Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Princess Sofia"

My sister-in-law sent me this story the other day. Having a daughter named Sophia, I had to read it.

Ugh.

I have a love hate relationship with the Princesses. I grew up watching them. Love Cinderella. My middle name is Aurora (as is Sophia's) and I married a Phillip thus we are a living Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip-minus the sleeping thing and white horse and fairies following me around...) But as I have grown older and studied Media Literacy and the damaging effects of the Princesses....I cringe.

I am reluctant to overly encourage and share Princess stuff with Sophia. I prefer her to watch the more neutral movies and TV programs like Winnie the Pooh, Cat in the Hat, Fireman Sam, etc. and if we are going to watch a movie I'm glad she will pick Cars over a princess.

But Princess Sofia? It's over the top for me. She is targeted for girls age 2-7. She is "the purple-gowned kiddie princess. She becomes a princess when her mom marries the king of her storybook world." Disney assures us "That the inner character of kindness, generosity, loyalty, honesty and grace make you special, not the dress you wear." But when you have a 'kiddie princess' in a sparkly purple gown and tiara leaving in a castle and being a part of her MOM's STORYBOOK WORLD??? you are not going to be teaching my daughter much to relate to.

This Mom's Storybook world includes a husband who works very hard and carries the weight of his family's little world on his shoulders.

Two 'princesses' who cry, still have potty accidents, have tantrums, and hug you so fiercely you fall over.

While our 'castle' keeps us warm and dry the girls share a room and a dresser and a closet. We all share one small bathroom.

The have matching fuzzy footie pajamas that I bought on sale and to boot it was buy one get one free! I spent $8.80 total on their Christmas jammies.

There aren't a lot of sparkly new dresses and "bling" to wear. Our storybook includes making the food in the pantry and freezer stretch until pay day and having to say No to a box of band-aids because I literally didn't have the $1.99 to buy the fancy box of boo-boo fixers.

I hope Princess Sofia doesn't infiltrate my Princess Sophia's little world. 



Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Elf on the Shelf


Elf on the Shelf who has seemed to drop his moniker, Hat, has continued to make the rounds around the house. Only once did he have an extended stay at the North Pole with Santa because Sophia hurt his feelings and was really misbehaving. And he enjoyed sitting on an oil lamp so much he didn't move the next day. (whoops!) Perhaps he was extra warm from the (unlit) lamp and didn't want to move.
Shhh, Elf is napping.
Cup o joe?


One of my personal favorites!








9 months - Emma and Company

I can't believe Emma turned 9 months on Saturday. She is as old as I carried her. She is becoming a little person and not just a rolly polly blob. She is eating solids, although we need to continue to expand her palette. She is still toothless although I swear she was getting teeth at 4 months. They still haven't broken through the gum line. She has not figured out the crawling thing. She flops around from belly to back and can get her legs under her as if to crawl but can't seem to figure out what to do next. There are many things she has yet to learn but she has become so much more interactive as of late.




Sophia and Emma have started to "play" together. And by play I mean Sophia tries to pick her up or pull her close so they can do things together. Sophie is just strong enough to pick Emma up under her arms and place Emma where she wants her. But she hasn't heeded my advice when I tell her to put Emma down because she is pulling on her more than picking her up. With play also comes fights. Sophia does not yet understand that Emma has no concept of "mine" and "yours." So things are often grabbed out of each others hands.

So far now they are two sisters who love each other and learning to navigate each others world's. Each getting older and melting our hearts more and more each day. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Elf on the Shelf

On my way into work this morning I drove along, hitting my face, scanning the radio, driving with the window open so I could stay awake. Emma has been getting me up twice a night and it is just exhausting. As I was nearly pulling into work I received a phone call.

It was Sophia. When she wants to talk to me in the morning it's one of two things- She doesn't want to go to school and is raising hell for Papa or she misses me and just wants to talk. She melted my heart this morning!

As we are now in the Christmas and Advent season our Elf on the Shelf, Hat, has made himself known in the house. Sophia was so excited and surprised to see him sitting on the video shelf Sunday evening as we returned home from Thanksgiving vacation. "Mama! Look!"

After discovering an awesome Flickr feed on Pinterest I realized we needed to up our Elf placement this year. 

This morning she called to tell me that Elf was in the kleenex. I questioned this as it sounded a bit odd but she assured me he was there. I asked what he was doing in there. Did he have a cold and need to blow his nose? "No, he's just hanging out." She was excited and amazed that he was there.

We chatted a bit more about breakfast and her day ahead. She is just so cute. Loves talking to me on the phone. And the call woke me up and melted my heart.

It's these random and little things that will begin to wane each year the girls grow older. I think I need to record these moments more often so I can remember the warmth they left inside me when they happen.

I wonder where Elf will be tomorrow?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Quirks

I can remember babysitting some kids or being in the grocery store and seeing the same thing-toddlers dressed as their alter ego-a fairy or batman-well after Halloween had past. Donning their spiderman costume or princess dress everyday, all day, all the time. It would be March and here comes Batman decked out head to toe. I'm sure some parents fought this with their unwilling toddler. Begging him to put on regular play clothes but then just giving in day after day after day. What's the harm anyway? At least they are dressed and happy.

Sophia is a bit like this right now. She has been refusing to sleep in her bed. She has a sleeping bag that has made appearances for nap-time and vacation and movie nights. Sometimes she sleeps in the sleeping bag in the bed but as of late she just wants to sleep on the floor.

At first we argued with her that she needs to sleep in her bed (for a good night of sleep), that we paid good money for her beautiful bed, that she can't sleep on the floor because we said so. Being the one who usually gives in I tried to hold the line and not overstep Phillip's previously argued arguments but then I thought, who cares?!? as long as she sleeps, in her room.

So for about a week now we have tucked her in on the floor. I can't figure out if her bed is getting to small-the next enlargement is out to a full size bed and we just don't have the room since the girls share a room. Or if there is an aversion to the barnyard sheets currently on the mattress, or if it's just a toddler quirk and she wants to sleep on the floor!

I'm sure in the coming weeks of holiday travel all fascination with the sleeping bag will wane and she will be trying to kick me out of my bed and want to sleep there instead.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Validation

As I play the mental slideshow of Halloween's past in my mind I see glimpses of my Mom sewing, scavenging items from her jewelry drawer, putting her rouge to my cheeks and then cold cream to my face to wash it off. There are pillowcases of candy, sorting and swapping on the living room floor, and gracious sharing (because, ew, I'm not going to eat that) that weird black and orange candy, the Baby Ruth and Almond Joy with my parents.

Costumes that appear in my mind are clowns, gypsies, a Rubiks Cube, my sisters and I as Marcia, Jan, and Cindy, a bag of jelly beans, Snow White. All fabricated, none bought new. The costumes were hand sewn from patterns by my Mom, put together out of things around the house, or gathered from Goodwill.

So now that Sophie is really old enough to understand the fun of costume and trick or treat it is my turn to create. I don't think I'm nearly as handy on the sewing machine as my mom but I can put thread to fabric and hold it together even if it is not pretty.

Sophie mentioned at some point late this summer she wanted to be an octopus. After a little thought I figured out how we could create this sea monster in a fun, not scary, whimsical way. I sewed ladies knee high tights to a pair of back leggings, added a black long sleeve shirt, a winter hat with felt eyes hot glued on! Viola! An octopus.

Going with the ocean theme I decided Emma would be a mermaid. Her costume was a bit more labor intensive and required some planning and sewing. Phillip, the son of an engineer, was able to help me figure out how to make a pattern for the tail, piece all the fabric together so the right sides were on the outside, and sew it together. Felt seashells hot glued to a white onesie and a blonde wig to complete the ensemble and we were done! (Okay, so all actually took a lot longer than this but you get my point-not a lot of pieces, not complex sewing techniques.)

The pattern for Emma's tail


Our first trick or treat event was at Wegman's Grocery store the Friday before Halloween. Phillip was out of town so I took the kids to the store solo for this event. It was awesome! Sophia, I think for the first time in her life, was genuinely excited about something. She squealed in delight from her car seat, overflowing with tentacles, 'I'm so EXCITED!" The event was safe, warm, well-lit, and just fun to see the other kids going about from the deli to the bakery to the florist trick or treating. Shoppers with and without kids enjoyed seeing all the wee ones in costume.
On the way to Wegmans!

By the end of the night I nearly had to shield my eyes-I was nearly famous. "Wow, did you make that?" "Oh my gosh honey, look how cute that girl is." "That is the neatest costume I've ever seen!" "You really made that by hand?" You would have thought I had hand sewn an evening gown.

I thought all moms made their kids Halloween costumes. But boy was I wrong. Adults, moms, clerks, people without kids couldn't stop looking at Sophia's costume! It did feel awesome but was  a little embarrassing towards the end of the night with so much attention. It was just fun for me to do. And inexpensive. And creative. And Sophia LOVES it. She loves the costume, loves wearing it, loves twirling her tentacles.

Sophie the Octopus and Emma the Mermaid
Emma's costume was awesome too but more enjoyed through photographs since I didn't make a way for her to wear her tail in her bucket and be strapped in at the same time.

I can't wait for next year!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tired

I hate that I haven't been on top of my blogging. I miss sharing glimpses into my life and interesting things I've observed or thought about. I'm just tired.

Part of the exhaustion is to be expected-a 7.5 month old, a toddler, a working mom, a wife, a husband, a commuter. There just isn't enough time in the day. In the evenings after dinner is made, kids are bathed, preparations for the next day are done I'm all out of air and can hardly hold up a book or push the buttons on the remote.

I don't like feeling this way and everything is suffering.

Piles to go through in nearly every room. Laundry that seems to take forever to put away. Papers that need to be filed. Halloween costumes that need to be completed. Way too many overdue library books and fines to pay.

I've been so mentally tired that I have a hard time churning up good ideas to write about. At work there has been an unresolved issue I've been collaborating on with a very articulate, detail oriented, driven colleague and I'm just the middle man. I'm thankful he has the situation under control because I just don't have the mental energy to comprehend the lengthy back and forth emails discussing the issue.

I don't really see an end in the near future to the exhaustion. I just have to keep on keepin' on but would love your coping mechianisms. What do you do to stay focused? Stay alert? Be menatlly awake enough to be mentally challenged?

Three cups of coffee a day isn't sustainable!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

It's not all bad

Sophia is 3 1/2. Tantrums and strong will is part of her repertoire right now. But it's not all bad.

Her general fits for nothing have simmered since she started preschool. She seems to thrive with the daily routine and knows what is coming next. She really likes school. My fears about this transition have subsided. She looks forward to school each day, loves getting to drive to work with "my Papa", likes having a lunch packed each day, and loves to tell me about what she does and her classmates.

I love writing her notes for her lunch each day. It is a challenge sometimes to come up with what to write but it's a little bit of me that gets to go with her each day. Special things that are love notes just between us.

I LOVE getting her folder of notes, papers, permission slips, and artwork. But my favorite thing is the Scholastic Book order. I was transported to my elementary school days when she brought her first book order and had to keep my pocket book in check as I thumbed through the pages deciding what to order for her. I settled on a three pack of Berenstain Bears books. They are as much for me as they are for her.

A non-school related thing that is wonderful about Sophia? She thanks Phillip and I for making her dinner nearly every night. This was unprompted and started many months ago. After we say grace she will address whomever made dinner and say "Thank you for making dinner Papa/Mama." I don't know where she picked this jem up but I hope she says it forever because it makes me melt and I think she truly appreciates the work we put into providing a meal for her!

Monday, October 03, 2011

Mom Guilt

I have been in a funk since Saturday night. I feel awful and scared. I can only imagine the invisible scars Sophia is brandishing.

I was handling the kids lone ranger Friday and Saturday night. Friday was a treat for Sophie-dinner and a movie, popcorn on the couch, bedtime at 9:30pm. Just the two of us once Emma was off to sleep.

Saturday was a delight of the senses. Awesome fall weather-cool and crisp, a walk to the bakery for a Red Truck Sugar cookie then off to the Farmer's Market and later in the afternoon shopping for items for her Halloween costume and a stop at Effie's, our favorite ice cream spot. Just the girls. We had a pretty good weekend. Until bedtime Saturday night.

After brushing teeth, washing up, jammies, and books it was bedtime. Sophia protested from the moment I said Bedtime. Kicking, screaming, unyielding to compromise. Stiff body and flailing limbs as I tried to pick her up and put her in bed.
"I don't want to go to bed. "
"I don't want to do anything."
"It's too dark in here."
"I want to keep the light on."
"I'm not tired."

I had set Emma in her crib while dealing with Sophia. Our screaming just upset Emma so all three of us were crying and screaming. I muscled Sophia into bed only to have her challenge me and get out. I caved.

I let her sleep in our bed until Phillip returned home later that evening.

When Phillip went into our room to move Sophia from our bed to hers, she woke up again. It was midnight. This woke me up too. She started protesting again. Full on fit. Round 2! Her crying and screaming woke Emma up.

Both tanturms were just awful. It made me angry that I planned and did special things with her earlier in the weekend.  Angry that I yelled at her. Angry that I give in. Angry that I allow her to manipulate me.

I carried this anger with me throughout the day today. Frustrated that I don't know how to better handle these situations. Concerned that there is something bigger at the root of Sophia's tantrums. Worried that Emma is only absorbing our attitudes and will see these as normal behaviors.

I vowed that I will practice my patience and pray that we can figure out a better way to work through these tantrums and learn how to resolve them in a more calm, loving manner.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Mother Nature

In my mind Virginia is really part of the Midwest. Sure we live only 45 minutes (on a good day, with no traffic) from DC but out here way far away from the beltway there are cows and fields and pastures and occasionally strangers who wave at you while you are driving down the road. Just like where I grew up in Missouri. A little bit rural, a little bit suburban, close enough to a major metropolitan area to enjoy professional sports and 'culture' but far enough away to not be in the hustle and bustle. Weather wise it's like the Midwest too...just without the threat of tornadoes. Nice and safe. Until this past Tuesday.

I was at my desk, in the basement of my building, ALONE (there are no other offices in the basement!) working away when the whole building started shaking. It scared the shit out of me. I questioned what the hell was happening, got on the floor under my desk. Then I decided "I don't want to be here. My desk could collapse on me not to mention the three floors of a building built in the 30s could fall on me." I darted upstairs. There was NO ONE in the hallway. Another flash of where the hell is everyone. I ran outside. Into the arms of a close friend of mine and the "Oh my god! Kelly! We're so sorry." They didn't think to yell downstairs or look for me in the panic.

Most of us had just experienced our first earthquake. A 5.8 quake. The epicenter was 65 miles from our house. I felt an aftershock at 8pm Tuesday night, another around 1am, and another last night at 1am. They scare the shit out of me. I have woken up during both the early morning aftershocks and reached for Phillip in the bed. Praying they pass quickly. I wonder when aftershocks stop being aftershocks and start being earthquakes again. I can not imagine living in California or having lived through the terrible tragedy in Japan this past March.

And now Irene is beating down our door. They keep saying that this hurricane will be something that most of us will never experience again in our lifetime because of how wide the storm is as it heads up the east coast and across major metropolitan areas. I realize we very well may be with out power for several days. We have a camp stove, plenty of gas to operate the stove, drinking water and enough food to last several days. My biggest concern if we loose power is having enough ice on hand to keep my breast milk frozen. If I loose my freezer stash I will be devastated. Luckily my neighbor is part owner of a generator company! I hope he has one at the ready for us.

So we are doing okay. Just waiting for the next event. Trying to stay safe and calm. Batten down the hatches!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Letting Go....

In less than two weeks Sophia will be heading off to full day, all week pre-school. My heart thinks she is heading off to college. So this is the feeling millions of moms have felt as their kids head off to kindergarten, off to middle school, off to college, off to get married. Letting go a little at a time. It's like letting out the line of my rod and reel. Just a little bit of letting go and waiting for that bite. And then reeling them back in.

I am excited because she will be learning and interacting and growing so much during this time. But I'm also nervous and anxious. I think it is a lot for her to be in school everyday and all day at age 3 but it is the option that has to work for us right now.

I am comforted by the fact that she will be at the same school where Phillip teaches. They will be able to have lunch together occassionaly and he will be on hand in case of any discipline issues. And because she thinks right now "I get to go to school with My Papa" I think this will ease her transition into school. She doesn't really get that she's not going to Miss Ellen and Miss Jackie's like she did last year.

I'm bummed that her former school/daycare had to close because a lot of their families moved and they simply didn't have the enrollment to sustain staying open. Sophia LOVES those ladies and really flourished in the last year under their wings. We were looking forward to Emma being there but she was their only charge. So alas, she is with a new daycare provider. We'll see how that goes.

The other thing that is very exciting about Sophia's beginning school adventure? SCHOOL SUPPLIES! Fresh crayons, Elmer's glue, sharp scissors all neatly packed into a backpack. This was totally lost on Phillip.

So while I have to let my little love bug go, learn, and grow...I do get to reel her in at the end of the day, hug her, kiss her, squish her and watch her take a bite out of life and soak in learning.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Positive Press on Home birth!

A friend of mine emailed me last week a query for HARO-Help A Reporter Out. The reporter was writing a story on home birth and looking for people to interview. I responded and said I would be happy to share my story. Today the article ran in the New York Times! "Demand Growing for Giving Birth at Home" by Roni Caryn Rabin ran in the Health section.

I spoke to the reporter for about forty minutes last week. Overall I'm pleased with her story but it is interesting rereading it how little details stray a bit from their intention. For example "she narrowly avoided getting a Cesarean section" isn't exactly true. I said that had I had one of the other two doctors in the practice I probably would have ended up with a C-Section because I don't think they would have let me labor as long as the OB that was on call that day did. The OB on call was very aware of my intentions for natural, vaginal, childbirth. We got along very well and she understood my stance on childbirth. The other doctors were not as understanding.

I find the statistic published by The American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology that "babies born at home are three times as likely as those born in a hospital to die before they are four weeks old" astounding.

While I agree that some factors should be taken into consideration before deciding on a home birth or hospital birth I don't think women who are pregnant with twins, have a breech baby, or want to attempt VBAC should be deterred from using a midwife. Midwives are trained to assist women in these situations and many women who have these "risk" can have a successful home birth. As a side note, many women who want to attempt VBAC are discouraged by their OBGYNs to do so and it is the midwife who opens her arms to these women.

The one thing I wish the reporter would have shared in her article is the simple need for women to better educate ourselves on pregnancy and labor options. I don't care which route you go- hospital or home birth- epidural or natural- vaginal or c-section we just need to be more responsible for EDUCATING ourselves on the process. We will research a product we want to purchase or a location for a vacation we want to take until we are blue in the face but when in comes to OUR BODIES, OUR CHILDREN we assume that doctor knows best and don't take this journey into our own hands! We need to steer this ship, not be mere passengers aboard for the ride.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

The never ending sleep issue

A co-worker of mine gave birth to her first son one day before I gave birth to Emma. A few weeks ago she emailed several of the new moms at work to see if they had any advice for working with her son to establish a strong sleep pattern. The sleepless nights and crying were taking a toll on her. I recalled how many times I've asked for advice on the subject and the many sleep issues we have had. I forwarded her query onto another co-worker who's son is now about 14 months old. I remember her coming to work exhausted because her son just wouldn't sleep at normal hours. He seemed to keep her up constantly through the firs year. I liked her advice so much I asked if I could share it here. It seems we will always struggle with the topic of sleep so why not offer another perspective! It also helps to realize we really are all in this together!

Here is the original email:
"Jake is now 4 months + 9 days and is still waking up every 3 hrs (if not less) in the night. Not all wakings are hunger-based, but I’ve found the most effective way to get him back to sleep is by nursing him (I know… wrong method). Last night, with a FULL tank, he went to sleep at 7pm. His first waking was at 8:30/8:35/8:40/8:45 (paci finally worked), then 12 (feeding), then 2:45/2:50/2:55, then 3 (feeding) and then didn’t want to go back to sleep. By 4am, Israel decided that he was going to let him cry it out. Rough night…

So we are now forced to do some sort of sleep training for Jake. Can you please tell me what you did, whether you felt it was effective, what you would’ve done differently (if anything), etc.? Any words of comfort would also be appreciated for my breaking heart…"

My coworkers response:
"First, I TOTALLY feel your pain!! We had to let Calder cry when I finally had enough at about 5 or 6 mo. He was still getting up 2 or 3 times every night to nurse & it started getting worse so his doctor said he was a good candidate for crying since he clearly wanted to play when he woke up (nothing else would soothe him…not, the swing or even nursing when it was at its worst). She told me to use ear plugs (helpful) but it is very emotionally painful. Andy had to be the one to check on him (every few minutes) or just to sit with him (which just made Calder madder it seemed, but made us feel a bit better). I just couldn’t sit there & watch him cry & reach to be picked up!! Anyway, since I do all the feedings I thought it was fair that Andy deal with that!

Fortunately, we only had to do it a few nights (& occasional other times). My concern is always that I don’t know if he is just crying because he doesn’t feel well. (Unless he has a fever, how can we tell!?) So another helpful thing the doctor told us is to just give him Tylenol when he is having one of those nights (so you rule out him wailing because he’s not feeling well). (She said a few nights of Tylenol won’t hurt.) …Then, if that still doesn’t work after a ½ hour or so, do the sleep training. (sigh.)

When Calder was younger we didn’t let him cry, but we did bounce him to sleep on a Pilates ball, & if he kept waking up (like Jake did last night), we put him in his swing to sleep. That usually kept him asleep until his regular wake up times & then I could usually put him back in the crib after the feeding. I think this happened randomly, but regularly when he was 3-5 months old. I totally believe that every baby & family is different, and you might all be ready to (& need to) do sleep training now even though I wasn’t ready yet!

They say breastfed babies wake up more (don’t know if it’s true), but it’s so easy to breastfeed them back to sleep that it becomes hard NOT to do it! I still occasionally feed Calder at about 5 AM. (He’s 13 months old now.) …but then if he sleeps until 7:30 after that, it’s worth it to me. Rocking, etc. has never worked for Calder at all. (He would just get more upset.) Breastfeeding was/is the only thing that really works, so, of course, I do it. Yes, some people might think I’m “giving in” or being a weak parent, but he is a pretty good sleeper now has mostly stopped getting up, so maybe he just needed the extra nutrients? …or the extra love? (…at least that’s what I’ll choose to believe for all my wake-ups!)

It seems that most rough nights can be blamed on teething, growth spurts (needing more food), or being sick. …& then sometimes a little bit on just wanting more time to play, be with mom, etc. The problem is that it’s so hard to tell what’s going on! I usually give him a night or 2 (occasionally more if not totally desperate for sleep) to see if it might be health related, then, if it’s starting to be a pattern, we let him cry. Here’s the “method” that we have evolved into using: We go in & pick him up for a few seconds (try to calm him, but he usually screams, especially as you….) then put him back down, walk out of the room & let him cry if he must. We call it “ the reset.” When he amps back up to full pitch, we go in & do it again. Or, if he starts at full pitch we wait about 10-15 minutes to see if he’ll calm down before we reset him again. Now, when we have to do this, we usually only have to reset him once, since I think I knows that we’re not going to give in & let him nurse, play, etc.

Alright, I already wrote more than you will have time to read! Good luck. Remember that everything is changing & like everything with babies, it won’t last long! (We kept reminding each other “There is no ‘this.’”….as in “I can’t do ‘this!’” since it is always changing….both the good & the bad things!)


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Updates

It has almost been a month since I last blogged! I have been loosing sleep because Emma still seems to want to eat every 2 hours so I'm usually too exhausted to blog in the evening and we were on vacation for a week and a half. I have a lot of topics/ideas to blog about its just getting back into the swing of things!

Emma had her four month appointment in the middle of July. She is a little string bean! She was only 11lbs and 11 oz. She is 25 inches long. I believe she was in the 10% for weight!

She rolled over for the first time (okay, she rolled over at 2 months when I put her on my bed but I think that was a fluke) on Monday. She now can't get enough of the rocking and rolling to her tummy. She loves doing it so much that we may have to stop swaddling her! She rolls in her crib when sleeping and can't quiet roll again to her back so she wakes up!

Emma is also drooling like CRAZY! I think she has to have a tooth coming in.

Like I said previously, she is still pretty intent on eating every 2-3 hours. While she gave me the gift of sleeping through the night from month 2-3 she is now waking up in the middle of the night once or twice. It is so exhausting! She is random in her timing and eager to nurse. It usually only take 30 minutes to nurse and get her back to sleep but of course in the middle of the night it is so disruptful. I hope she changes her way soon.

Other than that she is full of smiles, likes to giggle, and still prefers to be held than in the swing or chair!

Although Sophia is just 3 and certainly has her three year old moments she has also said and done some things that are so sweet and mature. For example most nights at the dinner table after grace she will say "thank you for making dinner" to whom ever prepped the meal. This isn't something we taught her. She just started saying it. It melts my heart every time.

Tonight when the girls were playing in their room and I was putting up their laundry Sophia was giving Emma soft baby toys to touch and play with. She would take Emma's hand and help her feel the textures and see the mirrors or pictures on the soft blocks. When Emma would reach out and touch it on her own Sophia would clap for Emma and congratulate her! She exhibited the same enthusiasm when she would roll over. It is so fun to watch Sophia enjoy Emma learning and discovering!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Happieness is measured in ounces

I think I've figured out the key to my happiness at least while I'm lactating.

Phillip went to a conference today so I had to wrangle the girls by myself all day. Emma was up at 6:00am and wasn't convinced that snuggling in bed with me after I nursed her was going to be enjoyable so we were up and at 'em.

I sent up a quiet little prayer to please have Sophia stay in bed past 6:30am figuring she had stirred when I went to retrieve Emma.

Sophia stayed in bed and Emma was content in her swing so I could do some work on the computer. This lasted until 7:30am. I figured we would make the most of our day.

Although I'm challenging myself with giving up sugar I'm only about 85-90% compliant! We headed up to the local bakery for a breakfast treat and great coffee. Then to the library to drop a few things in the overnight box followed by our weekly trip to the farmer's market.

I pushed a smiley, content little miss Emma in the stroller and played the "hand squeeze" game with Sophie as we walked through town. Her soft paw nestled in mine. Home again, home again jiggity jig.

Nursed Emma, read some books on the couch and off to Target. Both girls were angels in the store. We didn't have any tantrums. I wasn't bored or annoyed by Sophia's demand to look at the toys-because she never asked this trip.

After lunch both girls napped! Emma-for at least three hours. She even woke up a bit and let me get her back to sleep. I was prepared for a protest. Their naps allowed me to work on finishing up work on a reference list for a paper our neighbor is writing.

Sophia played with the neighbor kids. We had Chick-fil-A for dinner. I got all three of us in our jammies. More nursing, more books. Another jump off the wagon-Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Brownies...fresh out of the over, still oooey gooey, chocolaty. Sophia looked at me while eating her morsel of a brownie and said "thank you for making brownies mama." If the chocolate isn't enough to make me melt, that is!

No fights. No tantrums. No sitting in the corner. No begging. Just two well behaved girls.

Sophia to bed. Emma to bed. Kitchen cleaned. Wine poured.

And the happiness in ounces you ask? 4 ounces of expressed breast milk. Usually the last pumping of the day I'm lucky to get 2 ounces and that's if I eviscerate my breasts.

The only thing that would have made today better is if Phillip would have been home!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Looking forward

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows that I am passionate about pregnancy, birth, motherhood and all that encompasses these topics. I'm an advocate for pregnancy and birth education and just being informed about all of the options that are available to women and their families. I am an advocate for breastfeeding and think it is the right thing to do but fully recognize it is not for everyone, it doesn't always come naturally, and it doesn't always work.

One thing I'm certain of on my quest to "figure it out" is that I know what my passion is and I'm pretty sure I have discovered my "calling." I want to be involved in the maternal health care/women's health and wellness field. My end goal is to become a midwife. I want to let woman know there are alternatives to doctors and hospitals. That they can have more control over their pregnancy and birth experiences. Or at least fully understand what both worlds have to offer.

I can't just up and quit my job to make this happen. But in small ways and large I can take steps towards making this dream a reality. One way I can start on this journey is to become a lactation consultant. This is no easy feat but will help me to become a very well rounded midwife some day and can serve a purpose to make my life more fulfilling in the mean time.

I spoke with lactation consultant, Amber McCann of Nourish, today and feel energized to do my homework and start working toward becoming a lactation consultant. When I thought about this career path after having Sophia I wasn't told 'no' but that it would be difficult to achieve if I wasn't a nurse or already in the health care field. The conversation today proved this wrong!

She told me there need to be more "peers" in the field and not just clinicians. More young people and not just 60 year old women who can't connect with today's moms. More people who want to reach out to undeserved populations to encourage breastfeeding.

Speaking with her gave me a fresh outlook on where I can take my career and how it can dovetail with my family life. I am so excited at the possibility and opportunity that lies ahead of me!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

A List

A List- not as in celebrity but rather a single list. Because sometimes it's just easier that way.

1. Had a great weekend. Saw friends, babies, a little bit of Baltimore, church, farmer's market, bought a bike trailer for the kiddos, kids and dogs parade on Main street, fireworks with the neighbors in the middle of the street.

2. I need to blog about my "summer reading."

3. Want to share my feelings/reaction to "Cinderella Ate My Daughter."

4. We went horseback riding for our anniversary. 7th year is leather and copper. I figured a leather saddle fit the bill.

5. I'm working on giving up sugar-added sugar. It's in EVERYTHING! I've been eating my weight in fruit.

6. Sophia is POTTY TRAINED. She decided she wanted us to put her potty seat in the attic and save it for Emma to use. We haven't had an accident in weeks. Knock on wood.

7. Emma is drooling like crazy and sometimes looks like a rabid dog with all the spit bubbles around her mouth and chin. I believe some chompers maybe making an appearance soon.

8. Can't wait for our annual beach vacation to Hilton Head with the parents, sisters, brother and his family. It's gonna rock.

9. Going to the doctor this Friday to have my gall bladder checked out. (See what happened last year at this time.) I'm fairly confident they will advise me to have it removed. I'm worrying how this is going to effect nursing.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Figuring it out

We are having some of Phillip's former students over for a cookout tonight and I should be helping to get a few last minute things done. But, the girls are BOTH napping so the work is going to have to wait while I write.

I've spent the last week looking deep inside myself and trying to unlock where my negative energy is coming from and how I'm going to go about fixing it. I know it will be a long journey but I'm on the trail at least. I have started journaling again. Bought a cheap made from recycled paper and sugar cane notebook and a great bright blue pen to write with. You have to have a fun pen! I went grocery shopping today and bought some wholesome organic eggs, milk, strawberries, apples and whole wheat pitas and Wasa. You are what you eat. And I know my stomach is YELLING at me to change my ways.

And I started to pray. I was raised Catholic and self-swapped to Episcopalian when Phillip and I met. We are practicing Episcopalian's and go to church regularly but I always feel distracted there because the kids can't sit still and really listen. So I haven't felt like I've really prayed in a while. Under the beating hot water of the shower while both girls and husband were occupied I found a quiet space that was all mine. I sent a prayer to God.

I'm looking forward to this sort of reinvention of myself. It feels like a challenge and a journey well worth the time and expense.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

My Chakra Is Out of Balance

I don't really know what it means to have my chakra out of balance but that is the best way I can describe what I have been thinking and feeling lately. I feel like I'm going in many different directions while none of them make sense. I feel like I'm maintaining the status quo as a woman, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend. I'm not depressed just not the me I want to be right now.

When I was a teenager I can remember on many occasions bursting into the room where my mom was to tell her the most exciting thing ever or share something I had learned at school or just laugh about the most insignificant thing ever. She would often tell me to always maintain that zest for life and light hearted but deeply connected spirit.

One time after walking home from school in middle school I had to go to the bathroom so bad. The door to the house was locked. Mom came to answer my knock and as I did the potty dance on the front porch indicating how bad I needed to go Mom just kept mimicking me and jokingly indicate she couldn't open the door. Well after a few moments of this...I just couldn't wait anymore. I wet my pants on the front porch. A 14-year old girl peed her pants. Publicly. Most daughters would NEVER SPEAK TO THEIR MOTHER AGAIN! Me? I laughed. We laughed. Hysterically. Mom didn't realize just how bad I needed to go to the bathroom.

I want to experience this all again. Well I can skip public urination but its the feeling of those moments-not caring about being seen. The endorphins rushing my body from laughing so hard. I don't laugh nearly as much as I used to. I don't see or feel the little things in life as I once did. I don't dance in the rain and splash in the puddles. I'm not pushing myself mentally, physically, or spiritually and it is wearing me down.

I have such a strong desire to be a better person-a better mother to my two beautiful daughters, a better wife to my husband, a better sister and daughter to my family, and a better friend to my friends. Hell, I even want to be a better person to complete strangers!

As I sort all of this out my sister has turned me on to an incredible blog, Smile With Your Heart. (How great is that?!?) I have been reading her most recent "challenge" entries and find myself nearly brimming over with tears each time I read it. She is so insightful, intuitive, inspirational, rational and brilliant. Reading her blog has helped me to start deeply reflecting on many of my layers that I want to fix, heal, strengthen. I tear up thinking of the things I know I can achieve and the excitement of the journey I must embark on to get there.

I think one of the reasons I find myself fantasizing about my next pregnancy and birth so much is because of the journey it takes to get there. For me pregnancy is the ultimate journey. Like hiking a trail that you haven't been able to conquer before. The birth is reaching the summit. Emma's birth was remarkable for me because of how different it was from Sophia's birth. I had so much freedom and personal control. And so much excitement and exhilaration. It was also a time of great inner peace and spiritual connection to not only Emma but Sophia, Phillip, and my family. What I'm lacking in life now is that risk and reward. I can't give birth to a baby everyday-so now I need to seek that challenge and excitement in other ways.

I may decide to start a new blog to report on my journey but for now I'll just use this one. "Adventures with Doodle" is part of the journey after all!

What do you do to stay inspired and motivated?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Back to work

So I survived my first week back to work. I didn't realize how much I had disconnected from work and connected to being a new mom again. I forgot several of my passwords for sites and programs that I use everyday! I even had to have our network administrator reset my network password - that also controls our email. Now I'm back on track.

I'm up at 4:30am to nurse and pump and get everything ready for my day. Some days this is easier than others. Emma had been doing GREAT sleeping (knock on wood, cross your fingers, do whatever you do to keep my good fortune coming) through the night. She was sleeping 8 or 9 pm to 4, 5, or 6 am. That is very manageable. And then the other shoe dropped. Most of the week she would wake at midnight, 1 or 2am...just to keep things interesting. We'll see if this pattern continues this week.

The girls were home last week with our super attentive, organized, Betty Crocker babysitter. This week and the remainder of the summer they get Papacare! It is taking them all to get a little used to the routine. I called home yesterday to see how it was going and Emma was crying and Sophia was clamoring for Phillip's attention. He seemed a little stressed out be managed to get things under control. I received a phone call when I was less than a mile from home with a stern warning to be very quiet when I came in...two babies were sleeping on the floor. Emma was in here chair and Sophia was indeed napping on the floor on her blankets. At 4pm....You win some you loose some.

I would rather be home with my girls but that's not an option for now. So I'll just keep on keeping on and rush home to my squishy babies.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Rebellion

I didn't think our kids started rebelling against us until they were at least 12 but apparently my daughter has decided 3 is a good age to start.

I thought we were POTTY TRAINED! Happy Dance! Down with Pull-Ups! Hail the Potty!

That was until yesterday...when she pissed her pants 5, FIVE, V, times! I say "pissed" because it wasn't accidental. It was on purpose and made me steaming mad.

I was willing to forgive the first "accident" that happened at daycare. She had gone potty before we left the house. Maybe she just didn't get it all out. She wet her pants right before she and Miss Ellen adventured out for the day. She didn't have any extra undies so they put her in a pull-up. I left the pull-up on for her "nap" which was more like quiet time in her room doing everything but napping. That included soaking the pull-up. Strike two.

After a jaunt through the sprinkler I got her dressed. While I was nursing Emma she yells from the bathroom "Mama, I need help." The bathmat, shorts, and undies are soaked. Strike three. New shorts and undies.

Maybe two hours later another cry for help from the bathroom. Puddle on the floor. Soaked shorts and undies. Strike four. This time I have to take Emma out of the baby carrier on my chest, take a pause from making dinner and mop the floor.

While doing laundry-ya know, all the soaking wet, pee smelling clothes- my husband goes into the play/work/exercise room and asks "did you spill water on the steps?" asking Sophie and I and no one in particular at the same time. No. Not that I know of. Meanwhile Sophia is standing on the steps below the landing and gleefully looks up at him and says "No, I peed my pants." Awesome. The husband was standing in a puddle of pee. Swell. Strike five.

She wasn't remorseful. She wasn't embarrassed. She wasn't mad. She didn't even make an effort to get to the bathroom.

I think she is trying to get attention because I have been spending a little more time with Emma the past few days. I've been nursing her more often as I think she is going through her 12 week growth spurt.

Heaven help me if Sophia has wet the bed over night.

The difficult thing about this is teaching the lesson. Do we punish her? Do we put her in Pull-ups for a few days? Do I do what she wants-give her more attention?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Nursing

One of the things I like most about being a mother is nursing my baby. I love the closeness, the warmth, the connection, the ultimate power that I create the food that nourishes my baby.

I love the haphazard, carefree, soft caress of Emma's tiny hand on my breast while she nurses. It's as if she is saying "I love you mama and thanks for making food for me" as she runs her hand back and forth across my bare breast.

As I prepare to go back to work I have found myself starting to fret over my milk supply and miss this constant need she and I both have. I have already noticed a decrease in the amount I am able to pump after a nursing session. I've been vigilant about my water intake and have started fenugreek supplements. And pumping 3-4 times a day between sessions.

My sister and I are training for the Columbus 1/2 marathon in October. Let me rephrase that, she is actively training, I keep debating it in my head. I did my first postpartum work out yesterday. I'm concerned that if I start running big time-like enough to actually commit to the marathon that my milk supply is going to tank.

So what is your advice for keeping up a good milk supply, going back to work, and exercise?

Maternity leave and transitions

This is my last week of maternity leave. As always, it has gone by way to fast. The days have been filled with a baby and toddler, lots of visitors, trips to Ohio and North Carolina, learning the balancing act, photos, snuggles, bubbles and sidewalk chalk, trips to the park and lots of love.

I hate this week because I have to face the fact that I am a full-time working mom. I wish our family/work/life situation allowed us to afford being a SAHM or WAHM but right now it doesn't it.

I sent Sophia to daycare for the full day today so Emma and I could hang out just the two of us. I wanted to spend the whole day just nursing her and staring at her. We did a lot of that but because she is pretty content just to be fed I had to do a lot of other household chores today too. Currently she is sound asleep in her swing sucking on her fingers and just generally being an angel. The love I have for my two girls overwhelms me sometimes.

The love I have for them breaks my heart that I have to leave them each day and go to work. But I realize that because of this love I MUST work.

I'm also having a difficult time with our transition for Sophia's daycare next year. She will be going to full day preschool where my husband works because they offer full tuition remission for the first child. This will save us a lot of money. Emma will go to the daycare Sophia is currently attending. I have struggled with the fact that Sophia will be in her fourth care/learning environment in three years. That she will be with new kids again and leaving her old friends behind at the daycare. That she won't be with her little sister during the day. That her little sister will be dropped off first and I fear she will be like "hey, why am I not going with her?" Sophia LOVES Miss Jackie and Miss Ellen so much!

We have the summer ahead of us and my husband will be with the girls nearly everyday but come fall I'm just not ready for the changes. Everyone keeps telling me that it is good for Sophie to be so flexible and adaptable but I'm having problems with it.

Well I guess I better go stare at Emma for a bit before we have to get Sophia. I'll enjoy the heck out of these next few days.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

In the eyes of a toddler

There are a few things I'm not proud of as a parent. I realize now more than ever that our kids really are sponges. And while still a little humorous it's not really that cute out of the mouth of a three year old.

I swear. I've cleaned up my potty mouth a lot and try very hard not to let the s word or heaven forbid the f word come flying out of my mouth. But crap and dammit? Those are harder to hold back. Spill something? Crap. Forget something? Crap? Toddler driving you nuts-0 and do something she should be doing? Dammit!

And then said toddler drops her favorite toy or can't get her pants on and you hear in the cute little voice a crap or dammit? Well dam nit! She shouldn't be saying those words. Crap. Now I need to be more vigilant about what I'm saying.
---------
Last week my sweet little Sophie peed in the bushes. She came bounding into the house with my husband and our freshly grilled dinner and proudly stated "I peed in the bushes mama."

You did what?

I looked at the husband and inquired.

"Well I knew we wouldn't have made it to the bathroom in time. Don't you want your daughter to learn how to pee outside?"

Yes, but in the appropriate situation...like camping!

I hope this doesn't start a trend.
------
And then there are moments that I'm not ashamed to admit.

Sophia is learning the art of sharing. She just needs a little better judgment. Last week while munching some Goldfish she realized Dolly's (the dog) bowl was empty. In went the Goldfish! About 1/2 a bag worth. I commended her for sharing but also explained that sharing her snack, and it such a large quantity, was actually wasteful because Dolly doesn't need to eat that kid of food.
-----
Sophia's language skills continue to astound me. Each passing week she seems be have become more articulate, better able to express whole sentences, and understand new concepts. Some of my favorite things she has been saying lately:

"I think that is a perfect idea." This has been uttered about getting dressed, having a snack, or other normal, mundane activities.

"I think so." Said when asked questions like "Would you like butter on your corn?" or "Did you wash your hands?"

"Orange is my favorite color! What is your favorite color mama?"

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pumping

The one thing I don't really enjoy about breastfeeding is pumping. It's just tedious, time consuming, and blah. But a necessity-especially as a working mom. So you gotta do what you gotta do.

This morning since Emma slept through the night (YEAH!!!) I was up at 5:30am, nursed, settled her down and pumped. Since Phillip was up getting ready for work we were in the kitchen chatting.

As the pumped hummed in the background he made sounds like the electric beats at a dance club. ksssk ksssk ksssk ksssk-that's what he hears in the motor of the pump.

Sometimes I hear wacko, wacko, wacko, wacko, over and over and over again.

What does your pump say to you?

And since I was up early and pumping he came to my rescue as my coffee got cold on the counter.

It may not be the most fun thing in the world but I guess it could be worse without a sense of humor.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Birth

You would think that 10 weeks after giving birth to Emma I would be over it. On to other things like her cute giggles, smiles, interactions between her and her big sister. But I'm not. I think about her birth nearly everyday. The contractions, the one fleeting moment of doubt, the warmth of the water in the birth pool, feeling her crown and the "ring of fire" and then her alive, alert, tiny body on my chest. I don't just think about her birth, I fantasize about it.

I fantasize about my next birth. My next pregnancy. The next time I will be able to feel that deeply intimate connection between me and my baby when they pass into this outer world.

When I had Sophia I remember saying and thinking the rest of our kids would be adopted because I wasn't going through that again-and I didn't really have that difficult labor and delivery. But now to know what a truly powerful birth can be like is a complete mind shift. I feel more empowered as a mother, a woman, a bearer of children than I ever could have thought possible.

But before you think I've really lost my marbles I can assure you we won't be trying to get pregnant for a few more years. We are enjoying being parents of a toddler and a squishy and adorable infant. For a few more years I will live vicariously through many friends that currently expecting. But I do want to share this poem to all mothers-regardless if they are newly pregnant, on the verge of welcoming their little one, or are done having babies. The message is unmistakable.

I found this on the Empowering Birth Blog.

Invitation to Birthing From Within Mothers

With thanks to Oriah Mountain Dreamer for inspiration


It doesn't interest me how many prenatal books you've read,

I want to know if you hear your child whisper to you

when you lie awake at night.


It doesn't interest me who you are

or where you came from,

I want to know if your authentic mother warrior will awaken

when you birth your baby with all that you have.


It doesn't interest me if you have a birth plan

or where you plan to give birth.

I want to know that you will meet your birth

with an open mind and open heart.

I want to know if you can fully embrace the path

you must journey

to birth yourself as a mother.


It doesn’t interest me if you birth in silence

or as a lioness roars.

I want to know if you are willing to do

whatever it takes to birth your baby,

regardless of how you look,

how you sound,

or what others may think.

I want to know if you are willing to journey

to your depths and through the unknown.


It doesn't interest me how many stitches you get,

I want to know how you are moving in your body.

I want to know if you can take each movement

of your achy dripping body

and know that it has done a marvelous, miraculous thing.


It doesn't matter to me how you feed your baby.

I want to know if you are willing

to nurture your baby

from the depths of your soul and with

unconditional love.


I want to know if in the dark of night,

you can raise your tired bones and weary spirit

and do what needs to be done to care for your children


I want to know if you are willing to give up

your judges and ideals of a perfect parent

and surrender to your heart

and belly

to love your baby until you ache.


This work was compiled and edited by Juji Woodring with contributions from Alejandrina in AZ, Lia from South Africa, Alisa from Texas, Charlene, and Tamara D.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Not Baby Related: Books

My husband, a VERY well read man, always gets on my case for a)the dribble I read and b) not having read "the classics." He gripes that I must not have received with a good education in Ohio's public schools-I beg to differ-we just read different books than they did in North Carolina.

I have read some- Johnny Tremain, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Crucible, The Great Gatsby, Red Badge of Courage, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, etc. But there are many pages I have left unturned - Huck Finn, Lolita, Lord of the Flies, Brave New World, The Grapes of Wrath, etc.

Every summer when I happen into Barnes and Noble and see their "Summer Reading" tables filled with classics I vow that I'm going to start reading what I apparently should have read about 15 years ago. And I never open a single cover.

So where do I begin? If you were my high school English teacher what would you have on my summer reading list? What contemporary books need to be added to the list?

This summer I'm going to finally do my summer reading. And conveniently, because my husband LOVES books I know we have many of these classics sitting on the many bookshelves in our home.

Can't wait to read your recommendations.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Updates

No thought provoking post today just general updates on the kiddos!

Sophia is 99.5% potty trained! Break out the champagne! She has only had accidents 2 of the past 25 days and one of those was because she was having too much fun playing! She has been wearing undies to bed and has woken up dry 11 out of 12 days since we transitioned out of the pull ups! She has also been successful in pooping on the potty and has been more regular too! So weird that my measure as a successful mom is my daughter's bathroom habits!

Sharing a room with Emma continues to go well. I put Emma down shortly after Sophia went to bed on Sunday night. Sophia wanted to look at her balloon but was less than happy when after looking at it I told her she couldn't keep it in her bed because it wasn't safe. A fit ensued. Emma slept right through Sophie's crying and screaming. Amazing.

Emma is two months today! We don't have our 2 month appointment until later this month so I'll have to update on her growth then. She took her first 'real' nap yesterday! She slept for 2 hours and 20 minutes in her crib. It was great.

We are headed to Ohio soon for my dad's retirement party. I'm looking forward to all of my siblings and extended family meeting Emma. Being so spread out across the country it makes me sad that they usually don't get to meet the wee ones until they are not so wee anymore so this is great timing and it will be fun to be among family for the second time in six months!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mother's Day

I'm still not used to this holiday. This will be my third "Mother's Day" and I don't know what to feel. Isn't everyday Mother's Day? We tend to our children. Give them our love and affection-hope they reciprocate it!

Mother's Day to me is not a holiday in May but the day my children were born. The most selfless act of love was enduring the pains of labor and feeling them descend from the womb through my body and into the world. The joy and excitement and love that makes your heart grow three sizes-that is the ultimate Mother's Day for me.

I feel blessed to have been able to share this intimate experience with my Mom twice now. She was by my side when Sophia was born. Rubbing my back, putting cool compresses on my forehead, wasn't offended when I told her to stop touching me when I was in the final stage of labor, and although she swore she was going to stay "north" during the birth she was their encouraging me and cheering me on during the hour and a half of pushing-just like she was their on the sidelines of a soccer game telling me to run!

And again just two months ago Mom was in my bedroom fearlessly watching me give birth to our second daughter in a pool of water. Something she was skeptical about but knew it was what I wanted and is now a "convert."

These moments are what make me feel like a mother. And these are the moments I choose to reflect upon today. Not chocolate or shiny things or the desire to be left alone but the moment I became a mother and my mother became a grandmother yet again. Perpetuating what motherhood is all about. And one day I hope I can share the experience of becoming a mother with my girls when they are ready to have children of their own.

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Sisters, Sisters....

"There were never more devoted sisters..."

Eight weeks into their sibling-hood and they still like each other! Well Emma doesn't really have a choice right now but Sophia does!

I was really expecting some "Mama put her back!" or "Can't she go away now?" But Sophia has really been nothing but enamored with Emma since she arrived. She just LOVES Emma. She is quick to get a pacifier or oversee a diaper change. She has frequently let Emma 'borrow' her green blanket and Smokey Bear. And she loving test drives all of the soft, squishy stuffed animals Emma has received as gifts to make sure they are worthy of her little sister's love.

The other thing Sophia is sharing with her little sister? Her bedroom.

I finally started putting Emma to bed in her crib about two weeks ago. This has gone better than expected but started out rough. The first night I put her in her crib I had the monitor on and couldn't sleep worth a darn. I couldn't decipher Sophia's noises from Emma's noises. I slept with my head in a precarious angle to keep an ear toward the monitor. I think Emma slept for about three hours before I retrieved her for nursing. I think she could have slept longer but because I couldn't sleep I mistook her grunts and moans as a feeding cue. The next night was better but I still prematurely got her from bed. I carried her into our room to nurse but upon laying her down in the bed she slept for three more hours!

Sophia doesn't really seemed to be bothered by Emma's cries or little grunts when sleeping. When I go in the room at night to get Emma sometimes Sophia will sit up in bed and look at us but then goes right back to sleep. Other times she continues to sleep right through. I was worried that she would wake up each time and want to join us in bed. Luckily for all of us, this is not the case.

The other thing that has amazed me about these two small creatures sharing a room and space in general is their absolute oblivion to one another. They both seem to tune out each other's cries, tantrums, fits, etc. It's like the other doesn't exist. They just go about their business without a care in the world. Sophia often is right in Emma's face when she is crying and only tries to console her little sister "It's okay Emma, it's okay." And then she'll try to soothe her with a pacifier! Emma apparently completely blocks out Sophia's tantrums as if she can hear nothing.

"We think and we act as one
Those who've seen us
Know that not a thing could come between us"

Friday, April 29, 2011

Grumpies and laughter

Today started out pretty good. Sophie has started coming out of her room in the morning on her own. This is a new thing as of last week. Until then she had waited for Phillip or I to come and get her up. It was heaven! Now she is being a bit more independent and rousing on her own. She came bounding out of her room and asked "What you watching mama?"

Well I was watching the Royal Wedding while nursing Emma and told Sophie I was watching a wedding of a real Prince and Princess. When she turned three her magic "princess" button must have been activated because she talks Princess all the time now. She snuggled on the couch with us and watched in sheer amazement.

While I was whipping up some scones as a nod to the royal couple she snuggled with her blankets on the floor and was just plain cute!


Then mid-morning came around and my sweet little girl turned into a cranky beast.

We got dressed to go to the grocery store-she wanted to wear a tank top in 60 degree weather. She wanted to watch a movie on the computer and argued with me about my need to check my bank account and dig up some online coupons. She wouldn't let Aunt Mimi get her in the car. Her sunglasses weren't sitting on her face right. She told me the music in the car was too loud. I told her to close her ears! Meg looked at me and said "you are so Mom's daughter!" Something obviously crawled up her pants and stayed there.

The grocery trip was hit or miss with her attitude but when I couldn't (read wouldn't) find her fresh mozzerella cheese to eat on the way home she was less than thrilled with the Goldfish crackers.

We got home and she dutifully helped unload and put away the groceries. She loves this part of the trip. She was then eating a snack of a pita pocket as I sat down to nurse Emma. I had just gotten Emma to latch on when Sophie was "sitting" on the couch. She thinks the couch is a jungle gym these days. Before I knew what was happening I heard the thud of her head hitting the floor behind the couch. This certainly wasn't funny at the time but when Meg and I recalled the incident for Phillip 12 hours later we could hardly stop laughing.

I yelled for Meg to "grab the baby!" She came running in the living room unable to see where Sophie was or what to do. She told me she nearly had a heart attack when I yelled for her and "threw a knife in the kitchen" as she came barreling into the room to see what happened. Meanwhile the thud of Sophie's head on the floor startled Emma so much she flew off my breast. I thrust Emma into Meg's arms to rescue Sophie. I recall telling her "I'm going to hug you now and make sure you are okay but I'm going to yell at you in a minute because the couch isn't a jungle gym!" Sophie is fine.

Several hours later after Miss Cantankerous wouldn't nap she had finally settled down. I was paying bills, Meg was tending to Emma, and we thought Sophie was quietly playing in her room. I wasn't going to disturb a quiet child because it was the first peace we had had nearly all day. Meg got up to use that bathroom and the next thing I knew she was doubled over laughing.

I quickly grabbed my camera then went to see what was so funny. I guess sometimes when the kids are too quiet you should check on them!


Sophie was in the bathroom. She had successfully used the potty all by herself but then decided to stay sans pants and stand on the toilet. She had the shutters open and was showing the "world" her cash and prizes. Good goodness we don't really have a lot of traffic on our street!

So that was how our day went. Some grumpies, some laughter, and some cuteness.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dental Hygiene

When I was younger I wanted to be a dental hygienist. At my yearly check ups I would sit in the chair and open my mouth so wide they would actually have to tell me to close my mouth a bit so they could clean my teeth. I loved going to the dentist and still don't mind it. I'd like to think that I had good oral health even as a toddler. Apparently this is something you can not pass down like hair color or freckles.

Getting Sophia to brush her teeth is such a daunting task. She loves her tooth brush and sweet tasting toothpaste but is completely lost on the concept of brushing. She refuses to let me help. I have explained that we need to brush all of our teeth, front, back, top, bottom. I have tried brushing my teeth with her so she understands better how to do it and how long it takes. We have watched videos and animations on YouTube. She still only brushes for 5 seconds and really is just sucking the toothpaste off the brush.

I don't really want her to have to endure fillings at her first dentist visit. I've tried explaining the importance of good brushing habits but none of it seems to sink in.

How have you taught your toddler healthy brushing habits?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

After two kids adding more is a breeze

I now understand why so many parents of three or more kids say that after having two kids you can handle anything!

It is amazing how much juggling you have to do to get everything done. My mornings seem to be a guessing game of who is going to cooperate with me, who is going to cry, can I get a shower in, will I be able to have breakfast?

It look forward to Monday - Wednesday when Sophie goes to preschool for a little down time and some one-on-one time with Emma but it always seems rushed or filled with quick errands. So a lot of it is in the car out of the car with Emma. Then once home feeding again and trying to get the girls down for a nap.

Each day is a see-saw of in the car out of the car, entertain one, feed the other. Up down, in out.

Adding another kid to the mix will add another layer of organized chaos but by then I'll have the whirlwind figured out and Sophie will really be able to help with her younger siblings.

And since K from Two Adults, One Brown Baby requested it....here are some photos of the darlings.




Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What I've learned in a month

Sunday was Emma's one month "birthday." Today we had her one month well baby check up. I've learned a lot in the past month.

Emma does not like a dirty diaper. She prefers to be clean and dry at all times. I guess I can't blame her.

Emma does not like the "bucket" or car seat as most refer to it.

Emma does not really like the swing or baby papasan chair but slowly warming up to them.

Emma gets told "hold on a minute love bun!" a lot as I have to tend to Sophia or some other household something or other.

Emma loves to be held. I think she prefers the warmth of my body and sound of my heart and breath. The first three months really are like the fourth trimester!

I've learned that children are a lot like snowflakes-no two are alike.

Emma weighed in at 8 lbs. this morning and 22.5 inches long. I can't really believe that she has grown 2 inches since birth but only gained 6 ounces. But her 0-3month clothing is actually starting to fit.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Sleep

Sleep is something I cherish. I love the cool of the sheets, the warmth of my down comforter and waking up feeling refreshed. Now as a mother of two I cherish the sleep I do get even more.

Emma

I never intended to be a co-sleeping family. Emma has been a great sleeper from the start. We were a little worried in fact because she slept so long and so hard in her first few days of life. I could nurse her and put her down for a nap with little fuss. In the first couple of nights she even let me have a few 4 or 5 hour stretches of sleep! Unheard of right? Well then she changed her ways a bit. She would sleep hard, nurse and then it would take her an HOUR to get back to sleep. Causing me to be awake for nearly two full hours. That makes for one tired mama.

Last week or so I was getting such inadequate sleep I started heading down that scary path of self destruction because I was so sleep deprived. It is so hard to go to bed at 9 or 10 pm only to be woken up two hours later to nurse, two hours after that....

So I started nursing Emma in bed, with the lights out and she would just stay put. We became a co-sleeping family out of necessity. Phillip was a little worried he would roll over on Emma but I am so aware she is there that I won't let him roll on to her. But now this plan is back firing a bit. Emma has become a lazy nurser and will nurse for nearly an hour on one side! Because she nursing so long I am not falling asleep during the nursing session and then she is rousing shortly after nursing to nurse on the other side.

So basically I keep getting deeper in the red of the sleep debt cycle. Something has to give.

Sophia

Upon talking to my neighbor who has kids 5, 3, and 3 months about sleep and naptime she told me I had to cut out Sophie's nap. Sophie has been going to bed fairly well but will stay awake until 9:30 or 10pm talking to herself and singing songs! My neighbor suggested cutting out the nap to help make Sophie dog tired so she actually goes to sleep at bedtime!

No nap makes her cranky and irritable in the late afternoon/evening. And no nap means no downtime for me. And no nap means that my chances of getting a synchronized nap for Emma, Sophie and I during the week is null.

And Sophie is still staying awake after "bedtime" talking and singing to herself!

So now I don't know what to do.

I'm ready for Emma to move out of the bassinet and into her crib but I can't figure out how to start! Right now Emma is going to bed after Sophia but because Sophia isn't asleep. And Emma has some grunting/fussing to do before she gets to sleep. So because of their respective sleep issues I haven't started putting them in the room together.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Fits of Laughter

Anyone who knows me well knows I like to laugh, a lot.

Having my mom here and two kids has definitly provided me with many fits of laughter these past two weeks.

The other day we were outside and Sophie looked to the sky to see an airplane. It had that cloud trail behind it leaving a streak in the sky. Sophie asked me to get it for her. I told her I couldn't reach it. She turned to Phillip and said..."You get it, you're a tall guy."

Yesterday I went for my two week postpartum check up. Sophie was in tow because we were headed to the grocery store after the appointment. She patiently played with the toys in the room with Gramma. Before we left I asked her if she needed to go potty. She went in the bathroom and got a dixie cup off the counter and told me that she wanted to pee in the cup. Just like the moms do for the urine sample at prenatal visits.

Last night I asked my mom to fix me an ice cream cone. I was changing Emma and getting ready to nurse her. I heard her in the kitchen, alone, laughing hysterically. I couldn't figure out what was so funny. She came back to the bedroom barley able to tell me what was so funny. The ice cream cone was minuscule. I bought "kid cones" because it was the only cake cone I could find. I knew they would be smaller than regular cones but didn't realize they were only 1 1/2 inches tall and 1 inch in diameter. I would have to eat about 10 kid cones to make the equivalent of one regular cone. We laughed about this for at least an hour and throughout the rest of the evening and today would just look at each other an laugh!

There have been many more spontaneous, ridiculous outbursts over the past few weeks. I should have written down some of the other funny things Sophie has said. Laughter sure beats the tantrums!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

3 minutes to myself

Quick! Let me post something. I have moments to spare until I need to feed, change, help, or do something else for someone else!

Things are going pretty well. I had a week with Sophia at daycare full time and this week we cut her back to just preschool Monday-Wednesday for three hours. Her disposition has changed dramatically as she has had way more time with me. She loves that we have breakfast here, I take her and pick her up from daycare, and she comes home mid-day. She's still a toddler and nearly 3 years old so we still have our battles but she has gotten considerably better over the past few weeks. My mom heads home next week. That's when the real test will begin of how well I'm handling everything!

Emma is continuing to grow and develop and show us who she is. Two weeks young today. She doesn't cry much as she does screech and squawk. She sounds like an owl. Phillip has taken to calling her Hoagie roll because of her long lean body. I'm amazed that for at least four months when she was in the womb we called her Emma. But now that she is here in the flesh I constantly try to call her Sophie and her name usually comes out Sophemma. Poor thing. I'll get right some day!

She sleeps a lot! She has already given me a few nights where she has gone four to five hours at a stretch between feedings letting me have solid sleep spells. But once she wakes and is fed it often takes 30, 45, to 60 minutes to get her back to sleep. That makes for a tired mama. During the day I can feed her and put her down relatively quickly but at night it's a different story. Hopefully once she transitions to her crib instead of the bassinet she'll do better.

Emma is breastfeeding well. I'd give her a 7 out of 10 if we were judging. She has torn up my right nipple and I slather lanolin on it every chance I get. I'm going for my 2 week post-postpartum check up today so I'll ask the midwife about that. Ouch!

The only thing really giving me anxiety is any semblance of a schedule. I feel like our eating and sleeping schedule is so sporadic. I was going to try the Contented Little Baby method but haven't gotten the gusto to put it to the test yet. The schedule she suggests seems to regimented and a bit depriving Emma of eating when she needs to eat. I would love to hear from other moms as to how they slipped into a schedule with their new babies. Also, how they have worked the balance between frequent feeding and entertaining/enjoying their other children.

Duty calls....

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Emma's Birth Story (Part 3-Compare and Contrast)

Now that I have experienced both a hospital birth and a home birth I have done a lot of comparing and contrasting the two births.

I don't begrudge the way Sophia was brought into this world at all. It was what we felt was right for us at the time. We lucked out with our OB and she understood that I desired a natural birth and helped maintain that as much as possible.

There are a few main things that made the home birth such an amazing experience.

First of all just being in the comfort of my own home, in my pajamas, on my bed, with my family around helped to maintain a calm and loving atmosphere. I loved not having to put on that dumb hospital gown!

Secondly, I was able to eat and drink as I saw fit. I had coffee and a bagel the morning I went into labor. Not knowing if it was real labor at first and not knowing how long it was going to last it was nice to be able to eat and drink. I also had a Popsicle mid way through the labor. Yum!

Thirdly, after delivering I felt great. If you look back at the photo of me in the tub moments after delivery you will see how alert and awake I am. Not only do I think the water birth contributed to that but also the low stress of being at home helped to keep my energy level up. This also has to do with the very quick labor I had with Emma compared to the full 22 hours with Sophia.

Fourth, I didn't tear hardly at all. Peggy and Kim confirmed that I had a small nick that did not need to be mended. With Sophie, I tore, a lot. It hurt! I attribute the lack of tearing to being able to deliver in the water, control my pushing much better, and being able to adjust my body accordingly to a position that maximized the ease of the delivery rather than convenience of a doctor being able to see what was going on. The lack of tearing has kept me much more comfortable in regards to sitting, walking, getting in and out of bed, hemorrhaging, etc. Because I didn't have complications there I have more energy and want to be up and out of bed more.

With Sophia I wanted to stay in bed and my pajamas for a long time! With Emma I have had the energy to be up and a bit more active. We even took a trip to the grocery store yesterday!

All in all I just feel great. I feel more confident but I'm sure that has a lot to do with this being our second go around at being new parents. Emma is for the most part a very calm baby. She was very alert upon birth and has been very mellow and relaxed since then.

My biggest hope for anyone reading this is to just educate themselves and realize there are more options out there than we initially think. Having a baby is a NATURAL process but we allow ourselves to get trapped and blindsided by the medical community thinking they know best. A hospital birth can be a wonderful, rewarding experience. But there are other options. Regardless of which option a woman chooses I just wish more would look at the possibilities of home birth, water birth, using a birth center, VBAC, etc. My only regret with Sophia's birth is that I didn't follow my gut and use a midwife and do a home birth for her too.

For more information about midwifery and home birth check out my midwives' website.