Thursday, July 31, 2014

Baby’s First Photo Shoot

Freddie Cook


We had some beautiful photos taken of our beautiful family this weekend and I want to share them with you.  The thing is, I felt beautiful when I got showered and dressed and made up that day for the photo shoot, but I did not feel beautiful when looking at the finished photos.  HOWEVER, I recognize that these photos are proof that I existed after giving birth to my baby, and someday, through the sweet, softening haze of time, I will maybe not be so critical of my appearance in them.



But now, now, all I see are my double chins, my pornographic breasts, my chubby arms, and my head that looks too small for my four-sizes-larger-than-normal body.  But please look at my husband’s strong biceps and my children’s blue eyes – I really am surrounded by the most wonderful-looking men.




My friend Jen has taken our photos for years now.  She’s so relaxed and funny and she flirts with me (even in my post-partum, giant-butt state), but better than that, better even than that she takes great photos, is the fact that a photo shoot with Jen lasts only as long as we want it to.  When you have small children, your timeline for doing anything is compressed.  Photo shoots need to be fun and interesting and all photos must be taken in that brief window of time before someone falls down and gets his face scraped or gets food all over his sweater or barfs all over my shoulder.  Jen just sort of manages to take great photos of us without being fussy or worrying about composition or light or anything.  She’s magic that way. 


She can’t make my children smile for photos, though.


Cook Family

Monday, July 28, 2014

3 Weeks

Freddie is a chunky kid, much like Charles was.  At his two-week appointment, he weighed nine pounds, twelve ounces.  He’s probably put on a pound or even two in the week since then.


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The photo above is from Saturday, while the next couple of photos are from last week… can you see the size difference?


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Sleeping on me last week, when his newborn clothes still fit him


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It’s mostly baby bliss around these parts.  Freddie nurses, we snuggle, Tony and I scheme ways to get more sleep, and our older boys feel neglected.  Sounds about right, doesn’t it?  Yesterday, I came upon Charles sitting on the floor of his bedroom, putting on his pajamas and whining to himself.  “It’s not fair!  I never get to do what I want to do!”  By next summer, we’ll be traipsing all over the place, but this summer, the boys are having to deal with a mom who can’t attend to their every immediate need.  I can only attend to Freddie’s every immediate need, and I refuse to compensate with repeated showings of Despicable Me when it’s 80 degrees and sunny out.  Jamie is not immune to the reduced attention and activity, either.  Often, I’ll look up from Freddie or dinner or my highly-coveted trip alone to the bathroom (you know, the necessary things to keep us all alive) to find Jamie sitting alone in the front yard, staring into space, thumb in his mouth (it’s back… with a vengeance!). 


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He sleeps best on his stomach


This could all be solved with some play-dates, but I’m just not ready to cart my three-week-old to the park.  I’m trying to take baby steps to get my life back: a half-mile walk here, a half-glass of wine there, and limited outings (mostly limited to the doctor’s office and my job, at this point).  The last thing I need is to become incontinent from pushing my body too far post-childbirth.


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The evil car seat


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The post-nursing stretch

Thankfully, there will be blueberry pancakes for dinner, followed by soccer practice this evening.  This weekend will be filled with birthday parties and a promised trip to the roller rink (yes, we still have one of those in this town!).  Maybe we can stave off the boredom a bit, hopefully without me having to do any real work.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Book Reviews

One thing I have a lot of time for these days is reading.  I read when I nurse and I read when I hold my sleeping Freddie.


*Aside: Right now, Freddie is sleeping in his crib.  Probably a fluke, but I’ll take it!  I brushed my teeth, put on makeup, did the dishes, and started a load of laundry… and it’s amazing how good those accomplishments make me feel.


So, in the past few weeks, I’ve done a lot of reading.  I read a lot when I was in the last week of pregnancy, too (when I wasn’t sleeping), because the couch was, by far, the most comfortable spot for me to repose.  I abandoned a couple of books partway through (why spend my time on something that doesn’t amuse me or isn’t interesting?), including both Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit and The Missing of the Somme, and I’m still slogging my way through Guns, Germs, and Steel (required reading for the freshman class – I think – when I was a senior at Whitman, so I figured it had some merit, though so far it is soporific), but for the most part, I’ve read some pretty great books lately.  Here is a brief synopsis:


The Painter by Peter Heller: I really enjoyed Heller’s debut novel, The Dog Stars, but The Painter really didn’t do it for me.  It was convoluted and weird and I didn’t identify with the characters much.  But The Dog Stars was great, so if you haven’t read that, do.


Blackout by Connie Willis: The first in a two-parter, this was a fun novel about time travel to the London Blitz during WWII.  Okay, that’s not a compelling review, but if you’re looking for something fun and interestingly-written and not too challenging, I highly recommend it.  Plus, there’s some neat history.  I have since read several of Willis’s other books and have enjoyed them all.  A good starting point is The Doomsday Book, which was a little long, but To Say Nothing of the Dog is also engrossing, and has a caper-like quality.


A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell: Russell’s books are beautifully-written, full of heartbreaking detail and captivating plot.  Since I was reading the Willis books about WWII, this fit right in – it’s set in WWII Italy, a theater of the war I didn’t know much about before reading this.


In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson: I thoroughly enjoy Larsen’s take on history, and this book was no exception.  Richly detailed and using personal accounts, it follows the rise of Hitler in Berlin from the viewpoint of the American ambassador and his daughter.  Isn’t it great that people kept diaries so that we can experience history in this way?


Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo: I’d never read it as a kid, and it was funny and poignant and I look forward to reading it to/with my kids in a few years.


Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell: This book made me want to see Lawrence of Arabia, a movie I’d always passed over.  It also provided an interesting character sketch of Winston Churchill based on his bodyguard’s writings.  Oh, and, it’s a typical Russell novel, in that the characters are well-developed and the plot, while not as insistent as her other books, is good.


The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler: Chandler essentially created the noir detective novel in the 1930s, full of metaphors and similes and slang that call to mind Humphrey Bogart and Dick Tracy.  I’m going to buy this book for my brother.


The March by E.L. Doctorow: A novel of Sherman’s March to the Sea told through the accounts of infantry, freed slaves, nurses, and Sherman himself, this book was exceptional.  The detail of the March is all there, but so, too, are the details of the interpersonal (often funny) daily lives swept up in the March.


Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris: I don’t have any idea why I had never picked up a David Sedaris book before.  I laughed all through this book and have added more of his books to my e-library shelf.


Like so many blog posts to come, I started this one this morning and am ending it close to 2 PM.  The baby is in my arms and he just vomited down my cleavage (which is substantial – the one benefit of the post-partum period for us small-breasted women), I’ve been to work today, the grocery store, and managed to eat some chips with tuna salad and salsa and several Oreos with a glass of almond milk (calcium!).  Shall we call it an accomplished day?  Yes, we shall.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Camera Clean Out; State of Affairs (Sad & Lonely)

DSCN1847One of the first photos post-birth   

The (big) boys just left to go boating for the day with my cousin.  I opened up my most recent order of makeup (really, I ordered moisturizer and added in a lip gloss to replace the one I lost awhile back) and realized that I ordered the wrong lip gloss.  I can’t fit into pants and I am going back to work tomorrow.  Shoot, I can’t fit into almost anything – I don’t recall this stage, but maybe it has been lost in the foggy newborn non-memories from Charles’s and Jamie’s infant days.  I really thought I was wearing real pants or shorts by the time Jamie was a week old, because we went to the Independence Day Parade and I didn’t have super large yoga pants at the time…  This is depressing, because it means that at two weeks post-partum, I am MUCH further away from my pre-pregnancy body than I was with the other two.  If I could hide out at home for another few weeks, all would be well, but I have meetings piled upon meetings in the next few months and then an extremely busy autumn at work, so I have to embrace these gigantic hips somehow and find something to wear.




It’s tough when you really don’t want to leave the house to go shopping.




I have to admit that I am really hesitant to go to church, even.  Not only because at 13 days old I don’t think Freddie needs to be subjected to the unwashed hands and summer colds of the congregation, but also because I know several women in church who have had babies in the past few months and they were all wearing pre-pregnancy jeans (and bragging about it!) and running two or three miles (and telling me!) within two weeks of giving birth.  This is not just a projection of my terrible self-image and crazy post-partum hormones – they really have been telling me about their fitness routine immediately post-birth.  Tony says that they’re freaks of nature, but since I don’t want to be seen with me, I can’t imagine why anyone else would, either.  “Yes, hello friends, here’s our new baby, and here’s Amelia, who obviously could not control herself while pregnant and gained a shit-ton of weight.  No, no need to tell me that I ‘look great’ in a syrupy-sweet voice – I’m totally embarrassed about my body enough as it is.”  Recognizing that I suffer the sins of envy and pride does not make it any easier to choke down the tears and face the judging masses.




I’m not helped this lovely morning by the fact that Freddie appears to be trying to grow ten pounds in two days by eating A LOT every hour-and-a-half since yesterday evening.  I’m tired and my nipples are sore and I am going to be all alone with the baby and the dog all day long.  Neither of them are big on stimulating conversation.


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I’m spending too much time on FaceBook.

photo 1 (12) Whuuuut?  My grunts are BRILLIANT conversation.

Also, I’d like to go on a walk, but I am afraid.  Yes, scared to walk.  On Friday (I think it was Friday), I put on my shoes (I haven’t worn those in awhile!), strapped Freddie into the Ergo carrier, grabbed the dog, and set off for what I hoped would be an easy walk around the block.  Nothing too ambitious, you know?  But then, disaster: I stepped off the curb not twenty yards from my house, stumbled, rolled to protect the baby (who slept through the whole thing), and scraped up half of my body and jammed my thumb.  Not just klutzy, but potentially harmful to my precious boy.  I immediately turned back home and have been couch-bound ever since.  Not a good way to start working off these thighs.


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Post-fall; he was still asleep.


How about I lighten things up, hmm?  This is becoming a downright dreary post and I want to assure you that we are doing well and are mostly happy and the big boys, at least, have had many fine adventures in the past several days.


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Charles got to go to a sleepover/campout on Friday night.  I almost cried when he left.  Almost.  I admire my own self-restraint.


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Then, on Saturday, cousins Jack, Claire, and Juliet came for a visit (and their parents, of course) on their way home from Vancouver.  Not before Charles and Jamie spent a few hours at the Children’s Art Festival (leaving me home alone with the baby, again), however; thus, the face paint.


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And like I said, today they’re going boating on Lake Washington.  This is also different for us – when Jamie was born, Charles was young and Tony worked a ton and we didn’t go lots of places.  Now, Freddie and I are going to miss out on a summer of fun.  Oh, it’s worth it, of course.  I want to be with my baby and cocoon, but I also feel pulled to go with the rest of my family on hikes and to fairs and on trips.  There’s even to be a four-day-weekend trip to the beach in August that we will miss.  Those are long days with no one to hand the baby to, no one to help change diapers at night, no one to refill my water glass or get me a sandwich when I am nursing.


Thank God for small rewards like this:


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This kid is adorable.  Time to hitch up these yoga pants, change a diaper, and settle in for some more couch time with my lovebug.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Day 10

I can’t find my Ergo carrier this morning, and it’s the first day since Freddie was born that the weather isn’t EXCRUCIATING and keeping us sprawled on the couch in front of the fans like so:


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Belly, book, baby.


Tony doesn’t know where it is, I already texted him.  And, because of hormones probably, I’m inordinately upset about this.  I could cry or scream or maybe both, but I won’t because Freddie is asleep on my chest right now.


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He prefers being on someone to any other sleeping position.

Tony has been taking the first “sleep with baby” shift every night, giving me the opportunity to sleep in my own bed, flat on my back, for at least a couple of hours every night.  Of course, without the baby there (and I have no idea why this isn’t the case when the baby is there), I sleep the sweaty, overheated sleep of the newly postpartum, but whatever, it’s in my own bed.  After a couple of hours of sleeping with Freddie in the recliner, Tony changes the baby’s diaper and then hands him off to me for the rest of the night.  I sleep on the couch in the basement with the little guy, and so far it’s working out pretty well.  Tony gets about seven hours of sleep each night (not uninterrupted, but seven hours nonetheless), and I get about five (totally interrupted for diaper changes and feedings every two hours).  Plus, I get a nap or two during the day.

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I can’t help but wonder what our lives would have been like if we’d had a recliner when Charles was a newborn.  Or if we’d just given in a little bit more and bent to what he wanted rather than what we wanted (we wanted him to sleep in his crib or between us in our bed).  Freddie gets the benefit of our experience: he gets to sleep in our arms just like he wants and for as long as he wants.


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Some might say this is crazy.  Some, like my mother, would say I am spoiling my child.  But I know better.  Kids this age are tyrants.  Take a look at this face:


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Appease the baby or suffer the consequences (including severe sleep deprivation, cursing God, marital stress, and an over-reliance on coffee, alcohol, and chocolate).  Also, I know, I truly know, that it won’t last forever.  All I have to do is look at my long-legged big boys sleeping sprawled in their bunk beds to know that this stage of cuddles and sweet, milky breath passes all too quickly.


Really, by holding him all the time, I’m spoiling myself.

Monday, July 14, 2014

One Week

I am so in love with my little Freddie.  But also, I am so hormonal.  Here is what I have cried about in the past week:


  • My baby is going to grow up and he’ll never look like this again and he’s already getting bigger and he’s my LAST BABY.


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  • There are all sorts of baby girl clothes on a shelf in the nursery that I will NEVER USE.
  • I break down crying every night when I pray to God that these children, all my children, will have long, healthy, fruitful lives.  It’s one thing to trust in God, it’s apparently another to worry about your heart breaking into a million pieces because life is so fragile.  Having children means being vulnerable, I guess.
  • A load of baby laundry was ruined by a red beach towel – among the losses were some of the very cute onesies that (I know, I know) will only fit Freddie for another week or two.  I cried because Charles and Jamie had lots of yellow and green clothing as newborns (we didn’t know their sex ahead of time), which looked terrible against their dark skin, and now Freddie has pink clothes.


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One of the onesies that was lost to the laundry disaster.


  • I don’t have clothing that fits me, so I’m living in maternity yoga pants and nursing tank tops that show off my postpartum belly.  Thank God I don’t have to go anywhere alone in the foreseeable future – I would run the risk of being asked “when are you due?” if I didn’t have the baby with me.  Despite the fact that I exercised throughout my pregnancy and ate very well, I am huge.  I am afraid I will never lose this weight and that makes me cry.  I’m considering covering all the mirrors in the house with blankets.
  • The house hasn’t been vacuumed in over a week.  There are dishes in the sink, laundry in the dryer, dog poop in the yard, and when I’m not pinned to the couch by my eight-pound bundle (who smells so good, I just want to keep taking looong sniffs of his head, but when I do he squirms and threatens to wake up), I frantically try to complete chores and it feels like nothing is okay.  My lady parts hurt, my back hurts, my belly hurts, and someone else should be doing all of this for me but there is NO ONE ELSE.
  • My friends are so amazing, what did I do to deserve them?  I haven’t had to cook a meal in a week and I have meals coming to me this week from more friends and I have meals from friends in the freezer.  Of course this makes me cry; am I this good of a friend to them? 
  • I’m so tired.  So very tired.  Crying because I’m tired seems absurd, and it is, but it’s sometimes the only thing left to do.


photo 3 (7)   Smile and move on, right?


So I’m going to try not to cry today because I know it’s not real – it’s the hormones crying.  Instead, I’m going to read and take a nap and snuggle my guy because next week, I go back to work (with Freddie).  And I will try so hard NOT to cry about that.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

What Happened

What happened?  Where did I go?


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Please excuse my absence, I’ve been a bit busy.


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His name is Freddie.  Frederick Roger Cook.  And he’s perfect.


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Eight pounds, eleven ounces, twenty-one inches long, Freddie entered the world at 9:30 am on Monday, July 7.  7/7/14.



I awoke to a contraction at about 5:50 am.  I had been having contractions off and on for several days, but this one hurt just a little bit.  Like my pelvis was ever so slightly trying to separate from itself.  I stayed in bed and had a few more over the next thirty minutes, so I got up, told Tony, “I think we’re going to have a baby today,” and got in the shower.  We called my brother to come take care of the kids, got the kids out of bed and started on their breakfast, and then went to the hospital.


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They got me into triage and checked my progress at about 7:45 am.  I was four centimeters dilated.  At 8:45, when the doctor got there and checked me, I was only about six centimeters dilated.  Contractions were starting to really hurt, but I breathed through them. 


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I should have known that we were getting close when I started to feel dizzy in between contractions.  I would sit down, but then the contractions got so close together that I would have to stand back up almost immediately.  I moaned and focus through the contractions, clawing my fingers into Tony’s shoulders, my head pushing into his chest.


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Tony said something like, “That was the third contraction like that, I’m calling the nurse!” because, of course, everyone had left the room just before things got interesting.  By the time the nurse came back, I was moaning, “I have to push!”  She rushed to get the doctor and another nurse.


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The team broke the bed down and I scarcely got on it when my water broke and I began pushing.  I also began screaming and shouting and probably cursing.  Having a baby HURTS.


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It felt like forever, but I only pushed for five minutes to birth my baby boy.


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He was immediately placed on my belly and then he immediately showed his relief at being born by pooping all over me.  The nurses wiped us both off and then, not two minutes later, he did it again.  Stinker.


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He’s wonderful.  He looks like his brothers, who love him desperately and shower him with (probably too much) affection.  He smells amazing.  As tired as I am, I am loving every minute of this.  My Freddie.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

How to Wear a Skirt in 90 Degrees at 38 Weeks Pregnant (Alternatively: Later Pregnancy Woes)

Perhaps you are among the many who complimented me on my outfit after I posted this photo on FaceBook, and if so, I thank you.  You did my ego good.


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The thing is, you can’t see my ankles in this photo.  I can’t see my ankles, either, but that’s because they are swollen to three times their normal size.


On Tuesday, the day of the night I dressed up in my nine-months-pregnant best to go to a Rotary banquet with Tony, we experienced the hottest July 1st on record.  I saw a thermometer reading of 89 degrees, which is about ten degrees past Too Damn Hot, if you ask me.  Definitely too damn hot for pants, which means I needed to wear a skirt or dress.  And God help me if I wear a leg-baring skirt – people already look at me sideways, as if I’m going to go into labor and deliver right where I am at any given point of the day (we were seated with the fire chief at dinner, and he assured me that he had delivered nine babies in his career, so I was in good hands), and the unsolicited comment on my appearance I hate the most right now is “Oh, you’re so swollen!”  Really?  I couldn’t tell.


I went to the All-Comers Track Meet in a knee-length skirt last night and ten strangers must’ve said exactly that.  Thankfully, my dear friends all lied through their teeth and told me I looked great.  Because that’s what friends are for.


So here’s a glimpse into my protocol for a day of skirt-wearing:


Wake up, take a cool shower, then put on compression socks as soon as I’m dry.  Before work, switch out compression socks for compression shorts.  Come home from work in the early afternoon (I’m on half-time currently) and take off the compression shorts and put on the compression socks.  Wake up from an overheated nap, take off compression socks, put on compression shorts, go pick up the boys from preschool.  Come home, put on compression socks at the same time as compression shorts, drink my seventh gallon of water that day, and put feet up.  When Tony gets home, take off compression socks and just baaaarely fit swollen feet into honest-to-goodness shoes for the evening out.


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Sexy socks


Now take that schedule of events and picture me hunched over socks, struggling mightily, huffing and puffing, red in the face, and sitting down on the bed or couch every three seconds for a break.  Every time I scrunch up or bend over these days, the baby kicks me in the ribs and stretches his arms into my pelvis, making the donning of compression socks and shorts even more uncomfortable.  It’s a really great thing there’s not a video recording of me getting dressed every morning, because it’s truly pathetic.




Am I an closer to delivering now than I was yesterday?  Well, yes, of course, but I can’t tell.  I am swollen, yes, and tired, and I can’t eat much without feeling sick to my stomach.  I take long naps and sleep long hours at night (with the requisite potty break every two hours).  The baby has dropped, certainly, so my belly is more torpedo-shaped than before.  I’m skipping Independence Day festivities tomorrow in favor of napping on the couch and keeping my dog subdued.


The big concern at the moment?  My doctor is headed out of town tonight and tomorrow night… I really don’t want to deliver without him, so if you’re the praying kind, please pray that this baby stays put until Sunday.


Until next week, Happy Independence Day, everyone!  Have some potato chips and onion dip for me (I really don’t feel up to it)!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Round and Round

Conversations in the car last night:


Jamie: Mom!  Where’s my new fire truck train?


Me: Honey, it’s either at home or here in the car.


Jamie: Oh.  It’s at home.  But I wanted to take it to Baby Boot Camp!


Me: Well, we don’t take toys like that to Baby Boot Camp because they might get lost.


Charles: What got lost at Baby Boot Camp???!!!


Me: Nothing.  Jamie was talking about his fire truck.


Charles: What fire truck?


Me: His new Flynn the Fire Engine toy that he got as a gift for his birthday from Maria.


Jamie: What fire engine?


Me: Flynn the Fire Engine.


Charles: It’s lost already?!


Jamie:  Who’s Flynn?


Me: No, it’s not lost.  It’s at home.


Jamie: Oh.  But I wanted to take it to Baby Boot Camp!


Jamie: Who’s Flynn?


Jamie: What fire engine?




Me: Charles, would you be interested in having a campout at Maria’s house this summer with some other big kids?


Jamie: I’m a big kid!


Me: I know, sweetie, but you’re not quite big enough to camp out away from home.  How about a campout with Daddy in our backyard?


Jamie: But I’m a big kid!  I’m three!


Charles: With Maria and David and Christian?


Me: I think it would be with Gabey and Heidi and some of their cousins.


Charles: Who are their cousins?


Me: Well, they would be other kids your age, like the boy Christian who came to Jamie’s birthday party with Gabey and Heidi.


Charles: Who?


Me: You remember, Gabey and Heidi and their cousin Christian came after everyone else and you guys bounced on the bouncy house for an hour together.


Charles: Gabey came to Jamie’s party?


Me: Yes!  With Heidi and Christian!


Charles: Who’s Christian?


Me: The five-or-six-year-old boy who was with Gabey and Heidi at our house on Saturday evening, jumping with you in the bouncy house!


Charles: Who?