Tuesday, May 31, 2011


It was a long appointment. We got to see the arms, the spine, the heart, the head. We saw feet and some internal organs. What we did not see were any private parts! The baby was breech and backwards and refused to turn around to show us the goods. So, alas, the wondering and guessing will continue for another 2 months. I am now even more convinced it must be a girl, why else be so obstinate?

Pink or Blue....

Today's the day. Assuming our little peanut isn't too shy for the camera, today we will learn if our tot gets a brother or a sister this fall. Everyone has a guess. I posted an inquiry on facebook and the comments are divided right down the middle - 50/50! When I ask Ben, he says he wants a brother (not that I think he has any idea what that will mean to him). My husband swears it's a girl.

Everyone wants to know what I think. I feel like it's a girl. Mostly because this pregnancy has been completely different from my last one. I have had every pregnancy symptom ever invented. I went from nausea and exhaustion to heartburn, back aches and sciatic nerve pain. I even have a linea nigra line on my tummy! (It's probably odd to be excited about that but I really am. I think I might even take a picture of it!)

I think there are pros and cons to either one. If we have a girl, it will be new and different. Something we have yet to experience as parents, as a family. There will be pink things to shop for and dresses to buy. If we have a boy, we are already prepared for many of the things little boys bring. We have a lot of the clothes and toys a boy would need. We even already have a couple of boy names we are kicking around. Best of all, Ben will have a playmate, a counter part. Someone he can play in the rocks with and chase around the yard. Though, I suppose, a girl will probably do those things too.

Either way, we are blessed. Either way we have a new little person to love. Either way, our family is bigger, better, more complete.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Good Dad

It was the first truly hot day of the season last week, more than ninety degrees outside (of course, next week it will be back in the sixties. Gotta love the midwest!). My poor tot had been trapped in the house for so many days due to illness and cooler weather, I just had to let him out to play. We pulled out some swim trunks, sunscreen and the sprinkler.

He had a great time running and splashing in the water. He brought his cars outside for a "bath" and made a game of tossing them by the sprinkler and then running in to the spray to "rescue" them. Every so often he would run over to me, dripping wet with some request or other and I (not wearing swim apparel) did my best to keep him at arms length to avoid getting soaked secondarily.

Eventually, my husband came home and dinner needed to be started. So, he fired up the grill and I proceeded inside to husk the corn. My husband was still in his work clothes and was keeping an eye on Ben while trying hard to avoid a lot of drippy contact with our sprinkler kid.

At some point, Ben decided he needed more toys to play with and came to the door to get them. Of course, he has been repeatedly warned to stay off the cement stoop and not to play with the door, but naturally he forgets that within moments of hearing it. So he was climbing the stairs to pull open the door and he slipped and fell on the concrete stairs. He fell "tummy first" so no head injury or major damage, but it scared him and he started to wail. I was still in the kitchen and ran for the door just in time to see my husband drop what he was doing and scoop up our soaking wet son in his arms.

I don't know why but I felt overcome with emotion. Knowing my husband the way I do, knowing his strong preference for staying clean, for having things in order. And seeing his instinct to be there for Ben and to comfort him when he needed it most, no matter what the circumstance. I couldn't think of anything to say other than "you are such a good dad."

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A healthy dose of perspective


This weekend was rough. The stress of trying to accomplish so many projects before the baby arrives on limited funds and with limited time is finally starting to wear on us a bit. The husband and I sat down on Sunday evening and had one of those frustrating discussions about where to cut expenses and how to save on Ben's new bedroom furniture. In the end, I just ended up more frustrated and annoyed as none of the solutions we came up with felt satisfactory. I went to bed that night and prayed that we would get some perspective and be able to prioritize our needs over our wants.

The next morning, I learned that while we had been arguing over toddler furniture and which carpet to put in the basement,  four hundred miles away my friend's town was being decimated by a tornado. While we were debating between ordering from fancy Pottery Barn or the more reasonable Target, others were losing their homes, their possessions, their lives. Suddenly I feel very foolish. My prayers feel silly and selfish.

I am relieved that Sarah and her family are okay. I am grateful to know that they all made it through the storm in one piece. However, I have seen the pictures. Sarah has blogged about the devastating loss. It is heart breaking.

To help Joplin recover and rebuild, Bigger Picture blogs will be hosting an auction on their site beginning at 8am on Wednesday, May 25th through Friday, May 27th. Here is the link. They will have a variety of cool products donated from all of these different places:

A Soft Landing
Jamie Shaw

Please go and check it out. The proceeds from the auction go to the Salvation Army to help aid the relief effort in Joplin. (It's a much more important thing to spend money on than a toddler bed from Pottery Barn.)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Busy, busy, busy

We are done with all of our regularly scheduled programming for the Summer and yet still I find that we are scheduled non-stop. Between play dates with our meet up group and other friends and catching up on lunches and other fun things that we couldn't do sooner because we had to run off to Kindermusik or swim lessons, we still find our calendar covered in plans. Which sounds stressful but actually is great fun. And serves the purpose of keeping me busy so I have very little time to obsess about our sonogram which is in one week! (However, this does not prevent nosy grandparents from asking about it in every interaction - "Do you know the gender yet? What do you think it is?" so the actual appointment is never really very far from mind).

We are also trying to get the basement finished so that the guest room can relocate and then the current guest room can be re-purposed to be the tot's new "Big Boy" room. This of course adds an additional level of complication to making plans and trying to accomplish important things like blogging seeing as how my usual time to blog is during Ben's nap and he hasn't been getting one on days that there are contractors banging around in the basement. This also eliminates my own little piece of downtime and causes things like mopping the floors to continue to go undone.

So needless to say, we need these activities to keep us busy, shift our focus, and keep us out of the noisy house. But I will surely be glad when things have calmed a bit and we can make it back to some semblance of a routine that includes nap times and a clean, quiet house.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to bond with the neighbors

I have been asking my husband to mow the lawn for about a week. Last week it was sweltering hot and he spent most evenings grilling out and watching the tot. This weekend, it rained and rained and rained. Lots of rain = lots of grass. None of this would matter if we did not have a play date scheduled with friends for this afternoon. I started to make jokes that Ben and his play mate were going to get lost in the tall grass.

Yesterday evening we had dinner plans and were home too late to do much about the yard. Which is why, at 7 am, the husband got out and mowed and trimmed our lawn while Ben had breakfast and then watched longingly through the window, just dying to go outside and help. (My argument of "It's only 40 degrees out!" did nothing to dissuade him).

I feel certain that our neighbors will be appreciative of our diligence when it comes to landscaping and not at all perturbed by our early morning ruckus - don't you? 

Monday, May 16, 2011

No More Fears

Who knows where fears come from? The psychologist in me would say that fear is a learned response, but it seems like too simple of a solution. I used to think that when my toddler was very anxious, he might have inherited it from one of his parents. We both tend to be more controlling, type-A sorts of people and I worried that he might either be modeling our behavior or inherently predisposed to it.

Recently his fears have increased and I have been doing research and talking to friends. So far, it seems that the consensus is that this is a developmental stage all children go through. He is afraid of the common toddler complaints - loud noises, dark, dogs barking. None of his fears are out of the ordinary, or (according to the internets) very unusual. But we still don't know what to do about them. Nothing I say seems to reassure him when he becomes afraid short of holding him close. I have tried to dispel his fears by explaining there is nothing to be afraid of, but then find that some professionals feel that diminishes the importance of his feelings. I have tried to explain why things happen - why the doggies bark loud, why some rooms or areas are dark, why the contractors in the basement make so much noise, but to no avail. Each and every time he is confronted with a fearful event, he is just as startled.

Now the nightmares have started. Or, I think they have. Last night, he woke up twice - once at 1:30 am and again around 5. Each time he was whimpering and asking for mommy. The first time I went in to check on him, his legs and hands were cold as if he might have kicked off his blanket. But, there were no teeth cutting through, no stuffy nose, no fever, none of the other typical nighttime woes that result in my being summoned. So we sat in the chair and rocked for a bit and then he went back to sleep. (I, however, am never as lucky and proceeded to toss and turn for over an hour before finally drifting off). At 5am, he whimpered again, but this time barely long enough for me to check the clock before he quieted again and we all went back to sleep. When I got him up this morning, he was telling me about tigers and hitting mommy in the head and a whole host of other things I couldn't make much sense of - leading me to the conclusion that bad dreams may have been the cause of our night disruption.

As for a solution, I am clueless. I don't want to get in the habit of going in every night to rock as I know that that can become reinforcing very quickly. On the other hand, I don't want him to be afraid and all by himself. Because he is verbal, it's tempting to ask "are you scared?" during these episodes, but it's tough to know if the answer he gives is because he is afraid or because he is learning that scared=extra mommy snuggles. Part of me thinks I should just be glad for the bonus one-on-one time to rock him and cuddle since he never allows it to happen during waking hours. Which would all be well and good if I didn't need sleep to be a functioning caregiver the next day. This is also bringing up my own feelings of frustration - knowing that I can kiss away boo-boos and try to soothe his injured feelings, but there are going to continue to be things that he has to face and work through on his own and in his own way. All I can do is be there and hope it helps.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Missing post

Apparently, blogger was ill yesterday. I had already written a "Bigger Picture Moment" post but could not make it publish no matter what I did. Every time I tried to log in and get the post published, I received some message about how unavailable blogger was. Where did it go? Did it have a date? A doctor's appointment? Was it stricken with some illness? Did it take a short vacation?

In any case, it's back. Unfortunately my post is not. Le Sigh.

Another drink of water

The nap has been a struggle these last few days. I always find it somewhat amusing in a frustrating type of way, that when you think you have things figured out and are following your routine, somehow things go off track in the most random way. Ben skipped his nap a few days ago. No fussing, no arguments. We put him down and he laid in his crib and chatted away. For two solid hours. I just assumed that he'd eventually tucker out, but he never did. Finally we went and got him.

The next two days were fine. Naps were no problem and bedtimes were even a tad earlier (probably due to making up that missed sleep). Now, he is upstairs stomping around in his crib again. I hear him chattering over the monitor and kicking at the sides of the crib. Every now and again, I hear a thud and I know that one of his stuffed friends has jumped ship. Or been forced to walk the plank, as the case may be.

The problem with this for me is that I had plans this afternoon. There is toddler food that needs to be made and frozen. There is a sprinkler I need to set up in the back yard. The mail needs to be fetched. The cookbook fundraiser for Ben's preschool needs attention. But, I have done none of it as I have been sitting here, listening, waiting for him to "give up" and get quiet. Now it seems that the one to be "giving up" will be yours truly.

In the back of my mind is the growing anxiety that we will be switching him to a big boy bed in a big boy room in the very near future. Currently, when he doesn't nap or go right to bed, at least he is contained. I am forseeing a great many "I need a drink" and "One more story" in my future! I have a feeling that our bedtime routine is only going to be further disrupted.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The nipple hat

There are so many things I am looking forward to with this new baby - all of the first milestones: smile, laugh, sitting up, rolling over, etc. The baby snuggles, the rocking, the tummy time. Strangely, the one thing I am not excited about is nursing. Don't get me wrong, I am a complete believer that "breast is best" and fully intend to nurse this next one as long as possible (however long that may be).

I have friends who seemed to have no trouble nursing their children whenever, wherever. They always seem very relaxed about the whole situation. The baby latches with no trouble and they somehow manage to nurse and even switch sides without completely exposing themselves or dropping the baby. It looked so easy. Before I had children, I just imagined that was how it would work. Ummmm - no. Not so much.The problem is that I am not a good nurser. I started out breast feeding with the best of intentions. I assumed that we would struggle at the start but once we learned to latch and practice a bit, both baby and I would become "naturals".

But, for us, nursing was fraught with complications. I was told by the hospital lactation consultant during our first attempt that I had flat nipples. They didn't seem flat to me! She suggested I try a nipple shield "just to get things started".  (For those unfamiliar - a nipple shield is a small rubber sombrero looking thing that fits over your nipple to allow for a better latch. It looks like a tiny hat for your nipple.) Unfortunately, the nipple shield worked SO well, that I could never nurse without it after that. Which doesn't seem like a big deal, except that it ended up being somewhat messy due to my infant's frequent habit of pulling away from the breast with a shield full of milk still in his mouth (resulting in a milk bath all over me and sometimes him). They were also hard to use as a "casual nurser". As much as I wanted to be one of those laid back mommas who could nurse at the park, or while holding my baby in a sling, the nipple shield made it complicated. I struggled to find a way to hold the rubber hat in place while balancing the baby in the other arm. Not to mention figuring out how to wash it and sterilize it when we were out and about!

Due to the hindrance of the nipple shield and my supreme lack of coordination, I frequently found myself at home  nursing from the bed with my boppy. It was the only secure location where I knew I would have plenty of room to spread out, felt secure that I wouldn't drop the baby, and was able to entertain myself while feeding. However, with the arrival of baby #2, it is less practical and likely that I will be able to sequester myself in my bed for nursing sessions.

There may also be some animosity between myself and the nipple hat because I suspected that Ben's sudden desire at nine months to switch from suckling to biting might somehow have been attributable to the rubbery bottle-like feel of the shield. Unfortunately, I was never able to break him of the habit and we ceased nursing and went to straight pumping shortly thereafter which I found both disappointing and heartbreaking.

In any case, because of all of this, I have some anxiety about returning to my role as "milk machine". I feel strongly that nursing is very important and a wonderful thing to do for your baby if you are able. I just want to be good at it, you know? I am secretly prayerful that because this is the second baby, it will somehow be easier and all just fall together in some magical earth-mother type way. I am also pursuing options to avoid the shield if at all possible. Medela makes these things called "Nipple Formers" (I kid you not) and they look like this:

I am wondering A) how comfortable these could possibly be, B) how long I would have to wear them for, and C) what they will look like under my bra. In spite of my skepticism, I am willing to try anything once. If my nipples remain flat,  at least they will still have their favorite accessory to fall back on...their hat!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: The Last Time

I haven't had a lot of patience lately. I find myself saying "Ben!" in a very loud voice far too often. Sometimes it's because I am trying to get his attention (have you ever tried to get the attention of a toddler boy? It's really hard!) and sometimes it's because I am completely frustrated that he continues to do whatever moves him no matter how many times I say "No!" "No, NO!". I have been feeling guilty because I don't want to be a yelling momma. For one thing, I know that yelling is pointless, it gets no more result than if I hopped up and down on one foot or started speaking French. But moreover, I have always imagined myself to be the sort of mom who can model the behavior she would like to see and yelling is not something I'd like to see from my tot (not that he doesn't already do it).

So, I have been trying hard to say things to myself like "He's only two" and to find the joy in the moment rather than the frustration at what appears to be disobedience (and is more likely just a really short attention span). I have also really been praying for patience. My mother-in-law tells me never to pray for patience because then God will give you the trials to help you develop patience! She's probably right, but I do it anyway.

Today, I think it worked! Benjamin was no more or less squirrelly than he usually is, but I found myself able to take a breath and speak calmly to him or just intervene rather than shouting to get his attention. Only on one occasion did I have to raise my voice and it was when he was trying to run from me in the parking lot (in my defense, I think my anxiety took over at that point). After we finished lunch, he started his usual tirade "No nap! No nap! Play cars!" and began crying and kicking not wanting to go upstairs. He even did what I like to call "the noodle impression" where he went all limp and refused to move from the spot on the floor. (Toddlers would make great professional protesters, wouldn't they?) I simply picked him up and carried him upstairs. He cried and sobbed the whole time I changed his diaper, read his book, and rocked him. I didn't get angry or upset. I rubbed his back and said "I know it's hard when you don't get to do what you want to do. That's hard for mommy too". Then we just rocked while he whimpered a bit. Until he stopped whimpering and started sleeping!

I can't tell you how long it has been since my toddler has fallen asleep on me. Months, I would imagine. Today is probably the last time it will happen given his propensity for babble (can't imagine where he gets that from) and lack of desire to relax on his momma. If I had lost my temper, screamed at him to hurry up the stairs or become irate at his ongoing fit before nap, I might not have had this last snuggle. Lesson learned.

Head over to This Heavenly Life to read and share more bigger picture moments!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pregnancy symptom #203

I have an anxious feeling that this pregnancy is going to be completely textbook. Textbook in the sense that I will experience each and every "symptom" reported in all of these pregnancy books. I am finally over the nausea only to be living with a wicked sinus infection that may or may not be related to the nasal congestion of pregnancy. Last night I was jolted out of bed by leg cramps. I had completely forgotten about leg cramps! Their return was not a welcome one.

Because my first pregnancy was completely symptom free and this one seems to be much more like going through a medical checklist, I am eyeing the third trimester of hemorrhoids and sciatic nerve pain with much trepidation. (I also just learned that I have no idea how to spell hemorrhoids.) My previous concerns were more about getting enough sleep and managing the heartburn. Now I am starting to realize that I may need to be more worried about getting some Preparation H cream and a pregnancy pillow. Lucky for me, I just purchased one (The pillow, not the butt cream) due to my extreme inability to stay on my left side when I sleep. My doctor explains that this is not a big deal - that sleeping in general is more important than the position. But, because I end up on my back, I usually stay in that spot through the night which results in uncomfortably stiff hips, back and arms in the morning. So, I am hopeful for the miracle of the Snoogle that I have read so much about!

In other exciting fetus news, I had another check up yesterday and heard the heartbeat. It was so fast! I forgot how fast it sounds compared to my own. My husband was home with our tot so I recorded it for him. My doctor (who is fabulous) also took the time to reassure me that I was not going to damage my baby by eating a tuna fish sandwich or deli meat, in spite of all I have read. She also explained that it is okay to take Tylenol and use face wash and that I was not going to damage my baby. Essentially she said in a very nice way that I was overreacting. I should probably stop reading all of the "WARNING: this will harm your baby" type emails from babycenter.com and maybe lay off the Dr. Oz book as well seeing as how I appear to have yet another pregnancy symptom: anxiety.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The magic of television

Isn't life so much easier to plan out before it starts happening? Before I was a parent, I was against television for little ones. I had read the books, seen the studies, and knew that television could affect their attention spans and worse - become habit forming. I decided that my children would not watch TV until they were older, at least school age. And even then, only in small monitored increments.

Initially, my husband and I both stuck to this ideal and turned the television off whenever Ben was in the vicinity, even before he could focus on the image. This made it a little tougher for us as we both had "our shows" that we enjoyed watching in the evenings after work while winding down for the day. Having a little one made the windows of opportunity to watch television somewhat smaller and even non-existent at times. But we persevered with the plan.

Then, Ben's naps became more predictable and less frequent. My opportunity to shower and brush my teeth disappeared. Somewhere around one year old, I found myself turning on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Sesame Street while he sat (quietly contained) in the pack-n-play so that I could shower and get dressed. I assured myself, these were only short windows of time and would not become routine so it wasn't a big deal. Only then, Ben started to like television. And as he became more verbal, he would ask for it. "Elmo" or "Mouse" or "show". Eventually his video library expanded as well as his tastes and he wanted "Buzz Woody" or "Cars" or "Mater". Even still, I have tried to keep him at no more than an hour a day and typically just thirty minutes while I get ready.

The thing is - I like television. I love movies. I get the draw of wanting to sit in front of the TV and be entertained. After a long week, the husband and I both like to snuggle up on the couch with our tot and watch a cartoon. It gives us some extra cuddle time when he is not running around as if on speed and it's fun for us to share with him movies or shows that we think are fun. Recently he watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (I skipped the scary parts so he really just watched about thirty minutes of dwarfs from the middle) He loved it and it was fun to share it with him. This past week we were both sick and crabby and so the television was turned on more often than typical to keep the peace. Ben got to enjoy some extra shows and I got to have some extra snoozing on the couch.

Today, we were in the play room and he was being his typical two-year old self - throw toys around the room, ignoring my warnings to stop, dumping out bin after bin and playing with none of it, etc. I found myself thinking longingly of the television and suddenly I had a very clear idea of how parents end up sticking their children in front of it all day. It's just easier. If a toddler is zoned out in front of the screen, he's not trying to climb on the counters or stomping on the laptop. If he is enraptured with whatever puppet or animated thing that may be performing, then he's not hitting or throwing a tantrum or getting a time out. I can easily see how that could be very appealing and possibly even addicting for a tired momma.

Obviously, television isn't really a substitute for active play time and it doesn't help toddlers learn how to act or what is acceptable behavior the way that interacting with an actual adult does. Clearly, kids need more interactive activities than they would get from a day full of Elmo (no offense to Elmo).  But, I think we are also starting to figure out that in a world of sinus infections, busy work weeks, and fussy kids - a little break now and again is probably okay.