Friday, February 27, 2009

Moment with Benjamin

I unwrapped the tiny bundle to get a look at my nephew's hands. His fingers are very, very long. I listened to Bill and Jackie tell the story of his birth. I peeked under his hat at the mass of thick, black hair. He sighed in his sleep. My heart sighed. "He has the sweetest lips," I say. He does.
Bill walked over and, without a word, subtly tucked the baby blanket back around his son.
My brother is a daddy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

She learns

I've been singing and spelling Willa's name to the tune of Skip to My Lou here. She's been in a funk and kind of glossing over paying attention to anything that isn't shiny, or packed with sugar, or Henry.
Last night, I was sitting next to her at dinner. She was humming, and suddenly turned to me and sang her name with a grin: "W. I. L. L. A. and will was her name -oh!"
The flu has given up the kids as hostages, it was a sunny day, and my kid listens to me. I'm smiling.

Stuff on our heads #7

Doocesque: Greta channels Chuck.
Photo and idea credit to Jim.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Willa's new cousin

I've just showed Willa photos of her new cousin. Who she immediately demanded to go see "right now."

"Poor baby. He is sad?"
"No, sometimes babies cry."
"Because they're sad?"
"No, maybe they're scared a little."
She looked at me, widened her eyes and whispered, "of monsters?"
"No, they're scared because it's loud and cold -"
"- and there are monsters."

Newly minted family

Dear Benjamin,
I will not meet you for a few days. But I don't even need to be in the same room to know I love you. Know that we love you so much that we won't visit you until the flu has officially left the Sinki family.
Dear Jackie,
You did it! I can't wait for all of the gory details. It was fast, and you're a tough gal. Welcome to the sisterhood of motherhood. Benjamin is fortunate to have such a wonderful mom.
Dear Bill,
You. Are. A. Dad. I am so excited for you to grow a bond with your son. I can't wait to hear about his development through your voice. Benjamin and his daddy are in for some mighty good times.
Willa and Henry are excited about playing catch in Grandma and Grandpa's yard with Benjamin and MaKenna in a few years.
Congratulations, new family.
With so much love.
Photo credit and my gratitude to my sister Lisa who posted these on her Facebook page so I would feel maybe a little less far away.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Project Valentine"s Day

Cabin fever has Willa (and the rest of us) bouncing off of the walls. If I can keep her busy, my sanity stays in tact. We've done a lot of projects this winter. Above you'll see the Valentine's Day treats that Willa and I made for her friends and both of the kids' teachers. This was an easy project for Willa to help with. We just melted the chocolate disks into ice cube trays with fun shapes. A day later, we popped them onto pretzels and microwaved them for 15 seconds.

This particular package was for Seth. Seth is Willa's best friend and her buddy since they were both 3 months old. She told us a week ago that she was going to marry Seth. And they were going to have 10 kids. And 10 doggies. And 10 ponies. And 10 jellyfish.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


When I was younger and [pretended that I] didn't know better, there were a few times that I may have overindulged in libations. And then paid for it the next day.

I shared with you the highlights my decadent Amy Da- I mean Presidents Day. And last night the karmic hangover showed up in the form of a mean ole bug in Willa's tummy. From 2 am on, I dozed with one ear constantly connected to her needs. I'd hear a gurgle and would present her with "the bowl."

She's such a sweet kid. Right after she'd finish and we got her cleaned up, she'd smile and say, "I feel better now, mommy." Then she'd nuzzle her feverish forehead against my neck. Poor kid. She's napping in our bed now, with Arlo and Greta standing (more like co-napping)guard.

Jim has a fatalistic view of good times on a roll. He worries when things are going too well. And when the occasional bad thing happens, he tells me it's the balance of the universe. I tell him it's just Life unfolding, and there's no message there. And then we watch "My Name is Earl."

Over the weekend, while on our tour of NW lower Michigan we were having a wonderful time. The kids were great traveling buddies, the meals were good, the pools were fun, the room was more than we needed, Jim and I were really, truly enjoying each other and the kids. I was thinking, "this is what Valentine's Day should be." Kind of a floating holiday/kick in the pants to express appreciation for the folks around you. Like Thanksgiving, but with more chocolate. Jim, it turns out, was worried about what bad thing was going to happen.

Life happened while we were giggling with the kids in the pool. It was fun, we were smiling. Willa and I emerged from the locker room, showered and dressed and ready to venture outside. Jim was holding Henry in the hallway, also dressed, but his feet were bare.

"Where are your shoes?"
"Someone stole them."

We spent some time that day trying to shake off the feeling of violation. "People suck," he said. "Naw..." I replied, "just one person in this instance."

Willa sadly declared, "I want daddy to get his shoes." And I reeled at my disappointment in some people who do, indeed, suck.

And then I said honest-to-goodness prayers out that the shoes would be found. That, maybe, someone accidentally grabbed his size 13 shoes thinking they were their own.

The hotel has not called. Jim, graciously, has not said, "I told you so."

So, tell me, pals... do you think that the universe has some mechanism that slaps you around a little when you get too comfortable?

Missing shoes aside, it was a terrific 2 days. Here's photographic proof:

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Like Disneyland for moms

Yesterday I had the day off so I could, you know, properly honor the current and past presidents. I did so by kissing Jim goodbye (his workplace does not observe Presidents Day) and taking the kids to day care.
And then I went to a fabric store. And a craft store. And a Target. And I walked nearly every square foot of these places, just looking. Just enjoying the muzak. Just blissfully taking my time because there was no one needing a diaper change or telling me that she needed the snow globe with the Easter Bunny in it. I bought a book. I bought a box of chamomile tea.
I drove home in the sun and made tea and read many pages of the book.
I thought - just for a second - that I should be starting dinner or doing some cleaning or...
... and then I stopped. And sipped some tea and wallowed in me-ness.
When I was younger I used to take pleasure in spreading my toes in the fresh spring mud.
It was like that yesterday a little.
Then I took the longest, hottest shower.
And then I read more.
I also ate chocolate.

When I picked up the kids, I was more relaxed (all the better to mother you, my dears). When Jim came home, I felt like I had more to offer him (all the better to partner with you, my love).

It was a good day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

It has happened.

Henry is no longer a patch whip-stitched onto our backpack for family journeys.
I don’t know when it happened – it wasn’t the moment I knew I was pregnant, it wasn’t the first time I held him… though it was love at first “oh my gosh, that test says ‘pregnant’!” and adoration and devotion when the doctor first laid him, white and gooey, on my chest. He has fully become a part of me, my life, my family. We are at the point where I could not imagine us in this moment without him.
Over the last (2 days short of) four months, through his patient eyes and his full body smile, he has gently woven his being into mine. Into the fabric of the family Sinki.

While in the pool over the weekend...

A little girl swam up to Henry and I. "Is that a boy or a girl?"
"This is a boy."
"He's really cute! Did you cut his hair like that on purpose?"

Henry naturally spots a mohawk. All of his baby black hair has fallen out except the strip up top. His little boy hair is coming in all downy and very light.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sprucing up the neighborhood a little

Family de Sinki spent Friday and Saturday in Traverse City. Amazing how refreshed we feel after getting away for just a bit. I'll share more tomorrow, but thought I'd play around with the blog's look a little. What do you think?

stuff on our heads #6

this photo's subtitle: geez, Amy. Get to the post office and mail that hair.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Great Grandpa

"Willa," I said, "what would you like for dinner?"
"I not hungry."
"How about soup?"
"Nooo... I don't like soup."
"Sweet potato?"
"No. I don't want sweet potato."
"Otay. Frawwww - schases."
I play this joke over and over again on our unsuspecting daughter. Growing up, Grandpa (above) would offer us frawstaches to eat. Pals, frawstaches are the culinary equivalent of snipes. No such thing.
He's good with kids. You can see Willa's adoration and Henry's comfort above.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vitamin D, the way nature intended

I am loving this sunny weather! It's like a conjugal visit from Spring.

I've decided that we could turn off the humidifiers in the house. Young Henry is starting to drool. And drool... and the windows are steaming up.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Stuff on our heads # (where are we?) 5?

Her giggling made me nervously curious. I turned the corner to see this coming at me:
Yup, that's Willa with her Elmo big girl underwear on her head.
Everyone is on the mend, including Jim and I who were a little sore after moving my entire office into our basement. The sun is shining, I don't have to lug the breastpump to an office every morning, and we're preparing for a quick visit to (the indoor parts of) the zoo. Happy in Sinkiville.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

follow up

After writing the previous post, I scooped up my crying baby and rocked him in the sunlight. He fell back asleep. I looked over to see our orange tree has started to bloom.
Minutes later Jim came home.

And now the three of us are off to pick Willa up from daycare. She has a fever and is getting the boot.

A muffled cry of "uncle"comes from under the bed.

That's it. I'm waving the white flag, and asking for mercy. God? That sense of humor of yours? Tone it down, okay?
Monday night I got very little sleep as the little guy woke up at least once an hour, thanks to his cold (Henry's contracted his own daycare cold for the first time! No help from big sister Willa this time. We're soooo proud.) On a positive note, the company that makes the vaporizer fan that we've used when Willa is sick is replacing the fan that broke when the contact corroded the battery. I am a good little consumer.
Dragged myself into the shower anyway on Tuesday morning. Just before putting on my coat my coworker called to say the work phone line installer would be to our house anytime between right that second and 7pm. While Jim waits at home, I get the kids to school, go to the office to get a bunch of files and come home. I kiss Jim goodbye for three days (the Winter Games are this week), and wait for the installer. Who never came.
Tuesday night Henry again has troubles sleeping. His nose is plugged.
Wednesday morning I reason that if the phone guy blew me off, I surely would be at the top of the list for that morning. I don't leave home, entertaining Willa with a movie and Henry with something shiny. I work at the kitchen table, phone calls with coworkers and volunteers occasionally interrupted by the clucking chicken (see yesterday's post). At 1 pm, I got an email from the phone company to let me know I'm not on Wednesday's list at all, and that we're now shooting for Fri. Maybe Monday. I curse the phone company.
I am feeling stir crazy. Bundle the kids up for a little walk. We get 5 houses away before turning back. I curse the cold and lazy neighbors who haven't shoveled. We meet Maribeth and Allison to play. That. That was fun.
Don't sleep much on Wed night. Henry's sick continues. Drive 2 crying kids to daycare. Willa is sad that... I don't know what anymore. Greta licked her? Her granola bar broke? The earth is rotating? She's been somewhat sensitive this week. I think she's off because she misses her daddy. Also, mommy is being driven slowly mad by the phone company. Leave a now happy ("we're making playdough!") Willa and a sleeping Henry at daycare. On my way out, I notice that I won the "guess how many candy hearts are in the jar" contest. I guessed 432. There were 435. $15 tuition credit for this. I feel awesome for a minute. That was the uplifting moment I needed.
Get to the office, get organized, participate in staff meeting via phone. While on call, my cell phone rings. Henry's eye is suspected of harboring conjunctivitis. Blasted pink eye! I finish phone meeting, go get him and am now at home taking a break from getting more work done.
Jim should be home in a few hours. I plan to wait a whole 5 minutes before heading to bed with a beer.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Madam, kindly silence your chicken

Almost 2 years ago, I saw this clock and immediately coveted it. I finally ordered it. Every hour, when it's light out, the little chicken comes out and clucks. And every hour that I've witnessed it I've laughed loudly. I can't help it.

Jim was over the novelty after 2 hours. Just yesterday it clucked while Willa was dealing with the deep sadness that she had eaten the last mandarin orange piece. "Mama," she said though tears, "I do NOT like your clock." I am not counting this as an official vote, as only hours before she jumped up and down laughing, "MAMA! Your clock! Is [and here she said either clucking or clocking, I'm not sure]."

I know I have a little foam piece that matches the color that we can put over the light sensor to quiet mama hen down. I just love that darn little chicken too much to be motivated to find it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Phil vs.Zoloft

Pals, I forgot to post the post partum depression text I had worked on and promised to share. Yesterday was Groundhog Day (this may seem like a big jump, but read on to see the connection). I normally celebrate the silliness of this high holiday. Jim and I usually host a party in honor of the prognosticating Phil. This year we're dealing with a family of 3 to 4 transition, and I'm moving my work office into our home, and Jim's got work stuff for most of the weekends this month., also we're still in negotiations about the kitchen remodel. So, no logistically possible time for the party. Yet... I don't really feel a need for it this year.

The party has served - for me - as a pick me up in the middle of winter. I hate winter. I get a little down during the winter, so gathering friends and family for merriment in the name of a groundhog? Perfect.

But this year I had the seasonal affective thing nipped in the bud when my wise doctor said, "um... let's get you on a little something for the post partum stuff before winter really kicks in." And then I sent her a truck full of flowers.

So, not needing a party reminded me that I hadn't shared my PPD stuff with y'all. I think (very appropriately) we'll reschedule the party for 6 weeks from now, when Phil says Spring will start. I'm not kidding myself: we could still have a blizzard in mid-March. But by then we can celebrate the cusp of melted snow and damp soil and crocus peeking...

Here is what I wrote about two months ago and didn't post because of technical problems:

Pregnancy, we all know, has ups and downs. One of my downs with both kids was some rotten morning sickness. Pregnancy 2 was a little more severe from the start, and I found some relief from Zofran, an anti-nausea medicine.
Both pregnancies ceased with beautiful and healthy children.
They also produced "just a touch" of post partum depression. Pardon me while I go all Brooke Shields here.
I'm not having a problem bonding with my baby. I don't (often, kidding, really) want to mail him to someone else. I am not having terrible thoughts about him - just want to be clear. I adore him. I adore Willa. I really like being a mom to both of them.
It's the small stuff that I found overwhelming: doing laundry, sorting mail, driving anywhere, what to make for dinner, when to take a shower... it feels so ridiculous to write this. It's true though; picking out a new shampoo brand nearly brought me to my knees in the store. Was I ready to go back to work? Nope.
Also? If I could, I would build a moat around our house and family and not let anyone in or out. Post-pregnancy, I've learned, I become a hermit, and I try to take the rest of the Sinkis with me.
If I haven't been in your life as much as normal lately, don't take it personally. I've been kind of blowing off everyone.
So, at this post birth doctor’s appointment, I talked to the doctor about it. "My name is Amy, and I have post partum depression." I left the appointment with a prescription for a breastfeeding safe antidepressant.
It's been two weeks, and I'm feeling more in control of my anxiety, emotions, and time. It's the medicine combined with the fact that Henry is finally getting over his cold. The few glimpses of sun we've seen have helped, as does Willa's enthusiasm for the season: every time she sees Christmas lights she yells, "it's CHRISTMAS!" Jim's hugs and words and actions are like cookies and band aids.
The other night we were in the car. Henry was wailing and Willa was next to him singing a Mary Poppins song at the top of her lungs. A few weeks ago, I would have been grinding my teeth and calculating the minutes to our house. Thanks to medicine, understanding, and time I was able to laugh at the irony of the moment "just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..."
On the mend, pals. Stick with me.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Amy + Arlo

I was living in Baltimore six years ago. I had moved there for what I thought would be a dream job. It probably would have been if the director there wasn't insane.
I lived in an row house apartment in the artsy region called Bolton Hill. My landlady was in her 80's and swore like a sailor. My neighbors came in the door and quickly retired behind closed doors. My coworkers - all 3 of us - were so exhausted by the chaos of the previously mentioned insane boss, that we rarely socialized at night.
I was lonely. I found too much solace inside my apartment and in books and on the radio. I went to a Unitarian church, but was too painfully shy to "turn left" in the minutes between the service and social hour, and always found myself in my car instead of talking to strangers. I took books and letter writing materials to coffee shops and the local brewery, thinking I could be the interesting stranger that someone would strike up conversation with. I went to a neighborhood wine party. Once.
I was lonely, but it was also during this time that I found how enjoyable alone time could be. I got to know a foreign city pretty well by myself. I stayed in touch with people from other parts and places in my life. I read and cooked and learned and listened to new music and made day trips in my new Ford Focus.
But through all of this exploration I wanted a buddy.
It took 2 months to find the right one. I was looking for someone who was mid-sized, brown, and not too fluffy. Animal shelters are full of BIG dogs. Big black lab or Rottweiler or I don't know what it is, but it's too big mixes. And prior to moving in my sweet landlady agreed to allow a dog in my lease, so long as I could carry it up the stairs. She lived next door and didn't want to hear nails on the wood steps.
So, two months on the hunt, and one visit to the SPCA there he was. A small dog, standing near the front of his cage looking friendly, but worried. He was healthy, and one and housebroken, according to his profile. "I'd like to spend some time with this one," I told the volunteer. He ushered us to a play room. I sat on the floor and "Baby" (as they called him) smelled my hand. Soon he stood next to me. A few pats later he was on my lap staring into my eyes. We were in love.
A few days later, we were leaving the shelter. He was nervous and threw up (in my new car). The war was recent and I was listening to Arlo Gutherie on the radio. I couldn't call my dog baby, and was tossing out names. He vomited at the suggestion of Ernie (after Mr. Harwell). But when I said "Arlo?" he glanced at me with interest.
Days later I had to fly home for Lisa and Ken's wedding. Arlo stayed with an intern of mine. She ended up keeping him longer when the storm of the year came and Baltimore airport was snowed in.
Arlo and I have been together 6 years today. He changed the way I experienced Baltimore. I was still reading and listening to NPR and walking the neighborhood to fill my days, but I had another breathing being with me. Happy Anniversary, Arlo.

A small prayer of Thanksgiving

Yesterday I experienced one of the most perfect hours in my lifetime.
Henry was tired and couldn't calm down enough to sleep. I held him close and rocked him until he sighed and got heavy enough that I knew he was asleep on my left shoulder.
Willa climbed onto my lap, curled herself around my right arm, cuddled her face onto my right arm and asked me to sing with her. We sang "itsy bitsy spider" and "you are my sunshine" over and over. Eventually she trailed off, and moments later she was heavier too.
I rocked them both for an hour as the afternoon sun cast shadows through the windows. I listened to the melting snow drip from the porch and the breath of my sleeping children.