Stuff and Stuff and Stuff

It has been so long, I honestly can’t remember what we’ve been doing.  Or what we used to do.

I’ll start with stuff that Franklin does.

Frankie decided to start rolling over at ONE MONTH.   Our reaction was “WOW! COOL” followed by “Oh shit – we’re in trouble.”

Frankie SNORTS.  A lot.  He snorts when he cries, eats, or gets excited.  If you want to know why we’re bottle feeding in all of the photos where we’re out and about (not that it’s really anyone’s business), it’s because he SNORTS when he eats.


Do you people do anything NOT related to Franklin?

I realize that this blog has been taken over by Franklin. Some of our childless friends are probably curious to know if we do anything NOT related to Franklin, and if so, what?

The answer is that these days, we really don’t do a ton of stuff that is not related to Franklin.  Honestly, it is difficult to remember what we did BEFORE Franklin. Babies are tricksy that way.

We attended the wedding of Sam Tuomi and Chris Pace.  I’m about to drag Franklin back into the discussion, but I’m so glad that he is going to grow up in a place and time where this could happen.

tuomi-pace wedding

Drove past a Cowboy Church in Newton, Iowa and then scoured the internet to find out what the hell a Cowboy Church is.

cowboy church in Newton

Take artsy photos of trash cans and bridges and flowers and shit.

trash can

Court Ave Flowers

Go to the grocery store (anyone with kids knows that this is HUGE).
Grocery Shopping

Celebrate the retirement of the lovely Paula Yalpani.

Paula Retirement

For Aurelia 

Earlier this month, we hosted a birthday party for my mom when she was visiting from Texas. Toward the end of the party, our niece started writing lots and lots of things on the water bottles. Each bottle had a character name, a fortune, a joke, and a sentence. Together, the water bottles were supposed to make a story. Thankfully, she told me that if I was missing some bottles, I could just make something up.  Whew! Because these two were all that was left when the party was over…Here is my story….

Bob awoke with a start. He had fallen asleep on the couch again and spilled a bowl of Boo-Berry cereal and milk. As he cleaned up the mess, he muttered, “I need a dog.”

After changing clothes, Bob decided to hop on his bike and bum around town. First, he stopped at the ice cream parlor for a chocolate icecream soda. With no particular destination in mind, he hopped back on his bike and started pedaling.

Bob woke up in pain on the sidewalk. He had fallen asleep again and fell off of his bike. A crowd of people were looking down at him discussing what to do. As soon as they saw that he was awake, pretty much everyone lost interest and went on with their day. Except for one.

“I’m Marcy-are you ok?”  Bob was still in a daze and didn’t respond. Marcy extended her hand and helped Bob to his feet. “Why don’t you come into my shop and sit for a while-is there someone who can come pick you up?”

“Uh…sure.” Bob replied. He followed Marcy into the store. It was unlike anything he had ever seen. “What kind of place is this?”

“I’m a psychologist by day, fortune teller by night.” On Marcy’s left was her psychology practice and on the right was her fortune telling stuff.

Still a bit hazy, Bob asked, “You are interested in psychology? I looked on Google and Wikipedia and WebMD and watched some Dr Oz and I’m pretty sure I have narcolepsy. I don’t have any medical training, but that’s where the internet comes in.”

Marcy was tempted to shake and slap Bob and tell him to go to a real doctor, but he seemed to be concussed so she didn’t.

Suddenly, Marcy’s eyes rolled back into her head. In an eerie, vacant voice, she said, “You will have great fortune…I see cats…lots of cats…and…a Peppy Pizza Party…yes…”

Bob was a little uncomfortable and attempted to diffuse with humor. “Ha! Peppy Pizza Party!! I dare you to say ‘Peppy Pizza Party’ 5 times fast!” He laughed nervously.

Marcy’s trance was over as quickly as it began. “I’m sorry-what? Are you hungry? Is there someone who can come get you? I don’t think I should send you back out on your bike if you have narcolepsy. Tell you what-my psychology practice closes in 15 minutes-we’ll put your bike in my minivan and I’ll drive you home.” Bob could not think of any objection.

They loaded the bike into the minivan. Bob started to give Marcy his address, but fell asleep midway through the house number. Marcy sighed, turned on the radio and waited for Bob to wake up. 20 minutes later, Bob woke up and provided his full address. They arrived at Bob’s house, unloaded the bike, and became Facebook “friends.”

The next day, Bob fell asleep again while eating Boo-Berry cereal. He was startled awake by the doorbell. As he walked to the door, he muttered again about needing a dog. He opened the door to find a basket of 20 cats and a note. It was from Marcy!

“Dear Bob, I thought you might enjoy a little bit of company so I went to the animal shelter and adopted 20 cats for you! Enjoy! XOXO –Marcy P.S. please go to a doctor for a real diagnosis & treatment for your narcolepsy.”

Bob found a doctor that made house calls, was treated for narcolepsy and lived happily ever after with 20 cats.


Moving, Christmas and House Fires…The Trip To Target


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Danny lost his wallet in the fire, but not his checkbook.  However, checkbooks are worthless without your ID.  When we arrived at Target, we went to customer service to ask about their check writing policies.  Anything over $100 requires an ID and sometimes transactions for less than that amount prompt for an ID.  I had my purse and debit cards, but not tons of cash on hand.  But enough to get some necessities.  We decided to split up – he took Franklin and went to the men’s clothing section for some sweat pants, a hoodie, a few shirts, socks, underwear…stuff like that. I headed to the pharmacy area for toothbrushes and other toiletries, and then to the baby section for diapers, baby wash, some clothes and new bottles.  I also swung through the pet aisle for some cat food.  Our breast pump had sustained smoke damage and the fire department did not recommend using it.  Breast pumps are upwards of $300, so that one had to wait – but I got a manual pump instead.  Then I went to find a few shirts that were $7 each, undies and socks for myself.  I also picked up a cheap pair of tennis shoes – my only surviving shoes were loafers and I needed something that would protect my feet a little better from the four inches of snow on the ground.  Danny had met with a coworker while we were there who loaned us $200 on the spot.  WOW.  Crazy as it sounds, the total of our necessities to get us through the next few days was nearly $400.  Yeowza – it didn’t seem like that much stuff.

Now I need to talk about what it is like to be at Target all grungy after a house fire looking for necessities on a limited budget on a Sunday during Christmas shopping season.  Children having meltdowns at Target is something that you sort of expect to see from time to time.  The number of adult meltdowns was pretty disgusting. We were privy to one-sided cell phone conversations that sounded like arguments about holiday stress.  We witnessed families bickering all over the store over who knows what.  I totally get that holidays bring stress, but I wanted to tell those people that that compared to others, they didn’t have REAL problems.  I mean THIS is what is left of our bedroom where Franklin and I were sleeping!

photo (8)

Then another thought came to my head: the people in the Philipines who had just gone through Typhoon Haiyan.  They didn’t have a Target or a drive through restaurant that they could just go to. They couldn’t shelter with neighbors because the neighbors’ homes were lost too. They would just have to wait days or weeks or however long until aid showed up.  Yeah – our mouths felt disgusting from not being able to brush our teeth all day, but we had a warm place to sleep the night before and would for the next several days until we found a rental home, our stomachs were full, we had transportation, and we had the means to get the things we needed.  All in all, more things for which to be thankful.

Moving, Christmas and House Fires…Part Deux

Saturday morning, we woke up to our first morning at the new house.  I made some extra dank coffee and it rocked.  The night before I had stayed up late moving odds and ends out of the family room so that we could set up the TV, arrange the couches, get out Franklin’s toys and actually use the room.  I moved my little rocking chair that I received from my grandparents for my second birthday to the basement.  I also moved my Great Aunt Sally’s doll crib to the basement.  My original thought was to use the crib to hold extra blankets – in retrospect I’m glad I didn’t.  Also moved to the basement were Danny’s Construx and some other childhood treasures that had landed in the family room.  It was super chilly in the family room so we turned on the gas fireplace and had it on for most of the day.  We spent the day watching Apple TV and playing with Franklin on the floor.  We went out for Mexican to celebrate, and turned off the fireplace.

When we got back, it was time for Franklin to go to sleep.  We hadn’t set up the crib yet, so he was bunking in our room in the pack-n-play.  After he was all tucked in, we watched an episode of “Orange is the New Black.”  I was pooped so I went to bed.  Around midnight, Danny came up and turned on the lights. “You guys – you gotta get up.  Something’s burning in the house.”  He had dozed off in front of the TV and woke up to a popping sound.  He thought it was sleet (we were expecting winter weather) and looked outside and saw an ember fall from the roof (above where Franklin and I were sleeping) fall onto the deck.  I had on some fantastic Raygun leggings and a t-shirt.  I threw on a sweatshirt and some thick socks – no clue where my shoes were.  I scooped up Franklin and his blankie from the pack-n-play and grabbed the hoodie that he had on earlier in the day.  I headed downstairs and put him in his car seat.  Danny was calling 911 and there was still no smoke in the house.  Then I thought – SHIT.  LITTLE GRAY.  I dashed back upstairs and called from her – I turned on the light but the power upstairs had gone out.  I felt our covers quickly – it was a shitty realization that we didn’t have time to look for her.  I went back downstairs and got my purse and the diaper bag.  At that point, a neighbor knocked on the door to tell us our roof was on fire.  He took Franklin out and I was not far behind.

The firetrucks pulled up, a lot of neighbors were out watching.  I sat in the car as Danny spoke with the fire fighters.  Our new neighbors, Sam and Meredith Hawk, offered to let us wait in their house, so we did.  Another neighbor, Jeff Osborn, offered to let us stay the night in his basement, so we did.  I took Franklin to the Osborns to get him back to sleep.  I was worried sick about Little Gray.  In December of 1999, I had adopted her from the Minneapolis pound, and subsequently moved her to about twelve different addresses in four states.  This was supposed to have been her last move, but not her LAST MOVE.  At about 4AM I got a text that the firefighters had seen her in the basement bathroom.  WHEW. About 45 minutes later I got a text that she wasn’t there anymore.  I started crying but needed to stay quiet so that Franklin wouldn’t wake up.

Sunday morning, we woke up in our neighbors house.  They brought me coffee, some clean clothes and allowed us to use their washing machine to wash the few items that we had.  Fortunately, I had a relatively well packed diaper bag for Franklin.  I was missing wipes, but I had 5 or 6 diapers, a change of clothes, a few burp rags and a few toys.  Note to self: Always keep a well stocked diaper bag even if you’re not going anywhere.

The Osborns made us a delicious pancake breakfast.  We ate and chatted with their two daughters, Laura and Katherine.  Our friends Heidi and Don had offered to come over and help look for Little Gray.  And HURRAY!  They found her!

Next up…Our trip to Target.

Moving, Christmas and House Fires…Part I

The last few months have been crazy busy.  Between having a baby, working, and going through the process of buying and selling a house, there hasn’t been much time for things like blog posts.  

First…House Buying and Selling.  It’s obviously a pain in the ass to sell a house.  It basically has to look like nobody really lives there, which is complicated by the fact that you live there.  The high expectations set by HGTV of what a staged home should look like sort of ramp up the pressure even more.  After about a month on the market, and not a ton of showings, we had a buyer.  He had come for the open house shortly after it was listed, and then returned about a month later with an offer.  YAY!  At that point, we thought we had secured a home to move to.  EXCEPT for the fact that the sellers flaked out and or got cold feet about actually having to move and that deal fell through.  Pretty crappy, but the day after that went down, we found another home that we liked and put in an offer.  BUT…there was a contingent offer from another buyer.  In the current housing market and economy, it is pretty rare for a buyer to perform on a subject to sale offer when they haven’t sold their other home.  These people were blessed with the money and intestinal fortitude to be able to take on two mortgages.  We were not feeling so blessed at this point.  The following weekend, we looked at 10 – yes, 10 – homes.  We found one we liked in Clive.  This is saying something something because this city-girl has a huge problems with suburbs in general. Also, having grown up in Des Moines, I knew that Clive & West Des Moines water tastes super funky).  Double bonus that the current owners were 90% moved out when we toured the house, which increased the likelihood that we would be able to close and move on time, and not have to secure any sort of temporary housing.   

The month of November went super-duper fast.  Packing, home inspections, repairs to the home we had sold, Thanksgiving, day to day tasks like work, laundry, dishes kept us very busy. Throw a 5 month old baby into the mix – yeah, our hands were full. 

Our buyer closed on our house on Thursday, December 4 and was scheduled to take possession on Saturday, December 7.  We closed on our new home on Friday, December 5, and began moving as soon as we could.  Friday night we were exhausted, but excited to spend the first night in our new home.  


Stay tuned for the next episode…Unpacking.


Back to Work

I started back to work on July 22. The transition actually hasn’t been that difficult. Sounds cold and heartless? Allow me to put things into perspective: leaving a happy, healthy baby at daycare is much, much, much easier than leaving a newborn in the NICU for a week after I had checked out of the hospital.

Franklin - NICU


As far as working moms go, I am very fortunate. When I returned to work, the transition was very gentle and slow. I work in IT at an insurance company, and we live and die in two-week release cycles. Even though I returned to the office on July 22, I wasn’t scheduled for any client deliverables until the August 22 release. Still, between catching up on email, office gossip, online training, and getting acclimated to some new systems and processes that had been implemented while I was out took up a fair amount of the month.

As far as working moms who breastfeed go, I am also very fortunate. First off, we have awesome insurance that covered a brand new breast pump (I also have a loaner from a friend that is great for back-up). I’ve been reading very depressing (sometimes horrifying) stories about women who tried to continue breast feeding (with pumping) after they’ve gone back to work. I’m not sure where I got this idea, or if it is even true, but I was under the impression that employers over a certain size were required to provide women with a private space (not a restroom) and adequate time to express milk during the day. Then I started reading crazy stories about women having to duck into janitor closets and try to hold the door closed while they pump. I also read several stories about women who gave up because they felt weird and uncomfortable going off to pump and carrying the little coolers of milk home from the office. I don’t have a huge breast feeding cheer squad or anything like that at my office (that’s a good thing). We do have a Wellness Room with a door that locks and a recliner that I can use basically whenever I need to. Nobody really gives a shit that I leave my desk two or three times a day to do my “Milk Truck” duties and I couldn’t ask for much better support than that. Everybody knows that I’ve got a baby, and that the big black bag I’m carrying to the wellness room doesn’t hold my laptop…and there is no stigma, no weirdness – it’s great!

Places Franklin Has Slept

Franklin sleeps a lot. Here are some of the places Franklin has slept.

Great Grandma Sharp’s House

Franklin-sleep Great Grandma

The Iowa State Fair

Franklin - sleep fair

Antique Archaeology (American Pickers) in Le Claire, Iowa

Franklin-sleeping American Pickers

Our Bed

Franklin-sleeping bed

The Chicago Southland Lincoln Oasis

Franklin - sleep - Chicago Southland Oasis

The Blank Park Zoo

Franklin-sleeping zoo

Cinema Under The Stars at The Science Center

Franklin - sleep cinema under the stars

On my chest (one of my favorite places for Franklin to sleep)

Franklin-sleeping me

On Danny (my other favorite place for Franklin to sleep)

Franklin -sleep danny

New Parent Haiku

Hey, Baby Frank! What
Is that gurgling in your
pants? Toots or Poops? Shit.

I am a milk truck.
And the only woman here.
They both want my boobs.

Happy One Month Old
Birthday to Franklin Ascher!
Mom and Dad Love you!

Happy One Month Old
Birthday, Baby Frank! Drinks are
On me…yummm…boobies.

Welcome, Tiny Overlord


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First, Danny and I are proud to announce that Franklin Ascher Engesser arrived on May 24, 2013 at approximately 1:40 AM, weighing in at 8 lbs 8 oz, 20 inches long. Yup-there were balls growing inside of me, but they’re gone now.

Here’s the birth story for all of those who have been wondering what the heck happened????  I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and placed on insulin fairly quickly. Because of this, we had to induce at 39 weeks if the baby hadn’t arrived on his own. The womb must be like a super-duper cozy lounge, because at 39 weeks, I wasn’t even dilated and had not experienced a single contraction. We checked in for the induction on Tuesday, May 21 at 8 PM to get the ball rolling. The first night, I was given something to dilate me. No dice on dilating, but it did kick off contractions. Wednesday, I spent the day on pitocin. Crampy contractions all day long, feeling pretty crappy, but still not dilated. Wednesday night we tried a third medication to hopefully dilate me. By Thursday morning, I had dilated to nearly 2 CM (YAY!). The doctor broke my water to get things moving and then started off with more pitocin. Oh…the baby had pooped in-utero, so we had our first scare-the dreaded meconium. Right away, the doctor explained the potential danger of the baby inhaling the meconium and that the NICU would be on deck for delivery. With that in the back of our minds, I spent most of the morning having some pretty painful contractions. I opted for about an hour’s worth of IV meds and then went for the epidural. By this point I was hooked up to about a bazillion tubes-2 IVs (normal IV stuff, insulin, pitocin, IV pain meds, epidural, baby heart rate monitor, uterus monitor, blood pressure cuff, and last but not least, a catheter). Then I took a nap and things progressed. Fast forward to 9:30 PM. I was FINALLY ready to push (YAY!). Baby had other plans: the Little Guy was head down, and made some progress, but after 2 hours of pushing, it was pretty clear that we weren’t making any progress. By this time, we had been in the hospital trying to get this kiddo out for 52.5, that’s right, 52.5 hours.

The doctor made the call to deliver by C-section. Poor Franklin was pretty low, pretty big, and had wedged himself into the birth canal pretty tightly. In order to get him out, the doctor had to make the normal bikini line incision and a vertical incision. At 1:40 AM, we found out that we were parents to a baby boy. It probably won’t surprise anyone to hear that after such a long ordeal, Baby Frank was pretty banged up. I think we had a little bit of back-labor, total cone-head, some bruising, bluish feet, probably inhaled meconium. I couldn’t really see much, and was pretty out of it, but Danny thinks there may have been 3-4 people working on him. We got to see Franklin briefly and Danny got to hold and accompany him to the NICU. He’s got a full head of hair, pretty fair skin, and blue eyes – we’re anxious to see if they will change or stay blue (Danny’s family all have blue eyes, as do my mom and my sister).

At 5 AM, I had recovered enough for us to go see Franklin. The NICU nurse told us that due to long labor, and getting wedged in weird during the attempt at vaginal birth, inhaling meconium, there was a chance that he had lost oxygen to his brain. He was placed on cooling therapy for 72 hours to help ensure that his blood flow goes to his brain and other vital organs. It broke my heart to see our little guy hooked up to a ton of tubes and monitors. Over the next few days, Franklin’s condition and appearance improved quite a bit.  It was extremely difficult knowing that we would not be able to hold him until after he had been re-warmed.

On Monday, May 27, Baby Frank had been successfully re-warmed.  When we went to see him, he was very happy to be warm and swaddled.  We finally got to hold him – he loved it – we loved it.  We found the Baby Einstein channel on Pandora Radio and played some music for him – it had been a week since he’d heard music and it seemed to soothe him (check out my post about Tiny Overlord’s Musical Education to see what this is all about).  I was discharged on Monday, but Franklin still has a few more days in the NICU.  Tuesday, they’ll begin introducing breast milk to Franklin via a feeding tube.  We don’t know exactly when he’ll be able to come home, but we really, really, really hope that it will be soon!