Thursday, December 30, 2010

Renovation

I have no idea how to do anything even remotely related to blog design, but I was tired of looking at the standard blue screen/purple text template that Blogger provides. I spent much of last night and part of this morning learning how to upload backgrounds and create headers (all while the Husband and Tot are dismantling our Christmas tree - so much the better because this is something toddlers are already predisposed to doing anyway!). I hope you like it. And if not, well, I had a lot of fun learning it so it's very possible that it will change again in the near future. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Peanut vs. the peanut

I have Arachibutyrophobia. Okay, I don't really because that's the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth. What I really have is a fear of peanuts. It's a relatively new fear. In fact, it just developed over the last few weeks. Right around the time that Ben broke out in to hives when I gave him a peanut butter cookie.  What followed was a panicked night of Benadryl and frequent checks to make sure he was still breathing through the night. Then a hurried call to the doctor to schedule a blood test for allergies. 


Last week it was confirmed - my Tot has a peanut allergy. And I have a lovely new accessory in my purse in the form of an Epi Pen. This sounds odd to say, but I was devastated. I adore peanut butter. I like nothing better than a big scoop of peanut butter slathered on a banana. Or peanut butter and honey on toast. And my very favorite ice cream is Peanut Butter Cup Perfection from Cold Stone. It goes without saying that peanut butter cups are my favorite candy of all time. So, I was sad to know that my son may not ever be able to enjoy something so yummy.  Not to mention, I also am already a fairly overprotective parent. Suffice it to say, the last thing I needed was encouragement to inspect every edible thing that goes in to my son's mouth. Now I find myself reading every label and scouring menus. My husband is even more attentive than I, and remembers to inform wait staff everywhere we go about allergies.


On the positive side, it's not a life threatening condition - just a moderate allergy. Unfortunately, I am told that each subsequent reaction will be more severe and so it could become life threatening. I am also told that 20% of children grow out of a peanut allergy. So, there is some hope that my kid could one day enjoy the deliciousness that is a PB&J with a cold glass of milk.  In the meanwhile, I will be here - inspecting labels and interrogating waitresses. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Spot

So, we are officially not "not" trying to get pregnant. Which I guess means that we are trying. Sort of. In a non-committal, half way kind of a way. I wonder if I have just jinxed myself by announcing this to the internets at large? I think the idea behind keeping it casual was supposed to be more of a "if it happens, it happens" kind of approach, to keep us (me) from getting our hopes up. But, of course, there is that little hopeful piece of me that thinks "THIS time it will happen" every month.

Unfortunately, every month so far, I am wrong. I am trying hard not to focus on it because I know that will only make things worse but it's hard to not feel the frustration time after time. The reality is, the only way we became parents the first time was through fertility treatments, so it's more than likely that we will need the same interventions this time around.

Don't get me wrong, we are blessed. I know we are blessed. We already have one beautiful son. He is more amazing than I could ever hope for and he deserves more than I could ever give. There are plenty of people out there in the world who cannot even have one child, much less two. My problem is that I hear these stories all of the time about women who had all of these horrible fertility problems the first time around and then they were pregnant with the second baby without even trying. I was sort of hoping to be one of those miracle stories myself.

The worst part for me is that tiny whisper of "maybe this time" that keeps coming up and refuses to be silenced. Even through the first days of irritability. In spite of the stiff aching back. Regardless of the mild feeling of bloating. Despite the first twinges of cramps. All the way right up until that spot appears when I can no longer ignore the very obvious. And then my glance falls on the calendar, focuses on the next month, and I can hear my mind whispering "maybe next time".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I know nothing

Sleep routines have become haggard again. Ben is back to playing in his crib at night and at nap time. He has also begun waking up in the night crying randomly. This led to an embarrassing pediatrician visit because I was sure he had an ear infection. I mean "he NEVER does this".  Anyway, he had nothing wrong with him - the very nice and very patient doctor checked him thoroughly.

Today, he went down for his nap and would not relax. He played in the rocker and I put him in the crib hoping he could tire himself out. Two hours later, I had watched two episodes of Guliana and Bill and made 6 dozen cookies for two upcoming events and he was still going full steam. He cried every now and again but mostly was chatting and jumping up and down. I could hear "Go train! GO!" punctuated by *thump* *thump* *thump* As a general rule, I avoid going up to try to get him to sleep because it only seems to aggravate him.

I finally gave in and went upstairs to get him up. He had thrown all of his blankets, his pillow, his socks, and his stuffed friends on the floor. Also, he had pulled clothes from the laundry basket through the crib bars and thrown those over the railing. I put everything back and was getting ready to get him up but his little eyes were so tired. So, we sat in the rocker and rocked. I didn't have an Ipod or my phone handy so I sang instead. I only know a couple of songs and even those, I don't really have all of the words to. Initially he fought me and wriggled around like a puppy, but eventually he settled. And then - he slept!

Just when I think I know what I am doing - I don't. But at least he's sleeping.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Stolen moments

A few weeks ago, Ben fell asleep on me when I was rocking him at nap time. I was patting him absent-mindedly and my mind had wandered off when all of the sudden, I noticed that his breathing had become rhythmic and his habitual wiggling had ceased. I looked down and saw that his eyes were closed and his face was relaxed. His two fingers were no longer in his mouth and had fallen to the side. It was a welcome sight, and not one I get to see very often anymore. Had I known it might be the last time, I surely would have held him longer and enjoyed the feel of his weight in my arms, the smell of his hair, the sound of his deep breathing.

As is typically the way at this age, every nap and bedtime has become a struggle. I don't know if it's the language skills that have exploded suddenly or if it's his insistence at bringing his Buzz Lightyear beanbag doll to the crib (that Buzz is a real party animal) but every attempt at soothing before sleep has failed. Ben chatters up a storm, flops around from my shoulder to laying in my arms to squishing down in my lap, and tries his very best to distract me from patting him or trying to relax him in anyway. I often have to fight to keep from laughing at his silly faces and games. After 2-3 songs, I give up, put him in the crib where he proceeds to flop about and chatter until he falls asleep. Some nights he has stayed awake for as long as 90 minutes after I have put him down. I have tried everything I could think of to change this recent pattern. We have added extra rocking (which becomes play time), tried to leave Buzz behind (not happening), and even pushed his bedtime backwards in the hopes that he would be tuckered (not so much).

Today we had friends over for a play date and he was demonstrating his cranky side (due to his recent "who needs sleep?" campaign)  when it came to sharing toys and following the rules, but nothing too heinous happened. At least as far as I know, none of the moms left swearing never to return or anything. We had a quick lunch and then began our nap routine again (I am nothing if not determined). Imagine my surprise when I looked down and saw that he was asleep! In the rocking chair! On me! Oh joy, joy, joy! I cannot begin to describe the sheer pleasure of being able to hold my sleeping toddler and cuddle him close. So, this time, I did not jump up and place him in the crib. This time, I held him close for as long as I could. I smelled his hair and rubbed his back. I pressed him closer to me and enjoyed the warmth of the snuggle. I drew the moment out and made it last for as long as possible. Because who knows if I will get that chance again...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Greener Grass

This weekend dissolved into a flurry of arguments around marital roles and who's responsibility is what, only to be followed by yet another disagreement Monday morning because the Husband informed me that he had a meeting on Wednesday evening and would not be able to be home to watch the Tot so I could go to work. Which then caused me to try (and fail) to find a sitter and eventually have to reschedule my meeting as well as let my supervisor know that I would be in late. I swallowed my embarrassment at my own unprofessionalism and then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to process my anger and frustration over having to put my own goals on the back burner yet again.

I keep trying to imagine ways that I could feel less like a second class citizen every time a conflict comes up with our schedules. I try to picture how things could be different that I wouldn't feel so irritated when this happens. What if I worked full time and we BOTH had important professional obligations? Or what if I didn't work at all and then there was no conflict to be had because my appointments would be much more flexible?

If I worked full time, I couldn't spend every day with the Tot. I would miss all of the important things that he is learning and doing. I would miss every nap and a majority of his meals. I would be fighting to make it home for bedtimes. And likely, the Husband and I would still be arguing but this time it would be about who is doing the child drop-off/pick-up and who is calling in sick to stay home with the cold/flu/fever that the Tot caught at daycare.

If I quit working altogether, there would certainly be less demand for my time. I would have less stress in my life in general, and there would be a lot few scheduling conflicts with the Husband. But, I don't think I would be any happier. In fact, I would feel even more like I was giving away a part of myself. Like I was letting go of any semblance of an attempt to have any life of my own and fully giving over to being a wife and mother and that's all.

The thing is, neither of those solutions is the answer. The mere thought of not being here with the Tot every day makes my eyes well up. The idea of quitting my job and being home is appealing from the perspective of having less stress but leaves me with the bitter taste of disappointment as well.

I wonder if I am asking too much. I wonder if my expectations are too high. To try to be a stay-at-home mom who works a little on the side and is still able to make it to doctors appointments, swim lessons, and business meetings without having to move heaven and earth to make it happen. To have a husband who says "I know your job is important, too, and I want to help you as much as I can" without me having to stomp my feet, scream, cry and resort to every other tantrum-like behavior. I wonder if it's unrealistic and unfair of me to put my own demands before the demands of the job that actually pays us the money we need to feed and clothe ourselves.

So then I come back to square one. It is what it is. If I was a doctor or a lawyer, maybe I would be the primary breadwinner. In which case, I would be calling the shots when it came to schedules. But I would also not be here with my son every day. What is the answer when none of the other grass is any greener? 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Winter Cometh...Maybe

It's finally here! Sweater weather! I am a complete Mid-western anomaly in that I actually like Winter. Winter means soup and hot chocolate. Winter means bulky clothes to hide my chub. Winter means it's okay to stay indoors and snuggle in front of the fire with the Husband watching Harry Potter movies (my pick) or Lord of the Rings (his).  The start of cold weather also means the start of the Holiday season and the start of Holiday decorating. I love Christmas lights against a backdrop of snow. When I lived in Florida, the decorations just didn't feel the same! So, really, what's not to love about Winter time?

Well, there is this one thing: toddlers in winter coats. Please understand, I love bulky, snuggly tots as much as the next person. There is nothing better than finding a completely crazy fleece hat and colorful mittens to stuff my kid in to. What I am not loving so much is transporting the Tot from place to place. You see, it was brought to my attention recently (on FB no less!) that it isn't safe to have your kiddo in his car seat with a bulky coat on, as the straps cannot hold him securely in place. Logically this makes perfect sense, and I was glad to learn it prior to Winter's arrival. However, from a logistical standpoint, getting the child buckled in the car securely in a warm garage only to arrive at your destination and stand out in the cold while you try to shrug him into his coat, hat and mittens so he can walk 25 steps to the store and then pop said hat, mittens and coat off straightaway, is a bit crazy-making. For both of us.

In any case, at least he is warm and snuggly most of the time and safe and secure in the car. In the meanwhile, I am strongly considering purchasing some heavier sweaters and toddler long underwear to keep him toasty while traveling.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time Out

It was the fifth time he had taken a sip of water and let it run down his mouth and all over his shirt. I don't know what I was thinking when the words "If you do that again, you are getting a time out!" escaped from my lips. Sure enough - a mischievous giggle, another sip and another spill down the front of his already very soaked shirt.  I could feel my frustration building as I grabbed the time out mat (also known as a cute bath mat from Target) and sat him on it. He immediately laughed, stood up and walked off the mat. I grabbed him and sat him back in place. Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Each time he would stand up and try to escape the mat, each time I would grab him and place him back on it firmly. I was trying hard not to react to him as he continued to giggle at me. This only fueled my frustration and the feeling that he wasn't "getting it". Eventually my "no reaction" resolve had been completely diminished and I was screaming at him to "GET. BACK. ON. THAT. MAT. NOW!" This was only met with increased giggles. Finally, I grabbed him and held him in place for the 60 second time out. Super Nanny would be very disapproving, I am sure.  

The thing is - I know better. The Tot is too young for time outs to be effective. I had actually attempted a time out once before with similarly frustrating results and my own assessment that he was "too young" and that I needed to wait a few more months before trying again. Yet, today, the threat was made without thinking and then I felt forced to follow through. In retrospect, I was the one who needed the time out. As soon as I felt my calm slipping, I should have just walked away. Instead I lost my cool and resorted to screaming and yelling - it's a parenting style that I despise. I don't believe in parenting through fear. I grew up with a step monster who yelled at us constantly and made us fear her so much that my step-sister and I would retreat to our rooms as soon as she got home from work in order to avoid her warpath. She is exactly the type of parent I never wanted to be. The type of parent I told myself I never would be. But, here I am - years later doing one heck of an imitation. 

I come from a long line of "yellers". My own mother yelled and my grandfather had a booming voice that commanded instant attention. I have always been a yeller but it's probably my least favorite thing about myself. I have always wanted to be the calm, graceful mother who could speak firmly to her child and get results. In retrospect, my problem isn't really with the yelling. My problem really isn't even with physical punishment, though I don't use it as a discipline method. My problem really is that I don't like parenting in anger. When I am angry, I am not thinking as clearly and I am not always in control of my actions. I feel that it's too easy for a situation to get out of hand or for punishment to be more severe than necessary because of the emotion behind it. Not to mention that it just shows the Tot that it's okay to lash out when you are angry and I don't want that to be the message he receives. Today was a perfect example of frustration overriding common sense in my head. 

I want to teach my child how to behave. I want him to learn right from wrong. I want him to know the rules and how to follow them. But, I also want to teach him to be kind. To be calm. To act instead of reacting. I don't want him to be afraid of me. I don't want to pass down bad behavior from generations of "yellers". I want to break that chain. I want to do better. I need to do better.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who Knew Trains Could Fly?

The illness has lifted. Mostly. There are still bouts of coughing but for the most part, the Tot is back to sleeping and I am back to feeling in control. Sort of.

Yesterday was the Husband's first business trip since the Tot has been born. I was less than thrilled to be a "single parent" even if it was only for an overnight, but we did okay. We played together most of the day and he took a good nap in the afternoon. When I started dinner, I put a show on for him to watch. I was thinking to myself how smoothly things run when there is structure. I was sort of writing a blog post in my head about my need for structure and how stressed/tense I become when my plans are disrupted, when the carrots on the stove started to boil over and the burner started to smoke.

I quickly turned the burner down and re-situated the pot, but when I was getting some stuff from the fridge, it happened again. Again, I turned the burner down and then decided just to turn it off and move the pot. Meanwhile, the whole downstairs was filled with smoke. I ran around opening the sliding glass door and the windows and turned on the fan, fearing that the smoke alarm would start blaring and scare the little guy at any moment. The Tot loved having the back windows open and was running his Thomas the Train up and down the sill saying "choo choo, choo choo". So, I went back to making dinner in the kitchen.

Two minutes later I hear "Choo-choo! Choo-choo!" in distress. The Tot is standing at the window but there is no Thomas to be found. I looked for him on the floor and then realized I could faintly here the sound of his whistle. Coming from outside. I looked closer and realized that the windows had no screens in them! They were gaping open into the night. Unfortunately, the Tot had figured that out before I had - hence Thomas' unscheduled trip to the backyard. Of course, as soon as he had flung the little train out the window, he wanted it back. I quickly closed the windows and went to the back door to "rescue" Thomas.

The sliding glass door was being heavily guarded by the largest moth I had ever seen. I tried to turn the back porch light on, hoping to lure him away from the screen, but to no avail. I then tried swatting him off the screen and blowing at him. After several attempts, I finally managed to deter him for a minute so I could slip out the back door. I had no shoes on  and the back yard was dark. I was squinting at every leaf, clump of dirt and rock. Praying not to meet any critters on my journey, I hopped through the grass to Thomas and dashed quickly back to the back door. I managed to distract the moth long enough to get myself back in the door and return Thomas to his happy owner.

The Tot was thrilled to have Thomas back. He was even more thrilled by the "throw stuff out the window" game. Unfortunately, this game doesn't work if the window is closed. But, that didn't stop him from trying. So far this experience has taught us that Mommy is a sucker who will brave many things for her child (and who should really pay more attention to open windows) and Matchbox cars make a loud "thunk" when you pitch them at the window. Also that if you don't stop throwing things at the window....you get a timeout.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Quarantine

The Tot is sick again. And so begins the cold and flu season. It all started with an ear infection which has now migrated to a cough. The worst thing is that there is nothing to give him and no way to really help with his symptoms aside from Children's Tylenol. Thankfully, he is fever free. Unfortunately, his cough is preventing him from sleeping more than 20-30 minutes at a time and resulting in a highly crabby little guy. I have found there is a domino effect in that a crabby tot makes for a crabby momma. So, despite my best of intentions, our days have consisted mostly of trying to find a movie other than Toy Story/Toy Story 2/Cars that the Tot will watch.

Yes, I know, television is the devil. But the guilt I feel over letting him watch the tube all day long is far less than the amount of frustration that results in dealing with a cranky sick kid. Who knew how flexible my standards could be?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Happy Halloween

The Tot was a Triceratops





Begrudgingly













We had a lot of fun. It was actually the Tot's second trick or treat experience, but last year he was only able to ride in his stroller and be carried door to door. This year he was able to march himself (with Mommy or Daddy's help) up the steps and say a garbled version of "Trick or Treat".


But, by far, his favorite part of the evening wasn't receiving the candy in his pumpkin bucket, it was handing the candy out to the costumed children who came to our door. He got such a thrill out of answering the door with his Dad and then distributing the goodies. Especially when the door ringer was a familiar face like "Thomas the Train" or "Winnie the Pooh". He has yet to learn that the person in the costume is not the ACTUAL person from the television show or movie. So we had to hold him back to prevent some actual mauling from occurring! 

This person was not anyone familiar to him and therefore safe from his clutches. 

Enjoying his spoils - his first candy EVER. It was a cowtail. Which he shared with his momma and after every bite said "More. More." until there wasn't any more which was met with sadness and tears. Truly his mother's child.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: The Blog Post No One Wants to Have to Write...


I don't have a great way to start this entry. I was feeling kind of out of the loop with this month's "Blog for your Breasts" activity because we have been running around doing a half million things and I really haven't had a lot of Thursdays to just sit and write. Also, as I stated before, I don't have a family member with breast cancer. I have one very close friend who is a survivor but she won that battle before I ever knew her and though I know it's a part of who she is, it's not a large part of my relationship with her. But, I was all set to write about the survivor that I know and how much I adore her and how important she is to me.

Until Monday night when I found out I was no longer in the group of people who didn't know anyone with breast cancer. Because that was when my father called  to tell me that a very dear friend to our family, Vicki, was sick. She is having a mastectomy this week, in fact. I was dumbfounded. I literally had nothing to say (which, for me, is really saying something). 

You know how you have those people in your life who ask you all the right questions and really listen to your answers? Who make you feel supported and tell you how amazing you are all of the time? Who you continue to work to keep in touch with and look forward to seeing whenever you can even if it's not very often at all? Vicki is that person for me. I have known her almost my whole life. She has been my father's friend since I was only a little bigger than my Tot is now. As I grew, she eventually became my friend as well. She has always been an adult I could lean on and someone I could look up to. To say she is important to me is a grave understatement. 

The idea that she might not be around for my son to know her is devastating. This is a person who has had such a profound and caring influence on my life. I think about her children who are grown with children of their own. They can't lose their mother. I think of her grandsons, two who have just finished High School and started their career paths and two who are still so small they have only just begun school. They can't lose their grandmother. Most of all, I think of her mother. Vicki's mother is in her 90's and one of the sweetest, sassiest ladies I have ever met. I wish I could have it as together as she does. She can't lose her daughter. 

Our bible study class is studying the book of Daniel. We just recently went through the passage where Shadarach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown in to the fire and are saved. We discussed the different ways that God saves us - either from the fire, through the fire, or by the fire. As much as I know that what awaits us on the other side is much more wonderful than anything we could even describe here, I find myself praying fervently "Bring her through the fire, Lord." Because I can't lose my friend. 

Click here to read more "Write Pink" entries. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

A bit of faith

I miss my blog. I am sorry, my loyal readers, (few of you though you may be) that I haven't been posting regularly. After we got back to town, we were just playing "catch up" and trying to get back to the swing of things. I have a half written post about our trip but it's just not where I am at today, so I will save it for another time. Or maybe delete it. I haven't decided.

I apologize in advance for the religiousity (is that a word? it is now) but lately, I have been struggling with my faith. I recently took a job at our church. I enjoy the job for the most part and I like being more involved with the church. I also really like that it's only a few hours a week so I can still do some full-time mothering. However, since becoming more of a church presence, I have struggled with my faith.

All of my life I have believed in God. Even as a small child from a minimally church going family, I would pray to God, talk to Him, ask for His help. I had a fairly rocky upbringing and I often felt lost and alone, so it was a comfort to me to imagine that someone was there with me in the tough times. However, I wasn't really raised in a church environment. We mostly attended on holidays and for confirmation purposes. Other than that, we slept in on Sundays.

My husband was raised in the church. He went every Sunday and often during the week as well. He was active in the youth programs and even served as a missionary with his parents. When we were first married we rarely attended church and I felt guilty that I was keeping him from such a major force in his life (though he assures me that this wasn't the case). When we moved back to the Midwest and began focusing on building our own family, finding a church went right along with that. Even so, once we found a church where we knew we belonged, our attendance was haphazard at best. Especially after we had a newborn in the house.

Now that I work for the church, our attendance has become more regular, which is wonderful both for us and our Tot. Our church is a friendly place and I am glad to call myself a member. But, I worry that I am not religious enough to call myself a "staff person". I think that when I picture folks who work for the church, I always imagine these confident, gracious, kind individuals who are strong in their faith and secure in their leadership. I don't imagine someone like me who needs tabbies on her bible to find the right sections or wonders sometimes if Bill Maher is right and we are all fooling ourselves in to being better people. That one is the worst. Sometimes I am driving along, listening to the radio and thinking, "What if the Atheists are right? What if we tell ourselves there is a God because we are too afraid of the alternative?" and then I instantly feel terrible and worry that I should NOT be in a leadership position in our church and definitely not ministering to young ones.

I continue to pray for security, for knowledge, for confidence in my beliefs - all the while knowing that if I had the knowledge, I wouldn't need faith. I think of all of the amazing things God has done, all of the prayers He has answered. I remember praying for my son, for my husband, for comfort, for strength. I think of all of the blessings God has given me and all of the challenges He has helped me face. I still worry that I am not "religious enough" or "spiritual enough" or "faithful enough". But I hope, and most of all, I pray that I will get there. In the meantime, I continue to try to walk the path that He would have me walk and learn what I can on the way.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Can a I get a "ma ma"?

Finally, it has happened. The Tot says "Mama". And not just when coached but actually to me and in reference to me. I am told that very soon I will grow tired of hearing "mama, mama, mama" but not so far. At the moment I just adore hearing it in whatever context. My most favorite is when he is with the Husband and he says "I want Mama". Now, before you think I am a cold hearted person, you need to know that EVERY morning for the last several months when we came down in the morning for breakfast, the Tot emphatically says "Dada!" like he hasn't seen his father in weeks. But no amount of coaxing, bribing, mimicking, etc. could entice him to say "Mama". Never mind that I carried this child for almost 10 months. Never mind that I gave up a very successful career to stay home and be his primary care giver. Daddy was number one. So, yes, as wicked as it may be - just a tiny part of me is savoring being the favorite. I am well aware that the tables will shift in no time and I will be on the bottom of the totem pole again before I know it.

I haven't posted in a few weeks because we were on a family vacation. We visited the in-laws in the south and then left the Tot in their capable hands while we traveled further down to the entertainment mecca that is Orlando. It was a lot of fun but very tiring. I am sure there will be many posts in the coming weeks but for now, I am just savoring the recent milestone and the last remaining vacation days with the Husband.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Blog for your Breasts: Today's the Day



I wasn't going to blog today. I am tired. I have about 100 things to do before we can leave on vacation. I still have to make some extensive lists and find the motivation to squeeze in the 30-Day Shred workout. But then I saw this blog post on Mom-101. And I remembered that today is October 1st. The 1st day of breast cancer awareness month. The month where we all don pink and march and donate and raise funds in honor of our sisters, mothers, best friends who have become warriors against this hideous disease. I realized that today could be the day that we start the battle that ends this war. So, I enlisted as a solider in the Army of Women. I tagged the page on Facebook and encouraged all of my friends to do the same. And finally, I blogged about it. It's not much, I know - but it's a start. By joining the Army of Women, I will continue to be informed of the research for a cure. Even better, I have the opportunity to participate in some of the studies and really contribute something valuable to the fight.

I don't have breast cancer...yet. I don't know anyone in my family with breast cancer...yet. But the odds are (one in eight) that I will. I have a friend who is a breast cancer survivor. She is an amazing and strong woman. She is one of my closest friends and I don't know what my life would be without her in it. I don't want to have to find out.

To add your voice to the fight and read other women's stories - click here or here or here and link up to blog for your breasts.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Small bump in the road

I keep thinking I wrote a post "just the other day" and then I go and look and see - nope, actually haven't written in almost a week. Sorry for my inconsistency. Life was easier when my main objective every day was getting to the gym before the nursery was full and getting the Tot down for his nap before he was too overtired to take one.

I have had things crammed in to every day this week to try to get up to speed on my new job and still get everyone else's needs met. I can definitely see how working mothers would feel like they were in constant demand trying to make everyone happy and in the end making no one happy, including themselves. I am already starting to feel that strain and I only work a measly 8 hours a week.

Today was one of those days where I tried to get a ton of stuff done and ended up heinously thwarted. It started out productive - went to the gym, got the Tot's hair cut, got the nap done, etc. But in the afternoon, when I had planned to go to my annual doctor appointment and to work to meet with some of my supervisory type people, things went horribly awry. A curb practically jumped out at me and hit my car. Or maybe I hit it. Who can say with all the excitement. Anyway, the point is - I ended up with both tires on the right side of the SUV being popped and both rims bent. Apparently tires are not nearly as big a deal as rims (as I would soon find out). So, I had to cancel my doctor's appointment (when I was a mere five minutes away!) to be rescheduled for sometime in November. I had to cancel my important, difficult to schedule meetings, and I had to wait half an hour in the heat for the tow truck.

My husband was actually very nice about the whole thing. I am glad I am married to him instead of to myself because I am sure if the roles were reversed, I would have been a big huge baby about it. As it was, I was having a hard time not being a complete brat about the whole cost, time, inconvenience of it all. Which is awful when you consider that it was completely my fault. (Mine and that awful vindictive curb, of course) . Oh yeah, did I mention we are supposed to leave in a few short days on a road trip to see his family in that very car? Oh yes, it's true. And we already have hotels booked along the way and EVERYTHING. In case you were thinking "So what, you are without a car for a few days. Big deal, Ms. Whiny!"

So now, the worst thing about this ordeal is that my feeling crunched before has turned in to feeling positively squeezed by my lack of time to get everything done before we go. I keep trying to keep it in perspective and remind myself that at least no one was hurt, at least the damage wasn't worse, at least my son wasn't in the car with me. I know it can always be worse and I should count my blessings. And I am. I truly am thanking God that all that we need are a couple of tires and maybe an alignment. I just wish this could have happened some other time. Like maybe when we weren't days away from vacation or days after starting a brand new job. Though I have to wonder - is there ever really a good time for this?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Monster Within

I had this post half written about trying to balance a new job and a home and a toddler, but it's been one of those days where I feel like I am yelling more than speaking and the Tot and I are engaged in another battle of push/pull. Do the Terrible Two's start early? I have spent the day feeling terrible because nothing is going the way it's supposed to and my child is stretching my patience past the breaking point.

I don't even know how days like this start. All I know is I begin by trying to get this wiggly kid changed and dressed and myself showered and dressed so we can do whatever we need to get done and I end up screaming at the top of my lungs because he pushed the (full) diaper pail over or because he slammed the lid of the laptop down on my hand after I asked him repeatedly not to touch the computer. Which results in him crying and me instantly feeling like pond scum and sure that I am psychologically damaging my child or at the very least - hurting his feelings. I think I feel so terrible because I know that he isn't trying to be obstinate in most cases. He's just being a toddler and I am being a jerk. I wish I could have this rational thought process BEFORE I lose my cool and turn into a screaming nut case. Because yelling doesn't help anyone and we both just end up in tears.

I don't have any big conclusion I am working to here. I just wanted to vent about all of my imperfections. I keep praying for increased patience and, more importantly I guess, the ability to stay cool and act rather than always reacting to everything bad that happens.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Radio Silence

I feel like I have been hiding out lately but I don't mean to be. I want to say that I haven't blogged because I was doing something phenomenal like caring for orphans in the Sudan but the reality is just that I have been bogged down with life. We have had family staying at our house for the last few weeks and had event after event scheduled on the weekends.

The biggest change in our house is my changing status from stay at home mom to part-time employed mom. I had been looking for various ways to get involved in different projects in the community and this opportunity presented itself. It's a job that allows me to be more involved in my church, have a flexible schedule so that I can still be home with my tot every day, and assist in developing programs in the children's ministry. I have mixed feelings about the transition. On the one hand, I am very excited to have this opportunity and am brimming with ideas to implement. On the other, I feel somewhat guilty to no longer be a full-time stay at home mom. I worry that even though the schedule is flexible and the Tot will have some great one on one time with his dad, that he will still feel short changed in the long run that Mommy decided to go back to work.

I have read all of these different articles about how good it is for moms to have something outside of the home for themselves. The Husband assures me that I am doing no permanent damage and insists that it may actually be good for the Tot as he gets older to realize that Mommy has other responsibilities too and that it is good to be involved in something you care about. I hope he knows what he is talking about. I keep reminding myself that missing bedtime one night a week isn't the end of the world and also that nothing is set in stone. If I start to feel overwhelmed or that the Tot isn't getting what he needs, I can always quit, right?

The Tot is still my priority but this may be a good chance for us both to get some of our other needs met. And who knows, maybe by my not being here with him all day, every day, the Tot will have a chance to miss me and possibly even (dare I say it) ask for me? Thereby learning the one word that I have yet to be able to coax, bribe or force out of him - the ever elusive "Mama".

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Too much to say

I have been composing blog posts in my head but have recently run short on opportunities to clickety-clack them out on the laptop. This is partially because the Husband was home sick two days this week and today we had the Tot's check-up at the pediatrician. Now it is looking like tomorrow will be shot as well due to running to the pediatric optometrist (I hope that we walk out with nothing more serious than an eye patch which will then cause me to debate changing the Tot's Halloween costume from triceratops to pirate) and my own dermatologist appointment. I hope to actually post something real and relevant in the next day or two. In the meanwhile, I will entertain you with funny Tot stories that are not in anyway cohesive.
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The Tot says a handful of words now and has progressed to phrases. His favorite is "I don't know" which is actually "I no-no" emphasized with arms outstretched and a head shake. He says this whenever you ask him where something is or any time you want him to demonstrate his exponentially increasing vocabulary and he doesn't feel like it. It's typically in front of strangers or vague acquaintances when this happens. Usually someone says "Is he talking much?" and I respond with "Oh sure! Say yellow!" and he looks at me with a head shake and says "I no-no?" as if I am completely making up these words and he has never ever uttered them before in his life.
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The Tot has also learned to say "Hi" but he says it like a blond twenty something beach bunny. "Hiieeeee!" He even has a higher pitch when he says it. He particularly enjoys climbing on the couch and then popping up over the back shouting "Hiieeeeee!" to whomever is in the kitchen. His grin is infectious and it's is impossible to not say "Hi" back which, of course, continues to reinforce his game.
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The Husband gave the Tot his bath last night. He has gotten in the habit of letting the Tot run naked from his room to the bathroom and from the bathroom back to his room. This makes me incredibly nervous but I have to admit that the Tot gets an immeasurable amount of glee from running around in the buff so I try to put my OCD aside and not butt in. But following his bath, somewhere en route from the bathroom to his room he was detoured by the playroom. I tried to call him back to his room just as he began to squat on the rug. The Husband appeared and I cautioned "I think he's about to go on the rug" to which he replied "No, he isn't" right as the Tot started to pee! Thankfully the Husband still had the bath towel in his hand and threw it down on the floor to protect the rug. The Tot continued to pee on the towel with a huge grin on his face, positively thrilled with his accomplishment of peeing outside of his diaper. I wanted to be mad but I ended up laughing. With my luck, that will probably result in future episodes of attempting to pee everywhere but the Pampers.
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I am thinking of sending this to Huggies for a future ad campaign. Who wouldn't want this little guy as their spokesperson? Maybe he can even wow them by demonstrating his ability to pee standing up! Or maybe not.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Bigger Picture: Temper, Temper


I have always wanted to be a mother and it's a great gig. People often ask how I am doing now that I have left my job to stay home with our son and I always say "it's the hardest and best job I have ever had". I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share every day with my Tot and watch him grow. However, the "hardest and best" job seems to have recently gotten harder.

The Tot is growing and learning to do more and more all by himself. He loves climbing the stairs. He loves feeding himself. He is incredibly proud that he can get up on the couch all by himself. He is thrilled to "help" us by picking things up off the floor or carrying small objects to and fro. Unfortunately, there appears to be a strong discrepancy between what a toddler wants to do and what they are physically able to do. In those situations when the Tot can't make it on to the couch by himself or when his hands are only big enough to hold three plastic dinosaurs instead of four, heaven help us all. He makes his frustration known immediately and LOUDLY. 


Initially his temper tantrums were met with minimal sympathy from my husband and myself because they seemed to be in response to any attempt to modify his behavior. We quickly realized that while they do seem to appear very quickly after the word "No" is uttered from an adult, they are more a result of him expressing his frustration than an attempt at defiance. It appears that having limited verbal skills makes it difficult to make your anger and frustration known to others. Hence the flopping on the floor, flailing of arms and legs and wailing at the top of his lungs. 


It's when his display is a direct result of not getting his way or being allowed to do as he pleases that things get ugly. He has gone from a sweet and easily distractable baby to a very strong-willed and opinionated toddler. He wastes no time in letting us know when he feels we have wronged him in some way. This is when being the parent feels like the hardest job. His repeated attempts at delicate persuasion (by making our ear drums bleed) to get his way can be very wearing and - I am embarrassed to say - sometimes successful. Not to mention the guilt from refusing him and causing him to cry. No one wants to make their child unhappy, naturally. 


Needless to say, the last few weeks have been a bit of a struggle with some growing pains for both of us. Yesterday, at the gym, I was reading this book and in it the author described her daughter becoming agitated with some decision she had made and going to her room to vent about it privately. The author talked about how it's okay for kids to get angry with decisions they don't agree with and even to express it (in a respectful way). All of the sudden, the light bulb clicked on for me and I realized that we were in the same boat. Except that the Tot doesn't have the ability to go to his room and close the door and fuss. He only knows how to flop down and flail about. But, it's okay for him to get angry sometimes and it's really okay for him to express it and get it out. Likewise, we need to continue to make the decisions that are best for him whether or not he is always happy about it (odds are that he won't be). Hopefully by helping him cool down and showing empathy for his feelings, as he grows he will learn that it's okay to feel upset and it's okay to show it. 


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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Thirty-one

My birthday was last week. My last day of thirty. My first day of thirty-one. For some reason, thirty-one sounds a lot older to me. Maybe it's because I am no longer "turning thirty" but am now "in my thirties". I am not one of those people who gets hung up on age as a general rule. I have really always liked getting older. When I was five I wanted to be ten, when I was ten I wanted to be thirteen, when I was thirteen I couldn't wait to be sixteen and when I was sixteen I wanted to be the ever-desirable twenty one.

However, it seems that once you hit twenty one, every year after that is less exciting. Some would even say that it becomes more and more dreaded each year. I am not one of those people. I actually enjoyed turning thirty. There was something about being thirty that felt very mature and reassuring in some way. My college years were sometimes wild and crazy. My mid to late twenties were less than predictable what with moving several times and changing jobs and trying to start a life! So thirty felt like a safe and secure age. At thirty, I could take a breath. I was somebody's wife, somebody's mother. I had a relatively happy home and a place in this world.

So thirty-one has me at a bit of a loss. What does thirty-one have to offer me that thirty didn't? I am still someone's wife and someone's mother. I still have a relatively happy home and am mostly comfortable with my place in this world. I have had the wild and crazy birthdays and I have had the sentimental milestone birthdays. I have decided that thirty-one is the start of the quiet and relaxed birthdays. It's the "open a few presents, have a small cake and a quiet family dinner" kind of birthday. The "I am so grateful for this year" sort of birthday.

Don't get me wrong, I still celebrated. I enjoyed every minute of my birthday, but I have noticed as I have gotten older that I have less need for fireworks and a greater appreciation for peace. One some level, I feel like this must be a sign of maturity. Either that or I am just one step closer to sitting in a rocker on the porch hollering at the neighbor kids for making too much racket.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Last Time

I have been thinking a lot about "last times". The last time you see someone, the last day of a job, the last time you ate at a favorite restaurant before it closed, the last time you slept in your childhood home. It seems that as a general rule, we rarely know that the last time is the last until it's over. It's typically in hindsight that we realize our last time has passed.

We have recently been struggling with naps and bedtimes again. Apparently the joy of increased autonomy and physical ability also brings the double edged sword of willfulness. Which is why we MUST have Mickey Mouse in our laps for story time and rocking. Which is also why (most recently) we MUST read the Chugga Chugga Choo Choo book every night. It also may be why the Tot refuses to snuggle very much anymore. In fact, frequently after about 30 seconds of rocking, he sits up and points at the crib in a very assertive manner indicating that he is done with rocking and ready to get on with the business of sleeping. Let me also just say that this does not always indicate that sleeping will occur. As a matter of fact, many an evening I get to listen to a lengthy monologue from the Tot to his stuffed friends for a good fifteen to twenty minutes after he is tucked in. In any case, his actually calming down and letting me rock him has become a rarity at best. Which is why, on the random occasion that he actually does snuggle up and let me soothe him all the way to sleep, I have gotten in a (very bad) habit of continuing to rock him for an extra song or two just to enjoy the moment and the warmth of my sleeping son. Because each time, I never know if it will be the last time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Why blog?

Bigger Picture Moment

I first started this blog with the idea that no one would read it and really that no one would know about it. It was more like an online journal or even just an electronic record that I wanted to keep of my days with the Tot so that I could look back and remember all of his different milestones and our experiences together. In fact, I was concerned about people stumbling on to it by mistake and recognizing him or myself which is why I have done my best to remain anonymous. Though, in retrospect, it's not often that I really write a lot of soul-barring stuff, but I think I like having the option to do so. I worry that if friends or family knew that I wrote a blog, I wouldn't feel as free to post my feelings about any given topic. I might feel uncomfortable writing a whole entry about my menstrual cycle (oh yes, I did!) or analyzing how women make friends or complaining about whatever nonsensical thing the Husband has done. I wonder how people make the decision to be anonymous or to be known. I also wonder to what lengths I would really have to go to be completely anonymous. I guess it's something I am only half-heartedly doing because I still post pictures that would be easily recognizable to any relative or friend. I suppose in the back of my mind, I am thinking that with all of the hundreds of thousands of blogs out there, what are the odds that someone would stumble on mine?


I have lately been struggling with maintaining my blog. My goal is to write something every day but I often find myself falling short of that goal, either because I can't find the time to sit and write or because I don't have anything that I feel like blogging about. I think I sometimes become discouraged by my lack of readers, but then I have to remind myself that I am not writing for an audience. It's great if I end up with one, but if not, that's okay too, because it was never the objective in the first place. I am just writing for me. So, as long as I am still enjoying it, it is still worth doing. Even if it's not every day.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

You gotta have friends...

I am supposed to be doing kitchen related activities, but this has been swirling in my head for sometime now. I recently embarked on a girls weekend with some old friends. It's a tradition of ours to hang out and spend time just the three of us - sharing wine, drinking, talking. We have been friends for many years. We don't always get along, but we have a great time when we do. The dynamics of our threesome can be tricky - threesomes always are.

I noticed on our last excursion that one of the girls continually talked about all of her fun times with her "BFF". I was a little surprised that she even used that term as she does not present herself as the type of woman who would, but I think she was saying it sort of ironically. Even so, she said it a lot. And it started to bother me on some level. Partially, I suppose it's the idea of having a "best" friend. A friend who is held above all other friends or is considered better than any other friends. But also, I was thinking about what it might feel like to have a best friend.

It seems like every book I read, there is a main character with some conflict and, inevitably, her best girl friend to lean on. Some woman that she has known all of her life since 6th grade or their first job together or their college days. Some person who knows her better than anyone else. I have never really been very successful at cultivating friendships with women. I can't explain why. In grade school, I had a best friend from 2nd grade until 5th grade when she decided she wanted to be another girl's best friend instead. In High School, I had a best friend who stopped being my friend in a very aggressive manner and instead became my worst enemy and I still don't really know why. Prior to leaving for college, I had a best friend who I spent a lot of time with but never really felt fully connected to, so it was no big surprise that our friendship dissolved during the four years I was away.

When I met my husband, I found my best friend. He is the person who gets me the way no one else does. He understands my jokes and tolerates my crabbiness. I am grateful that I have the kind of marriage that other people envy. I know that has a lot more to do with God's grace than any actual skill on my part. Still, there is a part of me that wishes I could have a close, long term relationship with another woman. Someone I could call my closest friend. Someone that I would count on to tell me when I am unreasonable or not being genuine. Someone that would make me laugh and who I would feel comfortable crying in front of.

This may be one of the reasons I continue to pursue my" meet-up" group, in the hopes that at one of the scheduled play dates or Mom's night outs, I will find a kindred spirit. That there will be some other mother in the group who feels the way that I do about things, who wants to go have coffee on occasion or browse a bookstore together. Who is an extrovert and has a great sense of humor. (Why does it sound like I am writing a personal ad?) Maybe it's not possible to have all those things. Maybe having children and a husband and some casual friendships are all some women can really handle at a given time.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Keep Swimming...

I have been thinking about sharks today. I feel like a shark. Not in the carnivorous "must feed" kind of way, but in the "must keep moving" kind of way. I remember reading that if a shark stops swimming, it dies. I am starting to feel like I must have a similar propensity for momentum. I find it difficult to sit still these days. I have noticed during weeks that our household is plagued with illness and we are all housebound, I get in a rut. It's hard to feel motivated to do much of anything when you are still in your pajamas at 11 o'clock in the morning. I find myself getting more and more apathetic and listless.

But, when the fog lifts, and I am able to get out and resume our regularly scheduled routines - things are better. This is a stark contrast compared to the days of full time employment (pre-Tot) when we would frequently spend our weekends couch surfing. In fact, I have one of those really active friends who I became jealous of every time we compared weekend plans. Mine would be something like "ordering pizza, watching movies, going grocery shopping, catching up on Tivo, going to church, cleaning house" and hers was always like "going for bike ride, going to dinner at new place in town, going to the lake to go sailing/kayaking/swimming (insert water related activity here), going for a hike, going to a BBQ" etc.

Admittedly, I used to think that the reason she had a much cooler life was partly that she lived in a cooler place - the shores of Lake Michigan as compared to a corn field. But now, even here in the corn, I am also finding myself full of plans. There are so many things I want to do with the Tot and I am struggling to fit it all in  some days. But, it's a nice kind of struggle. It's a much more desirable conflict than say "Should I even bother showering today?" for example.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quick Takes Friday




1) Due to another recent bought of illness, our household has seen way too much "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" as of late. I love Mickey. I always have. But he's starting to get to me. He's too perky all of the time. He asks questions that seem to be redundant at best. I find myself responding mentally to his questions in a very unpleasant fashion. And why is he never surprised by the tools that Toodles gives him? Just once I would like to hear him say "A baby elephant? Seriously?! You have to be kidding me!" And don't even get me started on the passive-aggressive frenemies, Minnie and Daisy.

2) Along those lines, I am also annoyed and simultaneously bizzarely fascinated by "Special Agent Oso". No offense to Sean Astin who I have loved since his days as a Goonie, but the weird way this teal and lemon colored panda tries to parody James Bond is just creepy to me. I can do without the cutesy episode titles or the very disturbing robotic voice singing a very Bond-like theme song for each mission.

3) The Tot has become fascinated with the light switches. His very favorite activity is to climb up on the couch so he can reach the switch plate. He then proceeds to flip the lights off (or on) and subsequently yell "La - LA!" which is "Ta Da" in tot-speak. His "Ta da's" get louder and longer with each flip. It is incredibly entertaining.

4) So amused was the Husband by the recent baby tricks that he tried to pull the video camera out and capture the game for our future entertainment. However, as has been the case since the day of his birth, the Tot will immediately stop performing the minute he sees a camera lens. In fact, he now goes so far as to put his hand up in front of the camera and say "no, no, no" emphatically.

5) I am succumbing to the Pillow Pet craze. Not because I am a follower. (But I totally am for those who were wondering.) But more because the Tot loves pillows. He pulls the couch pillows to the floor and flops on them constantly. I have begun using a throw pillow to mark the spot on the floor where he is to sit when he watches television (so as to prevent him from trying to climb up inside the screen by standing as close as space will allow) and he loves laying on it. He has his own "Tot-size" pillow complete with pillow case in his crib which he now sleeps on every night. So what is one more pillow? I have a feeling that much like every other toy we have purchased where we have been completely thrilled and excited to see his reaction and witness his joy at such a "perfect toy", he will probably be unimpressed and decide that the Pillow Pet is nowhere near as cool as Mommy's beige microfiber couch pillows.

6) There are only a few more weekends left of the summer which is giving me anxiety and making me want to cram as much summer fun as possible in to each one. We have excursions to the Farmer's Market, the pool, and the park planned. Not to mention some local art/food festival to look forward to as well as our own backyard fun.

7) Simultaneously, the start of school has begun the start of the Fall/Winter shopping. I have spent the last several evenings browsing the interweb in search of adorable Fall decorations, the Tot's Halloween costume, and some cozy Fall sweaters for myself. As well as planning future excursions to the apple orchard and the pumpkin farm. I will miss Summer but I truly love Fall : the cool bite in the air, the caramel apples, the decorations, the snugly warm clothes. What's not to love about a season that allows you to pig out on trick or treat candy and Thanksgiving food and then gives you the excuse of bulky warm clothes to hide your growing muffin top?!


Happy Friday! For more Friday Quick takes, click here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Bigger Picture: The "in-crowd"

Bigger Picture Moment


This past weekend I went on a trip with a couple of girlfriends. It's a tradition that we have carried for years but had been on hiatus with the birth of The Tot. This was also the first time I had been away from the Tot for more than just an overnight. Prior to the trip, I had an unlimited amount of anxiety. Would they be okay on their own? Would he miss me? Would the Husband be able to handle it?

It was a fun trip. A combination of jokes, laughs, long talks and the retelling of old stories with just a dab of homesickness swirled in. It was hard not to miss my Tot as good a time as I was having. I had the added struggling of being with two old friends who do not have their own children, probably making it hard for them to understand the emptiness I felt at being away. But the break was good and the trip was fun.

I made the return trip in record time and all I could think during the last leg was how much sooner I would get to see my Tot. The sound of excited squealing as I came through the door has got to be one of the best sounds ever. It was ALMOST worth the absence just to hear his giggles. I couldn't wait to hug him and show him all of the souvenirs I had brought back. It felt great to be home.

However, I realized quickly that though I had been missed, in my absence I had been relegated to "outsider". Not only had the Husband done a bang-up job of caring for the Tot (I knew he would), but they had formed their own little group of which I was not a member. They were the "in-crowd" and I was not included. They had all of these new games to play and routines that I was unfamiliar with. I was surprised by a feeling of exclusion and just a tiny pinch of jealousy at all I had missed by being away for such a short time. The joy at seeing them so close, bonded thick as thieves, quickly  eradicated any sadness I might have felt. 

Seeing them together, rolling on the floor, laughing at some joke or sound or face, I realized that this must be some of what the Husband feels every day when he comes home. Each time he says "Let's do..." and I respond with "No, we do it this way now..." or when he arrives right in the middle of some game or story. For so long, I felt that he was the one to be envied. The one with the escape hatch. The freedom to go to the store, eat lunch, run errands, all while being unencumbered by a stroller or diaper bag. But now I know the truth - I am the one to be envied. I am always a member of the "in-crowd". 

Find more Bigger Picture Moments here!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Vacation?

I am leaving tomorrow for a "girls weekend". I used to do this once a summer with a couple of my closest friends but I haven't gone since the Tot was born. I was looking forward to it from the time we started planning it six months ago, right up until the few weeks or so. When I realized that I would be "Tot-less" for almost three days. When he was fussy or crabby or forcing me to chase after him from room to room to room, this was a pleasant thought. Remembering previous excursions with my dear friends that include sitting in the sun on the beach, going to wineries, and laughing until my side hurts always makes me excited for this trip. But this year, I am also thinking of the way the Tot's hair smells after his bath and how good it feels to tuck him in at night. I am wondering if he will miss me tomorrow when his dad comes to get him in the morning instead of me. Will he think I am downstairs and then be sad or confused when I am not there? What if he hurts himself or gets upset and is crying for me when only Daddy is available? These are the thoughts that keep me company in the wee hours of morning. I have to keep reminding myself "This is fun. This is fun. This is fun. This is SUPPOSED to be fun."

I hope I am right.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So Big!

The Tot has been sick with a summer cold all week. A check up from our pediatrician assured me that it was not bronchitis or any thing more than some congestion and a sore throat. Even so, they recommended giving him some Benadryl to try to dry him up.

Yesterday, I fed him his lunch and then began the considerable process to get him ready for his nap. First we did the Tylenol for his throat. Then came the Benadryl for congestion. Finally, some Vicks Vaporub on his chest. And of course, the requisite diaper change. I put on some music and grabbed his Mickey Mouse so we could settle in to the chair for my favorite part of the day - our rocking time. 

My butt had no sooner hit the seat when he started squeaking at me and gesturing behind him. "Shhh." I patted and tried to soothe. He continued to struggle against me, trying to sit up and point. Initially, I tried to ignore him and kept re-situating him on my chest but he continued to wiggle. Eventually it began to feel like holding a sack of puppies and finally I asked "Are you ready to go to the crib?" "Mmm-Hmm!" he answered emphatically. So, I placed him in the crib and tucked him in. He immediately snuggled up to his Mickey and closed his eyes. 

I was fighting not to cry as I closed the door to his room. How could he not want to be rocked anymore? Is he suddenly too big for cuddling with his mom? He's not even two! Last night, my husband informed me that he had the exact same experience at bed time. I became tearful when he explained that it was likely that he was just growing out of needing to be held before bed. The Husband quickly backtracked and said "Or it could just be that he is sick and really tired. I am sure he will get back to wanting a snuggle once he feels better." But, I don't believe him.

I am starting to think we are past the baby stage and moving full force into Toddlerdom. There are so many milestones that I am looking forward to and simultaneously dreading like potty training, a big boy bed, the first day of preschool. But, this was one that caught me off guard. I had no idea that one day the Tot would just wake up and decide he could sleep on his own. I know, most moms out there are shaking their heads and saying "count your blessings" and I guess they are right. It could be the other extreme where I couldn't get him to nap or sleep at night without us. I know moms who still rock their babies all the way to sleep and sometimes spend up to an hour doing so. I just wish I had a little more time to enjoy the nighttime cuddles. 

This is how moms end up deciding to have another baby, isn't it?

Monday, August 9, 2010

8 years

Eight years of marriage. Eight years of being friends, holding hands, dancing in the kitchen, cooking dinners, sharing coffee, laughing, arguing, making up, packing, moving, unpacking, staying up late, sleeping in, kissing, cuddling, parenting, diapering, late night feedings, hugs, and rooting for each other.

Eight years. Looking forward to the the next eighty or so...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Public Mommy

Being a mom is hard. There are hundreds of thousands of mom blogs out there to confirm that. But the older the Tot gets, the more confident I feel at it. In terms of "Look he's almost 17 months old and still functioning! Hooray me!" And also because I feel like I have continued to learn and hone my mad parenting skillz.

Yesterday I realized that while in the privacy of my own home I may feel like a fairly confident momma who knows her stuff, I have yet to establish quite enough self confidence in a public arena. We had a play date at the park with some friends. This is typically fun for both of us, but as the Tot gets bigger, he tends to venture further and further out of our play group. In this case he was meandering all over the playground exploring and I found myself repeated in situations where I felt the need to apologize to the other parent. "I am so sorry, he thinks that ball is his." "He takes his time on the stairs, sorry." "Sorry, he doesn't really understand sharing yet." "Sorry, he's an only child, can you tell?" Every apology was met with a "It's fine! Don't worry about it!" or a knowing smile and nod.

I don't know why I kept apologizing to the other parents. I mean, after all, he's not even two years old, so what can they expect, right? I guess I was more concerned of what they would think of me. Were they thinking I was not a good parent because my child took the ball from another child? Or because he wanders up to total strangers and tries to drink from their cups? Driving home I was cringing to myself. Not about the Tot's behavior but about my own. I felt embarrassed that I was so compelled to apologize when he wasn't really doing anything wrong in most instances, and I didn't want him to feel like he was. I guess I am still adjusting to parenting in front of others. I am always worried about scrutiny and whether I am doing a good job. In retrospect, it doesn't matter if total strangers think I am doing a good job. It really only matters what I think and what my son thinks. And, okay,on some occasions - what the Husband thinks.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: You have to want it

Bigger Picture Moment

I have recently become a gym rat. This is not a phrase I could ever have imagined myself using in my pre-Tot days. In fact, until I became a momma, the gym was just a passing acquaintence of mine. You know, the kind you nod to at parties and say "we really should get together sometime" but you both know you never will? That was my relationship with the gym.

Until this past fall when I started to become concerned about the Tot's overwhelming and almost constant desire for my presence. Such that even leaving him with his dad caused emotional scaring (admittedly he is a poor substitute for mom, but still!). So, I began to try different methods to afford us both some space. One of which was the gym. I was surprised to find out that dropping the Tot in the nursery and sweating it out on an elliptical trainer with my headphones on was actually enjoyable. Possibly even somewhat relaxing. An hour apart from the Tot seemed just enough time to help us both get ourselves in order. Not to mention, I felt great after every workout!

Unfortunately, I have found that in the haze of Kindermusik, play dates, and appointments, my work out time tends to get lost these days. It is all too often that I am writing something on the calendar and realizing as I do it that I will be missing the gym that day. Also, it seems to be Murphy's Law that once I get a good streak of workouts going and am building momentum towards making daily exercise a part of my routine, the Tot gets sick. Of course, by the time he is over said cold/flu virus, I have typically acquired it which keeps us both quarantined for a week or more.

I am frequently filled with a feeling of frustration about this and am reminded of the saying "one step forward, two steps back". Then the other day it dawned on me. Just like most things in my life these days whether it's alone time with the Husband or grocery shopping, I have to prioritize it in order to make it happen. That's not to say that I can't attend swim class or play dates during the week, but just that I have to wedge work out time in somewhere else.  If it's important to me, I have to make time for it.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

You and Me and Alcohol...

I don't drink. It's not a conscious decision as in "I am never going to drink". It's more like a combination of a lack of desire and opportunity. I will have a glass of wine on occasion or margaritas with girlfriends, but in general, it's just not something I do. It doesn't bother me when other people drink as long as the situation doesn't degrade into one of those times where I end up the "caretaker" of a bunch of wasted individuals. I guess at this age and this time of my life, I have an actual child to be a mother to, so I don't feel like I should have to fill that role for my adult friends or family members. In general, this has not been an issue. What does end up an issue for people is my abstinence. Most people I meet assume that I am not drinking either because I am in recovery or because I am holier than thou. Neither of which is the case, but there doesn't seem to be an effective way to communicate that to other people without sounding like a judgmental jerk (thus probably proving their hypothesis).

 I don't know why I don't like to drink. I like the taste of alcohol just fine. I think I am somewhat uncomfortable with that feeling after 1-2 drinks of being tipsy and relaxed and not quite in control of the situation. I can understand how it might be a release for a lot of people but for me, it only serves to increase my anxiety. To make matters worse, I feel like I have made some of my worst life choices while drinking. I seem much less clear headed once alcohol is involved and there have been plenty of mornings following "wild nights" that I have thought "Why didn't I just...?" So from my perspective, my life functions quite well without alcohol and therefore, I have little desire to add it to my life. 


Unfortunately, in my family, this is akin to becoming a Hare Krishna or a polygamist's wife. It's just not something they understand and subsequently is often viewed with more than a bit of suspicion. Many the family gathering has occurred when I am offered a beer which is politely declined. But what I have noticed is that if I don't follow it up with some sort of explanation - "I am driving", "I am on medication", or "I am pregnant", I am regarded as if I have a couple of horns sprouting from my head. Not to mention that most of my excuses (aside from pregnancy) are typically dismissed with a wave of the hand and a "oh, that doesn't matter" type of comment. What I do not understand is what is the vested interest from other drinkers in trying to get a non-drinker to have a drink? And for that matter, why in those situations, am I the one who ends up feeling as if I am being rude as opposed to the one who is the victim of peer pressure which is actually the case? 


As a parent, I find this issue even more concerning because I know how much I struggle with feeling pressured in instances when I am the person saying "no" of my own volition. I can't imagine how much tougher it would be for a teenager who is already on the fence about alcohol or drugs in their own mind to be faced with a group of friends trying to push them in the direction of using or drinking. My hope is that by abstaining myself in most instances, I will be able to offer some future insight to my own children and model by actions rather than words. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Fear

I was really glad to see my niece this past weekend. I don't get to see her often enough and so every time I do, it feels like someone has hit the fast forward button on her life and she has grown before my eyes. She is an amazing 6 year old who is smart, funny, and just a tad bit fearful. Here (in no particular order) is a non-exhaustive list of the current things my niece is afraid of - people being angry with her, getting in trouble, loud noises, Maleficient, Ursula and most other Disney Villans, Veggietales (yes, you read that correctly), new situations, getting yelled at, and probably a lot of other things that either didn't come up during her visit or I have already forgotten.

My in-laws are of the opinion (of course) that her propensity for fear is attributable to faulty parenting. I am not sure I can agree with them on that. Probably partly because, as a parent myself, I am extremely sensitive to the idea that my own Tot's behavior will be a direct result from every parenting decision I make. I tend to believe that his own little personality and feelings will play a large role in what he does and who he is. Moreover, as a former therapist, I know that behavior is never quite as black and white as A+B=C. If it worked so well as that, it would be easy to trace back the source of problem behaviors and correct them. And many therapists would be out of a job. The reality is that many variables influence a child's behavior, not just the reactions of their parents.

This is a cause for some concern in my mind because I don't want the Tot to be fearful, but it seems like a little bit of a crap shoot.  I know that some children have more of a predisposition to anxiety than others which means that he could just as easily be an anxious little boy as a carefree one. I know that all I can really do is be there for him and reassure him if he becomes afraid. I find myself hoping that if he is afraid, it is a typical fear from childhood like the dark or thunderstorms. Something that will easily be conquered by age and with time.

The thing about life is - it is scary. There are lots of really scary things out there in the big bad world. People we love get sick and die, mean people do awful things like steal or hurt other people, wars happen and disaster strikes. It's not that I don't want him to ever know about these things, but right now he has a fearlessness that can only come from the blissful unawareness of childhood. I want him to hold on to that as long as he can. As for my niece, I can only hope that this is a phase like any other and she will grow out of it soon. Perhaps the next time I see her, she will be a much more carefree version of herself.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The visit

We are supposed to be getting ready for the gym but the Tot is laying tuckered on the floor instead.
Our weekend visit with family was great fun but also somewhat draining. I have lots of fun stories to tell but really no drive to tell them just now. So this is easier:
Peek a Boo makes a great travel game!


So does reading - "Hungry Caterpillar" anyone?
EVERYONE enjoyed lunch at American Girl
New friends were made
Nothing says fun quite like a fountain to the face...

Naps and meals were somewhat irregular and it felt much like we were constantly running from one place to another, but all in all, it was a wonderful visit. The Tot really enjoyed the company of his older cousin and positively adores his grandparents. I know we will be counting the weeks until his next visit with them and in the meanwhile he will be catching up on his naps and getting back to his routine. Well, let's hope. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: Respect the Mama

Bigger Picture Moment

In the sixteen short months of my Tot's life, I have received a lot of feedback. From well-meaning moms, family members, friends, the Husband, but mostly from my mother and mother-in-law. My own mother is very expressive and has no problem at all with telling me when she thinks I should be handling the Tot differently. My mother-in-law is the opposite and often will not come right out and say that she disagrees as much as quietly offer a differing opinion.

Unfortunately, her opinion differs not only from my own but also from that of my sister-in-law and her own parenting methods with her two girls. One of whom is currently on her way here for a visit in the company of her grandparents. While I am excited for the visit, the possibility for conflicts between my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law over how my niece should be cared for is giving me a fair amount of anxiety. Don't get me wrong, my sister-in-law and I are not always on the same page as parents either. In fact, I am very embarrassed to admit that before I was a parent myself, I frequently engaged in my own critique to my husband of how we would and would NOT be doing things when we had children of our own based on what we witnessed during family gatherings. You know, because we were young newlyweds with nary a child to speak of, so of course we knew so much better than the actual parents.

But when the Tot was new and not so much a Tot as a squalling, red-faced bundle, I was eager to accept most of the feedback that was offered to me. I knew that I had no clue what I was doing and if these other, well meaning ladies did, well, then I should humbly learn from their more experienced ways, right? But as the Tot grew larger, so did my own confidence as a parent. Conversely, my desire for feedback and my ability to receive it graciously began to shrink.

Everyone has a different way to parent. Some differences are huge and more to do with a general parenting philosophy such as attachment parenting or styles of discipline. Other differences are minute such as whether to nurse in public or whether to feed your child organic food. But, as it turns out, there is no one right way to rear a child. In fact there are hundreds or thousands of ways to parent and no one way is necessarily better or worse in the grand scheme. But, that doesn't stop us from telling each other how to do it better. Or shaking our heads in that knowing, judgmental fashion when we see a parent diverting from what we would do.

The reality is that what one family may do with their children or in their home, may not work for our family or the way we want to raise our children. It may seem ill-advised or even ludicrous to us in many instances. But as a parent myself, I am fully aware that I have some a lot of specific wishes for how I want my own child to be cared for in my absence. Which is why my niece will be eating a fruit and/or vegetable with every meal, will not be watching any shows that her mother is not in favor of, and will not be getting tons of sugary snacks or extravagant gifts. At least not from me. Because whether you agree with it or not, whether it is what you would do or not, the bottom line is: You've got to respect the mama!



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Monday, July 26, 2010

Job Description

I am sure I have mentioned it before, but this week and weekend has been spent in a flurry of cleaning due to the impending arrival of the in-laws. This is typically not a fun task by any means but only made less fun by the very heated discussion that arose following said cleaning bout as the Husband and I competed to see "who did more". Least you think that we sound like six year olds (because we kind of are) let me just say that it did not start out to be a contest of who works harder. Well, it actually started because I came downstairs dripping with sweat after scrubbing (and I mean SCRUBBING) both bathrooms, to find my husband sitting on the couch playing "Call of Duty". As I am sure you can imagine, I did not respond well.

In his defense, he pointed out that he had already picked up the kitchen and wiped down all of the counter areas. Which he had and it was appreciated. Until he indicated that he felt this was going "above and beyond" what should be expected of him. Wha-? 'xcuse me?! So that's how the conversation began - it was initially an inquiry on my part to determine what exactly he felt his duties for cleaning the house should be and what was considered "above and beyond" in his mind. I am embarrassed to say that I was not able to keep it on the mature and respectful level where it began. But, in MY defense - neither was he. 

One thing I have to say about arguing with my husband is that it very frequently ends in laughter. This is one of my favorite things about our relationship. We both have the ability to laugh at ourselves and let some of the anger go in favor of more positive emotions like amusement. The other blessing to this ridiculous bout of "I did more! No, I did more!" was that it made us both more aware of our assumptions about the household duties and who would be doing what. Many, many moons ago in our pre-tot existence, when we were both very mature and self-aware, we had a discussion about whose job it should be to do which tasks. In fact, we have had many of those discussions since the start of our cohabitation.

However, since the birth of our spawn, we have neglected to have a single conversation about who should be doing what where the household chores are concerned. The furthest we have come is to say whose night it is to put the baby to bed and who will be in charge of dinner. So, I was surprised to find out that he assumed the dishes were my responsibility. Likewise, he was surprised to find that I expected him to do the laundry. Therefore, any time he had been doing the dishes, in his mind he was "helping me out" and I was feeling the same way about the laundry. (which was part of the reason he felt he was going "above and beyond" this weekend - he had done the dishes AND the laundry!) 

Now that we have been able to discuss it and determine who should be responsible for what (he is responsible for laundry, I am responsible for dishes - go figure!) we can hopefully avoid further arguments about who is working harder. Or not - but at least the dishes will be clean and the laundry will be done!