Sunday, February 28, 2010

16 and pregnant: A father's worst nightmare

I love watching "16 and pregnant."

Don't judge me. I read, too.

Anyway, it's not just the riveting drama that draws me in. It's my husband's squirming that is most entertaining for me.

The husband cannot imagine Peanut one day older than she is right now. In fact, he's asked numerous times if we can just keep her at this age.

So imagine the torture he goes through picturing her 16 years old. Add on a teen pregnancy with a lippy, immature teenage father and he's practically coming out of his skin.

The past two weeks, we've watched the show with a train wreck curiosity. And each week, he gets angry, grumbles and threatens the use of firearms against any boy who even think about touching Peanut.

It always makes me think of my own father who raised two girls. He spent his career in law enforcement, a fact that could make any boy hesitate knocking on our door. To make them even more uncomfortable, he would sometimes "accidentally" leave his gunbelt on the kitchen table. That usually put the fear of God in our dates.

The husband doesn't have a gunbelt to leave out but he does have 14 years to plot to keep the boys away.

Friday, February 26, 2010

2 months: time's up


Today is the last day of my maternity leave. The Lad is 2 months old. He's 11 pounds, 5 ounces, and 23.5 inches long. The doctor pronounced him perfect at today's check-up.

On Monday, I'll leave The Lad in the capable hands of his Daddyman. Next Monday, I'll drop off The Lad at daycare with The Boy. As his brother was, The Lad will be 10 weeks old when he goes to daycare full-time. That felt impossibly small with The Boy. I worried the daycare ladies, not me, would mold his personality. I worried he would forget me. I worried he would get hurt. I worried he wouldn't love me.

Of course, none of those things happened. If anything, being away from each other just made The Boy and I snuggle more when we were together. I am a much more patient and present mother when I'm absent for a bit. And The Lad somehow seems bigger than The Boy was at this age. He's not. The Boy was and is a tank. I think the difference is knowing, this time, just how fast the baby phase goes. I know the cooing conversations The Lad and I are having now will be words in just months. I know today's smiles will turn overnight into belly laughs. All of this means, I'll be mostly worry-free dropping off The Lad to the ladies who have oohed and ahhed over him for the last few weeks as we took his big brother to school.

I'm excited to get back to work. I'm looking forward to having uninterrupted conversations and time to read and write. The thought of going eight hours without having a little person touching me makes me a bit giddy.

But I will admit to sniffing The Lad's fuzzy little head, as he snuggles on my chest, just a bit more than usual this week. (Doing it now, in fact.) As happy as I am to return to work, I'm already looking forward to coming home to my boys.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Off topic: Books

So, part of not raising a brat is keeping your sanity. Reading is the way I keep mine.

I always have been a bookworm. Books are to me what music is to other people: Just thinking about a much-loved book can conjure up precise memories of the time I first read it. "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder is, improbably, the smell of suntan oil and microwave pizza from the snack shop at the reservoir where we swam each summer. "Written on the Body" by Jeannette Winterson makes me feel like I'm sinking into the beat up couches at the college coffee house. The brick-like heft of "Anna Karenina" always makes me nostalgic for Mexico, where I so craved English that the Russian tome seemed like chick lit.

Since 2008, I've kept a written record of every book I read. Karen, one of the entrants in the giveaway Michelle and I did recently, asked for a list of the best books of the last few years. My reading list isn't always current, but I thought I'd share the best books from MY last few years' reading.

I contend five minutes with a book and coffee is damn near as good as a solid night's sleep. Here's what I suggest you pick up in those five minutes:
  • "March" by Geraldine Brooks. The description of this book -- Little Women from the father's perspective -- turned me off. Why mess with a classic? But when I finally picked it up, I found an engrossing novel that examines the differences between men and women. I also loved "People of the Book" by Brooks.
  • "The Book of Lost Things" by John Connolly. This is a sort of fairytale. I love fairytales. It's about a boy. I'd just had The Boy when I read it. You might hate it. I loved it.
  • "Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan. Jordan is a protege of Barbara Kingsolver. It shows. The characters in this book are real.
  • "The Woman Who Wouldn't" by Gene Wilder. Yep, that's Willy Wonka himself. This tiny novel is a quirky and sweet love story. You probably can read it in a day or a weekend.
  • "Special Topics in Calamity Physics" by Marisha Pessl. This is a mystery that doesn't read like one.
  • "Something Rising (Light and Swift)" by Haven Kimmel. I really love Kimmel's memoirs, which are funny and straightforward. Her novels are not, but the characters seem just as real. This is my favorite.
  • "The Likeness" by Tana French. A detective novel with a great female lead.
  • "Columbine" by Dave Cullen. I don't normally recommend nonfiction because what I find interesting, you might think is silly. But this tragedy shocked so many people, and this book dissects the myths surrounding it in a really riveting way.
  • "The Hunger Game" and "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins. These are the first two in a trilogy technically filed as Young Adult. The main characters are teens, but the dilemmas are adult. I can't wait for the third in this series.
  • "The Good Soldiers" by David Finkel and "The Odyssey of Pat Tillman" by Jon Krakauer. These are both nonfiction books regarding the two wars started by George W. Bush. Krakauer gets a little political, but it's hard not to when he's writing about a man shot by friendly fire, a fact the government neglected to tell his family right away. Finkel, meanwhile, is a Pulitzer Prize winner and it shows. This is just a gut-wrenching account of one battalion's 18-month tour of duty.
I could go on and on, but I'm curious about what you're reading. Or, short of that, what keeps you sane?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

It's just a phase, right?

Peanut has entered the expressing anger/frustration phase. The problem is she usually expresses it by pushing or smacking.

She smacked me twice over the weekend. Both times I had told her not to do something. The first time I chided her. The second time she was removed from the room and put in time out, during which we had an age appropriate talk about not hitting.

Unfortunately it didn't seem to stick since she smacked one of the boys at the sitters' too. She got another time out during which our sitter explained the importance of gentle hands.

This time it seemed to stick a bit better since Peanut spent the evening telling us, "B said no-no. B said no-no."

The next day, she pushed one of the older boys because he was taking everyone's toys away from them. Not her toys. All the other kids. She's my little vigilante.

I asked our babysitter a couple weeks ago if there was anything we should be concerned about with Peanut's behavior. She said no, not really, but that she does like to hug the other kids, who are all older than her. I was relieved.

And then the shoving started. Now it has progressed into smacking.

We went through a brief period during which Peanut shoved a little girl at the baby sitter's but it was usually after said girl pushed Peanut first. I don't want her to push kids but I also don't want her to be a pushover.

Since I know it won't do much good to talk to her about specific incidents that happened earlier in the day, the husband and I try to talk about gentle hands and touching softly using her baby dolls.

I don't know if it will change her behavior but we feel like we have to do something.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

So this is parenthood No. 11

I carried a 23 lb. toddler with her drink, open bowl of dry cereal and her Bitty Baby in one arm and my purse and her diaper bag and lunch bag in the other. Out of the car and up the stairs of our house.

In a dress. And stiletto heeled, knee-high boots.

Nothing got dropped.

I am woman. Hear me roar.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Free play

We took the boys to a party Sunday night. We all had a good time, however, the physical set-up of the party left me with a bit of parenting conundrum.

Growing up, my parents and their friends, including my aunt and uncle, often had parties on the weekends. I call them parties, but mostly, the adults played cards while we kids were left to our own devices. My uncle, after a certain number of beers, would come into whatever room we were playing and declare, "THIS IS NOT A GYMNASIUM!" But when we kids tried to breach the divide between the adults and the kids by tattling, whining or just lingering on the edges to hear conversations above our heads, we were rebuffed mercilessly. The general standard was if no one was bleeding, we should figure it out for ourselves.

I didn't like that rule as a kid. I was nosy and usually preferred a book over the company of my peers. (Why yes! I was a nerd. Why do you ask?) Mom was keeping me from hearing the best conversations and forcing me to deal with my little sister. But as a mom, I think it's a pretty good idea. Kids need to learn how to deal with other people, with conflict and cooperation. So, I try to keep my butt glued to the bench at the playground. At playdates, I try to keep my interfering to a simple, "You need to share, Boy. It's his turn now." It's easier said than done, but I do try.

So, back to Sunday's party:
The Boy quickly latched onto two older kids, an 8-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother. He really liked the little girl -- at one point, he asked her to dance -- and was desperate for the boy's approval. Unfortunately, The Boy is 2 and his eagerness to please led him to show off with acts of accidental destruction. The brother tried to build a tower; The Boy kicked it over. The sister tried to include him in tag; The Boy threw the baton instead of just tapping them. Ideally, I would have left him alone with them to figure out, "Hey! When I act like a jerk, they don't play with me."

But the largest play space was near a pool and a firepit. We couldn't leave The Boy, who still stumbles too easily to be safe around hazards like that, and witnessing our kid being kind of a brat, neither the husband nor I was OK with just letting him do it. That left us trying to correct behavior that wasn't, exactly, bad. The Boy simply was being a 2-year-old attempting to play with older kids. Unsurprisingly, all three of us became frustrated: the husband and I with an uncooperative child, The Boy with unclear expectations from his parents.

(The Lad, bless him, slept through all of it.)

How do you guys walk that line between teaching kids to play nice and preventing them from actually playing?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mind blowing options

I know everyone loves Etsy but I have avoided it. Whenever I got on there, I just became overwhelmed with my choices and felt the need to go rock quietly in a corner somewhere.

That was until a couple days ago.

I prepared myself, knew what I was getting myself into, and then let a whole new world just ripe with possibilities.

There was this:



Not to mention this:



Or this:



(Are you sensing a theme here with the dresses?)

And that's just in the little girls' dresses. I won't even share my list of jewelry wants.

People. I could lose hours and paychecks into this site. I might need an Etsy Anonymous by the time I am done.

Why did I wait so long? And when is it going to be warm enough for Peanut to wear these dresses?

What has been you best find?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Odds and Ends

And so it begins: The Lad, who for the first seven weeks of his life liked nothing better in the world than to be snuggled under my chin or tight against my chest, has spent the last 12 hours fussing every time I have him on my lap or in my arms for longer than five minutes*. He'd rather hang out with the toys on his bouncy chair or playmat.

*Excluding nursing sessions, of course. Independence can't compete with boobs.

---

Daddyman: Do you have a valentine, Boy? Is V (a pretty girl at school) your valentine?

Boy: Yeah.

Daddyman: Is V pretty?

Boy: NO! V not pretty. Momma's pretty.

---

I had to change The Lad's butt, so told The Boy to hold on a second, The Lad was stinky. The Boy followed me into his brother's room and, as I started changing The Lad, grabbed the back of my jeans and pulled down.

"You stinky, Momma?"

This is the method we use to check the butt of The Boy, who never admits to having pooed for fear of having his life interrupted by a butt change.

---

I want my kids to feel connected to their extended family despite living 1,000 miles away from them. We send lots of pictures via e-mail and through Facebook (great grandparents, of which there are six!, get hard copies every few months), I talk to my mom at least every other day and we video chat with both sets of grandparents on Skype. On a whim, I also made a photo book of our family for The Boy when he was born. He loved it to death, literally. After months of being drooled on, chewed and ripped, I had to throw the thing away.

The Lad's own family book is ordered and on its way, thanks to his windows of self-sufficiency.

---

The Boy is cutting his 2-year-old molars.

"Oh. He'll be biting someone then," my mom said. The Boy has a history of biting when he's teething.

"No!" I said. "He's been good for months."

Cut to the end of the day:

"Guess what your son did today?" the husband said.

---

The husband keeps trying to convince me The Lad is teething already. I say no. My boobs hope no.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Strollerderby

When faced with a stroller, people are either helpful or rude. Shopping with The Lad today turned into a sociological experiment. Although two very nice older ladies went out of their way to open the door from me, most people -- the male nail salon tech on break, the teenagers cruising after school, a mother and daughter out shopping -- averted their eyes rather than help wrestle the stroller through the door. Everyone in Old Navy was super helpful. The stocker gave me advice about jeans, sent extra styles back to the dressing room for me and cooed over The Lad. But when I popped into Ann Taylor Loft on my out, I swear the saleslady gave me the one-eyebrow-raised stinkeye as she asked, "Can I HELP you?" You would have thought I was Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman" when she still was dressed as a prostitute.

I suppose the reactions in Old Navy and Ann Taylor can be explained by the clientele they expect. Mine wasn't the only stroller in Old Navy; it wasn't even the biggest. Truthfully, I couldn't justify buying anything in Ann Taylor for a postpartum body, though maybe a less cranky saleslady might have convinced me. I went to Old Navy just to try on this skirt in the next size down (I ordered one online and, while it fits, I was curious if a smaller one would be better; it wasn't) but left the store with a pair of jeans, a printed button-down and St. Patrick's Day shirt for The Lad.

Strollers are not my favorite part of parenting. I was thrilled when The Boy was walking well enough that we could ditch our wheels. I'm looking forward to the day when we won't need the stroller at all. I understand people's negative reactions. I always feel like the damn thing is in everyone's way. So I'm extra grateful when people help me move it along.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

How old is too old for a pacifier?

Peanut sounds like a little French girl when she asks for her paci because she puts the accent on the i.

Lately, we've been butting heads with our little French girl and her time with the paci. We've reserved it for night-night only, which she understands. When I tell her no paci, she sticks her little bottom lip out and says "Paci for night-night. Paci for night-night." That doesn't stop her from asking for it day and night.

On of her favorite tricks is to requests to go night-night at weird times of the day. Say 8:30 a.m. on Sunday when she's been up for less than two hours. She's like a little closet smoker who just needs a hit or two off one of the many pacifiers hoarded in her crib and then she's ready to play.

Is there a 12-step program for pacifier use?

I'd like to get her completely weaned by the time she turns two this summer. Admittedly, this is a completely arbitrary number based on nothing expect that I don't want people looking at me funny.

When did you get your little one weaned from the paci? Or when would you like to?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Small successes

The daily work of a mother is a thousand tiny tasks. So often, the little failures are the things that loom large thanks to the tantrums and tears that accompany them. I berate myself for not stopping the fit before it started, for being too hard on my toddler -- or for being too soft, for not changing that diaper before it was a blow out, for not playing enough or for not reading one last book.

But just like those puny problems, small successes -- when I remember to notice them -- can have a major effect on my attitude and on the entire mood of the family. Tonight, I noticed.
  • The husband and I fixed dinner in peace because I remembered to feed The Lad early and because we're encouraging The Boy's independence by letting him play outside alone.
  • The Boy ate an entire serving of asparagus because I called them swords and let him eat them with his hands.
  • We practiced colors and counting with a handful of M&Ms. Bribed with chocolate, The Boy knows his colors perfectly.
  • A game of flashlight tag in the backyard, which devolved into races while holding flashlights, distracted The Boy from wanting to watch cartoons.
  • But allowing him to watch cartoons later saved my voice, which is shot from yet another cold and couldn't take reading half a dozen books.
Tiny things, but they added up to a truly pleasant evening. I felt like a really competent momma. (And the husband is a pretty competent daddyman: His bouncing on the exercise ball is staving off Lad cries as I type.)

What little triumphs have you had lately?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Is it weird that I don't have a babysitter?

To be clear, I do have a babysitter. One that watches Peanut expertly during the days while we are at work.

What just dawned on me is that I don't have a babysitter to watch her if the husband and I want to have a grown up night. We usually rely on my parents who live an hour away or my sister who lives about 20 minutes away. And while both are generous, they have their own things to do and lives to lead.

We don't have someone in town that we can call up, have come over and stay with Peanut for an evening.

I remember babysitting the neighbor kids very early on when I was probably no older than 13. I can't even fathom leaving Peanut with a 13 year old. Or a 17 year old for that matter.

I don't feel like we are missing out on a bunch by not going out but it would be nice to know that there is someone we can call so we can have a dinner out just the two of us.

Do you have a neighborhood teen that you count on?

Friday, February 12, 2010

At the grocery

The Lad and I went grocery shopping today. We discovered 10 a.m. Friday is prime shopping time for every old person within a 10-mile radius. I kept The Lad covered up in his carrier for several reasons:
1. He was sleeping and I wanted him to stay that way.
2. It's a little chilly and windy today.
3. I didn't want all those old people touching him or breathing two inches from his face.

Some old people just can't resist a baby. The last time we went to the grocery store, an old woman who had been eating a free deli sample five seconds before touched The Lad's face as she exclaimed over his eyelashes. I appreciated the compliment, but not the grease on my baby's face. So today, the old people peering curiously at the carrier -- some of the shorter women even craning their necks or standing on tiptoe -- were all disappointed to see nothing but a very cute blanket made by my grandma.

I ran into one lady several times. She blocked the cereal aisle to ask a worker where the beans were, and then I found her in the vegetable aisle about five feet away from the beans and still unable to locate them.

"You still looking for the beans? Here they are," I said.

"I want white beans."

"Oh, well, there are these cannellini."

"Oh," she said, "but that's Goya. I just don't know about that."

Personally, I prefer Goya, but whatever. I went to show her the store brand.

"Oh don't worry about it. You have the baby -- It is a baby, isn't it? I keep looking. The baby isn't dead, is he?"

"..."

That's me not knowing what to say to the suggestion that I'd cart around a dead baby. Or, I don't know, maybe a cat. I recovered and handed her a can of great northern beans.

"He's sleeping. Here are your beans," I said. "Have a good day."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Moments

There are moments in each day that I want to forget. The times I tell Peanut to stop too loudly. The moments when she is clingy and won't let me make dinner.

Thankfully, there are other moments. Moments that eclipse those that I would like to forget.

Like tonight when she unfurled her sleeping bag and wanted all of us to pretend like we were sleeping on it. She put Ba-Ba and Bitty, her two baby dolls, on it. She pulled the husband down on it and then pulled me down. She laid down and pretended to sleep. I wish I had a picture of the three of us on the floor together. Our family portrait.

Or the moments when she insists on scratching our backs. She tells us "Scratch back" pulls up the back of our shirts and sure enough, scratches our back.

Or the moments when she willingly goes night-night, kisses the husband and allows me to carry her upstairs without a fight. I tell her what a great night we had. I tell her I love her and she says "I wooo!" We kiss. We hug. She pats my back with her head nuzzled into my neck.

These are the moments I hold on to. These are the moments I want to store away so that when she is older, I can pull them back out like I would her baby clothes and find myself amazed that her little body ever fit into my arms.

These are the moments that make everything I do all for her.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Conversations

Hillary: (The Lad) has not slept all day unless it's on me. ... He's driving me fucking nuts.

Michelle: (giggling) You're talking to the wrong person about this. My child was held for the first -- No, Peanut, you don't need the paci. Pacis are for bedtime only. ... Peanut, if you don't stop whining I'm going to leave you by the side of the road.

Hillary: I am so blogging this. We're such good mothers.

---

Momma: How was school today, Boy? Did you have a good day?

Boy: Don't kno-ow. Didn't have good day.

Momma: (looking at the daycare sheet and seeing nothing but positive notes) Why didn't you have a good day?

Boy: (slumping into his rocking chair in a decidedly teenaged pose) I don't just wanna talk about it, Momma.

---

Lad: screaming, screaming, screaming for his breakfast

Momma: I'll be right there. (has the audacity to pee and get breakfast for The Boy before getting The Lad out of the crib.)

Lad: screaming, screaming, screaming

Momma: (looking into the crib) Oh my.

The Lad had wailed and wriggled himself right out of his clothes.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Celebrating kindness

This has nothing to do with parenthood but I need to publicly thank a man on a John Deere tractor who keeps shoveling driveways in our neighborhood.

A few weeks ago when a big snow came through, I went out to shovel the drive while Peanut was asleep and the husband was at work. Just as I was getting ready to tackle the heap of snow plowed to the side of the road, John Deere man came by and took care of it for me. He didn't even stop. Just plowed, waved and did the next drive.

Then Saturday, the husband was about to suit up to help our neighbor shovel when along came John Deere man again and took care of it.

And again tonight, the husband was about a quarter of the way through our driveway when John Deere man showed up out of nowhere and plowed our driveway. He told the husband he doesn't even live in our neighborhood. He plows driveways for pay for some of our neighbors but if he's out and sees someone shoveling, he just does it for free.

The husband offered to pay him but John Deere man turned him down. He did accept some oil for the tractor since he was low.

God bless you, John Deere man. Next time it snows, I will have something warm for you to drink and some cookies to take on your way.

Whose kindness would you like to celebrate?

Wardrobe dilemma

I don't keep a scale in the house because I would drive myself batty. When I'm curious, I weigh myself at the grocery store. My mother is appalled that I do this, but eh. It works. According to both the grocery scale and the pediatrician's scale, which I had to get on at The Boy's two-year check-up to prove to him it was safe, I am more or less back to my pre-baby weight.

But of course, my body isn't exactly in the same prebaby shape. My waist still is a little pudgy and I think my hips and thighs got a little heavier with The Lad. And then there are the nursing boobs. For the first time in my life, the buttons on one of my fitted shirts gapped the other day. I stared in disbelief for a full minute before I took the thing off.

This is basically the same as how my body reacted after The Boy's birth. I lost the weight quickly, but took several months to settle into a new shape. Then, I was so happy the weight was gone, I rushed out before my maternity leave was over to buy a few new outfits to celebrate. Several months later, my bottoms were sagging and my tops were hanging. I don't want to buy new clothes quite yet -- but I'm also sick of the clothes I have, none of which are perfect fits.

What do you guys think? Should I just suck it up and wait a few months to buy new clothes? Or should I buy some el cheapo clothes to get me through? Seen any great deals? Know of any perfect cut or style that will work on any shape my body decides to take? Want to be my personal shopper?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Good and bad mom

Reason why I'm a good mom: I love to color with Peanut. My heart sang with joy when she first took interest in coloring. It was one of my favorite activities as a child.
Reason why I'm a bad mom: I cringe inwardly whenever Peanut scribbles on a page I am diligently working on.

Reason why I'm a good mom: I love to watch Tinkerbell with Peanut, or Kinkerball as she likes to call her.
Reason why I'm a bad mom: I tried to persuade Peanut that she would rather watch Tinkerbell than Elmo despite her repeatedly asking for Elmo and even adding please without prompting.

Reason why I'm a good mom: I've learned how to let Peanut wander around Target with me without freaking out too much.
Reason why I'm a bad mom: I let her do it so she will wear herself out, take a good nap later that day and I can have quiet time.

Reason why I'm a good mom: On weekend mornings, I like to bring Peanut to bed with us when she wakes up. Nothing is better than snuggling together.
Reason why I'm a bad mom: I do this for the one in a million chance that she will go back to sleep for another 30 minutes. It's never happened but I keep hoping.

Why are you a good mom? Bad mom?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Lessons learned

Things we learned this weekend:

1. Always double-check the date of a festival, especially if you've invited people to come along.

1a. Triple-check the date if you plan on building it up to your two-year-old.

1b. Better yet, don't build up events to your two-year-old -- no matter how funny it is to hear him say "bouncin' houses" and baklaVAH! -- just in case plans fall through.

We planned to go to a Greek festival Saturday, one of our favorite events and something we've gone to every year for the last four years. I thought it seemed early, but the husband assured me he'd seen a sign saying Feb. 5-7. He was wrong. It's March 5-7, a fact we discovered after driving 30 minutes and finding an empty church parking lot for our effort.

The instant the husband and I realized the festival was not this weekend, The Boy started crying, real tears and everything.

"Where the Greek festival, Momma!? Where the bouncin' houses?!"

It was so pathetic it was funny.

2. Having children has matured me.

Three years ago, I would have thrown a tantrum about the husband's honest mistake. Dealing with that sort of behavior in children makes it less attractive in yourself.

3. Chuck E. Cheese's is not a place anyone needs to visit before they die.

3a. Chuck E. Cheese is scary.

Our friends kindly laughed about the mistake and suggested we take the boys to Chuck E. Cheese's. I had never been. Now that I have, I hope to never return.

Don't get me wrong. We had a lovely time with our friends, however, expensive, crappy pizza and a cavern full of loud music, noisy games and poorly supervised children is not someplace I want to make a habit of frequenting.

The boys had a good time, but The Boy did not like the automated Chuck E. Cheese. When the robot mouse started singing, his eyes got big, his mouth shut and he grabbed my hand hard.

"That mouse frightened me."

We're hoping the mouse keeps The Boy from begging to return.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snow fun

After a harrowing drive in the snow and ice yesterday, I finally picked Peanut up from the sitter's. She was whiny thanks to a new round of teeth and her general disdain for being in her car seat. The roads were slick and our neighborhood was especially difficult to navigate with its steep hills covered in at least 6 inches of snow.

After the third attempt to get into the neighborhood with no success, I had enough and told Peanut to stop whining with more frustration in my tone than necessary. Peanut replied back, "Mama told Peanut STOP. Mama told Peanut STOP!"

I softened my tone and said, "Mama loves Peanut. Mama loves Peanut," hoping she would repeat that instead.

She didn't.

But at least we finally got home so that we could play in this today:

Did I say 6 inches?

That's 6 inches by 6 p.m. Friday.
These photos were taken Saturday morning with at least 10 inches.


Down our hill.


Up our hill.


And she loved every minute of it.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Brotherly love


The Lad instantly stops crying when he hears The Boy. His eyes follow his brother around the room. As he becomes more alert, The Boy is more tolerant of this adoration. This morning, he listened for The Lad's cry and ordered the Daddyman to get him out of bed. He cuddled on the couch with him and included him in a game of firetruck on Momma and Daddy's bed.



Sometimes when we ask The Boy to rock or talk to The Lad, he does it eagerly.

"It OK baby brudder. Rocky, rocky, rock."

Other times, The Boy just looks at us and walks away as The Lad screams, as if to say, "That ain't my problem."

---

Three daycare ladies in a week commented about The Boy having a hard time with The Lad's arrival. I was a bit surprised. We thought he was growing accustomed to his brother. So, on the way home, I decided to go right to the source.

"Do you like The Lad?"

"Yeah."

"So, you think we should keep him around?"

The Boy didn't respond immediately, but when I glanced in the rearview mirror, I saw his eyebrows raised, as if in shock. He removed his blanky from his mouth.

"We give The Lad away. We give him back."

I think they already have the quintessential sibling relationship.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

So this is parenthood No. 10

Tonight after bath, Peanut was running around naked, screaming, laughing and having a great time. She played her favorite game of hiding from us while yelling her own name. (Yes, we know it defeats the purpose of hiding.)

She had both the husband and I giggling in the hallway as she ran from room to room laughing. At one point the husband started clapping. Peanut began asking for more. Pleading for more. So the husband clapped more, but apparently that was not what she wanted because a complete breakdown ensued.

We went from happy and laughing to a crumpled, crying mess in 2.2 seconds.

The husband looked at me dumbfounded and said, "What just happened?"

And, then, within another 10 seconds she was back up laughing and playing again.

We still don't know what she wanted more of. I'm not sure that she knew either.

Baby love

The Lad has started to coo. Every time he lets out an ooh or an ahh, I smile and fall a little deeper in love with him.

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I laid The Lad down for tummy time while I pumped. He was good for a minute, but then started wailing and flailing. I sang and patted his back with one hand and when I was finally finished, left him in the room to quickly clean up everything. By the time I came back, he was asleep.

We have self-soothing, people.

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Even better: Seeing his eyes flutter, I flopped down on the bed next to him and stroked his back. He grinned and let out a soft, "heh!" We have the start of laughter.

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Meanwhile, my bigger baby's sense of humor is developing. The husband asked the other day, "Am I a good daddy or what?"

"What," The Boy said.

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I was dozing on the couch, The Lad on my chest, after a 5 a.m. feeding, having decided there was no point in going back to bed. I heard The Boy slide out of bed and come padding across the carpet of his room and onto the tile of our living room, headed toward our bedroom.

"Mornin', Momma," he said. "Here comes your monkey."

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I spoke too soon about the self-soothing. The Lad just woke up crying and is now cuddled on my chest. Typing is a challenge, however, a sweet-smelling baby head is inches from my nose.

This motherhood business has its perks.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Bored and fickle


Well, Mommalady, what now?

The last several days, despite the good doctor's visit, I've been in a funk. The Lad's refusal to nap made me resentful. A battle of wills with The Boy over table manners left me snippy and guilt-ridden, which made me sarcastic with the husband and that escalated into a nasty, hours-long fight. I found myself fretting The Lad wasn't getting enough tummy time and whether The Boy was ever going to recover from becoming a big brother.

I couldn't figure out what my problem was. Then I realized: I've hit the midpoint of my maternity leave.

I am not cut-out to be a stay-at-home parent. At first, I love it. I clean my house and do laundry and cook and run errands. I spend naptimes reading. I take the kiddo to the library. We go on walks. But then, everything is more or less clean and I'm tired of laundry. This weekend, I organized my cookbooks. Safe to say, I've hit the boredom point, and after that is the crazy. I feel like I'm wasting time. Innocent questions from the husband -- "What did you do today?" "Did The Lad let you nap?" -- start to feel like accusations of laziness. Alternately, I develop a martyr complex. The husband, it feels, does nothing.

In a week, I'll be moaning my maternity leave is almost over and how can I leave my BABY?!

But right now, I miss work. I miss daily deadlines. I miss chatting over the cubicle walls.

I got the same way when I was on leave with The Boy, but then I let things fester. Giving into the boredom made me feel guilty -- how could I NOT want to be with my kiddo? -- so I did more -- the grout! it must be scrubbed! -- and then was a total shrew to the husband. (Really, it's a wonder we ever decided to have another kid, looking back.) Rather than repeat that performance, I spent today giving into the boredom. I did the bare minimum. I ignored dusty furniture and dirty floors and finished my book and ate Thin Mints.

I feel so much better. And it's a comfort knowing I'll be well-rested enough to really do the end-of-leave hand-wringing justice.

Monday, February 1, 2010

20 days, 30 oz.

The Lad is a whopping 23 inches long and just a little more than nine pounds.

I was a little worried about what the doctor would tell me at his one-month check-up today. The Lad is long and skinny, which is a huge departure from The Boy who always has been sort of square, just an all-around big kid. I bottle-fed The Boy, so I knew precisely how much food he was getting. I'm nursing The Lad, so while I think he's getting enough, I don't KNOW how much he's getting. I thought maybe the doctor would tell me The Lad was malnourished, despite the fact that he's been sleeping, pooing and peeing in adequate amounts as well as becoming an alert and curious baby. I am a worrier by nature. With The Boy, I worried I fed him too much and was raising a Maury Povich baby.

I was wrong then and now. As is often the case, I worried for nothing. In 20 days, The Lad gained 30 ounces. I am inordinately proud of my boobs.

Breastfeeding failed with The Boy. My milk took forever to come in. The Boy was hungry and not gaining weight fast enough. I was crazy with worry and post-partum hormones. The Boy's latch was good, but he fell asleep during feedings. I wasn't physically or emotionally able to deal with feeding every hour or two. Without any friends or close family members who had breastfed, I didn't have a good support system. Did I mention I was crazy? Ten days in, I had a lactation consultant tell me -- over the phone, as I bawled my eyes out -- that it sounded like I was "doing everything wrong, but maybe we can fix it," and that was that. I decided The Boy needed a sane mother and a full belly more than he needed breastmilk, and we switched to formula. I felt guilty for a day or two, but mostly, I was just relieved my baby was fed. Later, when I heard friends talk about leaking boobs and pumping sessions on toilets, I was grateful to have skipped those parts of modern motherhood.

So, when people asked if I was breastfeeding The Lad, I was ambivalent. Eh, I said, we'll try.

That ambivalence is why I think nursing is working this time. The first night in the hospital, The Lad would not sleep. It was 4 a.m., he'd been on the breast for hours and my milk hadn't come in yet. The nurse, apologetically, asked if we'd like to give him some formula. With The Boy, I would have said -- I did say -- no. I wouldn't have wanted to cause nipple confusion. I would have felt like a failure of a mom. I would have just kept trying with no milk and no sleep and then wondered why everyone was frustrated. With The Lad, the husband and I looked at each other for a second and said, "YES, PLEASE!" The Lad ate and fell asleep for several hours, and I slept, too. When we woke, we both were ready to nurse again.

I haven't kept feeding logs with The Lad. I've just fed him when he seemed hungry and that's worked. It's helped that he came out sucking -- seriously, he was sucking on his fingers -- and doesn't seem to care if it's a pacifier or a bottle or me. It's helped, too, that though he tends to clusterfeed before bed, he'll go for three or more hours at a stretch at night. It's helped that I know all baby phases come to an end. It's helped to have the benefit of good advice from my friends who have struggled and succeeded at nursing since The Boy was born.

And it's helped to know the formula is there and waiting if I need to miss a feeding or the whole thing just stops working.

I'm not sure how much longer I'll breastfeed exclusively. I go back to work in a month and, being honest, I don't like the breast pump. I know no one does, but I'm not going to make myself crazy with it. I'm pumping now, trying to build my supply and a stockpile of milk. I'll try pumping when I go back to work. I'll take any tips you mommas have for making friends with the pump.

If we can swing it, great. If not, well, I still believe a sane mother and a full belly are the most important things for a baby.