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I sat at our kitchen table this morning having a quiet breakfast with Bear, and I noticed leaves falling from the trees outside.  On the way to the store, I saw that some of the trees had begun their annual change from green to orange and yellow.  Fall is officially here!

My intended one-month blog vacation somehow grew into two.  In early August, my husband was given a two-week vacation from work, and I worked extra hours at my job to make up for taking so much time off.  We spent a few days in West Virginia visiting family and then traveled to Bermuda for our first real family vacation (and probably the last for a long while)!

Bear was exceptionally cranky for the first few days in Bermuda.  When we were at the pool, she would cry that she wanted to go to the beach.  When we were at the beach, she would cry that she wanted to go to the pool.  Several times, she asked to go home.  After a few days, she began complaining about her feet and a sore mouth.   I eventually realized that she probably had another version of hand-foot-and-mouth disease, despite the fact that she it last year as well.

Once she recovered, she was much more interested in swimming.  We developed a routine of spending our days in the sun at the pool and at the beach.  She learned to build sand castles (or Rapunzel towers, as she preferred), and she took over the resort game room so she could use the pool balls and Chinese checker marbles to pretend that she was making muffins.

We chose the small resort where we stayed based on their assurances that they could accommodate Bear’s food allergies.  The resort is owned and run by a family and their communication seemed much more genuine than the form responses I received from other hotels and resorts on the island.  When we arrived, we met with the chef and discussed various foods that Bear could have.  At first, he seemed very confident that there was no soy in anything that he prepared.  I explained that everything – from pastry to hamburger buns to broths to dressings – had soy in it, unless it was made from scratch and without soy-containing ingredients.  After a quick trip to the kitchen, he returned to agree that most of his supplies did have soy, but he said that they would make homemade meals for Bear.

We had great luck with food the entire week we were there.  We ate at the resort for every meal, and Bear did well.  She enjoyed having sorbet after dinner every evening.  On the last day that we were there, we decided to have lunch at the resort before leaving for the airport.  We had the server re-heat Bear’s leftovers from dinner, and we handed off her sippy cup to be filled with milk.  Once Bear got her food, she took a few bites and a sip or two of milk, and then she pushed back her food and refused to eat anything else.  She kept dipping her finger in ketchup on her plate and coughing every time she put it into her mouth.  Then, her face turned bright red, and she started crying.

We quickly gave her some Benadryl and tried to figure out what was causing her problems.  She had eaten all of the food the night before without issue.  She began crying hysterically for more medicine and while I was trying to console her, she began vomiting.  At this point, we knew that this was serious.  I unscrewed her sippy cup and smelled a sweet smell inside.  I handed it to my husband, and he confirmed that it contained soy milk.

We quickly left the restaurant and went into the lobby to change Bear’s clothes and so I could call Bear’s allergist.  At this point, I started crying because I realized that what we had tried so hard to prevent had actually happened.  The nurse at the allergist’s office told us to give her more Benadryl, and we did, but within a few minutes, Bear was throwing it up too (on the nice rug in the lobby).  Once we got her clothes off, we discovered a rash quickly moving down her body.   Her face was dark red, and when she wasn’t vomiting, she was leaning her head on one of our shoulders.  She looked awful.

I called back the allergist’s office, and they convinced me that since the Benadryl hadn’t stopped the reaction and since it was continuing to progress and in light of the anaphylaxis that she suffered a year ago from soy milk, that we needed to give her the Epi Pen.

I could hardly speak at this point, because I was so upset.  The nurse thought that my reluctance meant that I didn’t know how to use it.  I knew how to use, but I just didn’t want to!  The idea of jabbing a large needle into my daughter’s leg was a horrible one to me!

My husband held our poor little girl in his arms, and pulled off the top of the pen and put it up against her leg.  It snapped, and we counted to ten.  Bear screamed.  I pulled it back out of her leg, and held her tight while she cried while my husband told the hotel staff that we needed to go to the hospital (a requirement after an Epi injection).

They brought around this old hotel van (I’m sure because Bear had been throwing up on their nice rugs) and we climbed inside.  In hindsight, we should have called an ambulance, but we had been there long enough to know that it takes forever to get anywhere on that island, and the hotel staff thought that they could get us to the hospital more quickly.  We rolled around in the back of this van while an assistant manager did his best to quickly navigate the congested Bermudian roads.

Bear became very quiet and limp and would not keep her eyes open.  For a terrifying 25 minutes, we screamed at her to stay awake.  She seemed to rally by the time we reached the hospital, and after going through the slow registration process and having a nurse check Bear’s vitals, a very nice nurse informed a doctor that we were supposed to be on a plane in about two hours.  She listened to Bear’s lungs and thought that they sounded clear, and she ordered some steroids and more Benadryl for Bear.  Contrary to the normal procedure in the U.S., where Bear would have been admitted and watched for several hours, she told us that if anything seemed amiss with Bear that we should not get on the plane and she let us leave with more Benadryl to take with us.

Amazingly, we arrived at the airport a little more than an hour before our flight.  They allowed us to go through customs, and Bear seemed tired but OK by the time we boarded.  Once we exited the plane in Atlanta, I noticed that her rash seemed to be returning, so we gave her more Benadryl.  It quickly went away, and by the time we boarded our flight home, Bear was exhausted from the day’s events and the massive amount of Benadryl she had consumed.  When we got her home, she literally ran to her bed and threw the top half of her body onto it as though she were trying to hug her mattress.  I felt the same way!  I wanted to kiss our front door, but I was too tired.

The next day, Bear seemed mostly recovered.  She had a continuing cough and really disgusting, loose stools, but otherwise, she seemed well.  She now refuses to drink milk of any kind, however.  She requested it out of habit for several days after the event, and after a sip or two, she would push the cup away and tell me that it was “spicy.”

The experience really reaffirmed to us that all of the efforts that we have made over the past year to control her food were worthwhile.  I had almost convinced myself that her allergy must have disappeared.  Clearly it has not.  I also have no desire to travel anywhere again in the near future.  Home is a wonderful, safe place, and we’ll happily stay right here!

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For weeks now, Bear has been telling friends and strangers alike that she is getting a baby sister.  It started with a text from daycare.  Bear is getting a baby sister?  At the time, they didn’t know that I was pregnant.  To the cashier at the grocery store, I’m getting a baby sister.  To the entire music class, I’m getting a baby sister.

Each time, person who Bear has shared the news with will look at me and say, Oh, you’re having a girl?  I should just nod, but instead, I feel compelled to explain that maybe we are or maybe we aren’t.  It seems that Bear’s baby sister is a manifestation of wishful thinking.

We’ve been wondering how we might explain to Bear that there is no baby sister, if in fact, we are having a boy.  Lately, we’ve been reminding her that we don’t yet know if she’s getting a baby sister or a baby brother.  Today, on the way to the doctor’s office, after cautiously correcting her, Bear yelled at me from the backseat, NO!  Baby Sister!

Maybe Bear knew something that we didn’t, because she is getting a baby sister!

We are so excited!  I have always wanted a sister – especially now as an adult without my mom – I would love to have the bond with another female.  I am so happy that my daughter will get that opportunity!

I was brushing my teeth when my phone rang this morning.  My husband was calling so I picked it up with my toothbrush still buzzing in my mouth.  I mumbled a hello and listened.  Nothing.  I turned off my toothbrush and set it on the sink and listened again.  Honey?  Are you there?  This time I could hear a churning, mechanical noise in the background.

I listened for another minute, but my husband was clearly not on the other end.  What was that sound?  I couldn’t imagine where he would be that I would hear this chuggy, gluggy noise.  It almost sounded like the washing machine.  Actually, it sounded just like the washing machine that I had started a few minutes earlier when I put a load of Bear’s diapers into the wash.  And, my husband had carried the diapers to the basement for me the night before!

I threw down the phone and ran to the basement.  Opening the door of the washer, I peered inside.  Diapers submerged in dirty-diapery water stopped churning, but I could not see my husband’s phone floating anywhere near the surface.  Instead of reaching into the murky water, I decided to try calling my husband and before resorting to drastic measures.

I called his cell phone first.  It rang and then went to voicemail.  I called his work number next.  Nothing.  Drastic measures it would be.

I drained the water but before the washer could spin them dry, I reached inside and began pulling out wet, dirty diaper by wet, dirty diaper.   After visually inspecting each one while touching it as little as possible and finding no phone, I shut the washer lid.  The washer jumped into action but instead of spinning the diapers, it began sucking at a waterless washing tub and then began jerking and jumping about.  Cringing, I shut it off again.  I decided to start a new wash – and added plenty of soap – and hoped that the washer worked properly.  If my husband’s phone was somewhere inside, it was a lost cause.

My husband called me a few hours later from work.  Were you trying to get a hold of me?  I asked him if he had his phone.  Yeah, I’m holding onto it right here.  Why?  Um, no reason.

While at work on Wednesday morning, the sky clouded over and rain began lightly hitting my window.  It was cool outside, and nothing like the day before when weather forecasters had predicted that huge tornado-bearing supercells would form and cause massive damage over most of the Midwest.  We expected storms and even tornadoes on Tuesday, but they never came.  On Wednesday, though, we were almost caught unaware.

When the tornado sirens sounded, most of us kept working, despite the fear instilled in most of us by the continued news coverage of the massive devastation in Joplin.  Frequently, the city tests the tornado sirens on Wednesday mornings.  This just seemed like any other test.

On Saturday evening, I had awakened from a half-sleep and shook my husband awake.  We could barely hear tornado sirens sounding in the distance.  My husband shrugged and fell back asleep, but I immediately turned on the television.  Within minutes, the sirens were sounding locally.  I was prepared to grab my shoes and to wake Bear so we could go to the basement when the meteorologist explained that there were no tornado-producing storms over the metro.  Rather, a tornado had been sighted approximately 50 miles away and had just crossed into my county.  I got back into bed, and watched the news until the storms had passed over us with only a little wind and rain.

It is no wonder that sound of tornado sirens has lost its power over many of us.

About five minutes after the tornado sirens began sounding on Wednesday, a co-worker popped his head into my office.  This is the real thing.

What?  I grabbed my phone and my purse and followed the small crowd forming in the hallway.  We headed into the stairwell, and after a few minutes, our business manager burst through the outside door talking incoherently about how the post office had forced her to leave.  She began sobbing.  Her grandchildren had lost their house in Joplin.  Fortunately, they were not there at the time.

I called my husband.  Like the rest of us, he had continued working, oblivious to the situation.  He assured me that he would go somewhere safe, although others in his office opted to stay on their 20th-something floors and continue billing hours.

In the stairwell, we all began searching for news about what was going on.  I texted a teacher in Bear’s classroom at daycare.  I didn’t want to bother her, but I couldn’t imagine where they would take the kids, and I needed to know that Bear was OK.  I received a brief reply that everyone was OK, but then I heard that a tornado had been sighted about 30 blocks from Bear’s daycare.  Other reports indicated that other tornadoes had touched down elsewhere in the city, mostly a little Southwest from Bear, but then word came that tornadoes had been sighted near my home and apparently, were headed toward my office.

Employees of a bank on the first level of my building ushered us out of the stairwell and into a bank vault.  There, we all waited for something to happen.   Because cell phone service was not good, many of us had to leave the vault to get a signal, and every time I stepped outside, I searched for word from Bear’s daycare.

People worried aloud about their homes and their kids.  I realized in that moment, that I didn’t care if my home was destroyed, or sadly, if even my dog got blown away.   I only wanted to leave and pick up Bear so we could be together.  I needed to know that she was alright.

The next time I stepped outside the vault to check for messages, I discovered that Bear’s teacher had called.  The message was a little unclear, but I thought that she said that Bear had gotten hurt.  I quickly called her back, and when she answered, she explained that Bear was not hurt, but that she had gotten “ahold” of some crackers that they were using the placate the kids during the sirens, and these crackers had soy in them.  Oh, thank goodness.  Despite the exposure, Bear was happily drinking both milk and Benadryl, and they thought that she was OK.

I was relieved.  I can handle a food allergy.  And Bear was OK.  Although the sirens continued sounding, a weather report signaled that the tornado warning for our county had expired, and most of us went back to work.  The clouds above us had rotated, but fortunately, no tornadoes touched down near my office.

Later that day, as I drove to get Bear, I was amazed to see no damage at all, even in areas where a tornado had supposedly touched down.  When I picked up Bear, she seemed oblivious to what had happened, expect that she had a lot to say about the crackers she had eaten.  For a kid who gets very little processed food thanks to a soy allergy, she must have thought that those crackers were the best things she had ever eaten.  It was all she talked about that night, and I was thankful that she had been spared the fear that other older children must have felt when asked to crouch in a hallway.

I kissed her and held her that night with a perspective that I rarely have.  Still fresh in my mind are stories from Joplin about a little 16 month-old boy being ripped from his mother’s arms while they took shelter inside of a bathtub, or one told to me by a friend about her former classmate who took his two young boys on an errand to the Joplin Home Depot that Sunday and left his wife without a husband or her two precious children.

I cannot imagine.  We are so lucky.

Bear’s two-year molars have started coming in.  She is still a few weeks away from her 2nd birthday, but they don’t seem to know this.

All week, I watched her perform all manner of tasks with one or two index fingers hanging from her mouth.  She’s developed a rash around her mouth, and for the past two days, she has moped around the house with a low-grade fever.

Owie, Mama, she has been saying all week.  Then, she asks for apple.  I’ve been giving her frozen pineapple cut into small bits for her to chew on, and she seems to agree that the cold helps.  Yesterday, she even let me put my finger into her mouth to feel her sore gums.  The small, sharp corner of her lower, right molar had already cut through.

Last night, she woke up crying.  I went to her and found her standing in her crib with her fingers in her mouth.  I held her for a little bit and told her that if she slept, her mouth would feel better.  I put her back to bed, but a few minutes later, she began crying again.  This time, my husband went to her with our tiny bottle of compounded, non-soy containing pain reliever, which cost us nearly $100.  When he came back to bed, I asked him if she took the medicine.  Yeah, he said, and I gave her a drum stick.  Not the chicken-kind, mind you, but apparently he handed her a plastic toy drum stick from the floor and she plopped it into her mouth.

Either the medicine or the drum stick did the trick, because she slept the rest of the night.  Unfortunately, she woke up this morning feeling just a poorly as she did when she went to bed, and several days of pain has put her in a bad mood.

She asked for a morning snack, and when I insisted that she sit at the table to eat it, she responded by twisting and turning in her new booster seat.  I told her that I was worried that she was going to fall on her head, and she replied, Thank. You.

Then, she told me to eat her foot.

She clocked me in the head this morning, when she was upset with me for some reason.  My glasses went flying and left a red mark on the side of my face.  When I picked her up to explain why we don’t hit, she hit me again.  So, I put her down until her daddy came inside when she ran to him looking for the good guy.

I decided to let her stay with The Good Guy while I went to the grocery store.  When I returned an hour later, she was watching a movie on the couch (another reason why he is The Good Guy), and when she saw me, she got off the couch, and ran and hit me on the leg.

Sigh.

Let’s hope that all four of those two-year molars bust through in the next several days.  Otherwise, I am fearful that none of us are going to survive.

Today’s lunch was fodder for the ongoing food stories that my husband likes to tell about his pregnant wife.   He still talks about the time in my last pregnancy when I mixed peanut butter, bananas and Rice Krispies together in an attempt to satisfy a craving.  It wasn’t very good, and I admitted that the concoction wasn’t quite right.  He thought it was strange.

The only thing that sounded palatable this morning was rice pudding.  So, I set to boiling milk and rice and had another pot cooking eggs for decorating later, when I decided that rice pudding really isn’t a nutritionally balanced meal.  Since it was not going to be ready in time for lunch anyway, I really needed an alternative.

I had made roast on Monday, and the plan had been to eat it again last night, but I just couldn’t stomach it.  Somehow, I convinced myself then that I would be better able to eat it today for lunch, but when lunchtime arrived, I still couldn’t find it in me to eat that meat.

As a young girl, I remember my mom taking leftover roast and grinding it through a Kitchen Aid Mixer attachment to make a wonderful roast beef salad, similar to tuna or chicken salad.  Shortly after I got married, my grandmother gave me the semi-practical gift of a food grinder attachment for my mixer, and amazingly, it survived through Bear’s infancy without me pulling it out to make baby food.  Honestly, I forgot that I had it, but there’s nothing like strange pregnancy cravings to remind you of the obscure kitchen gadgets that have been hidden away in storage for too long.

So, I pulled out my very-own food grinder, found that it was amazingly simple to attach to my mixer, and after microwaving my beef to kill any bacteria, I began stuffing it into the food grinder.  Bear cheered as long ribbons of meat billowed out of the machine.

I’ll be the first to admit.  Ground-up roast beef looks disgusting, and in my last pregnancy, it would have sent me running for the toilet.  But, strangely, the sight didn’t bother me at all today.  I pulled out a brand-new tub of Miracle Whip, since the last one was still in our fridge from Bear’s pregnancy, and chopped up some really great homemade pickles that I bought from a local farmer (as though this ingredient were going to redeem the grossness of my creation).  I mixed them all together and tasted it.  It was pretty close to the roast beef salad that I remembered my mom making.

I would have preferred some of that white, processed fluff that we used to call bread, but I had to make do with a more rustic variety.  Even slathered with Miracle Whip, though, I couldn’t stomach the bread.  So, I heaped a large pile of roast beef sludge onto my plate and ate it happily with a spoon.  Bear seemed to have lost her enthusiasm for the meal, and after a few bites, she scooted it around on her plate with her fingers and then planted the side of her face into it.

I briefly considered taking a picture of it to text to my husband, but I decided to spare him the details.  If only you were so lucky!

The plan for dinner tonight is to make some really good ribbon pasta, but since I have developed a strong aversion to tomato sauce (I can hardly think about it without shuddering), I will probably resort to making Alfredo sauce, which I usually do not like at all.  Alternatively, if I can stomach garlic, I could probably use only olive oil.  I may attempt some asparagus, but there are no promises.  With the rice pudding, it’s going to be a white, and nutritionally unbalanced meal.

And this, folks, is probably why Bear was a huge newborn.  I survived on chicken nuggets for the first 14 weeks of her pregnancy.  I didn’t want to do it again, but I’m in survival-mode.  Can I just promise to eat better in a month or so?

Spooky Moon, originally uploaded by rcbodden, Flickr, Creative Commons.

I had just put Bear down to sleep for the night, and closed her door behind me, when she started screaming. At first, I thought that these were her typical, I-don’t-want-to-go-to-bed screams, but they quickly escalated in pitch, so I turned around and went back into her bedroom.

She stopped crying as soon as she saw me. She was hot – a damp hot. In a few minutes, she had soaked through her fleece sleeper, and her hair felt wet with sweat. She sat straight up in her crib looking at me, whimpering and gasping for air.

What is wrong?

She looked at her bedroom window, the blinds closed tightly against the night outside, and pointed. Her whimpering got louder.

Outside? Did you see something that scared you?

She nodded, and I picked her up. She curved her hot little body against mine and closed her eyes. I sat down in her chair and began rocking her.Bear twisted her body in my arms toward the window and pointed again. She wasn’t going to forget whatever had happened, and I felt a little prick of fear inside of me. What if she really did see something? What if someone was outside her window? I decided that I had to be brave, even though my little toddler pointing insistently at her bedroom window was starting to freak me out.

Do you want me to check to make sure nothing is there?

She nodded again. So, from where I sat, I reached over and quickly pulled back the blinds. Nothing. Either nothing was there, or nothing was there now.

See, honey? There isn’t anything there. You’re fine.

I rocked her for a little while longer, and she seemed to relax. I carried her to her crib and began to lay her down amongst her babies. Her eyes popped open. I assured her that I would be right outside her room, and if she needed me, I would be there. I told her not to worry anymore. She closed her eyes again and rubbed her cheek against her blanket.

But, I was still a little worried. When my husband got home, I asked him to go outside to check. He scoffed at my concerns. She saw a light, or a sweet gum ball probably hit the window, he said. Maybe.

Since that night, about twice a week, Bear will start screaming in the middle of the night. I’ll go into her room, and she’ll be sitting up pointing at the window. I’m fairly convinced that nothing is there, but her insistence is starting to spook me. What if she knows something that we don’t?

One week ago, I went for my second progesterone draw, fully expecting this test to show that I had ovulated since my temperatures had confirmed it several days before.  If the results weren’t as I hoped, or if I continued spotting, I had a plan.  My doctor wanted me to have a saline sonogram to rule out fibroids or polyps as the source of the strange spotting, and then we would move on to Femara to address my ovulation issues, which she thought might also be causing the spotting.  So, despite having ovulated late, I was in good spirits.  I knew that I had ovulated!  If my problems continued, I had someone on my side willing to help me deal with them.  And the fact that the sun was out helped.

Later that day, the spotting started – pink at first and then red and constant.  I was looking for it, though.  I have come to expect spotting four to five days before my period.  My spirits took a little dive, but I reminded myself that I had expected this.

That evening, a winter storm moved in bringing bad news.  I discovered a bill in the mail for the first of my progesterone tests.  Despite my history of PCOS and a prolactinoma, and that I had seen my doctor for irregular spotting, all of which are good medical reasons for checking progesterone, the tests had been coded with an infertility code.  Of course, my insurance company had jumped at the chance to deny coverage.

I expected to pay out-of-pocket for actual assistance in getting pregnant.  I knew that my insurance company wouldn’t cover Clomid or Femara, any of the monitoring that goes along with those drugs, and certainly not any of the steps beyond them.  However, I thought that it would cover diagnostic tests up to that point, including the saline ultrasound that my doctor had ordered.  I had taken this test in the past, in part, as a means to diagnose PCOS, and although I had different insurance then, it was covered.  But, this time around, suddenly, I was paying out-of-pocket and had been branded by my insurance company – all too soon – as infertile.

Snow continued falling on Saturday, and the spotting continued.  My mood worsened.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early.  Since I would be calling my doctor’s office on Monday to schedule the saline sonogram, I decided that I should take a pregnancy test at least once.  Then, I could wait for my period to arrive.  I was awake, so I decided that I might as well take it that morning even though it was probably several days too early to be accurate.  I was completely cavalier about it, since I had already decided what the outcome would be.  I hardly waited three minutes before picking it up to throw it away.  I didn’t need to waste time on something that I already knew to be true.  But, I glanced at it as I was carrying the test to the trash can, and what I saw yanked me out of my stupor and caused me to look again.  All of those times that I had spent willing a line to appear next to the control line, and there it was!

I carried the test to my surprised husband and shoved it in his face.  Don’t get too excited, I told him.  I’m still spotting, so let’s not celebrate just yet.  At my insistence, the day went on like normal, but even though I had given up on optimism, I couldn’t help but be a little excited about the possibility.

I saw another positive on Monday morning, but the spotting continued, alternating from red to brown and back to red again.  However, unlike with my daughter’s pregnancy, I was not cramping at all.  With her, I spotted throughout most of the pregnancy, beginning around six weeks or so, but I did not spot this early.  We were on vacation when we found out that I was pregnant with her, and I would remember if I spotted then, because I would have had a heart attack.

Instead of panicking, I called my doctor’s office to report my positive tests and the spotting.  As expected, they wanted me to have my blood drawn for a beta and another progesterone test.  They also agreed to resubmit my previous tests using other legitimate codes.

I received my results the next day, just as the spotting was tapering off.  I had an hCG of 90 and normal progesterone at 25.2!

The rest of the week was uneventful.  After five days of spotting, I have seen no more.  I still have very little cramping.  I even went to a yoga class on Thursday morning.  If it weren’t for the positive pregnancy tests, I would not believe that I am pregnant.

Just as I did with my daughter’s pregnancy, I continue to marvel at our luck.  We reached the point where I was ready to seek help, but we were fortunate to get pregnant without needing it.  Just several days ago, our heads were spinning as we added up the costs of several progesterone tests and an ultrasound.  I cannot imagine the financial burden of having to pay for more as some of my friends have done.  Although I know that few positive tests are not the end of the game, they are a very good first start.

I am ready to grasp onto optimism once again and see where it takes me.  Admittedly, it is much easier to be an optimist when one has already almost gotten what she wanted.  While I am a fair-weather optimist at best, I am ready to push away the dark clouds.  Did I mention that the snow melted away, and spring has finally arrived?

Bear has been asking for things lately, and I am having a hard time resisting.

Last week, after someone mentioned ice cream, she kept saying I want ice cream over and over until I agreed.  She’s never had ice cream for obvious reasons, but I was able to find some sorbet that was soy and dairy free.  It was an amazingly warm day, and we took it outside to eat.  Bear sat in a chair like a big girl and let me spoon feed mouthfuls of the stuff into her waiting mouth.  At that moment, her reaction of pure joy seemed reason enough to give her all that she requests.

Last Sunday, Bear watched as I spent an hour and a half untangling two hopelessly tangled necklaces.  When I finished, I put one on, and Bear was immediately fascinated.   She ran her chubby fingers around the chain.   I want a necklace.  My husband overheard her request and suggested getting her one for her birthday.  I began to explain the reasons why she wasn’t old enough, but her little ears overheard.  Pink? she requested.  A pink necklace?  Purple too? 

Aw, the stuff little girl’s dreams are made of.

After some brainstorming, I decided that I could make a necklace for Bear sturdy-enough that she couldn’t choke on it.  Of course, the mere act of her wearing a necklace is somewhat of a choking hazard, but perhaps, I thought, a necklace would be safe enough during supervised dress-up.

Yesterday, Bear and I went to a nearby craft store searching for some unfinished wooden beads that would be so large that she couldn’t put them in her mouth.  We found wooden doll heads, multitudes of small beads, various stones, colored pom-poms, and sheets of felt, but no large wooden beads that wouldn’t pose a choking-hazard.

After entirely too much contemplation, I bought a ball of yarn and two bags of good-sized felt heart stickers, both in Bear’s favorite colors.

At home, I stuck the stickers together so the hearts would be double-sided.  Then, I pulled out the largest needle that I could find, and using a pair of needle-nosed pliers, I began sewing the hearts together.

Sometimes, my imagination is bigger than reality, and while the end-product is cute, I was not sure that it was worth the effort.  That is, until I gave it to Bear.

Now, Bear is asking for a baby, but I think that just like her mommy, she’s going to have to wait for one of those.  Maybe for her birthday?

Yesterday was beautiful.  While Bear napped, I sat in the sun in the backyard and read.  By the time she woke, the afternoon had warmed to the point where I could discard my jacket and even sleeves were no longer necessary.  Bear and I spent several hours outside enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

Although Bear looks like me, she is her father’s daughter.  As far as I am concerned, the two of them have work confused with play.  Every weekend, my husband creates little projects for himself; ones that I would not find relaxing.  Likewise, yesterday Bear entertained herself by picking up sweet gum balls and collecting them in her wagon.  Unfortunately, she was not content to do this by herself, so I joined her in this unpleasant activity.

As I was marveling on prolific nature of our sweet gum trees, my doctor’s office called.  The nurse gingerly told me that my progesterone was “very low” at 0.6 and that she was sorry but that I had not ovulated.  She promised to call me on Monday with my doctor’s recommendations since my doctor is out-of-town on spring break.

After the call, I found myself thinking over the results as I picked up spiny ball after spiny ball.  The irony was not lost on me.  We have a backyard full of trees that generate millions of these unwanted balls in the name of procreation, and I struggle to generate one tiny, little egg on a semi-regular basis.

Aside from this, Bear and I did have a nice afternoon in the sunshine.  She piled rocks on the back of our ultra-complacent dog.  Then, she attempted to feed them to him.  Finally, she gave him sweet gum balls to munch.  After we had exhausted all of the fun that the backyard could offer, we moved to the driveway where Bear drove her little Cozy Coupe, and we wrote her name in many colors with chalk.

Today, the weather is its normal, fickle March self, but yesterday’s little taste of summer was enough to remind us that winter is nearly at an end.  And, I am ready.