Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Baby time!

Both of the kids are sleeping right now (it's a miracle!) so I'm going to hammer out a lovely little blog post about Rupert's birth and the ensuing couple of weeks. Allons-y!

These pictures are going to be way out of order, so I'm just going to pretend that it was on purpose and that I'm doing a cool modern-artsy thing.

This is Rupert. You'll learn more about his entrance into the world later on.

My mom came down for a week and we decided to go to the Butterfly Atrium up in Scottsdale one afternoon. This lovely lady on the left tried to show James a buckeye that was sipping some nectar off the sponge in her hand, and James repaid that kindness by completely melting down and sobbing about the fact that a stranger had approached him with a butterfly on a stick. The poor guy is in the throes of stranger danger right now, and he's still a little wary of butterflies. We're working on it.

This is my wonderful friend Whitney who put together a little postpartum baby shower that was absolutely delightful. Fun games, delicious food, good company, what more could you ask for?

Rupert is a fantastic snuggler! Picture taken by my highly-skilled photographer mother.

Can you get over how incredibly cute this kid is? I can't either. It's ok.

While Nana Sue was here, James rekindled his love of the community splash pad. Unfortunately it gets turned off the first of October, so we'll have to wait until next April to enjoy it again. Hopefully he remembers how fun it is.

These two could play together for ages. 

Best day ever.

Ah! We've come to the part of the pictures where Rupert joins our family! Here are the boys on our way home from the hospital.

Here I am three weeks before giving birth. Holy cannoli, look at that midsection. I actually had a woman ask me if I was having twins. I didn't gain much weight after this picture was taken, but I did get bigger, as evidenced by the reactivation and growth of my stretch marks left over from James. Wahoo.

Here I am, in labor.

Here's how it went down: I had been having extremely sporadic contractions for days, so I didn't really pay attention to them any more. The only time they were coming one right after the other was a few Sundays before Rupert was born. I called a girl at my church and told her I was was having some pretty exciting contractions, and that she would have to find some subs for Nursery, as Josh and I wouldn't be there. Somehow that turned into Rupert's impending brith being announced over the pulpit. This explained why when several members of our congregation saw me later in the week, still pregnant, they looked extremely confused.

My water broke at home on Thursday the 29th around 12pm (3 days overdue), right after I had put James down for a nap (tender mercy!). I called Josh and informed him of this, and he left work and picked up our babysitter (the fantastic Whitney mentioned above) and headed home. Since I was induced with James, I had not experienced going into labor spontaneously before, so I had a tiny little panic attack. After hyperventilating for a few seconds, I called my friend Allison, and she told me to calm down and start packing the last-minute things for the hospital. I am ever so grateful for her advice. I put the last few things we needed into our hospital bag and waited for Josh to get there. Strangely enough, I had no contractions. Not even one. If this was labor, it was awesome!

Since I had tested positive for Group B streptococcus, we had to head to the hospital right away so they could start me on penicillin. We arrived at the hospital, still having very few contractions, and they started the penicillin. A couple of hours later I still wasn't having contractions, so they started some Pitocin to kickstart the whole birthing process. All I needed was a little activation energy, and I started to progress quite nicely. To pass the time, Josh and I watched Dr. Who while I squeezed the bujeebies out of his hand during the contractions. Around 7pm I had a lovely epidural that didn't work all the way on my right side, so I still had to breathe through the contractions a little. I actually preferred having it not completely numb, as I could feel when to push. I got to the point where I felt the urge to push, but the doctor was finishing up an emergency c-section at the time, so I had to hold him in for about 10 minutes. Not pushing is even harder than pushing, surprisingly. The doctor arrived, and I started pushing around 9:25, and Rupert was born at 9:39pm. He was delivered by Dr. Vaziri with no complications, and thanks to him, I only tore a small amount on my previous episiotomy scar. 

He was 9 lbs, 9 ounces, 21" and very healthy. That's a huge baby. Huge. I didn't think I would have a bigger baby than James at 8 lbs, 13 ounces, but I was proved extremely wrong. The measuring of his length was a bit off, as he was 22.5" at his 2 week checkup, but that's ok.

We named him Rupert Hugo, because we just liked the name Rupert. It's classic, but still unique. He was given the middle name Hugo after his great-great uncle on Josh's mom's side. He was a kind and loving person to Josh's family, and we wanted to honor him for that. Plus, we really liked the name Hugo too.

The literal fruits of my labors. Well, he's not an actual fruit, but you know what I mean.

Still not sure about this whole out-of-utero thing.

One proud papa. Josh was wonderful through the whole birthing process. He was supportive, and tried to make me laugh when the contractions were especially rough. He wasn't always successful, but I appreciated his effort. Also, look at the size of Rupert's massive noggin. Whoa.

Just look at those cheeks. They go on for miles.

James wasn't sure about Rupert for a whole week. Then one night he asked to hold him, and they've been inseparable ever since. He gets frustrated when I can't pay attention to him all the time, but that frustration is never aimed at Rupert. 

Nana Sue is also an exceptional snuggler.

Guess who got into mom's makeup bag while she wasn't looking! This kid.

This is how most of James and Rupert's interactions go. James loves on Rupert, and Rupert gets sad because he's usually being picked up or poked against his will. 

First smile.

Our two children are basically identical. Rupert is just a little chunkier, but they have the exact same mouth and nose. The eyes are a little different, but not much. However, their personalities are very different. James was a difficult baby, but Rupert is a dream. He eats extremely well (also because nursing the second time around is a bajillion times easier), sleeps well, and doesn't cry unnecessarily! He's a wonder child!

Look at that face! So cute!

Being a mom of two is harder in some respects and easier in others. I've mastered the art of grocery shopping with tow children, and honestly, that was what I was most worried about. Since the weather is cooler now, we go to the park or the desert, and it's been wonderful so far. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

T-Minus 8(ish) Days

That's how long we have to wait, maximum, until Baby LeMaistre #2 arrives. To be honest, I still wake up in the middle of the night panicking about how on earth I'm going to take care of two children, when one of them is already so time consuming. But thankfully Big J gets two weeks off work when the baby's born, and then my mom will be coming down for a week, so I won't have to do it on my own for a little while at least.

So what have we been doing while we've been waiting (not so patiently) for our family to expand? A lot, actually! We drove up past Payson, AZ to a couple nice lakes and spent some time hunting for crawdads and splashing around in streams.


This studious little kid quickly turned into...
...this sleepy little kid. He'll make a great college student.

The drive was only two hours and it was totally worth it. Beautiful scenery on the way there, and some gorgeous view from the Mogollan Rim.


That's not bad, eh?
The lake was beautiful, and there was some great wildlife. We got to see an osprey catch a fish, and a couple humans catch fish too. There were some jays around the campground, and some red tails circling overhead. We walked around the lake a bit and then followed a stream up to the main road.
Lake + fudgesicle = extreme happiness
The weather was perfect. Mid 70s on top of the rim, and mid 80s just down off the rim. We left the lake and headed back towards Payson, but decided to stop at a fish hatchery that was off the main road a bit. It closed 15 minutes after we got there, but we still had a great time. The blackberries were in season so we spent a lot time just stuffing ourselves with them. The scratches and pokes from the thorns were totally worth it.

Little J tried his hardest to free the fishes, but to no
avail. Either that, or he thought that was a
steering wheel.
We got home exhausted and sunburnt, and it was perfect. Being so close to my due date, we brought along the hospital bag, just in case (and I checked to see if the hospital in Payson was covered under our insurance - it was), but alas, we didn't need it.

Last night we had some great adventures too! Some friends invited us on a flashlight tour of the Desert Botanical Gardens and since we had some free passes through the library, we took them up on their offer. We had some dinner first at a fantastic Indian place in Tempe called the Dhaba Cafe. Apparently since you ALWAYS need a reservation (according to the hostess), they didn't have room for us at first, but since Big J had struck up a conversation with the owner a few minutes previous, and were becoming fast friends, they made some accommodations. That's something I love about Big J; he can talk to anyone about anything, and find something in common. Also, being a GIANT pregnant lady can usually score you a few sympathy points too.


Little J thoroughly enjoyed the rickshaw out front.
He also thoroughly enjoyed and ate most of
my chicken makhani. :(
The gardens were stunning at night. And since there was a big monsoonal moisture weather system moving in, it was fairly cool too, with it only being 94 instead of 104. Yay?

Totally gorgeous, no?
Little J and his friend ready to enjoy the night life.

























There were great little educational kiosks about geckos, snakes, agaves, saguaros and toads. Little J had the best time playing with the flashlight, and the adults had a great time taking in all the scenery. And speaking of toads, we also spotted this little guy:


Now that we've done all kinds of adventuring, it's time for baby #2 to come. I mean seriously, I can hardly remember a time when I wasn't massively pregnant. Hopefully that comes sooner than later, and all four of us can go on adventures together!

Monday, July 22, 2013

You Might as Well Be Walkin' on the Sun

Here's how Little J and I feel about summertime in Phoenix:

Notice the slightly frustrated expression and the lack
of physical activity.
It's not just hot; it's a whole different level of hot that I have never experienced before. It sucks the air out of you when you walk outside, and doesn't give it back, even when there's a breeze. It permeates everything from the steering wheel to the 4 inches of air next to the inside of your windows. It's incredible that animals have evolved to survive in this kind of environment, because humans are terrible at it. I am amazed that 4.6 million people live in the Phoenix area. AMAZED. The native people who lived here left during the summer (as they should), but us modern humans are too stubborn to leave, and instead we stay and swelter. Sometimes I think Phoenix is just a giant monument to man's stubbornness.

So, what do a heavily pregnant lady and a toddler who like to be outside do in this kind of environment? We go to the pool. A lot. Sometimes we go twice a day. Little J has quite the swim diaper tan, let me tell you what. We also frequent the park (before 9am), and the zoo, where we see this guy on a regular basis:

Something about a fish the size of a small child terrifies me, but
not so for Little J.
We also visited a place up in Scottsdale called Butterfly Wonderland. Apparently it's North America's largest indoor butterfly atrium and also sports an aquarium and a bee and ant exhibit. We had such a great time! Kids under two are free, so we snuck in two visits before Little J turns two at the end of the month.
Apart from sweating out my body weight inside the atrium, it was totally
wonderful. Little J is looking a little sweaty here too.
Bzzzzzz!
Thankfully these weren't the africanized killer bees. 
Some eyes looking at some eye spots.
A really nice gentleman gave Little J a hat that he adores
now. Every time we go outside he has to wear it.
Little J is still talking about a butterfly that landed on his head. We made some butterfly crafts, and they're his new favorite thing.

We also visited the Children's Museum up in downtown with a friend, and Little J would never have left if I hadn't bribed him with fruit snacks. His favorite thing was the toothpaste car, but the racetrack was a close second.
And you can get to your destination with nice minty
fresh breath.

The best part about the Arizona summer is the monsoon season. It just began, and it has been a whopper of a season so far. Lots of lightning, thunder, torrential downpours, and dust storms, and we still have another month to go. Boo ya! The storms take the temperature down, and we love playing in the puddles in the aftermath. The sunsets are also phenomenal, as you can see:

From this...

...to this just 15 minutes later! It was followed by a massive lightning storm.
As Little J gets older, it's getting to be more and more fun to be his mom. He's a total goof, and we spend a lot of our time giggling and being exceptionally silly. One of his new favorite things is singing songs, and sometimes I hear him singing to himself when he's playing with his cars or riding in the car. His favorites are "Once there was a Snowman", "Popcorn Popping", and "Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam". Here are two of his (and his father's) musical performances, for your auditory pleasure:

video                                                    video  

That's all, folks!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Working Vacation (kinda)

Little J and I got back from a week long trip to Oregon last week that was all kinds of fun! We stayed with my parents and had the best time ever. We had to get out of Phoenix for a while as the temperatures in the afternoon were reaching 112 (!!) and we just couldn't handle it any more. I'm hoping this cool weather trip will last us the rest of the summer here in the Valley of the Sun.

Little J did AMAZING on the plane on the way there. It was like he was an entirely different kid for the whole day. He slept half the way from Phoenix to San Francisco and we spent the other half reading books. He didn't even wiggle that much! With my fast-disappearing lap, I was worried how he would do surrounded by strangers in a metal tube in the sky, but he loved it. He did great in the airport and totally dug checking out all the planes on the tarmac. Then he slept all the way from San Francisco  to Redmond. Miraculous. I even had people come up to me and tell me that he was the best behaved toddler they had ever seen on a plane. WHAT? I'm usually chasing him around because he's pretty uh, spirited most of the time and has no separation anxiety. None of that this time. I will be forever grateful.

Ok, here come a BOATLOAD of pictures, so settle in for a nice little cruise through the Oregon High Desert, complete with baby birds of prey, cute kids, and some nice cow patties.

Nana treated us to a tasty smoothie, which Little J
promptly smeared all over his face.
My brother and his three sons arrived the following day after we did, and Little J LOVED meeting his cousins, especially Joseph, whom he immediately adored. I'm pretty sure he would have rather gone home with him instead of me.



Our first day in the desert was spent looking for Ferruginous Hawk nests. We didn't find any active ones, but we did find a box of kestrels to band.
Poor guys. Juniper trees are pretty killer on your body,
and they were stuffed in that tree like sardines. Arboreal sardines.

Just look at that fierce little kestrel face!

Boppa putting a tiny band on its leg. It doesn't hurt the bird. And if the adult bird
is found later, the band can be mailed into the banding lab and supply information
about migration and habitation patterns. Cool, eh?
While we were banding kestrels, Little J occupied himself
with pulling moss off rocks. Yes, I'm aware that's a cow patty.
No, I wasn't worried about it. It's the desert, and that thing
had all the germs baked out of it ages ago.

Our next day was spent out in the Fort Rock Valley banding Ferruginous Hawk babies. We looked at other nests, but none of them were active. Lots of nests, very little activity, which is disconcerting.

This is a Ferruginous Hawk adult. It was hanging around and swooping
down on Tom and Sam while they were extricating the babies from the nest.
What a good parent.
Our friend Carol is on the right. She manages raptor welfare at the Portland
Airport, which is the coolest job ever. Little J also fell in love with her, and
fed her cookie crumbs all the way home from the desert one day. Poor woman.

Little J was really interested in the hawk babies!
We took a break from driving around in the hot dusty desert all day and headed up to Prairie Farm near Green Ridge. It was nice to be up in the mountains, and we had the perfect day up there. 

Little J and Big Old J. I will never tire of taking
pictures of these two together.

The pond is ephemeral, meaning it only exists for a few months a year. We
visited at a great time when it was full of garter snakes, tadpoles, and axolotls.
It was also swarming with butterflies, dragonflies, and damselflies.

Nana Sue doing what she does best. Note the carpet of
blue butterflies on the mud.

We went swimming in the pond, and we didn't have
a swim diaper with us. So, Little J's diaper was SOAKED
and GIANT and this is him just noticing it.

A gorgeous Lorquin's Admiral.

It was so focused on sucking nutrients out of the mud,
it didn't notice Nana Sue sneaking up on it.

BAM! Captured so we could take a closer look at it.
Another day, another batch of baby Ferruginous hawks banded. This nest was pretty precarious to get into, but Sam and Tom, both old hats at it by now, were not daunted by the task.




Giddy-up lava rock!

Our next adventure was to Fort Rock to meet up with some school kids on a field trip. We walked around Fort Rock, chased lizards, and had a fantastic time.


Little J discovered he could play in the water fountain,
and he (and apparently me as well) was thrilled.

This is my favorite location on Earth.

Just look at that happy face!
That night, we met up with a photographer who does nighttime wildlife photography. He set up his equipment and we could see the bats coming in to scoop water out of a puddle. He got some amazing shots, like this:


We had a great time out playing in the desert and mountains with my parents, but we were missing Daddy, and were excited to go home. Little J was the typical toddler on the way home, and he did just fine. The flight from Portland to Phoenix wasn't full, so Little J and I got an entire row to ourselves! Wahoo! Everywhere we went, people were incredibly nice to us and went out of their way to make sure we were happy. Something about a pregnant lady travelling with an excitable toddler made people feel sorry for us, I guess.

Little J still asks for Nana, Boppa, uncle Dean and Joseph on a daily basis, which is completely adorable.