDR and Fala, Soren took his sweet time examining the statues.

And attempting to take a ride on the dog.

And attempting to take a ride on the dog.

Rock climbing.

Rock climbing.

I had parked by the Martin Luther King, Jr. monument, so we spent a few minutes there before heading home. Soren ran circles around the giant MLK for a good 15 minutes.

I had parked by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, so we spent a few minutes there before heading home. Soren ran circles around the giant MLK for a good 15 minutes.

He probably made his way into a dozen families' photos. This was an especially good photo bomb.

He probably made his way into a dozen family pictures as he ran about. This time, he stopped to join one family for a nice photo bomb.

Had to get one more shot of all nine grandkiddies together.

Had to get one more shot of all nine grandkiddies together.

And then a silly pose.

And then a silly pose.

These two were born a month apart, so we made them hold hands.

These two were born a month apart, so we made them hold hands.

We celebrated second Christmas on the 28th so the whole family could partake of the annual Bethlehem dinner. And second Christmas means more presents!

We celebrated second Christmas on the 28th so the whole family could partake of the annual Bethlehem dinner. And second Christmas means more presents! Soren is so fancy — he’s still decked out in church clothes when the other eight are in their jammies.

I wish I had taken more photos of the kids playing. My mom's house is chock full of toys, and the kids just played and played for hours. Once my old Lego collection came out, Tim had no complaints about participating.

I wish I had taken more photos of the kids playing. My mom’s house is chock full of toys, and the kids just played and played for hours. Once my old Lego collection came out, Tim had no complaints about participating. (Don’t mind Soren’s towel-ed getup. I think he was on his way to bed after a bath.)

Speaking of baths...

Speaking of baths…

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And to finish off the month, I saw a movie in the theater for the first time in two-and-a-half years. Fun to sit between two popcorn-loving little girls.

And to finish off the month, I saw a movie in the theater for the first time in two-and-a-half years. (And it was the first time ever for Carson and Ev!) Fun to sit between two popcorn-loving little girls.

Miscarriage Sucks

My grandma was ardent in her disapproval of the word “sucks.” It’s not ladylike, it’s not very professional (not that I claim to be either ladylike or professional), and out of respect and admiration for Gram I’ve always tried to avoid uttering the word.

So I was a little caught off guard when my midwife used the phrase, “it sucks” twice while we talked — through tears — about my failed pregnancy. But I quickly realized why she said it. It’s the perfect word to describe miscarriage. Miscarriage can be all at once sad and physically painful and confusing and traumatic. But none of those words captures it all. So my preference is to describe miscarriage simply as “sucky.”

I knew I was pregnant the very day I missed my period in October. My cycle had been exactly regular, and although it had barely been three months since I’d had my IUD removed, it felt like it was taking forever to get pregnant. I would’ve taken a pregnancy test that very day, but I was fresh out. (I have a tendency to take pregnancy tests willy nilly. I stock up at the dollar store then go through them like candy.) The next day I picked up a couple more New Choice pregnancy tests, then took one the minute I walked in the door. No surprise to me — pregnant! To be doubly sure, I took another test a week later — confirmed! With Soren, I had waited a few weeks following the missed period to take a test — I didn’t want to be disappointed. But when symptoms had started appearing, I felt safe to verify it. This time around, I enjoyed a few blissful weeks of pregnancy knowledge without the inevitable first trimester symptoms.

And this time around, I decided to break the rules about announcing. With Soren we waited the recommended 12 weeks, excited to keep our happy secret between us for a little while. This time, I saw no reason to keep quiet. I was a mere six weeks along when I told a mom friend at a playgroup. At church I spilled the beans to a couple of friends. My entire family knew quite early. And word got around from there. I was fully aware that 10-25% of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage and that I wasn’t out of the “safe zone.” But I didn’t foresee miscarriage as being something I’d need to keep secret.

Around the six-week mark, the first trimester experience really began. All the books tell you a lack of nausea is a bad sign, so we were a little relieved that all those lovely early pregnancy symptoms were fully present and began right when they were supposed to. The nausea seemed to be worse than when I was pregnant with Soren, and, unfortunately, I couldn’t baby myself quite like I could when I was childless. All the food woes were just the same — nothing sounded good, but I was so so hungry, always. I would wake up desperate for cold, fresh fruit. Tim would dutifully bring me raspberries or grapes or apple slices in bed around 6 a.m. Saltines and seltzer water were permanent fixtures on my nightstand. Some days I took little naps when Soren would go down, but I generally just stayed tired all the time. I didn’t remember the night time peeing starting so early with Soren — I thought that was a third trimester thing when the growing uterus begins shoving into the bladder. But, alas, the 2 a.m. trips to the bathroom began right away this time — which is normal — but I must have blocked that from my memory after the first pregnancy. Overall, the first trimester is a drag, and the experience was reassuringly fitting into all the descriptions of a healthy pregnancy.

And just the same as with Soren, I had the usual fears about a spontaneous miscarriage or showing up at my first appointment only to learn there’s no heartbeat. My first prenatal appointment was scheduled for a few days after I’d hit the 10-week mark. I don’t remember feeling any special urgency to get in and get checked, but I was definitely looking forward to the appointment to have my fears put to rest (and plus, I have really fond memories of our first appointment with the midwife during my pregnancy with Soren). I was actually initially scheduled to go in right around nine weeks, but Tim had a meeting he couldn’t move and he wanted to join me, so we postponed by a week. At the time, this seemed like no big deal. But it ends up that the earlier appointment might have led to a much less stressful situation than the way the timing actually played out! Oops.

So we made the familiar trek to Mount Auburn Hospital, happy to see familiar faces at Dr. Hardiman’s office after my two-year hiatus from their prenatal care. Josefina made her usual jokes about Dr. Hardiman’s patients having the cutest babies, with Soren as proof of the theory. We made our way back to one of the rooms, where midwife Carrie drilled us with all the questions about our health, our family medical history, and so on. We talked some about the first trimester and how it was all going, and with everything seemingly on track she began her first attempt at finding the heartbeat. No luck. She let us know this was completely normal, since it can depend on the positioning of all that stuff inside me. After a good long try, she made a vaginal attempt. Still nothing. At this point, she said that was still “normal,” but I’d need to have an ultrasound to better detect the heartbeat. I can’t say I knew for certain at that point that the ultimate news would be bad, but I didn’t exactly have an abundance of hope. I asked her what the odds were that this would be OK, and she estimated 70/30 in our favor. She said we had the option of going down to radiology right then to wait for an opening, or we could schedule it for the following Monday. What kind of crazy person would choose to go home and hang out for a few days, wondering all the while whether the fetus was still viable? With Soren, the only ultrasound we ever wanted was the 20-week gender check. And I’m very much opposed to the superfluous ultrasounds many doctors offer or recommend to low-risk patients. A piece of me wondered if I should just go on home and wait for my body to let me know if this pregnancy was healthy or not. But I decided that if there was a chance my pregnancy was over, I had to know as soon as possible.

So we made our way downstairs, and I sent Tim and Soren home for lunch and naps. I must have been in a bit of a panic, because I couldn’t think of a single person who might be able to come fetch me from the hospital in the middle of a Thursday afternoon. I didn’t feel especially worried, but I was drawing a blank on names. Fortunately (and likely following some divine intervention), a good friend texted me right at that moment to let me know she was heading to Costco and she’d love to pick up groceries for me. After a quick call, my ride was lined up (as well as a delivery of grapes and strawberries).

The waiting room was a depressing sight. It was full and it was smelly. I didn’t have much more than my phone with me, and I was kicking myself for not bringing my laptop to catch up on work. After catching up on emails, Instagram, Facebook, scriptures, Pinterest, and a few articles in my Pocket, I was getting antsy. And I was starving. For me, skipping lunch when pregnant (or not) is a bad, bad idea, but I was terrified that if I left the waiting room I’d miss my spot. About an hour and a half in, I decided to prepare myself for what might come by Googling “no heartbeat 10 weeks.” The results were about what I expected, but it was good to scroll through the many forums and personal experiences to hear how others dealt with it.

Eventually, an ultrasound tech brought me into one of the rooms and began the abdominal scan. I hate that they’re not allowed to say anything to you about what they’re seeing. I stared at her face the entire time, trying to read what she might be thinking. But nothing. She finished up and let me know they’d need to do the vaginal ultrasound next. At this point I felt more certain that the news was bad — there is no way a healthy pregnancy at 10 or 11 weeks would necessitate abdominal and vaginal heartbeat checks and then both abdominal and vaginal ultrasounds. She performed the second ultrasound, then left me to go share the images with the radiologist, who would return with her to give me the rundown. An eternity later, I heard them approach the door, and I listened to him ask her, “So should I just tell her now?” I had already been teary off and on, but this did it for me. They both entered the room, and the radiologist — with unexpectedly good bedside manner — let me know the ultrasounds indicated a failed pregnancy. The fetus appeared to have stopped growing at six weeks — more than a month ago — and no heartbeat was detected. There were also other “suspicious” findings in the ultrasound, like an enlarged yolk sac, which is another indicator of a failed pregnancy (though a non-specific one, meaning it can’t be used as conclusive evidence). When it happens this way (not spontaneously) it’s called a missed miscarriage. The words confirmed my assumptions, but they weren’t easy to hear.

The second blow came with the news from the radiologist and the midwife that I should return to the hospital in 7-10 days for a second ultrasound to confirm everything. This was absolutely baffling to me. You tell me I have a failed pregnancy, but you want me to go home and continue to be pregnant? But their reasoning is this: With a fetus six weeks along, it’s feasible that the heartbeat wouldn’t be detected. However, I knew — and they agreed — that it was pretty much impossible that I would only be six weeks along. If a woman had had very irregular periods and wasn’t certain when she became pregnant, this might be possible. But I was regular to the day, and multiple pregnancy tests confirmed everything way back in October. I was also 100% certain it wouldn’t have been conceivable (pun a little bit intended) for me to become pregnant after the day I “thought” I missed my period. Let’s just say my first trimester experience isn’t exactly conducive to, uh, intimacy.

While discussing all this with Carrie, she agreed that I could feel confident that the pregnancy was over, and I could opt to induce the miscarriage at my leisure. But she and Dr. Hardiman couldn’t make that their official recommendation, because they have to base everything on the ultrasound results and the medical literature. This made for a tricky decision, compounded by the fact that we were scheduled to fly to Missouri in less than a week. So we talked about my options:

1) Go against the “official” recommendation and induce the miscarriage before the confirmatory ultrasound. This was initially most appealing to me. I didn’t want to be pregnant for another second. I didn’t want to continue to experience the first trimester when there would be no reward at the end of it. And I didn’t want to ruin anyone’s holiday plans. But I also felt a tiny bit of hesitation making the decision to abort without an official recommendation from the professionals.

2) Continue with our travel plans, and schedule an ultrasound in Missouri, after which I could induce the miscarriage there. Nothing about having a miscarriage at your in-laws’ house sounds attractive. I was envisioning the many walks I’d need to take from Tim’s childhood bedroom to the bathroom we’d share with his siblings, and then potentially having to wait my turn while blood is pouring out of me. And then what if I had to go in for a D&C? I know it’s a fairly routine and low-risk procedure, but doing it at a strange hospital in the middle of Missouri just didn’t strike me as a great idea.

3) Continue with our travel plans, and take care of everything upon returning to Boston in three weeks. No way.

4) Cancel our trip, hang out in Boston, and return to Mount Auburn in a week. I didn’t initially consider this option — we’d spent a lot of money on plane tickets that we wouldn’t likely get back. And people were expecting us to be in Missouri for Christmas. We knew they’d understand the extreme circumstances, but we also knew there would be a lot of disappointment and possible nudging to change our travel plans to simply work around the miscarriage.

I asked Carrie what she would do in my shoes. She knew option one was my preference. She thought about it for awhile. And then she said she’d cancel the trip. I sort of wrote this off, since it didn’t seem like an option to me. She wrote me prescriptions for misoprostol (to induce the miscarriage) and oxycodone (for the pain) in case I decided to do it at home in the next few days or in Missouri after a follow-up ultrasound. I told her I’d call her the next day and let her know what I would do, and then off I went for blood work (to get a baseline for my hCG levels).

My poor friend and ride home had been waiting for me for an hour at this point, and I was so relieved to finally be leaving. It was almost 4 p.m., so I’d been at the hospital for five hours and my extreme hunger wasn’t helping my out-of-whack emotions. This wonderful friend brought me a perfect brown bag lunch, which made everything feel a little bit better.

At home, Tim and I talked and talked and talked some more. (And I cried and cried and cried some more. Tim didn’t.) Too many decisions to make. And I hate making decisions. None of the options was jumping out as the best. I won’t prolong this by giving the play-by-play on all the thoughts I had during the evening and night about how we could make this work, but in the morning a wise friend called and gave some wonderful advice that led me to feel perfectly content about canceling our trip to Missouri. What I wasn’t even considering before suddenly felt like the best and most obvious choice. Tim was fully onboard, and so after 24 hours of super high stress levels, we had our answer and we didn’t look back.

Tim babied me on Friday and let me spend the day feeling sick and sad in bed. Each day from there got a little easier, and by the time Thursday rolled around I was desperate to move on with the physical part of the miscarriage. So much waiting! It was nice to be completely non-emotional during the second appointment so I could converse easily with the ultrasound tech (who said these situations are “wicked sad” for her every time) and radiologist while they did the two ultrasounds (again, abdominal and vaginal). Everything was just as I expected it to be — zero changes from the week before. It was quite a relief to know we could now take the next steps. I went upstairs to chat about it with Carrie and make a plan.

I had a lot of questions about how the actual miscarriage would play out. Tim and I had read online five or six detailed accounts of others’ experiences with misoprostol for miscarriage, and each person seemed to have a very different story. If I inserted the pills at night, as she recommended, would I be awake all night? How painful would it be? How much bleeding is too much? Or not enough? Would I know when I’d passed the fetus? What if I didn’t feel like I could flush the toilet? Should I eat a lot in advance in case I’m nauseous during the process and can’t eat then? Should I consider scheduling a D&C instead? How will we know if it’s successful? Will I be able to travel by Christmas?

After more blood work to check hCG levels, I was on my way and felt confident in our plan. I stopped off at Target to fill my prescriptions and to pick up a few stocking stuffers. And then home to meet Tim and Soren as they made their way back from playgroup. We had about six more hours of normal life before entering the unknown world of the physical miscarriage.

Since we found others’ detailed misoprostol stories so helpful in knowing what to expect, I’ve written up a separate account of those gory details, to be posted soon. But the one sentence summary is this: I placed the medication (and popped an oxycodone) around 7 p.m. on a Thursday, then spent the next few days laying around, reading, sleeping, watching a few shows, and bleeding. And waiting. And wondering if the miscarriage had been 100% successful. So much of this experience has involved waiting, waiting, waiting for things to happen. After those few days we still weren’t certain if everything had “worked.”

Monday — three days before Christmas — was the first day I started getting back into real life. Doctor visit for blood work, library with Soren for story time, and a little Christmas prep and house organizing (though Tim did a phenomenal job of maintaining the house while I was down). I learned my hCG levels had fallen from 88,000 on Thursday to 11,000 — a good sign, but not conclusive quite yet. On Tuesday we headed down to Virginia a bit spontaneously after getting the go-ahead from the midwife. It was wonderful to continue my recovery on my mom’s couch with loads of nieces and nephews running wild around the house. After returning to Boston, I paid yet another visit to the doctor’s office for more blood work, and my hCG level had dropped down to 586. So things are still progressing as we’d hoped, but they haven’t declared me to be fully in the clear. I’ll return again next week for them to draw blood again, and I’m hoping that’ll be the end of it.

It’s now almost exactly one month after my first appointment, and I’m feeling totally back to normal (aside from the fact that we’re not 100% the physical part is over). Emotionally, I’m totally fine. I know that some women mourn the loss for months and years (or forever) after. That’s definitely not the case for me. Sure, it was a difficult experience, but I can’t say that I’d felt any strong connection to the unborn (I didn’t with Soren, either, when I was just 11 weeks pregnant.) This has caused me to think some about whether I believe life begins at conception — in this instance, I’m not sold on the idea that there was ever a spirit in the tiny body that wasn’t meant to survive.

More than anything, the miscarriage has been an exercise in practicing patience. In my dream world, I’d have kids just a couple years apart, but as it turns out I didn’t feel ready until a few months ago. That would’ve put the two at three years apart. Now, who knows? Apparently, it’s not up to me. The other lesson learned is that being the recipient of service from good friends and Relief Society sisters feels incredible. Without anyone being asked to help, four separate church sisters brought dinner over, two long-distance besties sent groceries and a dinner delivery, one former visiting teacher scrubbed my bathroom until it was cleaner that it had ever been, a new friend came over and spent two hours playing with Soren, two other women dropped by with cookies, and a good friend and neighbor came over with a fun gift of face masks and foot scrubs and treats. It was far more than I deserved or probably needed, but it all felt absolutely amazing. I would never have guessed that so many people would have cared enough to go to such lengths to make sure I was OK.

To close out this longest journal entry ever, I must say that I feel completely optimistic about my childbearing future, and I think in the long run we’ll view this as just a tiny bump in the road of life. Overall, life is really, really great. And I’m thinking there is even more greatness in store.

November 2014

We must already be creeping into our winter hibernation — the quantity of pictures and videos this month is far slimmer than usual.

Soren was reunited with Brenda at stake conference and I enjoyed an hour of peace and quiet two rows back while they searched for Goldbug.

Soren was reunited with Brenda at stake conference, and I enjoyed an hour of peace and quiet two rows back while they searched for Goldbug.

Speaking of Goldbug, this kid is obsessed with Richard Scarry. And my heart leaps with joy every time I stumble upon a quiet Soren studying one of his books in his room.

This is how Soren feels about going on the potty. I want to hide my head every time I think of toilet training too.

This is how Soren feels about going on the potty. I want to hide my head every time I think of toilet training too.

We made two IKEA runs this month — yikes. Soren quickly learned about checking the price tag before falling for anything.

We made two IKEA runs this month — yikes. Soren quickly learned about checking the price tag before falling for anything.

And then he suckered us into buying him a mini table-and-chairs set.

And then he suckered us into buying him a mini table-and-chairs set.

I finished up my little photography class in November and got a couple of good Soren faces.

I finished up my little photography class in November and got a couple of good Soren faces.

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Out of focus. Always out of focus!

A little out of focus. Always out of focus!

Soren occupies himself with a loader and fresh ginger to get through the craziness of a pre-Thanksgiving Market Basket run.

Soren occupies himself with a loader and fresh ginger to get through the craziness of a pre-Thanksgiving Market Basket run.

I both love and hate when Soren ends up in my bed. At least he's cute.

I both love and hate when Soren ends up in my bed. At least he’s cute.

I often worry that Soren will grow up with no creative abilities since both his parents are completely unimaginative. But every now and again he surprises me with a little inventiveness. He often morphs my bread pans into a train, but this day it was something else entirely — a car wash. The felt board nativity characters were washing the machines. Look at those wisemen taking care of that loader.

I often worry that Soren will grow up with no creative abilities since both his parents are completely unimaginative. But every now and again he surprises me with a little inventiveness. He often morphs my bread pans into a train, but this day it was something else entirely — a car wash. The felt board nativity characters were washing the machines. Look at those wisemen taking care of that loader!

We took off for Brooklyn the day before Thanksgiving. As usual, I over-planned and over-packed for the car ride out of fear that Soren would demand entertainment all four hours of the drive. All my worries were put at ease pretty quickly. Two hours in and all he'd needed from me was new books!

We took off for Brooklyn the day before Thanksgiving. As usual, I over-planned and over-packed for the car ride out of fear that Soren would demand entertainment all four hours of the drive. All my worries were put at ease pretty quickly. Two hours in and all he’d needed from me was new books!

After a two-year hiatus from our NY Thanksgivings, dinner at Linsey's was perfection. The food gets better every year. But good friends were sorely missed. Linsey, don't ever move!

After a two-year hiatus from our NY Thanksgivings, dinner at Linsey’s was perfection. The food gets better every year. But the large crowd of good friends was sorely missed. Linsey, don’t ever move!

The kids went for the drumsticks.

The kids went for the drumsticks.

Soren's thinking about switching families.

Soren’s thinking about switching families.

We've been totally upfront with Soren about Santa, letting him know that Santa is pretend but a good symbol of secret service. I had no plans to ever have him sit on Santa's lap, but Linsey persuaded us to join her family for their annual jaunt to ABC Carpet & Home.

We’ve been totally upfront with Soren about Santa, letting him know that jolly old St. Nicholas is pretend but a good symbol of secret service. I had no plans to take him to sit on Santa’s lap, but Linsey persuaded us to join her family for their annual jaunt to ABC Carpet & Home. And I’m glad she did — it was kind of magical. I figured Soren would pass on getting so cozy with a stranger, but he was perfectly OK with it. Another highlight was seeing Jane Krakowski (Jenna on 30 Rock) sit on Santa’s lap (along with her kid, of course), right after us.

Then off to City Bakery for hot chocolate and pretzel croissants. And mac and cheese priced at $14 a pound that was kind of amazing.

Then off to City Bakery for hot chocolate and pretzel croissants. And mac and cheese priced at $14 a pound that was kind of amazing.

Best of all, the kids can entertain themselves in the play space under the stairs!

Best of all, the kids entertained themselves in the play space under the stairs!

Back at the house, Soren showered me with snuggles all weekend.

Back at the house, my vampire baby showered me with snuggles all weekend.

He also spent a good chunk of time fawning over the two cats we fed in exchange for a dirt-cheap apartment rental just around the corner from Linsey's.

Soren also spent a good chunk of time fawning over the two cats we fed in exchange for a dirt-cheap apartment rental just around the corner from Linsey’s. “I’m touching his foot!” he says.

Just waiting for the kitties to come out of hiding.

Just waiting for the kitties to come out of hiding.

We closed out our trip on Saturday, which was both Tim’s birthday and Small Business Saturday, one of our favorite days of the year. We brunched at French Louie, then bought each other gifts at A Cook’s CompanionAtlantic Bicycles, and Stinky BKLYN (rounding out our SBS fun back in Boston with dinner from Fiorella’s and a Christmas purchase for S at Magic Beans). During our drive back, I tried to get Soren to make some birthday memories for Tim.

 

October 2014

Happy fall! I’m really impressing myself with the fantastic job I’ve done of embracing autumn this year. I often shut down when summer ends since I know freezing cold temps and buckets of snow are just around the corner. But this year I’m practicing living in the moment, and fall has been lovely. October photos and videos in chronological order.

Soren has really fallen in love with Richard Scarry books. He’s had one in his possession for awhile, but it didn’t interest him until recently — I’m guessing it has something to do with the illustrations vs. his favorite books that show real photos of cars and trucks. So now he spends A LOT of time looking at Cars and Trucks and Things that GoThank goodness his babysitter knew all about Goldbug and where to find him — Tim and I weren’t quite up to speed.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Soren is both inhibited and an awkward dancer.

Soren and Tim have started attending Home Depot’s great workshops for kids. Soren loves Home Depot for the forklifts, but he came home pretty excited about the ambulance he crafted one Saturday.

Looks like he even got to use real tools!

Looks like he even got to use real tools!

So focused.

So focused.

These next two are a little out of focus, but the smiles are too perfect.

These next two are a little out of focus, but the smiles are too perfect.

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General Conference weekend meant we had a rare free Sunday morning. Soren had been talking about going on a nature walk for days, so we wandered around Hammond Pond.

Sunday was also the kickoff of International Babywearing Week, so we busted out the Ergo. Too bad this giant baby refuses to be back-carried.

Sunday was also the kickoff of International Babywearing Week, so we busted out the Ergo. Too bad this giant baby refuses to be back-carried.

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Oddly enough, Soren really enjoyed conference (the parts he was awake for, that is). He played pretty well on his own and would occasionally shout out words he recognized — "commandments!" "rock!" "Jesus!" On Sunday night Tim and I were in the kitchen and we looked into the hall to see Soren poring over the nursery manual. He was actually kissing pictures of Jesus. We take no responsibility for Soren's sometimes angelic disposition.

Oddly enough, Soren really enjoyed conference (the parts he was awake for, that is). He played pretty well on his own and would occasionally shout out words he recognized — “commandments!” “rock!” “Jesus!” On Sunday night Tim and I were in the kitchen and we looked into the hall to see Soren poring over the nursery manual. He was actually kissing pictures of Jesus. We take no responsibility for Soren’s sometimes angelic disposition.

The next week we joined some church friends for a morning at the aquarium. Soren ran all over that placed like he owned the joint.

The penguins are always a hit.

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That weekend John and Shauna drove up from Virginia! We had planned to spend the weekend at Butterhill, but New Hampshire’s early winter meant the house was closed for the season. So we made it a Cambridge weekend.

We started with the Longfellow House — really good (free!) tour for anyone interested.

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We’re extra happy here because we knew the next two stops were Bartley’s and Burdick’s.

On Sunday we wandered Mt. Auburn Cemetery and chased some turkeys.

On Sunday we wandered Mount Auburn Cemetery and chased some turkeys.

Climbed the tower, of course.

Climbed the tower, of course.

Soren found a slide.

Soren found a slide.

And a crazy tree.

And a crazy tree.

The next thing we knew, Tim had turned into a monkey.

The next thing we knew, Tim had turned into a monkey.

That face!

That face!

Monday was a holiday, so we spent the morning at the park and the afternoon at Wilson Farm.

Soren was REALLY sad when the hayride ended. His love for tractors surpasses all.

Soren was REALLY sad when the hayride ended. His love for tractors surpasses all.

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This pumpkin wall never gets old. I want to live at Wilson Farm in the fall.

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Free apples for all hayriders!

Free apples for all hayriders!

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We never made it apple picking this year, but since all we really care about are the apple cider doughnuts, Wilson Farm had us covered. One of the best things $0.50 can buy in this world.

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I couldn’t help myself from bringing home overpriced turban squashes and green and white pumpkins and gourds.

This must be a Soren-and-Tim playground ritual, because this video is from Tim’s phone and I’m not sure what it’s all about.

A random day at the park. Here Soren was talking about his love for the "telescopic boom" at the construction site behind him.

A random day at the park. They’ve been working on this house for the past few months, and it’s provided hours of entertainment for us. We’ve watched from demolition to now near completion. Here Soren was talking about his love for the “telescopic boom” (the large machine behind him, for those of you not up on your construction lingo).

Mass Audobon was having some sort of super sale on their memberships, so we joined and spent a Saturday morning at Drumlin Farm. (Boston friends, the deal is still on through the end of November! Buy now!)

Mass Audobon was having some sort of sale on their memberships, so we joined and spend a Saturday morning at Drumlin Farm. Looks like we picked THE most perfect fall day to go.

Looks like we picked THE most perfect fall day to go.

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Farm life. Picking fresh carrots for our dinner.

Farm life. Picking fresh carrots for our dinner.

A church friend started teaching a few of us weekly photography classes. I’ve had my camera for at least six years but I’ve never quite figured out all that aperture and shutter speed and ISO stuff. I’m still mostly worthless at taking pictures, but I can sometimes manage to shoot in manual! I’ll still probably take 80% of my pictures with my phone, but at least I’m semi-capable of using my camera when I need to.

We practiced outside one day to learn settings for the sunshine.

We practiced outside one day to learn settings for the sunshine.

Soren didn't mind being outside one bit. Our church building is surrounded by construction sites.

Soren didn’t mind being outside one bit. Our church building is surrounded by construction sites.

We went back inside and I thought I had everything set just right... but these funny faces are a little out of focus.

We went back inside and I thought I had everything set just right… but these funny faces might be a little out of focus.

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Soren can finally get both feet off the ground when he “jumps”! I’ve been waiting a long time for this day.

Friday night was our ward’s Halloween party. I decided this was my year to begin turning into a holiday mom. I decorated! I made a costume! I even thought about making fun and spooky Halloween treats, but didn’t get quite that far.

On our drive to the party, Tim revealed to Soren that Uncle Ben had an upcoming job interview in either DC or Boston — Ben’s choice. This video shows Soren’s opinion on the matter.

But back to the party.

This is not the costume I made. This costume took zero effort on my part, and I'd like to do it that way every year. We didn't have any worker man boots, but we thought the white trash onesie was a nice touch.

This is not the costume I made. This costume took zero effort on my part, and I’d like to do it that way every year. My parents provided the vest, tool belt, and tools from their Virginia toy stash,, plus a real Clark Construction hard hat. We ended up using a $1 Target hard hat instead, since it wasn’t quite so heavy. We didn’t have any worker man boots (actually, Soren is down to a total of two pairs of shoes that fit him), but we thought the white trash onesie was a nice touch.

My homemade skirt! I will wear it every year from here on out, since it took two whole naps and one night to make.

My homemade skirt! I will wear it every year from here on out, since it took two whole naps and one night to make. If anyone is looking for an easy costume, use this great tutu tutorial. Also, buy your witch hat at Target, not Party City. Better quality and $2 cheaper. Black-and-white striped tights are at Party City, though. Lucky for us, both stores are super close by, since we had to make multiple trips when Tim decided he needed a “costume.”

Church door to church door trick or treating. He was over his costume at this point.

Church door to church door trick-or-treating. Soren was over his costume at this point. The hard hat came in handy as a candy-collecting bucket, because of course I forgot to bring one.

Saturday was the Boston Book Festival. I had checked the schedule a few weeks in advance and was really excited to see that the first children’s event was by Anna Dewdney.

Anna Dewdney was a delight, and I was nearly brought to tears that Soren seemed as excited about the whole thing as I was. I guess nerds breed nerds.

Anna Dewdney was a delight, and I was nearly brought to tears that Soren seemed as excited about the whole thing as I was. I guess nerds breed nerds. Now, whenever we read a Llama Llama book, Soren flips to the back dust jacket flap and says, “Anna Doodey wrote this book!”

Llama Llama donned his famous red pajamas.

Llama Llama donned his famous red pajamas.

We stumbled upon a yoga session in Copley Square. Soren's imitation of the teacher's pose is kind of impressive.

We stumbled upon a yoga session in Copley Square. Soren’s imitation of the teacher’s pose is kind of impressive.

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The next week we visited the Museum of Science and Soren surprised me by becoming strangely interested in bees.

The museum has an exhibit with live bees, and in the children's discovery room there is a giant model of a beehive. These two employees spent about 30 minutes with Soren, running through the life of a honeybee over and over again.

The museum has an exhibit with live bees, and in the children’s discovery room there is a giant model of a beehive. These two employees spent about 30 minutes with Soren, running through the life of a honeybee over and over again.

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We started a new morning scripture routine, where we repeat the same song and scripture every day for a month at a time. Here is Soren’s contribution.

And then, Halloween! On Friday morning Soren did a little trick or treating at his school. Of course I didn’t think about bringing his costume, so he got to wear something from the class dress-up bin.

He was pretty happy about it.

He was pretty happy about it.

That evening we threw Soren’s costume on as soon as he woke up from his nap. You can tell he hadn’t fully woken up yet.

He was really proud to be a worker man.

He was really proud to be a worker man. And we learned that it’s really easy to get him to smile if you just talk about backhoes and bulldozers and rollers.

Driveway photo shoot.

Driveway photo shoot.

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We do our trick-or-treating on Washington Street, along with a few hundred other neighborhood kids. Trick-or-treating at 4 p.m. is fine by me!

We do our trick-or-treating on Washington Street, along with a few hundred other neighborhood kids. Trick-or-treating at 4 p.m. is fine by me!

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We finished off the night at the YMCA for the annual pizza party. Soren ate his weight in pizza and danced his booty off.

So Soren ended up trick-or-treating three separate times, and not once did he ask for any of the candy! At every moment I kept waiting for him to ask to try one, and my plan was to attempt some sort of distraction technique. So I think he didn’t actually know he was collecting candy the whole time. I don’t know if I should be proud that he’s so unaware of sugar, or embarrassed that he’s slow. But I’m happy. And we gave away all the candy to the trick-or-treaters who came to our house, so our night and month ended beautifully.

Don’t Forget to Write

When I moved from Utah six years ago I left behind a job I really, really loved. My bosses and co-workers were some of the best people I’d ever known. I mean, Jeanette flew across the country to attend my wedding! (And she blogged about it! Twice.) I felt fulfilled by my work and, oddly, looked forward to going into the office each morning. When I moved to Boston the Bennetts kept me feeling useful by emailing me magazine proofs to edit or sending writing assignments for their custom publications. About a year ago, they launched a “daily digital venture” at UtahValley360.com, highlighting BYU sports, LDS news, parenting columns, infographics, local news, and more. I’ve had so much fun writing articles here and there for their site, even if I did abandon Utah Valley for the East coast.

Since I don’t think my own parents even read the articles I write, here are some of my highlights as of late (with links directly to the articles):

  • Utah is home to a surprising number of fantastic authors. I just finished reading and reviewing Ally Condie’s “Atlantia.” If you’re into YA fiction, check it out!Atlantia
  • I connected my Boston and religious ties by writing about LDS scientists whose beliefs have influenced their work.
  • A talented group of BYU students created a short film to tell the stories of women of faith. I was moved by experiences of women like Minerva Kohlhepp Teichert, Martha Hughes Cannon, and Mary Frances Sturlaugson and would now love to learn more about all of the heroines celebrated in the film. Also, there are great resources on the Women of Faith website for youth leaders who want to share the film with their Young Women.
  • Sometimes I think I’m a little bit funny (and a lot bit stupid) when I write things like this. For the record, I didn’t choose the animated GIFs myself. Some are awesome and some are a bit of a stretch.
  • Why don’t we know about Bible characters like Huldah and Deborah and Prisca? We should.

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    Also, we all need more Carl Heinrich Bloch in our lives.

  • Memes, anyone?
  • I had a really great conversation with Hannah Wheelwright, who started the Young Mormon Feminists blog and is a founder of Ordain Women, about losing and then rediscovering her belief in God. My original plan was to interview a number of people who had lost the “faith of our fathers,” Hannah’s story needed all the space!

 

September 2014

September: The month of random events and photos.

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Soren has breakfast with Tim every morning while I’m working. These two creatures of habit eat pretty much the same thing every day — oatmeal for Soren and peanut butter/honey toast for Tim. One day I came out to find Soren had made an exciting change to the menu — peanut butter by the handful, with a bowl of Os and strawberries (and it looks like there’s a nice dollop of PB on the cereal as well).

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Soren yells for “PARM” when pasta is being served, but this day he decided to gnaw on the whole block for his meal.

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The first week of September was plenty warm for a Walden visit. Nothing like a Wednesday morning at the beach.

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Walden’s water is heaven on earth.

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Soren on the slide during a park date with Tim.

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And another trip to Walden — we went twice in one week so Tim could join us for our Saturday adventure.

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He swims!

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And then he insists on using the largest towel we own.

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We took a Sunday walk at the Arboretum. Soren requests nature walks quite frequently.

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Driving with this boy has become really fun. Every car ride is filled with sights of his favorite things — trains and backhoes and people on bikes and stoplights. Sometimes he’s quiet, just observing the scenery. Other times he’s blabbing non-stop. On the day I took this photo, he was on a roll. In the 10-minute drive to the gym, he had me cracking up on three separate occasions: 1) I experience mild road rage most times I drive, and Soren began yelling ”COME ON” at various cars on the road. 2) He decided to rename speed bumps ”funny hills.” 3) Since we were going to meet Tim, Soren was on the lookout. So, naturally, each time we passed a male he let me know ”that’s not dada.”

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Sometimes, so I can remember the moment, I snap a photo when Soren says something funny. While checking out at Target this day he told me, “I love people” as he gazed around the store.

Soren was a little sad one Thursday when we learned Alyssa was sick and wouldn’t be able to come over to play. All day he kept saying, “Alyssa? Sick? Bed?” So he made her a video to send his love.

I bought a construction magnet set for a long car ride when Soren was still mastering the pincer grasp. Turns out it’s been one of the best purchases I’ve made, since he still plays with it a few times a week. And now that he’s getting into pretend play, it’s even better!

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September 18 marked our four-year wedding anniversary! Tim and I celebrated on separate continents. He ended up with the more exotic location for sure (Netherlands). Soren and I had a grand time that day, doing cool stuff like going to the cell phone store and the park, getting in some work time while the babysitter was over, and then making soup for dinner (since Tim doesn’t eat soup). But Tim did bring back the best chocolates of my life (Puccini Bamboni), so we’re all happy here.

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Tim got home from the Netherlands around midnight on a Saturday night. And then he was off at 6 a.m. for a church meeting Sunday morning. So while Soren and I drove to a separate meeting at 7 a.m. that morning, I told him we were going to see someone extra special at church that day (he hadn’t seen Tim for four days). He said, “Sister Parker?” very excitedly. Nope Soren, just dad. After Tim and Soren were reunited, they went adventuring to the construction sites around our church.

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This kid is seriously livin’ the dream.

I keep trying to record Soren reading some of his favorite books, but I fail miserably every time. In true toddler fashion, he refuses to comply with my stage-mom tendencies. He’s REALLY cute when he reads “Roadwork,” since he has almost the entire book memorized. In this video he made it about two pages in before getting terribly distracted.

Sometimes I just like to take videos of him playing. And I love recording his cute voice. But, of course, in most of the videos I take all you hear is me talking.

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On the last Saturday of the month, the sun was shining and the temps were in the low 80s. So, like the dummies we are, we spent the morning indoors. Soren didn’t seem to know the difference.

 

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Soren ended up with a baguette and no pants on our drive home from the museum and park. It’s not an uncommon occurrence.

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It was surely the last hot day of the year, so we spent the evening at a new splash park that, oddly, opened at the end of the summer.

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Tim is a good dad. I would probably never run through the water in my clothes for the sake of my kid.

That night I took off for the General Relief Society Meeting, and Tim captured our goodbye on camera. Soren says, “I love you” in most situations, but whenever I demand his affection it turns into, “I love me.” I think he really means it.

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And this is what our end-of-September driveway looks like. Leaves, leaves everywhere, in all sizes and shapes and colors. Sometimes when I talk about the colors of the leaves, Soren says, “autumn time!” and it’s really cute.

Happy as a Clam

Sometimes, in Mormon congregations that see a lot of turnover, there is this thing known as the “opening social.” After almost eight years in Provo, I’ve seen my fair share of opening socials — barbecues and ice cream parties and super Mormon-y potlucks and more. Our Cambridge ward is full of students, so every fall semester brings dozens of new faces (after a summer of empty pews in sacrament meeting). This year we decided to welcome all our new friends to Boston with an authentic New England clambake, and since I’m simultaneously a control freak and the president of our congregation’s Relief Society, I was put in charge.

We’re fortunate to have a ward full of talent, including a test cook at America’s Test Kitchens and his lovely professional pastry chef of a wife, a few professional photographers, another culinary school graduate, plus lots of people willing to gather supplies and help set up and keep me from going crazy. I also credit the Belmont 2nd ward for much of our success, since they contributed a ton of indispensable institutional knowledge and all the cooking equipment. I was a ball of stress for the weeks leading up to clambake, but on the day of the event it was smooth sailing and I was happy as a clam when the whole thing went off without a hitch. (Minus a few weather issues.)

The brilliant Alana Yates volunteered to document our day, and I’ve been needing a place to share the photos and archive the fruits of all my anxiety. (This will also help remind me, for next year, that all the planning is totally worth it, and it will be way easier to pull it off next time.) These photos are in no particular order, since I was a bit too harried to even notice some of what was going on (like all the fun the little kids were having — thank you, Millers, for organizing!).

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August 2014

August was pretty amazing. Sometimes in August I start to get really anxious about the cold weather that is surely just around the corner. I have a REALLY hard time enjoying fall because I work myself into a panic about winter coming. Luckily, our August was so full of fun I didn’t have time to get worried.

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“I Am a Backhoe” was on the shelf at the library one day, so I was guaranteed five minutes to flip through a magazine.

After our library stop we discovered a moon bounce and free pizza at Brighton Common. Both were a hit with this kid (and with me).

After our library stop we discovered a moon bounce and free pizza at Brighton Common. Both were a hit with this kid (and with me).

One week in to August, we ventured to Cape Cod — full documentation of that wonderful trip here.

Our return to Boston made me a little sad about our backyard-less life. But then we went for a Sunday walk and I remembered we have acres of green within minutes of our house. We're happy.

Our return to Boston made me a little sad about our backyard-less life. But then we went for a Sunday walk and I remembered we have acres of green within minutes of our house. We’re happy.

That week was Soren’s birthday! Plenty of pictures and celebratory words about that here.

And then, just four days after returning from Cape Cod, we took off for Butterhill.

I was planning to keep Soren rear facing for many more months, but Tim convinced me it would be OK to turn him around for our drive to New Hampshire. It might have been the best car ride of Soren's life. (Eating pizza on the go didn't hurt.)

I was planning to keep Soren rear facing for many more months, but Tim convinced me it would be OK to turn him around for our drive to New Hampshire. It might have been the best car ride of Soren’s life. (Eating pizza on the go didn’t hurt.)

Good morning! This might be Soren's most-loved rock in the world.

Good morning! This might be Soren’s most-loved rock in the world.

Our New Hampshire back yard.

Our New Hampshire back yard.

Tim and Soren went for a bike ride while I caught up on some work. Their destination? A lake with rocks and ducks, of course.

Tim and Soren went for a bike ride while I caught up on some work. Their destination? A lake with rocks and ducks, of course.

Preparing to throw.

Preparing to throw.

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He really would like to pet a duck. We have yet to convince him it's not a good idea.

He really would like to pet a duck. We have yet to convince him it’s not a good idea.

When they got back we went for a spin around the "lake." It's tiny and takes about 20 seconds to paddle across.

When they got back we went for a spin around the “lake.” It’s tiny and takes about 20 seconds to paddle across.

We had a few Boston friends join us at Butterhill. On Saturday morning we took a hike to Lonesome Lake.

We had a few Boston friends join us at Butterhill. On Saturday morning we took a hike to Lonesome Lake.

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I'm definitely more of a beach person than a lake/mountains person, but this sight was spectacular.

I’m definitely more of a beach person than a lake/mountains person, but this sight was spectacular.

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I guess he'd rather hike than pose.

I guess he’d rather hike than pose.

Had to get a pick w/ the white blaze for Grandmama and Pappy (and Beau and Mackenzie).

Had to get a pic with the white blaze for Grandmama and Pappy (and Beau and Mackenzie).

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Not sure how we would’ve survived the summer without Soren’s Keens.

That afternoon we did a little Butterhill exploring.

That afternoon we did a little Butterhill exploring.

Another canoe ride.

Another canoe ride, with an extra friend in tow. I REALLY wish I knew how to use my camera. Why did my pictures suddenly turn blueish?

More friends.

More friends.

City baby turned nature baby.

City baby turned nature baby.

And then back to Boston for one final August week.

Excuse the blur. But Soren loves to sit on small objects and I couldn't not keep this photo.

Excuse the blur. But Soren loves to sit on small objects and I couldn’t not keep this photo.

I walked in on these two like this.

I walked in on these two like this.

I love finding pictures of Soren on Tim's phone. This is from one of their Friday rendezvous in Coolidge Corner.

I love finding pictures of Soren on Tim’s phone. (This is from one of their Friday rendezvous in Coolidge Corner.) After a summer of beach trips and sand box shenanigans, our car and house are covered in sand.

Soren is a little bit of a playground snob. This was a new one we stumbled upon after visiting Tim at work. Creative water features (note the wet hair) and long ramps to run up and down are a major plus.

Soren is a little bit of a playground snob. This was a new one we stumbled upon after visiting Tim at work. Creative water features (note Soren’s wet hair) and long ramps to run up and down = a winner.

I'll never get tired of breastfeeding my baby. During World Breastfeeding Week I loved reading many great essays and stories, and one person online mentioned something about not having enough documentation of her breastfeeding years. So I told Tim to snap a photo after this post-church milk fest.

I’ll never get tired of breastfeeding my baby. During World Breastfeeding Week I loved reading many great essays and stories, and one person online mentioned something about not having enough documentation of her breastfeeding years. So I had Tim snap a photo of this post-church milk fest.

And then, our final beach visit in August. We brought Rachael and Job to Nahant, and Soren loved having additional playmates.

And then, our final beach visit in August. We brought Rachael and Job to Nahant, and Soren loved having additional playmates.

King of the sand hill.

King of the sand hill.

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