Friday, May 28, 2010

Novels Need Warnings

Men don't have the same issues women have when reading novels for pleasure.

This thought broadsided me last night as, here I am, super pregnant, hormonal, and trying to read for relaxation. My guard is down. I'm emotional. There are only so many things you can do to stay entertained while propping your swollen pregnant feet up on the couch after a long day. I've also got knitting, watching movies, and the occasional good TV show but most shows just had their season finales or I've given up on them. Surely those with cable can only handle so many episodes of Jersey Shore before wanting something to stimulate them intellectually. (That's funny if you know how brain dead of a show Jersey Shore is --so I've heard since I don't have cable and haven't ever seen it.)

For the majority of my entertainment, I've chosen to read novels. I read for pleasure, relaxation, and bookclub. Most of the books I read are recommended by friends or picked off the cart by the checkout desk at the library because I like the title and the cover. Superficial, I know. But there is no way of knowing, from the cover or even reading the blurb on the back or the reviews, that anything tragic will happen to the female characters in the book. I know the book has to have a climax and some sort of conflict to be successful as part of the whole plot. But can't we come up with a rating system like we have for the movies and explicit lyrics on music? Not that I need books to be censored or regulated, I just want a little prior notice and warning before I get into something that I'm not expecting and can't handle. It could be as simple as a small red or green checkmark on the cover to let me know it might do more than just pull on my heartstrings.

The reason I say this is a bigger issue for women is that many authors seem to use sexual abuse, rape, loss of a child, miscarriage, and loss of a lover as their conflict that makes the book interesting. That's great and fine and dandy, but I'd like to be forewarned as these are not issues taken lightly by a pregnant woman.

For instance, last night, I'm reading on the couch as Rick is putting Ada to bed. Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. It's a Pulitzer Prize winner and an International Best Seller. It's got to be good, right? There is no blurb on the back, just rave reviews. So I'm reading. Relaxing. Got my feet kicked up and a blanket tucked around me. Life is good. And then I get to the end of chapter one and am in tears. Spoiler Alert. Turns out, chapter one is about a couple who lose their baby three weeks before the wife's due date and it causes them to fall apart. Hello! I don't need to read that right now. NOT relaxing! I'm four weeks from my due date. Are you kidding me?

The book I read before this one was for bookclub. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. Again, the blurb says these two sisters go through some tough times and this book is all about the bond between them. Sounds good. Spoiler Alert. It doesn't say anything about a rape scene during a violent war and one of the women having a baby in a shower room and the other having a stillborn and then being sterile after aforementioned rape scene. Hello! Not what I needed. I'm trying to relax here. My job is to think warm, fuzzy, happy thoughts as I incubate my delicate little bundle of joy as he grows and is nourished in the belly.

Men don't seem to be effected by this as much since they aren't the target reader for most of these novels, and sci-fi or war novels --which I'm making a gender biased statement here, I know-- are more typically male and, while I'm not an expert on them, I just don't see the characters in their standard novel choices being sexually assaulted and losing their wives at home to freak accidents that cause them inner turmoil. It just doesn't seem to work the same way when you play to men's emotional heartstrings. I'm not even sure how their heartstrings work or if they even have any.

Until I can find time to create some magical checkmark approval system to save emotional women from a few tears and unnecessary distress, I'll settle for being a bit more diligent in my choice of books when I know I'm more sensitive. Maybe I should stick to the Dan Brown and Janet Evanovich novels that tend toward mystery, action, comedy and more lighthearted fun.

Moral of the story: Consider having a friend pre-screen your reading selections while you are pregnant to avoid those that might send you into emotional areas you are better off avoiding.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rut-ro, Time to Toddler Proof

As Scooby Do likes to say... Rut-ro.

In a moment of brainlessness, I left a bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide on the dining room table yesterday and Ada found it this morning. She didn't do anything with it, thank goodness, and Rick caught her sitting in front of it, holding the lid. But that was too close for comfort. I must be much more careful with my toxic household items, even if I am a pregnant scatterbrain with a big blister on my foot. No excuses.

Potentially worse than getting into poisons lying around, today she climbed onto the box our new tent is in, which is currently sitting on the kitchen floor awaiting transport to the basement storage unit. She quickly learned that standing on the box gets her better access to the countertop where she can play with things that are normally out of reach. I moved the glass jars out of her way thinking they would be the most dangerous thing for her to get into in case she dropped them and caused a mess everywhere. As I was at the sink draining her peas and carrots for dinner, I noticed she had a six-inch steak knife in her hand and was waving it at the glass jars I had secured in a basket on the countertop. "Rut-ro" didn't quite cover just how quickly I went from calm to "Holy shit. Give that to me right now." I quickly re-located the knife block to the higher countertop, faced them sideways instead of outward, and slid them as far back from the edge as possible.

Turns out, our baby proofing has officially expired and we now need to upgrade to full on toddler proofing.

She can now open closets, get into cabinets, and open bottles and doors. Medicines with "childproof" caps don't seem as childproof these days. I used to be able to zip up the nail polish bags and feel pretty good that I wouldn't have red and pink stripes on the floors. Now, I think I need to zip them up and put them on shelves above four feet high in the closet. And I finally have a reason to be thankful for the double vestibule doors since she can't quite open them yet do to their weight. I'm also thankful that they provide two more obstacles to prevent her from escaping our house.

To make life even more exciting, she has starting throwing things into the garbage. Mostly things I ask her to throw away or recycle, but I'm wondering where the two sets of baby nail clippers we had have disappeared to. And the fact that she flushed the toilet three times in a row yesterday when I was standing right next to her made me worry that we will soon be getting really friendly with our plunger. Not to mention how I quickly had to stop Rick from showing her that he could use toilet paper as a tissue and then flush it instead of throwing it away since I don't think she'll be able to ascertain when it is toilet paper and when it is a wet wipe or tissue or a paper towel or an actual towel and how toilet paper is the only one of those that is truly "flushable". Her new interest in the potty is great...until you start to think about all of the things she could possibly flush and the repercussions of those flushing actions.

And so I say, Rut-ro. Here we go.

Moral of the story: It is never too early to develop safe habits when you have children. Bad habits are hard to break so get into the childproofing mentality from day one and you'll be glad you did.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What to register for...

A soon-to-be mom asked my advice on what to register for for her pending arrival. Turns out I have a lot of opinions on the subject so here they are...

What to register for that you will actually use…
*Consider how you will clean spit up and diaper leaks off of everything you register for.
*If you plan to reuse it for subsequent children, take unisex colors into consideration.

Car Seats
· Infant Car Seat – Graco Snug Ride is nice to have because you can have baby fall asleep in the car and move him in and out fairly easily, but it only goes up to about 22 lbs so you’ll have to upgrade at that point.
· Toddler Car Seat – we got the Sunshine Kid’s Radian 80 – it can go from infant all the way to 65 lbs or your kid is done using it. But it stays in the car. It has great safety ratings, is easy to use, and it is the only folding car seat on the market in case you fly and want to take it with. Some car seats only work up to 45 lbs so you’d need to then get a booster seat at that point. This one might be expensive, but it saves you from having to buy other ones. If you start at the infant weight, you need an insert of some sort.
· Bundle Me/Fat Suit – In winter, it’s nice to have a fuzzy warmer either designed for the car seat and stroller or a “fat suit” as I call them, to keep the baby warm.

· Travel System – snap and go system…could be handy going to and from car with a bunch of stuff. Your Graco Snugride would snap to it. Be sure that if you go this route, the stroller and car seat are compatible.
· Full-size stroller-that’s personal preference. If you are having more kids, I recommend the Phil and Ted’s – it’s the one we are getting this time since you can attach a 2nd seat to it for #2. Side by sides are a pain to maneuver. For as much as you’ll use it in the city, SPLURGE on a NICE stroller with good wheels. Used can save a ton of money. Consider the cargo space when shopping for a stroller as you’ll always need a diaper, wipes, change of clothes, burp cloths, snacks, and a drink with you, not to mention a toy or two.
· Stroller accessories –Rain cover, skip the cup holder unless you find one well designed and can’t live without a latte. A fuzzy stroller liner is nice for winter months, but a few blankets can achieve the same effect.
· Lightweight stroller - $20 at target comes in handy – called an umbrella stroller. just beat it up. Can get the McClaren version for maybe $120 but it is just a nicer version
· Stroller toys – just toys with a loop so you can use those plastic chains to keep them attached
· Stroller diaper bag – our “skip hop” brand has clasps that hook onto the stroller handlebars and is super handy. We got a manly messenger bag looking one for Rick but he never used it—or he did use it, but never for diapers…
· Sling & Wrap Carriers -I have an Ergo that I like, the Moby wrap is very popular. I borrowed a Baby Bjorn with Ada and that worked really well too. I also had a hot sling that I didn’t really care for, maybe it was too small or just not my thing. I like the Ergo since you can wear the baby front, back or on your hip. There is an infant insert you can get, and it works for bigger kids.

Activity Things
· Pack and Play – SO handy. We use the basinet portion for the first month or so. Then Rick kicked Ada out of our room because we would wake up at every peep she made when she really didn’t need us that much. She’d let us know when she needed us. That was clear. Without the bassinet, it’s great for having friends over to take naps and is just a great must have.
· ExerSaucer – Adjustable height is nice, one with a lot of playful do-dads is good, and something that they can chew on is nice too. Consider how well spit up will clean off of it and watch for small creases and crevices.
· Bouncy Seat – Vibrations, Music, what more can you ask for?
· Swing – Some kids love them, some don’t. If it folds up when not in use, you’ll be happier that it isn’t taking up half of your living room.
· NoWalkers – They aren’t recommended for safety– especially if you have stairs since they can roll right down them.
· Activity Mat with arches above and toys hanging from it. Hours of entertainment for the newborns.

· Breastmilk storage bags/bottles – If you’re nursing and plan to pump and freeze milk so others can feed the baby when you aren’t around, you’ll need bottles or bags. I’m a fan of the bottles since they are reusable and better for the environment.
· Cooler/Insulated Tote – If you’ll be transporting breastmilk in bottles or bags, you’ll need a small (tiny2-6 bottle capacity) cooler with ice packs to haul it in.
· Boppy and 2 covers – The U-shaped pillow. One cover will typically be in the wash. The Boppy is great for nursing or just setting the baby down if you don’t want them to roll. The U-shape gives you a lot of positions to prop up the baby when nursing and comes in very handy.
· A wrap or cover for nursing – or just a lightweight blanket. Hooter hiders is a popular cover that comes in trendy patterns and works well to provide discretion when feeding around others.
· Nursing Bras- Wait a week or two for your breasts to settle on a size, and then go to a specialty store and try on nursing bras. SPLURGE on a nude and black version that is comfortable and supportive. Bravado and Nummies are two brands I recommend. Look for comfort, ease of releasing the clasps for easy access (you may be sleep deprived and don’t want to mess with clasps that are counter-intuitive), and padding in case you leak a bit.
· Nursing Bra Pads- If you leak a lot, they make re-usable cotton pads that you can wash or disposable ones with a sticker on the back that you use and toss. Maybe have a couple on hand but wait to buy the jumbo box until you know if you leak. Some women do, others don’t.
· Lanolin cream – get a tube or a few and keep them handy. Nursing can be super painful the first two weeks and this cream is a lifesaver. Ask for it in the hospital and use it often. Just like you’d use chapstick for sore lips. It won’t hurt the baby so lay it on thick.
· The nursing consultant at the hospital can help you with shields or other nursing gear if you have difficulty nursing. No need to get any of that beforehand.
· Wait on a pump. Wait until you know you can nurse before investing in or renting a pump. Then weigh the options of renting versus buying. The Medela Pump in Style is $300 and one of the most popular pumps on the market, but still lacks what I consider “good design” as it is heavy and bulky, but it gets the job done. Some women prefer hand pumps. You’ll just have to try a few options to see what works best for you.

· Bottle warmers are dumb in my opinion. I always tried to give milk to Ada that was room temperature or had been run under hot water/set in a bowl of hot water to defrost so that she wouldn’t get used to warmed bottles and demand them when we couldn’t warm them for her – in the car or on the road for instance.
· Sterilizers are silly too. There are steam sterilizer bags that can be microwaved 20 or 30 times to sterilize the bottles. I think the dishwasher sterilizes them plenty but if you have nursing pump tubes and accessories, the sterilizer bags are handy.
· Bibs – you can never have enough. For bibs, I recommend those that can be rinsed and hung dry once they start eating solids at 5 months. Before then, get the most absorbent bibs you can since they are for catching drool and spit up, not food. They will need to be washed often so look for durable fabrics.
· Burp Cloths – again, get as many as possible. Cloth diapers are super absorbent and cheap. Baby wash cloths work well too. All sizes, shapes and absorbencies are good to keep on hand everywhere.
· Bumbo and tray – great for when you start feeding solids and the baby can’t quite sit up on his own.
· Bottles – don’t go crazy buying a million bottles and nipples and such just yet. You can get one or two of a couple different versions but baby might not like them so don’t invest too much until you know what he likes. Some look like a boob to avoid nipple confusion (which some say doesn’t even exist), others have plastic inserts, some are glass, BPA free, plastic with special technology to vent air through the bottom. Try a few out and see what you like and what baby will drink from when the time comes. I prefer Dr. Brown’s Bottles that have a straw-like thing in the middle because they are suppose to reduce baby’s gassiness – but a lot of bottles will make that claim. It comes down to trial and error. If you get glass bottles, be sure to get the rubber safety covers for them in case they get dropped. When you do find one that works, you’ll want to have 10-12 on hand, with extras at grandmas/daycare/the car/etc.
· Bottle drying racks – you wash bottles everyday unless you are strictly nursing. But assume that you pump and someone else will feed the baby at some point, or you switch to formula or whole milk at age 1.
· Bottle brushes – one to travel with, one for home. There are little wire ones with tiny bristles for hard to reach parts that come in handy too.
· High chair or booster seat or both – Whatever you prefer. Just make sure the cover comes off and can withstand many wash machine cycles. Consider a design that doesn’t allow food to slip under the cover easily—one that has the cover extend over the sides is best. Ours collected crumbs under the seat and drove Rick nuts having to pull out mashed peas after every meal.
· Infant spoons – Get a bunch. Keep them handy everywhere.
· Sippy Cups and Silverware – These come later on, but can be nice to have. Sippy cups, small plastic cups, plastic plates, bowls, Bowls with lids are great for when your child doesn’t finish a meal and you want to save it for later, or for traveling.
· Grocery store cart cover – I have one. Used it half-a-dozen times. Usually forget to take it inside and gave up. That’s a personal preference. It can make baby’s ride more comfy and contain toys, keep cooties at bay.

Making Baby Food?
· Food Processor
· Steamer
· Food Containers – small tupperwear like containers that seal tightly
· Freezable food containers – like covered ice cube trays.
· Baby recipe book

· Wipe warmers are unnecessary. Just hold the wipes for a few seconds if they are cold and they will work just fine.
· Small wipe travel containers – It’s great to have thin wipe containers that hold about 30 wipes each. Tuck them in the car, your purse, diaper bag, the stroller, etc.
· Changing pads – Again, great to tuck into various places for when you need them. Look for lightweight, washable, with a little padding to keep baby comfy.
· No diaper genie or other diaper odor eating/disposal machine. Just take the funky diapers straight out to the trash, and the less funky ones to the garbage, which you need to take out often. These take up space, are an investment for the constant refills, and most people who I know that have had them, don’t really like them.
· Have some tiny diapers on hand, but don’t buy a lot since baby grows fast in the beginning and you’ll get stuck with too many extras. Try to buy as you go.
· Diaper rash cream. White or clear. Whatever brand you prefer.

Cloth Diapers
· Covers- 6-10 of each size – can be reused if not soiled.
· Cloth Diapers -about 30 of each size, one use and wash
· Doublers for overnight – an insert that doubles the absorbency. 5 or 6 should be enough since you should be washing them every 3 days or so.
· All-in-one diapers – You’d probably need 12-20 of them and wash them constantly since they are one use, then wash.

· Charlie’s Soap to wash them since it doesn’t leave residue and helps keep them absorbent.
· A sprayer for the toilet if you prefer (we haven’t had one and have survived just fine.)
· A medium size (5 gallon) garbage can, washable, that can hold water and has a pop up lid that stays closed. Bigger and it’s hard to pickup or dump and the smell gets so bad you don’t want the ability to procrastinate washing them beyond every three days.

For the Bathroom
· Shampoo and body wash all in one. Consider a large pump bottle for convenience.
· Baby lotion – avoid fragrance. Stick to the basics. Aquaphor is nice to have on hand for eczema or heat rash.
· Baby Towels – 2-5 is plenty. Adult bath towels can be too big.
· Baby Washcloths –3-5 is fine. They are lighter weight and more delicate. Nice to have.
· Baby Bath Tub – One with the mesh sling inside is nice.
· Bath toys – just a few, and maybe something to contain them all in. No need to have the bathroom overrun with bath stuff. There are rubber duckies that tell you if the temperature is too hot. The ones that spit are neat but tend to grow mold or some mysterious black stuff in them and then spit it out when they are squeezed. It’s gross so maybe avoid those or make sure anything that spits can be opened and washed thoroughly.
· Step stool – Wait. When baby is big enough to wash his own hands, he’ll need a stool to help him get to the sink. But that can wait a year.
· Potty – Wait. You won’t need this until he is 2 or 3 or even 4. Then you can shop around and see what you like.

Baby Care & Grooming
· Nail Clippers – The First Years’ Deluxe nail clippers with magnifying glass are the best. Get 2. Ignore the magnifying glass part and be thankful they are big enough to hold on to.
· Grooming kit – Skip it. Get a baby brush or comb but this other stuff is just fluff. Ask the pharmacy for droppers or medicine spoons when you get a prescription if you need those items.
· Baby brush or comb
· Blue Ball Aspirator – Get one from the hospital and ask if they will give you an extra. The white ones in the grooming kits don’t suck well enough.
· Thermometer – I don’t think any of them are very accurate or good. Ear versions aren’t good until baby is 6 months old. Others tend to have the batteries die when you need them most. Good luck getting one you like that is accurate/decent.
· Teething rings – Get a variety. Each kid likes different styles. Some don’t like any. Some kids don’t mind teething.

· Audio monitor – In a small city condo, we don’t use a monitor. But if we have to run across the hall or downstairs or want to sit on the porch for dinner, it is nice to have one. We also take it with us when we travel to the grandparents’ larger homes.
· Outlet covers
· Video monitor – Nice, but not necessary. You’ll spend a lot of time just starring at the baby and saying “ah, so cute.” Good if you freak out about SIDS. Could be nice if you tend to want to go in at every sound.
· Corner guards
· Cabinet/drawer latches
· Edge guards
· Safety gates
· Smoke & carbon monoxide alarm

Nursery Furniture
· Crib, mattress, waterproof mattress pad cover
· Dresser
· Changing table with as much storage as possible
· Changing table pad and waterproof cover
· Glider or upholstered rocker and Ottoman – We splurged and are glad we did. Watch for a smooth, quiet ride and washable fabric. High enough you can fall asleep in if need be. You’ll spend a lot of time in it so make sure it is comfy. We only use the ottoman for the first few months since it takes up a lot of valuable play space on the floor. But the ottoman rocks too.
· Bassinet or the pack and play – if you want baby in your room for the first few weeks/months

· Fitted Crib Sheets – 4-6 just in case you have a bad night with a sick child. Be sure to get ones that are tight, but not so tight you can’t get them on at 3am when you are covered in puke and have a baby screaming at you. There are some that are designed to go on really easy or zip on and off.
· Pack and Play sheets – 2-3 should be enough
· Crib bedding set – Honestly, just get sheets. You’ll have baby blankets. If you want the bed skirt, fine. The bumper only gets used for a few months and even then there is a suffocation hazard so you’re encouraged not to use it.
· Swaddlers – 3-5 each of the small and medium versions unless you do laundry really frequently – Kiddopotamus brand is great. They keep baby tucked in, warm and recreate the womb for a great sleep experience.
· Receiving blankets – Skip. Just use blankets and swaddlers.
· Blankets- 4-6 is good. All different weights, and sizes.
· Changing table pad covers - 2-4 should do it.

· Hamper – you need some system for managing large quantities of dirty baby laundry.
· Window treatments – make the room as dark as possible for optimal sleep
· Waste basket – Skip. I avoid having one in her room so that it wouldn’t smell and she wouldn’t get into it.
· Crib mobile – A fancy one with music that Ada could turn on and off herself was awesome. Ours has a remote that we never really used.
· Diaper stacker- Skip it. Wait until you figure out how everything fits into the nursery and then get a system that works for you if needed.
· Lamp
· Rug
· Toy storage, book storage

· Clothing hangers - 12-24 to start, you can always get more. Consider those with clips for matching bottoms – more for little girls than boys.
· Onsies in each size. Maybe 6-10 of each size to start.
· Seasonal outfits – hats/gloves/fat suit for winter, sun hat, sunglasses, swimsuit for summer.
· Baby socks – 2 or 3 packs. They disappear in the wash so having 12-16 isn’t bad.
· Hand mitts for the first few weeks to prevent them from scratching themselves.
· Cute hats to keep their heads warm the first few weeks and help regulate body temperature.

· No need to register for them unless you find things you really like. You’ll get plenty of toys.

Books, Music and DVDs
· Baby Einstein DVDs
· Baby Einstein Music
· Raffi Music – He’s a kids popular song guy.
· Books on nursery rhyme lyrics unless you know them all already.

· This is a personal preference. You’ll have cards, notes, photos, etc. to store so a small fancy box might be a good start. Or a nice album.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Pillow, Kisses, & Chocolate Chips

Ada's the best. Last night, she knew I was exhausted from a long day at work and my body just wasn't playing nicely with the BB in my belly. As I sat on the couch, curled up with a good book, trying to relax the day away, Rick attended to my every need and managed to get Ada fed, entertained, cleaned, and medicated. Poor guy had to get me water and tea and pillows and a blanket and surely a few more things I can't even remember. While he was in the kitchen, busily cleaning out the dishwasher, Ada slipped out from under his watch long enough to come to the living room and smoother me with kisses. Normally she'll give out kisses when she is prompted. This time she was attacking me with wet, sloppy, toddler cootie kisses. I think she gave me 20 kisses without me even asking for one. She must have sensed that I needed some love. It was so sweet.

Then, about fifteen minutes later, Rick was busy doing laundry in the bedroom or some other chore at the back of the house when she returned to my side with a pillow from her bed. She'd seen Rick bring me pillows to prop up my back and legs and wanted to make sure I had enough of them to be comfortable. Can you say adorable?

And then, this is the best part, she magically appeared by my side -- well after her bedtime at this point --with a small Ziploc container of trail mix that included peanuts, raisins, and a ton of chocolate chips (which I am currently eating by the handful from a 72 oz re-sealable bag I have conveniently stored on a shelf in the refrigerator. This is one craving I am not going to complain about). I open the container for her and we share the goodies. She's eating the mix pretty fast and I'm trying to figure out if she is favoring the chocolate chips or the raisins or eating all three equally. Part of me is worried that she is just picking out the chocolate chips since that's just not acceptable (I only have 65 oz left in the fridge for Pete's sake kid, lay off momma's stash!). I'm about to tell her to stop hogging all of the chocolate when she turns to me and starts feeding me the chocolate chips. One, two, three chocolate chips go down the hatch and I'm laughing so hard at this point that I have to call Rick over to explain that she is a total enabler, mind reader, and way too cute for words. All my aches and pains instantly faded away at that moment. Maybe it was her gentle way with me, or the chocolate, or the laughter, or the knock out combination of it all, but I sure felt better.

Moral of the story: Sometimes kids do the cutest things. Store those memories in a special place and revisit them often.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sick of Ada Being Sick

Ada's asthma thing, or whatever it is, isn't quite better yet. She was on medicine and that helped a ton. Then the medicine was done and she was okay for a couple of days. Then the coughing came back. Then, two nights ago the throwing up came back. It was like she had stored up all of the throwing up she hadn't done in the previous week and let it all out in one night. It started at 11:30pm and just kept going. I gave up around 1 am and poor Rick stayed on the couch sleeping/watching movies with her until who knows when. It sucked. Then he stayed home with her so they could both get some much needed rest.

From this most recent episode, I'll say "You haven't experienced parenthood until..."

clearly, there are many ways to finish off this line. To which I'll add:'ve been thrown up on four times within two hours.'ve had regurgitated banana drip down your cleavage, twice in one night.'ve run out of towels in the linen closet from all of the showers you, your husband and your child have used to wash off remnants of vomit. want to change places with your sick child so they don't have to suffer anymore because they just don't understand what's going on with their little body.

Yesterday, Rick took Ada back to the Doctor, but it wasn't her regular Doctoress so it was a wasted visit in my opinion since the new Doctor said we'd have to wait until her regular Doctoress came in today to do anything more. Gee buddy, thanks for nothing.

On the way home from the Doctor's office, Rick picked me up from work and Ada proceeded to throw up all over the back seat of the car just a few blocks from my office. We pulled over and cleaned her up--or Rick cleaned her and the car up while I called the Doctoress' office to demand that they leave our normal Doctoress an urgent message to contact me ASAP. Then I got out and cuddled with Ada's half-nakedness on the sidewalk until Rick was ready to put her back into the pukey car seat.

We almost made it home without further incident but... with three blocks left, she had to let the juice flow. Talk about an easy way to make a distracted driver. Poor Rick was ready to plow through anyone to get around the block and park at that point. Ada's screaming. The car reeks. Traffic isn't letting us through fast enough. It's times like these that I want a button in the car that makes it glow or flash hot pink to indicate to other motorists something like "Move please, I have a really good reason to have the right of way right now. Trust me. Thank you." If only the hazard flashers had that setting...

We were able to park in a temporary unloading spot out front while Rick carried Ada into the house while holding his breath, holding her at arms' length, listening to her scream and trying to comfort her all at once. Straight into the house and down the hall to the tub. He tagged out at that point and I tagged in --just like tag team wrestling, only it's a two-year old we're up against, and there is only one of her. He got to clean the car, bring the car seat in for a major scrub down, and find more permanent parking. I got to give Ada a bath and clean her up. Knowing that I got the better end of the deal, I let him have the honor of drying her off --it really is the best part of the bath as we've made quite the game of it. She runs naked, he catches her, dries and cuddles her, she squeals with delight. It almost makes up for having to clean up her puke. Almost.

Thankfully, the rest of the night proved to be uneventful which was a plesant surprise as I've been expecting, and dreading, the worst. We gave her some Singular and puffs from her inhaler. She coughed before bed, but we haven't heard a peep since. Now if only I could have caught up on some sleep this morning instead of getting up to write at 4 am. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow. Yawn.

Moral of the story: Keep a change of clothes (for your child, and maybe yourself), diapers, wipes, and a towel or two in the car for unexpected incidents. You never know when they'll come in handy, but odds are good you'll need them.

Better with a Butt Wiggle

I have this theory about Ada. I call it "every thing is better with a butt wiggle."

Clearly, she knows something we don't about the power of the butt wiggle. She's almost constantly happy and frequently wiggling her butt. Coincidence? I think not.

At the dinner table, she wiggles.

Walking down the street, she wiggles.

Dancing around the house, she wiggles.

Playing at the park, she wiggles.

In the bathtub while getting clean, she wiggles.

While sitting on the potty, she wiggles.

Maybe she just can't sit still, but maybe none of us should sit still?

I've taken the hint and tried to incorporate it into my day, albeit inconspicuously. Sometimes I just rock my hips back and forth in public, imagining it as a full-blown wiggle while keeping it under wraps. Other times I all out wiggle. I have a feeling that if the people of the world wiggled more often, happiness would rule more freely.

Moral of the story: Go ahead and add a little wiggle to your day and watch your mood improve. Give it a try. You'll be happy you did.

Labor and Delivery Preparations

With six weeks to my fast approaching due date, I start to mentally prepare for labor and delivery. I have several friends who are due within a month of my due date so we have been swapping stories, commiserating on how big we feel, and preparing for the big day when our lives will totally change all over again. I can tell I'm getting a bit more anxious as I start to remember what labor and delivery was really like with Ada. Attending pre-natal yoga classes with a bunch of new moms who deathly fear labor isn't helping.

The good news is that BB has his head down and is in the right position for all things to go well. The Doctoress said "It's highly unlikely at this point" when I asked her if he would still flip flop in there or if he'll sit still and stay put. Even with that "highly unlikely" comment, I'm still worried he'll shift and then I'll have to magically find a way to get him to flip back into position. I'll know more in a few weeks when I get my final ultrasound but until then, all signs point to "go". Mentally, I'm encouraging him to stay put and be good. And I'm telling myself to stay calm, incubate, and know that everything will be just fine. Pep talks are crucial at this stage to focus on the positives and ignore the negatives, yet know they still exist and it's going to be okay if something doesn't go as planned.

With Ada it was fast - 5 1/2 hours, painful but manageable, contractions got fast quickly -- my Doctoress told me to come to the hospital this time when they are seven minutes apart instead of 10 like last time. I looked at her and said "10? They were never 10. I started clocking them at seven, I think, and by the time Rick got home from work 45 minutes later I was already at five-and-a-half or less." We are both predicting BB will come before his due date, and we are optimistic that it will be fast and simple -- as in non-complicated but still a heck of a lot of work on my part.

Right now, what really frustrates me is the other expectant mother's I'm talking to. The pre-natal yoga moms are all freaked out because they haven't done their research yet, don't know their options, and think labor is going to be like the movies. No one wants to have complications or a Cesarean section, some are afraid of needles and fear the epidural--but fear the pain of labor even more, and still others are just plain freaked out about it all because they are emotional hot messes. It is always a relief to have a mom who's been through labor in my yoga class to keep me calm and remind me they are rookies.

Then there are the current mommy friends having their second children. So far, I've run into two of them. Both are delivering at Prentice, Northwestern's Women's Hospital here in downtown Chicago renowned for it's flat screen TVs and brand spanking new facility that cost a fortune. I'll preface this with the fact that I'm not a hater and I haven't been there and I really have no right to say anything negative about the hospital so I'll direct my comments to the mother's who decide to deliver there. Why? I get it if you have a high-risk pregnancy or live in a posh circle where you have to impress your friends by going to the "Best" hospital in the area --since that seems to be the reputation of Prentice among the well-to-do ladies--but why? I keep getting asked if I'm delivering at Prentice (all the cool kids are doing it) and my response is, "Now why would I go and do that when I have not one, but two hospitals within six blocks of my house, both with newly renovated birthing floors and suites?" I went to St. Joseph Hospital for Ada and plan to do the same this time. It's close. The staff was fantastic. I had a great experience. And I don't feel like my insurance company is jacking up my costs to pay for flat screen TVs. I had a private room and Rick got to sleep on a crummy cot thing that folded out, but what do you expect? A pillow-top Murphy bed that drops from the wall with 5,000 count Egyptian cotton sheets and a maid to fluff your pillows? Hello! I'm the one that needs to be pampered here--but not to the point of manicures and pedicures post delivery.

Why would I give that local convenience up? I mean, I had a contraction outside of the car, got in, and had my next contraction as I was getting out of the car at the hospital parking garage. If we had driven to Northwestern, I'd have had about six contractions in the car during the 20-30 minutes it took us to get there in traffic, not to mention having to navigate the overcrowded streets of that neighborhood and then Valet park. No thank you.

On top of all of that, Northwestern churns out about 11,000 babies a year. The new $500M facility has a capacity of 13,600 annually. That could mean they are really good at what they do, or that they are a baby factory and you are a number and your Doctoress is really busy and needs to get you in and out and on your way with a cute, perfect little bundle of joy to take home. If I was high-risk and my Doctoress strongly suggested I deliver at Prentice so the baby wouldn't have to be transferred to another hospital if something was wrong, I'd be all for it. But that's not my situation so I don't see the hype.

Not only are new moms influenced by the fancy hospital facilities, reputations and recommendations from their friends, they also go where their Doctoress has rights to deliver. Which brings me to the point of how they go about selecting a Doctor/ess, or a group of Doctor/ess' they want to deliver them. In my opinion, most pregnant women in America are uneducated on the subject of labor and delivery, myself formerly included. What we know, we learned from movies. Childbirth should be uncomfortable, painful, involve a lot of screaming, etc. You go to your local Doctor/ess and listen to what they say, do as they say, and "poof", you get a baby. What they really need to figure out before they pick a Doctor/ess is "What kind of labor experience do you want?" and "Does your Doctor/ess support that experience?" Some want to schedule a Cesarean section and a tummy tuck all at once. Others want an all natural home birth in a tub or pool surrounded by incense. Still others want as much pain medication as they can possibly have and "just get the baby out", hopefully healthy. What I'm saying is, pregnant women have options they don't even realize exist and they make uneducated decisions about the health and well-being of themselves and their unborn children, and it drives me nuts.

For instance... two of the pregnant moms I know (both going to Prentice mind you) had natural child birth experiences with their first children. One baby took 18 hours of hard labor, the other was done in 3 hours. The Doctoress this time around for the first woman has scheduled a date to induce her three days before her due date because "the baby is ready" and she has a graduation to attend so this is a convenient time for her to deliver the baby. The baby can come before that on her own, but if not, it's time to induce. To which I respond "Are you f***ing kidding me?" First, how do you know when the baby is "ready"? What does that even mean? I think that's when labor starts naturally for most people (complications aside). And why would you induce someone who can naturally go into childbirth on their own and thereby dramatically reduce the likelihood of complications before their due date? Seriously? If that were my Doctoress, she'd have a big red mark on her backside as I would have kicked her butt out of my exam room right before storming out of her office and replacing her. To make matters worse, this Mom friend of mine is from another country and seems to believe that being induced is still "natural", maybe due to a language barrier? I couldn't even say "I cut my finger" while at a hospital in Germany so I can't even begin to imagine having a baby in a country where English is my second language. Another passionate friend of mine and this pregnant momma, took this "induction date"as an opportunity to write the momma a three page email on what "induction" means, and all about Pitocin, the synthetic drug used to induce someone and how "un-natural" it really is. I'm hoping, for my friend's sake, that she goes into labor naturally before her induction appointment and ends up with an awesome childbirth experience. I'm just not sure her Doctoress is going to let that happen.

The second mom I know said her induction date appointment like it was rights for bragging. "My labor was so fast last time that they have an induction date scheduled so that I make it to the hospital and don't have the baby at home." Okay. So what does that really mean? "I as your doctor want to make sure I get paid for catching the baby?" or "I'm genuinely concerned for the health and well-being of your child so I recommend that if he hasn't come on his own by your due date, we help him along." Again, that bothers me. I asked my Doctoress what her thoughts were on both of these situations and she replied, "I don't like to induce anyone unless I really have to." Knowing the few facts I had on both situations, she said she likely wouldn't suggest induction for either of these women. She did go on to say, "If you haven't gone into labor a week after your due date, then we'll talk about inducing you with Pitocin or breaking your bag to try to get things started but only because the stillborn risk starts to increase at that point, and we could see poop in the amniotic fluid--and I don't like to see poop." (Not because poop is gross, but because it is bad for the baby to ingest.) She then went on to say, "But if your ultrasound results come back with bad news, I have no problem inducing you." That, my friends, is why she is my Doctoress.

I chose my Doctoress this time based on the recommendation of a friend, but not just any friend. My friend is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital I'll be delivering at. She knows the good, the bad, and the ugly. She knows I want the best chance at a natural child birth, with the piece of mind that comes with a hospital setting "just in case". She knows I'm not materialistic and don't care about flat screen TVs or what other people think about where I should deliver. I want what's best for me and my baby. That's what this whole experience should be about. Hopefully I'll come out of this in a few weeks with a healthy baby boy, a great birthing experience I can share with other new moms, and the ability to shed light on a topic that I find truly fascinating.

Moral of the story: If you plan on having a baby, do your research to devise a birthing plan and a strategy for doing everything in your power to make it happen your way. You can't control the process, but you can make educated decisions along the way.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

D-Day Fast Approaching

T minus 6 weeks

Minor anxiety approaching, with waves of "Get this thing out of me.", "I quit.", "Are we done yet?", and "Why did we decided to have kids again?".

Crib assembled? Check.

Diapers? Check.

Wipes? Check.

Bottles? Crap. My brother still has those. And my pump. And the Boppy.

Storage bottles for milk? Check.

Ergo baby carrier? Better get that back from Jen. And I guess we'll need the infant insert? Or what about a Moby wrap? Hmmm...

Car seat? Yep. But we should probably dust it off and put it in the trunk of the car in two weeks. But
Rick can always come back to get it since we are just six blocks from the hospital.

Bag packed? Not yet. I don't really need anything since last time we took way too much and Rick just ended up bringing me a change of clothes from home anyway.

Work ready to be passed off? Not quite. But I'm working on it and keeping co-workers in the loop.

Baby clothes? Check. Though we should probably wash them since they've been in storage for two years.

Sleep sacks? Baby hats? Baby tub? Baby wash? Burp cloths? Baby hand covers so he doesn't scratch himself? Check. Check. And Check.

Cord blood donation kit? Just ordered it. Should be here in two weeks. We have to remember to remind the nurses to actually save the cord this time instead of tossing it out like last time.

House instructions for parents? Need to write those up. They're here often enough they'll be fine. Just have to leave clean sheets for them, spare keys and put instructions on the washing machine since it's a bit high-tech.

I wonder what Rick's insurance will actually cover this time. It seemed expensive last time. I should check on our deductible and all that stuff.

Birthplan? I guess I should talk to the doctor about that and make sure they are on board with me not having drugs and all. I'll do that at Monday's appointment.

Who's on call to watch Ada if BB decides to come in the middle of the night or during rush hour before the grandma's can make it here? We should solidify that list a bit more.

I guess we're ready... or we could be with a little help from our parents. Boy is this ever going to rock our world. And Ada's too.

Moral of the story: What is ready anyway? Are you ever really ready? I sure hope so.

The Way We Eat

As I've often declared, this is my year to learn how to cook, and grocery shop, and eat healthier. It used to be a running joke in my family that my mom can't cook -- she can bake fairly well-- but her cooking is limited to dozen meals and they are all edible but average, predictable, and boring. She's not big on change and these few meals suit her just fine. My dad and brother have always been rough on her since she doesn't have their "elaborate" taste buds. That really just means her taste buds are more delicate and can't tolerate the spices and saltings and firestorms my dad and brother prefer. I can't say I blame her since my food preferences are strongly adverse to spicy foods and the craziness of some of their concoctions. I get my sweet tooth for chocolate from her too.

Our styles of eating all became clear to me earlier this year when we tried to pick a restaurant for Easter brunch. Now that I'm getting into food, food quality, the importance of quality ingredients, and realizing the wealth of talented chefs that surround us in the city, I am more inclined to suggest well-known restaurants that come highly recommended. Maybe that stems from not going out to eat much and wanting it to be really good when we do. In the search for restaurant options my co-worker asked me what type of food my dad prefers and my honest response was "meat and potatoes in large quantities." It then dawned on me that that was how I was raised, and why Rick has had to reprogram my eating habits. My family usually ate together at the table for 5 pm dinner, which consisted of meat and a couple of sides or a casserole dish. Sunday noon was the big meal and typically included a dessert, and always a big chunk of meat. The TV was always on to the news, sitcom or a movie. If you didn't like what was served, there was always peanut butter and jelly in the kitchen and you could help yourself.

My dad has a thing about making sure we never go hungry. Once you take two or three bites, he quickly checks to see how it is and if you want more. It's an insult if you don't have seconds, and the first helping is always large enough to feed two people. He's known for his good cooking and extravagant tailgating spreads. There is always enough food for each of us to bring a friend, but if we did bring a friend, he always worries there won't be enough. Maybe that's a result of the economy when he grew up or just how his parents did things, I'm not sure. But it's something I've been much more conscious of now that I'm in charge of feeding my family.

Another observation I've made is that I tend to eat really fast. I'm almost always the first one finished when I go out with friends. It's been helpful when we've had to take turns eating and feeding Ada when she was a baby. But it has also trained me to eat out of necessity instead of enjoyment. Rick's amazed at how little I care about the various flavors and actual taste of my meals. If they aren't quite right, I don't really care. He on the other hand is constantly wondering how a meal can be improved upon and will point out if foods are over or under done. He can savor it all. I'm working on that.

Rick has been the best observer of my eating habits since we've been together so long and he's that way by nature. It didn't take him long into our marriage to notice that I tend to overeat at each meal. I'm frequently a member of the "clean plate club" but I don't remember that ever being a rule at our house growing up. I'd eat so much at each meal that I'd want to explode for the next two or three hours until I could digest a bit, thereby making me pretty worthless after dinner. We'd both do the cooking, but we stuck to meals that were safe and easy and heavy on the pasta. After awhile, he started plating up my food in smaller portions on smaller plates and, amazingly, I didn't eat as much and still became full, while leaving room for dessert. Surely I'd be obese from all of this eating but I have a high metabolism so it never really affected my size or weight. It just made my energy focus on digestion instead of other fun things I could have been doing.

Seeing that point of view on how I was brought up and my philosophy on eating made me realize I needed to change my ways, learn how to cook, and find a way to break those habits and create new ones to pass on to Ada. Even if we have high metabolisms and tall, thin genes, doesn't mean we shouldn't eat healthy. Late last year, after being married for over seven years, I finally got tired of the "What do you want for dinner?" debate and the subsequent listing of local restaurants. The expense and monotony of that habit were wearing on me. I just wasn't sure how to go about making that change.

At a holiday brunch with friends, our hobby chef/foodie friend Sarah offered to teach me to cook this year. A few lessons later, she's instilled me with the confidence to read recipes, try new things, and be less fearful of the grocery store and weird ingredients. She's taught me how to better stock my pantry, and how to eat healthier. She's pointed out deficiencies in my kitchen supplies--a handheld juicer? Seriously? I don't have one of those?-- and influenced me by sharing what she has learned about eating organic foods and shopping at the local farmers' markets.

The other driving force behind all of this is my book club. Not only are they healthy eaters, but they recommended I read books by Michael Pollan, specifically The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Food Rules. They also suggested I join a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) to get my fruits and veggies delivered straight from local farms as it is in season for some of the best produce available. Another friend suggested the documentary Food Inc which features Michael Pollan and many of the issues covered in The Omnivore's Dilemma. It has all been eye opening.

How has all of this changed me?

Well, my neighbor Kelly just asked me "Since when did you become so domesticated?" after walking through my kitchen. I've got mason jars of rices and grains out on the counter, fruit and vegetables overflowing the counters, and I'm offering her lunch or leftovers from my cooking lessons. She's amazing that I can actually cook now whereas before, she would come down here for a snack and be sorely disappointed. I see her a lot more frequently now. It's been five months and I've spent more money on food and cooked more this year than the last three years combined. I want to eat healthier and instill these new eating habits in Ada. I want to eat smaller portions that are more nutritious. I want to support local farmers and enjoy the flavors in my food. I want to savor my meals instead of inhaling them and waiting for the next meal to do the same.

Is it a lot of work? Yes.

Is it worth it? Heck yeah. It's amazing. So tasty and enjoyable. And I feel better both physically and mentally knowing that the time I invest now to learn how to cook is helping me to eat healthier and provide my family with better food choices, hopefully influencing all of our diets in the long term. I'm still struggling with meal planning, grocery shopping, learning how to read labels, and navigating the farmers' market, but that will come with time and practice and more trial and error. It's almost harder in the city when you can shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Dominicks, Jewel, Straack & Van Til, Treasure Island, the farmers' markets, local delis and cheese stores, meat markets, the spice house, Stanley's fruit market, Costco, and have one of a dozen CSAs, including those for meat and poultry. In the suburbs, they only have a County Market, Jewel, Wal-mart, the butcher, and an occasional specialty store, which creates a different sort of challeges.

Do we still order out from the local restaurants? Yep. But not as often. And I tend to order a much more healthy options and steal bites of Rick's sinful selections -- he hasn't given up fat, greasy burgers and fries or chili dogs even close to the extent of which I have. I'm still indulging in the good old American standbys, but a lot less frequently. And pizza is dead to me--at least until this baby is no longer causing mass amounts of heartburn to my system.

Eventually, I hope to find a balance so we waste less food, consume healthier foods with less chemicals and less processed foods so our children are off to a good start. It is a big investment in both time and money, but one I feel will stay with my kids for life and make a real difference in the world.

Moral of the story: As children, our knowledge is based on our parents' knowledge. It therefore lies on us as parents to give our children a solid foundation on which to grow that knowledge. Challenge yourself to do just that.

Single Mom Syndrome

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again and again... I don't know how single parents manage to raise children on their own. Clearly they aren't "all alone" because I have reason to believe that is impossible. "It takes a village," and then reinforcements from a few neighboring villages sometimes as well.

My family always wonders why I'm not more excited about driving out to visit them every weekend and why I'm not up for road trips to visit relatives with Ada in tow. I'm not sure what life is like for them these days or what all they remember from back in the day when we were little, but packing up and traveling for a weekend is right near the bottom of the list of things I want to do on any given weekend.


Weekends are my time to play catch up and I can't do that while on the road or at someone else's house. I can only imagine it is much worse for single parents and families whose parents travel for work. There is a reason families only had one income back in the day and one parent stayed home. It is a full time job to run a household. I like to think I'm superwoman and can take care of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, parenting, incubating (albeit temporarily), and grocery shopping, all while managing our social calendar, working 25 hours a week, doing the bookkeeping for our condo association, and trying to maintain a life of my own including a monthly book club, occasional knitting club, and attempts to attend prenatal yoga. Not to mention learning how to cook, switching to more healthful food choices for my family, and all the hobbies I have that make me more like Suzy Homemaker than most (knitting, sewing, quilting, etc.)

Should be easy right?

As a two-parent family with an awesome husband who shares these responsibilities with his equally wonderful wife, sure, it could almost be manageable or, dare I say, easy. But once you throw in work travel or a crazy work schedule and deadlines that dedicate half of your family team to other efforts, what is almost easy together quickly becomes impossible and overwhelming on your own.

While this has been my year of The Compact, cooking and incubating, it has been Rick's year of professional architecture exams and work deadlines. And last month was the month of travel including four consecutive weekends home to the grandparents', with one of those extending tour days to include a drive to Minneapolis for a wedding.

That said, should it surprise me that my house is a mess every other day as I struggle to keep up with chores and Ada and sleep and putting in enough hours at work when my partner in all this is relegating to working a couple 14 hour days each week? Somehow I find time to worry that he may be burning out from too much work so I make it a priority to set aside time for him to play soccer and try not to nag him about his urgent need to study for the second of seven exams he needs to complete this year to become an official Architect. I also find myself limiting my social activities and sacrificing "me time" if it doesn't fit with his crazy schedule. That's all good until we hit a day, like we did earlier this week, when my body and mind just gave up and told the world to leave me alone.

Thankfully, Rick translated my desperation over the phone and came home to help manage Ada, the housework and his ailing pregnant wife. He made dinner, coerced Ada into eating the dinner I made her that she wouldn't eat for me. Entertained her while cooking for us both and managed to clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher to boot. All while I kicked up my feet on the couch with a good book in an attempt to de-stress and get the day's aches and pains from being 33 weeks pregnant to melt away. I'm lucky that he wasn't out of town on business and didn't have an urgent deadline to meet that night.

There comes a point in life, for me anyway, where enough is enough. I've hit it. I'm done traveling until after the baby is born and we are in a routine. People will just have to come see me. I've done lugging groceries into the house with a cranky two-year-old in tow because she's tired, hungry, or has to poop. We can grocery shop as a family, Rick can do it, or we can starve -- okay so having Peapod delivery our order is the real third option but you get my point. I'm going to four more yoga classes in the six weeks before the baby gets here, sooner rather than later in case he wants to come early, and Rick will just have to rearrange to make time for it. I'm going to try to get ahead on my workload and bank a few extra work hours, and hopefully do so while working from home more since my work setup isn't as nice on my body as my desk at home and I can't figure out why. Maybe it's the fact that I get up a lot more to move around at home and frequently sit with a heat pack on my shoulders. We'll see. It's all just a phases. This too shall pass.

Moral of the story: You can't raise a child alone so be sure to enlist the help of others. Know your limits, stick to them, and know that it is okay to say no.

Prepositions Need Work

In an attempt to interest Ada in potty training, we have a potty that doubles as a step stool for the bathroom sink. After a messy mulching excursion and a diaper incident that resulted in a leak, I encouraged Ada to try the potty before giving her a bath. PP in the potty turned into PP on the potty lid while she was standing on the potty as a stool to play with things in the sink. Not really what I was going for but I guess we are getting closer.

Out of your mouth is another tricky one for her as she enjoyed chewing on miscellaneous rocks during our outside time.

Off is a struggle as she continues to jump on me and my belly. I'm really not appreciative of elbow drops at this late stage in my pregnancy.

Eventually she'll have an awesome English teacher that will get her all straightened out. Until then, I'll keep working on it.

Moral of the story: Clear communication takes time, and patience. Be sure to stock up on both at this age.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Mother's Weekend

Last Sunday was Mother's Day and it's always nice to be recognized now that I'm a mom.

It started out well with Saturday being dedicated to me or at least focused a bit more on how wonderful I am. Rick made breakfast for the family, but not until he took Ada out in the bike carrier for a trip to get eggs. That freed me up some time to tackle the best job ever--rinsing the cloth diapers and dragging them to the basement to the wash machine. I'm such a lucky mom!

Rick and Ada ended up running more errands and coming back with flowers and an aloe plant for me. I guess I hinted at wanting the plant months ago, and the flowers were a nice gesture -- even if I did have to then put them in a vase and add water and even if Rick thought the vase I picked wasn't big or nice enough so he got the other one out of the cabinet so I could switch it out. What a sweetie!

Since it was a Saturday, Rick had a soccer game that afternoon so he got to get out of the house while Ada and I took naps. Ada actually took a nap so that was nice. She's such a sweetheart. Until the maintenance man for the building decided that three pm on a Saturday afternoon would be a great time to demolish the ceiling under our condo unit for some repair work that needs to be done -- even though he knows we have a toddler that naps between one and four typically. It cut both of our naps short and made for a bit of a cranky mommy, to say the least. At least Rick got pelted with freezing rain while riding his bike home from the game. There is such a thing as Karma. I believe it exists.

Knowing that Rick really wanted to see the Iron Man sequel, I arranged with a neighborhood mom to swap babysitting time and we went to an early show. The movie was great and it was nice to get out. On the way home we stopped for a snack since Rick was still a little hungry from a light early dinner. Of course, he got pizza which is the death of me if I eat it these days with my heartburn. I had to endure the entire process of going into the pizzeria, ordering, waiting for them to bag it up, and having it sit on my lap the whole way home, all while salivating and cursing the heartburn this second child has forced upon me. Motherhood is so awesome!

Once we got home, he took our friend home and I got to plate his pizza. I'm such a good wife. He got rockstar parking right outside our house -- which never happens on a Saturday night, unless you go to the early movie and are home by nine when everyone else is just starting their night of fun. Now we know we are lame (or responsible) parents when we are home that early. We've clearly run out of "midnight oil".

Instead of going straight to bed and calling it a night at 9pm, I suggested we try Rick's movie rental choice of Fred Claus with Vince Vaughn. He's been in charge of renting movies lately and learned his lesson (no dramas) when he got Everybody's Fine with Robert De Niro and I cried hysterically at the end. He learned a second lesson (no stupid movies) when he rented You Don't Mess With the Zohan with Adam Sandler. Fred Claus wasn't good either, but it didn't make me cry, and I didn't feel stupider having watching it. At least it qualified as our "free rental" of the month so we didn't feel so bad having paid for it.

The Sunday portion of my Mother's Day Weekend started with another yummy breakfast by Rick. It was nice to stay in and not have to pay a bundle for brunch only to have Ada get ornery and force us to pack up and finish our meal at home. We didn't have anything really planned for the day so I was excited to work on some craft projects that I'd been eyeing for weeks. That idea was quickly stopped by Rick's suggestion that he wanted to "work on sorting out the storage room in the basement". Translated that means, "we need to go through all of Ada's stuff that is down there and make room for all of baby boy's stuff before you're going to get me to put any more boxes downstairs, including the two you have in the living room currently." Seriously? Today? But this is MY day! He says his intention wasn't to get me to help, but if I didn't, Ada and I wouldn't have seen him for three hours and he would have drug all of the boxes of her clothes upstairs to make an even bigger mess of the house, and then had to drag it all back downstairs until we had a chance to distribute it to the people we are giving it all away to. So, we spent a good portion of our day sorting the basement storage room. But it's done. That's a relief. But it isn't what I ever would have volunteered to do on MY day. Just wait until Father's Day comes buddy! Now I know why Mother's Day arrives first in the year...

After the storage room was clean, I got to sit on the couch and iron fabric for the duration of two movies. It was a lot of fabric to pre-wash before getting to cut it into the quilts I hope to get to work on in the next six weeks of my pregnancy -- in all of the free time I keep thinking I'll have since I banned all travel for the next two months. We'll see about that.

We rounded out the weekend with one final movie, Avatar. It wasn't in 3D, and it kept us up way too late on a Sunday night, but it really was very good. A definite highlight of the weekend.

The real best part of Mother's Day, was being able to spend it with my family. Even if we did chores and cleaned, we still got in a lot of quality family time and that is precisely what Mother's Day is all about.

Moral of the story: Mother's Day and Father's Day may seem like made up holidays conceived just to sell a bunch of cards, ties and flowers. Really, they should be considered as a time to reflect on what it means to be a parent and give thanks to those who sign up for one of the toughest jobs in the world.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Eating at the Table

In a recent attempt to enjoy a nice breakfast out on a Saturday morning, Ada ruined it by acting up and being obnoxious during our meal. We were forced, out of embarrassment and a desire to not ruin the ambiance for the rest of the restaurant's diners, to get to go bags and bolt out of there. On the way home we broke down theories as to why Ada can't sit and behave when we are out to eat. We don't go very often for that very reason and always try to find family friendly establishments that won't scowl at us during the entire meal.

Rick's theory is that she doesn't have to sit down at the table at home to eat, so we haven't really set her up for success. Now we are trying to have meals at the dining room table as much as possible, which turns out to be really difficult. It's better for me to eat meals with her at her 6 pm dinner time instead of 8 or 9 with Rick, but it isn't as easy to get both meals hot and ready to go at the same or similar time. I'm feeling more and more like a short order cook these days. And to make matters worse, I don't know how to sit at the table with a two year old and enjoy a quiet dinner. She isn't chatting me up while we eat and I'm such a multi-tasker that it pains me to sit still, in silence, and watch her eat. I'm now getting really creative with our dinner conversations about the color of her foods and what she's eating and advising her on better ways to hold her spoon for less spillage down her chest. I'll admit, if Wheel of Fortune happens to be on during dinner, I'm not feeling too guilty for shifting her to the side of the table that has a view of the TV and using the contestants' letter choices as a learning too. Sometimes that's all my brain can handle after a long day at work. And she loves it when the puzzle gets solved and the contestants all clap. If only Pat Sajak would sing the alphabet at the end of the show...

Another theory is, in a restaurant full of strangers, Ada's in the spotlight. Being the social butterfly that she is, a meal out is her time to preform and she won't be confined to her seat. She's better when it isn't just Rick and I, as there are other people at the table for her to entertain. But when it is just the two of us, she can't wait to get out of the booth and work the room. In off times with tolerant fellow diners, that isn't as much of an issue. During the Saturday morning rush with hot coffee and distracted waitresses moving at the speed of light, it doesn't work so well. A fellow mom suggested we try distracting her with a bag of goodies and her favorite toys since the standard restaurant crayons and placemat aren't enough. We also try to order her food first and have it come out early so she has something to do while we wait.

Moral of the story: Mealtimes aren't easy and enjoying them at restaurants is even harder. Be prepared and know that you might just have to take it "to go".

Weird, Funny, Annoying and Disgusting

Weird, funny, annoying and disgusting things Ada has done this week:

Disgusting: I tossed the leftover frosting from a chocolate cake I had eaten the night before into our garbage can and used the side of the can to scrape off the fork. All was fine until Ada threw something away, saw the frosting and decided to have some--from the side of the garbage bag. I freaked out and quickly scrubbed her down and took the garbage out. Yuck.

Funny: On our walk home from day care on Thursday, we got to the corner by our house when Ada started screaming and pointing across the street. She's in a pointing phase now to communicate what she wants. And a bossy phase, but I digress. I waited for the street light to change and took her across the street only to have her walk up to the door of the ice cream shop and demand that I take her inside for a scoop. She must have been channeling a craving from BB in the belly because we all walked away happy. Oddly enough, we hadn't been to the ice cream shop in months due to my heartburn and crazy diet.

Weird: While on a walk yesterday, Ada picked up a small stick to carry. It wore out from her bending and swinging it so we quickly found another, more interesting stick with a good place to hold on to and several arching branches. She enjoyed it all the way around the block until we met up with a dog, I think he was a boxer, and he traded Ada a few kisses for the stick -- and then he devoured it. She found one final stick in front of our house and decided to bring it inside, and put it in her mouth just like the dog did. I washed it off, and her off, and now we have a pet stick.

Annoying: At nap time yesterday, I missed her "sleepy window" in order to feed her lunch. I should have just put her down and let her eat later but hindsight is 20/20. She refused to nap and when I thought she would just play quietly in her room, I laid down on the couch for a mini siesta myself. Twenty minutes later I awoke to her pink unicorn rocking horse on a repeat loop from hell "I'm a magical unicorn, I'm a, I'm a, I'm a magical unicorn..." as she kept pushing the button over and over and over, never letting it cycle through the whole song. I reacted like a grumpy bear by storming into her room, grabbing the unicorn by the handle at the side of its head and swinging it out of her room and into the hallway. GRRR. Then I gave up and let her lay on the couch with me until I woke up more properly five minutes later.

Weird: When I put her down for bed the other night, she refused to get into her toddler bed and insisted upon sleeping on the floor. She pulled down her pillow and blanket, grabbed her stuffed animals and laid down. At that point, I was too exhausted to care. I did warn Rick when he went in to get her the next morning not to step on her and sure enough, she was still lying on the floor in the middle of the room.

Funny: We had friends over for a BBQ last weekend and I cleaned the long mirror in our bedroom of all of the handprints at Ada's height. I didn't bother to clean the upper half of the mirror since I was cutting corners and knew it wasn't that dirty--after all, we don't eat a banana and then go dance in front of the mirror with sticky hands. When I looked at the mirror from an angle the next day, it was clear to see that I hadn't wiped the top down as it had a fine layer of dust adhered to the glass. Oops. At least we can see our legs and shoes clearly when we get dressed in the mornings.

Annoying: Trying to keep Ada from ruining things around the house is no easy task. Last week she was playing with the fireplace tools and I was fine with her using the broom tool since it was still new and had never been used. Then she moved on to the log grabber and scooted it across the cream part of the rug, revealing to me that it had indeed been used and was covered in black soot. That game ended fast and she is now banned from all touching of anything fireplace related. At least the soot came out with a little elbow grease and upholstery cleaner.

More Annoying: I'm a hawk about her and crayons as I've heard several horror stories of crayons and walls and all other surfaces really. She got crayon on her Easter dress and Grandma Ba miraculously got it all out. This time, she had the white crayon in hand and stroked it on the brown part of the rug before I could stop her (what are the odds?). I'll get around to cleaning that up this weekend hopefully.

Weird: She likes to taste the nuts in a trail mix and licks the ones she doesn't like, then leaves them on the floor or the table for you to throw away later. She also likes to dip french fries in ketchup or a sauce and then licks the sauce off and leaves the french fry on your plate. She's still a work in progress.

More Weird: Last night at dinner she poured salt onto the table from the shaker and then licked the table.

Disgusting: With her cough induced asthma, she's been throwing up a lot lately. That itself is gross. But the smell it leaves in your car even after you scrub the car seat is even worse.

Funny: In an attempt to make a cheese sauce for dinner to accompany a baked potato and steamed broccoli, I had a stick of butter in its wrapper sitting out on the counter. Ada grabbed it and took a bite out of it, through the packaging. I later found the chunk she spit it out lying on the floor. At least she didn't eat it.
Moral of the story: Each day that goes by with a child brings more surprises than you could ever imagine.

Maybe Not Allergies

Ada's date with the Doctoress went well yesterday. The current theory is that she likely doesn't have allergies, but instead has cough induced asthma--which can be aggravated by allergies. She has always had issues with colds lingering in her chest and nasty coughs that hang around. I must admit it was tough to hear the word asthma in her diagnosis. No one wants their child to have to worry about the simple act of breathing, which actually is quite complex. Growing up, my friends with asthma were delicate. Always carrying inhalers. Bringing a nebulizer to sleepovers or leaving early. Not being able to come over to play if their friends had pets. It was tough. Luckily, what Ada has isn't a full blown type of asthma, but it could one day turn into that. Hers is a spasm in her chest that causes her to cough like crazy and then throw up. It is typically worse at night and occasionally bad in the mornings. And we think it coincides with the change in seasons. Hopefully, five days of a drug the Doctoress prescribed should break the cycle she's been in for four weeks now. If this medicine, with a puff of her inhaler before bed doesn't help, then we will try a stronger allergy medicine. We've been trying Zyrtec for two weeks with no luck so plan B involves Singular, a prescription strength allergy medicine. If these attempts fail, then we'll draw blood to have it allergy tested and see what plan C will be.

Through all of this, I've got some guilt about living in the city since the air quality here isn't the best for people with allergies or asthma. Hopefully it won't be an issue and if it is, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

The best part of all of this is that Ada is acting normal and almost completely unbothered by this illness unless she is coughing or throwing up, both of which are rare and short lived. The solution is quick, easy and treatment thus far hasn't been expensive. And I'm so thankful that she isn't contagious since that would just wreck complete havoc on all of our lives.

I'm hopeful this will work and will be thankful when she isn't throwing up all over her bedding at 10 pm when Rick is working late and it's my job, as an uber pregnant mom with a 36 lb child covered in vomit, to get her into the tub, wash her hair, change her bedding, get a new set of pajamas, and start a load of laundry when all either of us want to do is get some sleep. I'm optimistic that the end of all that is near.

Moral of the story: It's great to have a family doctor that you see consistently. You can build trust in them, and they know your medical history so they can see the big picture and start with all of the relevant information to get a proper diagnosis.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dress For Success

I didn't know the term "Dress for Success" applied to toddlers until today.

Ada's in her toddler bed now and didn't want to go down for a nap. I was late putting her down so part of that is my fault. After a bit of a struggle, I forced her to lay down while I changed her diaper. Then I just shut the door and let her cry it out until she was ready to nap. It didn't take long since she missed a nap yesterday and was up late this weekend.

Three hours later, she woke up and called for me to come get her. I delayed so I could finish what I was working on and went in about five minutes after her initial cry when she started knocking on the door to be released. As I opened the door, she ran away as she always does. Looking after her, I noticed her pillows and diapers and a blanket strewn across the floor with the diaper drawer hanging wide open. At first I thought she had moved her nap to the floor of her room and made a fort. I picked up the diapers, put them away and as I was shuffling around on my knees, I noticed my pants were suddenly wet. Hmmm... that's odd. Then I started to really look around and noticed a diaper on the floor that I had missed. It was wet to the touch. Then I looked at Ada and she wasn't wearing a diaper. That's funny, she had one on at the beginning of her nap.

As far as I can tell, she stood up after her nap, thew the pillows on the floor, took off her diaper, peed on the floor, and then danced around until I came to get her. Completely my fault for delaying her release, and even more so for not putting pants on her after I changed her for her nap. Turns out, that layer of pants can be a major delay tactic for children who want to remove their diaper. Pants can also cause accidents during potty training due to that same delay so be sure to dress for success.

Moral of the story: Always put your child to bed with pants on so they can't easily unhook their diapers and pee all over their rooms -- unless that's what you're going for.

8 Weeks to go

Whenever anyone says the first child gets all the attention, it's true. Poor BB (baby boy #2) doesn't get anywhere near the attention Ada got in the womb. He does have more ultrasound pictures, but that's the only area in which he can compete -- and that's because our ultrasound tech admitted she goes nuts when giving the parents printouts of their babies. There are only a few images of me and my big pregnant belly. This being the most recent. Rick isn't rubbing lotion on the belly every night to prevent stretch marks like he did with Ada. He isn't talking to BB nearly as much. He isn't running over to feel every little kick and spin. And we aren't planning to get a ton of new stuff for BB so he's going to have to settle for hand-me-downs (don't worry, I've taken out the pink stuff, the tights, the skirts and the dresses).

That doesn't mean we'll love him any less than we love Ada. It just means that Ada is a diva and steals all of our attention. No. It really means that we aren't as stressed out and worried about the pregnancy process the second time around. It's easier. I'm not reading the pregnancy books every five seconds to see what I should be expecting. This time around, I know what to watch for and get concerned about, and the rest is just day to day life-- with a really big belly.

It also doesn't mean that I'm not comparing this whole process with how it was with Ada. I've already declared that he will be coming faster than she did, since that's how it typically happens, but otherwise I am expecting him to cooperate in the deliver room just as she did. I'm complaining about being more sore this time around and wishing my round ligament pain would go away or lessen, and it has finally. Surely I got bigger faster, or I'm telling myself that just so I feel better. I started feeling kicks sooner and find them more annoying than awesome. They got annoying with Ada too but were much more exciting for much longer. My belly button sticks out now and it never did with Ada. The heartburn is worse this time around. And the leg and foot cramps I thought I might avoid with BB, just kicked in this past week, to my utter disappointment.

Then there are the cravings I'm having for chocolate and cookies. Ada wanted fruit and swore me off chocolate for the duration of my pregnancy. Neither are bad cravings to have but I will say I sure am enjoying the chocolate.
I'm hoping BB follows in Ada's footsteps once he gets here. And I'll do my best to make sure he doesn't feel slighted by being #2. Surely there will be benefits to his birth order at some point in his life -- like Ada paving the way and making us a heck of a lot more calm for his turn.
Moral of the story: The more children you have, the less attention they get paid. Try your best to be fair and love them all the same.

Coin Management

At the end of each day, Rick empties his pockets out onto the top of his dresser. Eventually the pile gets to be such a mess of papers and receipts and coins and pocket lint and dry cleaner tags that I go over and clean it up or he gets around to sorting it out and tossing out the junk.

What really gets me is the build up of coins. I like to sort out the quarters for when we do laundry in the machines downstairs and put the rest into Ada's college fund jar until we can get to the bank to deposit them. Today, in lieu of opening the top of the "College Fund" jar and dumping them in, I gave her a task. Turns out she is the perfect little coin manager. I tried to get her to count to ten as she dropped them in but she was busy listening to the "clink" sound they made upon hitting the bottom of the bottle. And she really enjoys shaking the jar when she's done. I'm thinking this might become a monthly ritual, or even a nightly ritual when Rick comes home so we have one less pile to sort on his dresser.
Moral of the story: It's never too early to teach your child money management skills. Just be sure the coins don't end up in her mouth.

The Budding Photographer

If she can learn how to keep her fingers away from the lens and sit still long enough to get the camera in focus... she just might have a chance at making this work.She got some tips from Great Uncle Steve...But I'm still working with her on how to hold it so that she looks like a professional.We'll get there. It might take awhile but we'll get there.

Moral of the story: Teaching children anything is best done in baby steps, with a lot of time and patience.

The A & W Band

We had a BBQ this past weekend and our friends' son Will came over to entertain Ada. Somehow he found her drum set and they ended up forming a band. "The Purple Baby Doll" could be in the running for a band name as it is Will's all time favorite of Ada's toys. We might have to recruit a few more kids from the neighborhood unless this is just going to be a percussion band... we'll see. They've got some time to develop their talents. They didn't have time to focus on dinner though. Too much to do and see and play with. Eating is overrated apparently.
Moral of the story: The loudest toys are always the first to be found by playmates.

Silverware or Chopsticks?

Ada saw me eat with chopsticks for the first time last week. I grabbed some veggie sushi rolls from the local supermarket for lunch. They looked much better than they really were but that's okay. I didn't think anything of using the chopsticks until she stole them from my hand and tried them out herself...on a grape of all things.

I give her major points for creativity as she held the chopsticks in her right hand, the grape in her left hand, put the grape next to the chopsticks and shoved it into her mouth. Not bad for her first attempt. Now if I could just get her to use her silverware...

Moral of the story: Two-year-olds tend to be copy cats with everything you do. Beware as this may be cute, or problematic.