Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: I can do it myself

Simple BPM

The tot's new favorite phrase - whether it's helping make his lunch, feeding himself, reading a book, or putting away his toys is "I do it myself!" On some level, this thrills me. His new independence, his desire to learn new things and try to do more on his own. Of course there is also a tiny piece of me that is sad and feels a little less useful every time I hear it. 

Today we had a day all by ourselves. It started early when the husband left for the airport at 5am (never a good thing). I tried to rock my son back to sleep and get another hour or two of shut eye but it never really happened. So we got up and started what felt like a daunting and long day. I made both our breakfasts and my coffee. We cleaned up, got changed, and went to the gym. We came home and I got a shower while we watched Elmo and then we both played on the bed for a bit. Ben "helped" me make his lunch and ate most of it without a fuss. We were both tired by that point so I read to and rocked the tot and then grabbed my own quick lunch and a few winks myself. After nap time, we played some more together, I put on a movie, made dinner, cleaned up and we did the bedtime schtick. 

I am not going to lie - it was a very long day even with a nap wedged in the middle. I was tired by the end and looking forward to the silence at the end of the day. But, we made it the whole day. There was minimal yelling and no time outs. No frantic calls to the husband because I was at the end of my rope (not even when the tot locked himself in his own room after nap and I had to struggle to free him). No tears behind a closed door because "I can't do this! I need a break!' and best of all, I was glad of every minute we got to spend together. I miss my husband when he's gone, but at no point did I feel like I needed help. I was the sole parent all day and evening and I did it all by myself! No wonder Ben is so happy when he says it - it's a great feeling. 

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Ribbons and Bows

I was excited to have a girl for about an hour. That was about how long it took me to go to Target and buy some cute baby outfits. By the time I got home, panic was starting to seep in. Girls are different than boys. Suddenly it occurred to me that I have no clue what to do with a little girl.

I know nothing about girls. I am sure you are thinking "Hello? You ARE one!" and I am, but I am not a girly girl by any stretch. I was raised by my dad. I don't know a lot about make-up, I can't french braid, and the main feature I look for in clothes is something that covers my nakedness and washes well.

A perfect example - I was browsing gymboree buying baby clothes and trying to decide between tiny dresses when it suddenly dawned on me that she'd have nothing on underneath. Maybe not a huge deal in June but kind of a no-no for a brand new person in October. I couldn't think what she would wear under her dresses and then I remembered...tights. Ugh! I hated tights! Those itchy scratchy things you had to wear under your dresses. I struggled sometimes to wiggle Ben into pants. I can't imagine trying to squeeze a squirmy infant into those snug things. I have a feeling my girl isn't going to be wearing a ton of dresses!

I keep having to remind myself that I knew nothing about boys before the tot got here and even now he still surprises me with what he knows, what he likes, what he can do. I know that it will be the same with a girl on many levels. I worry about all that she will go through. The extra pressure placed on girls appearances, body image, the "mean girl" drama, the self-esteem struggles. As soon as I start thinking of it, I feel overwhelmed and under qualified.

When we found out we were having another baby, I was over confident because I had "done it all" before. And there is a part of me that feels calmer about the new baby stuff because I know that eventually she'll sleep, eventually she'll be a champion nurser, eventually she will be able to sit up, stand up, and walk. All of these milestones will be reached and passed. Because many of them are developmental and as humans, we instinctively grow and progress. It's the other milestones, the tougher battles that worry me. Those are the hurdles that keep me tossing and turning at night. Those are the ones that will weigh on my mind and stay in my prayers for the next 18 years.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


Let it not be said that babies don't follow their own plans. At least not by me. Given that I have waited an additional 8 weeks to find out the gender of this baby! But finally, FINALLY, we know!

Saturday we went to have a 3-D sonogram done. Part of the draw for this to me was that there is this service that allows family from far away to watch the sonogram on the internet. It seemed like a good way to get the grandparents involved when they couldn't be there. Also, they encouraged me to bring the toddler which I had been warned against at the doctor's office (because of the cramped quarters and the darkness - little ones don't appear to enjoy or understand the experience). So in addition to finding out the gender of this baby, there were a lot of good reasons for trying this service.

But let me just say, if you've never had a 3-D sono done, they are a little odd. It's interesting to see the baby's movement, the details that you'd never be able to discern on a regular sonogram, to know things like this baby snuggles up on my placenta. But the actual images? Well, they were a little creepy to me. Still, the whole experience was worth it because within minutes of getting slathered up on the exam table, the tech asked "are you ready?" and pointed at some vague object in the vicinity of the baby's legs. She typed on the screen - "It's a girl!"

I was stunned. And tearful. I think I might have said "Ben, you have a sister!" to which he looked up at the screen for a brief moment and went back to playing with his cars. (It turns out my doctor's office is correct - toddlers have absolutely no interest in this process). As soon as our appointment wrapped up, we went to Target to buy odds and ends. And girl clothes. Not a lot but a few. Because they are pink! And little! And cute! Bring on the pink ribbons and bows!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 135)

1) We are succumbing to curiosity and taking the advice of Heavenly Sarah. Even though the 3-D ultrasound images freak the husband out, I scheduled an appointment for one. Hopefully we will find out tomorrow whether we should be buying pink or blue baby items!

2) Today we are going as a family to see Winnie the Pooh. Ben has been watching the classic every morning for weeks. I feel I can quote this verbatim. Which is not a bad skill to have - I am sure it could be a very entertaining trick to perform at parties. Fingers crossed that this theater trip goes as well as the Cars 2 trip did and we make it through the whole flick. (I, too, love all things Pooh and would be sad to have to leave in the middle because my toddler is disruptive).

3) Recently we joined a couples' bible study group at our church. The couples' are almost all folks we know and like who have kids around the same age as us. They have been reading this book called "Love and Respect" by Emerson Eggerichs. So, we downloaded our own copy and have been reading it simultaneously on our kindles. I want to tell you that this book is amazing and insightful, but really so far I have found it repetitive and a bit sexist at times. It has however led to some hilarious discussions with the husband along with constant joking every time one of us says something critical to the other along the lines of "You don't respect me! Don't you know that I need respect!" and "You don't need respect, you are the woman! You only need love!" Lest you think we are just jerks - the premise of the book is that men need to be respected by their wives and women need to be loved by their husbands. Leaving me to wonder why women don't also need to feel respected by their husbands? Perhaps he addresses that somewhere in the book?

4) I have been struggling with the toddler's nap again. He recently had a bout of tummy upset that led to many smelly and very messy diapers. He seems to be on the mend now, but for whatever reason - during this time of illness, his nap seems to be disregarded. By him, not me. I put him down as usual and come down stairs and listen to him chatter until I can't take it anymore and then I go back up and say "Go TO SLEEP NOW!" which causes him to cry and become traumatized and (as you can imagine) does not lead to any sleep happening. So every day he has slept minimally or not at all during nap. And every night he has gone to bed early. And laid there and chatted for an hour or so before talking himself to sleep.

5) Next week I am single parenting it again while the husband is away on business. Expect another very whiny post about how hard it is and how lonely I am. Just wanted to give you a heads up.

6) I am starting to panic about being a mother of two. It is likely this will turn into a whole blog post, but as of now, suffice it to say that I am feeling stressed at the idea of trying to divide my time between the needs of the newborn and the wants/desires of my toddler. I become highly anxious whenever I imagine (incredibly likely) scenarios where the newborn needs to sleep or eat or some other silly thing and Ben is begging me to play or read or something and I have to tell him "not now". I imagine his sad little face and trembling lip and feel a knot in my stomach. I hope I am over reacting to how horrible this will be. Someone with more than one offspring tell me I am, please!

7) Tomorrow is my first prenatal massage! I am nervous but excited. I have had back pain most mornings when I wake up because I inevitably flip over on my back sometime in the night and sleep that way which is murder on the hips. Wouldn't you know it - this morning I woke up and did NOT have a sore back? Whatever, I think the massage will still be good.

Have a great weekend, blogosphere friends!

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When Push Comes to Shove

Do you ever have one of those days when your gut instinct says "stay home" but you ignore it completely and venture forth only to return like a dog with your tail between your legs? The tot got up at 5:30 this morning. He was laying in his bed chatting. This in itself is annoying but only made more so by the fact that he stayed awake talking to his stuffed friends for more than an hour last night.

Because of this recent desire to socialize with his bedfellows, I had recently procured a "bunny clock" from One Step Ahead. The clock is adorable and easy to use. It shows a lighted up "awake" bunny when it's time to get up and a tucked-in sleeping bunny when it's time to sleep. I have tried to stress to the tot - "When the bunny is sleeping, you need to be sleeping. You can NOT get up unless the bunny is awake." At first he seemed to buy this logic but he has recently discarded it and gone back to keeping his own schedule.

In any case, we had a play date scheduled for the Children's Museum in town this morning. Unfortunately, it was scheduled for lunch time and I was concerned that because of the early wake up, we would need to be home for an early nap. But, I went ahead and got ready for the gym as per usual and we made it to the gym and through our shower and wardrobe changes without incident. So, against my better judgement (and gut instinct - see above) I packed a lunch and piled us both in the car and off to the museum we went.

Ben was very excited and started running from exhibit to exhibit as soon as we arrived. However, it only took a few minutes before the lack of sleep started to show. Initially it was just his running away from me and refusing to listen when I called him over. Then he began to get whiny about having to wait for the elevator and wanting to do the exhibits on the next floor NOW. Finally, he ran over to a little boy playing in the train exhibit and pulled a train away from him. When I told him to give it back and find another, he ran off with it and threw it on the floor! It was very clearly the end of the line for the little guy, so I returned the train to the boy and scooped up my own tired toddler. He fussed and cried the whole way out the door but as soon as we hit the street, he put his head on my shoulder and rested.

Once we got to the car and started home, he was a tired little zombie and all I could think was how bad I felt for bringing him out in the first place when he was clearly exhausted and needed to be in the calm quiet of home. Of course, I had pushed it initially because I felt guilty about keeping him home and bored all week during this heat wave and wanted him to have fun. But I ended up feeling just as guilty for taking him out at all. Sometimes I think guilt is a requirement of motherhood. In any case, next time I won't look at the current display of model behavior, but the past experience of dealing with an over-tired toddler before making these decisions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Buffer

I am "single parenting" it again this week. Only for a few days, but it feels like a really long time. It's not that Ben is an especially hard child to deal with or that he acts more defiant or impulsive than your average two year old. It's more that I don't have the additional patience needed to fill the role of two parents. My husband isn't the main disciplinarian or the person who does the majority of the child rearing responsibilities - as the person who stays home each day, that would be my job. But he is very much my partner in all things and it's hard when he's away.

For one thing, Ben is hysterical. He says things that crack me up and I find myself wishing desperately that my co-parent was in the room to share the moment. Today he threw his Pooh Bear down the stairs and as Pooh tumbled end over end to the bottom, he said "Silly Old Bear!" just like Christopher Robin. It cracked me up. I also over heard him "playing" with the cats in the playroom. He kept grabbing toys and showing them to Ella and Hobbes - "Look, McQueen!" "Ella, it's Handy Manny!" (Ella was, of course, unimpressed by this display and Hobbes actually left the room which resulted in Ben saying "where did Mr. Hobbes go?" in an offended sort of way).

Obviously the funny stories are still things I can relay later when my spouse returns to the homestead. The thing I miss most when he is gone is the buffer. I feel like I have a very slippery grip on my temper by the end of the day. I never really thought before about how much I look forward to that break that comes around at 5pm when the "fun guy" comes home and can entertain Ben while I make dinner or mentally check out and read a book or a blog for 10 minutes. Without that extra person in the room, I am the main source for Ben's entertainment and also the one who is continually trying to coerce him into picking up his toys, coming to eat dinner, getting ready for bed, brushing his teeth, etc. None of which he wants to do willingly, of course.

More than once tonight I screamed at him to "knock it off" when he was trying my patience. Of course, the first time it happened, his little smiling face crumpled up into tears and I felt like the biggest, meanest ogre of a mama that ever roamed the planet. I immediately hugged him and apologized for raising my voice. I explained that I was very frustrated that he wasn't listening to me but that yelling at him was NOT okay and that I never want him to be afraid of me. And silently, I wished with all my heart that my husband had been home to give me a breather before I raised my voice and scared my child. It's not that I needed him to discipline Ben or even to address whatever issue I had been trying to resolve. It's more about having the other person in the room to feel supported. To distract the toddler from dumping out the bucket of toys I just put away. To coax him into climbing the stairs when it's bedtime. To sit with me in the silent house after the day is done and savor the quiet. I miss my buffer.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


Our nursery is empty. This weekend our tot made the leap from crib to big boy bed. We weren't going to mess with it for a few more weeks. We had just had house guests, everyone was a bit tired and we were worried that it would take a few days to get thing back on track before we could even think of starting another transition. But the room has been ready for awhile and it seemed like every weekend on the calendar has some reason or other to postpone things.

Finally, Friday night we just decided to go ahead and plunge forth, assuming that if it didn't work out we could always stick him back in his crib and try again in a few weeks. We talked extensively with him about sleeping in his new big boy room in his big bed. His dad stressed to him that the big boy bed was "not for jumping, not for playing, only for sleeping". Later, after I had read to him and we were rocking he told me "big boy bed not for jumping or playing, only sleeping!" so it must have made an impression on him in some way.

I won't lie - our bedtime routine on Friday night was L - O - N - G! I dawdled through the bath and pajama routine. We read two or three short books, took a while to say our prayers and then spent quite awhile just rocking in the chair. I was so anxious about putting him in the bed. I agonized over what I would do if he cried and fussed or got out and chased after me. But finally, I knew I was going to have to see what would happen, so (crossing my fingers) I placed him in the bed and tucked the covers in around him. He snuggled right down with his stuffed puppy dog and I told him goodnight and left. Then I stood in the hall for about 5 minutes listening to his chatter and wondering if he would get out of bed or not. He didn't seem to be so I went downstairs and watched some TV with the hubs.

The tot continued to chatter over the monitor for awhile (extended, I think, by the visit his father insisted on paying him "to make sure he was alright" which somehow resulted in his being rocked some more - sucker!) but eventually he simmered down and got quiet. When we went to bed, we poked our heads in to check and see if he was in the bed or on the floor or what, and he was all snuggled up under the covers, sound asleep.

So, thus passes another hurdle of parenthood. So far anyway. Naps have been a bit rockier but overall, he seems to have settled in fairly well. Our only hiccup has been that he wants to get up and play as soon as he wakes up and we have continued to try to stress to him that he he needs to stay in bed until it's time to get up (i.e. when mommy and daddy come and get you and NOT before sunrise!). I have to admit - as relieved as I was that this transition went so smoothly (because really, with all of our other issues with food, sleep, potty, etc weren't we due for an easy one?) much like Heavenly Sarah, I was also sad that our nursery is now empty. "Not for long" say my well-meaning friends and family members. And they are right. But it won't be a Baby Ben in there anymore. That part of our lives is over and it's hard not to feel a bit wistful remembering what it was like when he was tiny. But when he was small  he couldn't give me hugs, pick out his clothes, tell me about his day or have long conversations with his puppy dog. Motherhood always seems to be an exercise in bitter-sweetness.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Bigger Picture Moment: The Thing About House Guests

It's not that they eat all your food, rearrange your kitchen or leave your house messier than when they arrived. It's not that you spend so much time having fun that the whole family is completely wiped out when they leave. It's not the added stress of trying to work around other people's needs that you normally wouldn't even have to consider.

The worst part of hosting the in-laws is definitely the broken-hearted toddler who cries when they leave. Whether I feel like being hospitable or not, whether or not I am relieved to get back to our routines and schedules, he is devastated that Nana and Poppa are no longer here to play. And because my desire for his happiness always overshadows my own feelings - I find myself counting the days until they come back.

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