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.

Click here to enjoy more Bigger Picture Moments and link up!

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


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.

For more Bigger Picture Moments - click here.

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


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.