Tuesday, May 31, 2011


There is a convent just down the street from our home. The nuns are very kind. They are Franciscans so they love our dogs and regularly stop to pet them and chat us up when we walk by.

The convent sits right on the Hillsborough River and the property is a beautiful little oasis in our neighborhood. The nuns they have generously allowed us to visit anytime we like. There are benches and a large patio and even a tree swing. We enjoy going there on warm days to sit on the cool grass and just watch the river.

Sitting there it's not unusual to see dolphins heading back to the bay, and the manatees go by on their way to their winter home. I've never seen an alligator but I know an eight-footer lives a few houses up and once I saw a small shark heading up river, although it didn't look particularly healthy. There are ducks on the property, too.

I took Harper there the other day so we could enjoy nature a little. It was a very relaxing morning. 

She sat on the lawn, happily plucking blades of grass and watching the ducks.

Her tongue has been like this perpetually as of late.

She was so cute, concentrating on grasping each blade
(and didn't even try to eat one!).

The end (and what an adorable end it is).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alligator Wrestling

Harper was attacked by an alligator this morning...

It caught her off guard.

At first it looked like the gator might get the upper hand,

but Harper quickly got control of the situation.

Then, realizing the skill of his foe, the alligator tried to escape.

Harper wasn't going to let him get away that easily.

She asked the alligator if he had any final words,

and toyed with him a little, letting him think she was finished with him.

Not yet, alligator!

Gator wrestling is so much fun!

Thank you for the beautiful, handmade alligator, Cynthia!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A Matter of Time

Yesterday I went to a girlfriend's house for a play date with her daughter and another mutual girlfriend and her son. The boy, Cevan, is four months older than Harper and the girl, Lucy, is only three weeks older. But what a difference that three weeks makes! Cevan was busy pulling himself up to a standing position from available piece of furniture while Lucy, who has just learned to crawl in the last couple of days, was happily motoring all over the living room. That is, everywhere that wasn't blockaded by various forms of barriers haphazardly placed by her parents in a desperate (and futile) attempt to keep her contained.

For the first time ever I am happy Harper has not caught up to them. I have seen the future and it includes safety locks, electrical outlet plugs and encasing our entire home in bubble wrap. We are also looking into purchasing a toddler-sized hamster ball.  

That evening, after we got home, I put Harper on our bedroom carpet with a couple of toys while I went to put in a load of laundry. When I came back, this was where I found her:

Yes, that’s under our bed. Doesn't she look tickled pink? She should be, she was a good five feet from where I left her. In fact, it was only after I came back in the room that she wriggled out enough from underneath the bed to flash me a big smile, then she wriggled right back. I had to pull her out by her chubby back legs. Her inch-worm/rolling combination, as it turns out, is very effective at getting her around.

And so it begins. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

Brad and I must be getting a handle on this parenting thing. Either that or we’ve gone over the edge because we (and by “we” I mean “I”) are starting to think about having another baby. Not today but someday in the hazy, distant future.
Hopefully said theoretical baby will arrive before this happens.

When you think about it, the fact that anyone in the history of the world has had more than one child is a true testament to the resiliency of the human body and spirit. It’s also a testament to the power of the flood of post-partum hormones that dull the memory of labor. Time helps, too, of course. And chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to lead to permanent memory loss, which can’t hurt. Isn’t nature marvelous! To everything there is a season and so on…
Anywho, overall I’d rate Harper’s birth as a B+ (and all you ladies who had the pleasure of reading the graphic birth story I penned know why). So, being the perfectionist that I am, I’m going for an A+ next time. Accordingly, I have employed here a trusty Pros/Cons column to weigh the, you know, pros and cons of each birthing option.
This is more along the lines of the birth experience I am looking for.
Another bonus, labor without  gravity might be AWESOME.

Option 1: Natural Childbirth at a Hospital with the Assistance of a Certified Nurse Midwife
PROS: This is what we did last time, so we are familiar with it.  And there were definitely many pros on the labor and delivery side. For instance, it is only a 12 minute drive to the hospital from our home. And, in spite of my water breaking early in labor, my midwife was perfectly content to let us labor at home for up to twelve hours if I needed to. Plus my labor and delivery nurse was AMAZING (way more supportive than my doula), which was totally luck of the draw. They let me push for 3 hours (which was against hospital policy, they were supposed to stop at 2) and really stuck to my “no medical intervention” request during labor. After delivery, they had a surgical specialist readily available to fix what my midwife was unable to (I am being overly general here for your benefit). This was a big comfort and the proof is in the pudding because I healed remarkably quickly. Plus, we got a gorgeous, perfectly healthy baby to take home with us!
CONS: On the down side, Florida hospital’s have totally RIDICULOUS post-partum requirements, including a suggested 48 hour post-partum hospital stay (which I really want to avoid, especially now with Harper in the mix). With Harper we requested an early release, which is “only” 36 hours, but trust me, no one was helping us get out of there. There was a laundry list of things we were required to do before we could take her home, and truly, I think they would have come up with an excuse to keep us there the additional 12 hours if they hadn’t needed the bed. And the 36 hours was AWFUL. They were so swamped with other deliveries that morning (my midwife was delivering 3 babies simultaneously) that we were abandoned in the delivery room after Harper was delivered and stayed there, virtually unattended, for over 4 hours, with no word of when we would be moved. Once we were moved into a recovery room we counted over 40 visits by hospital staff in that 33 hour period, which just added to the sleep deprivation and already exorbitant expense. Of course, our insurance policy was written in such a way that it paid for nearly nothing; another con.   
Option 2: Natural Childbirth at a Birth Center with the Assistance of a Certified Nurse Midwife
PROS: What’s not to like? A supported, intimate birthing experience amongst like-minded women with the benefit of professional expertise. In theory, I could call the shots and have more freedom without the fear that they might find my desire for an intervention-free labor and delivery “cute”.  Birth Centers are also much more reasonably priced; about half the cost of a natural hospital birth. Even though our insurance wouldn’t cover any of a Birth Center delivery we’d still pay less out-of-pocket than we did for our hospital birth.  
CONS: I wanted to do this. I really did. I tried to do this. Keep in mind that when I initially contacted the Birth Center we were living in temporary housing provided by the company we worked for that had a distinctive Motel 6 kind-of feel to it and was a good 45 minute drive from the nearest hospital.  Unfortunately, the receptionist with whom I spoke at the Birth Center kept pushing a home birth even after I explained I wasn’t interested. The more I tried to explain the more she insisted that home birth was the way to go. FOUR  TIMES I told her no and FOUR TIMES she countered me. Finally, I decided that if they weren’t going to take me seriously when I had full mental faculties then I couldn’t trust them to take me seriously if I were in labor.
That being said, I am willing to give the Birth Center another shot. Maybe I just had the pleasure of speaking with the world’s most clueless receptionist. Things happen. However, I still have some major reservations. Namely, the closest Birth Center is a 30 minute drive from us, on a good day. Keep in mind my labor was 6 ½ hours last time and they told me I can expect to progress faster next time. And if there were an emergency or if I required a post-partum surgeon again it is another 25 minute drive from the Birth Center to the closest hospital. Two words: NOT IDEAL. And so we move on to our third and final (reasonable) option…
Option 3: Natural Childbirth at Home with the Assistance of a Certified Nurse Midwife
PROS: I could do a water birth which is, in my heart-of-hearts, what I have always wanted (water births are not allowed at hospitals or Birth Centers in Florida). And there’s all the hippie-dippy, good vibration, home is my nesting place stuff, too. Plus, no one present would think I was crazy, and I would be guaranteed no intervention. This is also, of the three heretofore mentioned options, easiest on the pocket book.
CONS: I am going to be brutally honest here; I am uptight. I am working on letting go but, in the meantime, I fear I would be so distracted by the inevitable mess I would ultimately have to clean up that I would not be able to relax and experience the birth. And we have a lot of pets. I love my pets, but I do not want to deliver a baby around them.  The thought of doing so gives me the heebie-jeebies. In fact, just thinking about actually going through with a home birth is making my palms sweat as I type this. So there’s that.

Option 4: Natural Childbirth in the Ocean with the Assistance of a Certified Nurse Midwife
PROS: Self cleaning. Cheap, cheap, CHEAP!
CONS: Sharks. This is an overriding factor.
I guess we’ve got some time to think about our options, but your input would be greatly appreciated. In the meantime, stay tuned for more of Harper’s antics. We are totally crazy about that kid.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Enemy of the State

"I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. Returning hate with hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

-Martin Luther King, Jr.