Thursday, February 26, 2009

What every mother knows

There are some things that no one ever tells you about being a mother. You just find out as you go along. Here are just a few (in no particular order):
  1. You will wind up nursing an infant or reading a book to a toddler while sitting on the toilet because you can't get a potty break any other way.
  2. You will get more done in one day on less sleep than you ever did when you had no children. (Remember when going to the post office and the bank in one day was a major accomplishment?)
  3. You will understand nearly every whine, grunt and groan your toddler utters even as you insist that he "use his words." (This will amaze you because your nieces' and nephews' utterances were never so clear.)
  4. You will look forward to nap time before you even go to bed the night before.
  5. You will lose your dignity to toddler who announces "Poop mommy" every time you pass gas (which happens often when your pregnant, by the way).
  6. You will know how much time you have to get in and out of a grocery store before your toddler begins to melt down.
  7. Your creativity will be sparked as you determine how to spend your first week alone with two children when ALL your usual activities have been canceled.
  8. You will hide in the bathroom to eat cookies, candy and anything else you don't want to share.
  9. You will be able to tell what your child ate in the past 24 hours just by looking at a poopy diaper.
  10. Your love for your children will be immeasurable even as you're sure that you won't survive toddlerhood with your sanity intact.

How utterly terrifying

Excerpts from President Obama's speech this week:
That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. ...

But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American.
The message is clear: The United States government owns you and your children. You are the property of the government and you work for the good of the country, not for the good of your family and future. Cradle to grave, the government owns you.

Make no mistake, this man and the current power structure in Washington have no respect for individuals. Where do I go to escape this utter disrespect for individual rights? I feel helpless knowing that my husband and I may soon not have much choice in our children's education. The increasing federalization of education ensures that.

The good news? An article in the Wall Street Journal today says some activists are worried that the economy will keep Obama too busy to institute his education agenda.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Our little sailor

I dropped a curse word along with a carton of blueberries in the kitchen on Sunday. Danny came in, took one look at the berries on the floor and loudly repeated "Bitch, son of a bitch."

Well, maybe he won't keep repeating it, I think. He probably doesn't understand the context, right? Wrong.

Later that day as he and Jim are working on replacing the air filters, Danny expresses his frustration with his little drill by clenching up and yelling, "Bitch. Son of a bitch."

On the bright side, he's learned an important concept - how to use words in the proper context.

Postmortem on Outing #2

New photos added to the February photo album. See link at end of this post.

This morning was my first real day alone with the kids. Friday just felt like a practice run since Danny was at church in the morning.

My worst fear has been that I would be too exhausted to cope with the demands of two kids. And by 4 a.m. today I was certain that fear would be realized. Thanks to my husband, that didn't happen. As Jim was getting up for work around 4, I asked him to just take Fiona downstairs. She has trouble going back to sleep after the early morning feeding and I was getting frustrated and anxious. He gave her a bottle and put her in her crib shortly before he left for work at 5:45. I slept until she started fussing around 6:30 and brought her to bed with me. We slept until around 8:30, when Dan got up. I got the both of them dressed upstairs, then down for breakfast.

Fiona is definitely feeling the strain of divided attention. She's been crying more, mostly because I can't always get to her right away. She cried while I got our breakfast ready and I ended up nursing her while I ate yet again. Danny seems to be handling the division of attention really well, though. In fact, today, I read him books that he brought over while I nursed Fiona. (Is this how I'll finally get him interested in reading? Maybe so.)

Mondays we usually do Tot Time at the gym. Since our Wednesday play date family is out of town this week, I decided to save the gym for Wednesday and do story time at the library instead. Between the time we all got up and dressed and the time we left, I had changed Fiona's clothes twice and her diaper two and a half times - twice for poop, the half was when she peed on the diaper before I even closed it. Danny had to be changed only once. I'm beginning to feel like a pit crew member for the Indy 500. This time, I packed one diaper bag, but left it on the sofa, forgot to bring a snack and drink for Danny, and was really pushing it with Fiona's feeding schedule. Luckily, she slept most of the time we were at the library. Danny was fantastic today - didn't give me a bit of trouble leaving the library, getting in and out of the van or even going back in the house. He came right up the stairs for nap time and went to sleep for two and a half hours. Fiona and I chatted for about a half hour and then slept for an hour or so until Jim came home at 3:30.

Oh, and at the very crowded library, I saw some of the Tot Time mommies. Odd, I thought. Turns out the rec center is closed this week for maintenance. So not only is there no Parents Morning Out on Friday, but there will be no Tot Time this week either. Looks like I'm jumping into the deep end without a life vest this week. At least the weather will be nice enough to go the park on Wednesday.

From February 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

Home alone

Today was my first day all on my own with two kids. It was the best possible day for this milestone since Danny had Parents Morning Out. It let me ease into the task of toting around two young children.

My day started at around 6:3o when Fiona wanted to nurse. It was clear she wasn't going back to sleep. The big eyes were staring at me again. So my feet hit the floor around 7 and I took my first shower since Monday. I got myself and Fiona dressed and downstairs and actually got to eat breakfast before Danny got up. Most days Danny is up between 7 and 7:30. On Fridays, when he has PMO, I have to wake him up to get to church by 9. Around 8, I woke him and got him fed, diapered and dressed.

We're now ready for the first outing with two kids. Deep breath.

Two packages to mail, shopping bags and list, two stocked diaper bags, my purse, my drink, all in the van before I load the kids. Danny first, then Fiona. At church, Fiona is unloaded first, then Danny. My current theory is to lock down the mobile one while I tend to the immobilized one. Danny doesn't cry when I leave this week, thank goodness. Fiona and I set off for the grocery store.

Halfway through the grocery run, Fiona starts crying. She's inconsolable until I unhook her from the Baby Bjorn. There's no turning back with a full cart of groceries. So now, I'm pushing a cart with one hand and carrying a fussy baby in the other arm, trying to find a cut of beef suitable for making cheese steaks (on the menu for Thursday). Better to keep going, I figured, since there's no telling when I'll get to the grocery store again (and, I think, limited time for shopping is actually good for our budget). Later, at the checkout, I still have her in the crook of my arm, the Bjorn hanging down in front of me, while I unload groceries, even bending down to get items from the bottom of the cart and rummaging for my wallet in a purse stuffed with receipts, crayons and cracker crumbs. The weird thing is that none of this rattled me. With Dan, panic would have set in when the crying began.

On our way back to the van (parked next to the cart return - a bit of mommy wisdom I've picked up in the past two years), she's still crying on and off. She settles down once I get her in the car seat. Turns out she had a poopy diaper. After getting her home, fed, changed and burped, it's only 10:30. So I turn my attention to some daily chores and the groceries - empty and load dishwasher, put away the groceries, start a load of diapers, fix Danny's lunch. I swear that I'm not on NoDoz - unless Diet Coke and Thin Mints have the same effect. Energy seemed to have materialized out of thin air this morning.

Next stop, the post office, off to pick up Danny, lunch at home, naps ... and Danny was an angel this morning and afternoon (dinner was a different story). The two of them decided to go easy on me today. The only things that I forgot were to change Fiona's diaper before we left, to release the parking brake before backing out of the driveway and to brush my teeth. Oh, and I forgot to bring the 75 cents off coupon for the yogurt. All in all, not too bad for my first morning alone with the kids.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fiona update

Fiona is quite the sleeper. I worry, I check often to see if she's still breathing. She sleeps most of the night, most of the day, while she's nursing, while Danny's shrieking, while Jim is using power tools, but not while I'm eating. I've gone from trying to use a fork with my left hand to eating with my fingers. It's just easier that way. I even ate some black bean and pork soup with my fingers for lunch today. Messy, but totally worth it.

Fiona has slept from around 8 or 9 o'clock to 2 a.m. on some nights. I usually try to wake her around midnight to nurse, but she just won't have it. She gets irritated with me. At 2 a.m. she nurses pretty well, then stares at me for about an hour while I tell her "Go to sleep baby." Rocking helps sometimes, swaddling definitely helps, but this evening I found the best way to get her to nod off is to talk on the phone. She must like the sound of my voice. The only person I know who is up when it's 3 a.m. here is my sister in Japan. I'm excited that I found another time of day that we can talk!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mugged by a toddler

What do talking on the phone, eating treats and drinking soda have in common?

These are all things I have to enjoy behind closed doors these days.

Danny has reached full-blown toddlerhood and that means whatever he sees apparently belongs to him. Despite what you may believe from my Libertarian outlook, I really don't mind sharing. But sharing is much more pleasant when you don't feel assaulted. What Danny does is more like a mugging where the weapon is the most annoying and shrill whining you can imagine.

Lately, I've noticed that I don't really eat much until after Danny goes to bed. For me, a nursing mother with a history of blood sugar crashes, that can be a disaster. I hate to sound like a martyr here, but caring for him and Fiona together leaves little time for me to eat properly or without being mugged. By the time my blood sugar tanks, I usually end up eating high-sugar snacks or drinks that I can down quickly instead of sipping of orange juice to help redirect my hunger to something healthier. So I wind up sneaking a cookie or a handful of candy in the bathroom or a Diet Coke in an opaque cup so as not to rile the terror, I mean, the toddler. Let's face it, cookies and Coke are quicker than a sandwich or some crackers and cheese or fruit.

Danny is also obsessed with the phone. If I'm on it, he needs to talk to whoever has called. That's not a problem when it's the Nanas or other family members. On the bright side, if a telemarketer or some other pariah calls, I can just hand the phone to Danny and he'll tell them all about his blanket and train tracks. And he does hand the phone back to me after a few minutes. So if you call and it sounds like I'm in a tunnel, it's because I'm hiding in the bathroom. And if you don't hear from me for a while, don't call or send a search party, just e-mail.

I added new photos to the February photo album:
From February 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

I think he's finally getting it

This evening, I spoke sharply to Danny when he nearly dumped his food on the floor. He looked at me somberly then pointed to the time out chair and, nodding his head, said "Chair."

We've giving him time outs for the past three weeks. I'd been reluctant to try this particular discipline method because I just couldn't imagine him sitting still in a chair without restraints. Without realizing it, though, we've started this method at just the right moment. Remember a few weeks ago when Danny first began to tune in to our disappointment at his behavior? Shortly after that, the time outs began. Amazingly enough, he actually sat in the chair as I explained to him the rule that he had broken and that he was to sit there until I told him to get up. He protested loudly, but did sit there. With each time out since, he's gotten less and less fussy. Of course, for the time out to work well, he needs me to stand there and watch him, completely stone faced. He senses our disappointment in his behavior and doesn't like the feeling. How do I know it's working? The first time out he ever got was for spitting at or near our faces. Each time he spit, he got a time out. It took about a week of time outs on this particular rule, but he rarely spits anymore and when he does, it's because he's beat boxing (a new musical skill that we taught him).

In other Danny related news ...
  • I've taught him how to play peekaboo with the baby. Unfortunately, he puts the burp cloth over her face instead of his. We have some work to do here.

  • He bit me on the arm this evening. It wasn't malicious. I could tell he was probably thinking "Let's see what happens if I do this." But it will definitely leave a mark!

  • Danny has gotten much more dexterous lately. He can blow bubbles all by himself, turn the cap on and off of the bubbles and even grasp the bubble wand when it's all the way in the bottle. I'm so glad he can now do this himself. Have I mentioned that I HATE bubbles?

  • After Parents Morning Out this morning, Danny tried to run into the backyard though I'd told him to come in for lunch. I looked at him sternly, told him to come inside and he did, fussing the whole time. I'm just thrilled that he obeyed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Learning as we go

The midwife stopped by today for the two week visit. Fiona has gained a little over a pound in about two weeks. She's 9 lbs 15 oz; she weighed 8 lbs 10 oz at birth. Fiona is growing so fast that we're in a race against time for her to wear all the newborn and some of the 0 to 3 month size clothes before she outgrows them. The newborn-size diaper covers still fit her better than the small-size covers but only because she has chicken wings for legs.

We're learning her preferences and quirks as we go along here. This time around, though, it doesn't seem nearly as stressful. For instance, I've figured out that she doesn't want to nurse until she has had a good poop. Sorry if that's too much information but that's the reality around here, sleep, poop ... it's her job. Last night, again, I had to wake her up to nurse. She wasn't really interested and fell back asleep until around 6 a.m. Then she pooped and was ready to eat again. I don't know how long this will last ... she basically sleeps from 11 p.m. to 3 or 4 a.m. and would probably sleep longer if I didn't wake her. (Yes, I know ... I have been lucky so far. I actually feel more rested than most new moms.) Fiona likes to be swaddled to sleep, but only on the lower half. She likes her hands free and can fight her way out of a swaddle pretty quickly. Also, Fiona doesn't cry (yet) just for the hell of it. We've learned her "I have soiled myself, please change me right now" cry. It's a loud, sharp and short cry. If we don't respond right away, she lets off another short cry. If she's hungry, it's a longer, more persistent cry accompanied by furious head bobbing and tongue thrusting. Easy enough. Then there's the general fuss which means "Please pick me up. I'm tired of the scenery down here."

Of course, what we learned with Danny is that all of these things are temporary. Next week, it could all change.

Monday, February 09, 2009

10 days and growing

With the first baby, everything is a culture shock - the lack of sleep and the sheer neediness of a newborn is something for which no one can truly prepare you. So far, our second-born has been a pretty easy baby. Fiona is just so quiet and pretty easy to figure out when she's upset. She rarely flinches at the noise level in the house and is usually in a state of quiet alertness when she's awake. It's hard to tell if she really is easier or if Danny was exceptionally difficult or if Jim and I are just more experienced. It's likely all three.

Fiona is 10 days old and has hit her first growth spurt. She wants to nurse all the time, and somehow this doesn't seem as difficult to accommodate as I had imagined (probably because my husband is home this week). This morning, I pumped out 2 whole ounces of milk (yeah, that's a lot) and she took her first bottle. Jim reports that she had much the same reaction that Danny did when he was her age. Fiona looked up at him with a funny little grin as if to acknowledge the different conveyance for the usual fare. She happily - and quickly - sucked down the milk and was back on me within a half hour.

So far, we've not used her name much around the house. Danny calls her Baby Ona. We just call her baby or baby girl or, my favorite, princess oblivious. Yesterday at the park, a neighbor asked what her name was and I had to think about it for a split second.

Danny has been adjusting pretty well. Today was one of the better days with him. I think a little extra attention from us has really helped. We've been doing special activities with him. Jim hooked up the child seat to his bicycle and took him for a ride around the neighborhood yesterday and today. Danny was just delighted. This morning, he and I went out together to the local rec center for Tot Time in the gym. He really needed some one on one time with me. Jim got to spend the morning with the baby, I mean, FIONA.

I added some new photos to the February album. Enjoy!
February 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Five days and a full hamper

Fiona is five days old and has already filled up her hamper with soiled clothes and blankets. We've already washed one load of cloth diapers and covers. The laundry just nearly doubled with the addition of one small person. I remember being amazed at this fact after Danny was born.

Fiona is doing very well. She sleeps very differently than Danny did, meaning she actually sleeps ... in her crib or bassinet no less. It took us nearly four months to get Danny to happily sleep anywhere but nestled next to my chest. The first night, I don't remember how she slept. Sunday night, she was up a lot because my milk came in. Monday and Tuesday night, she nursed every two hours. It seems manageable, but could, of course, change at any time. She's a very calm baby so far. My mother calls her the cloud of silence. Right now, she's up in her crib sleeping. It's hard for me to put her down, though, probably because she was inside me for nine months.

Danny is doing okay. He's your typical 2-year-old. He's come up with a few new words, "Sure" and "Maybe" being the two I'm most thrilled about. Unfortunately, I haven't heard either of them today as he's cried about 50 percent of his waking hours. To say he's a little out of sorts is an understatement. Jim is home and visitors have been coming and going. I have insisted on at least a few of his usual activities like playgroup tomorrow morning and Parents Morning Out on Friday going on as planned.

On Tuesday morning, we had our first outing with Fiona. We dropped Dan off to play with his buddy while we took Fiona to the public health department to get a birth certificate. Because we had her at home, we had to do the footwork ourselves to get her birth registered. I was dreading this, expecting to meet suspicious government officials, having social services show up on our doorstep. They may still show up, though. The county has a pilot program to send a nurse to visit every newborn baby in the county. Seems innocuous enough, but I don't let government officials in my house, ever, especially the seemingly well-meaning ones. (In fact, whenever Danny and I do a puzzle that has a police car in it, I tell him that police will help him if he needs help, but to never let them in our house without a warrant. I'm waiting for him to parrot that one back to me. That will be a proud day for me!)

Anyhow, we filled out the top part of the form with just the basic information. The bottom portion asked for medical information for the state's book of vital statistics. I love how they think it's vital to know my health history, details about my pregnancy and when my last menstrual period was. We didn't fill it out. The registrar informed us that she had to report that information to the state. (She doesn't, actually. There's no law that says we have to supply the state with my medical history upon the completion of my pregnancy.) But since I'm healthy and could honestly check "None" under all the health related queries, I filled it out and answered the rest of the questions as honestly as I could. I'm still shaking the indignity off.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

So very lovely made from love

My father put this video together from Fiona's first photo shoot. I asked him to use Stevie Wonder's "Isn't she lovely?" for the video. The song's words are very appropriate, don't you think?