Sunday, December 19, 2010

Yup, I'm a mom...

Tonight Phillip and I went Christmas shopping. We left the house at 9pm! It was one of the smartest decisions I've ever made. Easy parking spots, stores that are open late, not a lot of people, and no lines at the check out. First stop, Macy's.

I was Christmas shopping...for myself ;) I needed a new brassiere in a bad way. Due to the baby in utero my "milk makers" have grown at an astounding rate. And for anyone who knows me personally, this kinda astounds me. Well I went in to get measured because I had actual shopping to do and didn't want to mess around. I just needed a bigger bra to get me through the next three months when I'll switch over to the oh so sexy nursing bras.

I told the clerk why I needed to get measured, what I was looking for and quipped "I think I'm even bigger this time around than when I was pregnant the first time." As I took off my sweatshirt and started taking off my sweater she casually asked-Is your first kid about 2 or 3?

Why yes, she is. How did she know.

The clerk then nicely pointed out "because you have stickers all over your shirt." That's right, I had four smiley face stickers across the top of my sweater and one about my belly button on the baby bump for good measure.

Yup, I'm a mom.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pregnancy Tidbits

I'm 28 1/2 weeks pregnant and feeling great. My sciatica has eased off a bit which is quite a relief.
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My feet have grown and this annoys me. I now wear a size 10, up from a 9 1/2. I wonder if they will shrink after the birth.
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I have an appointment with a midwife tomorrow and could not be more excited. I really wanted to use a midwife and do home birth with Sophia but there were a lot of factors that ultimately led us to sticking with our OB and having Sophie in the hospital.

I'm looking forward to having this baby in the water, at home, and recuperating in my own bed. The only thing I might miss from the hospital is the food. They had really good food. But my mom will be in town so I think I'll be fine. As long as she makes more rice krispie treats for me to eat post delivery!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

This past weekend Sophie and I had some much needed and well deserved Mommy/Sophie time. We set out to make some Christmas Carolers and it was a blast. Sophie loves to paint and as long as I have a good set of directions, I can be pretty crafty. I realize when working on a project of this sort with a toddler you have to let some things roll. You can't be a perfectionist and need to let their personality and "artistic design" shine through in what you are doing. You can't touch up their mistakes or finish up where they left off. Just let them do what they want and help with the rest. This is what memories are made of!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Perils of a working mom

On my way to work this morning I received a phone call from my husband. It was 7:05 am. "We're a bit cranky this morning, I want to try something."

On the line comes a sweet, tired, tiny, "hello" from Sophia. I tried asking questions-how she slept, if she'd seen Hat (our Elf on the Shelf), if she was going to be good for Papa. She responded with small "yeses" and told me she loved me - "Wuv you too mama."

Great. Phillip came back on the line and I asked "Did she ask for me this morning?" Yes. This was after a night in which we went to sleep in my bed, Phillip tried to move her, she insisted on getting back into bed with me, Phillip was going to sleep on the couch, I convinced her to sleep in her bed with my pillow. And, because I'm on overnight duty in the dorm I won't see her until tomorrow and be gone again tomorrow night.

I was then in tears. I'm sure that's not the outcome Phillip had hoped for. One of us may have felt comforted, but the other feels a heartache greater than you can imagine.

How much income can we live on? Is there another way to manage the joys and sorrows of being a working mother? All I wanted to do was turn the car around and go home to my sweet baby girl. I'm pretty sure she misses me as much as I miss her during the day.

What are you doing in there?!?

I would love to have an ultrasound machine at my disposal at all times. This kiddo in utero does more maneuvering than someone trying to do a three point turn. She is sitting very low and flips and flops all morning. I sit far out from my desk just like I ate my third Thanksgiving meal!

I don't recall Sophia being quite this active. It is so weird to feel her moving around a lot of times I can't sit up straight because it feels like I'm not giving her enough room to move!

Sophia has only felt the baby move once and didn't seem too impressed. Now that I'm at the point where you can see the baby move perhaps she'll be more interested in her baby sister.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Best Friends helping a pregnant lady out

I received the best email the other day.

I believe I was queried in an email string with my best girlfriends about how I was feeling, if I'm anxious about delivery, how things are coming along preparing for baby #2, etc. I'm lucky having a girl in March since Sophie was born in April-I really don't need a lot of "stuff." All the clothes will be the right size/right season, the gear is still in good shape, and hand-me-downs and sharing will be the wave of the future for baby Emma. All we really need is a crib and new diapers! I want a glider and nursing stool (footrest really) for breastfeeding more comfortably this time around. The only challenge to this is organizing the closet and dresser and sifting through countless vacuum storage bags to find the 0-3, 3-6, 6-9 month clothing.

In January my girls are heading east to DC for our annual Diva Weekend since I'm on the no fly list in the third trimester. We are secluding ourselves in a hotel room, wining, dining, and being girls for three days. Doing anything baby related was the furthest thing from my mind. Until I received this email:
To Twobraids:

We, the undersigned, submit a proposal to you for review regarding the
weekend in January when we come to visit.

We, your fellow Bobcats, Divas, and General Goofballs, propose to come
to your residence and empty the contents of Baby Closet, clean and
sanitize the assorted Baby Toys That Got Put In Sophie's Mouth, sort
the diapers, clothes, and other surprises contained within the
structure, and embark on a journey to make a lovely pregnant woman and
fabulous mommy less stressed.

We further have agreed to re-establish organization within said
closet, taking care to label and package everything in a way that
suits Twobraids, a.k.a. ask Momma, Wife, Nurse, Friend, Goddess.

Your prompt reply is most appreciated.

Sincerely
B-P-Mc-R Inc., LLC., etc.

This is the greatest second baby gift ever! I don't think the girls know what they are getting themselves into, but they'll find out soon enough!

Monday, December 06, 2010

It's beginning to look like Christmas....

I guess all I needed was a weekend to make the Christmas season feel like Christmas. This past weekend we had the Brown Family Christmas extravaganza! The tree came in the house with a special present from Santa, Elf on the Shelf, tucked in the boughs.

After unearthing all of my Christmas decoration boxes and remembering that lights need to go on before ornaments, all of our light strands were dead. Phillip and Sophie headed to the hardware store on Friday night while I took a busload of high school girls to see a local drive through holiday lights display. We even saw a few snow flurries.

Turns out the second strand of lights in the two strand set was also a dud-but when he returned them they just gave him a new duo of lights! Three strands for the price of two.

We went to the Warrenton Christmas parade and then ran a bunch of errands all over town. We returned home, decorated the tree, finished putting out the other decorations, started making Christmas cookies and candy, listened to music and read some of my favorite Christmas books. My beloved "beagle Christmas" sweatshirt and Christmas socks were taken out of hiding too. Don't worry, I only wear my crazy beagle lady sweatshirt in the privacy of my own home!

So the spirit is getting me. Slowly but surely it's all coming together and I'm feeling better about this magical time of year. Hopefully photos will follow tomorrow. Now it's time to dream of sugarplums!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Christmas is coming...

And I'm just not feeling it yet.

I have a toddler and feel like Christmas should just be pouring out of me as I watch her delight in the joys of the season. But instead I feel like it's just another day, just another time.

We bought our tree in North Carolina-where all good Christmas trees come from ;) It drove 11 hours on top of the car and listened to Sophie ask over and over "Where tree?" But it is still sitting outside on the porch.

We rearranged some of the furniture in our living room last night to accommodate the tree but that only reminded me of how small our place is and that the clutter that seems to be everywhere is everywhere because I don't have any other damn place to put it!

I love the celebration of Advent and expectation of Christmas and all that it represents-birth, renewal, joy, family, giving. But I'm nearly a week behind on that too because I have yet to unearth our advent wreath, candles, and prayer book.

I had hoped to make an Advent calendar but at this point should just skip it or buy the one from Wegmans with chocolate candy inside!

I just want to feel it. Feel the magic and looking at Christmas through MY child's eyes. But it all seems so distant to me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

As each generation of parents learn-kids don't need fancy toys. A laundry basket and a belt make a great "ride."
We added the helmet after a little harmless spill, just in case.


By the way, they also don't need new sparkly toys and teddy bears. She has recently adopted Phillip's Ted E. Bear, as her own.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Discipline Done Wrong

As most of us know being a parent is the toughest job we will ever do and there is no single right way to do it nor is there any sort of actual instruction guide. We just blindly do what we think is right, deal with situations on the fly, perhaps refer to a book written by a doctor or "professional" and hope our kid or ourselves doesn't end up in therapy.

The one thing I do know that is right...is that we are doing it wrong.

The bed time issue that I have talked about numerous times on here and even Not Raising Brats was kind enough to seek advice for me, has turned into a nightmare. And Phillip and I are realizing we both are at odds with one another in how to handle the situation and the correct way to discipline Sophie and correct the behavior.

We aren't coming to blows with one another about the issue but we are doing things two different ways which is causing it's own conflict. Here's the deal:

Most evenings, regardless of who pick's Sophie up from daycare, we are at the house around 5:45p.m. Dinner is being prepped or cooked by 6 p.m., we are eating and cleaning up between 6:30 or 7:00 p.m. Then the bedtime preparations begin.

Some nights we get protest other nights the bath part goes smoothly but everything else falls apart. I'm trying to get Sophie to bed (like in bed, kisses given, books read, lights out) by 8 p.m.

The average adult who doesn't hate kids should realize that 2 hours with your offspring just isn't enough time. So what this had lead to several times of the past few weeks is a complete meltdown-for Sophie and Mama. I'm fighting with Sophie to take her bath or wash her hair. Then we are fighting to get a pull-up and her jammies on. Then we are fighting over how many books to read.

The night I started writing this post I had given Sophie a "sink-bath" and when it was time to get out she protested. I stood my ground and got her out of the sink. She only wanted to play more. So after a tantrum to and from her bedroom, some attempted intervention from Phillip, I just gave in and put her back in the sink. This was at 8 p.m. This wasn't just a simple disagreement. It was a battle of wills. She was screaming, I was screaming, Phillip was now trying to step calmly out of the situation. As Sophie gleefully played with bubbles in the sink I bawled on the floor-so exhausted and clueless about how to really handle the situation.

We finally got Sophie out of the sink, in her PJs, and ready for bed. At this point I was so upset at myself for treating her the way I did and I knew she would continue the fight once it was actually time for her to get in bed we let her sleep with me for a while. I went to bed with her at 8:30p.m. or so.

This leads to the second complication of this whole ordeal. I've been up since 5 a.m., at work and in traffic all day, exhausted, haven't seen Phillip or even decompressed and then I'm going to bed early to appease Sophie and let sleep take care of my problems. All very counter productive.

So this is what I'd like to know: how do YOU deal with discipline? Phillip tries to be firm and set the boundaries but I'm so exhausted and don't have the time nor energy to deal I just given in. We are working at odds with one another.

What do you do? What tricks have you learned? What books written by experts have you read that have helped?

*I started this post on 11/5. Since then we have had less struggles but haven't resolved how to deal with disciplining a 2.5 year old.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Random Tidbits

Please suggest your favorite pair of maternity jeans. I have two pairs that I hate this time around. A full panel pair from Old Navy that cuts into me where the panel meets the jean. A pair from Motherhood Maternity with a demi panel and the panel rolls and I'm constantly pulling them up.
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Sophie can now say "more" in sign language. It's so cute to watch her concentrate and put her hands together, fingers facing each other, and requesting "more." I'm bummed I didn't try harder to teach her "baby sign language" when she was younger but now that she is learning it at pre-school she should be able to help with teaching the baby!
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Sophie used the potty three times on Saturday and three times on Sunday! She reverted back to her "old" floor model potty instead of the seat that goes on the toilet but I don't care. She used the POTTY! Please, Lord, let this continue. I'm sick of buying Pull-ups.
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We are still indecisive about a name for Baby # 2. Would you like to weigh in?
Emma Louise (or Louisa for all options) Cann
Emma Louise Johnson
Emma Louise Kelly
Emma Louise Bache
Emma Louise Larson
Emma Louise Marie

Monday, November 01, 2010

October in Review

I think October is my favorite month of the year. Some warm days, some cool days, and some down right cold days that make me long for winter and fires in the fireplace.

I love the changing colors of the trees, snuggling into bed, and the hype of Halloween and those other holidays that follow but seem to be closer and closer each year.

We started the month off with a trip to the Bob Evans Farm Festival in Rio Grande, Ohio. This is an event my family has been involved with for decades and always feels like a homecoming for me. I'm glad I finally got to share this with Phillip and Sophia.

Sophia and I shared time together in the kitchen making cupcakes and decorating them. A multitude of fall and Halloween themed artwork came home from preschool/daycare. We all carved pumpkins and reaped the rewards of roasted pumpkin seeds (the only pumpkin by-product I enjoy!

My only disappointment was trick or treat. First of all, this was the first year we actually dressed Sophia up for Halloween. She did have a duck costume her first year but only wore it for daycare. We didn't take her out for trick or treat-it felt like we would have been begging the candy!

So Sophia got dressed up in her Fire Chief costume and headed out with Phillip down our quiet street. About five minutes later there was a knock and entrance (which scared the crap out of me) into the house. They had returned empty handed. She didn't like the dark and all the dark houses. About ten minutes later Sophie decided to venture out again. And returned shortly there after. I think I was more disappointed then she was. I was disappointed that our street sucks and there wasn't much trick or treat activity, disappointed that she didn't "get" trick or treat and want to adventure to the houses, and maybe disappointed that she didn't get any Reese's cups for me to steal.

I was also disappointed that we only had a total of six trick or treaters at our house! Good thing I love TOOTSIE Rolls! And that I only bought one MEGA bag of them at Target.

Eventually our neighbors stopped by with their adorable Jelly Fish and Pumpkin. He was extremely apologetic that he didn't give us the inside scoop as to where in our neighborhood to take Sophie for Halloween fun.

Oh well, hopefully next year will be better and we'll all venture out in some ridiculously clever family costume. And have enough sugar to rot our teeth!

At any rate, October was great. Enjoy the October slide show.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

I may not get all the housework done in a given weekend but I think I've figured out how to get some help around here!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Name Game

Now that we know we are having a girl we have to come up with a name. If it were to be a boy this would be a non-conversation. We've had a boy name picked out since before Sophia was even a glimmer in our eyes.

Phillip and I only want to use family names for our children. We have a lot of great, unique names to choose from. The problem with that is that we want to use them all!-Without becoming the next TLC family reality TV show.

We have already determined that our kids will have two middle names so we can get a lot of mileage out of our list of possibilities. But with this kiddo we are having a difficult time agreeing. I have chosen a name that incorporates two names from my side of the family and the second middle name from Phillip's side. It is just noting ringing clear for him.

This morning he called me with a solution: his side first name, my two names, his side THIRD middle name, Brown. Really? Can you see her filling out her college applications and getting a hand cramp? Or carpel tunnel from so much typing.

So how many names is too many?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Boy did I get that wrong...

We had our 20 week sonogram yesterday. Friends and co-workers have seemed to be hyper with anxiety about when we would find out the sex of our second born. I think I've been asked more "when are you finding out?" than "when are you due?"

From the moment the home pregnancy test indicated we were pregnant I have thought we were going to have a boy. People speculated based on my bump it was going to be a boy. The heart rate has consistently been in the 140's sometimes indicating a boy and I haven't craved sweets nearly like I did with Sophia.

So finally the ultrasound tech finishes all the necessary measurements and gets the baby to move in such a position that we can determine "pink" or "blue." My woman's intuition and "mommy radar" were way off...well 50% off any ways.

We are having another GIRL!

The first thing I said to Phillip was that we needed to start saving for another wedding! But in the meantime we would be saving a lot of money- I certainly don't have to buy any clothes! And because Sophie was a spring baby the "season" of the clothing is pretty much spot on. We of course will make up for the savings now when we have two girls in high school at the same time needing new fall looks, homecoming and prom dresses, new shoes, new purses.....

Now we just need to think of a name!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

Grilling over hardwood lump charcoal? A delicious meal.

Mowing with a push mower? Beautiful manicured lawn.

Having your daughter help you mow the lawn via riding lawn mower? Priceless.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Toddler Thursday

Thank goodness there are two days in the week that start with the letter T so my alliteration still works! I missed Tuesday so today we have Toddler Thursday!

Sophie isn't always sans pants, button pushing, "terrible two" toddler. Some days she is down right helpful. She loves to help do the dishes, set the table, and has even given the feather duster and Swiffer a go. This is a good thing!

Tuesday she helped me unload the dishwasher and even reached into the sink to put the dirty dishes into the washer (even the things I hand wash-I sorted those back out later.) Being careful to use "two hands" on each glass or coffee mug.

I hope this trend of being truly helpful continues when the baby comes. It could be a lifesaver.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Pushing my buttons

How is it that a toddler in their short life knows how to push our buttons? Did they memorize things that drive us crazy while in utero so they would know how to play the game when they arrived?

Last night I'm pretty sure Sophie was thinking to herself "Watch this tall people, I'm going to push mom to the edge."

I had a friend over for dinner. Sophie and I sat on the booth side of the table while Phillip and "Aunt Bec" sat in chairs across from us. Sophie decided sometime before dinner that she didn't want to wear a pull-up, only her princess unders, and no pants. Of course she did...we had company. And to complete the ensemble she had on a pj top.

So while we were eating she refused to sit or kneel at the table. This drives me crazy because she likes to walk the length of the bench instead of eat dinner. While casually standing there she lifted her shirt exposing her "booboos." This made Phillip less than thrilled. He sternly said "Sophie, put your shirt down! You look like white trash." And then what did Sophie choose to repeat? "White trash." I wish you could have heard it!

Sophie continued to test my patience and not sit down. So I tried to be stern and told her to "SIT DOWN! This isn't funny!" What did Sophie say about that? "This isn't funny."

How could you not laugh after that? I was a puddle of tears and laughter. All my tough mommy-ness went flying out the window.

At this point I had enough and told her it was time for her bath. She initially agreed but quickly changed her mind. While naked, wet, and soapy from head to toe she fought me to get out of the tub. Soap or not, she wanted out. I had to hold her in with one arm while scrubbing with the other. The bath couldn't have been more than five minutes. Once I was done, and Phillip had come in for reinforcement, we wrestled her out of the tub only to continue to wail and flail and demand to get BACK IN THE TUB! Really? Is this a test? Did God put you up to this to see how strong we are as parents?

After running rampant naked and wet for a few minutes she demanded to be let back into the bathroom. Phillip hollered at me to stay strong and not give in. I went the easy route and opened the bathroom door. She wanted back in the tub. I put her in, she got her feet soapy from the remaining bubbles, and then immediately wanted out. Really? So I lifted her out and she was disturbed by the soapy feet but generally heading toward calm. Holy moly that is a willful child.

She pushed all the buttons but I think I won. I didn't loose my temper! And you would think this continued into bed time...but it was more like "Don't let the door hit you on the way out ma!"

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

Upon returning home from work I usually shuck my pants and put on "comfy" pants...aka my pajama pants. I've done this for a long time and generally like to say it's just because I'm pregnant and way more comfortable! Sophie has started to follow suit. With the pajama pants usually comes another shirt and who knows what else...

Tractor socks, crocs, and my winter hat of course. Why not blow bubbles in your pjs?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Father Daughter Day

For a little extra moolah I'm working in the dorm of the school that I work at 9-5. It's a pretty easy gig (minus a pregnant mother of a toddler having to stay up until MIDNIGHT) and I only have to do it five times a year. Truth be told, it's a nice break from the regular commute, commute, commute routine. I don't like being away from Sophie and Phillip and it's really hard on Friday's because I don't get to see Sophie for even one minute.

What I really like about it is that it provides a lot of time for Phillip and Sophie to have good quality Papa/Sophie time. He does it all from meals, bath time, tantrums, errands, and of course, lots of fun.

Today they headed out to a historical miniatures show. Sounds boring to me but for Phillip and Sophie it meant model trains and planes, toy soldiers, tanks and so much more. She could hardly wait to see the choo-choos! I talked to them shortly before they were heading home and Sophie was painting a horse. You could over hear her in the background as Phillip and I spoke "ut oh, Sophie paint Papa." So cute. She came home with a mounted horse painted pink, purple, green and blue and green arm on the back of her arm to match.

They have such a good time riding in "Papa's Big ol' truck" and going places together. A little while ago while we were saying our good nights he told me just how much he loves having a daughter and loves having a two year old daughter! She is so cute but also curious and skeptical and finds wonder in so many things. I'm so glad he gets such good quality time with her without me to interrupt that magic.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Toddler Tuesday

On a lot of the momblogs I read bloggers often have "Silent Sunday" or "Wordless Wednesday" where they only post a photo to tell the story. I've decided to start to post "Toddler Tuesday" photos of things only a toddler would do!

So here she is, sans pants, pushing her grocery cart and ball, donning an Elmo bag and what you don't see is that she was whizzing around between rooms in a circle. At times, the cart was on two wheels!

Lice update

We did the whole RID Lice treatment. And she had 3 shampoos yesterday! I hope her hair doesn't fall out.

After much intense, academic, through internet research we don't think it is Lice after all. We didn't find any nits or other lice after all the cleanings and combings. And looking at a lot of gross photos online the bug we saw was black and round. Not white or reddish brown and oval.

We are keeping a vigilant eye but I think we are in the clear. However, there was a bug in her hair. And we've had the exterminator to our house 3 times! How can any bug still be alive in there?

Monday, September 06, 2010

When life hands you lemons...

It's a good thing I love lemonade!

This is not a pity party but more of just stating where life is at the moment. And it seems when one not so fun thing happens we are on the door steps of another not fun thing.

The house we are renting isn't a slum but some days it feels like it. Since moving in one month ago we have had the exterminator out three times, a plumber and "handy man" visit three or four times, actually had the work done earlier this week to the tune of $1400 dollars (thank god the landlord foots that bill), a new refrigerator put in, and we are waiting for the delivery of the new washer/dryer.

Our twenty-something hood rat neighbors are moving out as I type. And thank god for that.

We frequently hear them coming in at 3 and 4 a.m., banging, clanging, slamming doors and my favorite, a litany of insults and expletives "f-this, f-that, f-you" at any given time of the day. I hope the girlfriend got the hint and has left that relationship. The problem with them coming and going at all hours of the night is that their bedrooms must be directly under ours and they often wake Sophie up. As if it wasn't easy enough for me to get her to sleep! Luckily, she will go back to sleep but it is such a disruption to her sleep schedule and I'm less than thrilled at what she can hear through the floor boards.

Last night she was wide awake because of them and so we let her in our bed. Two grown adults, one with an expanding belly, a beagle that takes up as much room as a great dane and a toddler...not quality sleep for most of us except the dog I imagine. This morning when we got up Sophie's hair was one helluva mess. Knots, tangles, the works. If she wants dreadlocks at any point she's well on her way. So I convinced her that if she sat still and let me comb the rat's nest she would get a treat from the "treat bag." (Ahh, bribery.) Well upon combing there was a small black bug in her hair. I thought it was a tick but is quickly moved and we couldn't find it again. Today's "ah shit" moment? Lice.

So off to CVS Phillip went. Thank god the lice treatment is a Flex Spending item because we barely have enough cash to make it to the next payday. The instructions say to wash the hair with the medicated shampoo and leave it on for 10 minutes! And the person being shampooed needs to tightly close their eyes and put a towel over the eyes to protect them from the shampoo. Are you kidding me? She's two and a half! This was like torture. So off came my pants and into the tub I went holding the towel to her eyes and singing any song I could to distract her. 10 minutes is a long...........time with a toddler.

A lice treatment is a three step process and has to be repeated in 7-10 days. The good thing is that I don't actually thing she has lice. We didn't see any more bugs or nits when cleaning and combing. Wheww...

Phillip is currently at the laundromat. Did you know one load of laundry take 5 DOLLARS to do? I don't think we had that much in quarters so a little more money siphoned off the diminishing checking account. I'm glad my Mom suggested that we bill the landlord for the laundry since we are currently with out a washer and dryer.

So that's been our past few weeks. I am glad that we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, bills paid, and clothing on our backs but damn it's hard sometimes. And right now I can only have lemonade, no vodka and lemonade!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Balancing Act

For any family, regardless if there is a stay at home parent, two working parents, a single parent, or two work at home parents when you have a family it becomes a balancing act. You can't live as carefree as you did in your newlywed, no kid, days. Meals have to be planned, pick up and drop offs covered, schedules confirmed.

I think I have done an okay job balancing all of the responsibilities of being a mom, a wife, and a woman but I know I could improve. Due to my long and early commute Phillip takes Sophia to and from daycare. This will get a little tricky this year because day care is closer to home where as the previous two years it was very close to Phillip's work. Add in a change of schedule for me, by an hour in the morning and afternoon but coupled with a later commute on both ends has the potential to add 30 minutes to an hour to my commute each way.

I want to find time to learn how to knit again. I want Phillip to have time to do the things he enjoys and I want more time for date nights. All of this is like a complex orchestral piece. So my question is:

How do YOU balance all your roles without wearing yourself out?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Whirlwind

The past few weeks have been such a whirlwind. Let's recap:
Gallbladder attack June 18
6th wedding anniversary June 26
Pregnant July 4
Husband out of town and a concert July 10
Vacation July 14-23
Move July 31/Aug. 1
Mom in town helping for 10 days
Unpacking, doctors appointments and a friend in town.

Fill in work, commuting, regular family duties and tell me when I have down time. I can't figure out if I'm exhausted from go, go, going or the pregnancy.
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This time around I have felt nauseous and dizzy on a regular basis. You can bet at 9am and 6pm I'm not feeling well. Luckily I don't throw up but I am amazed at women who deal with this for all 40 weeks all day!

I haven't taken "bump" pictures each week like I did with Sophie and that makes me a little sad but I still have 30 weeks to hop on that bandwagon.
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I had an ultrasound last week and everything appears to be going well. Our little squirt waved at us and had a heartbeat of 160bpm. Sophie is still clueless. Ignorance is bliss!
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Sophie is doing great. She has taken to changing outfits multiple times a day and seems to prefer "comfy pants" like her mom. PJs often get swapped out for regular play clothes during the day. She also loves to wear her and my winter hats and a tutu that came with a pair of jammies with any outfit!
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Her vocabulary has expanded 10 fold in the past few months. Here is a sampling:
Yes, please.
Pakistan.
I coming! (usually said as I enter the bathroom.)
Read books.
Sophie help.
and mimicking me "Thank you honey."

She is mostly sweet with a two year old tantrum here and there.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Plans

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." -Robert Burns
"If you want to make God laugh tell him your plans."
"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us."-John Steinbeck

I'm sure I could find a million quotes about plans, planning, and plans that go vastly different from how WE plan our day or our life. Which ever one I choose to sum up this feeling of "nothing going as we planned" would be the perfect quote. Because really, nothing ever does happen exactly as we plan.

On my wedding day (which for most women we plan to a meticulous T) the priest forgot that a friend of mine was going to sing during communion. There she stood ready to belt out "All the Beauty of the Earth" and then not a note.

We were trying to buy a house this year but a multitude of factors stood in our way and here we are renting again.

And imagine my surprise on the morning of July 4, when Phillip woke me up and I casually told him "I'm going to pee on a stick. I haven't gotten my period yet." With about as much excitement as "I'm going to go buy a gallon of milk." I assumed I was late because of stress of finding a new place to live, anticipating gall bladder surgery in a few weeks. So imagine my extreme surprise when the blinking timer on the digital pregnancy test suddenly flashed to "pregnant."

June was the one month we hadn't been actively pursuing pregnancy. January-May we tried, I charted my temperatures, I prayed to become pregnant. And each month I was disappointed by the arrival of my period or a negative pregnancy test. In June we didn't stop trying but I let my guard down. I stopped charting mid-month. Stopped obsessing about it. Stopped thinking of what I was doing right or wrong and stopped trying. Well surprise, surprise.

My first thought wasn't excitement though. I cried, scared to death because a few weeks prior I went to the emergency room for extreme stomach pain and learned I have gall stones. They doped me up with dilaudid, a heavy duty pain medication. Then I had several rounds of antibiotics, a prescription for pain medication in case of another attack and I didn't eat for 28 hours. When then asked me in the hospital if I was or could possibly be pregnant I brushed it off with a nonchalant "I don't think so."

Next was shock. I really couldn't believe it. Since my miscarriage in October 2009 I've been a bit freaked out that I would have problems getting pregnant. Irrational, I know, but I also know more friends that are dealing with IF and it scares me.

I am eager to call my OB tomorrow and the Dr. who is scheduled to remove my gall bladder. I want to make sure my casual response in the hospital didn't harm the baby inside me. Then I'm eager to call my parents and siblings!

Now, it is 5 weeks later. I'm 10 weeks along....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health and Nutrition

When we started Sophia on solid foods I was very particular about when, how, and what to feed her. Our family doctor encouraged us to breastfeed as long as possible and family and friends where surprised to hear that the doctor recommended exclusively breastfeeding for a year before introducing her to solids of any sort. I was successful for eight months. Due to a variety of factors my milk supply was plummeting, Sophie was exhibiting signs of wanting to start solids and we thought it was time too. So over Christmas vacation she had her first bite of "real" food-organic sweet potatoes and organic bananas. She went zero to sixty on solids and sixty to zero on breast milk. There was no gradual weaning off the breast but more like a sudden stop.

The world of solid foods was exciting and scary. This generation of parents has so much to think about when it comes to feeding their family-organic or not, homemade or prepared and packaged, allergies and intolerances. I knew/know I am not a great eater-I try but not hard enough. I loved to eat kettle chips and DQ Blizzards during my pregnancy! But I was/am determined to teach my daughter and thus myself and family better eating habits.

I made all of Sophie's first foods. Picking up fresh and often organic veggies from the grocery store or farmer's market, cooking, pureeing, freezing little cubes of sweet potatoes, collard greens, macaroni and peas with cheese dishes, mango, avocados. Many things I wouldn't have touched with a ten-foot pole! Now that Sophie is older I still try to balance her meals with vegetables, fruit, dairy, whole grains, limited fats, protein, and limited sugar.

Being a toddler her palate fluctuates in terms of what she "likes" or "doesn't like" and that more depends on her disposition that day than what she is actually responding to taste wise! Last week I found this article on MSNBC about restaurant offerings for the under 5 set. It is a helpful list of "eat this, not that" especially as many of us gear up to hit the road this summer on family vacation. It was eye opening to see the fat and calories in some of the seemingly "safe" choices.

Meanwhile in my quest for healthy, family friendly meals I found this blog.

Additionally, if you read Parent's Magazine a new monthly column called Simple Suppers featuring the minimalist Mark Bittman who wrote How to Cook Everything. (My copy of the book is splattered with oil, water, flour, and other kitchen stains from so much use!

If you are looking for a non-restaurant easy to travel and eat option. I suggest Sprout Foods. They are purees that even my toddler will eat, come in a resealable pouch, don't need to be refrigerated or heated and boost balanced nutrition and organic components. We also love Buddy Fruit for an on the go, easy to eat, mess free fruity treat.

Happy and Healthy Eating!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A good babysitter is hard to come by

Since my husband works in a high school we have a handful of babysitters at our disposal. During the summer while he facilitates several weeks of summer camp we opt to take Sophie out of her regular daycare and keep her at home with a sitter. We usually have a handful of young women who know Sophie, have babysat her before, and are looking for steady summer work. This year I think we have hit the jackpot!

Sophie's new sitter has babysat for us one other time. She came early, wrote down everything they did and ate over the two or three hours we were gone. Phillip and I were impressed. The only flub was that she put Sophie's diaper on backwards. An interesting feat on a kid that weights 32lbs. and squirms during diaper changes.

Sunday we invited her over to the house to review the weekly routine, eating, napping, playtime, diapering. I prepared a daily routine info sheet and emergency contacts for her just in case.

She arrived 20 minutes early. When I returned home she presented me with a detailed list of everything they did that day complete with times-breakfast, riding the tricycle, books, clean up time, nap, snacks, Elmo. I went to Sophie's room to change her diaper and was caught off guard when the door was shut. I walked in and was shocked. I asked if Phillip had cleaned Sophie's room before he left for work. He denied it. Our babysitter cleaned Sophie's room. Her room is the one space I don't mind being a bit out of sorts because it is where all her toys are. Her room hasn't been this clean since before she was born!


She brought us homemade chocolate chip cookies. There were no dirty dishes to wash and no clean dishes to put away. No wonder people have nannies!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The accidental garden

This has nothing to do with kids. It has to do with my accidental garden.

Phillip is the green thumb of the Brown household. Tending to several indoor plants with TLC, plant fertilizer made out of fish (ewww) but high in nutrients. Our outdoor plants are sometimes deliberate, sometimes not.

We have a hard time throwing out potted plants after their prime. Preferring instead to trim back the wilted growth, let the bulb lie dormant and see what happens next year. It seems this is our luck this year.

Last year we had a small patch of herbs off the deck. Two types of parsley, oregano, basil, and rosemary. We used all of the basil. The parsley grew and grew and grew and eventually had to be trimmed back. After the harsh winter it appeared nothing was left. We never used the oregano. To our delight and surprise the parsley and oregano has grown back and reseeded itself in my two planters that once housed inpatients.

I was pleasantly surprised by purple iris that I have no recollection of every owning as bulbs or planting. And just yesterday an Easter Lilly that Phillip must have given me three or four Easter's ago has bloomed yet again.

Our biggest surprise? The pumpkin that is growing in a planter we have used for tomatoes and basil and has rich composted soil. I think when cleaning out our utility room last year we came across open seeds and on a whim tossed them into the planter. I guess we won't have to visit the pumpkin patch this year!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Scary parenting moments, Part 1

Being a parent is no doubt the most difficult job in the world. Yet millions of us embark on this journey with no experience at first, little to no training, no manual, and a boss that is much younger than us, and also has no experience being a boss.

When we were kids we challenged our parents everyday. Sometimes the challenge was willing them to allow us to eat a Popsicle even thought we didn't eat our dinner. Other times the challenges were much more difficult and demanding.

When I was 18 or 19 I took a fly-fishing class during summer vacation with a dear friend of mine. We loved it because:
a) we are women
b)the instructors were older and men
c)the instructors liked us because we showed up to every class and every day at the water
d)we fished with the instructors as extra-curricular activities and finally,
e) we learned how to smoke cigars.

(Warning: Cliche coming)Shortly after this learning experience we decided we were going to take a two week vacation across the country to Montana to "fish the great rivers" a la Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It. Our parents were skeptical and hesitant. We didn't really have a plan because we didn't know how much we could/wanted to drive each day. But we knew we wanted to drive Route 2 on the Northern edge of the state and fish The Blackfoot River. We made a rough itinerary and reassured them that we would call several times. Keep in mind we were 20 when we took this trip. Long story short; our parents finally accepted we were going to do this with or without their consent. We made it to our destination and back. Had a great time and would do it again tomorrow, and never caught a single fish but have ooodles of great memories.

Today our trip is little bits compared to the teenager who is attempting to sail around the world ALONE. She is 16. Yesterday news reports said she had lost contact and feared dead. Her parents worst nightmare coming true. I can only imagine them second guessing their decision to let her attempt this feat even though she had all of the training, will, smarts, gear, etc. needed to accomplish this incredible journey. Today reports state that she is alive and well. Her boat is damaged a bit but still sea worthy.

Like I said parenting is the most difficult job in the world. For my parents it was trusting me enough to drive across the country, for the California teens parents, it was trusting their daughter could sail around the world, for us, now, it's trusting that our daughter won't fall down the stairs on the deck. None of it easy but part of our job description.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Happiness is a happy child

I want to press rewind and play on yesterday-over and over and over again until I've played it so much the tape breaks where the film is worn.

I picked Sophie up from Phillip in the afternoon because he had to attend a meeting. Sophie was excited to see me, greeted me with hugs and a kiss. We drove home talking about cows and horses as we passed by the many farms in our neck of the woods. We talked about seeing Doodle and playing on the porch. Together we sang "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and I wowed her with "Row Row your Boat" and my amended version of "Bringing Home a Baby Bumble Bee."

When we checked the mailbox there was a letter and Elmo stickers from Aunt Mimi. We used three sheets of stickers in less than five minutes. I have since hidden two of the sheets so we have some to enjoy later.

We made dinner. Without prompting Sophie snatched her salad bowl off the counter and carefully carried it out to the deck table. She came back in to help bring out place mats and napkins. She ate most all of her dinner after eating part of an apple, 1/2 of a fruit cup, one chocolate Easter egg, and a piece of cheese. She didn't spill anything by accident or intentionally. After dinner she asked to get down from her chair and played on the deck while Phillip and I talked about our day at work. Then Sophie returned to the table to help bring the dishes inside. She delicately juggled my empty wine glass and the tub of Parmesan cheese across the deck, up the stair, into the house and to the counter.

She accepted that she needed a bath. We showered and she scrubbed herself and washed her hair. Jammies, hair combed, and teeth brushed.

We read several books in her room and then it was time for night night. Kisses and hugs all around. We had an evening of play, love, cooperation, helping, no tantrums or out bursts. Pure joy. And only two blood curdling screams when we left her room and closed the door. Nothing is truly perfect!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Nothing says summer like Ice Cream

I love ice cream. I find myself liking flavors I used to balk at - chocolate chip cookie dough, cookies and cream and when it has real vanilla beans, I'll even eat vanilla, even though I like to think of myself as a chocolate purist.

The first summer we lived in this house we were spoiled by an old suburban treat...the Ice Cream Truck. Our lady would drive around nearly every other night, Phillip and I would empty our coin jars and rush out to greet the truck playing its whimsical music. It was such a treat and reward after suffering through breastfeeding and the trials and tribulations of being new parents. Last summer was no different.

This year is exciting because we get to share the joy and excitement of "The Ice Cream Lady" with Sophia. But the few times I've heard the chimes of "The Saints Go Marching In" in the near distance the tune quickly faded as she traveled in the opposite direction of our house. Last weekend I ripped Sophie out of her bed post nap as if the house was on fire in eager anticipation of Ice Cream only to be avoided yet again and then the rain started. Tonight however, I was on a mission to find her.

I jumped in the car and headed towards the magical sound of familiar songs. Same truck, new lady. She didn't know to come down our street. She won't make that mistake again! So now we are "fat and happy" with Radical Rainbow Push Up Pop (Sophie), Chocolate Eclair (Mama) and Orange Cream (Papa) in our bellies. Our sticky fingers are clean, the fireflies are dancing, and the Ice Cream Lady knows where to go.

Empahty

I have succeeded as a parent. I figured out how to breastfeed, I learned not to gag on impulse at puke and poo, I have tried new foods and feed (most of the time) my daughter a balanced and nutritious diet. But the real test of parenthood? Teaching EMPATHY.

For a quick sophomore year refresher courtesy of Merriam Webster online: Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also : the capacity for this.

On Saturday my husband labored through putting together a porch swing for us to enjoy. As with most “disposable” furniture the craftsmanship isn’t the highest quality and there were missing washers and a screw that broke off in one of the support rods upon tightening. Phillip went in search of replacement parts, Sophie and I sat on the swing, on the porch, before it was set into the overhead support bar. One of the side supports was delicately in place but not fastened. With a shift of our bodies on the swing, the support bar came crashing down into the back of my head. It hurt. I don’t think I swore out in pain but it was visible that I hurt and was in pain. Sophie quickly stopped what she was doing and in her adorable two-year old voice asked “Okay? Okay?” with an inspiring look of concern on her face. “Ouch.” I said rubbing my head. “Okay? Okay?” she asked again. Yes, I was okay. It appears that just as a magical mommy kiss to a child’s hand or knee erases the pain of their fall so does an empathetic “okay” from the mouth of a babe heals our pain too.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Random

I'm sick and tired of buying diapers. I hate spending money on them. I hate putting the box in the cart. I hate throwing them out. We've wobbled back and forth between disposable and our Bum Genius cloth diapers but to make the BGs work okay I have to stuff them with two inserts. It makes for a thick diaper but Sophie doesn't mind. But she is at the top of the weight limit for the BGs and they still leak even with two inserts. Not happy.
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Potty training. She needs to get with the program. I wonder if I bought a potty training seat insert if she would be more interested in trying to use the potty. We have a potty like this (no lid) and she sits on it for one second at a time and then congratulates herself. I don't think so kid.
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Hair cut? I go through phases with my hair. Short, long, Locks of Love, short, long, short, I want a wig. Sophie's hair is a hot mess. It is super nappy after a long nights sleep or even a nap. Has taken forever (okay, two years) to get to the "length" it is now, and the disheveled mess makes me want to trim it up a bit. I was going to do this in the tub tonight (even ready to call my niece who is a hair dresser for pointers) but my husband talked me out of it. "You always want to cut it, cut it (talking about my own hair) and remember when you got mad at your mom for cutting your hair short in the second grade?" He begged and pleaded for me to leave it alone. I did.
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Sophie likes to look at my breasts. I often wear v-neck shirts so access is easy. She pulls the shirt away from my body, looks in, and says "booboo" "my booboo" "mine." We'll I guess they were yours for eight months but now they are all mine sister. Do your kids (especially if they were breastfed) still like to look at your ta-tas? I may have to start wearing a turtleneck.
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Babies. A good friend and my cousin are both with child. It's a bittersweet time in my heart. I was pregnant right along with them back in late September/early October. My work friend came to me, closed the door, sat down. I looked at her and said she must be quitting or she's pregnant. My cousin and I spoke on the phone and shared our secrets with each other like we kids in pigtails again. We were finally going to be pregnant together! (She has two girls already and we made a pact at our weddings {which were two weeks apart} to be pregnant together, some pact;) My cousin had her baby, a boy, today. And my friend will hopefully go into labor any day now. She did eat a lot of pineapple at lunch! My heart swells with emotion. A twinge of sadness for me and my husband knowing that we too should have been rounding out the third trimester now but also happiness and excitement for these two boys entering the world. I can't wait to squish the tiny ones (gently, of course.)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vegas, baby!

Just because that's what we all say doesn't mean we should do it. Vegas, baby is just a phrase, not an invitation.

I recently went on holiday with my mom and sisters to Las Vegas. We just wanted a time to be together, enjoy each others company now that we are adults and don't hate each other. So off to Vegas we went. My parent go to Vegas frequently and my dad and grandpa used to take a trip there together every fall. For as long as I can recall them taking these trips they have always stayed at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas. It's "old Vegas" and just my style. Not too busy, not too trendy, and not too expensive. All in all we had a great time. Didn't come back with any extra money but a lot of memories.

I've been to Vegas one other time before I was married and had a kid. I don't recall seeing many kids that first time out. But I'm sure I was self absorbed and only thinking about me. This trip I saw kids all over the place. In the restaurants, at the pool, in the casinos, on Freemont Street at 10:30pm and later. Infants, toddlers, kids. All over the place! In the casinos full of smoke and liquor and breasts and skimpy clothes. What fun is a casino for a kid? Vegas is not on our list of family vacations until the kids are at least 21.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Manners

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use. ~Emily Post

Phillip and I have been talking about having another kiddo. For most couples deciding on when to start trying to get pregnant and how close or apart to have kids is always a conversation that requires some finesse. If I had it my way I would have each kid two years apart and I'd like to have about four of 'em! But sometimes our bodies, our God, and our pocketbooks have other plans.

To feed my baby craze I have recently found myself lurking and occasionally posting on the baby website TheBump.com. The parent site of The Bump is The Knot. They suck women into their dark and twisty place when we are so bedazzled by our engagement rings we are too awestruck to realize what's happening. You start on The Knot, get hitched and head to The Nest, and then get knocked up and head to The Bump.

Each of the websites feature a "community" section with a large variety of message boards were you can chat about anything. On The Bump the chatter ranges from dinner, gay/lesbian parenting, infertility issues, toddlers, eco-parenting, trying to get pregnant, etc. etc. etc. The point of the forums is to have a place to talk and connect with other women like you-women with the same issues, challenges, fears, disappointments, and successes. It is a place to be heard and share your story. When I was pregnant for the first time I too turned to the community forums. If you are smart you take others advice with a grain of salt but generally the conversation was helpful and supportive. I don't know what has changed in two years but the women I've encountered on there recently are just plain bitches.

For example a woman posted on there today about coming off birth control, not getting her period, negative home pregnancy tests, seeing her dr., getting prescribed a drug to kick start her cycle, and then testing positive for pregnancy today. She was taken aback by the positive test and the unfolding of her cycle. She was excited about what was happening. Then come the comments on the forum. "You should be posting on 1st Tri though, the women here are still TTC." and "No offense, but I don't think you really know how your body works." Jeez louise! So snarky. The newly pregnant lady just found out she was pregnant and wanted to share her story. She doesn't need people biting her head off because she was confused about her cycle. And this example was very tame compared to some of the drama you can witness on there!

I think I'm going to have to deactivate my account. The world doesn't need anymore rude people and they are festering on The Bump.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Should have listened to mom...

I think most kids are encouraged and even forced to take some sort of musical instruction as kids. I took piano lessons for years. I loved playing the simple Christmas songs that only required the notes GBDFA (Good Boys Do Fine Always) and FACE and something about Cows eating grass. But when it came to the more complex songs I struggled. I struggled because having to practice everyday was such a chore. I hated to practice. I regret it to this day and should have listened to my mother.

In college I came back to my "musical roots" and took guitar lessons. I used my grandfathers old Sears guitar that I nicknamed Stubby Stella. I called her this because the guitar featured a half fret at the top and was shorter than most standard guitars. Every Thursday I would trek down the alley to Blue Eagle Music in Athens, OH and took an hour long lesson from an old hippie named Ethan in the basement of the store. He taught me classics such as Green Sneeze (aka Greensleeves) and Lynard Skynard's Simple Man as a waft of his cigarette smoke danced around my head. I loved taking these lessons but still had no musical talent.

Phillip's kinfolk used to have bluegrass jam sessions at Christmastime. Banjos, dulcimers, guitars, fiddles all banging out harmonious notes. It is one of his fondest memories of his grandparents and aunts and uncles. I bought him a fiddle for Christmas one year. It now is tucked away in a closet mostly unused.

So my question is this: Does Sophie have a chance? I regret that Phillip and I don't have any musical fortitude. I love acoustic music and organic jam sessions. I love all sorts of music. But can she develop musical talent even if it's not in her "genes"? I am envious and amazed at the latest YouTube sensation and wonder if perhaps one day Sophie could be an over night success as well.


Monday, May 10, 2010

To sleep or not to sleep

Google "sleep facts" and you will no doubt have an onslaught of results. One quickly caught my eye with it's teaser info.

"A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours lost sleep for parents in the first year!" Found on Hibermate.com

That's a lot of lost sleep! Toddlers need between 14-15 hours of sleep a day. But getting a child to sleep-yeah, there don't seem to be a lot of "facts" on that. I've done a lot of "research" on this topic - Google searches, asking friends with kids, reading baby forums, talking to my mom and mother-in-law. If only we could teach kids at the tender age of two that they WANT to sleep now because it is a precious commodity when they are older the world world would be a happier place.

We are still having problems getting Sophie to go to sleep. I follow the rules: bath, jammies, brush teeth, soft light, blinds closed, story (or four), hugs and kisses, into the bed. And each night it's the same. Even though she is practically jumping out of my arms and into the bed-she screams when she gets in there.

"Green, green." She shouts, indicating she wants the green blanket. And then the fuzzy new blanket Gramma made her, or the blanket I knit her. "Pillow, pillow." She wants the other pillow. "Doodle, doodle." Meaning she wants another stuffed dog to sleep with. I really don't put up with this long. I tell her I love her, give her another kiss, and make my exit. The screaming and crying continues. Breaks my heart every night. I just want to put her down with a hug and a kiss and have her peacefully drift to sleep. But that's not my lot.

Two nights ago we went to check on her before we went to bed and she was sideways in the crib, blankets askew, feet dangling out between the bed slats. Last night she cried and talked to herself for 45 minutes! And when I heard a banging sound over the sound of the tv I sent the husband in to check on her. She was sideways again and kicking the bed and it reverberated against the wall. Tonight cries and sounds of "MAMA" continued as I got in the shower. Post shower I hear her talking to herself. "No, no, no-no." Who knows.

Luckily nine and a half times out of ten when she is finally asleep she sleeps the whole night through. I guess I've just got to pick my battles.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Mother's Day

Extract from To My Mother
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of 'Mother,'
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you...

-Edgar Allen Poe

I believe that Mother's Day should be celebrated even before the unborn child makes his debut. The work, pain, suffering, joy, compassion, and care of a mother begins well before the birthday of the expected child.

I also believe that Day only gets better with each passing year. My first official Mother's Day was not filled with warmth, an outpouring of gratitude, or breakfast in bed. I recall wanting the day to quickly pass by. I had been a mother for about three weeks. I was exhausted, frustrated, and sad. I remember Sophie not sleeping well the previous night. Because most mother's spend the first month or so awake when they should be sleeping the smallest things upset you and thinking rationally doesn't come easy. I remember screaming and crying because Sophie wouldn't go back to sleep after nursing. I think we both felt miserable. The cards I received from family and friends brought me to tears because I didn't feel worthy of the praise. But now I realize that's just all part of the process and part of what makes us mothers so damn tough.

Last year I received my first Mother's Day card from Sophie and I still look at it from time to time-written in a hybrid of her and her father's handwriting. Sweet, gentle, loving. And this year I have matured even more in my motherhood. Sure, not every day is full of roses, sunshine and puppies but the good out number the bad and I have learned, somewhat, how to ignore the tantrums and I'm learning to roll with the punches.

But now because Sophie can speak and walk and understand, there is no doubt she loves me. I love her soft kisses on my cheek and the hugs around my knees. Her affection and needing me is enough of a gift. Maybe I should have realized that when she was but three weeks old she wasn't trying to deprive me of sleep but give me a gift...her needing me and wanting me close.

I can only imagine with more years and hopefully more children Mother's Day continues to evolve and be a day I will always look forward to.

Happy Mother's Day!

Monday, May 03, 2010

One of those nights

Oy vey. This is a much deserved glass of wine.

Sophie came home from daycare demanding juice, water, to look in the cabinet. (Presumably for the forbidden binkie.) She was saying no, disobeying us at every chance, standing on the chair at the dinner table. Threw a pen at me. And then when I took a frozen waffle out of the freezer and she demanded that and I demanded to heat it up (duh) another tantrum ensued. That was the camel that broke the straws back...I mean the straw the broke the camel's back. (Told you it was a good glass of wine;)

Phillip set up the time out chair in the corner. What did I do? Laugh. That nervous, trying to keep a straight face laugh. I'm not handling the discipline portion of parenting very well. I know she shouldn't say NO to us. But when she says it in a mischievous toothy grin sort of way-how can I reprimand her for that? It's just so cute. And wrong.

Oh heaven help me. How am I going to survive all of the future discipline issues we will surely face?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You are what you eat

Food is a topic that most people enjoy. What to cook, how to prepare it, food philosophies, the good the bad, the delicious, and the putrid. Not Raising Brats author and reporter, Hillary, inquired about what her readers eat and feed their children. This topic is one I am passionate about and I didn't feel I should write a blog post in the "brats" comment section. So here is my response.

I will start by saying I am not a great role model. A picky eater that has vowed to learn to try new things-and been successful at it in some cases. I come from a midwestern, steak and potatoes and snacking family. I swore up and down I didn't like potatoes for about twenty years. Then when my chef brother made roasted redskin potatoes for me I changed my tune. I like them baked, fried, roasted, sauteed, mashed, with garlic, and learning to eat sweet potatoes.

When my daughter Sophia was born I was bound and determined NOT to take her down my wayward path of poor eating habits. I breastfed for eight months and started solids at eight months. The first food in her mouth was organic bananas-hand smashed by me, not Gerber.
I bought, boiled, and pureed organic sweet potatoes and smushed organic avocados. Being a spring baby I delighted in going to the farmer's market each Saturday looking for a new fruit or vegetable to try.

I still try to live by the "Super Baby Food" cookbook which easily and in detail lays out why and how you should make your own baby food. It talks about cost savings (a bonus for any budget conscience parent-even when buying Organic!) and nutritional value of the plethora of fruits and vegetables available to use fresh and frozen. I made my own rice cereal, frozen dinners, and Popsicles. For the skeptical, let me share that I live an hour from work if the traffic isn't bad and I could still mange to make time to make the food. I was even in Target the other day ogling a woman's four-month old baby in the baby food aisle and told her about the "Super Baby Food" cookbook!

Now that Sophie is two and eats "big people food" I try to include the following in each meal. Dairy, fruit, whole grains, protein, vegetables. So for lunch today we had a Boca Chicken patty, strawberries and some Snikiddy cheese puffs. (They are made with whole grains.) I do worry she doesn't get enough of this or that but for the most part I think we are on the right track. She loves fruit, has decided drinking milk isn't all that bad, enjoys water now so she isn't drinking as much juice and when we do snack I give her very small portions and try to make it something healthy.

I am gearing up to train for a 1/2 marathon so my wayward habits will have to disappear. I'm a much better eater in the spring and summer because I love the summer fruit varieties. But as I continue my quest to teach Sophie how to eat I am also willing to try new things. It doesn't mean I have to like it.

Potty Training *Warning* I'm talking about elimination here-pee & poop

I was so excited the first time Sophie used the potty, she was 21 months old and we were ahead of the curve! We have had the potty since she was about 18 months. It was easy to tell when she was having a "movement" and the next logical step to us was get a potty, put her on it, stop having her crouch in the poop corner.

She pushed her potty around the house, put toys in it, sat on it like a chair, returned it to its place of honor in the bathroom. The first time she actually used it she was mid-poop when I went to change her diaper so I scooped her up, set her on the potty and she finished her business. We both smiled and clapped! Put the potty in the big people's potty, flushed it away, washed our hands and commenced to mark this historic occasion with a butterfly sticker on the potty calendar.

As you can see there were only a few successes in January but they were successes nonetheless. We rolled into February.

Not many more attempts and successes than January but still she earned some stickers. We traveled early in the month and brought the potty with but then were hit by the Blizzard of 2010 so it's not surprising her "trying" got off kilter.
And then March came:

Spring has sprung! Look at all of those butterfly stickers! She was a potty champ. "You'll use the poooootttttyyyyy." Just like Elmo sings in "Elmo's Pottytime" video. We were on our way. I bought less diapers, bought pull ups, encouraged her to use the potty. We traveled again in March, toted the potty with, she used it all week. Even though she became constipated. She peed in the potty. I was a proud mama knowing I was potty training before age 2!

And then came April.

Nothing. Nada. No Dice. Zero. Zip.

She sits on the potty with CLOTHES on. Stands up. Claps. Congratulates herself with a hearty "Yea!" but has accomplished nothing. She loves her diapers. Hates the pull ups. I have no idea what gives or what to do. We use the potty together but she has nothing to show for it. I only have frustration.

Any suggestions? What has worked for your toddler?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sophie turns TWO

Whoops...guess I've been busy or neglectful. Better start bloggin'

Yesterday was Sophie's Second Birthday. We've been celebrating her birthday for about a month now. We had the "official" party in Ohio in March. This past weekend we went to the Udvar-Hazy Center which is an extension of The National Air and Space Museum. Sophie is all about "panes" and things that fly so the museum was a perfect place to spend the day. She loved looking at all of the planes and helicopters.

Tuesday, April 20, her actual birthday was full of sugar. I took the krispiest Rice Krispie treats to work to share with my co-workers, sent Sophie to daycare with chocolate suckers to share with her crew, and rushed home from work to make cupcakes. Her birthday will always include Rice Krispie treats because they are literally the first thing I ate after delivering Sophie. Mom had brought some to the hospital for sustenance through the night/day, and while the nurses were still cleaning me up I asked if I could eat something and when she said yes I demanded a Rice Krispie treat from mom!

We went to watch "ball pole" (a.k.a. lacrosse) and then out to dinner. Bedtime for everyone came about 9:30p.m. Needless to say I was exhausted.

This evening we did cupcakes and presents and will open even more later this week when care packages arrive from North Carolina. It's the birthday that will never end!

In the course of one year Sophie has learned to:
Stand
Walk
Run
Talk
Potty train (well, sorta-that post comes tomorrow)
Sit at the table (okay-kneel or stand) sans high chair

She says: Mama, Papa, Doodle, chair, table, dinner, blue blue (blueberries), tee (teeth), chee (cheese), night night, pane (plane), ball poll, shoe, boot, baby, geen (green, her blanket) and a variety of other words. Just this weekend started putting two words together like No, Papa. Not in a scolding way but a factual way as in Papa isn't here.

She is about 35" and 35lbs. Loves to give hugs and kisses and hates separating from us to go to bed. Here is a year in review in pictures.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Sophie Smiles

I love Hall & Oats. I don't own any of their albums but anytime I hear one of their songs and realize who it is I realize I love Hall & Oats. Country singer, Jimmy Wayne, has recently covered
"Sara Smiles" by Hall & Oats. In my head though, I've changed the lyric to Sophie Smiles...

Sarah Smiles by Hall & Oats
Baby hair with a woman's eyes
I can feel you're watching in the night
All alone with me and we're waiting for the sunlight

When I feel cold, you warm me

And when I feel I can't go on, you come and hold me

It's you... And me forever

Sara Smile

Won't you smile a while for me

Sara



Language Acquisition

In college I took several hours in Linguistics. I actually took enough hours to get a certificate in linguistics but unfortunately it was before the program was a certified certification program so no gold star on my transcript or diploma for that! All that sentence diagramming for nothing!

I love learning about language and how our words are shaped and why our words are what they are. Often when I'm daydreaming I'll think about different words and what they really mean. Refrigerator has always held a particularly interesting spot in my brain. Some days it just sounds so weird to me. Re-fridge-er-a-tor. Weird. I wonder why we call the refrigerator a refrigerator and not a clock. Why a desk is called a desk...and on and on.

So as Sophie learns new words and meanings for things I am amazed at her language acquisition skills. One day she can only point to what she wants and the next day she has a word for it. For example our after bath routine usually includes Jean Nate (3 syllables Jean Na Te) after bath splash which I roll off my tongue with my best french accent. To Sophie this became "nah nah nah." She can correctly say and identify a car, train, and plane but mistakenly calls all trucks and motorcycles Trains or choo choos.

What is frustrating in this new phase of "semantic development" are the words I can't yet identify. Last night she kept saying "goo goo"-perhaps for the noodles I was preparing? But when I pointed to the noodles that didn't satisfy her need for me to understand "goo goo." On the drive home today she stumped me with "halla." Like she was saying "holla back..." Again, no clue. There are often times I have to ask for a definition from Phillip on new words but he doesn't have answers either.

So each day we will continue to learn and break her codes. For now though, I'll say "ni ni." Sophiease for "night, night."

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Sophie the Hippie

If someone says the word “hippie” certain images come to mind. According to the all knowing online resource, Wikipedia, hippies are described as “women wore jeans and maintained long hair,[68] and both genders wore sandals or went barefoot.[37] Men often wore beards,[69] while women wore little or no makeup.” A free lifestyle, living off the earth, using recycled goods, and even “dumpster diving” are also associated with being a hippie in this day and age.

And Sophia is among them.

Let’s start with her birthday: April 20. 4/20. Yup. A day celebrated by those who enjoy recreational marijuana. A big part of the hippie movement. Now, she doesn’t and hopefully won’t ever partake in this activity but when we tell our contemporaries her birth date they smile and give a little chuckle. And ask to pass the Doritos.

Feet: Sophie hates wearing socks and shoes. Although she was very excited about her new sparkly white Easter shoes and didn’t want to take them off for bedtime, she inevitably takes shoes and socks off in the car when we go anywhere and takes them off promptly upon coming inside.She much prefers to be barefoot.

Hair: growing slowly but wildly. Hardly enough to put in pig tails and doesn’t get brushed or combed out each day because there really isn’t enough to properly brush or comb. Sometimes after a particular tossy turny night or nap her hair is a mess and there is no fixing it. And nappy like unkempt dreads.

Makeup: well she is only 24 months old so no makeup.

Dumpster Diving: Really this is the crux of this story. Prior to Sophie and Phillip returning home yesterday I cleaned out my car-used Kleenex due to the onslaught of spring allergies, part of a newspaper, straw wrapper, stray jelly beans from Sunday’s Church Easter Egg hunt. I recycled the newspaper and put the rest of the debris in the trashcan. After dinner while getting something from my wallet I realized the Easter Bunny forgot to put something in the Easter baskets-scratch off lotto tickets! So we all scratched our tickets, Phillip won $2, and I instructed Sophie to “blah” (i.e. throw away, yucky, blah) the dud tickets. She obliged. Then I have her walk to her bedroom to get her diaper changed. I realize she is eating something.
“Sophie are you eating something?”
“Yea.”
“Open your mouth.”

Hmmm what is she eating?

“Sophie, open your mouth again.” I go in for the smell test. Smells like pineapple and is white and gummy. I quickly rewind and recall throwing away the jelly beans, Sophie “blahing” the lotto tickets…and picking out of the GARBAGE a rogue jelly bean.

EWWW…Hippie.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Can't a mama get a break?

We must be entering the terrible twos around here. And not the terrific twos as my sister called them the other day-you don't hit the terrific twos until you turn 21.

Just when I thought we had the bedtime thing figured out Sophie moved onto the next manic fit in the book-bath time. She used to LOVE bath time. Bubbles, splashing, toys, sticky letters, and "nah nah nah" afterward (just like my gramma used to give my sister and I when we would visit.) But this week it is standing up, not wanting to sit down, full on tears and hysterics and "MAMA, MAMA, MAMA!" as I try to bathe her.

I don't know if it was too many bubbles or the sound of the water but something has changed and bath time went from delightful to devilish.

And to top it off, she tosses in some bedtime fits too.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Joys of Parenting No. 1

Two weeks ago we traveled to Ohio for Spring Break and for my annual girls weekend. The husband, daughter, and dog got some quality time with the in-laws/grandparents. It is never long enough and always jam packed with activities and comings and going but always enjoyable.

Girls weekend took place two hours away from my parents and began on Friday afternoon. Early evening on Saturday I get a call from my husband. "When is the last time Sophie pooped?" Hmmm. Let me set down my glass of wine and think about this. I think back and respond "I haven't changed a dirty diaper since we got to town, have you? You were home with her Monday and Tuesday, did you change a dirty diaper then?" We both came to the conclusion that she had indeed not soiled a diaper in many days.

I was both relieved and concerned. Relived that her uber crankiness for a lot of the visit was not because she was homesick, didn't like her aunts and grandparents, or because she didn't like all the space at my parent's home. Concerned that she was uber cranky, uncomfortable and constipated.

She did this when she was nursing-not poop for days-and it freaked me out. It was unnatural. But my doctor reassured me that some kids just process the breastmilk so efficiently that there is nothing to eliminate. This was not the case now. Feeling helpless I spoke with Sophie's doctor and relayed the message to my husband. He went to get some medication from CVS and spend a lot of the night holding and snuggling a cranky baby and meanwhile not getting much sleep.

The drive home was not easy. Sophie was still stopped up and sitting for 7 hours in a car seat was not fun. Once we arrived home we made a pit stop at the CVS. We had to take action into our own hands-liquid suppositories. Ewww, yuck.

"Have child lay on left side with knees pulled gently to chest."....there was nothing gentle about this throw down. I had to go for the "let's get this done and over approach."

Less than 5 minutes later, relief.

We have added even more whole grains and greens to her diet. I never want to do that again.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Human Condition

What is it about the human condition that makes us so vulnerable? So willing to believe or hope or feel something that is really so abstract? As you have read I have been following the story of Layla Grace the past few weeks and since I discovered her website I have been hooked. Not because I like to cry or need to know about the awful cancer she has (neuroblastoma) but something deep inside me poked at my brain and heart everyday and I had to check the Twitter feed or blog to see if there was new news. I tried to "forget" I had ever found the website but I found myself thinking about her and her family all the time. I have known several people that have had cancer and subsequently died and as awful as it was I was able to make some sense of it. I guess because all the people I know that have died because of cancer have been adults.

As I sat at my desk working on Wednesday and I checked Twitter late in the afternoon there was finally an update from Layla Grace. It said she had "gone to play with the angels early that morning." My heart sank and rejoyced at the same time. I was suddenly very distracted from my work-deeply sad that this little girl had not overcome her demons and she left behind her two sisters and parents and a world full of supporters. Glad that she was no longer in pain and her parents didn't have to see her in pain any more.

Her life will be celebrated this Saturday. I know a lot of her followers will go by the wayside and the family will be left to deal with their grief in private. I think I will always think back on Layla Grace. Her story has moved me so much. I hug Sophie a little tighter, let her play a little longer and try not to let the little things get in the way. I made a gift to St. Jude today as part of the WMZQ/Country Cares St. Jude Radiothon and a gift to LaylaGrace.org. Hopefully one day I won't get wound up in such a sad story because there won't be a sad story to tell.

Have fun playing with the angels Layla Grace.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Praying for Layla Grace

About two weeks ago I was on The Bump and came across a post. What intrigued me wasn't the subject necessarily but that fact that 200+ people had read the post. I can't even recall what the subject was but once I too read the post, the cryptic "have you heard from Shanna" or "I can't believe it" replies I had to dig deeper to figure out what they were talking about. I eventually found the original thread and link to Layla Grace. Ever since then I can't turn away, can't read enough, and can't say enough prayers.

I don't know Layla Grace and her family. I will never know them personally but I have been praying for this little girl and her family everyday since I found her website. Layla Grace is nearly 2 (she must be an April baby b/c somewhere recently I read she was 22 mos. old-same as my Sophie) and she has stage 4 Neuroblastoma. An incredibly common form of childhood cancer and one that will most likely take Layla from this Earth.

What I find most compelling about her story is how Social Media has allowed her parents to share her story with the world. They don't share this extremely difficult situation for pity or empathy but to educate other parents about the warning signs and early detection. They started their Twitter feed as an easy way to communicate about Layla's progress because always having to actually talk about it was so difficult. Layla's mom, Shanna, was recently on Ryan Seacrest's afternoon radio program and her dad, Ryan, spoke on a local Houston radio station this week. A boutique store by the same name but spelled differently, Layla Grayce, is donating $1 to Layla Grace for every new Facebook fan they get today. By the way, this morning they had 5,000+ fans, when I became a fan around 12:30 p.m. they had over 8,000! This is the power of social media.

Shanna recently wrote in a post:
"I take comfort in a few things. First, I know there are angels watching over her. I know they are sitting right beside her; that she is never alone. Her angels will usher her into heaven. Second, I know her death will not be in vain. She has done what God sent her here to do. She has gone above and beyond. I receive hundreds and hundreds of emails every day from people telling me their faith is stronger because of her. She has managed to do more Godly works in her short 2 years on earth than most people do in 80."
Because Layla's story has been all over the intenet and other news outlets literally People all over the world are praying for this sweet girl and her family.

I feel so selfish when I post things about Sophie not sleeping or throwing a fit over Elmo when this family wishes their daughter wouldn't sleep most of the day, wants to be awake watching Elmo and playing with her sisters, getting in her parents way as they clean the house. I'm not perfect-far from it-and I do get frustrated at the smallest inconveniences-but I have reflected a lot on Layla's story and I am trying to remember not to sweat the small stuff and enjoy everyday because you never know what tomorrow may bring.