insult to injury and injury

curls, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

larry returned home last night from a nine day trip to madrid. eva and i had sort of a long exhausting week, for a variety of reasons. first off, she spent a few days launching herself into a new phase of testing me (by doing things like throwing metal cups at my head then asking "are you mad now?" and, say, throwing water from the bathroom sink on me while i was using the bathroom). that would be trying at any time, but being pregnant and without any adult back-up, i found myself pushed to and right over the edge a couple times. i also found the time exhausting because eva developed some sort of aversion to being at home, so i found it easier to just plan stuff to do, playdates or errands or the like, from morning to evening. that makes a mama tired and crave a break. but, we made it through. normally i don't really mind when larry is gone, but this time, i found myself whining about it more than was strictly necessary.

the major theme for the week, however, ended up being injury. poor eva has had a couple of good falls in her days, but she had four this week each of which probably rank in the top five of all time.

first, she was tripped by the [expletive deleted] dog, who once she determines we're going downstairs must beat you to the bottom for some reason. eva was at the top of the stairs, the dog took out her knees (i'm guessing), and she fell halfway down the stairs. on her face. she seemed more affronted by the fact that lemma would do such a thing ("lemma pushed me down, mama!") than she was by the rug burn across her lip, nose, and cheek. she also reported a hurt arm.

about two days later, she was goofing around putting her feet on the table while sitting in her tall chair eating breakfast. as i was repeating the line about feet on the table, she lost her balance and began to fall. somehow, her hips actually rotated upwards and she ended up with her hips and legs on the kitchen table before she fell head first onto the tile floor. she landed in a crumpled pile, and had a welt that covered a full third of her forehead, all puffed up with a dent in the center. ugh.

yesterday, with larry due to return home late in the evening, i sent this email at 5 p.m.:

so, some of you will recall that since larry left, eva was tripped by the dog and fell head first down the stairs, and then a few days later, fell basically from table height head first onto the tile kitchen floor. i commented that i hope it wasn't the kind of thing that came in threes.

at chipotle she took a header off the bench, but i caught her leg so that her head remained about 2 inches from the concrete floor. meredith commented that that counted as #3, and i had hoped so too. apparently not.

i was putting away sheets in the linen closet, and the open door creates a bottleneck in the hallway upstairs between the door and the big wooden cradle. she came around the corner, tripped on the first rocker of the cradle, and promptly smashed her face into the other
rocker (she's the perfect height for that span, what luck.) she was all puffy and bloody, and from subsequent examination, she seems to have done a thorough job of ripping her tight upper frenulum (i knew that would have to happen sometime -- ironically my mom just had
surgery to have hers cut earlier this week!) and also gave herself her first bloody nose. she seems okay now, though whiny, in part because she's really hungry and every bite hurts and is making her upset.

anyway, just thought i'd share. nothing ever comes in fours, so i feel safe now. knock wood! or no better yet, knock a soft padded room!

oh, why would i say that about nothing coming in fours? at 6:04 p.m. (one hour later), i was obliged to send the following email:

excuse my language, but fuck it all if she didn't just fall down the stairs... again. but this time, all the way to the landing. i heard, thump thump thump all the way down. oddly, she seems mostly cool with it, though her belly now hurts in addition to her lip, she reports.

i give up.

seriously. the poor kid, she was thoroughly beat up, and i felt terrible. also, i had a proud moment when i saw the heel of her hand toward her thumb had a deep blue bruise... and i realized i had no idea which of three of the falls might have caused it. if you can't narrow it down to fewer than three incidents, i think something is wrong! (and someday if an ER visit reveals mysterious old hairline fractures, we'll look back to this week.) it has been suggested to me that perhaps she is growing, causing her to be less steady on her feet. given that she told me earlier this week that her legs hurt inside her bones (growing pains), i think that's likely a big factor. nevertheless, damn... i'm tempted to keep her on the ground level of a padded room for a while.


bigger and bigger


i was explaining the theme of the day (thanksgiving) to eva, explaining what it means to be thankful for something. i listed some of the things i am thankful for, and asked what she is thankful for. her response: red, and blue, and green, and yellow, and purple.... my first thought is that the concept had gone over her head, but for all i know she really is thankful for colors.

instead, i offer you a list of her aspirations. eva is fond of saying "someday when i grow bigger and bigger, i will..." go or do or be a whole assortment of things. here's a sampling from the last several days (or what i can remember).

someday when i grow bigger and bigger i will
be a woman
eat spicy ("ficy") food
go on a big, big roller coaster with lots of people
use pointy things
go back to new york city
wear these bigger clothes, because then they will fit me
play bowling with papa
go there and do funny tricks (indicating the "ninja warrior" obstacle course on TV, because larry told her she could as part of her ninja training)
help take care of panowah
learn how to play a guitar
drive all the way to where austin texas turns into seattle and see the space ("face") needle
drink alcohol
drive mama's car (hopefully not those last two at the same time)
go climbing like the monkey mans (meaning rock climbing like larry)
do lots of things

i like all the varied plans she is making for herself. i'm glad i get to be along for the ride.

right now she's snuggling larry on the couch because she's sad that he's leaving for madrid in the morning. "you will fly in an airplane to 'fain' and that's a long, long way away." "i want to go with papa and stay in a hotel!" "papa, i'm going to help you pack." she gets that he'll leave and then come back, but more and more, she's truly sad to see him go. lately we have to go to the driveway and wave pretty much any time he drives off somewhere. it will be interesting to see how she reacts during this coming week.

it will be equally interesting to see how this tired, pregnant mama reacts, too. ha.


eva of new york

round and round

we just spent five lovely days in new york city, along with larry's parents. i used to go to nyc nearly ever year, but haven't been since eva was born, so it was really nice to get back. i'm no new yorker, but i was pleased to find that i still knew my way around better than i might have expected. in just a few short days, i feel like we really saw a little bit of everything, which made me happy since rita hadn't been to new york since a brief trip when she was young.

eva, as expected at this point, was a great traveler. naps on the fly in the stroller, cooperative about going wherever and whenever, all-around cheerfulness (minus one or two brief bouts of sleep- or hunger-induced whining). she seemed positively charmed by the city -- the tall buildings, the taxis, riding the subway, the crowds and views on the street -- which made me happy. we hiked all over midtown, went to the top of the empire state building, strolled through central park, had a pint (not me :) at an irish pub in the east village that opened in 1854, saw several museums (she was the only child we saw at the guggenheim that day, hmm wonder why -- but she was asleep when we went in then stayed happy so why not go with it?), and ate lots of yummy food (that one mostly thanks to farah's guidance -- including some great ethiopian food, made possible by rita's generous offer to stay with eva at the hotel.)

eva of new yorkthe things that made the biggest impression on eva (other than having her grandparents nearly undivided attention for several days straight!) seemed to be riding the carousel in central park -- that thing is fast -- and having a sugary tea party with an "alice in wonderland" theme at a place called alice's tea cup. she had tea and scones, finger sandwiches and cookies, and best of all, chocolate mousse! very fun, and just about the cutest thing ever.

we stayed at flatotel, which was really nice -- we were in a two bedroom flat, so we could spend more time all together. i don't think they get many children there, so that could really go either way, but it seems eva sufficiently charmed the staff. riding the elevator one morning, eva stood holding on to the railing as usual and, looking up at the mirror on the ceiling, excitedly asked "do you see everybody?" and of course, everyone looked up and saw each other looking back. well, it turns out one of the other riders was the general manager of the hotel. upon our return that evening, the concierge came running after us with the cutest teddy bear dressed in the signature flatotel robe -- he said the GM thought eva was charming and wanted her to have it. how sweet is that? eva loved it and snuggled it in bed that very night; i was pleased that my child made a positive impression, haha. (in general, i was impressed with the staff there -- especially the bellhop who managed to get us a cab during shift change at the beginning of rush hour to newark of all places in the rain -- all in under 10 minutes. amazing.)

all this travel has allowed eva to have experiences she couldn't have at home. and on this trip in particular i was interested in what things she learned. she will tell you that (from our 27th floor room) the taxis look small since we're up so high but when we go down they look bigger. she knows the difference between a monorail and a subway train. she knows the weather is different different places. she can point out the chrysler building and central park, and knows how the subway works (she was running around the house today saying "please stand clear of the closing doors" -- that and ringing a handbell saying "happy holidays!" like the salvation army bellringers we saw). i don't know if she'll remember all the trips we've taken this year, but i think somehow it will be in there, contributing to her sense of the world -- or something. maybe all that will happen is that she'll remain enamored of subways and taxis, but i think maybe as she grows up strange and new things won't seems so bewildering, even if she doesn't consciously know why that is.

great trip, and a memorable one. and we're glad to be home with no trips coming up any time soon (well, excepting larry's departure for madrid on friday. but other than that...)



guess who?

fountain conference

my daughter is, at this moment, pushing her doll stroller around and around (and occasionally over the dog). but, apparently, she's not my daughter. she's a boy, and i'm a man, and lemma is a boy dog. this boy, when asked, announced that his name is sentimenta. "hey man, say 'bye, sentimenta! have fun at the airport!'" (i comply.) "watch out, boy dog, don't block my stroller. this boy is pushing the baby sister to the airport, to go to the other austin texas where the sky is pink." or, sometimes sentimenta takes the baby to go get groceries. you go for it, sentimenta. don't forget we're almost out of cream cheese. (i don't point out, because i don't need her to know, that her first major foray into playing "boy" is by doing decidedly female-gendered activities. that makes this mama smile, truth be told.)

i previously discussed how reading books is her favorite activity. i'd say if she's not reading books (or, beginning two days ago, playing with the bathroom sink a.k.a. "swimming pool"), she's pretending to be someone and setting up scenarios for us. ah, the joys of imaginative play. i know it's good for kids, but i hope this level of pretending to be elsewhere doesn't mean she's (already) trying to escape her own life, haha. (ha?)

she's been doing this for quite some time (generally pretending to be a baby, or going to the airport), but it really amped up starting a month or so ago. first, it was "meerkats are everywhere" (she does a mean meerkat impersonation). then, in ND, she suddenly decided that she was anna (one of her new little friends). "what is this anna doing?" "no, i'm not eva, i'm anna!" after a few days, she decided she was (her cousin) sarah and i was (sarah's mom) karen, while anyone else around was either an additional karen or uncle john -- and any ajacent dog became a cat. this one persisted for a long while. during the flight home, sarah gave way to baby eliza and i was told i was "big sister anna". i finally figured out that anna and eliza are the only pair of young sisters she really knows, and is (obviously) exploring the role of big sister via these identities.

and now she's sentimenta, dear son to this man (gee, could she be exploring gender? i love how at least sometimes toddler explorations are transparent). oh, don't forget the imaginary sisters from august, bohp and panowah (though bohp has all but disappeared and panowah has transitioned into a new role). she also likes to be my dentist (though i believe that's just a premeditated ruse to be allowed to stick her fingers in my mouth), or to take her sick dog to the "vetinahwian". and sometimes, just to confuse me, "now sarah is being jennifer", my hair stylist, and she pretends to cut my hair. oops, i mean "karen's" hair. (c'mon try to keep up!) we often have parties and picnics or ride in a taxi or subway, and last night eva was the officiant at a wedding and (re?)married larry and i, ending in an uncharacteristic couple-plus-tiny-officiant hug. (even more unorthodox, the officiant was clad only in mardi gras beads and brightly striped rain boots.)

i do love her imagination, and i like getting a glimpse into what she's thinking about via play. perhaps the only drawback is that it makes me wonder why we own all of these toys... or any toys. she honestly could care less about them. ah, to simplify! it's on the agenda, as soon as i have a bit more energy...

speaking of that (and the other hints), the slightly old news is that i'm pregnant (12 weeks today). i can only think of a few people who i haven't spoken to in person, and i'm not sure they really read this anyway. i wrote a few posts about it along the way but didn't publish them until now. they can be found (oldest to newest) here, here, and here (or just scroll down). i'm hoping to start feeling better soon, and am excited about my first midwife appointment tomorrow. i've been explaining to eva that we'll hear panowah's heartbeat. however, that's a hard sell to a two-year-old who has no concept of the circulatory system to begin with. (i just mentioned the midwife appointment again, and now she's running around playing midwife. of course.)


"read this book to me."

hanging, working hard

we're in north dakota, having a lovely time with my family (larry just left for boston yesterday). in the photo, we're playing at the pumpkin patch, eva hanging away, which is one of her beloved pasttimes.

her absolute favorite thing to do these days, though, is read books. it's convenient being around family, so i can share all the reading. (i do enjoy reading to her, but the fifteenth daily reading of some questionable book handed down from the 1970s can be a bit teadious.) "read this book to me, mama," she says. we curl up and dive in. should i get distracted, she'll tap the page and say "talk 'bout it, mama. talk 'bout this page." she likes to read anything, from the simple little books of her "youth" (haha) to some pretty long stories. and she'll turn up with book after book, all day, eschewing all toys (is she's not being read to, chances are she's wrapped up in some sort of imaginative play on her own or with others).

the thing i think is the cutest is that she'll pick up any random scrap of paper (target receipt, scratch pad, TSA pamphlet from the airport) and say "i'm reading this book to you mama". she'll make up a story, generally relating what's going on now or the adventures we had earlier. or (my favorite), she'll start reciting lines or whole pages from her favorite books (or sometimes books she's only heard two or three times):

"but the bear snores on. bear grumbles and he wheezes and the whole crowd freezes!"
"farmer brown was furious! dear cows and hens, there will be no electric blankets. i demand milk and eggs. sincerely, farmer brown."
"caps for sale, fifty cents a cap! but nobody wanted a cap, not even a red cap."

i find this amazing. how does a being go from not being able to, say, roll over, and then two short years later can relate chunks of stories (or ask relevant questions about the abstract concepts conveyed in the stories). it just seems a lot to catch on to in that amount of time.

on a humorous note, i noticed eva was chewing on her finger for most of a day. later, she said her finger hurt and larry asked her why she was chewing on it. "i'm trying to make it like grandpa marty's finger," she explained. hmm, good plan. grandpa marty lost the tip of one of his fingers in an accident years ago. apparently he had been answering her questions about it that morning. silly monkey.


we're back home now, enjoying our week and a half at home before heading to nyc. i hadn't been looking forward to our flight home (just eva and i; larry had been in boston), a triple connection that had us up at 5 something. probably due to my determination to not be a dumbass about it and let myself get all upset at her antics (in combination with actually *asking* eva for her cooperation ahead of time, duh), the trip was peaceful. oh, i almost forgot to credit the french fries and chocolate milkshake we had in houston -- i don't often resort to food bribery, but there are times when it is totally justified. :)

pregnant sisters day out

yesterday, julie and i went to bismarck to go maternity clothes shopping together. how often does a person get to do that, shop for maternity stuff with your pregnant sister? i found a ton of spring/summer stuff on clearance (which i'll need soon enough), so it was a productive trip.

after shopping (since eva was happy and content at home with grandma and auntie lora), we stopped for dinner. in an attempt to be wild-and-crazy pregnant mamas on the lam, we ordered a virgin strawberry margarita. hmm. not so crazy after all.

last week, however, man were we crazy. we all split up running errands in bismarck, and somehow the two preggos were sent to the liquor store to buy beer. our stab at cutting loose that time involved buying a two liter of squirt, a bar pour (bottle topper, like for liqour bottles), and came home and poured shots and slammed them on the table. interesting, because this isn't something i actually do non-pregnant with actual alcohol (nor does julie), but we found ourselves pretty amusing.

: we went maternity shopping again the following day. okay, i think i'm covered on clothes now, sheesh. but, it was too fun not to, and plus, eva has a grand old time with grandma and lora, which is only somewhat due to the consumption of ice cream.

year three

a few weeks ago (an annual september event), eva and i were part once again of the breastfeeding challenge. this is our third year -- she was so tiny the first time! -- and each year we were there with sarah (who was with fiona this time). austin smashed it's old winning record from 50-some moms and babies last year to over 100 this year. go austin!

i had a lot more to say about it last year, so if you're interested go check that out. :)

after the challenge, eva and larry enjoyed playing in a nearby fountain, after which we enjoyed a nice brunch downtown. that evening, we went to dinner with gram and grammie (larry's matrilinial line) for a four-generation dinner. after dinner, we enjoyed the choreographed, LED-lit superfountain at the new town lake park. (future note: we predict that park will be amazing in 20 years when the many trees they planted grow in to provide some shade.) eva had a great time, running with big kids and splashing away. it was a grand day of fountains!



larry's grandmother olivia clara (henrichson) ewing died on thursday october 4th, 2007. we rushed off to college station on sunday because it was clear she didn't have much time left, and we wanted to be able to say goodbye. she was largely unresponsive most of the days we visited her, but tuesday was something else entirely. she was making eye contact and tracking us around the room, and seemed to have pulled away the layers of dementia to know exactly who each of us was. we would say "hi gran, it's kristy (or larry, etc)" and she would respond with a pronounced wink as if to say "i know, i see you there, and i love you." she even smiled at several people, including the little girls. gran always winked as another way to say "i love you", so it was quite fitting. it was so amazing to have that last good day with her, when her eyes were filled with clarity and knowing rather than being somewhat clouded by confusion.

on thursday, when it was clear she had only a few hours left, larry and john went to join their father at her side. she died shortly after, with her only child and two of her grandsons holding her and offering comfort. apparently it was an incredibly peaceful death, she just took one last breath then was gone. we all should be so lucky to die peacefully surrounded by those we love.

it's hard to know exactly how to talk to a 2 1/4 year old about death. on the one hand, i wanted to be open and offer a healthy perspective regarding death; yet i didn't want to overwhelm or frighten her unnecessarily. i explained to eva that gran was very very sick, so sick that her body couldn't work anymore, and that gran died. that means she's gone away and we can't talk to her anymore, but we can remember her. despite her usual barrage of questions, eva accepted this matter-of-factly. we sort of followed her lead regarding the viewing, and for a few moments she seemed curious upon seeing gran's body, but was essentially unfazed. she also was able to sit still throughout the funeral and did so with a minimum of outbursts (mostly of the slightly comic toddler variety, not the whiny screaming variety).

gran was an amazing woman, graduating high school at age 13 and going on to receive a master's degree, an unusual feat for the era. she also faced a great amount of hardship and loss, losing her mother when she was very young, losing a newborn daughter and a school-aged son, and losing her husband prematurely. she was a devoted teacher for decades, and loved her family above all else. while it is comforting to know that she is now at peace, she touched so many lives and will be dearly missed.


travel, thoughts

cart, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

we've been traveling, a lot. almost as often as not, actually. that's kind of crazy, and it's making me feel kind of crazy (and making the house look very crazy) but it's all been good. there's more coming, too. larry potentially has five trips in a five week period coming up. eva and i will have flown somewhere every month, may through december. now that she's two, she's racking up the frequent flyer miles -- she'll have more before she's 2 1/2 than i had at age 17.

along with all that, i'm having all sorts of disjointed thoughts lately that doing lend themselves to an organized little essay. today, driving home, eva learned that her birthday was july 7th, then asked me when my birthday was. i said, february. she said, "oh, just like the groundhog." wtf? we worked out she knows this from doing "letters" on the computer (they discuss a groundhog coming out in february to check for his shadow) so it makes perfect sense. but that moment of "what the hell, how is it you know that, aren't you supposed to be a baby or at least only know what i remember having told you?" is very disorienting.

we spent a month (in june and july) in alaska. eva has a blast and it was fun to see how many things she could do now versus last year. she fell in love with camping, and we were there long enough that she got into a pretty good rhythm ("now it's time to get grandpa from work", she'd tell you that he works "at the pharmacy, he gives medicine to sick people to help them feel better.") the best part, though, was seeing how much my parents enjoyed eva, how they would just really be present with her and drop everything else whenever being silly and playing seemed more fun. eva, of course, thought that was great. there's something new that i didn't expect in being the link in the chain of those two generations. it changes my relationships both directions and it feels like we're all part of something bigger.

eva's obsessed with babies, which i think is pretty age appropriate. she also enjoys being a "pretend baby", and will say "this pretend baby wants this mama to hold her", or request pretend side of milk or she will pretend cry or ask for a pretend diaper. i think it must be hard, being between being little and big. i guess that's what all of childhood is in different ways. you're always saying goodbye to the stage you're leaving and trying to figure out the one to come. i like that she knows how to express this need to me, and i don't mind playing pretend baby at all.

in august we spent two weeks with julie and lora in north dakota, first in fargo then in wilton. i had so much to say about that trip, it brought up so many thoughts from my past life there, but it got all muddled and they couldn't get down. julie was newly pregnant and not feeling well, but eva did her best to keep her distracted (as if being in the process of buying a new house wasn't already keeping her busy enough). we went camping -- eva's now an old pro -- and saw lots of cousins, and there was even a street dance in wilton! because of that, i saw more people from my high school class than i've seen since graduation, plus i had a good talk at the bar with my favorite teacher which was really nice. but beyond the stuff we did, it was just nice all being together. i don't know how both my sisters got to be such naturals at dealing with toddlers, but that is a big bonus that i can go and relax knowing eva's in good company.

if i haven't mentioned it before, eva's been eating well for several months now. sometime in late june, i think, she started eating more than three bites at any given meal and i found i was no longer counting every single speck of food that went into her mouth (easy to do without trying when she ate so little). we still have days where she doesn't eat much, or where she rejects a dozen different food options before she'll eat something, but that's called being a toddler, and is not concerning to me. now she'll eat two eggs and cheese for breakfast, for example where last spring we'd be lucky to get two bites in her. excellent progress.

last week we went to seattle to my smith friend sarah's wedding. we stayed downtown (at the moore hotel, i highly recommend it for the budget-consious traveler, it was perfect), and eva was great the whole trip -- well, not counting 10:00 p.m. on the flight home, that was not so great. she loved downtown and would just nap in her stroller as we walked around or ate lunch. it's so refreshing to be in a real city where you don't have to drive everywhere. we took the bus for some day trips, and cabs to the wedding activities, but it was fun just walking and exploring. eva made friends with sarah and many of the wedding guests, since eva was being quite charming at the wedding and the party the next day (toddler at a wedding on a boat that doesn't dock until 10 p.m. could be a disaster, but she was great). we're really glad we went, and it was nice to have a little family vacation.

eva's upstairs, i can hear her chattering away to larry, who is trying to get her to sleep. sleep has been a challenge off and on the past few months (particularly naps) but it's been better the past few days. i think she had to adjust a bit from the west coast time zone. really, i complain at times but given we have no schedule to speak of and every week we're sleeping somewhere new she's doing amazingly well. i love love love that she is so adaptable, that she just goes with whatever is going on. i would have real trouble if i felt like we couldn't go to dinner for a special occasion because it's late in the evening, or couldn't travel because it would mess up her rhythm. she's a great traveler, which is what makes this crazy schedule this year possible. and i love that as she grows, she'll just be used to traveling and having new experiences, and think of all the places we'll be able to tell her she's already been...

better go help. i think maybe papa put himself to sleep but eva's still awake.



oh, my sweet baby. or baby's big sister, i should say. she is so excited about the baby, and says the sweetest things. here's the conversation we just had lying in bed as i put her down to sleep:

"mama, you have a baby in your belly."
yes, i do.
"it's panowah! (looking down to my belly and waving) hi panowah! she's growing bigger and bigger."
that's right. panowah is only this big now but has to grow this big before it's time to come out of mama's belly.
"and she will be sooo big!"
and do you know that panowah might be a boy?
"ummm, maybe a girl." (sing-song convincing voice)
maybe a boy
"a girl!"
okay, we'll see.
"maybe she will share my toys with me?"
i bet she will. are you excited to be a big sister?
"yeah." (big grin.)

also, she has put the facts together (i'm growing a baby, it will come out, babies drink milk from their mamas, eva drinks milk from this mama) and deduced the concept of tandem nursing. she'll point to whichever breast she isn't at that moment next to and/or using and say "that side is for panowah." or, "probably panowah will want that side." crazy. but i'm glad she's (currently!) willing to share, since she may or may not be nursing by then (likely not, i'd guess).


the announcement

i can still hardly believe it, but it's finally happened. i'm pregnant! we found out friday (the morning of sarah's wedding) in our seattle hotel room. i had had a negative test on monday, the first day of my missed period, but i tested again since there was still no sign of my period (confusing if i wasn't pregnant) and i had felt a bit queasy at dinner the night before. plus, i started doing that thing of being able to smell everything from across the room.

in the 9 or 10 months we were trying, i often pictured the moment we would find out. i sent larry in to check on the results, and imagined a sly grin or a big announcement... instead, he turned around and i was faced with mild confusion. oh, the momentary confusion of the faint second line! (on an ovulation predictor, that's a negative.) once we cleared that up, we crawled back into bed with sleeping eva and couldn't help but chat excitedly across her sleeping body, inevitably waking her up. deciding the only reason not to tell her is that she'll run and tell everyone else (yet, no one believes a toddler, right?), we told her there was a baby in mama's belly. "and papa helped", she noted. i was happy to be able to tell her this, since she had asked me a few days before, "mama, can you make a baby in your belly so it can grow bigger and bigger and i can play with it after it comes out of your belly?" she's been all about having a baby sibling for months, so she was pretty excited.

after a bit, i asked her if she knew the baby's name. she looked at me like the answer was so obvious i hardly needed to ask and said "it's panowah in your belly, mama." panowah is the second of her imaginary sisters and the one she discusses the most (sorry, bohp.) it's almost like she knew of panowah's presence before we did and was just waiting for her/it to get into my belly over the past few months.

already i'm having trouble remembering why i was so worked up about trying to get pregnant (funny how quickly it slips away). last month was my first confirmed ovulation, and true to form with our apparently a-ok eggs and sperm, that's all it took. (if i can actually *ovulate*, we can get pregnant on the first try, yet again.) i disliked the waiting and uncertainty, but i do like that it all happened according to what nature had in mind... i ovulated as soon as my body decided i was ready, and now i'm pregnant and presumably eva will wean naturally as my milk supply decreases in a few months (or not, we'll see, but i'm glad i didn't have to wean her to get pregnant, i prefer letting it happen naturally).

so, we're home now in austin, and i'm periodically tired and queasy and have the super-smeller, but nothing major yet, just enough to remind me that i'm actually pregnant. we'll slowly start telling people but for whatever reason, even after all the waiting, i sort of want to keep it to ourselves for a bit longer.

just now eva said, "mama i'm hugging you and the baby in your belly!" she's going to be a great big sister.

gotta run. i'll save these pregnancy posts as drafts for now and publish them after i tell everyone.


mother of the year

bench, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

today sucked.

not all of it, but enough of it to leave me questioning what the hell i think i'm doing. (i did go see a movie with a friend, that part was nice.)

this morning, we ran errands. i had (and still have) a killer headache that won't stop making me want to yell at strangers and/or cry. eva was putting on a good show of being two, arching her back to be let down in the chaotic yarn store causing me to nearly lose my balance and drop her, or running off screaming "no!" to everything i say. but the truth is, she was the same as always, a mix of charming and challenging, but i was just not handling it well.

we came home and she wouldn't nap. "nap" is turning in to a 2 hr stressfest of trying to get her to sleep because she's not truly tired until 4:00 but that's too late to nap if i want her to to go to bed before midnight. she's edging closer to dropping naps, but we're not there yet, so we butt heads over it. she was poking and scratching me during our 5 minutes of nursing, and after countless attempts to redirect her, i mentally lost it and marched out of the room, saying "fine, do whatever you want, i don't care.", plus some swearing. nice! just the perfect response for making your child feel unconditionally loved.

later after calming back down, i went up to relieve larry of the napathon efforts, and after some time, she announced that she was peeing on the special book i bought all of two hours prior, one that was for her and papa to share. contrary to all my thinking on such things, i basically shamed her for it including the gem "i thought you knew how to take care of your books but i guess not." lovely. once again, just the perfect reaction to have. no surprise that she peed in the laundry basket 30 minutes later, despite the fact that she rarely has accidents these days.

when i got home from the movie, larry reported that they had the calmest evening in a long time and eva fell asleep peacefully next to him on the couch -- a good hour earlier than she generally does. then when she woke up just now and he went to soothe her, it turns out she was having a bad dream, sitting up and rocking her knees talking mysteriously about a book (hmm...telling.). he was calming her by saying "papa loves you and mama loves you" when she interjected "no no no she doesn't!"


what a proud day of parenting this has been. as i hear myself get frustrated with her, that's quickly replaced by frustration with myself for reacting that way, for not being stronger. i can of course point out that it's been a bit of a struggle lately what with all of our travelling, and my weeks at a time without arry to help parent, and how he threw his back out and is stressed at work which makes things harder, and that i'm feeling just off in general lately. but even with all that, i need to be able to stay calm in the heat of the moment. eva deserves that much.

the thing is, i can't change the situation. she's a kid, i'm a mom, that's going to be hard sometimes. all i can do is change my reaction to the situation. i can get all upset and stomp around like an idiot, or i can take a deep breath and model something useful for my daughter. i'm working on that and making real progress; today was just a giant stumble along that path.

i'm saying all this not as self-flagelation, but in an effort to provide balance and realism to this little record of my days. i wouldn't want eva to read this someday when she has her own child, for example, and think that it was all happy all the time -- who can live up to that? it's that whole thing about not measuring your insides by someone else's outsides. you can't compare yourself to what someone chooses to let others' see, and i don't want this blog to be all outsides. we are happy, at moments deliriously happy, but not all the time. like today, which (as i so articulately stated up front) sucked.

so, i'm working to be more gentle with eva in these moments of extreme frustration and to get a better handle on my emotions. but i think i also need to remember in the mean time (as my friends and i all remind each other) to be gentle with myself. tomorrow i can try again. i can apologize to my daughter and do better. that's all i really need to worry about; the rest i can just let go.


ode to the moons

garden, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

just minutes ago, eva sang the following bit of toddler poetry as we drove home in the dark from a late dinner. the moon is rising late now, so she can't see it in the evenings. she's been thinking about this a lot. this was no performance; it was sung purely for her own joy (and that of moons), but larry and i were lucky enough to overhear it. i had to record it right away before it disappeared, falling through my fingers like so many of the glowing but slippery moments of our days.

there's no moon at all.
we can't see it, it's hiding.
papa moon and mama moon and baby moon.
they are hiding; they are taking a nap.
mama moon and baby moon are taking a nap
and having side of milk
mama and baby moon are sleeping.
papa moon and mama moon,
mama moon and baby moon,
today there is no moon at all.

i don't know if others can really, truly see it there, or if such things are just for a mama to know, but hiding behind those words is a glimpse of what makes me love her so desperately.



ringlets, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

i owe entries about our trip to north dakota and still owe entries about our alaska trip and eva's second birthday... so of course i write less instead of more.

instead, here's a conversation eva and i just had during the time in which she was using the potty, as best i can remember it in her own exact words. i'll leave out what i said in the conversation, since it was a lot of "oh really?" and "hmm, then what happened?" -- just probes to encourage the monologue, but i didn't introduce any words or topics, just to see how it would go. (oh, i'll also leave out the potty commentary. i mean, really...there are limits.)

"panowah and bohp [her imaginary sisters] are at auntie lora's house. they're lying on the floor because they're so sad. they're so sad because auntie julie and tito went away. panowah and bohp miss them sooo much. auntie julie and tito went to auntie julie's house. auntie lora is making panowah and bohp feel better; she's singing them a song and snuggling them. they drove there in auntie lora's car. did you know that, mama?

mama, i want to see your funny bone in your back? yeah, your spine. move your shirt up please so i can look at it. haha, it's so bumpy! mama, your spine holds your head up and helps your body be so strong. and papa and eva have a spine, too.

mama, who bite a hole in that brown chair? lemma did it. and mama feels so sad. and papa said 'nooo, lemma, don't bite it!'

mama, you please sound like maggie [the alaskan elephant]? mama, you feel a little bit lonely because you don't have an eva to play with. mama, you pretend to cry and i will make you feel better. [i do, she does.]

mama, you have green eyes. eva has blue eyes like grandpa marty and auntie julie has blue eyes. papa and lemma have brown eyes. [she smiled at me and i kissed her forehead.] mama, i like your green eyes, they are so pretty. i want to give you a hug mama [she does] and a kiss [muah, then touches my cheek]. [another hug] i love you mama. i love you so much!"

we're having a lovely week and the three of us are just about as in love with each other as we could be. it's nice when you can let everything else fall away and just be, and soak up what's right in front of you.


missing papa




we've been traveling a lot. it's been really fun, and eva's had all sorts of great experiences this summer. however, i think having been away from her papa for three of the past five weeks is starting to take its toll on my sweet girl. here's a conversation we just had (as she was supposed to be going to sleep -- as i type this it's 11:15 and she's still awake... apparently travel also takes its toll on bedtimes).

(enter mid crazy-long sentence-o-fatigue:) "...and go see papa and lemma."

eva, do you miss papa?


what things does papa do that you miss?

"play bunnies and play bowling!" [both wii video games]

haha. what else do you like to do with papa?

"um, read stories. papa read me the counting book... the counting ladybugs book."

oh, that sounds fun. what else?

"and eva and papa make a mess! and then papa clean it up and eva help clean up."

yeah, that's true. anything else that you like to do with papa?

"papa sing songs to eva. and make eva feel better."

enough said. this should be obvious, but i forget sometimes that she's not a tiny baby anymore, it's not all about mama all the time. she needs her papa, too. and unlike me, a grown-up, she can't necessarily understand why papa is sometimes not with her for a long time.

papa, we miss you...

ps> i mentioned eva's imaginary sister, bohp, last time. well, we apparently have a new addition to the family. eva now has a second imaginary sister: panowah (emphasis on the "wah!"). we had a big conversation between all of us over coffee while camping. later, eva had violet under her shirt -- "mama, i have a baby in my belly, and now it came out, look, it's violet!" she then put violet in her carseat "so she can be safe". eva does lots of caring things for violet (asks her if she's okay, sings her songs, gives her mama milk, snuggles her, puts her to bed), so i'm not surprised to find out that she's violet's mama after all. that seems about right.




trying to conceive. and still trying.

what follows is something i wrote a month ago and never posted, because i wanted to wait and see if i could rewrite it from a better emotional place. now, rereading it, i've decided to post it anyway, because it points out to me how rapidly my emotions and perspectives shift (trying to catch a representative snapshot of my thoughts about it isn't likely as it's a moving target). a month ago, i felt frustrated but not terribly worried. this month, i'm taking it more in stride and have calmed back down, despite feeling a far greater concern. here's last month:

. . .

i've been meaning to post about this for a long while, but it's a fine line between talking about something and flat-out whining about something you can't change, so that probably explains my limited comments on the subject thus far.

we started trying in december. should i get pregnant next month (this month, it seems, is yet another no go), that will have been nine months since we started. enough time to have gestated an actual baby, which seems like an awfully long time all of the sudden. somehow the nine month thing is messing with my head, and i'm losing my resolve to be patient and just wait.

at first i had that giddy impatience, not really bothered that it didn't happen immediately, but kind of hoping it would (as it did with eva). that moved into actual impatience, long before such a thing was justifiable, yet there it was. i then came around to some semblance of resolve to be patient after i realized (despite all the signs) my body was only going through the motions of ovulation. i gained that resolve because it seemed ovulation would not happen until i weaned eva, and i wasn't ready to accelerate that process yet, so i had no choice but patience. now, however, that resolve is waning as i start to feel beat down by the months and weeks and days of waiting and waiting. approaching nine months in, i'm starting to feel betrayed... i guess maybe by my own body and even by my own emotions.

i hesitate to even say such things, since i know there are countless people who long for a baby they'll never have and here i sit with my beautiful little girl. and there are people who try much longer and have to go to greater lengths to end up with the children they have, so my relatively short amount of waiting is no big deal in the grand scheme of things. but it's still a big deal to me, in my life. (try as we might, i think we all have to fess up to the fact that knowing someone somewhere has it worse than you do doesn't in your heart of hearts make you feel all that much better.) i have more sympathy than ever for people with *actual* fertility problems. and in the mean time, i'm feeling more than a little bit sorry for myself.

so there we are. i'm mad at my body for deciding that nursing eva once a day means i don't have the resources to foster a pregnancy, and i'm mad at myself for having emotions that are at best counter-productive to creating a new life. i'm struggling with my own impatience, jealousy, fear, self-pity, and guilt over feeling all those things in the first place.

i know a lot of mamas (really, a lot) -- relatives, friends, acquaintances -- and literally every single person i know with a first kid eva's age is pregnant (barring the people who are having no more children). hell, even mamas who were trying *not* to get pregnant yet are pregnant. mamas with first kids significantly younger than eva are pregnant. i'm starting to feel like i don't know anyone who *isn't* pregnant. (my apologies to the 5 or 6 of you pregnant mamas who will be reading this. by no means does your happiness diminish my own, i just don't know how else to explain my frustration. but i promise, this is my own issue and it's really not about you. :)

all this emotion, and i don't even have a legitimate right to be worried yet! i guess i'm just disappointed that it's taking so long, and also disappointed that i'm not handling it with more grace and calm. it's hard, among other things, to let go of the false sense of control we all have over our lives when it comes to such things. we all know intellectually that we have little to no influence over our child's gender or our child spacing or whether we'll even have children at all, but how this plays out in reality is more trying than i had anticipated.

. . .

i feel differently now. all that emotion is still there in my darker moments, but i feel more open and accepting of the situation. that said, the real worry sets in. it's becoming extremely unlikely that nursing eva once a day is preventing ovulation and that begs the question, what else could it be? many of the "simple" things that are easy to fix don't apply to me. that leaves me with a big looming void of a question. basically, i've moved from "when will i get pregnant" to "will i get pregnant". and actually, that's okay. i think that's how i mentally prepare, just in case. (ever the planner, my wandering thoughts have already taken me past the fertility treatments i don't want and on to wondering how one explores adoption possibilities... i know, i know, that's premature, but that's how i process. with brute force preparation!) who can say where this journey will take us? it's still trying, don't get me wrong, but i'm feeling a bit more calm.

here's a cute exchange from a few weeks ago that made me a little sad. eva sat at the table having a snack while i finished making dinner.

"i sharing my food with my sister. my sister eating tomatoes with me."
oh really? what is your sister's name?"
where is bohp?
"she sitting right there. here ya'go bohp. here's your tomatoes. you like them?"
(then, 30 minutes later, she ran around singing "yea! bohp bohp bohp! bohp boooohp...")

eva is so very interested in her friends' baby siblings, and she talks about mamas with babies in their bellies, and how the baby grows bigger and bigger and then comes out. it's not like i drill her on this, she just clings to the information. i think a part of her knows she's ready to be a great big sister. hopefully soon...


10 things eva learned in alaska

running in the sun

shockit ice keem

1. How to go night-night in broad daylight, and then to wake up whenever it's time for fishing.
We arrived in Alaska less than a week after the summer solstice, so there was about 20 hours of daylight each day. It looked roughly like "dusk" sometime just before midnight. We aren't much for strict schedules around our household, but this proved a bit of a challenge.
On the other side, Eva had to adapt to things like everyone getting up to pack up camp at, say, 2:45 a.m. to head out fishing. Despite all this plus naps wherever she could find them some days, she was amazing right up until the end of the trip. (It's only now that we're home -- where her bedtime would be the equivalent of 2 a.m. -- that we're having some struggles.)

2. How to get skeetos.
Oh, the mosquitoes. They really weren't bad for almost all the time (turns out with all the rain in Texas they're actually worse here, weird). However, any mosquitoes are enough to attract the attention of a kid. She started randomly hitting herself or others, offering the explanation "I'm getting skeetos. Go 'way, skeetos, don't bite me!"

3. To say "lah".
Either by random coincidence or because of the way Grandpa or others of us pronounce "yeah", Eva took it up with a passion while we were in Alaska. Previously, she habitually said "uh-huh" (like mama says :), but now she says... "lah." I wouldn't mind if she said "yeah", but it sounds very much more like "lah" or sometimes "nyah" (the latter of which is a very ambiguous answer to a yes or no question). So, we all took to encouraging "yes" (with an emphasis on the final letter) as a response, and she occasionally does say that, landing hard on the "s" with a snake-like hiss at the end, "yessss!" Lah, Eva, lah.

4. How to eat her weight in cherries.
I've never seen anything like it, but cherries went on sale for $1.98/lb. So, we bought several pounds. Then we went back for several more pounds before the sale ended at the end of the week. But, lo, then cherries went on sale at another store, and again the following week. For three weeks, we ate and ate and ate cherries. As far as I can tell, Larry prefers cherries to all other foods, and it seems Eva takes after him in that respect. Collectively we ate probably 30-40 lbs of cherries and Eva kept up with us. It was ridiculous.

5. Where the fish on her plate comes from.
They come from the ocean or the river, then you catch them with a pole or a big net. Then you hit them with a stick and cut the sides off. Then you beg Grandpa to cook salmon so you can eat it for dinner.
(Grandpa fashioned a fishing pole for her, complete with hand-carved walnut hook, and she had fun fishing for things -- bags, pails, Grandpa). She had fun while we went dipnetting at the ocean -- until her little hands froze playing in the cold, wet sand -- but she did often ask "what's that man doing with that fish?" Well, now she knows. It's the cycle of life.

6. That bears can be found really close to you, several times a day, while camping.
The day of bears: First thing in the morning, while Eva and I were still in the camper, Mom watched a black bear stroll right down the little winding road through the campground, directly in front of our campsite. This is, apparently, not unusual. It's Alaska. Later that day, while rafting down the Kenai River, Dad and I came across three brown bears, a mama sitting in the water eating a fish along with her two cubs frolicking on the shoreline nearby. We paddled over and watched them, but kept our distance. Then, on the drive back to the campsite, Dad spotted a bear in the bushes along the little road just outside the campground. It was a fairly young black bear and it sat there munching on red berries for quite some time as we sat and watched it. Eva sat on my lap, face pressed against the window, maybe 10 or 15 feet away from a bear in the wild. How often does that happen? Those were some pretty amazing bear encounters, all in one day.

7. What a "poopitz" is.
If you ask Eva to identify her belly button, odds are she'll tell you it's her "poopitz" (sorry, I don't know the correct transliteration). In fact, in true two-year-old fashion, if the dog casually walks toward her while Eva is in a certain mood, she'll semi-shreek, "oh no, Lemma, don't get my poopitz!" She learned this new word, of course, from Grandpa.
I grew up half-knowing various phrases in Ukrainian (like how to jokingly tell the dog "I'll box your ears"). I didn't know this until after she died, but my Grandma Eva spoke only Ukrainian until she learned English in school. So, on many levels, it's only fitting that Eva learn some random things in Ukrainian. (Meaning, something other than how to eat pudaheya until you can barely move.)

8. How to frighten her mother clear out of the bathroom.
People talk about how the poo of breastfed babies doesn't really smell, at least in comparison to formula fed babies or to toddlers who have begun to eat solid foods. Well, I can't say that I noticed much of a difference once she started eating solids (yet I knew other kids' diaper changes could run me out of the room) -- and now I know why. It's because she doesn't eat meat! How do I know this? Well, she began to eat salmon, her first meat in meaningful quantities, while we were in Alaska. And though I'd forget every time to steel myself as I went to help her at the potty, I'd immediately be reminded with unmistakable force. Yikes. I guess it's all what you get used to, but I'm glad I don't have to deal with that daily. A perk of vegetarianism they don't tell you about at Training Camp. :)

9. To know she must be really having fun when she can no longer recognize the original color of her shoes (and/or socks, pants).
She climbed, she hiked, she sat in the dirt. She helped me collect twigs for the fire, she rode around on a hand truck. She drug her poor green jacket around by the sleeve (as though she was walking a dog) for hours on end. She never stopped moving. At the end of the day, her green socks and black shoes both were brown, and she was very intrigued.

10. The concept of instant replay.
Immediately upon returning home from camping, we all would sit down and watch videos and look at photos of Eva. It's tradition. Plus, we can't help it. While this goes on, Eva says "what Eva doing on the TV?" As far as she knows, it's totally normal to watch yourself on TV at the end of a fun day. Why not?


a lot to say

campsite, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

we spent four weeks in alaska, and so much happened it feels like an entire season must have passed (the change in weather and light propped up that illusion). i try to encapsulate the experience, to store it here for later -- both for me and for eva, and to share it with others, and i get stuck. so, rather than wait for that clarity of mind that may never come (or will come too late), i'll not postpone other entries any longer. who says life has to be processed chronologically?

eva has not been sleeping well the week we've been home -- blame her molars, or the jetlag, or her sudden tireless interest in singing (having become, of late, the troubadour of her own experience). in fact she stopped sleeping well the last half of the alaska trip, once larry left for london (though he is not the one responsible for getting her to sleep, aparently his presence in the next room is a catalyst for sleep?). this is wearing on me, layered on top of the predictable malaise that sets in after returning home from any long trip. the result is a drained and periodically cranky mama, who unnecessarily snaps at her husband and is less sensitive than she usually is to her overtired toddler.

i'm doing my best, which is more than i would have done in the past -- the hardest truth of being a mom is that you can't crumple and stare at nothing for an hour, even if you really want to. you sometimes can't even cry for 15 seconds. ("what's wrong mama? mama, are you okay?" she peers at me quizically. "it oooh-kay, mama. it okay." she says, patting my back and kissing my head. so touching, to see the care i offer her reflected back to me, but i'd rather she not feel the need to comfort me in the first place.)

so, she has rights to be cranky given her teething and lack of sleep, given her fogged-in mama. yet, in true eva spirit, instead she sings. she sings songs she knows. she repeats songs she hears larry sing four words of while fixing her a snack. she makes up songs to sing sotto voce to violet and bunny (songs whose exact meaning cannot be descerned by outsiders). she sings to narrate her activities or thoughts -- the aforementioned troubadour. i will restrain myself from flooding you with examples (as the experience of toddler song loses nearly all meaning when translated to text) but here are two from this evening:

hearing larry sing a line of the johnny cash song, eva sung back without missing a beat, "papa sang bass, eva sang tennis..." the word "tenor" is unfamiliar, so she made her best interpretation. i like it.

an hour or so later, as she stood playing with some carved wooden animals (a gift from sarah karen and john today), she was remembering the elephant maggie we saw in the alaska zoo. there's controversy surrounding whether she should stay there since maggie is in questionable health and all alone, and elephants are social animals. anyway, processing what i shared with her about the situation (yet again), she turned it into a melody of her own creation. "maggie is a lil' bit saaad, she feel lone-leee. a lil' bit lonely 'cause she not have friends there. maybeee, the people help maggie feel better." i'd like to report it was a blues tune, but no. it was, however, in a minor key, as are most of her little songs.

i leave you with some quotes, from way back when she was not yet two from the depths of... last month.

"what happened to the bouncing bridge?"
oh, it's broken, eva.
"it broken. it got bounced too much. by kids... and boys!"
(this "kids and boys" thing persists. i wonder, does she see girls as the default and thus boys as the "other"? or is it just an accident of language acquisition?)

(seeing two men climbing giant redwood trees on the "planet earth" documentary:)
"what are those two monkeys doing?"
"ummm, it a man. two mans. two monkey mans! *hahaha*"
(little does she know her own papa is a monkey man.)

(first words after waking from nap)
"sareee!" (giggling, meaning her cousin)
"i love sarey."
ah, you love sarah?
"uh-huh. i give sarah a hug and a kiss at gram's austin house!"
yes, you sure did.

i'll leave it at that and do my best to write the many great stories from alaska soon. i just hate to taint happy stories by writing them while i feel less than happy (not that i'm so sad, i'm just not in the right head space).

but did you know? she turned two, my baby is two years old. amazing...


pediasure vs. chocolate ice cream

i see you

if your toddler needs to gain weight, should you give her pediasure? or premium chocolate ice cream? as it turns out, the ice cream will do the same job the pediasure does (once you add in a vitamin supplement), and it's nutritionally superior and more healthful. plus, it's far less expensive! here's how i came to that conclusion:

as part of our goal of getting eva to gain some weight, i've been told to give her pediasure. pediasure is a child formula made by ross pediatrics, the company that makes similac infant formula. i know from extensive research in the past that infant formula is made out of the cheapest possible sources of the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein). the idea of giving that junk to my nursling makes me ill (as does the idea of supporting a formula company in any way if i don't have to). before making any decisions, however, i wanted to verify that i wasn't doing her any nutritional harm by withholding the pediasure. (gag.)

my theory was that i could make her some chocolate ice cream that was sweetened with maple syrup, and that would provide all those necessary macronutrients. to cover the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), i'd continue giving her the schiff's children's chewable vitamins she loves so much. i've never seen her refuse either ice cream or vitamins, so this seemed like a hassle-free way to get these calories and the like into her little body (i have no confidence that she'd actually drink the pediasure, since she rejects milk after one sip and rarely drinks kefir yogurt or smoothies).

i went to nutritiondata.com to look up the nutrition facts on the ingredients of my ice cream (cream, whole milk, maple syrup, egg yolks, and cocoa) and totaled it all up. for fun, i compared this to the nutrition facts of haagen-dazs chocolate ice cream and found them to be similar (unsurprising, given they have the same five ingredients other than my substitution of maple syrup for sugar). next i compared this to pediasure. it was difficult to figure out what the serving size of pediasure should be. since it's a "medical food", it doesn't have the usual suggested serving size, and i assume one is to ask one's physician how much to offer. (1000 mL apparently would replace all food for the day.) i think 8 oz would be a reasonable assumption, but i doubt i'd ever get eva to drink that much, so i estimated 5 fl oz (well, 4.84, actually, because the calculations worked out that way). for the ice cream, i used 1/3 c since that's only a little more than what i've been giving her (or, 2.67 fl oz). that's nearly twice as much pediasure as ice cream by volume, but is similar in calories, etc, so i think it's a comparable serving. below are the results. (i apologize for the blank space preceding the table, i blame blogger :)

PediasureEva's Ice CreamHaagen-Dazs

Chocolate flavormade by mamaChocolate Ice Cream

(4.84 fl oz)(2.67 fl oz)(2.67 fl oz)
Total Calories148210180
Calories from Fat64108108
Total Fat (g)71212
Saturated Fat (g)177
Cholesterol (mg)311077
Sodium (mg)542640
Carbohydrates (g)161415
Dietary Fiber (g)010
Sugars (g)161214
Protein (g)433

(the astute observer will notice that a few of the numbers on eva's ice cream are off due to error propagation since the original data were rounded off, but it's close enough.) as i said above, the two kinds of ice cream come out basically the same. and in the grand sense, really, all three come out sufficiently similar: there's more saturated fat (and thus more fat calories) as well as more cholesterol in the ice cream than the pediasure. the carbohydrates and protein come out about the same (except notice that there are more sugars in the pediasure than the ice cream! and i plan to reduce the maple syrup next time, but i didn't want to undersweeten it the first time lest she reject it.) so, with regard to macronutrients, i'm satisfied.

eva's chewable vitamin contains as much or more than the (admittedly small) serving of pediasure when it comes to: vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and K, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. and the maple syrup adds sufficient manganese. the pediasure also has (which is missing from the ice cream): choline, biotin, pantothenic acid, inositol, phosphorus, iodide, copper, chromium, molybdenum, and selenium, none of which i'm particularly concerned about, because i'm sure eva will be covered by the other whole foods she does eat. (i could be wrong, but i prefer to look at nutrition in terms of whole foods rather than at the nutrient level.) so, micronutrients, check!

let's look at the cost: according to amazon.com, i can get chocolate pediasure for $1.49 for the serving size above vs $0.70 for the serving size of haagen-dazs chocolate ice cream. the premium haagen-dazs ice cream is cheaper! and i guarantee i can make my own ice cream for about half that (or probably less). i realize i'm comparing a smaller serving (by volume) of ice cream, but it delivers the same or more macronutrients, so basically the difference in serving size comes down to the water content in the pediasure. even when factoring in the $0.08 per day for the vitamin supplement, and you still come out with an almost 50% savings buying premium ice cream and vitamins vs. buying pediasure (and a far greater savings if you make your own).

and just what, pray tell, are you buying when you buy pediasure? (ooh, i saved the best for last!) let's compare the ingredient lists, shall we?

eva's ice cream: cream, whole milk, maple syrup, egg yolk, and cocoa
haagen-dazs: cream, skim milk, sugar, egg, and cocoa
pediasure: water, sugar, corn maltodextrin (thickening agent), milk protein concentrate, high oleic safflower oil, soy oil, cocoa powder, soy protein isolate, medium chain triglycerides (a fatty acid). this is followed by "less than 0.5%" of the various vitamins and minerals as well as artificial flavors, dyes, gums, gels, stabilizers, and emulsifiers.


so, where the ice cream gets fat from cream, the pediasure gets it from safflower and soy oil. the ice cream gets carbs from milk (lactose) and maple syrup, in pediasure it's from sugar. the ice cream finds it's protien in eggs and milk, the pediasure in milk protein concentrate and soy protein isolate (which i try to limit in eva's diet for several reasons). i don't know about you, but why would i want to pay double for that pile of food-industry byproducts when i could feed her real food, which also happens to be tastier? (or to paraphrase michael pollan, i'd rather eat food made of food.) they make pediasure (like all infant formulas) out of the absolute cheapest ingredients available (never mind the quality of the various macronutrients, not when that would cut into profits) so it costs them just pennies on the dollar to make this processed stuff. then they charge you nearly double the cost of premium ice cream (remember: made from food), which is just as "nutritionally complete" once you add a multivitamin -- why not just eat the ice cream?! (heck, it's even got less sugar...)

(i'd like to say "i don't know how they get away with that crap" but sadly i do know. if you want to know, check out "milk, money, and madness" by baumsag and michaels. here's just one little fact: 1 to 2 million infants around the world still die each year due to formula feeding, according to WHO and UNICEF. i'm glad formula is available for the cases where it is needed, but the predatory marketing practices used by these companies are unconscionable.)

anyway, lest the ross people ever get ahold of this, i'm not saying ice cream is better than pediasure for all toddlers trying to gain weight. (i'm not a nutritionist or a medical professional, and you obviously should consult your child's physician as needed before making any changes.) but what i am saying that i've weighed the facts (which are presented here accurately to the best of my knowledge) and for my child and our situation, the ice cream wins hands (and spoons) down.

or, as eva would say, "more shoc-it ice keem, pease, mama?"

i welcome comments for any reason, but particularly if you find errors or have questions regarding my analysis.


morning adventure

almost two

earlier this morning, eva put on larry's stocking hat and went over to her stroller and said "bye-bye. i'm going to work." i said, "with your stroller?" "uh-huh. i take bunny to work." oh, that's a progressive job you have, then, if you can take your "baby" to work with you. "uh-huh." larry asked, where are you going to work? "i go on a big airplane." oh really? where are you going on the airplane? "to germany." well, that makes sense. how would she know anyone goes anywhere to work, other than via airplane? as far as she knows, work equals laptop. she'll go up to one of larry's spare laptops (there are currently four laptops in our living room, long story) and "type" and say proudly, "i'm working, mama!" (not unlike her uncle john's work on his "dinnertation" when he was a kid and grampy was finishing grad school.) so, off she went with her stocking cap and baby stroller to go to work in germany. "i'm packing up, mama."

she went off for a while and i went back to my task, noticing on the edge of my attention that she was empting an entire drawer and collecting objects from other assorted places. this is what i saw next:

setting off

her stroller contained: a bib, a dvd remote, a plastic wind-up fish toy, two pajama bottoms, one pajama top, a journal, a wii remote, an asthma inhaler, a wireless mouse, a blue walkie-talkie ("woppy-hoppy"), a cell phone, two quarters, a bobby pin, and of course bunny. i guess she was all packed up for her business trip. (this assortment also says a lot about our household, i think.)

after i took her picture, she put the quarters on the lens cap and said, "i'm making food for papa and mama and eva." what kind of food are you making? "tofu food!" she then added a yellow block and a bracelet to the plate, artfully arranged, and adorned her table setting with colorful bells, which i believe were reported to be "for coffee". after she was done with food, she passed me certain bells (yellow, orange, and blue), gathered up two green and a red for herself, and belted out a tune, accompanying herself on the bells. "i'm having fun singing a song, mama." you sure are.

snuggling bunnysmile, bunny

earlier this morning, we ate waffles with strawberries and cream cheese for breakfast, cleaned up and washed dishes, went potty twice, took bunny potty after changing his (her?) diaper and giving him mama milk, talked about what our friend baby dashiell might be doing at ella's house, colored, played night-night with papa (a good sleepy papa morning game), made a family pile (eva on mama's back and mama on papa's back), discussed which toys we can and can't throw ("i don't throw hard toys", she just reported), rocked in the rocking chair, played hide-and-seek, and a few other things i'm forgetting.

sometimes i wonder (or just forget) what we do all day. then i see how much we do in two short hours -- some of it eva playing on her own, and some all of us together -- and i am reminded. i so enjoy accompanying her on her grand adventures, and i love that all of it is so full of imagination.



sandbox kids, originally uploaded by Kristy and Eva.

so, before diving into the topic i hinted at last time, i'll start with last week's stressor: larry went to germany for a week (on 2 days notice), and like the last time he went to europe, eva got knocked down by a GI virus within a day of his departure. this time, for added fun, i was also sick with a sinus infection and pretty nasty respiratory troubles from allergies. i'm mostly over it now so the urgency of writing all about it has waned, but she was frighteningly dehydrated. five days in, i was about 20 minutes away from taking her to children's ER on the advice of the nurse at her doctor's office (which had closed at noon on friday, oops! how old will she be before i remember that little fact?) no matter what i tried, she wouldn't drink or eat anything, a few sips here and there. she was flopped out on the couch all day, barely interacting most of the time, with dry lips and no tears. so, i gave up my fertility aims and nursed her on demand (which was at least every hour in this case) so she would get some fluids and not lose any more weight than necessary. chalk one up for extended nursing -- i'd bet my supply of rejected pedialyte that nursing is what tipped the balance kept her from needing IV fluids at the hospital.

speaking of the medical world, that brings me to the other fun stressor of the month. i took eva to her doctor a couple weeks ago because i noticed she hadn't put on any weight (or height, it turns out) since 18 mo, and he said then if she dropped any lower in percentile growth, he'd be concerned. and when i took her in, he was in fact concerned -- not so much with the fact that she was well under the 5th %ile, but more that she had been much higher (above 50th for a while) then fallen so considerably (some drop is normal for breastfed babies, but 50th to under 5th is not). that combined with her lack of change in height was especially concerning. so, he referred us to a pediatric endocrinologist. they had no openings until september, they said -- that is, until they saw her chart, then they got us in the following week. how reassuring! she's bumped right up to the front of the line.

i'll spare you all the details (again, i'm largely over it now), but we went the monday after our long duo-sick scary week with no larry for support, and we were there for nearly seven hours. we did a full history (of her and of family), had her accurately measured and remeasured (3rd %ile in weight, 8th in height, i got to read "failure to thrive" on all her lab paperwork), and i got to answer a lot of questions figuring out whether or not i was an unfit mother who wasn't properly nourishing her child. i met with a nutritionist (who seemed to think i was an idiot and didn't tell me much other than "she needs to take in more calories"... really, you think?), and had an assortment of tests -- bone age (xray to determine the level of ossification of her bones), boodwork, and urine tests. she didn't mind the xray (that was the best of the many waiting rooms we saw that day, too), and was a trooper through the bood draw, but it was the urine sample that had us there all day.

i kept trying to explain that a potty trained kid isn't going to pee her pants just because you taped a bag to her -- nor can she pee on demand like an older kid or adult. she peed after 3 hrs but also pooed, so oops, can't use that. we napped on the chairs in the waitnig room, then kept waiting while i fed her juice and water all day. she was set against the medical potty they needed us to use, and this girl can hold it for like 8 hrs when she decides to (i know from our experience in mexico!). i finally gave up so we could beat rush hour home (and get larry from the airport) and she went as soon as we got home, as i expected. moral: if you have a potty trained kid, don't wait it out, go home. you can take the sample to a sattelite lab, most likely. with a kid in diapers, you probably want to wait (according to some of my new waiting room friends, because the bag will keep falling off if you go home. but i digress...

most things came back normal. the bone age was low but within the wide normal range. however, her levels of IGF-1 came back low. low IGF-1 ("insuline-like growth factor") is basically like saying she is lacking growth hormone. (the longer answer is that the pituitary gland makes growth hormone, which has only one job, to tell the liver to make IGF-1, which in turn tells the cells to grow. the reason they don't test for growth hormone right away is that to do so requires hospitalization. but you can be low in just IGF-1 or both IGF-1 and growth hormone.) anyway, it's a bit of a chicken-egg debate with low IGF-1: either you have low IGF, which makes you not grow (and i would assume cause you to not be very hungry either if you're not growing?), or, if you don't eat well, you produce less IGF, and thus don't grow. we don't know which it is for eva, but my guess is that it's a bit of a compounding effect, and that both are partially responsible. (i base this on the fact that she's never eaten food, it's not a new toddler willpower thing, and she's not picky and is easygoing about most things, so i don't think it's just a personality thing either. it "feels" like there's a reason she doesn't eat. i get that toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, but she simply does not eat. i've seen toddlers, this is definitely unusual.)

so what's next? well, what's next is for her to be hospitalized for further tests. i presume that would include a growth hormone test (they have to stimulate it's release by giving IV drugs that trick the body into thinking it is asleep and measure it over the course of 8 hrs or more), and possibly have her fed through an IV for several days or a week to see if she grows when given sufficient calories (solving that chicken-egg thing with the IGF-food causality, i guess). none of this sounds fun, so we're waiting until after her follow-up appointment in september. we'll measure her growth then and retest her IGF-1 and decide from there how to proceed. we have the luxury of time since she's still so young, most people start this kind of testing with 4 or 5 year olds, i'm beginning to learn.

so, if she is growth hormone deficient, or IGF-1 deficient (or both), what does that mean? will she just be short? i've done some research and found out that contrary to public perception, there's more to it. basically, growth hormone controls the growth of all tissues, so it's not just your bones that don't develop as they otherwise would, your organs are affected as well (most notably, the heart and lungs, leading to cardiovascular issues and so on). so, someone with normal hormone levels who grew to 5"2" (a plausable adult height for eva) has better outcomes than a growth hormone deficient person who would otherwise have been taller but grew to that same height due to the deficiency. we have no idea if all this affects eva, and likely it doesn't, but i'm clarifying because i've been finding all of this worrisome, and i've been getting a fair amount of "well she'll just be short and cute" responses.

that, and totally conflicting advice from all corners. from medical professionals alone i've been told to: continue nursing as you are, reduce nursing to no more than twice a day, give her more calories via liquids, don't give her any calories via liquids, give her pediasure, give her instant breakfast but use the sugar free kind, feel free to give her sugar when needed, use reduced fat milk, give her whole fat milk, don't give her milk, feed her whatever she'll eat that isn't junk food (her beloved goldfish), don't feed her things that are not nutrient-dense (no goldfish), give her ice cream (since she'll eat that), don't give her ice cream, do whatever you can to convince her to eat, be laid-back and don't make an issue over what she eats.

okay, um... i'll do all that then. the best advice was from our own doctor, who said (in response to my questioning some questionable advice from various other sources) "i'd trust your own instinct and logic on that." so i am. i'm pleased to report that she ate relatively well for 3 of the past 4 days, so that has gone a long way to relieving some stress on the issue (basically, it feels like "hey, if she doesn't eat enough in the next 3 months, she'll be in the hospital" but no pressure, right?) honestly (and i hope this doesn't offend anyone), i feel like larry is the only other person who really, truly gets it. i mean, if you're not in the throws of feeding a non-eating kid, it seems like, "well, offer a variety of nutritious foods in interesting ways and eventually she'll eat". that's what i used to think, too, until she stopped growing for 6 months. and trust me, i've tried every single thing (because i've been thinking aout this every day for at least a year, so i've thought of pretty much everything a person could think of.) in fact, that's what makes this hard -- i have to think about it at every mealtime and snacktime every day. it's mentally exhausting.

this all sounds dramatic. i get that the most likely outcome is that she's totally fine, and eventually she'll grow. but that doesn't invalidate that she's in an abnormal growth pattern now, and that i have to do everything i can all day long to get her to take in more calories. that's why it took me nearly two weeks to write about this, i just get tired of thinking about it. but, i'm trying to just let it absorb back into our daily routine and we'll see. all i can do is make my best effort, eva's utimately the one who decides if she's going to eat. so we'll just march on and see what happens.