Monday, June 25, 2012

Square peg, round hole

This week was VBS week which I love. Every year I get anxious and stressed right before the week starts and I get incredibly nervous all week about making sure I know my script and everything goes according to plan. And every year, right before it starts and I am at the peak of my stress, I say something like "Next year, I am not going to sign up for this. It's too crazy." and every year after it's all over and the kids have gone home and the decorations are put away, I start thinking about next year's theme and how much fun it will be.

But this year was different. This year, I was not in charge of a station. This year I was a crew leader. This was Ben's first year of VBS. And I was his crew leader. I cannot begin to describe my excitement. I have looked forward to this week for months. I potty trained this kid with VBS in mind, knowing that he had to be potty trained if he wanted to participate. He also was just a teeny tiny bit shy of the age cut-off for registration. But strings were pulled and exceptions were made.

And this week was...well...awful. It was just awful. I almost want to start crying again as I write this because it was so stressful and I felt like such a terrible parent that I couldn't get my OWN child to behave in my group. Finally, today - on the last day, just forty-five minutes before the finale, I reached the end of my parenting rope and I called his dad to come and get him. I then spent the rest of the morning silently berating myself for not being more patient. For not sticking it out longer and trying harder with him so that he could've finished the week with his group.

Over a bottle (or maybe two) of wine, I shared my anxieties with my fellow moms who were also VBS volunteers and they each consoled me and validated my decision to send him home. They also assured me that they would NEVER be group leaders with their own children for this exact reason and that children always behave worse for their parents than they do for strangers. And one of them said to me "it might just not be his thing".

I've been turning that around in my head all evening. How do you know? How do you know what their "thing" is? We had a similarly distressing experience this year with T-ball. Again, I was so thrilled to take Ben to his first practice. I had talked to him about it repeatedly after we registered. We practiced in the backyard. He seemed really excited at his first practice. At his second one, he said "I don't want to play anymore".

Maybe it's his age. Maybe he's just not developmentally ready for activities that involve a lot of structure and following directions. His dad says he's an introvert. Which makes his extrovert mom extra-anxious. I start to obsess about nature vs. nurture and wonder how much of our skills and preferences are inherited from our DNA and how much can be shaped or learned. Neither my husband nor I are athletic. My husband is more likely to know the names of the aliens in the Cantina in Star Wars than the name of any player on a football or baseball team.  This has always been fine with me. In fact, preferred by me. I grew up in a competitive family and was always more comfortable with my nose in a book than chasing a ball around the soccer field or (in my dad's case) the golf course. 

But as a mom, I start to worry that my own lack of athleticism and my husband's lack of interest in a majority of social activities has combined to create these preferences in my son. I agonize over whether it's better to let him stay home in his shell or push him to do more and try more. I obsess about the coming year at school and whether he will respond well to structure and whether we will find something besides super heroes that are interesting to him. And then I remind myself that he's only three. I take a step back, a deep breath, and I give myself a break. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Potty Diaries

After months of dancing around the potty training issue, crossing our fingers, praying that our preschooler would just magically walk up to us some day and say "Yes, Mother and Father, I do believe that I may need to use the facilities", we have finally had to bite the proverbial bullet and start official potty training.

Initially, sometime last summer when we thought it might be coming up soon in our toddler's development, we did what all over-educated, over-zealous parents do. We started reading lots of books about potty training. So for the last several weeks/months we have done multiple potty training techniques in the hopes that something would "stick" and we would somehow have potty trained our child without much effort. We had done the M&Ms, the stickers, the stickers that go on a chart and lead to a reward, and the training pants. We had done variations of potty apparatus - the singing potty chair (no joke), the padded seat, the stool, and the plain ol' potty all by itself. Needless to say, nothing has really clicked for our boy.

He'd much prefer to pee in his diaper and continue playing on the floor than to be bothered sitting on the potty. I'm told this is common. But he's three. And I feel like he has ALL these reasons to be potty trained. Or maybe it's just me who has all these reasons. You know, because diapers are expensive, because we have all these activities this summer, because I hate our diaper genie, because most of our friends kids are around the same age and potty trained, etc. And also because it's clear to me that he knows HOW to do it, he'd just prefer not to.

So this weekend, we decided to celebrate the National holiday by learning to use the potty. I found a book ("That's How I Roll by Rachel Jacques") that talks about wearing cartoon underwear as an incentive for using the potty. Essentially, you start out with super cool cartoon underwear and explain that Spiderman (or whoever) hates to get wet or dirty and if they get wet or dirty they have to come off and you have to wear plain underwear until after a certain time when you can try again. There's a few more detail than that but that's the technique in a nutshell. I knew the cartoon underwear would be a winning enticement for Ben so we decided to give it a try.

Day 1 - So far so good. We wore Mr. Incredible underwear all day long. Many trips have been made to the potty and multiple M&Ms have been earned. We even wore underwear at nap time and stayed dry. This may or may not be attributable to the fact that we also did not sleep during nap but just laid in our bed talking. The only negative so far is that no poop has occurred. There have been several times when it seemed like we were on the verge and would run the kid to the potty but nothing would happen. It's somewhat unclear at this point if this is because he doesn't want to go in the potty or if he is physically stopped up. Currently he is in bed in his undies and we are crossing our fingers to make it through the night without a major incident (though I think this is highly unlikely given it's our first night without a diaper - EVER!).

Day 2 - Woke up soaked. Ben was discouraged. Poop made an appearance finally and NOT in the potty. Mommy was discouraged too. But we stayed dry all day and managed to make a few pee stops and stay in our Super Hero undies once we got them back after nap time. We also slept during nap and managed to stay dry!

Day 3 - Woke up soaked again. Ben appears surprised by this every time so I think he must be a heavy sleeper. Dry again almost the whole day. Called Grandma and Nana and Poppa to share our successes and reap the rewards (Spider-man toy is on it's way in the snail mail). Put in time out for misbehavior and while in time out, he peed his pants. Took him upstairs to change and set him on the potty. While I was getting dry clothes, he pooped! Finally discovered what may be the secret to pooping on the potty = privacy! Who would have thought?

At the end of the weekend we had only had two actual accidents. I would call us "potty trained". He has even told me when we were out that he needed to use the potty. But, he still cannot stay dry at night. The book says to wait a full week until going back to pull-ups so I think we will keep trying. I am not sure what to do if dryness doesn't happen though. He's so "anti-diaper" at this point and SO proud of his success, I am sure it would feel like a step backwards to put on a pull-up.

UPDATE: Today (Thursday) we woke up dry! Out of the blue! I hope we can keep it up. It will be a week on Saturday and I am kind of tired of washing sheets twice daily.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I hate school

I didn't used to hate school. I used to love it. I was an honor roll student who loved my classes and most of my teachers. I loved reading and learning. I loved the sense of accomplishment from studying and doing well on exams. I particularly enjoyed knowing the information and having the correct answer when I was called on.

I wanted my son to love school as I did. I wanted him to have great experiences. To make friends and to learn all kinds of new things. When the school year started out, that seemed to be the path we were on. But as the year progressed, things took an odd turn. He stared to become less excited for school. Less interested in the activities. In making friends. In seeing his teachers. In leaving the house.

Thinking back to the beginning of the year, when Lightening McQueen was the object of our obsession, I remember him saying "Jacob and Hank say these are stupid cars". I remember my ire at these little boys for calling something my son loved so dearly "stupid". I remember my husband reassuring me that it was probably a comment taken out of context and that it might have been unrelated to the beloved Mater and McQueen but, in fact, other cars entirely. So, I brushed it under the rug and tried not to obsess about it too greatly. 

Over the year, things changed. The kids in his class changed - some left and new ones came. The dynamics changed. My son's love of Lightening McQueen dissipated and morphed in to a love of all things superhero. I also noticed a change in behavior. Along with the third birthday came more limit testing, more button pushing, more aggression. I was told at school on a few occasions that he had hit another kid. My initial reaction was "normal 3 year old boy" and "it's a stage" and "he'll grow out of it" like so many other stages. But in the last few weeks, getting him to go to school has been harder and harder. It has become obvious that he is having conflicts with these two other little boys. It is unclear whether he is the instigator of these conflicts or if they are, but there is definitely something happening. My little buddy who was so secure and self-reliant has become clingy. He has started asking us to stay with him when he goes to bed at night. He has started waking in the night and calling for us. He cries when we take him to school and says "I hate school" and "I hate the other kids. They are not my friends". My heart broke for him.

I blamed the superheros. Wrong or right, I saw them as the most recent variable in our lives and the possible source for all of this aggression. All of these discussions of "bad guys" and fighting. I blamed my husband for not being stricter with him. For not setting limits and sticking to them. For making me the bad guy who has to explain that we don't hit people. I blamed his school for not telling me that he was struggling. That he was having a problem. That maybe one or two of the other boys in school were bullying him or that he might be bullying them. But most of all, I blamed myself. For not being more attentive. For spending so much time with his sister and not seeing that he was having a rough time. For maybe sending him to school before he was really ready and not keeping him safe at home where no one can call what he likes "stupid". 

And now school is over. School is out for the summer and while I can breathe a little easier knowing that I won't have to fight him on a regular basis about going, I still have a pit in my stomach because I don't really know what the problem is. And therein lies my dilemma - if I don't know the problem, how can I fix it? How can I make it so he likes school again? How can I change his perception of school from being something negative that we HAVE to do to being something positive that he really enjoys?

I have talked to his teachers who seem surprised that he isn't having a good time in class. I have talked with other parents who assure me that it's "not a big deal" and "all kids have issues like this sometimes" and "it will pass". And maybe they are right, maybe it will. Maybe it's just part of development and growing as a person and learning who you are. I've gone so far as to make an appointment with his teacher for next year to talk over the summer so I can get her impressions and give her a heads up as to what we have been working on at home (it helps that she's a friend and someone I already kind of know). I've scheduled more play dates and signed up for other activities so I can see him interacting with other kids first hand. But, after all of this - I still don't know if any of it will make a difference. I guess I'm not really a fan of school when I no longer know the right answer.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Danger, Will Robinson!

I must apologize to anyone who visited my blog these last few days and saw the google warning. Apparently, my adorable free template also could have possibly contained malware. Perhaps that's why it was free? Hence the change in appearance. It's still a work in progress but I think it's much safer to stick with the templates provided on blogger for now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Wild Thing

I saw something the other day that said "Boy: noun, a noise with dirt on it" Boys are hard. They just are. They seem louder, more rambunctious, more energetic than little girls. I continually feel like my patience is being stretched to it's limits. I worry that I am too quick to react. To snap. To say "NO!" when it doesn't necessarily have to be said.

Lately we have been having days that feel like a constant push-pull tug of war. A battle of wills between mother and son. Initially, I blamed the little sister. I assumed that the interloper was causing all sorts of disruption in the life of my precious child and that could be the only reason he'd suddenly become such a handful. So, I scheduled more one on one time with him. I arranged fun outings, just him and I. I tried to make sure that we would have a few minutes of "just us" time on any given day. And sometimes it seemed to help. Other days, it's like feeding a starving monster. No matter how much attention I try to give, he always wants more. I can never seem to fill him up and he still acts out whether or not he's given attention.

I've run out of ideas. I am wearing a groove in the time out chair. I am tired of constantly repeating myself. My son is probably tired of being yelled at all of the time. And worse, I know he knows when I am exasperated. I know that when I let out a huge sigh of frustration, whether I say anything or not, it's not lost on him. It's not the same as when he was younger and he probably didn't attribute my bad attitude to his misbehavior. These days when I am short and snappish with him because I am asking him not to do something for the 1,000th time, he says "say it nicer" or "don't use that voice" and I know that he's right. It hurts me to think that I might be making him feel bad or hurting his feelings. I want him to learn, but I don't want that lesson to cost him self-esteem. I'm worn out. Sometimes I want to just call a "time-out" on the back and forth and declare a truce for an afternoon. No misbehavior from him and no yelling from me. A peace treaty. I wonder if that's possible.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ready..set...let go

I am the first person to complain about nursing. I don't like the time it takes. I don't like having to suffer through colds and flu without over-the-counter relief. I hate worrying about using prescriptions that are "unknown" as to whether or not they will affect a baby who is nursing. I don't like sleeping in nursing bras and I really don't like that my sex drive is non-existent.

At Alex's wellness appointment this week, I found out that my "short cake" was just a little too short. In fact, so small, she's barely on the growth chart at all. She has had NO weight gain since her last appointment. None. Not even a little. The poor girl has been starving these last few weeks as I have not been making enough milk to keep her fed. Only recently did she start to complain and I started to get clued in that she might not be getting enough.

Of course, my initial concern after her appointment was getting her fed. So we started to defrost the vast stores of breast milk and supplemented her every feeding. Initially, I tried to nurse her and then give her a bottle. After several very long days of nursing, bottle feeding, and then pumping, I realized I was probably putting in a lot of effort for not a lot of reward. While I was pumping as much as four whole ounces, she was consuming somewhere between twelve and fourteen. It was becoming obvious that the supply and demand were no longer in sync. (I blame the last two months of almost continuous illness but that is neither here nor there at this point.)

I scoured the web and tried many of the suggestions. Breast milk cookies (true story), fenugreek, copious amounts of water, etc. Nothing seemed to increase the supply. I spent most of the weekend agonizing over whether or not to keep nursing. Should I keep trying to nurse in the hopes that the milk will come back or do I accept that we are done with this stage and try to let it go? I finally decided that this was probably it for us. As much as I hate to admit defeat, my body just isn't cooperating with me at all. I didn't think it was fair to Alex to subject her to the ongoing aggravation of trying to get milk when there isn't any or to put myself through the ongoing feelings of disappointment that I was no longer able to meet her needs.

So it is with a heavy heart that I say we are all done nursing. I continue to struggle with this decision, alternating between feeling guilty that I'm just "not trying hard enough" and sad that I won't get to experience that bond anymore. My optimistic side wants to make a list of all of the great things about not nursing anymore and give myself a bright side to look towards, but my melancholic side just wants to wallow a bit longer and grieve for the stage that is over. I can't explain why something that felt like such a drag is now suddenly so hard to let go, but it is.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Heavenly Sarah tagged me in this post so I had to play along! I am not sure who I should tag though...maybe I'll figure it out by the time I'm done!

The Rules:
1. Post the rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself along with 11 random facts.
3. Answer the questions given to you in the  tagger's post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tag new people to answer them.
5. Visit the people you tagged to let them know.

Random Facts

1) So far the most time consuming aspect of this post was finding a picture of myself. The best I could do was one of Alex and I from almost six months ago. I guess I am usually the photographer in the family!

2) My son was allergic to peanuts. Miracle of miracles - he no longer is. I can't tell you how much I've missed Reese's peanut butter cups. 

3) I wish I could knit or crochet. I have tried to learn both on several occasions but to no avail. I think I must not be sticking with it long enough or am a craft-flunkie. I feel certain that if I possessed such a skill, I could craft lovely things while relaxing in the evenings rather than browsing pinterest with nothing to show for it. 

4) I love buying books. I could spend hours in Barnes and Noble just browsing and window shopping. I am also addicted to children's picture books such that I have almost filled both book cases in my children's rooms and yet I cannot bear to get rid of any!

5) I can't sing. Not a single note. I sing very quietly in group settings - church, Kindermusik class, so no one will hear how tone deaf I am. Except at home with the kids. Then I just belt it out because they don't care. Not yet anyway.

6) I once auditioned to be a character at Disney World. Winnie the Pooh, to be specific. I think I would have been hired had my class schedule not been so unaccommodating. I consider this a dream deferred and plan to re-audition when I am living in Florida as a snow bird in 40 years. 

7) I can't tell if we are done having babies. I love both my kids and I feel like I am kept pretty busy with them. But I keep wondering if we are meant to be a family of five. I am told that when you are done "you KNOW" but I don't know. So does that mean I am not done? Or just that it hasn't been long enough since my last baby to really know?

8) I love the smell of play-doh. It's so nostalgic! That and paper lunch bags. I can't explain why.

9) This year will be our tenth wedding anniversary. I have no idea what sort of gift to buy my husband and at this stage in our lives, a romantic getaway feels highly impractical. I welcome any and all suggestions.

10) I am addicted to socks and pajamas. I love to buy both and I have way too many of each. 

11) Every night I sing "You are my Sunshine" to both of my kids. My son now likes to sing it back to us at bedtime. It is the best thing I have ever heard. 

Sarah's Questions:
1. Do you always read the entire book once you get started, or have you ever stopped halfway through a book?  If so, what was it, and why?
I almost always read the entire book or watch the entire movie as (for some inexplicable reason) I feel incredibly guilty if I give up before the end. Even if I hate it. But, I did quit reading "Eat, Pray, Love" a third of the way through. It just felt like someone's very long presentation of vacation slides, minus the slides. I'm sure I'm in the minority on that.
2. Which would you prefer to spend an afternoon doing: painting with a room full of preschoolers or painting with a group of adults?
Debatable. If I didn't have to pick up after the preschoolers or be in charge of them in any way - probably the preschoolers. They are less judgmental of other people's artistic abilities. 
3. Is there a television show on right now that you try to never miss?  What is it?
Downton Abbey but it's not technically on right now. I also watch every episode of Parenthood. I can take or leave just about everything else.
4.  What is the most adventurous food item you've ever tried?
Sweetbreads. Or maybe Alligator tail. It sounds trite but it really did taste a lot like chicken. Must've been the breading?
5.  If you could have as many children as you wanted without fear of discomfort (either physical or financial) or social judgement, how many do you think you'd have?  
Two. Or maybe three. See above random facts. I feel two is more likely because three equals minivan or very large SUV and I'm only just sort of comfortable with the moderately-sized SUV I now drive. 
6.  What foreign culture fascinates you the most?
I don't know that this counts as foreign but polygamists. I am fascinated by their arrangements and how the women divide up duties and responsibilities. 
7.  When you're grocery shopping, what snack item has the greatest ability to tempt you into an unnecessary purchase?
Oreos. Or something peanut butter and chocolate. See above random facts.
8.  When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?  Did you succeed?
At one point I wanted to be a writer so in a sense, yes, I succeeded. 
9.  If you could go back to school and get any degree, would you choose differently than you did the first time?
Great question. I honestly don't know. I am a therapist and I loved my job (when I was employed outside the home). However, my chosen profession doesn't pay much at all and certainly not enough to cover the amount I spent on student loans. Probably not the wisest investment ever. This time around, I might choose something that wouldn't leave me tens of thousands of dollars in debt - like business or marketing or something.
10.  You have a $500 gift card to the closest mall: what will you spend it on?
Probably make-up. I am terrible at shopping for clothes, but I love buying cosmetics and could easily burn through $500.
11.  You are headed into a party full of people you've never met before and where mingling is expected.  What one word describes your mindset as you open the door?

New Questions:

1) What is the most embarrassing thing you've ever done when meeting someone?

2) What did you name your children and how did you decide those names?

3) If you had to pick only one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?

4) Have you ever seen a movie that was better than the book it was based on? If so, what was it and why was it better?

5) What is your least favorite stage of parenting so far?

6) What would your ideal job be?

7)What is your favorite dessert or treat?

8)Who is the person who had the most influence on you when you were growing up?

9) If you could have any super power, what would it be?

10) What is your favorite thing to do when you have time to yourself?

11) If you had to spend a year without watching anything - television, movies, etc. or a year without listening to any music, radio, etc which would it be?

Okay, I still haven't figured out who to tag. I want to tag a bunch of people but I don't know if other people will feel like this is fun or think I am being a nuisance. I am so glad Sarah included me and I love reading these so if you feel like joining in, please do it and post in the comments that you did so I can visit and read it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I wasn't going to go back upstairs. I had finally gotten both children in bed and just fixed myself a large glass of water (which I had been craving all afternoon) when I heard the wailing. The baby that had previously been such a glorious sleeper/napper had turned quite obstinate following her recent bouts of illness. So the nap battles had begun with her. She would doze in the chair and promptly cry once deposited in the crib. Which then resulted in the requisite five minutes of waiting, a return to her room, a pat and some soothing words and then another exit followed by more tears. I am pleased to say that she hadn't taken more than 2-3 pats to settle herself at any given point.

I debated following the 5-minute interval strategy. Had my toddler opponent not finally just given in on his own nap battle, I might have done it. As it was, I didn't want to sacrifice one nap for the other. I sighed and trudged back up the stairs. Initially, I entered the room and attempted to pat and comfort without giving in to the obvious desire of being held and rocked. This worked for all of forty-five seconds when it then became clear to my daughter that I was not picking her up. She decided this was unacceptable and let me know quite audibly.

Back to the chair we went. She squirmed and smiled at me. She pulled my hair and grabbed at my shirt and tried to start up a conversation. I was resilient. Nap was not going to be skipped (and also - OW, I need to get my hair cut!). So we rocked. And rocked. And rocked. Slowly, her breathing slowed and leveled. Her body became a heavy weight on mine. And I was able (with the precision of one diffusing a nuclear bomb) to maneuver her back in to her crib. Finally - two sleeping children. Sometimes to reach victory, all we have to do is surrender.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pink Eye and Easter Dye

Heavenly Sarah tagged me in a fun post and I really want to complete it but the baby is starting to shift so I needed to get this down first. Stay tuned for the "fun" post...

This has been a month of illness for us. Such that I feel a need to hang a "quarantine" sign on the front door. It started right before Ben's birthday with my husband bringing home some hideous illness that he is certain he contracted on an airplane. Of course we share everything, most especially germs. So just as one of us was getting better, another was felled by illness leading to a very long week trying to get the house cleaned for festivities and nursing sick children and adults. The day before the party, I remember bemoaning my existence and wishing fervently that I had planned ahead and hired a cleaning service. In any case, we rallied, healed enough to celebrate with Ben and everyone got mostly better.

I still had a bit of a runny nose and some congestion which I attributed to allergies. So, I started taking Claritin and made an appointment for an allergy test. Then Ben started coughing. Just a dry cough. At bed time. And nap time. And when he woke up. And Alex started to get stuffy again. So we all made a trip to the doctor two weeks ago. Alex had a cold and Ben had walking pneumonia and was giving an antibiotic. I called the husband and he said he was also feeling icky and thought he would stop at the doc on his way home "just in case". He was diagnosed with a sinus infection and given an antibiotic. He came home, I tagged out and went to the doc myself and was also given an antibiotic for a sinus infection. By that evening, I had a fever of 102 and was shaking so bad I could barely sit at the table to eat dinner. I went to bed shortly after the children.

I spent the majority of the week in a feverish haze that started to lift as the weekend rolled around. And that was when I woke up with my eye crusted shut and went BACK to the doctor. I was given antibiotics in the form of eye drops this time...for PINK EYE! I've never had pink eye in my life (that I know of). I was told it was caused from my sinus infection and cautioned on the highly contagious nature. I came home and scrubbed every surface of my house. I laundered every sheet, blanket, towel, etc. I washed my hands to the point of cracking and bleeding.

In spite of my obsessive cleaning, four days later (while we had family visiting from out of town, of course), Alex was diagnosed with pink eye as well. Again with the washing, sterilizing, spraying, cleansing and (ouch!) hands. Again with the eye drops. The doctor also gave me different eye drops since mine didn't seem to be working as fast and another antibiotic because I also had an ear infection!

Everything cleared just in time for Easter. The relatives went home. The kids improved. No one else has gotten pink eye (knock wood) and we were able to celebrate with our friends. We colored eggs, had egg hunts, ate a big yummy dinner and attended worship. The weekend felt a bit thrown together and I am certain that if I had been more functional in the days prior, I would probably have thought/planned many more things to do. As it was, it was a still a beautiful weekend and a lovely Easter.

(Hopefully one day soon, I will stop obsessively peering into my children's eyes for signs of illness).

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Part of us

I have my mother's hair and eyes. I have my father's skin. I have my mother's good teeth (no cavities!). I have my father's head for business and financial planning. I have my mother's loud voice. Neither of them are big adventurers. Neither of them like documentaries or independent films. Or being active in church.Or (before my son's birthday) knew what a cake pop was. Neither of them are voracious readers or have any interest in writing. Neither of them are extremely social or desire the large group of connectedness. That stuff is all me. All mine. It's the piece of me that comes from somewhere else. Or maybe nowhere at all.

My son has my husband's eyes. His long arms and short legs. His sense of humor. My bad temper. My stubbornness. My sweet tooth. My desire for attention and affection. My husband's love of Star Wars. My love of books. He is an early riser like my husband. Unfortunately, he's also a bit of a night owl like me. Then there are the other things - that he likes to play outside, that he is athletic (for a toddler), that are all him. Things that didn't come from either of us. He is both of us and still a part that is neither of us. A part that is just him. All his own.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Our Time

The room is dim with the sunlight of mid-morning seeping through the cracks of the window shade. The only sounds are her soft breathing and the creak of the chair rocking back and forth. I snuggle her close to me, watching her eyelids flutter and then finally close. I relish the weight of her on my chest, in my arm, marveling at her size - how much she's grown in just a few short months. I know that I am supposed to put her in the crib "drowsy but awake" but I can't always bring myself to do it. The period of time that she will allow me to hold her close and rock her to sleep is so small and gets shorter by the day. This is our time together. Just her and I. No phone ringing, no email, no brother needing attention, no conversations needing to be had. Just us.

Later that evening, in another room, in another chair, he curls his legs up in to my lap and rests his head on my shoulder as best he can. Again I marvel at how much he's grown. How he used to fit into my arms and on my shoulder with no difficulty at all. How he now dangles off the chair and what used to be chubby, baby softness is all arms and legs and energy. We rock and we talk about our day. What was fun, what was new. We say our prayers. We thank God for all of our blessings. We listen to music and exchange "pokono" (Eskimo) kisses and squeezes. Gone are the days of rocking him to sleep. But still I linger just a little longer. Exchanging one more joke, one more story. Enjoying the feel of his head on my shoulder, the smell of his hair. This is our time. Just he and I. No crying sister, no "in a minute"s, no tantrums. Just us. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Leap Day

Leap Day was Wednesday. It didn't really occur to me to have a celebration of any kind as the kids were probably too young to care anyway. But while I was cleaning up breakfast and doing dishes, I started to think about Leap Day. I tried with all of my might to remember where I was on the LAST Leap Day and I couldn't. I imagine I was working, just like any other day but aside from that, nothing about it stands out in my mind. Counting backwards, I know that I wasn't even pregnant with Ben yet. Standing there in the kitchen, it was mind boggling to me that four short years ago, I hadn't any children or any certainty that there ever would be any. 

Of course, seeing how drastically my life has changed from one Leap Day to the next made me start to wonder about the NEXT Leap Day. 

On the next Leap Day:

  • My children will be almost seven and three
  • My son will be in first grade
  • My daughter will be in preschool
  • I may have gone back to work - at least part-time
  • I will still be writing this blog, perhaps even regularly
  • We will have made at least one trip to Disney (I hope)
  • My husband and I will have had at least one "adults only" vacation
  • Our house will be reorganized/decorated
  • We will have replaced our hideous carpet
  • The old jeep will be traded in for something else - something smaller? Larger?
  • Both kids will be potty trained (God help me!)
Okay, that last one seems impossible to imagine but biology (and my pediatrician) assure me that it is so. I am struggling to fathom a life with two children who are not in diapers and are (somewhat) able to do things for themselves. Will I be glad of that? Or will I miss the tiny babies that they were? Will I be grateful to be able to go to the store or run other errands without having to pack a gigantic diaper bag? Or will I long for the smallish people who snuggled against my chest in the rocking chair at nap time? Just as four years ago, I could never have looked into the future and envisioned my life today in all it's messy loveliness, it remains to be seen. Until Leap Day anyway.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Nursing Sucks...pun intended

I don't like breast feeding. There. I said it. Bring on the judgement. I know I'm supposed to like it. I am supposed to feel these warm feelings of connection with my baby when she nurses. And when she was younger, there was more of that. I did like snuggling her close and hearing her little baby noises. But, now that she is older and much more interested in my smile, her brother, the television, the cats - it's incredibly frustrating to have to keep guiding her back to the breast that she is SUPPOSED to be interested in.

Gone are the days of propping myself up in the bed with the baby, boppy and remote and catching up on episodes of the West Wing while Ben nursed to his hearts content. We had nowhere to go and nothing to do. These days, we are rushing from preschool to Kindermusik to swim lessons and nursing is getting squeezed somewhere in between. Adding to that a toddler who wants me to get down on the floor and play with him and can't understand why I am always having to tell him "no" or "later" and nursing just isn't as relaxing as it once was.

Nursing is not convenient to me. I know it's supposed to be the easiest way to feed your baby because you don't need anything except yourself. Only - I do. For one thing, I need a nipple shield. The nipple shield and I have a love/hate thing going on. I didn't want to use it at first was warned by friends that it was hard to transition off of but the LC at the hospital pushed it and once again we were hooked on it. Those first few months were plagued with guilt and doubt about my skills and what I should be doing. Rather than being glad for the shield and the fact that it saved me from sore nipples and bad latching, I was resentful and guilty that I wasn't doing it right.  I worried that my milk supply would decrease and that I would have clogged ducts. I tried repeatedly to transition off of the shield only to find that nursing made me sore and I would go back to the shield all the while feeling like I had failed. But then Alex got sick and I had to cut myself a break. I was more concerned with her comfort than with what I should be doing and reasoned that she was getting the same milk either way. So I gave up on the transitioning and accepted the shield. (I have also avoided LLL meetings ever since as I feel good about where we are at and don't want to be made to feel otherwise).

The other problem I have is that I am lacking in coordination. Despite having a nursing cover, I don't have the skills to nurse in public without flashing people. I don't know how others do this, but between balancing the baby and holding the breast, I am without hands to adjust my cover and keep myself covered. The few times I have used the nursing room at the church, I have also struggled as I did not have a nursing pillow or boppy to support Alex. I finally just used my coat rolled up under her head but it was not the neatest or most convenient solution. So, in these situations, I find it more practical to pump in the car and make a bottle to feed the baby rather than nurse when out and about.

Because of all of this, I feel somewhat tethered. I dread taking trips that are more than an hour away. I don't want to be out for more than a few hours at a time. I find myself feeling anxious about things like a girls weekend with friends, knowing that I will have to stop and pump at least a couple of times a day. I wish I were one of those relaxed women who could just feed their baby anywhere. Who could nurse the baby in a sling while vacuuming the house or shopping for organic produce. I guess that's just not the mom that I am. I am much more the check-list, planner, "everything needs to be just-so" kind of a mom. Which, I suppose, is what makes it hard for me to drop everything and nurse in the Barnes and Noble or at the gym during Ben's swim lesson.*

Don't get me wrong - breast is best. I plan to try to keep the nursing up for as long as possible and I hope we make it the whole year. But when we are weaned, I will not miss drinking decaf, abstaining from alcohol and cold medicine, and wearing ratty nursing bras. I will not miss waking up uncomfortably full first thing in the morning and not being able to go back to sleep because of it. Nor will I miss having to wash nipple shields and breast pump parts. I am sure that when it is over, I will miss the idea of nursing. The closeness, the feeling of her needing me, the sleepy snuggle time first thing in the morning or just before bed. And I will be sad because being weaned means that she is one step closer to toddler-hood. One step further from the tiny, wrinkled newborn I brought home from the hospital. I will be sad because my girl is growing up. But, not because we are done nursing.

*I know moms who can do this, so it's definitely more about my own hang-ups than anything.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I hate editing this blog. I'm terrible at it. I can never make up my mind about what I like and how I want it to look. Don't get used to the new layout. It's subject to change at any moment! Too many options lead to an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction in my case, I guess. At least this time, I have both kids in the header! All of the headers I liked (by the way) had three photo spots. If that's not a reason to have another baby, I can't think what is...

Stay tuned (about the design, not a baby!)

Single White Female

Okay, so I'm not really single. Just temporarily single while the hubs is out of town. This parenting two children solo thing is tough. I have really been dreading it and I am pleased to say that I made it through day one with no major catastrophes. Only a few minor ones.

In the rush to get out the door this morning, Ben fell off his bed while putting on his t-shirt. He landed on his back and cried for quite a few minutes. We were thirty minutes late to church/work so I ended up letting Ben just play in the nursery with his sister while I went to my office to get a few things done. I bribed good behavior out of him with a doughnut so we had to stop at Krispy Kreme on the way home from church and they did NOT have the heart-shaped doughnut that he wanted and he had to settle for one with sprinkles. Also, because I was so out of sorts, it didn't hit me that it was almost lunch time until we got home so he ended up having a sandwich and a doughnut for lunch. Am I mother of the year or what?

But, all in all, it was a good day. Both kids were fed, pj-d, read to, rocked and tucked in by 7:30. Unfortunately, I am now finding that the joy in a job done well and expediently is much lessened when sharing it with an empty house. Not to mention that I have run out of energy as I do not have another person to share the work load and divide and conquer with. Which is also the reason I must now go make dinner at 8pm.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

10 minutes

On the way home from my daughter's check up this morning, I day dreamed. about what I would do with nap time. On Tuesdays, Ben has a swim lesson so he eats lunch on the way home in the car and then finishes up and lays down for nap almost as soon as we get home. Likewise, Alex had already been fed and was looking quiet sleepy when I had packed her in the car to pick up her brother. Miraculously, I had been in bed by 11 the night before and slept all the way until 6:30 so sleep was not on my to-do list.

Instead, I thought about blogging and what I might blog about. I thought about the emails from friends that needed to be returned. I thought about my overloaded DVR. I thought about the calls and research I needed to accomplish in preparation for my toddler's birthday party.

When we got home, the tot went down for a nap with only the perfunctory protest (a sure sign of fatigue). The girl was a bit tougher, a tiny bit fussy from this mornings shots (though still nowhere near where her brother was at when he was her age) but still sleepy and the whimpering and groaning on my shoulder soon turned to snoring. I placed her in the crib and dashed down to my sanctuary.

I had begun filling today's stats in her baby book (I have recently found myself seriously lacking in this area - leading me to believe that "neglect of the 2nd child" is much more than a cliche) and was just turning on the computer when I heard her stirring. Initially, the stirring led to some babble. The babble then quickly became a whimper which became a fuss and then an all out cry. By the time I got up the stairs, she was in full crisis mode. "Dear God - why is no one rescuing me from this crib-prison?!!"

Tylenol was administered, patting, rocking, bouncing commenced. Nothing worked. Humming was tried. And singing. And wooshing and shushing and sympathetic sounds. But the crying continued. Finally, we escaped to the living room where nursing began. And continued. On and on and on. Until finally - sleep arrived. And back up to the crib we went.

Finally some peace. All of about 10 minutes until my son wakes up from nap which gave me just enough time to...write this post.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A month ago...

It's been almost a full month since I have posted anything. Hard to believe our girl will be four months old tomorrow. Even harder to believe that I haven't been able to scrounge up a few measly minutes a day to write. I miss blogging. I miss reading friends blogs. (I'm looking at you, Lucy and Sarah). The only way I get to feel connected to some of my internet friends is by reading what is happening in their lives and so, from that perspective, this has been a month of disconnect.

It's also been a month of transition. I am pleased to say that Alex is currently sleeping upstairs with both arms swaddle free. I am probably jinxing myself by saying this, but she has been such an easy-going baby. So much so that I find myself lamenting the struggles I have had with Ben. Now that we have entered the dreaded "potty training" stage, I catch myself wondering why can't even one of his milestones come easy? It feels that we have had to fight every step of the way to learn how to sleep, learn how to nap, learn to eat solids, eat more solids, etc. that I just wanted one single stage to go by without a hitch. But, maybe that's just not who he is. In some ways, it does make his achievements feel even more like accomplishments because they are so hard won.

In any case, I am still here. Still alive (if anyone in my meager audience was curious) and still hoping to develop some type of routine. Though, as my husband pointed out, if in four months we haven't figured out a general schedule - we probably aren't going to. I continue to feel as if I am balancing spinning plates in the air and there are so many that I am always dropping one or two (or three or four). If it's not the house cleaning that I am letting go, it's the blogging, or the sleeping, or the bible study, or the catching up with friends. On the plus side, the plate that I never seem to drop is the kids. And let me tell you - that is an achievement!

But the missing blog makes me sad for another reason - I started this in an effort to document our lives during this time when our kids are small. The time that, I am told, I will not be able to remember in 15 years. I want to be able to look back at these archives and laugh that Ben said things like "Yester-night" and "I will NEVER" (in a rather dramatic fashion every time he is told to do something). By skipping my time to jot this stuff down, I am losing valuable anecdotes and memories in my Swiss cheese brain.

So, in the future, I hope to find at least one day a week to blog (I just realized that I desperately need to update my header as I now have TWO children to engage in nap battles) and read/comment on other blogs, to do some bible study, and maybe even clean up a little so that people don't think we live in squalor. Here's hoping I can get back on track soon.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just Another Birth Story

Here it is, finally (thanks to a long nap from both kiddos!) It's a bit long-winded but I included as much as possible both to share and to help jog my memory some day far into the future when I can no longer remember the tiny details of such an important event:

I spent the days leading up to my c-section feeling anxious. I was anxious that I would go in to labor before my in-laws came to watch the toddler. That I wouldn't get everything at work resolved or things at home set up for our new arrival. I was anxious about how the birth would go, whether things would be as planned, whether there would be complications. We spent the weekend "prepping" Ben with the idea that Nana and Poppa would be coming to stay and Mommy and Daddy would be going to the hospital and coming home with baby sister. He seemed thrilled at the idea that he would get to stay with his grandparents and wasn't much phased by the idea that we'd be gone but I was still nervous about leaving him.

Sunday came and went uneventfully. My in-laws came and settled in. They prayed with us Sunday night before bedtime. They assured me that Ben would be fine, that we would be fine. I slept fitfully. And then it was Monday morning. Early, dark and cold. We had to get up by 4:30 in order to be at the hospital by 5:30. I rushed around grabbing last minute items while the husband packed the car and we both tried to be as quiet as possible to avoid waking the tot or the grandparents. As it was, we still left late and ended up rushing a bit to the hospital. It wasn't the panicked, "oh my gosh, I'm in labor" car ride that I'd always imagined making, but it still added to the excitement!

Once I got to the hospital and was admitted, the harried pace seemed to slow to a crawl. I was attached to various monitors and asked 101 questions about my health, my history, my favorite movies and music (kidding on that last one). They started me on fluids and I kept having to pee. This wouldn't have been a big deal had I not already been so wired up that I looked like Frankenstein. Not to mention that there was another couple in the next bed so I had to maneuver carefully as not to give them a full shot of my backside on my way by - thanks to my classy hospital gown that didn't close fully. To make matters worse, someone else had an emergency c-section right before mine, so we were bumped back almost twenty minutes. As anxious as I was to meet my daughter, I welcomed the reprieve and felt sympathy for the other woman as I had been in her place not long ago.

Finally, we were ready. One of the ladies I knew from church who was also a hospital employee came in to give me a hug and wish us luck. I was instantly comforted by the friendly face and felt some of my anxiety dissipate. I was wheeled to the delivery room and seeing the operating table brought it all back for me. I could feel myself starting to get nervous. The nurse that was with me, Lori, was very reassuring. She showed my husband where to sit and helped me up on the table. The anesthesiologist assured me he would do his best to make sure that I was able to be awake for the whole procedure. Lori had me lean over and put my chin to my chest. She held my shoulders and whispered comfort in my ear. "It's going so well. Almost done. Hang in there" and then the spinal block was done. The staff assisted me with getting situated on the table and let me know that I would lose feeling in my legs very quickly. My OB put the catheter in and I felt the pinch and then after that, nothing. My legs, thighs, and stomach were all numb. I was still concerned that even though I thought I couldn't feel a thing, once the cutting started, I would.

They placed the drape and my husband sat next to my head and held my hand. He kept peering around the drape and squeezing my hand. I don't remember having much conversation as I was so anxious and felt odd talking with so many people listening. All of the sudden, I heard my doctor say "She doesn't want to come out of here. She's all snuggly!" A baby cried and there she was! Alexandra Danielle! They held her up over the curtain and she was squalling and slick and perfect. They brought her over to the warmer where the pediatrician was waiting to check her out and clean her up. They held her up again for me to see and called my husband over to be with her. Soon he left with the pediatrician to take her to the nursery to be weighed and cleaned.

And I laid there. And laid there. And laid there. The nurses and the doctor were all talking and joking with each other while they cleaned me up. I could feel the pressure of their hands, pulling and tugging on me. Putting things back in order. I was a rag doll being stitched and stapled. The spinal block numbed me all the way up to my chest resulting a feeling like there was an enormous weight on my chest. Every breath was taking effort and I was starting to panic that I couldn't get enough air. I had to force myself to focus on the surgical light above my head and take slow breaths. I could hear my own heart rate slowing over the monitors as I calmed myself. After what seemed like an year (but was more like thirty minutes) they were done. I was wheeled to recovery with my new best friend, Lori, who stayed with me while I got my bearings. She gave me ice chips, cool wash cloths and anti nausea medication. My husband came in with our new daughter and I was finally able to hold her close to me. To feel the weight of her and marvel at her tiny features. She was absolutely perfect. My daughter.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Chosen One

Having the hubs around to help out more these past few weeks because of the holiday has been really wonderful. I haven't had to deal with the feeling of wanting to split myself in two because the baby needs to be nursed at almost the EXACT time the toddler needs to be put down for his nap. I haven't had to worry about finding time to pee or eat my lunch. And, most wonderful of all, I have gotten to sleep in and nap on several occasions  while he took care of the kids. I'm glad I married such a good dad.

Only the other night, putting Ben to bed, I discovered an unpleasant by-product of my husband's increased presence. As I was picking out his book and getting ready to read to him, he said "I want it to be Daddy's night". Daddy had put him to bed the last two nights so it was definitely my turn, but apparently having Daddy around was becoming the preference. I said that tomorrow would be Daddy's night, all the while trying not to let the sting show. I have noticed recently that my tot seems to prefer my husband's company. I suspect that this is a combination of toddler preference and the arrival of his little sister.

This new development has reminded me of a time about a year ago when the tables were turned. Every night Ben requested he be rocked by his mama. He cried when it was his dad's turn and fussed when I gave him kisses and tried to leave the room. Both of us felt terrible - me for "abandoning" him when he so clearly wanted me and the hubs because of the obvious rejection. I remember at that time trying to graciously console my husband and reassure him that this would pass. It was only a phase and before we knew it, things would be the other way around and Daddy would be the most desired companion and I would be on the outs. That I would at some point be in the very same position of his father, I had no doubt. What I did not consider at that time was how I would feel about it.

I'm finding it's much easier to be the chosen one than the less desirable option. I struggle with guilt that I have somehow brought this on myself by daring to have more than one child or by not being better at balancing the needs of the two. I worry that he will always prefer his dad's company. I struggle with not taking it personally. In a way, it's almost comical how wounded I can be by the rejection of a two year old. I have to remind myself of the very same things I said to my husband not so long ago - this is a phase and this will pass. I hope it does soon.