Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Monkey

I can't believe my Monkey is four. Somehow, four seems to cross the line into official childhood. She's clearly not a baby, toddler hasn't applied well for a while, and preschooler is too combersome. So what label could apply now other than plain old 'kid'?

How do I have a KID? I'm actually having a hard time with this. I nearly teared up giving her "my last hug as a three-year old" last night. Clearly, she is not struggling with this at all. Full steam ahead, Monkey.

My Monkey is everything. She is all the best, purest parts of me, unblemished by life's ups and downs. I am cowed by the responsibility I have been trusted with in this little person, in who she can become. Someone thinks I won't screw this up? Someone thinks I can do this justice? I sincerely hope I am up to the challenge.

Dear Monkey,

Happy Birthday! I hope you know by now that you are endlessly loved. That just thinking of you makes me smile and swell with pride. That you have endless potential, and that it is Daddy's and my job to make sure any path you want to travel is open to you.

You are strong, and sweet, and full of life. Grammy says you glow, and she's right. You wake every morning and greet the day with happy feist. You are turning into a wonderful friend. You understand the value of taking care with people's feelings, and you are a wonderful big sister to Lion. Do you see how his face lights up when you enter the room? That one laugh from you can make him giggle in his sleep? Keep taking care of that bond and you will have a best friend forever.

As you get ready to turn four, you are in full Princess mode. Your birthday party is going to be outside and not especially girly, but you chose Princess plates, and decorations; mostly because you love Beauty and the Beast. You are my ballerina in training, and you hold lots of ballet (and sometimes tap) classes and performances for us. Often we must dance alongside you. You also love to dress up, and you are developing strong opinions about your clothes. We've had a lot of all-one-color outfit days lately. Monday you wore all blue, including socks, shoes, and bow. You tell us your favorite colors are blue and red, but you added pink to the list this week. While you won't eat meat except as chicken nuggets, you love sushi. My little enigma. You don't know you're little, though. Smallest in your class by far, you regularly tell us you're the biggest.

You are very interested in letters, and you can write your name easily. Your letters are getting neater, and you can make them small now if you want to. You know all of the letters and can figure out the beginning and ending sounds of words. You are starting to sound out and guess at the words you see on paper. You are also starting to turn numbers around in your head, and you will count anything. "Mommy - how many arms are in this car? How many toes are in this car?" You and Daddy started a game taking turns with numbers, and you can get all the way to 100! You are also starting to understand adding and taking away numbers, especially since we've been counting down to your birthday for 23 days now!

You are beautiful, inside and out. People stop us and tell us you're gorgeous, stunning, lovely, and I wish they'd stop. It was fine when you were too little to understand, but that is not what I want you to value about yourself. Please don't pay any attention to them. You are also smart and kind and strong.

You love to give hugs, and we love to get them. At night, we decide on our favorite part of the day, and we do our gratefuls to make sure we remember just how lucky we are. Tonight I will tell you that YOU are my grateful. Truth is, you are my grateful every night, because we are just so, so lucky to have you.

I love you, Monkey.


Monday, March 28, 2011

I have a book problem.

I'm a pretty voracious reader, but when you have two kids under two and a more than full time job, you don't get them time to read that you used to. I used to go through a book or two a week, and reading is a big part of my preferred bedtime routine. These days, though, I get to read maybe once or twice a week.

Hasn't slowed down my rate of acquisition, though. I just grabbed another three books online Friday, and soon they'll arrive to be added to the nightstand pile. It's dominated by books about kids, discipline, and parenting, with a few just for fun fiction books in between. Since the age-oriented parenting books currently dominate my stack, I figure I'll run those down first.

I had a whole slew of pregnancy books. Totally loved Great Expectations (no, not Dickens); totally despised What to Expect When You're Expecting. I've never had a book make me feel so badly about myself so fast; and every time it freaked me out enough to consult my OB, the doctor told me to chill. So I got rid of it. But Great Expectations was really helpful in understanding what was going on with my body and still treating me like a grown-up.

I never really got into a steady relationship with an infant book that tracked milestones. The good ones try hard to caveat every milestone to make sure you don't freak out when your baby seems behind the curve, and I appreciated that. Honestly, the most helpful thing for me at this phase was Gymboree. The teachers there were amazing at tailoring the classes to each child, and I swear Miss Erika is at least partially responsible for pulling me out of PPD by showing me I wasn't a total failure as a mother. The Baby Center weekly email updates were good, too.

In general, though, I thought Happiest Baby on the Block was helpful. Even though an asthmatic could have blown their 'scientific evidence' apart, the ideas themselves still worked, particularly for calming my newborns. I hear the DVD is good, too, but I instinctively devalue any book made into a movie. :)

What has really resonated for me since then is the "Your x Year-Old" series. So far my favorite is "Your Three-Year Old, Friend or Enemy?" Totally dead on description of Monkey at three, especially the fact that three-year olds push back on their Moms more than anyone else, and that it's hard (!) to not lose ground in the relationship by responding to them. The authors totally admitted they had no advice for stopping it, and suggested that you consider cutting your losses and just having someone else look after the child while that behavior continued. Awesome. No, seriously. I love these books.

They're relatively short, and written in this sort of antiquated, lovely language that reminds me of an old, British country pediatrician. ('Cause I've known a lot of those, right?) But they're frank, and do a good job of explaining why certain behaviors are taking root and offering real suggestions about what to do about it. I'm tempted to buy one for every year of age, just to have them on hand. I definitely read them in advance to know what's coming, too.

My latest purchases have been discipline related, but I'm sorry to say I haven't actually read them. I did manage to skim relevant sections of 1-2-3 Magic on the advice of friends, and it seems like it would be sound if I could get it implemented. Working on that, I promise.

Deep thought for the day.

Motherhood... is looking down and realizing that there is a big spot of something on your sweater, and not even being embarrassed. It is also quickly considering putting your jacket on to cover it, but giving up when because there is an even bigger spot on that. It is also not even bothering to tell yourself you'll take them to the dry cleaners, because you well know that just isn't going to happen.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 26.

Day 26. What would you like your Grandchildren to remember about you one day?

These questions are getting intense! Apologies if they're too serious, but I wouldn't be doing them justice if I wasn't sincere. If you've read back the past month or two, you know that we've had a heck of a winter, and I'm not talking about weather. Lots of illness, a few real scares, and a Hubbie working around the clock leaving me to go solo much of the time. I've reoriented quite a few fundamentals of our life, and been pretty pleased with how we've fared. But I had a Eureka! moment about a month ago.

You see, I'm a consensus builder by nature, and I'm always trying to make as many people happy as possible. But consensus building doesn't work when you're hanging by a thread, and there were too many decisions that just couldn't wait until the next time I got to see or even talk to my husband. Much less actually have a long conversation with him.

So I started just acting without consulting, and it dawned on me one night that what this family needed was a Matriarch. A good, old fashioned,'s.done Matriarch. No nonsense, no consensus needed. (That doesn't mean he doesn't have a say, but it means he trusts me to know when he really wants to have input. Funny - turns out he did all along.) Matriarch meaning there are things we do, and things we don't, and that's the end. Not by making it about me personally or what I want, but by sheer force of will.

So of course I want my Grandchildren to think of me as warm, and kind, and involved. As always, always available to them; as a shelter in a storm. But I think I'm going to need that mantle of the lady that held it all together. Although if I'm truly successful, they shouldn't ever know that I had it.

Blog Challenge - Day 24. The home stretch!

Day 24. What is God teaching you presently?

This question is both harder and easier for me than it was a few years ago. Then, I would have told you that I was more of a science kind of girl. My exploration of faith was pretty static, although I've always known there has to be something beyond our understanding. What's outside of our universe? OK, and after that? And after that? What about after that? It all has to end somewhere, right? Right?

You get the picture.

Becoming a parent puts faith in an entirely different light. I look at those two people that came, conceivably, from nothing. Sperm, egg, blah blah blah. Biology doesn't capture the creation of new existence. The sheer, from absolutely nothing, coming to being of a new person. There's no way you can tell me miracles don't exist. No. Way.

We don't make it to church very often, mostly because the kids are not exactly good pew sitters these days. Monkey is old enough for Sunday school this year, but Lion is a ways off, and we aren't comfortable enough with the church nursery to leave him there. But since Monkey was born there's been a kind of peace in just being there. It's a chance to contemplate and be grateful. To focus on what is most important of what we have, or the most fundamental of the struggles around us. I feel better every time I'm there.

But that wasn't the question, you say. Becoming a Mom has created a new awareness of, and surrender to, forces outside my understanding. I've traditionally prided myself on analysis and reason, so that's quite a sea change. Couple that with my traditional strengths of ridiculous multi-tasking and flying by the seat of my pants, and you don't end up with a calm, consistent, confidence-inspiring Mommy. But here's the rub - at the end of the day, I'm entirely and intimately consumed by these kids' every move. That's a pretty loaded way to go through life, and it can make a girl a raw ball of nerves.

So I'm learning; no, I'm teaching myself, to chill. To have a game plan so their little misbehaviors can't push my buttons, or at least so they don't see it. To think long-term, and about the kinds of people I want them to be. To stop teaching them to listen, and start helping them make the right decisions for themselves.

That all sounds good, right? It's really hard. Particularly when I'm tired and stressed. Which is always. But that's what God is teaching me about myself. So there.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Baby Top Ten

The whole fam went to a double baby shower last weekend for two friends of mine from grad school who are pregnant and due within a few days of each other. Yippee!! It's baby #2 for one, but the firstborn for the other. She and I started talking about the ever-present baby 'stuff,' and while I like to tell people that all you really need are diapers and a place for the kid to sleep (empty drawer, people?), I'm just as guilty of over-acquiring stuff as anyone. And baby stuff was no exception.

My first tack was to try and give her all of the baby stuff Lion no longer needs. Swing, bumbo seat, play mat, pack 'n play, etc. I see this as tempting fate about whether we'll have another baby. (Me want, hubbie no, plus no money means Hubbie wins. For now.)

The way my life seems to work, the moment I get rid of all the baby stuff, I'll accidentally get pregnant and have to buy it all again.

But they have a small apartment and really do need to triage their acquisitions, so it did get me thinking about what we actually valued most across two kids. Here's my list.

1. A downstairs changing table. I had two c-sections, so minimizing trips upstairs was key. We used a pack 'n play, which was a little too low and hurt my back bending over for diaper changes. So no specific product recommendation here. We didn't use it for much else, frankly, except occasionally to protect the brand-new Lion from Monkey. They were both able to make clear their displeasure at being caged from a very early age. Prodigies, I know.

2. I called it the "mini mattress," but it's really the "
Close and Secure Sleeper," by the First Years. I think it's intended to protect the baby when you have them in bed with you. Note - it would not have protected anyone from the way my husband sleeps. Would have taken a tank.

But I had read that babies will feel more secure and sleep better if you can mimic the closeness of the womb. And the kids looked so little in the vastness of the crib. So we used this to make their worlds seem a little smaller. It was also a convenient way to elevate their heads slightly - since both of mine had reflux (Lion still does). It was also great to travel with, since it was easy to recreate a familiar environment for them in a new place.

3. A play mat. I didn't think this was a big deal, so when I realized I had loaned Monkey's to a friend, I didn't bother getting it back for Lion. But I was wrong. It was huge to be able to lay him down somewhere with a degree of stimulation. It also helped with the physical therapy we had to do for his torticollis by making his tummy time more palatable. As long as there is some basic sound stimuli on the mat (something that crinkles or squeaks) for when they move, it helps them make the connection that their attempts at movement have outcomes. The arches with things dangling overhead are important once they get to reaching and grabbing, which was also really helpful with the torticollis.

4. Crib. Duh. Both kids got to use the same
Stanley Young America crib. Went with white for gender neutrality, and it has a fixed rail. I wanted a drop side then (I'm only 5'2"), but all of the reviews of drop-side manufacturers were pretty poor. Four years later, drop-side cribs are all but extinct after several recalls, so I'm really glad we ended up this way. And I really didn't have that hard a time picking them up, even from the lowest position. Ours is a convertible crib, so when Monkey started climbing out of it we just took the front off and TA-DA! Toddler bed.

OK, my husband would be angry with my "just took the front off" bit. It took quite a bit of doing, not to mention required finding and buying a modified front with a partial rail. They made it impossible to convert the crib without spending an extra $250, and we were pissed. If you're trying to price compare cribs, be sure to ask and factor that in.

5. Bibs. Vinyl ones (so you can just rinse them clean) that secure with snaps (b/c my kids like to take them off). Lots and lots of them.

6. Diapers. Another Duh. We're Pampers Swaddlers/Cruisers fans, but I have several friends who love Huggies. Some just seem to better fit certain kids, and fit is what determines the likelihood of leaks. Do not do not do not get the ones with Dry Max, though, as whatever crap is in the absorbent section has given babies rashes, not to mention the occasional chemical burn.

7. The next set doesn't really merit long description, so it's more of a list of things to have around. Wipes (we like Pampers sensitive), diaper cream (we use good old-fashioned Desitin, but I know some people mind the smell. It just says 'baby' to me!), orajel swabs (the teething will start sooner than you think), and some sort of anti-fungal cream. Lotrimin or the drug store generic; whatever. The bumpy red diaper rashes are yeast, and they need the anti-fungal cream instead of desitin. A little neosporin never hurt, either.

8. Stroller/carseat. Stroller research is the very bane of my existence. I found the online discussion boards by the Baby Bargains authors to be incredibly helpful for toddler strollers and their various permutations, but for infants it's obvious to me. You get the
Graco carseat, because it's consistently the highest ranked for safety. Then you get the stroller frame/base/basket that connects to it, because it's only $60 or so and the ability to move a sleeping child between the car an the stroller is priceless. I still mourn having to move Lion into a convertible car seat, because it lost me this ability.

I'm not going to make it to ten. Don't get talked into the rest. In particular, don't buy a swing/bouncy seat until your child has been in one and you know they like it. They're expensive, and neither of my kids was ever willing to stay in one for more than 30 seconds. Monkey screamed every time we came near it, from a very tender age. Like I said earlier, they're prodigies.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Happy stuff!

I have a project! It came to me while I was printing out approximately 30-kajillion emails for aforementioned FOIA. Ickickick.

Ok, it actually came to me while I was destressing by checking out YoungHouseLove and found their gorgeous DIY gallery wall hanging project. I am going to do this. We've been in our house almost seven years, and our stairway is still bare. I've always wanted to hang things there, but never had a vision for it. Now I do.

Plus, it is going to go a long way toward reducing the visual clutter in our house. (Which makes me crazy, b/c we have enough ACTUAL clutter without creating more unnecessarily.) We have tons of pictures of the kids, etc, on console tables and window ledges. This was fine for Monkey, but Lion's climbing tendencies - and total typical boy-ish-ness - make it an issue. Here. I have proof. This is at 10 months old, people. Now imagine what he does to a table with interesting shiny pictures to whack against each other. Not good.

So tonight I am going to wander around the house and make a list of what size frames I need, and then I am going to get online at IKEA and order them ALL. Mwah hahahaha.

Craptastic at work

I just got FOIAed. Anyone else who works in government knows what that means. It means I have to go through all of my emails looking for relevant messages on a particular topic in a specific time frame. And print them ALL out. And make anyone who worked with me on the project do the same thing.

This is going to kill several days that should have been spent on other things. Time I do not have to lose, b/c frankly, I work pretty damn efficiently already. Because I'm a Mom, and I want to go HOME at 6 o'clock, not stay here printing emails. Crapola.

I need to find something upbeat and POSITIVE to blog about, people! Anyone with ideas please let me know post haste. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?


I had a dream last night that, as I was sitting at my office desk, I saw a missile come down and hit the middle of the street immediately in front of my office. It seemed to hit some anti-missile installation, and somehow in my dream I knew it was from Libya.

I got my phone, blackberry, and purse and headed for the stairs, to run down the 10 flights and try to figure out how to get home. I think I must have allowed my psyche to revise my response a few times, since I remember that I was wearing bad shoes for running down stairs, but I also remember teetering in heels (and getting dizzy on the stairs), as well as brilliantly changing into running shoes before heading for the stairs. I also remember a version when I grabbed a bunch of cash in my desk (I'm currently collecting for a big office party!) and brought it with me in case it could prove helpful getting home.

I was calling Hubbie as I went down the stairs, telling him I love him and the kids and I wasn't sure how I'd make it out of downtown, but that I'd head home. And to tell the kids I love them. I was processing through how long it would take to get my car out of the garage, and whether that would allow traffic to build up so much (as everyone else fled the city) that having a car would be worthless anyway. Maybe I should walk?

I think I am feeling under attack lately. Maybe?

So imagine my response when there was an actual 'suspicious vehicle' today at work - on our very corner - and the streets were blocked off as they brought in hazmat. Then no one could enter the building. Then exit. Then those of us with window offices had to stay away from the windows and shut our doors.

Not okay, given the dream of the very night before. Not that I have any track record of ESP, but it was all a bit too much for me. It's going to be a while before the tightness in my chest goes away, I think.

I wanna go home and hug my kids. And move out of DC. To flyover country, where international foes real and imaginary don't care what happens. Like I needed more reasons to not wanna be at work, really!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Funny girl

Monkey's been particularly funny lately. Just look at that smirk... she knows it. This morning she informed me she had slept with a bat and a monkey last night. Apparently the bat was swinging on her window and woke her up, so she let him in so he could get warm. He got in her bed and they snuggled. (Not sure when the monkey showed up.)

Oh, and I'm not allowed to call her Monkey anymore (at least not to her face!). She told me she wanted a new nickname.... Princess. That wasn't OK with me, so we negotiated some and ended up with Princess Monkey. Hey, it's better than Monkey Princess, right?

Yesterday at the grocery store she apparently told the checker that "this is where Mommy comes to buy all of her wine!"

Oh, good. We drink wine at our house MAYBE once a week. MAYBE. But she's apparently paying particular attention to it. Last week she wanted to help me use the corkscrew, so I showed her how to twist the handle and then push the rabbit ears down. The cork came out with a nice satisfying 'Pop!', at which point Monkey looked up at me and asked if she could smell the cork.

Hey, at least if I have a wine-obsessed preschooler she'll be a well-schooled wine-obsessed preschooler!

Last night we went out to eat, 'cause, hey, if Monkey asks for something, Daddy says yes. Wrapped around her little finger, he is. Who cares if we decided to eat out less to save money? Monkey wants sushi.
Yes, sushi. My three-year old, who will not eat meat in any form except chicken nuggets, will eat sushi. I'm not talking about the silly vegetarian kind either. She's hard core. The waitress walked up, and Monkey, clear as day, says "I need an eel-a-cado (translation: eel and avocado) roll and a rainbow roll. Cut small for me. And some maaa-meh (translation: edamame), please? (looking directly at me to make sure I noticed the magic word).

Girl knows her sushi. Last night she tried roe and thought it was fun. Please, please let my child not develop a caviar habit. The budding wine connoisseur thing is bad enough.

Blog challenge - Day 23.

Day 23 - Who's your celebrity look-alike?

I've been told Gillian Anderson (you know, the X-Files chick) and Mena Suvari. Neither of them really resonate with me, but I guess I can see bits and pieces.

That's it. Not very exciting, I know.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My least favorite thing in the world... looking for childcare.

I haven't mentioned anything about this before, because it's really not a very fun topic. But a huge part of why I've been bad about posting lately is that my time has been suddenly and unexpectedly consumed with a new childcare search. Our beloved nanny, who I had fantasies of keeping for years on end, is leaving us. Really, really early. I won't go into why, but all that matters is that she feels pulled elsewhere. Not only do I want to respect that, I also don't want someone caring for my children who doesn't want to be there.

Anyway, there it is, about two weeks later. Maybe I was still in denial until recently? But I started blogging to get these things out in a coherent way and thus maybe allow me to better sort through my thoughts. While I'm sad she's going and frustrated that I have to spend so much time - so soon - on another blasted nanny hunt, I'm most worried about the kids. She's the only person besides family that has ever cared for Lion. And Monkey is very attached to her and routinely lists her as part of our family. So I'm really stressed about finding the right way and time to tell Monkey about this.

Not to mention finding the right person. I'm not only looking for all the traits that I think make a good caregiver, I'm not obsessively trying to gauge how sincere someone is about their willingness to make a longer commitment and how well they really understand what they're getting into as a full-time, live-in nanny. It doesn't help that the first good interview we had turned out to be telling me everything I wanted to hear - which I learned after being alerted she had a drug problem and had stolen from her last family. So now I'm totally second guessing my own instincts.

This whole thing bumps up against all of my insecurities about being a working Mom.

This is three hires in a year and a half - a part-time nanny for a few months before Lion was born, a hire who never ended up coming because of a last minute personal crisis, and our current nanny. I'm exhausted. And losing faith in whether we'll ever be able to find someone that will give the kids the love and stability they deserve.

Blog Challenge - Day 22.

Day 22. What did you do today?

Ha. This is easy compared to other topics this challenge has been throwing at me.

I got up after only two hits of the snooze button. Took a shower and did hair and makeup, all while Lion was starting to make his sweet baby noises in his room. Come get me, please? Drank in the thuds of everything in his crib hitting the ground one-by-one, each followed by a soft little, "Oh-oh."

Checked the blackberry calendar to see if I needed to wear a suit today. Yup. Blech.

Opened the door to Monkey's room so she knew she could get up when she felt like it. The luxury of spring break and not having to rouse her from lazing in bed. Got dressed. Received Miss Sleepyhead as she stumbled out of her room and declared she wanted to get dressed. And that she would be pretending to do ballet today, so she needed a skirt. Got her dressed. Finally responded to Lion's ever more insistent noises and headed downstairs with the both of them. Trailed Monkey to the basement to snag a tutu from the dress-up chest. Convinced her it was okay for our nanny to pour her cereal while I packed up to go. Started coffee.

Stalled. Gave multiple rounds of kisses and I Love You's. Tried to convince Hubby to give me a ride so I didn't have to pay for parking today. Failed.

Retrieved coffee, phone, and blackberry. Gave another few rounds of kisses, and finally left the house. Drove to work.

And that's really the end of the day, at least until I get home tonight. You don't care what happens in between, 'cause it's not the important part.

Blog Challenge - Day 18 on 22.

Day 18. If you could, what would you tell yourself before you had your baby?

It'll be OK. It's going to be harder than you think - a lot - but it will be OK. You're an idiot for thinking that babysitting prepared you for this, by the way. Anyone who thinks they are prepared for their first child is wrong. And seriously naive.

There is no lightning flash of love that strikes you the moment that baby is out in this world. You will be tired and hormonal and just want everyone to leave you alone. You probably won't feel very bonded right away, and that does not make you a bad person or parent. Your body will just have done an amazing thing and it deserves credit and rest. You won't be able to breastfeed, and it isn't your fault. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It doesn't mean you weren't meant to do this.

On other ways, too, things won't go as you envisioned when you were younger. You won't make all the same choices you planned; some because you're wiser, and some because life doesn't always work out that way. That's OK, because, well, it has to be. What's the alternative, really?

You will never be the same, but you will be better. You will be tested in ways you never imagined, and you won't always succeed, and it will be fine. Because your kids need to know that it is OK to fail, as long as you get back on your feet and try again. It's also OK to take care of yourself. Call your friends. One of them will tell you that a happy Mommy makes a happy baby, and those are some really important words. Reach out for help when you need it. You cannot; will not do this alone, and it is vain and proud to try.

Blog Challenge - Day 17 on Day 22.

Day 17. Write about 3 things that make you happy.

It would be really, really eays to just say Monkey, Lion, and Hubbie. Too easy. No point in writing that, really, no matter how true it is.

1. Monkey loves music and using it to tell stories in the same way I do. I was a huge musical theatre geek in school. Went to the
BEST theatre camp EVER and spent most of middle and high school consumed with plays and various choir groups. To this day, I find it very hard not to sing along to musicals, not to mention any old song in the car that resonates with me. And it's become clear this year that Monkey has inherited this love. She puts on performances for me in the living room, and cajoles until someone performs along with her. She shows me dances she's made up to songs they sing at school. I'll try to capture one on video to share here, but my girl doesn't perform on command - the spirit has to move her. She works hard to learn the words of songs, and wants to sing them over and over. We're currently fixated on the Disney musical version of Beauty and the Beast, and I find I still remember the words today. And it makes me smile so hard my face hurts, and I tear up just a little bit, because if she noticed she'd never believe they were happy tears. Even now I'm grinning like a fool just thinking about it.

2. I have a few REALLY good friends. I wish they lived closer, but I'm grateful to have them there to blubber to when I'm down. It's a lucky girl who knows there are at least four people she can honestly call in the middle of the night if something was really wrong. I think there are probably more, and am hopeful of another few in development, but I don't want to take it for granted. These are women I've known for a long, long time and expect to know forever. I'd trust them with anything, even though we are all very different people. I'm not very good at having acquaintances; I really don't know what's expected of me in that dynamic, but I am really, really blessed with s few solid, deep, lasting bonds, and I'd take that over mass popularity any day.

3. As much as I can vent and obsess, the big, important things in my life are good and stable. My kids are both healthy. And about as normal as you get (is anyone really 'normal'?). They are darn cute, brilliant, and well, healthy and normal. And I am thankful for it every day. Monkey and I 'do our gratefuls' every night at bedtime, and I always just want to tell her how grateful I am she and Lion are just healthy. And happy, and here. And that they are both growing big and strong and becoming their amazing own selves. My marriage is good, and we both agree that we will always be working on that. We have very similar life priorities, so ever when we don't communicate so well, we're able to fly by the seat of our pants because we're pretty likely to make the same choice anyway. We are, all four of us, of sound mind and body, and that is not something I take for granted. There's a lot of divorce and addiction in my family, and I feel those challenges so deeply. But our little home is strong and steady, and I will not ever let myself take that for granted. And knowing that makes me happy.

Blog Challenge - Day 15.

Day 15. What do you wish for?

This is easy. I wish for financial flexibility. Not money, by the way. That's very, very different. I don't need to be rich, but I have really struggled with times when I feel like I cannot give the kids something that I feel is right or best for them because of financial reasons. As I think I've mentioned before, I always wanted three kids. I'm the oldest of three, and we're all so different. I simply cannot imagine my life without the youngest, and feel the same way about my own kids. Monkey and Lion are amazing and all-consuming - both emotionally and literally - but I still feel like someone's missing. When we're all snuggling in bed together on weekend mornings, I just feel deep down like there is another little someone who should be there. I don't in any way mean my kids are not enough, but I just don't feel complete right now.

Problem is, children are (duh!) expensive. Especially when you consider how much Hubbie and I care about private schools. We live where we both grew up, and we went to private schools that we are still in awe of and involved with today, and it would be so hard to not give our kids that same experience that is so beloved to us. Whatever you personally think about private vs. public, private is what we know and love, and as a parent that goes a long way, not only to immediate comfort but to knowing how to successfully impact and maneuver your environment to your child's best interest.

It's clear that two kids in private school is going to be really hard, and I know, rationally, that three is all but impossible. And since I refuse to treat one differently than the other, three basically would mean NONE of them would get that experience. So maybe it's selfish of me to want to satisfy my own yearning for a third when it effectively deprives the first two of these amazing places.

The other thing is that I am really overwhelmed right now. I still maintain that the move from no kids to 1 is much harder than from 1 to 2, but 2 has at times exceeded my capacity. It's getting better as Lion gets older, but we've had some really tough times. I've had post partum depression episodes with both kids, and child care arrangements are continuing to be the bane of my existence. (More about that later.) For the first time last week, I found myself wondering if, money notwithstanding, we could handle a third child. I'm sure we couldn't right now. In a year or two? But while I'm not as old as mnay Moms I know, I'm also officially in the high risk pregnancy category of late.

If I could throw more money at a nanny, maybe we could keep one for a really, really long time and minimize the trauma of transitions. Or move to a closer neighborhood that cut time off a commute and increased our time together. Or work part time. Or, frankly, take the pay cut that is implicit in moving back to the work that I love love love or just to a new job with more flexibility, even if it was still full-time. In any case, I know that with a little more income these issues would stop being issues, and it would be about what we want for our family and what is best for the kids. And that's what it should be about; period.

Blog challenge - the make-up issue!

Looks like I've failed the blog challenge, but I've still gotten out of it what I hoped to. I found great things to write about, and I got myself into enough of a routine that I started feeling the need to write here whenever something really struck me.

But in an honest-to-goodness attempt to complete this (please see Challenge Day 9, when I describe how anal I am about fulfilling commitments, even when they impact almost no one), here are the topics I've missed:

Day 14. Style 31. Post an outfit pic!
Day 15. What do you wish for?

Day 16. How old was baby when he started sleeping through the night and how did you do this?

Day 17. Write about 3 things that make you happy.
Day 18. If you could, what would you tell yourself before you had your baby?
Day 19. Write about your significant other.
Day 20. Write about your job and why you love it or hate it.
Day 21. Write about your most vivid childhood memory. Post a picture of you taken over ten years ago.
Day 22.
What did you do today?

I'm going to tackle Days 15, 17, and 22, because I like them. And no one else is telling me what to do, and darn it, I get to choose without considering anyone else's needs. And really, for a Mom, that's a rare, rare thing. So there.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Wonder of a Weekend.

Our friends with older toddlers (older than Lion, that is), talk about having hit the 'sweet spot.' You know, that place where routine reigns over chaos, your head is generally screwed on straight, and everyone sleeps through the night? And where your youngest kid is old enough to actually DO things and take places.

I think we're getting there. It's not official, but we actually had a real, live, fun weekend. We went out (gasp) Saturday night to another couple's joint birthday party (cute idea!) and had fun, even though we did get stuck for a while sitting with some of the most amazingly pretentious people I've ever met. Seriously - who knew those people really existed outside of sitcoms?!

Regardless, we had fun. Even did some pleasant networking (as if such a thing existed!). Then, on Sunday, we went to another family's house and watched basketball. (Oh, and my team won. Woot!) Monkey and her buddy played together the entire time without a peep, and Lion explored the new space without actually damaging anything. Amazing.

It was fabulous, but now it's over. But gives me lasting hope for the future. Lots to look forward to. Yay for getting weekends back!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nononono more blog challenge.

So, I think the blog challenge served it's purpose, just more quickly than expected. I'm still going to do it, at least for a while, but I'm not going to try to make up the upcoming weekend posts. Here are the three topics for today, Saturday, and Sunday. I'm choosing one, and calling a skip on the other two.

Day 11. Post a recipe. Or if you don't cook, try a new recipe and write about how it turned out (pictures please!).
Day 12. Write about what wears you out as a woman.
Day 13. A YouTube video.

Day 13 wins, if only because I have an awesome video to share. iPhone, not YouTube. It's my Monkey, in one of the cutest moments ever, and definitely ever captured on video. Apparently the music moved her. I actually have about five videos of this, since she kept right on dancing and ultimately dance-paraded around most of the store. Yes, around the super-sized wine and beer store. My then-two year old. We're good parents, I swear.

Is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen? It's been over a year and I still giggle/well up over it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 10.

Day 10. What are some of your favorite products, and what foundation/powder do you wear?

This post is sort of a throw away for me. Although I wear makeup everyday and feel sort of naked without it, I don't feel like I have any expertise to share. I sort of wing it, and I change products all the time. Right now I'm using a Revlon undereye concealer, either Trish McEvoy or Maybelline nude shadow, and some drug store brand mascara (it's purple!). There are three products I like enough to know I'll buy them again:

DiorSkin by Christian Dior. Don't even know what I'd call it - some sort of tone evening cream, but nowhere near foundation. Totally the highest end makeup product I've ever bought, but worth it.
MakeUp Forever eye makeup remover. LOVE it. No alcohol and so non-greasy I could put new makeup on the second I finish using it.
Bobbi Brown gel eyeliner. It still smears some, but it's by far the best I've found. Also use their applicator brush. I would adore any recommendations for a liner you can use on the LOWER lid that doesn't smear by the end of the day

Ta-da. That's it. My full font of wisdom. Not much, I know. I am, however, looking forward to reading OTHER people's challenge posts on the topic. :)

Falling off the wagon.

I think I'm falling... jumping?... off the blog challenge wagon. I did it because I loved the ideas of what to write about, and liked the structure I though it would impose. Yes, structure. I've already told you I'm boring. But I don't have time to write about anything else, and of course (of course!) I'm suddenly full of things I want to write about. So maybe the challenge has served it's purpose already?

But really, I hate not finishing something I've started. Makes me feel like a bad egg. A quitter. so I'm arguing with myself. If you can't finish a blog challenge what CAN you commit to?

You'll see what I decide.

In the meantime, my winter routine continues apace. Kid gets sick, kid gets medicine. Kid starts to feel better, someone else gets sick. We've been there nearly constantly since November. I think it started the day before Thanksgiving, actually. Got a new presciption for Monkey yesterday - she has an ear infection. Since Lion had a double last week, I know where it came from. Although it marks the first time he gave something to his sister and not the other way around. Way to go, Lion! I love milestones.

On the up-side, I think we found a new primary doc at the pediatrician's. I've been jumping around to find someone else there since deciding I couldn't depend on the current one. But the woman yesterday was AWEsome. She's new to the practice, so pretty easy to get appointments with, and she was SO good with Monkey. My big girl did the whole exam by herself; followed all the instructions, didn't flinch at a thing. Giggled tons, which is impressive considering how uncomfortable she was. Huge relief to me to have someone I know I can ask for at appointment time. Yay!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blog challenge - Day 9

What virtues do you value in yourself?

Hmmm, this is a hard one for me, because everything I value in myself I can also see as a negative in certain situations.  I'm not particularly romantic about these things, apparently.

Pro:  I have a big heart and I always give people the benefit of the doubt.  I avoid criticizing people at all costs.  I want everyone around me to be happy, even if I end up the only unhappy one.  This is part of my oldest child of divorced parents shtick.  I like to solve people's problems. 

Con:  I get walked all over sometimes.  I also really struggle with giving constructive feedback, and by the time I'm ready to say something that might be construed as negative, I'm probably pretty worked up about it, and that does not make for a productive conversation.  Once my switch is flipped, I'm completely fed up.  No middle ground.  The other con here is that I probably care too much about what other people think in general.

Pro:  I'm very progress-oriented.  My husband, while we were dating, told me that one of the things he admired in me was that I was always trying to improve myself.  It's probably the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me, and it was one of those moments where I knew he really 'got' me.  I'm always looking for the next step - be it learning about developmental areas for the kids, snapping up off-season bargains on things they'll need next year, considering what family to see over Thanksgiving and how it will impact Christmas and Easter, and so on.  I'm highly planned and always aware of contingencies.  I've been told I would be FABULOUS at emergency management for just this reason.

Con:  It's totally paralyzing.  You can never accommodate every 'what-if' hypothetical, and trying to come up with a strategy to cover them all makes actually pulling the trigger on a big decision torturous.

Pro:  This is probably obvious from the other two, but I really think things through before I do them.  I take my commitments incredibly seriously, from significant promises to friends down to RSVPs.  If I take some action, I will totally own it.  If wasn't willing to talk about it, I wouldn't have done it in the first place.  Maybe this is an offshoot of growing up and working around politics, but I call it the Washington Post rule.  If you aren't willing to have it on the front page of the newspaper, then don't do it!  Maybe that's why I have a high comfort level with blogging.  While I'm a fairly private person unless you know me well, this dynamic makes me very forthcoming.  It's also probably why several people over my lifetime have asked if I want to run for office someday.  To which I say NONONONONONO NONONONONO!  Hell, no.  Ugh.  Shudder.  No.  I should probably take it as a compliment, but I mostly find it very confusing, since I don't consider myself to be remotely like what I know about public office holders in either good or bad ways.  And would NEVER survive that lifestyle.

Con:  I don't take risks lightly.  I've had my wild moments, and definitely done things I regret, but there aren't too many and I know (believe you me!) what they are.  There are only a very few I feel strongly I'd like to take back.   As I get older, though, I sometimes wish I had lived more freely (not loosely, people.  Freely.)  Taken more risks.  Tried  unconventional paths and been more open to new and unusual experiences.  Not been so serious.  Had more fun?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 8.

Have a beauty secret (e.g. hair tip, make up tip)? Share, please!

[Note from the editor - I'm now officially caught up from the weekend!  Yay, me!]

Back to business.  I'm not really a make-up guru.  I do wear it everyday, though, and I do NOT leave the house without it.  But my generally feeling is that if you know I'm wearing makeup, I'm wearing too much.  I'm pretty fair, with light hair and light eyes, and without eye makeup you can't even be certain I have eyes.  At all.  So my morning routine involves under eye concealer (thanks, kids!), neutral shadow, dark liner, and mascara.  Plus light cover up to even out skin tone; otherwise I look like I'm wearing too much blush every day.  Or a circus clown.  No biggie, right? 

That sounds like a lot of makeup to many people, but it's how I feel comfortable presenting myself to the world.  I thought that made me superficial until a good friend cited the old "You look good, you feel good" cliche.  And she's right.  Confidence means so much, and people do treat you differently depending on how you look.  It's not right, on principle, but it's true.  

I use a variety of department and drug store brands, and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear if anyone has a liner that won't smudge.  My eyes tend to water throughout the day, and even though I present the challenge to every makeup counter I find, no one has yet introduced me to a liner that won't make me look like a racoon by 6pm.  I'm tired of traveling with the supplies I need to touch it up.  Truthfully, I have a stash at work, but I only use it if I have somewhere special to go in the evening.  So most days are not pretty by the end.  I'm sure I'm harder on myself and that people don't actually notice, but it has to contribute to making me look tired and unkempt, right?

That doesn't answer the question at all, does it? 

Honestly, my best tip is dry shampoo.  Oscar Blandi.  My personal vanity's cross to bear is that I have very fine and thin hair.  Flat and limp.  Not only does it buy me an extra day between washes, it increases the diameter of each hair, and my hair looks *better* on day 2 than freshly washed.  Amazing.  I've actually thought about using it EVERY day.  Maybe I'll try that tomorrow.

Blog Challenge - Day 7.

Day 7. Do you believe in the "cry until he sleeps" method?

Yup.  I do.  Monkey required approximately zero sleep training - she's generally been more difficult to wake up than to put to bed.  When we told people that, they universally advised us we would NOT be so lucky with our second child.  You know what?  They were wrong.  Lion is a pretty rock star sleeper, too.  Sometimes he stirs in the middle of the night, but he usually goes right back to sleep.  And when he wakes up in the mornings, he's totally happy to chill and play in his bed until we come get him.  Love that kid.

He wasn't always that way, though.  He started sleeping through the night when he was two or three months old, and we thought we were golden.  The he got sick, and we would come in and hold him in the middle of the night until he went back to sleep, which he apparently liked.  Truth be told, I really liked it to.  Treasured it.  Then he got better and, smart kid that he is, had no intention of losing his snuggle time.  After all, a second child doesn't get a lot of one-on-one.  We tried lots of things - feeding him more, putting him down later, getting him more outside time, whatever.  Nothing worked, and when he hit four months old I returned to work a tired mess. 

It took four more months to realize my career was on the verge of crashing down around me because I couldn't see straight.  I was getting up once or twice a night, and had been almost continuously since the sleeplessness started sometime mid-third trimester.  One night I woke up sitting on the floor of our room, my hand jammed between the bed frame and mattress.  I have no idea how I got there - maybe I fell asleep standing up and then fell?  Or maybe I was sleep walking?  I have no history (that I know of) of doing that.  Maybe I was getting in or out of bed for something and slipped?  Regardless, it was seriously disconcerting.  What if I'd been holding him at the time?  In any case, my hand hurt for several weeks and served as a sort of wake up (no pun intended) call that my body/psyche was NOT happy with how things were going. 

So we tried the Ferber thing - let him cry for ten minutes, go in and soothe him, then leave.  Stretch to 15 minutes.  But going in and then leaving would only get him more worked up, and it quickly became clear the strategy wouldn't work.  So we went to full cry-it-out.  And we learned that Lion, mellow as he usually is, has inherited the family stubborn side.  (We should have known this, considering every relative on both sides of our family for generations is darn stubborn, but whatever.  We could hope.)  This first night he literally cried for hours.  It was terrible.  The second night, he only went for an hour and a half, and the third night was cake.  It was over.

He's been sick and/or teething a lot since then, and when he's hurting you can be sure I'm in there post haste to comfort him.  So we've probably backslid a bit on the sleep training, and I hope we don't have to do anything like it again.  But we won't know until we make it through the winter sick season, get a teething hiatus, and he has no more excuses.  So here's hoping I won't have occasion to write about it again. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 6.

Day 6. Your most embarrassing moment.

Oh, boy.  Here we go.  Most of my embarrassing moments have to do with not holding it together, or not putting myself forward in a way I can be proud of.  It's not very significant, but the first one that comes to mind is from fifth grade.  There had been sort of a nasty smell in the classroom for a while, and somehow someone decided it was coming from my desk.  I was sort of a geek, and fifth grade was probably the height of my torment - my classmates were pretty open in their scorn of me.  This is one of my greatest fears for my kids - that they'll experience the kind of bullying and misery that I did at that age.  This was before bullying was a hot topic, and the school did pretty much nothing about it.  Honestly, I probably shouldn't worry about the kids - they seem to get their social skills from their Dad's side of the family, and it's a pretty social gang.  My sister in law was a queen bee of sorts; the girl I would have been PETRIFIED of in school, and the whole gang was pretty popular.  I like to joke that hubbie never would have married me if we'd met before I escaped that school and was able to stand on my own.

Anyway, you've probably guessed by now that the smell WAS coming from my desk, and was some ridiculously old sandwich I'd stashed in there to save at some point.  I'll never forget how it looked, or the outright nastiness of my classmates, or the feeling that somehow I had now confirmed everything uncool they'd ever thought of me.

Ugh.  I hadn't thought of that in a really long time.  Thanks for the uplifting post today, me!

We all probably have many, many answers to this question.  I also have a more topical, recent one, which I'm still living down.  I've grown out of my awkwardness, and people who meet me in college or beyond have a hard time believing the level of nerd-dom I once acually achieved.  These days, I have a somewhat stern, polished exterior at work, and it's hard to get me to show any kind of weakness.  It's a product of the environment in the office - no excuses.  I actually find it sort of exhilarating to always be on my toes - best game forward.  It's served me well, and I've been promoted quickly and become well respected there. 

But that attitude is not exactly compatible with being a working Mom who always feels like she's hanging by a thread and would rather be with her kids at any given moment of the day.  I've been a Mom for almost four years now, and I still really struggle with not being able to give all of myself to kicking butt at work.   I figure there's only 24 hours of me to go around, though, and any extra time work gets can't go to the kids.  I don't have a hard time making that call at all, so work gets what I have to give it, and no more.  I've definitely become smarter with how I use my work time since becoming a Mom, and hopefully it makes up for the fact that I now refuse to work the significant overtime that is considered status quo. 

Anyhoo!  That's my context setting for the embarrassing moment that bothers me far more than the great sandwich incident of 1980-something.  I was a few weeks back from maternity leave, and Lion had yet to sleep through the night.  (That's actually a nice foreshadowing to the next challenge question about whether I believe in cry-it-out sleep training, but I'll leave you in suspense for now.)  So with a solid 6+ months of sleep deprivation under my belt, my show-no-weakness attitude wasn't really holding up.  Although it was never diagnosed, I'm fairly certain I was also struggling with late-onset post partum depression. It was a real rough patch.

Things were starting to fall through the cracks, and I knew it, and I just could not bring myself to do anything about it.  Not only was I not doing an amazing job, I was totally missing deadlines without batting an eye.  I didn't care, and it was entirely unlike me, which scared me even more.  One afternoon my supervisor came to ask me about the status of a project and I guess it just became too much and I couldn't stop the water works.  It wasn't a huge dramatic moment, but I did cry, and it clearly made him incredibly awkward.  Which made me even more upset.  In one fell swoop I erased over seven years of hard work and transformed myself into a weak, crying, woman.  And I don't think I'll ever be able to erase the way I've changed in his mind.

I'm back to my old self these days, getting some sleep and back on top of my game, but I know I've lost my boss' trust.  Not just because of the tears, although it was almost funny how unable to handle them he was.  I wasn't the person he knew for several weeks, and I'm not sure I'll ever get back the full measure of his confidence.  I've thought about telling him what was going on, but if he couldn't deal with one teary incident, I can't begin to guess how he'd respond to the word Depression.  Not to mention *post partum* depression.  It almost makes me giggle to imagine it, but somehow I don't think it would be a positive move professionally.  Holy cow.

Blog Challenge - Day 5.

Day 5. Write a blog thanking someone who has made your heart come alive.

This is going to veer into cheesiness SO quickly!

Yes, I could easily write this about either of my parents, brothers, or my husband.  But the no brainer is to write it about my first-born.  I don't even think this has to be specific to my Monkey, since the universal conclusion of every Mom (and Dad, for that matter) I've talked to is that they had no idea how much it was possible to love someone until they had a child.  You can use the cliches about dying for someone all you want, but once I became a parent I really understood them.  No doubt that given a split second decision I'd instinctively throw myself in front of a train for one of my kids.  I used to make lists in my head about what keepsakes I'd save first in case of a fire (photo albums, heirlooms jewelry, whatnot), but that's irrelevant now.  All I can do now is run through scenarios of how to get the kids out.  The rest is useless.  The hardest thing I've ever come to accept was the first time I could not provide something for her that I thought she needed.  I couldn't get over how wrong it felt, how unfair it was, and how much it undermined my confidence as a parent to fail her in that way.  Thank heavens it wasn't as essential as I felt at the time, but that feeling of lacking something as a parent she needed is one I hope never to experience again, although I'm sure it will happen many, many times.  I can only pray none will actually be as significant a loss as I thought that first one was.

I know I'm biased, but I'm also confident that my Monkey is the most amazing, brilliant, beautiful child ever produced.  Best.girl.ever.  Ever.  She makes my heart swell and my chest tighten and my mouth stretch horizontally to at least twice it's normal size.  I got misty eyed just taking her to the Ice Capades, people. 

What's the quote?  To the world you may be just one person, but to one person, you are the world.  To Monkey, I'm the world right now (we've been in a Mommy phase for a really long time now).  And it's a huge, daunting responsibility to nurture the limitless potential in that child.  During the rare times I actually get a moment of stillness in church, it's the first place my head goes.  Please, please, give me the strength, wisdom, patience, grace, and so on I need to never hold these kids back from achieving everything or anything God has made possible for them.  Because while I've never been an overtly religious person, there's something about your own child that makes it clear that miracles can - they just must - happen every day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 4.

Day 4. Style 31. Post a pic of you in your favorite outfit.

I said upfront I wasn't doing pictures of myself.  So there.  Plus I'm still losing baby weight, so there is no such thing as my current favorite outfit.  Getting dressed everyday is stressful and demoralizing.  I'm getting close, though, and can finally wear my old suit pants again.  That's been hugely helpful on weekdays.  Summer is coming quickly, though, and very hard to get through gracefully without my old clothes fitting well.

So instead, I'm going to post you some things I've, uh, acquired recently in anticipation of finally wearing NORMAL clothes this summer.  Yay! 

Kayce Hughes Green Tile Print Tunic
J. Crew Stripe Drawstring Dress

Boden Jersey Top Dress
J. Crew Cotton Cady Aveline dress

Boden Stripey Tunic

Cute?  Me thinky.  I'm pretty heavy on these three retailers, mostly because I can get clothes for the kids and myself in one fell swoop.  Very simplifying.  Very excited for warmer weather.  Now I just need to indulge my fantasy of spending the entire summer at the beach.  Hubbie says I'm crazy.  I say he doesn't have to come.  And a job that gives me three months of leave is a good life/career goal.

I just realized my computer is fried and I won't be able to post this weekend.  So I'm going to liberally reinterpret the 31 day blog challenge to include only weekdays.  If I manage to do some writing this weekend, I'll try to update it retroactively so I can still finish in March.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 3.

Day 3.  A photo that makes you happy.

There are SO many pictures that make me super, super happy, but I have to choose this one.  This is the day we brought Lion home.  Monkey had been so, so stressed toward the end of my pregnancy and some wise woman had told me that kids either had trouble right before or right after the arrival of a new sibling.  This was the moment I could see she was right, and that Monkey would be able to chill, welcome Lion, and everything would be all right. 

I had read repeatedly that when I came home from the hospital, it was important to not be carrying the baby to be able to hug older children and show them how excited you are to be back home with them, first and foremost.  So we did this, and I came in looking to scoop up my Monkey and hold her tight.  Plus I missed her desperately.  Since it was during the H1N1 outbreak she wasn't allowed to visit me in the hospital and we'd had only an illicit lobby rendezvous.  It was the longest I'd ever been away from her.  She, however, was totally uninterested in me.  First words out of her mouth? 

"Where's my baby?"

So we were cool, and to this day the sibling interactions I have to keep an eye on are those where she wants to pick him up, hold him, feed him, etc.  She does have her moments of territoriality, but we've been able to handle them pretty easily so far.  [Knocking on wood.]  The interesting challenge will come when he's more verbal and able to compete with her for conversational time.  My Monkey's a talker, and I've already noticed that Lion saves his words for when he has me alone and then lets loose.  It's truly hilarious.  Our one-on-one time is a total gabfest; he just never stops 'talking.'  So if I've got two constant talkers, things could get exciting.  Hubbie and I will never have a conversation again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blog Challenge - Day 2.

Day 2.  What makes you uniquely you?

This is something I struggle with.  I have a very mediating personality and like to make other people happy.  Which means I frequently walk a line between caring for myself and caring for others.  So I put who I am away.  A lot.  Too much.  I've been planning some structured recreation of ME, actually, and just this week came across a great structure for it in another blog, Mighty Girl.  Plan to try this.

Who am I?  I like to say I'm behaviorally conservative but politically liberal.  I've actually had strangers sneeringly say things like, "Well, aren't WE the young Republican."  Which I guess means I dress conservatively?  Yes - I'm preppy and mainstream looking.  I have no problem with that.  It's what's easy and comfortable for me, and seems to look right on my body.  I'd look ridiculous is something hipster, or goth, or whatever.  Just not my deal.  The political side is more complicated, because while I used to call myself a liberal, I don't think I can anymore.  I'm an independent?  Or a moderate, maybe?  A friend jokingly called me a safety-net libertarian, because while I dislike government intrusion into areas of morality and generally believe in the free market, I also will happily give up any amount of my income to protect children who need protecting.  That's the safety net part.

I'm fixated on things being evidence-based.  Sure, you need to go with your gut sometimes, but mostly I'd like research to back it up, thank you.  I love everything music and theater, although I haven't indulged those hobbies in a long time.  I can sing, but not enough to want you to listen to me do it alone.  And not in a trained way.  Same for dancing.  Monkey shows all signs of following me down this path, and that makes me indescribably happy.  She doesn't get why I tear up every time she sings along with a show tune or wants to put on a dance show for me.  But that stuff was the happy-center of my childhood, and I'm so delighted to share it with her.

I'm pretty literal, and like things to be straight forward.  I'm a HUGE over-researcher.  Buying a new stroller sends me into catatonic fits.  We'll be applying to Kindergarten for Monkey and preschool for Lion next Fall, and I already have spreadsheets.  I expect to be completely consumed by it.  There's another thing about me - education is incredibly important to me, and I am lucky enough to have grown up believing that you should weigh your options carefully and choose your schools quite actively.  So we're tightening our belts in anticipation of private schools.

Hmmm, what else?  I've always been involved with kids.  I was the 5th grader who preferred to spend recess helping the 2nd graders than playing with my peers, and I actually got invited to one of their birthday parties!  I babysat my way through college, early work years, and grad school, and in our wedding the flower girls were kids I used to sit for routinely and from birth.  My career is focused on the public policy of early childhood, and it's really easy to get me worked up discussing inequities to children in this country.  I'll avoid going there for now, but make no promises about later. 

I'm not sure any of this makes me unique.  Does it?  If not, I'm pretty okay with that.  There's a big gap between being unique and being cookie-cutter.  Or worthless.  Or worthwhile, for that matter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How much do you rely on your pediatrician?

I'm incredibly frustrated right now.  Frustrated may not be strong enough of a word, actually. 

Baby Lion started seeming sick on Sunday as we celebrated his birthday.  (Pics to follow soon.)  He had a rough day, but the fever seemed to break that evening.  We called the pediatrician the next morning anyway, who said it sounded like he was on the upswing, and the remaining low fever was probably teething.  Last night, however, was from hell.  He was in so much pain he could barely sleep (so of course neither did we), even with ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and those little gum-numbing Orajel swabs.  It was terrible to see him so obviously hurting.

So we called again this morning to see how else we could help him - we know his lower molars are coming in, but this was too much.  They thought he should be seen and, TA DA!, raging double ear infection. 

I could just scream.  He could have been spared that horrible night.  He could have been on antibiotics a whole day sooner. 

I consider myself to be pretty assertive.  But there are times I could just kick myself for not being a more forceful advocate for my kids.  Why did I let them blow me off yesterday?  There's a natural tendency in me to trust people, but also to have faith in the medical profession, research, and science.  I'm a huge vaccine proponent.  (Don't get me started.)  After all, if they don't know what they're talking about, how many other things could I be screwed on? 

But seriously, this is not the first problem we've had on Lion's behalf.  Maybe it's because he's gotten sick more often, what with being exposed to Monkey's whole preschool germ factory.  But, no - other diagnostic misses have had nothing to do with germs.  I repeatedly raised the prospect of reflux with his regular doc, and was talked out of it.  Then she was out of town one visit, we saw someone else, and.. guess what?  Reflux.  Issues totally, immediately resolved with Prevacid.  I know they deal a lot with us hyper-worrying types, but if she had listened to me the first time we could have avoided months of his discomfort and spitting up (not to mention the added laundry!).  There were similar concerns - both where I was ultimately right that something was wrong - over possible hearing loss (that was the worst week of my life to date) and two other concerns.  All where if I had pushed harder to have my concerns believed, I could have saved him pain or other consequences.  Unacceptable.

So I refuse to see that doc anymore, and I'm shopping for a good fit with someone else in the same practice, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's a bigger issue.  Is it the practice itself?  Or would we have this risk anywhere?  Is it endemic to the medical profession?  A string of bad luck and coincidence?

In any case, you can be sure I won't be blown off again.  I can't believe I let it happen yesterday. 

Happy birthday, Lion!

This is my Lion, on the day he was born. A year ago, today. Can I still call him my baby? Because I'm not ready for the word 'toddler.' Not ready for him to stop being my baby.

Those were an amazing few days. I drank him in, knowing when we got home there would be a big sister to reassure. So he slept on my chest, and I didn't let him go if I didn't have to, and we got to know each other. Kept him as close as if he was still inside me. I had worried I couldn't possibly love anyone as much as I loved Monkey, but it was easy for Lion to become a huge place in my chest that gets tight whenever he smiles. Or lately, tries to scale me or anything within reach.

Lion is pure light; easy with laughs and clapping. The biggest flirt in the world. This stillness has been replaced by 25 wiry pounds of all action as he shows the world his stuff. I itch to see who he'll become. He is sweet but strong, mellow but constant movement, and he knows his mind even as he methodically chooses his moments. How is it I have been trusted with this little life?

Ten Things about Lion at One

1. He moves. Oh, how he moves. He's a crazy little crawling speed demon, and can pull up fluidly on something before you know he's crossed the room. He moves CONSTANTLY. Bring him into bed to snuggle? He's kneeling on your head, banging on the headboard. Then on Daddy. Then heading for the edge of the bed. Yikes!

2. He's a climber. We now have four gates in our house (Monkey only required one), because Lion loves to climb stairs. If he sees the gate open, he'll patiently wait until you aren't watching him, and then he'll sprint for it and howl at you if you manage to catch him first.

3. He loves lights. Our wonderful nanny has taught him some sign language, but it's the sign for light that has really taken. He points up at them and makes the sign and grins.
4. He's a future electronics geek. All about remotes, phones, and anything that lights up or makes noises. He likes to pull out the sliding shelf for the DVD player and push the buttons. If you're holding him the kitchen, he's likely climbing up you to reach for the buttons on the oven.
5. He pretends to use the phone. Or anything else that resembles one. He found an old remote mouse the other day, held it on top of his head, and said, HELL-O!" Brought me to my knees.
6. He's big on the bathroom. Turn him loose and he'll head there every time. Just like the stairs, he watches the bathroom door to see if you've left it open for him. If he makes it in there, he has three options. 1. Splash in the toilet. Lion LOVES to splash. Makes me regret waiting his baptism for this spring, because he's going to get the Rector wet, no doubt. 2. Play in Monkey's potty. Probably the germiest thing in our house. Yuck. 3. Climb in the bathtub. Source of my worst nightmares, as he dives in head-first. The one time he made it this far, he immediately pulled up on the faucet and Turned.It.On. Bathroom door now stays closed. Always. And I need to find one of those safety handle/locks for the faucet.
7. He likes to drop things, mostly so he can say, "Oh-oh!" So cute. He's fast heading into that 'How many times will you pick it up if I drop it?' phase.

8. He's tough skinned when it comes to illness, but has a really hard time with teething. Poor baby. He bumps his head and slams his fingers constantly (see #1 and 2).
9. He looooves his sister. His face lights up when she enters the room, even if he's about to be tackled. Over over-hugged, as we've come to call it.
10. If you say the word Yay! in his presence, he'll clap and grin at you. Really, all it takes is the Y sound at the beginning of any word. He's quick to express his approval. You found your keys, Mommy? Clapclapclapclapclapbiggrin. I'm going to start making him help me pick out clothes so he can cheer at everything. Total ego boost. Best kid ever.

I love you, Lion. Happy Birthday!

This is what actually happened on Lion's birthday, for the record. Turns out he had a terrible double ear infection. Poor kid was miserable. We tried to get him to eat just a nibble of cake, but then he rubbed his face and got icing in his eyes. Bad scene. We're going to celebrate again in May with a proper party.