Thursday, December 31, 2009

My prayer for 2010.

2009. Eh. So many good things happened this year, so why do I feel like "good riddance?" I don't know. This was a hard year in alot of ways, most of which I've kept from this blog. Pay cuts for both me and TH. Furloughs. Ever-growing demyelination lesions on someone's MRIs. Parents in the hospital, other family members going through painful divorces and illness. Finding out we closed on our house three days (THREE DAYS!!) too early to qualify for the first-time homebuyer tax credit. That one crappy week at the end of my maternity leave when we had $3.49 in the checking account yet somehow managed to stay in the black until the next payday. Losing our last grandparent right before Christmas.


Of course it wasn't all bad. I mean, we did have this:


J turns 3.
Quote: "I'm a big boy now!"

And this:

TH finally finishes his M. Ed.

Quote: "Look at me, all educated and stuff!"


And of course, this little guy:

Jr. is born 9.29.09.

Quote: "My hair looks like shag carpet!"

Like alot of people, though, we kind of lost some optimism this year. TH and I find ourselves on many nights laying in bed worrying about the future. Will we still have good jobs next year? TH works for the government, and I'm in a profession that requires people to spend money on their dogs and cats when they might not be able to feed their children. Will our house ever regain its value? (Unlikely anytime soon). If, God forbid, we lose our health insurance, could we afford the medication one of us needs? (Probably not, we're talking meds that cost in the four figures for a month's supply without prescription coverage. Chew on that for awhile.) So much uncertainty, a feeling that we've had a few times before but never this intense.


So instead of resolutions, I have a prayer, my hopes for 2010. Not that I don't want to lose those last 10 pounds of baby weight, but I've got other things on my mind this year...



My Prayer for 2010

Heavenly Father,

Please watch over and hold our little family in the coming year.

Give us the foresight and willpower to save our money when we would have more fun spending it.

Grant us the grace and wisdom to appreciate our jobs and paychecks, rather than griping and moaning about petty office "hardships" while we drive past people on the unemployment line.

Encourage us to be peaceful about changes that may be out of our control, and to remember that there is a Plan for us, even if we can't always see what it is.

Remind us to wake up each morning with a fresh perspective and faith that each day is a new day with new opportunities.

Remove hate and anger and jealousy from our hearts, as we don't know what hardships and trials motivate others to behave the way they do.

Give us patience to parent our children lovingly, even when we have a really hard time doing it. Help us cherish these sleepless nights with our baby and remember that they are only this small once.

Give us the strength to deal with our illnesses and infirmities while retaining an open and optimistic spirit. We know that every challenge is given to us for a reason.

Remind us every day that our marriage is a sacred covenant that should be nurtured despite the exhaustion and chaos of our daily life.

We don't know what lies on the road ahead. But we do have faith.

Amen.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Well, we know the Hot Wheels company won't go out of business this year.

Christmas Morning 2009


Christmas is over, and here I am back at work trying to recuperate from the utter exhaustion of a fantastic but really tiring day. Everyone is finally feeling better, so at least the kids have been getting some sleep - including Jr. who has taken to his new sleep routine pretty well and has been consistently blessing us with only 2 feedings a night for the last few days. It's funny how once you have kids you get used to lack of sleep, before I would have cringed at the phrase "2 feedings a night," and now when I hear that I think, "Eh, that's pretty good!" But I digress.

Christmas with kids is so much more fun than Christmas with two grownups. TH and I didn't even get each other gifts this year because we're being oh so practical, saving up for a kitchen makeover next year. This is the first year that J seemed to have some inkling as to what was going down on Christmas Eve, but he's still young enough that he was completely SHOCKED when he came downstairs and saw all the presents (and I quote: "Why are all these toys down here??"). He really was a good boy this year, especially becoming a big brother, so Santa was very generous. And the cars and trucks obsession continues for another year, with Hot Wheels being the word of the day. Everything was Hot Wheels - new Hot Wheels cars (he now has well over 100 little cars that have made their way into every fricking nook and cranny of our house), Hot Wheels playsets, and for the first time, the fabled Hot Wheels Racetrack. Which, by the way, took OVER AN HOUR for a certain husband of mine to put together because he kept playing with it. Tonka trucks were also a big hit, as well as an extremely (EXTREMELY) boring DVD about construction sites, fire trucks, and planes that J has wanted to watch non-stop since he opened it.

He has no clue what's going on. Look at the bags under his eyes.



So many Hot Wheels, so little time.


The other favorite toy is an airport playset that TH was sure J wouldn't like, but I knew from watching him play over the past couple of months that he would love it. I think 3 is the age of imagination. When J plays, he's started to make up imaginary situations and add voices, and I'm always amazed at the things he says because they give me a glimpse of his view of the world. When he was playing with his airport set, I heard him pretending to be a flight attendant, telling one of the little people "Excuse me, sir, would you like some pretzels or water? How about some french fries?" and pretending to put the little people through security, telling them they "have to take your shoes off--but don't take your socks off, the floor is dirty!" It was pretty funny.

Look, a cute little baby with a cute little "My First Christmas" outfit! Notice the artful use of the baby to cover up Mommy's double chin situation.


I was just happy to have our little family all together, healthy and happy, on Christmas morning. Christmas this year was overshadowed by sadness, because TH's grandmother passed away suddenly last week so he was out of town until late Christmas Eve at her funeral. She was a wonderful lady with the sweetest personality, and although she lived a long life her passing was still a huge shock to TH. It's so strange to think of our grandparents all being gone now, and our kids will never know them. When people say that J he looks just like TH, what they're really saying is that he looks just like TH's dad because that's who TH looks like, and so what they're REALLY saying without knowing it is that he looks just like TH's grandma, because that's who his dad looks like. When we look at J and Jr., she's there, in their faces, along with all of the other grandparents that were gone long before Jr. was even a thought in our minds. So Friday was kind of bittersweet for us, watching our little kids have fun in the innocence of Christmas, but with the family's loss reminding us how quickly it all goes by...

At the end of the day, tired, happy, and piled up on Mommy.

After multiple attempts at a self portrait, this is the best I got.


Full view of the new outfit from Granny.



Visiting friends on Christmas: it's enough to wear a baby out.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Yep, we're parents.

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. A blur of coughing, sneezing, congestion, vomiting...cold and flu season this year has pretty much kicked our whole family's butt. It started right before Thanksgiving--A MONTH AGO--and is still ongoing, although everyone seems a little bit better this week. It's been one of those long, drawn-out illnesses that started with TH, spread like wildfire to me and J, seemed to skip Jr., subsided for about a day, then sprang up again with me and finally Jr. last week. There's nothing as pitiful as a baby crying so hard his face is red but you can't hear it because his voice is so hoarse. And the coughing. The coughing! Weeks of coughing in the middle of the night, that annoying kind of cough where you try to stop. but. you. just. can't. stop. coughing. The coughing led to several horrid sleepless nights, because Jr. was still sleeping in bed with us and every time he would finally fall asleep one of us would start coughing and wake him up, and then he would need to nurse, but couldn't nurse well because he was so congested, so he would start crying and coughing, and on and on.

So one night last week we made the somewhat dumb decision to attempt to transition Jr. into sleeping in his crib, in his room, right in the midst of Cold and Flu Hell Week 2009. Maybe we weren't thinking straight. The first night went alright, I guess, with Jr. waking up about 5-6 times. This being our second rodeo our expectations for these types of nights are much lower, so we pretty much knew that the first night or two we'd be up all night, but we knew that if we kept at it he would get used to it eventually. So the second night, I fully expected to be up several times again but hoped that we would all get at least a little bit more rest. Everything started out well. We managed to bathe both kids and in the process give them both a "steam treatment" for their congestion, get everyone dressed for bed, and get our new bedtime routine (TH handles J, and being the "milk truck" I handle Jr.) finished by 8pm. Jr. was cooperative, settling into his Miracle Blanket without a fight for once and even drifting off to sleep in his crib by himself after a little rocking chair time. J was his usual crazed-right-before-bedtime self but fell asleep almost instantly once his light was out. TH and I crept back to our room and for the first time in 11 weeks watched an episode of Dexter together. Success!

Or not. Around midnight, Jr. was amazingly still asleep but I was startled awake by J, who had silently come into our room and was standing right next to my head in that creepy little kid way where they somehow will you to wake up without making a sound. "I need a new shirt," he said.

"What happened? Did you have an accident in your bed?"

"I threw up on my shirt. And on Pandy." Pandy is his panda bear. Great. Vomit clean-up in the middle of the night. So TH got up and started stripping sheets while I changed J's clothes. Problem solved, everyone went back to bed (after a little mini-tantrum about not being able to take vomity Pandy back to bed with him.) One hour later, I heard J coming back down the hall to our room, and before I could ask what was wrong he stopped in the door and I heard the distinctive sound of more upchucking. "He's barfing! Get up, he's barfing again!" TH jumped up and ran J into his bathroom, and while I was trying to find the carpet stuff to clean up the new mess, Jr. started wailing. So I abandoned the carpet and went to attend to Jr. TH was left to change PJ's once again and get J back into bed. Just as I came out of Jr.'s room, as TH was tucking him in, J suddenly sat up, leaned over the side of his bed, and vomited again, all over himself, the floor, the side of the bed, and TH. So we started stripping sheets AGAIN (at this point we'd all been up for another 45 minutes), and as we were getting J settled down Jr. woke up again, and when I went into his room and reached into the crib in the dark to pick him up I put my hand in a pool of vomited milk.

So there we were, TH scrubbing the carpet in J's room and changing sheets for the second time in 2 hours, me changing crib sheets with a crying-but-pitifully-hoarse baby laying on a blanket on the floor, and everyone coughing and sniffling and generally miserable. It was one of those times that is funny when you look back at it, but very unfunny when it's going down. As TH and I met up at the washing machine an hour later, he turned to me and said, "You realize we're washing vomity kids' sheets at 3am."

"Yep," I said.

"I guess we really are parents," he said.

"Yep."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Brothers


Two years ago, we thought we were done having children, that we were fine with having an only child. Despite the usual 3-year-old insanity, J is a great kid, the answer to our prayers in many ways. Financially and logistically, we got into a really good groove over the past couple of years with just the three of us. Everyone was receiving enough attention, and there wasn’t really a great reason to rock the boat.

But everytime I would get together with my sisters and we would reminisce about growing up – the good, the bad, and let’s face it the sometimes really ugly – I couldn’t help but feel that for J to grow up an only child would be a disservice to him. Being a twin, I’ve never known a single child’s life – I’ve always had a sibling. Someone to play with, someone to talk to, someone to get in trouble with and to tattle on and get them in trouble. Sure we had our rough times (especially the teenage years – good God I don’t know how my mom survived 3 girls in high school at the same time!), but now that we’re adults the biggest blessing in my life besides TH and my boys is my relationship with my sisters. As J got older I also started to realize that having a little “competition” for our attention is also not a bad thing – one advantage of having siblings is realizing early on that you’re not the only person on earth.

Over the last few weeks I’ve started to see little signs here and there that J has warmed up to having a brother, and seeing the two of them together warms my heart in a way I didn’t really expect. Now that he’s used to the whole baby routine, J has become so helpful, getting diapers for me, looking for a dropped pacifier, helping at bathtime (his FAVORITE thing right now is helping give Jr. a bath.) He’ll come get me if the baby is crying, and when the music on Jr.’s bouncy seat goes off J will restart it without us asking. He’s stopped being jealous about breastfeeding – so much attention on the baby!—and will sit next to us patiently during feedings. The best part has been the social interaction between the two of them. Jr.’s favorite person on earth besides me is J, hands down. He turns his head towards J’s voice, and when J gets all in his business to “show” Jr. his toys (i.e. thrust them into the baby’s face until he goes cross-eyed) Jr. smiles and coos, and J exclaims “He’s smiling! He’s smiling at me!” It’s so freaking cute! When Jr. is having tummy time on the floor, J will lay in front of him encouraging him to hold his head up, telling him “Good job, baby! You’re doing it!” I love seeing them bonding with each other and starting their own little relationship that they’ll have for the rest of their lives.

Of course being siblings means there is some rivalry already, too. J has also started making random comments like “I want to put my foot on the baby’s head” or “I want to take the baby’s blanket off and make him cold” or (I kid you not) “I want to throw Jr. up into the fan.” He says all of these things in a very matter-of-fact way, and I try not to pay too much attention to it. I remember being the older kid—my younger sister and I have the exact same age difference as Jr. and J—and well, sometimes it gets old watching the baby get fussed over all the time. So I tell J it’s okay if he doesn’t always like the baby, and that I understand if he feels left out. And usually J will think about it, and earnestly tell me, “But I do love my baby brother, Mommy.”

I think having Jr.was a good decision for everyone.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Well, it was fun while it lasted.

So…yeah. Thanksgiving. I don’t even have the energy to recount the whole crazy saga but suffice it to say that:

  • We flew with both kids for the first time. J was amazingly well-behaved throughout both airports and on the flights. Which was good because on the way there, when we got on the plane the guy in front of us groaned and said loudly, “Great, there’s little kids behind us” the same way you would say “Great, I just stepped in dog sh--.”. Jr. of course slept, nursed, looked around for 5 minutes, and then slept some more.
  • Sleeping on a fold-out sofa bed with a newborn and a toddler – NEVER AGAIN.
  • J really likes snow. And mountains. He kept proclaiming that he wants to move to “Denber.” Me too, kid, me too.
  • We all got sick. Except, miraculously for Jr., whose only symptom despite all of us repeatedly coughing and sneezing in his face has been mild nasal congestion. TH and I both had sore throats Monday morning before our flight, and by Wednesday we were all coughing, sneezing, stuffed up, and kind of miserable. On top of that, for the first time in my Colorado-born-and-raised life I experienced altitude sickness, which I kind of thought wasn’t a real thing until last week. It all culminated in J vomiting 3 days in a row, not from an upset stomach but from gagging after a severe coughing fit. One vomiting episode involved chocolate milk and us having to trade in our rental car because of the, um, mess, and another was right in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner. Awesome.
  • As usual I want to move back home. More than ever.

In other news…today was my first day back at work. Weird. In some ways, it’s almost like I never left, like having Jr. and going on maternity leave never happened. I had appointments lined up as soon as I walked in the door, and multiple surgeries and emergencies. I almost forgot that I needed to pump until I started, ahem, leaking. My clients were so happy to see me, and *most* of my patients managed to still be alive and well in my absenceJ. J was happy enough to go see his friends at daycare, and thankfully TH has managed to work out a work-from-home schedule for a few weeks so Jr. won’t have to start daycare until January when he’s 13-14 weeks old. So in that sense, it was a little easier for me this time around because I knew the baby was in good hands and I already have excellent childcare for J.

On the other hand, I was so torn this morning when I left for work. I’ve enjoyed being home with Jr. so much more than I did with J, partly because he’s a waaaay easier baby than J was, and partly because I’m waaaaay more relaxed and confident this time around. Especially in the last couple of weeks, since he’s been “talking” and smiling at me and looking into my eyes when he’s nursing. I’m falling in love with this little guy, just like I did the first time. I had days where I really thought I could be a stay at home mom, and other days (see previous posts LOL) where I thought I was going to go crazy being home with the two of them. But I realized today as I was doing surgery and laughing with my coworkers that I really am happiest when I can have both worlds. I get a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment from my job that I just MISS when I’m at home, even though I feel like being a mom is the most rewarding thing I do. It’s all a balancing act, and I’m so far from reaching a perfect balance, but I think it’s going to be okay.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top Ten Phrases I've Uttered the Last 2 Weeks

Okay this is my last "venting" post for awhile. I promise.


I'm pretty sure one of the following phrases will be Jr.'s first words because he hears me say these ALL. DAY. LONG.


10. "Stop. I said, stop doing that. STOP THIS INSTANT. I feel like I just said stop."


9. "You're not listening. Today is a bad listening day."


8. "What did I just say? What did I just say??"


7. "I'm counting to 3."


6. "And if you don't think I'm serious, feel free to test me." (my favorite line, also useful when arguing with TH lol)


5. "DO NOT TALK BACK TO ME."


4. "STOP TRYING TO STOMP ON THE DOG. If she bites you...you deserve it." (Don't worry, we're talking about an 8 pound dog here, she can't really do any damage.)


3. "Do not touch him while he's sleeping. Leave him alone. Stop messing with him, he's sleeping!! He's---you just woke the baby up."


2. "I'm not saying it again." (hmmm....yet I say this alot).


1. "I love you, but you're making Mommy crazy."


But I do love him though.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That sound? That would be all hell breaking loose.

Okay so it hasn't been that bad, but the past couple of weeks have left me a bit drained. Jr. has been a delight, finally "waking up" and starting to smile and coo and wave his arms around when we talk to him and hold his head up and (kind of) sleep well. Taking care of him is a thousand million zillion times easier for me, mentally and physically. I've never been a huge fan of the newborn phase, but I've been trying to cherish these times a little bit more with Jr. because I'm 99.9999% sure we won't be having any more kids. I don't mind the getting up at night as much, either because I'm more used to it--we all know that once you have kids you never really sleep like you did before you had kids--or I'm more efficient at it or both. Jr. is still sleeping in our bed but at least he's making it from 8pm-midnight before waking up. So that means of course that I go to bed every night right after the kids so I can get one good block of sleep. It's so lame being a parent of a little infant, I have no life...



However. Staying home with J and Jr. has been a bit trying lately. The combination of having a new sibling, being 3.5 years old, and changes to the routine i.e. having Mommy's home all day every day has resulted in J being completely unpredictable and on some days this close to being sold on Craig's List. Just kidding. Every day is a roller coaster it seems. Part of the day is us having a good time hanging out together, cooking, doing crafts, watching movies, walking to the park, etc. The other part of the day is inevitably me raising my voice at some point, J hanging out in the time out spot, me standing in my closet or hiding in my bathroom counting to ten (or 1,000), and me texting TH with increasing frequency as 5pm creeps closer: "r u getting off on time?"..."what time r u leaving wrk?"..."r u coming straight home after wrk?"..."where r u?"
I've never seen J be this bratty. I hate to use that word but it's the only one that really encapsulates how he's been the last couple of weeks. For whatever reason he's suddenly realized that he can be really defiant, and has started talking back to me, EVERY TIME I talk to him it seems. If I tell him to put his shoes on, he says "YOU put your shoes on. I'm not putting my shoes on." If I tell him computer time is over, he tells me he's not turning the computer off, ever. He argues with me about going upstairs to find his cup, and where his cars are supposed to go, and whether he has to get ready for bed, and what we're having for lunch. I get so tired of arguing with a 3 year old! When I send him to time-out, he yells and screams the whole time, "OUT OF TIME OUT!! I'M GETTING OUT!!" If I'm attending to the baby while he's supposed to be in timeout or in his room, he plays a "game" where he runs out of timeout giggling, and when I see him he runs back. Some days he actually yells "You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!!" (I'm not kidding. Thanks, Starfall.com). And I get angry, and start yelling, and J starts acting more crazed, and I get a headache. Meanwhile amazingly Jr. sleeps through it all or kind of bemusedly watches us from the bouncy seat.

To top things off, J is totally having a Potty Training Regression. As in, last week he was having accidents (#1 and #2) every single day, as if potty training never happened. I don't know why, but this particular regression has been the most frustrating thing of all. I can't really describe the sense of defeat I felt when I realized we had to do potty training all over again, after months with not a single accident. And I mean all over again, we had to go back to Pull-ups after one particularly trying day where J changed pants SIX TIMES by 2pm. TH and I have been trying to really push positive reinforcement and not punish when he has an accident, but it is SO HARD not to get angry when he walks right past the bathroom and proceeds to stand in our room and pee, especially when we all know he can use the potty. Sigh...I know, I know, this too shall pass.

At least we have daycare/preschool so we can get a break from each other. I keep reminding myself that this is a huge adjustment for J, and that he has no idea why we're so tired all the time (thankfully he never wakes up at night when Jr. cries). I go back to work in less than 2 weeks, which I'm sure will bring another round of Transition Madness--just when we all get the hang of Mommy being a Sort-of Stay at Home Mom, back to work I go. I'm thinking it's going to be awhile before we're back on a good routine.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where were you in '99?

Since today is a "preschool" day (previously known as daycare, "preschool" is less guilt-inducing for me), I had a long list of all the stuff I was going to get done while Jr. is napping. Laundry. Mop the entire downstairs. Go through accumulated bills/statements and file or shred appropriately. Clean the kids bathroom. Start pumping and get a milk stash going since it's only 3.5 weeks until I'm back at work. Clean up dog poop in the yard. Send out way overdue thank-you cards from the surprise baby shower that is now 6 weeks in the past (I know, I know), organize some of the 5 billion pictures we've taken of Jr., and oh yeah, maybe update the blog.

Yes, like most moms with newborns, I have a looooong list of crap that is just not getting done despite my temporary stay-at-home mom status. So with good intentions I was organizing my desk (or maybe jacking around on the computer wasting time on Facebook and Babycenter, whatever), and for whatever reason I decided to "dust" a little photo album that I never look at, a photo album commemorating the Summer of 1999, also known as One of the Most Adventurous Summers of My Young Life. As I flipped through the book, all I could think was, "Holy crap. This is TEN YEARS AGO." It feels like 5 minutes ago, but it also feels like an alternate life that was lived by someone else. I was 22. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment by myself, although TH and I were definitely pretty serious by then. I was still a zookeeper at the Denver Zoo. I was in between my 1st and 2nd senior years at CU Boulder (I needed the "Five-Year Plan" because I had to work full time at the zoo to pay the bills, so I was only in class 2-3 days a week trying to crank out the pre-req's for vet school). I hadn't even applied to vet school yet, and I was still trying to figure out if I really wanted to be a vet or if I wanted to pursue something more academic.


At that time, I knew I was destined to work with animals. Because of my exposure to exotic animals through being a zookeeper and my love of all of my anthropology courses, I kept envisioning myself being The Next Jane Goodall. I was fascinated with primates (still am), and I fantasized that maybe I would become a primatologist, living in the jungle studying monkeys or apes when I wasn't teaching anthro classes (I also had and still have a great interest in teaching). So, when one of my anthro professors announced in spring 1999 that there was an opportunity for students to spend the summer in Central America helping her study monkeys, I jumped all over it. Keep in mind that A) I had never been outside the continental US, B)I was a scholarship/loan student with very little money to traipse around the world, and C) I needed to keep my job at the zoo. I'm still amazed that I actually managed to go on the trip. Somehow, I scrounged up additional student loan money to finance my part of the excursion and keep my rent paid while I was gone, I convinced my boss to hold my job for me over the summer, and I got my first passport. And off I went to Costa Rica and Panama, traveling by myself (well not exactly, I was with a research group but I had never met any of them prior to the trip).

This isn't even the smallest or crappiest plane. It was hilariious -- as small as it is, they had the nerve to have 3 flight attendants and a meal/drink service on this plane.

It was such an adventure! Getting to the island off of Panama where our research station was located took 2 days of progressively smaller and more questionable aircraft, culminating in us riding in a 10-seater, double prop plane that had DUCT TAPE ON THE WINDOWS to keep rain out and that flew so low over the mountains you could see birds in the trees (that part was not so much "adventurous" as "scary as hell"). Once we reached the tiny little "town" that held the airstrip, it was another hour into the jungle to reach the station, which was right on the uninhabited beach. We only had semi-electricity (lights in our "dining hall") for a few hours each day, with no real running water, just a gravity-fed ice cold shower in the "cabina" where we slept on little cots surrounded by mosquito nets. For six weeks, we woke up at around 4am and strapped on head lamps so we could hike into the rainforest and listen for the howler monkeys to start screeching, then use machetes to hack through the forest until we figured out their exact location. (Just thinking back I can't believe we actually did that everyday). The rainforest was exactly as you picture it in movies: hot, humid, muddy, trees so tall and leafy that it was almost night-time dark during the day, millions of insects and lizards and birds and butterflies (but thankfully no big cats or poisonous snakes. Those were on the mainland.) Each day we would set up shop at the base of some huge tree and spend hours watching the monkeys do their monkey thing through binoculars, notating their activities every 5 minutes. Every once in awhile --I kid you not -- a creepy-silent Amazonian-type barefoot and loinclothed "Forest Person" would amble by, say "hola" to us and then kind of chuckle at all of our equipment and notebooks and headlamps before they melted back into the forest to do whatever it is they did.


View of the part of the island where the monkeys were. I know, right?

Standing at the base of one of the giant rainforest trees. This one was a smaller one. Notice how dark it is in the middle of the day because of how dense the forest was.


Inside the cabina where we slept. On those little cots. For weeks. Mine is the upper one on the right.

In the afternoons we would hike back to the station, and have fun -- we'd usually jump into the ocean to wash off the mud, then spend the hours before dark snorkeling, drinking beer on our little beach, playing cards, reading, and smoking cigarettes (yes, smoking. I was a sort-of smoker in my college days, and I smoked so much while in Panama that I pretty much smoked myself out and ended the habit when I got back. What can I say, I was 22, there wasn't much else to do, and the packs were only 25 cents.) On weekends we would go into town and hang out at the local bar, drinking tequila and beer until early morning. It was crazy.


Swinging on a vine in the forest. A real vine, y'all!


After a day of monkey-watchimg. Notice the mud up to my knees. And the youth.

Anyway I could go on and on, but suffice it to say the summer of '99 was pretty pivotal for me. It was the first time I felt like a real adult, travelling in different countries by myself, taking part in a real research project. It was also when I realized that I couldn't stomach being a true primatologist. The jungle was just too "real" for me. The bugs, the heat, the mud, the mind-numbing monotony of watching monkeys sleep and eat and scratch each other's backs all day, having to take daily anti-malaria medication that can cause "hallucinogenic dreams," the lack of interaction with the outside world. When I came back from Panama I was 100% sure I was going to vet school. It was also the first time I'd tried to maintain a serious relationship from afar, and that summer was also when I became pretty sure that TH was The One, because I missed him more than anyone else while I was gone, and when I saw him at the gate when I got off the plane I almost cried I was so happy to see him.

I've had alot of challenging and cool and different experiences since then, but nothing that really matches that summer. When I look at the pictures of myself then, I wonder if I'm living the life that I envisioned back then. I'm not sure. I love my life. I've accomplished most of the goals I made for myself then. But I can't help feeling that my true "Adventure" days are behind me, at least until my kids are grown and gone. And that's okay.

Monday, November 2, 2009

J-isms

So today I'm focusing on my first love, J. With all that I want to say about Jr. and having a second kid and all that, I haven't reported much about J recently. So here are a few of his Deep Thoughts and random musings that have made me laugh over the past few weeks. This is why I like having the blog, if I didn't capture these things here I would forget them forever. (This is pretty much Jr.'s baby book at this point LOL).

When watching me breastfeed for the millionth time: "Mommy, don't say you're feeding the baby. You're drinking him. He's drinking milk." So now that he's decided that's the accurate terminology, we all refer to breastfeeding as drinking the baby. Hey, it makes us laugh.

New word of the month: "Softy." It describes things that are soft, or sweet, or have an indefinable texture, as in, "I like yogurt. It's softy." or "Your toothpaste is spicy, mine is just softy."

J: "I don't think I like this brush." Me: "Why not?" J: "It's so....hairy."

After explaining what a mustache is: "I don't have a mustache like Daddy. I just have a cheek face."

J heard me refer to my breasts as boobs, so now he calls them that except he says "boods." Which is funny in and of itself, and even funnier when he says things like, "The baby doesn't want his binky, he wants to drink your boods." Or when he found a stray breast pad on the floor and yelled out in front of houseguests, "Mommy! I found one of your bood things! The thing you put in your boods! I found it!!"

Another explanation gone awry -- I explained to J what fur is in response to him asking why animals don't wear clothes. He proceeded to tell me that he has "furbs" too, only "not on my booty."

Shoot. I had a bunch more in my mind but I forgot. Have a great Monday!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Secret Lovers

I'm finding that one of the trickier balancing acts going from 1 to 2 children is trying to give enough love and attention to the new kid...without the older kid really noticing. On the one hand, it's important for J to understand that Jr. is a part of our family and it's okay for Mommy and Daddy to kiss and cuddle and hold the new baby in front of him. On the other hand, I've BEEN the older kid. I know how hard it is to feel like last year's model standing in the background while everyone in the store ooh's and aah's over the new baby -- look how precious he is! His little hands! Oh how cute, he's smiling in his sleep! Look at how perfect his head is! (That's the number-one comment about Jr., believe it or not, from strangers and family members alike. Apparently he was born with a Perfectly Shaped Head.) When I'm kissing the baby's head and singing to him and absentmindedly stroking his back while I carry him around the house, I can sometimes feel J watching us, and I've caught a few sad faces from him that just about broke my heart. And oftentimes that's precisely when J decides to act out -- boy oh boy do they figure out QUICK that when Mommy is breastfeeding she can't get up and drag me over to time out as fast usual, so Let the Bad Behavior Ensue!! So I have to stop loving on Jr. to see about J, and the poor baby is yet again soothing himself from the bouncy seat/swing/couch.

It sounds weird but Jr. and I have to resort to being secret lovers. After J is in bed, that's when I can freely snuggle up with the little guy in my bed, and stare at him and kiss his hands and sing songs that I keep to myself during J's waking hours because it's only a matter of time before he realizes that I'm singing HIS songs to the new baby. On Daycare Days like today, I can actually take a nap with Jr., and spend 30 minutes trying to coax a smile out of him, and dance around the living room with him, without feeling like I'm totally betraying J again. (Of course I also feel guilty even taking J to daycare, like the world's laziest mom, but that's a whole 'nother barrel of Mom-guilt for another day. Maybe if I called it "Preschool" instead of day care it wouldn't sound so bad to me). Jr. and I have to rely on these stolen moments to get to know each other -- he'll never get the complete undivided attention that J got for the past 3.5 years. When J is around, it feels like at least 75% of my energy is directed toward him--coming up with fun things for us to do so he's not parked in front of the TV/computer all day, trying to head off tantrums and bad behavior so I'm not spending my whole day doling out discipline, paying attention to when he seems sad or needy, attempting to coax the increasingly rare nap/quiet time out of him, etc. Because the newborn is so easy to take care of in comparison, I often get to the end of the day and look down at Jr. and think, "Hey, you. You've been attached to me for half the day but it feels like this is the first time I've really looked at you."

So we sneak around like we're having an affair, which I guess we are, kind of. And now it's 4 o'clock, time for me to go pick up my first love. Until we meet again on Friday, Jr.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phone Photo Friday - the Happiest Baby on This Block

Ok I haven't read "The Happiest Baby on the Block" (yet) but I know that white noise or "shushing" is a part of the spiel. So today I downloaded a continuous loop of white noise and holy moly did that work like magic! Not that Jr. is a bad sleeper but I'm trying to get him used to being in the Bjorn less and in the bassinette more during the day. Add in a pacifier and voila! Baby asleep within 10 minutes without swaddling or carrying him around, and on his back no less. Gold star for Dr. Karp.


Disclaimer: My phone is a piece of shiznit. Not a cool iPhone or iTouch or Blackberry--more like an iHave-a-Relative-Who-Works-For-Sprint-So-I-Get-A-Cheapo-Phone. Hence the poor quality pic.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Adjustments.

Before Jr. was born, everyone I talked to who had more than one kid, everything I read about it, said the same thing: Going from 1 child to 2 is a huge adjustment, much harder than going from 0 to 1. So I've been mentally preparing myself for awhile now that these next few weeks are going to be super hard, exhausting, lots of tears for everyone involved, etc.


However (and I know I'm jinxing this as I write it)....so far it really hasn't been that "hard." In actuality, my experience with incorporating Jr. into our life has been MUCH MUCH MUCH better than my experience when J was born. Looking back at myself as a first-time mom, I realize now that I had a really hard time those first few weeks, and was so much more stressed-out and anxiety-ridden than I am right now. I cried EVERY DAY for several weeks, whether it was over J's inability to take more than a 20 minute nap during the day or how much I hated breastfeeding in the beginning or just plain grieving for my old carefree life. I know what you're thinking - classic PPD symptoms. I agree. Somehow I didn't see it then, but now it seems so obvious and I feel kind of sad for me and for J during that time. Jr. is now 2 weeks old and I have yet to cry or even feel like crying. Tired, exhausted, frustrated with the 3 year old (and the husband) at times, yes. Sad, depressed, overwhelmed? Not yet.

Having J around has also made this transition easier for me in alot of ways, which I didn't expect. It's like I have a sense of perspective now that just wasn't there the first time around. When J was a baby, I remember thinking that he would never sleep through the night, that he would always have random screaming and fussiness, that we would be stuck in the super-needy frustrating little baby phase forever. Of course it was all over in the blink of an eye, and whenever I feel myself getting a little antsy while I walk up and down the hall with a wide awake baby at 2am, I can tell myself that "this too shall pass" and actually believe it this time. I'm glad that we decided to have another child if for no other reason than he's allowed me to know what it's like to feel confident and relaxed as a mother, something I didn't feel with J until he was at least 6 months old.

Overall so far it seems like it's just a matter of making adjustments. We've had a pretty good schedule going for the past 3 years, so it's been a challenge for all of us to figure out a new daily routine. Jr. has been doing pretty well sleeping in bed with us or next to us in the cosleeper, waking only to nurse and then (for the most part) going right back to sleep. Thankfully he doesn't make much noise at night so J is still sleeping well. In the mornings, however, it's a bit of a 3-ring circus, with J trying to jump into our bed while the baby is still laying next to me and TH rushing around to get ready for work and me still groggy and unable to get up early enough to get a shower in before TH leaves. Then the day goes by in a blur, with J watching waaaaay too much TV and eating too much "convenience" food (ugh I' m so ashamed, I broke down and bought Kid Cuisines, J didn't like them anyway) and the baby spending waaaaay more time in a bouncy seat or hanging out by himself in the bassinette then J The Blessed First Child ever did. Twice a week J goes to daycare so he can see his friends, I can get a break, and we can keep our usual routine going a little bit because it's only a few weeks before I'm back at work. At least Jr. is super mellow so far - this kid rarely cries except for when he's hungry. He's already good at soothing himself a bit when J is occupying my attention, and really doesn't fuss much about anything.

So far, so good. I know there are people who want me to say that this transition has been really hard and I'm losing my mind and regretting having another kid, but it just wouldn't be true. We're slowly adjusting and incorporating Jr. into our life, and yes we're tired and yes I'm a little more irritable than usual, but otherwise it's all good. We'll see if it lasts....

Friday, October 9, 2009

If I was smart, I'd be taking a nap right now.

J is at a friend's house, TH is off getting a haircut, the baby is sleeping. I'm so totally going to "rest when the baby rests," as soon as I throw a few thoughts out there about the last couple of weeks.

First off, the birth. Or should I say, The Birth. Ever since I posted the words "ALL NATURAL BABY!!" on Facebook everyone I know (and I mean everyone) has been asking me about why and how and when and why?? I decided to do it this time without an epidural. (And let me set the record straight: it wasn't exactly all natural. We kick-started things with Pitocin but that was the only "intervention.") The answer is...I'm not sure. I just wanted to. Over the last couple of months of this pregnancy, I began reviewing my whole birth experience with J, and wondering if everything that happened really needed to happen. I can't say it was a "bad" birth experience - quite the contrary. When I remember back to that day it still feels magical and joyous and ranks up there as one of the Best Days of All Time. But I still had this nagging feeling that as a first-time mom, I was more of a passenger in that ride than the driver. Whatever the doctors recommended, I just shrugged and said, "Sure." Induction because I was 10 days past my due date? Sure. Narcotics to "tide me over" until the anesthesiologist could put in the epidural? Sounds good to me. Epidural before my water even broke? Whatev. Episiotomy? No problem, I'm numb from the waist down anyway. And so it went. And a healthy child was born, and we all lived happily ever after.

I don't know why, but about 2 months ago, I turned to TH while we were laying in bed watching TV, and out of nowhere said, "I don't want the epidural this time. I want to Go Natural. Do you think that's doable?" TH paused for a few minutes, and said, "Sure." That was it. I didn't do any research on natural childbirth, or watch any documentaries made by Ricki Lake, or read up on all the latest literature proving that natural childbirth has some advantage over anesthesia during childbirth. I just decided that I wasn't getting the epidural, unless I absolutely had to, and didn't really spend much time thinking about it otherwise.

Fast forward to September 29. For a variety of reasons including some worrisome blood pressure spikes, we decided to go ahead and induce labor since I was 2 days past my due date and there was no reason not to. Although I didn't research much, I was aware that being induced definitely lowered my chances of an otherwise drug-free birth. I knew from being induced with J that contractions augmented by Pitocin are pretty intense.

And intense they were. We checked into the hospital around 8am, and by noon my water was broken and I was clinging to the side of the bed for dear life, questioning my somewhat irrational decision to forego anesthesia. Thankfully my mom -- who delivered two 7-pound twins and my 8.5 pound little sister without any hint of anesthesia -- turned out to be a phenomenal doula, basically talking me down from the ledge when I really started to freak about the pain. I don't why this embarasses me, but it does: there was definitely freaking out. And yelling. Not screaming, but...yelling. Like how they yell in the movies, you know, "Oh my God, I don't think I can do this!" and "Oh Gooooooooood, pleeeeeeeease let this end" and (according to TH) "Someone kill me." I'm not a super demonstrative person normally, I rarely cry, I hardly ever yell or lose my sh-- in public, so the fact that I was actually yelling and moaning where other people could hear me is a good indicator of just how God-awful the pain was.

Thankfully -- THANKFULLY -- right when things got really hairy and I was this close to begging for the epidural, the nurse turned off the Pitocin because I "didn't really need it." (As it turns out, the real reason was more practical. The L & D ward was extremely busy that day with alot of emergencies, and my dr. had so many c-sections and deliveries that the nurse wanted to slow down my progression so someone other than my mom would be available to catch the baby.) That's when I discovered the HUGE difference between contractions with and without Pitocin. Suddenly, the pain was more manageable. Tough, but doable. Within 2 more hours, I was pushing -- another sensation that I had NO IDEA ABOUT during my first birth. Extremely weird for me. It was so...involuntary.

And then he was out, looking just like his older brother, even weighing the exact same as J. It's probably one of the more surreal moments of my life, like deja vu all over again. Here we were in the same hospital where we had J 3 years ago, and the moment was no different than the first time. Awe. Elation. Disbelief. Feeling like the clouds had opened up and an actual angel had been dropped into our midst. It was like he wasn't real to me until 2:46pm on 9/29/09. I hadn't realized how much I'd been keeping this baby at arm's length in a way, because of our previous losses and the nagging feeling that somehow this was all just a dream, I'd wake up tomorrow and find that I had hallucinated being pregnant again. It's hard to explain. But I can honestly say that all of my fears about not loving this baby as much as J went out the window the minute I looked at him, and the fact that I delivered him "naturally" was the cherry on top. I felt almost euphoric, full of energy -- definitely not the exhaustion I felt after J was born. I was up walking around, eating, calling friends (updating Facebook via my phone) almost immediately, and I couldn't get to sleep until almost 12 hours later at 2am because I was so frigging exhilarated.

So that's the birth story. It was wonderful, but there were moments where the pain was pretty much horrifying. I'm glad that I experienced natural childbirth because I'm fairly sure we won't be doing this again, but I can't fault anyone who wants the epidural -- I didn't use the word "horrifying" on accident. In the end, all that matters is that our new little guy is here, he's healthy, he's gorgeous, and--knock on wood--he's already a MUCH better sleeper than his older brother.



(Everyone on FB knows his name, but for the purposes of this blog, since he's named after TH we'll be calling him "Jr.").


Introducing Jr.:










Thursday, September 17, 2009

Lord help me.

It all started with a trip to the grocery store a few days ago. I had just picked J up from daycare after work, and decided to stop at Fresh & Easy (or as we call it "Trader Joe's Light") to grab a few things for dinner since J seemed to be in a relatively cooperative mood and, well, the cupboards at home were bare. In hindsight, I should have known better just because of the time (5:30pm, a.k.a. The Witching Hour) and the fact that this far along in the pregnancy I can't always be counted on to bring my Preschooler Parenting "A" Game when the sh-- hits the fan, and just ordered a pizza. But I didn't.


So we get to F & E, and after prepping J in the car -- "When we get in here, you have to listen to Mommy. I'm not kidding. We're just getting like 5 things, and then we can go home and make pizza and have fun, ok?" we headed in. The proverbial sh-- hit the fan about 3 feet inside the door. First it was the fight we've been having every. single. time. lately about J riding in the cart. He doesn't want to ride in the cart. He's seen other kids walking around the store freely and wants to be free, too. I want him in the cart when I'm by myself, because...he's a non-listening 3 year old. Then we have to fight about him riding in the front or in the "big part" of the cart. Some days I'm down with the big part, but not that day because I had breakables (eggs and jars of pizza sauce) that needed to go back there. So I was just about to get him up in the front seat of the cart with a minimum of whining when this lady walks by pushing her cart with her preschooler under the frigging cart on that little rack on the bottom laughing and pushing a Hot Wheels car along the floor while his mom shopped. As soon as J saw that he managed somehow --at lightning speed I might add--to jam himself under the cart like that other kid and proclaim that he wanted to shop that way. I debated fighting over it, and decided to try it for a couple feet.


Surprise, surprise, that turned out to be a bad move. Like I said, not exactly bringing the "A" game these days. Before we had gotten halfway down one aisle I almost rammed J's arm into the grocery displays twice because he wouldn't keep it within the confines of the cart. So I bent down, and told J he had to get out from under the cart and either ride in the front or walk next to me holding the side. I expected whining, instead I got full-blast yelling: "Noooo!!! I wanna ride under here! It's a racecar, I'm driving a racecar!!"

Me: (hissing) Get out from under there.

J: (crying and causing a scene) NO! NO! NOOOOO!!

Me: (talking through clenched teeth) I'm counting to three. You better get out from under there RIGHT NOW, BUDDY.

J: I wanna stay under here! Aaah! My foot! My foot is stuck in the thing!! (yep his foot was caught in the wire thing under the cart and his shoe was coming off).

Me: (uncharitably) That's what you get. If you break your ankle it'll be your own fault for not listening to Mommy. If you keep this up, we're leaving the store.

(Starting to pull on his arm to get him out, totally embarassed now and sweating because I'm 9 months pregnant and it's impossible to bend over like that for more than 15 seconds without extreme discomfort and immediate acute heartburn).

J: STOP PULLING MY ARM! NOOOO! MY FOOT! MY FOOT! YOU'RE HURTING ME!

--I wasn't hurting him by the way.--

Me: (uncharitable thought that I didn't say out loud: Fine I hope I push the cart while your arm is hanging out and run over your little fingers. I bet THAT would get you out of there real quick.) Fine. Do you see this little car you left in the cart? If you don't get out of there THIS MINUTE this car is going in that big trashcan over there! (Holding said car hostage over the trashcan nearby).

Mean, yes. Also effective. J scrambled out, grabbed the car from me, and stood by the cart crying and hugging the car to his chest, pitifully accusing me: "You can't throw my car away! You were going to throw my car away! That's not nice, Mommy!"


Meanwhile there's a stocker/loader type guy wearing one of those long plastic aprons who has just been staring at us the whole time. Along with all the other store patrons, who weren't saying anything or being, I don't know, HELPFUL or anything. So of course at that point we had to abandon our cart and leave the store. I was done. Dooooooooone. "Come on," I snapped at J. "I've had enough. No homemade pizza tonight for you. We're leaving the store." Which inevitably led to more crying, and wrestling, and me trying to remain composed while I did what another blogger calls the Surfer Dude where you're carrying a little kid horizontal at your side like a surfboard while they basically thrash around and try to kick you in the kidneys. (And boy I hated to have to Be a Good Mom and Follow Through With a Threat because I really wanted to pick up some whole wheat pizza dough and fresh grapes. I was so sad to leave those grapes behind in the cart!) Thankfully I was parked really close to the entrance because in all my pregnant ungainliness by the time I got to the car it J had slipped down and it was more a dragging-by-the-underarms motion than anything a self-respecting surfer would do. Once we got to the car, a little standoff ensued because J wouldn't get in his carseat. I'm standing outside the car on a 95 degree afternoon, J is holed up in the foot well loudly crying about going back in the store and I just don't have enough energy to wrestle him up into the seat so I just have to wait. And here comes the grocery stocker guy nonchalantly walking by the car and slowing down to see what we're doing. I knew (I KNEW) that because of the scene inside the store that he was really checking to make sure that I wasn't beating my kid out in the parking lot. Good intentions, I guess, but once again instead of doing anything helpful he just stood there watching me stand there wearily telling J to get in his seat, already.

We made it home with much sniveling and crying and whining. TH saved the day and brought pizza home. And when I was relaying this story to my coworker who has an almost-four-year-old and a new baby, all she could say was, "Just wait until you get to replay this whole scene while you've got a screaming baby in a carrier."

Lord help me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Next thing you know he'll be begging to use my car.

J is turning into a big little kid right before my eyes. I can't really call him a toddler anymore, and on days like today I can easily envision how he's going to be a few years from now.

Normally in the morning our routine is to rush around getting dressed and ready for daycare and work, and despite our best efforts consistently leave the house 5 minutes late. In order to cut down on morning slow-downs we had to institute a rule (for J and for Mommy & Daddy) that no TV/computer/Blackberry can be turned on until we're all dressed, with teeth and hair brushed, and daycare backpacks or work lunchbags packed. Since we instituted this rule at the beginning of the summer, J has learned that if he lets us get him dressed & ready really quickly with a minimum of fighting, he can *maybe* get in a full episode of Dora before we leave.

So this morning, J seemed to be sleeping in--meaning it was about 6:15am and he wasn't up yet--so I went downstairs to make my lunch. (And eat a leftover piece of Surprise Baby Shower cake for breakfast, but that's besides the point.) I heard J get up, but he didn't come out of his room right away, which is strange. Usually he runs into our room and jumps on the bed so he can lounge for a few minutes before getting ready. So anyway this morning I heard him banging around in his room, and then, wonder of wonders, I heard him go into his bathroom unprompted and use the potty, including flushing and washing his hands. A few minutes later he came downstairs looking for me, and he was fully dressed! The clothes didn't quite match (khaki camo shirt with red and yellow shorts), but he had on a full outfit: shirt, shorts, underwear, socks, and toothbrush in his hand. I was amazed, and proud. Occasionally he'll pick out clothes or if we pick them out he'll put on the pants or something, but he's never completely gotten himself ready in the morning without any assistance at all. When I asked him where the clothes came from, he shrugged and in this nonchalant, teenagery "duh, mom" voice said, "I got them out of the drawers in my bedroom. I have to get dressed and ready before I turn the computer on." And he proceeded to go upstairs, turn on the computer, and load up the Nick Jr. website by himself.

On the one hand, if he can get himself ready in the morning my days are going to be alot easier once the new baby arrives. But I still felt kind of wistful after he went back upstairs to do his own thing. J really isn't a baby anymore...

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Mommy War I Have With Myself (sorry, it's a long one)

Before I had J, I had never heard of the so-called “Mommy Wars.” You know, the stupid, incessant, somewhat fabricated “war” between factions of mothers over the “correct” or “right” way to raise children today, mostly centering on staying at home versus being a “working mom.” I was raised by a working mom—who for a good portion of my upbringing was also a working single mom to three kids—who did a pretty darn good job as far as I can tell, so it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with working outside the home. In the culture of my youth, most women worked out of necessity. As a matter of fact, I’m having a hard time recalling any of my close friends’ mothers being traditional stay-at-home moms. Everyone either went to daycare, or to their grandparents house after school (which is what we did), or was a latchkey kid once we were old enough. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but that was reality.

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with J and actually started to contemplate working vs. staying at home that I was faced with other moms who were actually…offended at the idea of sending your child—especially an infant child—to daycare. I remember one particularly, um, intense conversation with a friend who basically told me that if I “wasn’t there” for J’s oh-so-important formative years, he would (a) be clingy and socially inept, (b) have learning disabilities, and (c) would likely be abused or neglected in some way at daycare unbeknownst to me and would end up a mass murderer. Those weren’t her exact words, but that was the gist. I’m serious. So for a couple of weeks, I considered quitting my job and staying home for awhile. Then we considered TH quitting his job and being a stay at home dad. And then we remembered that even if I suspend my career for awhile we still have to pay off the student loans that paid for said career and we came to our senses.

I’d be lying if I said this was a super easy decision, and I’d also be lying if I said I ever seriously wanted to be a stay at home mom. I didn’t. I still don’t. It’s not because I don’t love my kid(s), or because I can’t stand to spend hours with him, or because I think kids are accessories. Other than TH, J is hands-down my favorite person to spend time with. I love being with him, listening to him talk, playing kids games with him. I’ve told TH that J is my best friend, and I meant it when I said it. It’s interesting, J has two parents who work full time, yet he still has never spent the night away from us. Ever. When he’s not at daycare, he’s with us. All the time.

I chose to be a “working mom” because…I love my job/profession. It’s that simple. Sure, it has its moments like any other job, but being a veterinarian is not just what I do, it’s what I am. Everyone who knows me knows this is true. If you ask my mom, she’ll tell you that I wanted to be a vet when I was in kindergarten. Not to mention the YEARS of schooling and money it took to get to this point. When I was on maternity leave with J, I was so torn. I loved being with him all day and watching him grow, and at the same time I hated being home all day. I missed my patients. I missed the mental challenge of trying to figure out a complex medical case. I missed talking to my clients. I missed doing surgery. I missed people calling me “Dr.”. At times I couldn’t wait to get back to work. But when the time came, like most working moms, I cried. The first two weeks I tried to keep up my old 50+ hours a week schedule, and it killed me. I only saw J in the morning on the way to the sitters’, and for an hour or two before bed. I felt guilty when I left him in the morning, and guilty when he would get sick and I’d have to leave more work for the other docs so I could go pick him up early. Heck, I felt guilty when I realized that a couple of hours had gone by and I hadn’t really thought about him, and guilty when a surgery became complicated and ran too long and I realized I had forgotten to pump.

That’s when I realized that although I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom, I had to make some changes. I reduced my hours at work—a move which was not met well by my manager or coworkers—and searched until I found my current job, where I work 4 days a week and never have to be on-call or at work past 5:30pm. If I need to take J to the doctor or stay home with him, it’s not a big deal. I truly feel like we have the best of both worlds now, I get to have my career, and J spends a lot of time with both of his parents and 4 days a week goes to an awesome daycare.

This time around, however, I can feel the internal Mommy War starting up already. I’m trying to work pretty much until I go into labor, which was fairly easy for me to do with J but for some reason (hmmm could it be my 3 year old?) the fatigue is getting the best of me with this pregnancy. And unfortunately, due to finances and work schedules and necessity, I’m only able to take 8 weeks off for maternity leave. 2 months, and that’s it. I’m starting to feel daily anxiety about how short that time really is. TH is going to take some time off after I go back to work so we can try to stretch it to 12 weeks before he has to start daycare, but it may not work out that way. 8 weeks, and my little precious may be thrown in with the other kids at daycare. Why is this so much harder for me this time? I love our daycare situation and know he will be well cared for, but I’m losing sleep every night when I think about it. Why is 8 weeks old so much worse than 12 weeks? I keep telling myself that the baby won’t care either way, but that doesn’t ease my mind. I think behind it all is the realization that no matter what, this kid is not going to get the kind of attention that J got. Less time with Mommy at home, and less of Mommy’s time when I am there. And in the back of my mind, I keep going back to that stupid conversation with my stupid “friend” 3 years ago, and I guilt myself even more…

Where is the Mothering Instruction Handbook when I need it?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Almost wordless Saturday: Interesting....


Impromptu "3D" shot of the new baby during yesterday's ultrasound (6-7 weeks to go!!):


Can you see my face?

J at 12 hours old, May 2 2006:



Interesting....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mornings

I have a love-hate relationship with mornings in our house. I’ve never been a “morning person” by any stretch of the imagination, and my worst mood is usually right when I’m waking up, especially if it’s at an ungodly hour. And since the day J was put into his own bed (9 weeks old), we wake up at an ungodly hour every…single…day. He’s an early riser, no matter what we do. If he goes to by 7pm, he wakes up at 6am. If we’re out doing something special and he’s awake until 10pm, he wakes up at 6am. If we’re sleeping in a hotel on vacation…he wakes up at 5:45am. Like clockwork. TH and I laugh because we literally have not set our alarm clock in over 2 years, and we’ve never overslept. And once we’re up, the Morning Hectic Crazy Get Ready for Work/Daycare Feed the Pets Put the Recycling Out Use the Potty Fifty Times Dog Escapes Out the Front Door madness begins. I still haven’t figured out how to fit in a decent breakfast (we live on NutriGrain cereal bars, thank God J gets fed in the morning at daycare), and I must admit the majority of my makeup is put on in the parking lot at my job. I can only anticipate more madness once the baby comes and I go back to work.

On the flip side, mornings are usually my favorite time with J, especially on my weekends. His first stop every morning is in our bedroom. I guess that’s the trade-off for having a kid who sleeps well in his bed all night by himself – as soon as the sun rises he finds his way into our bed. Even though he never goes back to sleep, he will lay next to me, singing and talking and playing with the cat while I try to doze for a few more minutes. Lately, he’s been bringing what seems like an entire day’s worth of activities with him, which I find both annoying and very cute. Today, he padded into our room with his pillow, Blankie, two stuffed animals, several Hot Wheels cars, four books, and Squeaky (a squeaking cat toy that he found and thinks is for him. Yes, he sleeps with a cat toy.). After depositing all of his belongings on our bed, he’ll climb in and entertain himself, talking and singing in that preschooler stream of consciousness way, and I love listening to it. Sometimes he’ll notice that I’m not really sleeping, and we’ll have the most interesting conversations about our dreams, and things we saw or did the day before, or places we’ve been, or what we should name the baby (J’s vote: “Brother.”). We’ll sing songs, or read books, or veg out and watch Dora for awhile. As much as I hate being up that early, I can’t say I don’t have a good companion. I’m sure this is one of the many things I’ll miss when he’s older, that when he was little the first person he wanted to see every day was me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Our Love is Here to Stay

Today is our 7th wedding anniversary. Seven years that feel in so many ways like seven minutes. No one is "itchy" yet, as far as I can tell:) Things are so different than they were in 2002, but the important things are still the same, or better. In some ways, it's surprising, because according to popular thought we should be getting sick of each other by now or feeling bored or losing our attraction for one another. Nope. Just the opposite. I'm still excited to see TH when we've been apart for awhile. I still can't go a few hours at work without calling or texting him. I still find him very attractive...have you seen this guy, he's hot! To me, anyway. We haven't run out of things to say, at least positive things. The longer we're married, the less we argue and fight, and the more we really talk. Our base friendship with each other has only gotten deeper and more important to me. He's my partner in every sense of the word. Even if we disagree sometimes about the details of the journey, we still have the same ultimate destination in mind.

The past year, as with every year before it, has had its share of highs and lows. I find myself thinking about our wedding vows more and more, as we become grown-ups together and they're put to the test. For richer or poorer...haha has that ever been tested in our marriage. We started out broke. And I mean BROKE. I was in vet school, working 2 jobs on the weekend which maybe covered my textbooks. TH was a counselor at a halfway house of sorts, and had a crazy schedule that involved him being away at night 4 days out of the week. We lived in a "restricted income" apartment, which means you had to be, well, broke to qualify to live there. And here we are now, homeowners who've upgraded from a card table in the dining room to real furniture and 2 cars in the garage. Amazing.

In sickness and in health...this one's the kicker. 3 years ago we found out that TH has a chronic disease that we'll be dealing with for the rest of our lives. There have been some truly scary moments, where I lay in bed wondering if things were going to be cut short right when life was getting fun. I never thought that before we were 30 we'd have to think about what would happen if one of us ends up disabled before 40. For some couples, I guess, this kind of diagnosis could lead to problems, but for us it's only made us stronger. I wake up every morning and I know how blessed I am that TH is still here and he's doing well. And I know in my heart that when he's not doing well (which has happened), I'm not going anywhere. He's the one.

I could say so much more about what my marriage means to me and how lucky I am to have TH, but I'll just refer back to our wedding song, which still moves me when I hear it even though it was recorded 30 years before I was born.

Our Love is Here to Stay (as sung by Ella Fitzgerald)

It's very clear, our love is here to stay.
Not for a year, but ever and a day.
The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know,
May just be passing fancies, and in time may go...
But oh, my dear, our love is here to stay.
Together we're going a long, long way.
In time, the Rockies may tumble, Gibraltar may crumble -
they're only made of clay.
But, our love is here to stay.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The biggest mom confession so far...

I'm worried that I won't love the new baby as much as I love J. There. I said it out loud. It actually sounds kind of stupid now that I’ve said it, right? Moms have been having more than one kid for millions of years, and everyone tells me that I have nothing to worry about, that I’ll feel “just the same” about the new baby, that “my heart will grow” etc etc. And yet, I still can’t help worrying that I won’t like or love this one as much as J, simply because J is such a great kid.

For the first two years after J was born, we weren’t even sure if we wanted another kid. He was such an easy baby (for the most part, anyway), always happy and smiling. He’s always been super-affectionate, giving out hugs and kisses and “I love you, Mommy” whenever the mood strikes him. He’s turned out to be very smart – sometimes a bit too smart for his own good – and has a great sense of humor. He loves to dance and sing and paint and draw like his mother, and to play with cars and trucks and footballs and boxing gloves like his father. He says his prayers and grace before meals without being asked, and he likes going to church. Sure, he also whines a lot, and has a tendency to start screaming like a victim in a horror movie when he’s really wound up, and he takes his shoes off and throws them when he’s in time-out, and he’s a picky eater…but essentially he’s the perfect kid. Not that he’s perfect, but he’s the perfect kid for us. Aren't we pushing our luck a little bit here, hoping for lightning to strike twice and we'll get another perfect kid?

It’s not that I’m not excited to meet the new little guy, I’m getting to that point where my thoughts are consumed with his impending birth. It’s just so hard for me to imagine feeling the same way about ANYONE that I feel about J. Like all parents, before J was born, I really did not fathom what maternal love is like, how overpowering it is, how it’s so strong sometimes that it’s actually scary. How can I feel that way about another person? How is it possible?

Like I said, it’s stupid, really. It’s just another one of those things that I can’t really wrap my mind around until it happens, like feeling J kick for the first time 3 ½ years ago or sitting up with him in the middle of the night when he was 6 weeks old, crying because I realized that one day we wouldn’t be together. I’m sure I’ll laugh at myself in a few months for even writing this.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Weekend Jambalaya

It's been a whirlwind past couple of weeks, as evidenced by my lack of blogging, Facebooking, sitting down for a few minutes to read a book....of course there's always alot going on in my mind, lots of deep thoughts that could be potential posts, but I just can't find the time. Anyhoo.

**Potty Training Update**
After a spectacular start, a headlong jump out of the gate, J's potty training is....meh. He's wearing underwear everyday, and for the most part managing to be accident-free. At night, however, he definitely still needs a Pull-Up, and when it comes to #2, it's an uphill battle to say the least. He's still got some kind of fear of pooping on the potty, so he holds it. And holds it. And holds it. For days at a time, until he either has a massive accident (usually during naptime) or has a freak-out on the potty yelling about not being able to do it and "LEAVE ME LONE! I'M GOING POO-POO!!" and crying and groaning and then maybe 20 minutes later we hear him exclaim to himself, "Hey, I just went poo-poo on the potty!" as if he's totally surprised that it happened. Methinks this will take awhile.

****

Over the last few weeks J has entered a new "I want Daddy" phase that we're all enjoying. He and TH have always been close because TH is a very hands-on and involved dad, but like most 3-year-olds J has been Mom-centric for most of his life. Maybe it's my growing belly and tiredness, maybe it's him finally realizing that Mommy may be a tomboy of sorts but she's still a girl (he points this out to me all the time now), maybe it's the extra hours I worked over the last few months enabling J and TH to spend more time together. Either way, now he watches TH's every move, and tries to emulate him. He pretends to shave in the morning, and brushes his hair "the way Daddy does it" and even asks TH to spray cologne on him after he gets dressed. TH was putting together some shelves in the garage, and J ran to get his plastic tools telling me as he ran by, "Me and Daddy are building something together!" Yesterday he even hung out in the stifling hot garage "working out" with TH, with Daddy showing him how to do push-ups and holding him up to the chin-up bar. Very cute. Both TH and I grew up with fairly absent fathers, so I feel very blessed that J has a dad like TH.

***

We finally got around to doing some baby stuff. "Some baby stuff" being painting the nursery and hanging up window treatments. Uh....that's it. I've come to realize that because of past losses, I have a little bit of residual paranoia about buying things like baby clothes and diapers. I keep wanting to, but when I'm in the baby section at the store I get this overwhelming feeling that it's still too early, that something bad might still happen. I've even had the strange thought when I wake up in the morning that this baby is just a dream I was having, despite the fact that I can feel him kicking every day and have had 5 ultrasounds now where it's clearly evident that he's real. It's hard to explain, and I don't think I'm going to get over these feelings until he's born.

***

At the end of this month TH and I will have our 7th wedding anniversary. That blows my mind. It feels like 7 minutes ago! I wish I could freeze this period in our life, make it slow down a little.
It all goes by so fast...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Um, yes, this is really happening in 3 MONTHS OMG.

I don't know why, but up until this past weekend, TH and I have been in a kind of denial/procrastination/laziness/too-busy-to-think-about-it state of mind about our impending change of status from "We have a kid" to "We have children." The pregnancy has been (knock on wood) pretty much uneventful, complication free, and easy. We've talked about the baby a lot, argued over names, started explaining to J how we're going to be ruining his life soon, scheduled maternity leave....but other than that we have done nothing to prepare for this kid. NOTHING. This being the second time around, I think we've lulled ourselves into thinking that we have all the stuff we need, especially since we know it's another boy. But this weekend, fueled by a doctor appointment on Friday where they officially switched me to every 2 weeks visits instead of every month and oh my God we're at THAT stage already and holy crap there's only TWELVE WEEKS LEFT!!!!! we actually looked around and realized our newborn baby inventory is a bit...paltry.

Crib? Check.

Dresser/changing table? Check.

High chair, Exersaucer, rocking chair, cute little sage-green hamper? Check, check, check, and check (although the hamper's a little ratty since the cats use it as a scratching post. They love wicker.)

Pack N Play? Check. But...usable? I think there was a little mattress insert deal that we can't find now, like a lot of things it disappeared while we were moving. Or is it in the garage? Okay, check for now, but we'll see.

Newborn and 0-3 months baby clothes? Umm, check? No, wait. I gave away the majority of those to my friend who had twins when J was a year old. She lives in Georgia now. Oops.

Bottles? Nope. Threw them all away while dancing and drinking wine, during what we'll call the "So Happy to Be Done With Bottles and Pumping" party.

Speaking of pumping....Breast pump? Nope again. With J I rented a pump from the hospital because every month I thought I wasn't going to be able to keep pumping for another month, so I never bought one. Now that I know I can pump for a year, I guess I need to buy a breast pump.

Pacifiers, diapers, bouncy seat, basinette, baby tub? Nope, nope, broken, never had one, threw it away when we were moving.

Nursery decorated in any way? Nope. We know what colors we want, what bedding we want, even the lampshade we want. Now, we just have to get off our rear ends and put our grand decorating plans into action. As soon as I have some energy. Riiiiight.

And let's not even mention the random stuff we need to do, like going through all J's old toys and books that are "in storage" in the nursery closet, and reorganizing our bedroom so we can actually fit the basinette and rocking chair in there the first few weeks, and hunting down my old tattered copy of "What to Expect When You're Expecting" so I can remind myself of the signs of impending labor, and pre-registering at the hospital (again, already??), and getting together a hospital bag, and figuring out where said only child will be, exactly, while we're at the hospital...


Like I said, holy crap. We better get started.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Wordless Monday - "I'm a Big Kid Now!"







...and a gratuitous 6 months (!!!!) belly shot. Next time maybe I'll clean off the water spots on the mirror:)



Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Drive-In

There are certain family activities that I always have nostalgia for, those activities that I couldn't wait to do with my own kids once I had some. Going to the drive-in is a big one. When we were growing up, there were still quite a few drive-in movie theaters in Denver (the one in Thornton, the Cinderella Twin, and let's not forget the Super Ghetto Drive-by Drive-in on Colfax...good times.) I still remember my first drive-in movie, my mom and her best friend took me and my twin sister -- at AGE FIVE -- to see a horror double feature: The Thing and Cat People. Waaaay too scary for kids our age, and other than being petrified for 4 hours straight the other big memory of that night is us spilling a giant orange soda all over the WHITE seats of our godfather's brand-new car. It was awesome. As the drive-in concept started to fade away and the theaters around town began closing, our family still managed to make it to the drive-in at least a couple of times every summer. Once I was in high school and college, TH and I continued the tradition and had regular drive-in dates. The drive-in is where we saw National Lampoon's European Vacation, and Beverly Hills Cop. It's also where as a teenager I watched the first Jurassic Park, and Apollo 13, and Twister (which features a great scene of a drive-in being torn apart by a tornado).

So imagine our surprise this weekend when TH and I found out after 5 years of living here that Vegas has a drive-in! Who woulda thought? It's usually so hot at night during the summer that the drive-in seems like a spectacularly bad idea - in July midnight temperatures are usually around 95 degrees, I kid you not. But we've been having weird weather lately, with downright balmy, breezy nights, so yesterday after J said he wanted to "have a pickanick outside" we spontaneously packed up and drove across town to find that drive-in. Not only has J never been to a drive-in, but he's never been to a movie at all, so he was super excited on the way there. "We're going to watch a movie in the car! We have our pillows and blankets in the car! We're going to eat in the car!" He had no idea what was going on but he knew it was going to be different. After running through KFC (classic drive-in food for our family) we found the place, and it was actually pretty nice, with 5 screens and ample parking. Our chosen features were Up followed by Night at the Museum 2, although we had no plans of trying to watch the second feature.

It was so. much. more. fun. than I thought it was going to be. Kind of like a slumber party, kind of like going camping. We were all wearing pajama bottoms, laying in the back of our SUV with the hatch up, eating fried chicken and drinking lemonade, and lounging on pillows and blankets from home. J was so well-behaved -- a whole night without whining, or crying, or complaining once. No potty accidents, either. J suprised me in a couple of ways, eating ALOT of chicken and "corm" on the cob (and tasting coleslaw), and staying up for the ENTIRE movie. (Quick movie review: Up is a great family film, J loved the balloons and dogs, and there is a nice message for the adults, too, that actually brought tears to my eyes. It's worth seeing.) He actually managed to stay awake until right before we got home at around 11pm...and still woke up at 6am this morning, the little bugger.

Anyway we're definitely going to do the drive-in again before it gets too hot. It was a great way to spend some time together and for TH and I to get to a movie without paying a sitter. For once, instead of having too-high expectations in an activity and being disappointed, the drive-in turned out to be just as great as I imagined it would be, one of those times when TH and I looked at each other and said, "This is what we hoped having kids would be like."