An Attitude of Body Gratitude

Ok, so yesterday’s post was really whiny. Like, really whiny. In fact, I’ve been frustrated with and complaining about my body for quite awhile now. Not so much with how it looks, as how healthy and strong it isn’t.

Over the years I have struggled with sinuses that need to be surgically fixed and tonsils that need to be removed. I’ve been frustrated by an immune system that pretty much rolls over and plays dead at the first sign of a germ. I have suffered through miserable pregnancies, plagued by nausea and vomiting, sciatic pain, spine misalignment, hips that ache and feel out of place, and gestational diabetes. A year ago I caught some sort of flu bug that destroyed my GI tract and left me with lactose intolerance. The ultimate body betrayal for a milk lover like me. For twenty-six years I struggled to gain weight and then, after Eleanor weaned, I struggled to lose it. I have had to make accommodations for my Raynaud’s disease in cold weather and for hands that began showing subtle signs of arthritis in my twenties. I have been plagued by ear infections my entire life, twice rupturing my ear drums from infections, leaving me with slightly reduced hearing.

In short, I have felt my body is weak, fragile, broken and unfit for many of the demands of life.

Last spring I finally got fed up with hating my weak, sickly body and decided to start doing something about it. I began trying to do some sort of exercise every day, be it yoga or aerobics or a long walk with the kids. Zach and I had started talking about wanting another baby and I intended to start the pregnancy on healthier footing this time. While I think that was a great plan, and certainly has had benefits this pregnancy, pretty much all exercise ceased when I again got hit by unrelenting pregnancy nausea. Even now, at thirty weeks pregnant, I still require Zofran to get through most days without vomiting.

So here I am. About two months away from giving birth, sick with the plague a cold that will never die, aching with sciatica and a hip that feels frequently out of joint and too tired to care much about exercise one way or another. But I have realized that there is still something I can change: my attitude. I have been disappointed in my body’s lack of ability to cope with life. I have been frequently frustrated with and at times ashamed of my body. With all that, I have forgotten to be grateful for my body.

This body has survived a miscarriage. This body has allowed me to get pregnant at least four times, two of those times while on birth control, the other two the moment I wanted another baby. In this age of high rates of infertility, that alone is an enormous blessing. This body has healed from a c-section. This body rocked through three days of non-stop labor in ninety degree heat without sleep and then pushed out a baby. This body has held up through months of sleepless nights spent bouncing, patting, nursing and comforting screaming, colicky babies. This body has breastfed two babies who wouldn’t tolerate any other form of nutrition. This body has worked hundreds of back-to-back twelve or sixteen hour shifts – some while pregnant and most during night shift. This body is currently growing yet another healthy, perfect baby, sacrificing itself to make sure my son or daughter’s needs are met. This body has stretched, shifted and morphed three times over to accommodate the growing of another human being.

My body freaking rocks, man. It might have it’s flaws. It certainly isn’t “perfect,” but damn if it doesn’t do the most important things and do them really freaking well. So, body, I’m sorry for judging you so harshly. I’m sorry for not always giving you the best nutrition and exercise I can, and I certainly rarely give you the rest you need. You’ve always come through for me, nonetheless. I am thankful for you. I am thankful for the incredible things you CAN do and ARE doing. My dear, kind body, I have finally learned how lucky I am to have you and how much I truly do love and appreciate you, just as you are.

The Sick House

We here in Clegg house have been sick for a month. A MONTH. And I’m, well, sick of it. It started a week or two before Thanksgiving when Zoey caught a cold and quickly passed it to Eleanor. Zach was the next to start feeling run down. Then my dad caught it while babysitting the girls and passed it to my mom. This was a few days before Thanksgiving and my mom is still sick. I can count on one hand the number of times I have seen my mom get sick during my entire lifetime. This virus is a nightmare. I seemed to be the only holdout. Then, over Thanksgiving, I finally started feeling utterly exhausted and congested. All in all, however, it seemed to be much milder than most colds I get that usually end up as sinus infections. I figured it must be a virus I’ve already had and I would get over it quickly.

Oh how wrong I was.

Since then (that’s what, four weeks now???) I have just gotten worse. During this horrendous month of sickness, we have experienced:

Nausea and vomiting (and by “we” I mean Zoey puking all down my back in the shower)

Exhaustion

Fever

Pinkeye? I think? Definitely something gross has infected Zoey’s eyes, making them bloodshot, puffy and oozing gross white stuff.

Missed days of work

Missed days of school

The complete destruction of every last shred of my sanity.

 

Zach and Eleanor, at least, seem to be recovering and getting close to their old selves (although Eleanor still tires quickly and is quite fussy during the days). Man, I just have to really whine here for a second about how hard it is. It is hard to be stuck in the house, for days on end, with two cranky, bickering, sick kids, while you are also sick and cranky…and seven months pregnant. It’s just hard. 

All I ask is that we’re healthy by Christmas. Can a mama at least get that little Christmas miracle???

Nutcracker ala Sendak

I think we can all agree that Maurice Sendak is an awesome children’s book author and illustrator, yes? Also awesome: the Nutcracker ballet. Combine the two and POOF! Instant Holiday Magic! For twenty-five years, this special brand of magic has been a holiday tradition here in Seattle, thanks to the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Maurice Sendak designed the sets and costumes for Seattle’s Nutcracker and the result is absolutely amazing. I can’t do it justice with words, so check out this link for photos and videos. I, myself, have seen this performance at least four times and still enjoy it thoroughly. I have been waiting to take Zoey to see it since she was born (a yearning that I realize is somewhat ridiculous since I have absolutely zero personal experience or ties to ballet in any form, but whatever).

Grainy phone picture of Zoey with a giant Nutcracker, a photo she demanded be taken.

Grainy phone picture of Zoey with a giant Nutcracker, a photo she demanded be taken.

Sadly, this year marks the final year of the “Sendak Nutcracker” (this blow is somewhat softened by the fact that, starting next year, the new designs will be done by Ian Falconer, author of the amazing Olivia books. I can live with that). So I knew that I needed to take Zoey this year and promptly bought tickets for her, myself and my mom way back in September when they first went on sale. Our experience was almost canceled numerous times due to The Plague Cold of Never-ending Proportions that has completely knocked down all three of us since Thanksgiving. However, on the day of, we were all in tolerable enough health to venture out in public for three hours.

We prepared Zoey for days beforehand, reading her children’s versions of the Nutcracker story I had reserved from the library and describing every detail we could think about what to expect. All our preparation seems to have paid off well, because Zoey loved it. Generally speaking, when Zoey has a new experience or watches a new movie, she doesn’t show a lot of emotion. She’s so busy processing All The New Things that displays of emotion tend to take a back seat and surface at a later date. Not so this time. Throughout the performance, Zoey was smiling, asking questions, engaged and just truly enjoying every minute. I could tell she felt incredibly special, getting to stay up late, dress up fancy and go out on this special date with Grandma and Mommy, just like a grown up. She sat quietly, remembered to whisper, and showed impeccable manners the entire time. I am just bursting with pride for my little, big girl and so thankful she was able to enjoy this!

Zoey demanded this photo as well, immediately assuming this pose - unprompted. She cracks me up.

Zoey demanded this photo as well, immediately assuming this pose – unprompted. She cracks me up.

In the end, her favorite part was not the Sugarplum Fairy or the Peacock. It was not the “snow” falling on stage while graceful ballerinas in tutus swirled and leaped. It was not the giant Christmas tree that grew to four times it’s size before our very eyes. It was not the enormous Mouse King nor was it the boat carrying the lead performers over moving waves with leaping dolphins. No, in the end Zoey decided her most favorite part of all was the sword fight between the toy soldiers and the mouse army. Which only further proves how awesome my kid is.

This is actually my second attempt at this post. A previous, much more enthusiastic and descriptive version existed. Then WordPress ate it. Sorry about that. 

Tree Decorating 2014

All those who have ever seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, raise your hand. (everyone raises hand). Okay, so, remember the scene where they go to get a Christmas tree? Walt Griswald takes his family tramping through the snow and cold for hours, finally finds the “perfect” tree (which is enormous), realize they forgot the saw and have to dig it up by the roots, and then drive it home strapped to the roof of a vehicle half the length of the tree. Well, minus the forgetting-the-saw part, that is essentially how we got our tree every year when I was growing up.

My parents would load us into our little Toyota pickup truck and drive us to the tree farm. There by the parking lot was a small red shack that served as the “office” and rows of perfectly-shaped five to eight foot Christmas trees, pre-cut and ready to go. We never so much as glanced at those trees.

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Dressed in winter coats, hats, boots and gloves, we’d go trudging through the mud (occasionally snow) looking for the “perfect” tree. After an hour or so, we’d finally stumble upon some fifteen- to twenty-foot fir that was deemed ideal. Then I’d stand nearby, shivering, as my brother begged to be allowed to saw down the tree with my dad’s help and my mom tried to ensure it wasn’t going to fall on anyone’s head. Then we’d all get the intense pleasure of being smacked in the face by wet branches and coated head-to-toe with sap as we drug the tree a mile back to the office and car. More shivering as we waited for my parents to buy the tree, figure out how to load it onto the truck (which was always a good four- to six- feet shorter than the tree) and secure it.

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By the time we got home, it had been three or four hours, everyone was cold and tired, and tempers were getting short. My parents would then cut off the top and bottom of the tree, keeping the best twelve feet or so of the middle which they then had to figure out how to wedge into our living room. Let me assure you, we had a very large living room, and these trees inevitably took up at least a quarter of it. My brother and I would sit by quietly, listening to our parents argue over the best way to get the tree in to the stand and secure it to the rafters to keep it from falling over, and wondering whether they knew it was past dinnertime and our stomachs were growling. In retrospect, our parents were probably feeling a bit hangry by that point as well.

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So, after years of that experience, is it any wonder I now choose to order a tree from a company online? They bring me a fresh cut, locally grown six foot tree, nicely shaped, and deliver it straight to my front door. I’ve even had them put it in the stand for me. It’s amazing. I definitely find myself much more in the holiday spirit and excited about decorating the tree this way. No more Christmas tree U-cut experience for this girl!

Baby Kicks

There can be a lot of similarities – and a lot of differences – between each pregnancy a mom experiences. With this pregnancy, I’m noticing a significant difference in baby’s movement levels compared to my pregnancies with Zoey and Eleanor. I realized when pregnant with Eleanor just how little Zoey ever moved. Stuck in breech position from conception, Zoey never once turned or flipped. What I didn’t realize until the next pregnancy, however, was how little Zoey ever kicked. She frequently had hiccups, but I rarely ever felt the single, sudden movements of a kick or flailing arm.

Eleanor was all about stretching her legs. I nicknamed her “Little Foot” while still in the womb because she would so often stretch her legs out, pushing her tiny foot or feet out against my abdomen. I could actually feel where her heel and ball of the foot were. The first time Eleanor turned inside of me was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. There are just no words to describe that feeling of having your internal organs rearranged! She only did it a few times, and that was just fine by me!

This baby, like Zoey, has yet to ever flip. That is just fine by me, since this kiddo knows which way the exit is and has been in a nice head-down position all along. She or he will, however, spin like a top. Often I feel a tiny baby bum poking out on my left while feet kick me or stretch out on the right, and other times those sides are switched. Now and then the little punk will “burrow” down really low in my pelvis and then either lie sideways or stretch out with his or her arms as wide as possible in my hips. That’s super comfortable! This baby is also hands-down the most active overall and the most predictable. Every evening around nine or so, baby just starts kicking and stretching up a storm. The past week or so, he or she has become a lot more active during the day as well.

The other day, I was lying on the couch trying to rest and Zoey and Eleanor were both clambering all over me. To distract them, I asked them if they wanted to say “hi” to the baby. Zoey immediately put her face down close to my belly and starting saying sweet things like, “Hi baby. I love you baby.” As soon as she did, baby started kicking me. I put Zoey’s hand where she could feel the kicks and told her to talk to the baby again. The look of delight on Zoey’s face when the baby responded with a kick was pure gold. Watching how much she loves this baby already, and how excited she is for him or her to be born, just melts my heart.

Clegg Family Portraits 2014

Two years ago, when we traveled to Boise for Thanksgiving, all of Zach’s sisters and their families were able to make the trip as well. Three of us had newborns (Eleanor was three months old, the other two – both born on the same day – were only about three weeks old). We seized the moment of having all of us together and headed to a portrait studio for family photos.

This year we weren’t sure until the last minute that all five siblings would be able to make it, so we didn’t book a studio spot. When it turned out we were all able to be there, we dressed up in casual-nice clothes and took the photos ourselves outside the family home. I think they turned out rather nice, myself.

The whole gang!

The whole gang!

Zach's parents

Zach’s parents

Grandparents with their grandkids

Grandparents with their grandkids

Zach and his sisters

Zach and his sisters

The Truax branch of the family tree

The Truax branch of the family tree

The Oakley branch of the family tree

The Oakley branch of the family tree (unfortunately slightly out of focus)

 

Thanksgiving 2014

Did you all have a good Thanksgiving? I hope the holiday left you feeling loved, well-fed, and most of all aware of the blessings in your life. I know it did for me. I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive as Thanksgiving week approached this year. Here I was, six and half months pregnant and we were planning to drive five hundred miles to be with Zach’s family in Boise, Idaho for the holiday. That equates to roughly a twelve hour trip (one way) when you throw in a pregnant lady who has to pee every five minutes, a four year old who gets carsick and a newly potty-trained two year old.

I began mentally preparing myself weeks ago, expecting and planning for the worst. We had tire chains in case of snow, dramamine, zofran and extra puke buckets for me and Zoey, lots of extra pull-ups instead of undies for both girls and way too many toys and diversions for in the car. As babies, both girls would scream and cry in the car and we had yet to have a long road trip where that didn’t happen at least once. Furthermore, both of our girls have a history of difficulty sleeping away from home (and by difficulty I mean absolutely not napping and sleeping only about eight hours a night rather than their usual twelve). I was fully expecting to be exhausted and overwhelmed by the whole trip, but determined to make it happen. As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised this trip.

No one puked in the car. No one screamed or shed a single tear, while driving there or back. We made the drive each way in just under eleven hours, which was much better than the previous twelve we had experienced (it is only an eight hour drive if you don’t have to stop for anything but gas). The girls, now used to sleeping in the same room together, were so worn out each night from playing with their cousins all day that they fell asleep relatively easily. After the first day, Eleanor even took a wonderfully long nap each day.

All this made it so much easier to enjoy seeing all of Zach’s family, as I could feel better rested and relaxed. I did come down with a slight cold for a couple of days, but it wasn’t too bad. In fact, it seemed to be good timing because there were so many other adults around to run interference with the kids and lots of cousins to keep them occupied and entertained. I actually got to just lie on the couch with a cup of tea and my ipad quite a bit, and even snuck in a couple naps.

The food, of course, was delicious. Many, MANY board and card games were played, Christmas music was listened to, and we even took some family portraits since all four of Zach’s sisters were also able to make it home for the holiday. The oddest part of the trip was the weather. We had heard the week before there was quite a bit of snow in Boise, so we packed all our warm clothes and snow gear and promised the girls snow to play in when we got there. We arrived to find absolutely no snow and temperatures warmer than Seattle. In fact, while we were gone it got so cold in Seattle that one of the windows of our house cracked! Meanwhile, Black Friday in Boise found it to be sixty-nine degrees outside!

In true Clegg family tradition, we start 'em young with the board games

In true Clegg family tradition, we start ‘em young with the board games

The two oldest cousins are already seasoned gamers.

The two oldest cousins are already seasoned gamers.

This little guy and his cousin - both born on the same day - are currently the two youngest of the cousins. Although that will soon be changing!

This little guy and his cousin – both born on the same day – are currently the two youngest of the cousins. Although that will soon be changing!

The other youngest cousin (for now).

The other youngest cousin (for now).

Zoey was definitely over-stimulated by all the noise and activity, but LOVED playing with her cousins

Zoey was definitely over-stimulated by all the noise and activity, but LOVED playing with her cousins

I just ADORE the look of pure happiness on Zoey's face that I happened to catch in this photo. So rare to see her smile and laugh so much!

I just ADORE the look of pure happiness on Zoey’s face that I happened to catch in this photo. So rare to see her smile and laugh so much!

Eleanor thoroughly enjoyed being carried around and doted on by her two biggest cousins

Eleanor thoroughly enjoyed being carried around and doted on by her two biggest cousins

Ever heard the phrase "too many cooks spoils the soup?" Not true with these mashed potatoes made by Zach and two of his sisters! They were delicious.

Ever heard the phrase “too many cooks spoils the soup?” Not true with these mashed potatoes made by Zach and two of his sisters! They were delicious.

Zach's other two sisters, both with great smiles.

Zach’s other two sisters, both with great smiles.

Fancy napkins and bibs. Fine dining at its best.

Fancy napkins and bibs. Fine dining at its best.

So very much to be thankful for this year. At the top of the list: family.

The Greatest of the Great

My Great-Aunt Val definitely lives up to her name. That is to say, she is great. Really great. She knitted beautiful green and yellow blankets, hats, booties and sweaters for Zoey and Eleanor before they were born. She has now done it again for the new baby.

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Just looking at these beautiful items makes me want to “squeee!!!” Each handmade item has so much detail, so much time and love put into it.

Wee baby sweater. Adorable!

Wee baby sweater. Adorable!

Little baby cap and booties

Little baby cap and booties

Close-up of the booties because SWEET TINY BABY FEET!!

Close-up of the booties because SWEET TINY BABY FEET!!

As if all the purple and white sweetness wasn’t enough, Aunt Val also knitted a second outfit for the baby. An adorable blue-green sweater with tiny buttons and matching pants.

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The icing on the cake? She also sent along a handmade baby doll with diaper and blanket for Zoey, a bear for Eleanor and a nurse doll for me (that looks a lot like my mom).

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I’m pretty much on cuteness overload about now. I imagine you are too. You’re welcome.

The Hoarding Stage of Life

I have determined that we are intentional hoarders. We prefer to call it “being frugal” though. Seriously, we have so. much. stuff. We have mountains of clothes for girls ages birth through five (and even a few hand-me-downs for older girls in a “to grow into” pile). We have all the gazillion things one “needs” for a baby: swing, bouncer, crib and mattress, crib sheets, eight thousand baby blankets, baby bathtub, swaddlers, pack & play, an enormous tub full of cloth diapers, an astonishing variety of bottles (which so far have received zero use between two kids), breast pump, etc etc etc. You get the idea. At one point, we had not one but four different versions of a bassinet/crib/moses basket/place for an infant to sleep. On top of all this, we have the usual clutter of toys and stuffed animals that come with having small children. Oh, and all the toys and stuffed animals that my parents saved from my childhood. This all mixed in with the usual furniture and necessities, my overflowing baskets of sewing and crafting goods, a large collection of coloring books and art supplies for the kids, nine billion pairs of shoes, boots, slippers, mittens, hats, coats…I’m beginning to fear that one day we’re going to wake up buried under a pile of “stuff” and not be able to escape.

I think there are a couple of factors making me aware of how overloaded we are in the material possessions department right now: the upcoming holiday season which promises more stuff in the form of gifts and some beginning pregnancy nesting urges that are inspiring me to “organize all the stuff.”

What I really want to do is sell and donate huge chunks of stuff, but it really isn’t practical right now. For starters, all the baby stuff is going to get used again quite soon. And then we’ll pack it away and store it once more until we decide if we will be having more children in the future. Similarly, even if this baby turns out to be a boy, we’ll probably still hang on to those mountains of girl clothes until we determine there is no possibility of a fourth child for us who could someday need them. Even as Zoey and Eleanor outgrow the baby and toddler toys, we’ll be introducing at least one more baby to them. So those stick around as well, until we’re sure of there being no more babies in the house.

I guess what I’m saying is, being in the “having children” stage of life essentially requires you to be a hoarder. Unless, of course, you are filthy stinking rich and can afford to buy all new stuff each time around. I don’t think I even know anyone with that much money, do you?

Kids Stacked from Floor to Ceiling

Christmas came early this year. On Veteran’s Day, to be precise. We’d been wanting to get bunk beds for the girls for awhile now, and my parents offered to give them to us as the girls’ Christmas present for this year. Yes please! The beds were delivered over a week ago and we surreptitiously hid all the parts in plain sight on our bedroom floor. The girls then proceeded to have a blast playing with the enormous boxes without ever questioning what came in them.

They're a wee bit excited.

They’re a wee bit excited.

The girls were ecstatic when Grandma and Grandpa showed up at our house and told them they were getting bunk beds that day. So excited, in fact, that it was all I could do to keep them occupied out of the bedroom so they wouldn’t be in the way of the actual building.

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The whole thing came together by lunchtime and looks quite sharp. The girls are thrilled to pieces and just want to play in the bunks all the time.

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Once again, yay for grandparents!!

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