Monday, November 16, 2009
Is it a time issue? Perhaps. It's one thing to zone out on the screen here and there when you spend all day with one child, and you've got all kinds of hours left with him to make up for it. Two kids, on the other hand, has divided my attention to new dimensions, and I can't allow the computer to be baby number three. So this thing stays off unless I'm by myself.
Then again, it might be that I've simply lost my focus here. This started out as a semi-anonymous blog to process my opinions. As more and more friends in real life found their way here, I found myself curtailing certain topics, not wanting to step on toes. I'd sweat over my tact or lack thereof, and sometimes it was easier to say nothing at all.
After moving to a new town, I began more personal posts, since this was a great way to keep old friends updated about first days of school, holidays, Peter-isms. After awhile though, our empty baby books began to haunt me, so I vowed not to post anything more on here until I got caught up.
But really, I think it's more than that. Do you know what I really yearn for?
A pen and paper. Shopping for a pretty journal that no one sees but me. Sitting at my little desk in my sun-filled library, reading, writing, glancing occasionally at the squirrels in the front yard, sipping a coffee, communing with God.
I guess I'll leave this blog up for awhile, especially for those dozens of folks who want to know how to make a wool soaker out of a recycled sweater. But it's time for me to let go of it, and that feels really, really good.
Thanks to everyone who has read, posted, and made this a worthwhile endeavor for me.
Monday, June 8, 2009
Is that normal?
I was feeling sorta guilty for bibbing Peter as he neared his third birthday. My mother suggested I bring bibs for all the kids when I took his chocolate dumptruck birthday cake to his preschool class, but I nixed it, lest the mortification follow him to high school. And, truly, they didn't need it.
I'm thinking that once you've got full control of your utensils, a napkin in the lap will suffice.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
10) You wish you'd photographed your breasts to remember them before kids.
9) Your wildest fantasy is a solo trip to the grocery store.
8) The baby gets a monthly bath.
7) Your instructions for the sitter are verbal, and you know she is capable of finding the pajamas.
6) If no one's crying, it's a good enough pic for the Christmas card.
5) You have more pictures on the computer than the baby book.
4) I forgot. And so do you.
3) You no longer talk smack about the parents you see on Supernanny.
2) You've been caught throwing artwork away.
1) You have a celebratory dinner when the hpt is negative.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Whatever one thinks of her decisions, I couldn't help but identify with this post on the invisible mother. After all, I live for affirmation. I could hardly wait for the parent-teacher conferences as a child, because I wanted to hear the scoop back from my mom on how great I was doing.
As a mother, things are tougher. My three-year-old simply isn't going to say, "Mama, the quesadillas tonight were delectable. Amazing that they turned out so well, since you were teaching me how to play Memory as you flipped them. And the way you cleaned the kitchen? Absolutely efficient."
And my husband, God bless him, just isn't the overly effusive sort himself.
What once bothered me most, though, in moments of self-pity, wasn't the lack of expressed gratitude. It was knowing that my husband did not see, and would probably never see, every last detail of my day's work. After a marital "discussion", I remember wishing that we had a video camera in the house, broadcasting the differences between my Sunday morning versus his. Surely, then, he would get it!
Yet he won't ever fully get it, any more than I will ever fully get what he does in a day.
We're not in the same shoes-- and if I let my happiness rest on his ability to imagine himself in mine, I'm going to be a very sad woman. (My husband is incredibly left-brained. He doesn't imagine, period.)
I've not let this bother me much lately, though. A turning point came when I realized that, while it's not my spouse or my kids, I do have someone who sees me. He sees every last tear, frustration, and joy. He sees every triumph and failure. He saw Hagar, the mistreated slave, crying desperately in the desert. He is El Roi, the God Who Sees.
He sees the juggling, he sees the dropped plates, but most importantly, he bids to me stop the performance, and find my rest in Him.
Friday, May 1, 2009
Peter's had a radical makeover. It started April 13th. I'd set aside the entire week to potty train, but we ended up only needing four hours. I guess that's the advantage of waiting until it's a no brainer. He could practically change his own diaper.
A few days later, he wore his first polo shirt. He still wears some smocked-insert tees, but it's time we worked in the real big boy stuff as well. Then, to top it off, he got a haircut which removed the last strands of white blond from his hair (he's now ash).
By the end of the week, I hardly recognized the boy coasting around the cul de sac on his bright red strider bike.
I've had to adjust. I find myself staring at him, studying his features, trying to see the baby I had a year ago... six months ago... Is it you? Is it really you? Did we do too much at once? I wonder if other mothers have this experience and, as he makes other transitions, if I will feel it this acutely.
Charlotte, meanwhile, will be six months tomorrow. It's going so quickly... I want her to stay a tub of taut flub forever, so warm and limber in my arms. I kiss her feet, her toes, her belly. I let her chew my fingers as she digs her nails into my cheek. "Kishhhhh, kishhhhhh," we say to each other, a word that she made up.
She's sprouting her first tooth, with another one just on the surface beside it.
How different things will be in a year.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Was it completing a 9-hour drive with two little ones in a reasonable 12 hours? (I must say, for all of his "spiritedness", Peter is a phenomenal traveller.)
Was it hand-expressing milk into a diaper in the front seat of the car so that Charlotte wouldn't get more blasted than usual by my already overactive letdown when we stopped for lunch?
Was it sacrificing prime smocking time to sit wedged between two carseats in the back of our sedan to comfort Miss Too-Princess for a Pacifier?
No. None of these things. It was changing my son's poopy diaper as he stood in the gas station ladies' room. I contained the entire contents in a most sanitary way, despite all obstacles. I was tempted to leave the diaper sitting on the counter as a subtle hint for them to set up a changing-station, but didn't think it fair to punish innocent patrons.
Altogether, we had a fabulous trip. Doing it with kids is certainly a different experience, in good ways and bad. The air craft carrier wouldn't be quite as fun without Peter sitting in the cockpit of a plane. And our ride in the city-bus-dressed-up-as-a-trolley would have been quite mundane without him. Charlotte's big moment was her hysterical chuckling when she laid eyes on a pony for the first time.
As for Tom and me, we were happy to visit our old favorite sights, and especially happy to return to Anson's! Other diners, impressed by how quiet our children were, complimented us as we were leaving. I wasn't sure whether to admit that we had been taking turns walking outside with them between courses. We quickly decided that eating take-out after the kids went to bed was the best option, and plenty of great choices within a block of our hotel made it easy.
I'd love to say we're home and relaxing... but I will be in and out of town for the next two weeks. One of these days I'll remember what it's like to be still.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Since manufactured villages with oversized anthropomorphic animals would be more hell than holiday for Tom and me, we've decided to go to Charleston. No castles, but Peter will get to ride on a horse and carriage, take his first boat ride, visit an aircraft carrier, and see the beach for the first time ever.
And with a bravery beyond measure, we're driving. Nine hours each way. God save us all.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
"I will get on the cross. And I will not come down. You can nail me to the cross and I will stay." (Pelagianism)
After hearing me explain how twins are in the mama's belly at the same time "Next time I will do that." (Hinduism)
"Jesus is a daddy." (Masonite)
"Jesus did not cry on the cross." (Gnostic)
"I am a soldier. I will nail Jesus to the cross." (Protestant?... an acknowlegement of total depravity?)
After I drew a cross. "Put Jesus on it. I want Jesus on the cross." (Catholic)
"Jesus died and came alive." (Christian)
Sigh... You'd never know I used to be a Sunday School director.
But at least he's thinking about Jesus, and that's half the battle.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Things have quickly gone south, and now I'm actually under doctor's orders that when Charlotte is awake, I'm not to have her on her back (including the car seat, bouncy seat, and swing) unless it's absolutely necessary.
About a month ago, I noticed that she had a flat spot on the side of her head. I also noticed that she always looked to the right. When I casually mentioned it to my pediatrician, he said she has torticullis. This means that she has a short neck muscle on the right, and we've got to lengthen it. He gave us exercises and a variety of instructions, and we'll start professional physical therapy if things haven't improved by her next appointment.
Keeping her upright does two things: 1) strengthens the neck muscles, helping her overcome the torticullis, and 2) combats the plagiocephaly.
I, meanwhile, have discovered something for myself that I have always known in my head. Wrapping rocks! I have pouches, I have ring slings, I have mei tais-- but nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to comfort of holding your baby in a long band of cloth. The weight is spread over my entire torso, so I don't feel Charlotte's weight in any one place.
Plus, it's cheap. I was able to make the best carrier in the whole world with five yards of discount jersey-- no sewing required! Just a 20" by 5 yard strip, and the edges don't fray because it's knit.
So I've been able to keep Charlotte upright and looking around in a fairly inexpensive and oh so comfortable way. Surely this helps with her reflux too. And, since she's been so fussy lately (torticullis can cause headaches), I have a way to comfort her while continuing to do the things I need to do.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Charlotte's to blame. Her afternoon nap is now 45 minutes. This means that by time I got Peter down, I only had about 20 minutes to myself. Barely time enough to fix my lunch and eat it.
After testing it out a few days, I decided that a one-hour quiet time in his room, requiring nothing from me, left me feeling much more refreshed. Meanwhile, I added an hour to his night sleep, made easy with Daylight Savings. For the first time since he was born, he slept until 6:45 a.m. this morning.
And for the first time in over three years, I woke up before any of my children and had almost an hour to myself!
The beautiful thing is that after years of dreading and fearing the end of Peter's nap (never did I imagine that I might bring it to an end myself), it's been freeing. It's been a week now, and there haven't been any ill effects on his behavior. We have more time to get out in the afternoon and more time to spend with friends who do not have naps.
I've also-- finally-- gotten Charlotte going to bed early.
I now have an hour all to myself in the morning, at least 45 minutes in the afternoon, and an hour or two in the evening. I feel like a new woman.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
I'm amazed at the number of sellers who claim that their child's smocked dress-- "bought new for $79.99" was only "worn once for pictures." Are they stupid enough to pay that much for a dress that their child never wears, or do they think I am stupid enough to believe it?
Maybe it's the honest truth. Maybe mothers do buy clothes that they don't allow their children to wear. But what fun are clothes you can't have fun in?
Well, to all the mothers out there who really do pay outrageous amounts for clothes to hang in the closet, I have one thing to say: OXICLEAN. Fill your kitchen sink with 5-6 shovels and warm water, let stained clothes sit in it for 4-6 hours, then throw them in the washer. I haven't met a stain that this won't cure.
Saturday, February 28, 2009
He also seems to get that I will put him in time out anytime, anywhere, including Cracker Barrel.
And putting him in time out for his tantrums has been absolutely liberating! I've never know quite what to do with those tantrums, and my past attempts have always failed, from the cave-man empathy a la Karp to spanking a la Dobson. Sending him to his room always made me feel a little guilty, but it never seemed right to have him blowing his top in the living room either.
After a week of boot camp, though, when I put him in time out, he quickly settles down. (I should add that the time out is in a patch of the living room, so he's not isolated from the rest of the family.)
I've long known that time out was originally created as a way to help an overstimulated child settle down. Whether you see it this way, or as a punishment, the result for us has been the same: Peter does settle down. It's like pulling the stinger out of the wound.
Monday, February 23, 2009
We've had our good phases and bad phases, but the past month has been unlike anything we've experienced yet. Instead of peace with periodic interruptions of strife, we've had continuous strife with periodic moments of peace. I began to worry something might really be wrong with my child. Three tantrums before 8:00 a.m.? That just can't be normal.
Stuck at home without a car, I set up a phone appointment with a counselor who works with young children.
After setting this up, I realized something: my mother kept Peter for five nights and swears he was absolutely pleasant the entire time. Furthermore, he's never been to time out at school, he learns easily, makes friends easily... These are not the marks of a child with a mood disorder or some other cognitive issue.
The problem (gulp) is me.
I talked to the counselor, who felt that Peter's recent issues have to do with Charlotte-- that Peter is fighting for attention and control. She said everything I described falls into the normal range for a very spirited three-year-old.
Come to think of it, in the past month I have been somewhat absentee. When we first brought Charlotte home, I did all I could to assure Peter of his place in my heart. As we fell into a new pattern, and he showed nothing but affection for his little sister, I slacked off.
Per the counselor's instructions, I am to do two things:
1) Spend thirty minutes of uninterrupted playtime with Peter while Charlotte is asleep. (This has been... amazing... and I'll have much more to blog on this another time.)
2) Enforce a stricter consequence for tantrums and disobedience. I had been spanking (which worked great until lately), sending Peter to his room, or putting him in time out, depending on his infraction. Now I am to do a time out that doesn't begin until his fit is over-- and that starts over if he talks or screams during it. Perhaps this is how time out was supposed to work all along? I missed the memo.
Anyway, I'm glad she warned me that as I start this program with a child like Peter, it might take an hour to get one 3-minute time out, since he'll be fighting to have the last word. We did have one 56 minute time out. Other time outs have ranged from twenty minutes to, amazingly, just three.
This has been hard work, because I'm not always in the mood to enforce it the way I have to. But as the counselor warned, if I slack up even once, a strong-willed child is going to take advantage of me fast.
I know that she is right.
So now I'm left with mixed feelings. I do believe that I can get things with Peter back to a good place, but I don't know how long it's going to take. And sometimes, I just feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew with this child. I keep repeating Philippians 4:13, asking God to give me the faith to believe it.
Monday, February 16, 2009
And as I was typing that sentence, I had to stop and watch Charlotte grab a toy and put it to her mouth for the first time. So glad we'll soon have more ways to keep her entertained, since my "victory" with the pacifier lasted less than 24 hours.
So, what's been going on: we dedicated Charlotte to God last Sunday. Our new church doesn't do infant baptism, but that's quite okay with me. It was a joy to stand before the congregation, though, and publicly proclaim our intent to raise her in a godly home and prayerfully lead her to Christ.
I must pause to say that she is now hugging her doll! Must get a picture...
Also, last Thursday, I drove to the Big City for a haircut. On the interstate driving home, we were sideswiped by an 18-wheeler, which spun my car out of control. I really thought I might die. Peter and Charlotte were in the car with me, and hearing their cries was as beautiful as the days they were born, because I knew they were okay before I could turn around and see them. Not a scratch on any of us.
I have been trying not to think about the incident too much, and yet I think about it constantly. Peter, too, has replayed it with his matchbox cars more times than I can count.
But my thoughts on that will have to wait, because Charlotte is being so darn cute. Just look at this:
Saturday, February 7, 2009
- He could recognize all the letters of the alphabet by his second birthday.
- He's been read to so often, he can recite entire classic Curious George stories by heart.
- But for all these "academic" accomplishments, he cannot, at the age of three, put on his own coat. Or pull up his own pants. Or take off his shirt without getting it tangled over his neck.
After speaking to a mother of five, who said that her method of teaching her kids to put on a coat was to hand it to them and say, "Put it on," I'm on a mission. This morning, after changing his diaper (yes, you read that right), I made him pull on his pants alone.
Next up, getting his own water.
Friday, February 6, 2009
For Peter's 1st birthday, I wanted to replicate this:
I ended up with this:
The decoration of his 2nd birthday cake, a garbage truck, went more smoothly
but I was going through this brown flour stage and was ridiculous enough to use it for baking a brick. I mean, a cake.
This year, though, I nailed it. Finally, a cake equal to my skill:
The gummy earthworms were a particular hit with his class. And, yes, his only party this year was at school. Because if you are going to give a scoop of chocate cake, brownies and icing to two- and three-year-olds, someone else's turf is a nice place to do it.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
When I have company, I find myself scrambling to make the house presentable. I don't mean dusting off the tables. I mean throwing away fantastically large dust bunnies that might honestly make my friends puke. With my mother and aunt coming for an overnight stay tomorrow, I've got more than the living areas to clean.
In times past, I could pull the house together in a day or so. Now that I have Charlotte, though, I'm failing. She's nursing in my lap as I type, but will I be able to get the bathrooms clean? Not if I want to get dinner on the table, plan a menu for tomorrow's trip to the grocery store, change the sheets, put away the laundry... Feed a baby, feed the family, change diapers, put little ones to bed...
I try to keep the clutter picked up, stay on top of the dishes, not let the laundry build up-- but between that, childcare, running errands, and keeping food on the table, I have no time to clean. None. I've not even found time to sew lately, which is saying a lot.
How do other mothers do it? Am I missing some basic organisational gene? Am I supposed to be staying up late to mop the kitchen floor? Or are other mothers more like me than I realize, so that too they can't remember when they last vacuumed?
Honestly, I'm not sure where my vacuum is. The garage, maybe?
Monday, February 2, 2009
I've realized that while I've always sought to avoid yelling at my child, I've never thought much about speaking impatiently. I assumed that as long as my voice wasn't loud, I was being gentle.
A cranky act from him, followed by my cranky response, would only make him more cranky. Which would make me more cranky, then him more cranky, and so on. Someone has to break the chain, and I am the adult.
At least I'm trying to be.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
It had hit me that his own voice of frustration, which has been irritating me to no end, had to come from somewhere. Perhaps he learned it at school. Perhaps it's just part of human nature. The more likely scenario, though, is that he picked it up from the person with whom he spends most of his time. Who am I to say, "Speak nicely please-- I do not like that tone of voice" when I am guilty myself?
With four hours left, I've done well. There have been a few instances when I started his name with an frustrated "Pe-" but caught myself by the end of his name with a falsetto "-ter." I've also noticed what triggers me, like when he makes a loud noise, particularly if his sister is sleeping, or when he stalls after I've given him instructions.
Peter, meanwhile, is less combative than he was three days ago. Is it a fluke? Like a lot of kids his age, he slips in and out of moods so inexplicably, it's hard to tell. Yet I do know that "a harsh word stirs up anger, but a soft anger turns away wrath." As long I as speak in an angry, impatient tone, I can expect the same in return. If I can soften my responses, then maybe, just maybe, I can soothe his stormy blasts. Some of them, anyway.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Lately, though, I find myself bristling more and more when someone makes the above comment to me. It's not the words themselves, which are of course true. It's the derogatory tone that accompanies them, the implied criticism-- the implication that I ought to be enlightened to my baby's "manipulation."
No one stops to think that a pacifier is a substitute. A highly-convenient substitute, but a substitute nonetheless. Yet did anyone ever look at my son sucking away on his pacifier and say, "He's just using that thing as a breast"?
Why do we act as if the pacifier were nature's way of settling a baby, and non-nutritive suckling at the breast a bizarre aberration that needs correction?
Monday, January 19, 2009
Then I got there. I realized that there was this huge party that had been going on without me for months and months. When I had ten friend requests within two hours, I felt like the prettiest girl in the room. How did these people find me? And what fun I'd have catching up with old friends!
If by "catching up" you mean glancing at a few pictures to see who had gone blond, let themselves go, or had a slew of children.
When the cheapness of it all hit me, I decided that I'd confirm anyone who added me as a friend, but I wouldn't add any more friends myself. I didn't want a list too long to keep up with. I wanted a list of meaningful relationships.
My integrity lasted... oh, five minutes. The genius of facebook is that you can't look at someone's wall without becoming their "friend." So maybe I would go ahead and add some of my old sorority sisters as friends. I mean, as long as we were friends once upon a time. It wasn't quite as random as the friend requests I was getting from girls who just happened to have lived in the freshman dorm with me. But, oh, there's that funny guy who was in my art class!
...One weekend and fifty--no, sixty now!-- friends later, I'm watching for signs of a communicable disease.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
while another pilot saves saves his passengers and crew with an emergency landing and rescue in the Hudson River? A perfect foil.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Why, as a matter of fact, it has.
So I've discovered the biggest culprit in my overactive letdown. It seems to be most strong when Charlotte takes a really long afternoon nap as opposed to two shorter ones. Well, duh. Why does it take me so long to realize the most obvious things?
Much broken-up, back-lying nursing to get us through this evening... She's not as fussy as she's been so many previous evenings, though. I'm no longer concerned about my diet.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Peter and I, that is.
In my adult relationships, I've long clung to the maxim that you can't control what other people do, but you can control how you react. I'm realizing my need to apply this to life with a two-year-old.
Saturday, January 3, 2009
First, I miss the alone time with my husband. We both get up too early to stay up after Charlotte goes to bed, which means our only waking hours sans kids is during their weekend naps.
Second, my letdown in the evenings has become aggressive, to say the least. This ticks off Charlotte, who would prefer a water fountain to a fire hose. Since she's already fussy at night to begin with, and she refuses to take comfort from a swing or a pacifier, we're stuck. Her source of comfort is now a source of pain, and many nights she has cried herself to sleep in my arms.
To lessen the deluge, I have to nurse lying flat on my back, which is not terribly conducive to watching movies or reading a good book.
Alternatively, I can soothe Charlotte by walking around the house with her, but that gets old fast.
So now I'm ready to get at the source of this evening fussiness. I was ready to try the Dr. Sears elimination diet-- until I read it. The thought of surviving two weeks on rice, potatoes, and pears is not particularly attractive. I could give up dairy, which is only slightly more appealing. But it would be a hard blow. It might be worth having a fussy baby in the evening as long as I can eat cheese.
Many folks have urged to me to talk to her doctor about reflux. This I will do-- but it won't necessarily solve things. My husband, normally the more "mainstream" of us, doesn't like the risks of medicating an infant whose symptoms aren't severe. And since Charlotte can be soothed without the meds, and she's still delightful during the day, I don't think it's time for prilosec.
Or is it?
Oh, what to do!