Saturday, January 31, 2009

Potty training, schmotty training.

That's about how I feel when it comes to potty training right now. As J quickly approaches his 3rd birthday (3 months from tomorrow!!! Holy cow.), that's the number one question people are asking me. Everyone. Parents, in-laws, friends with kids, friends without kids, people at church, random people at the store. For some reason, after commenting on how cute he is and asking his age, the next question is always, "So, is he potty-trained yet?" It was the number one topic of discussion when my little Moms Who Are Also Veterinarians group (not an official title) got together for our monthly dinner last week. There are six of us, all with kids under 3. Whereas before we all had kids, when we were more like a Hot Young Vegas Veterinarians group (again not an official title) getting together just as friends, we would spend our evenings drinking, dancing, talking about our love lives, and making plans to get together for a spa day or to go shopping. Now, we can spend a good 2 hours at the Cheesecake Factory talking about sleep habits, discipline, how to lose the baby weight, trials and tribulations of daycare and nannies, and potty training. Ah, parenthood.

A few months back, potty training was going pretty well. J got a potty for his 2nd birthday, and for awhile he was really interested in the whole process. He sat on the potty every day, and wanted to read "My Big Boy Potty" at least 4-5 times while sitting there. There were even a few glorious days when he actually used the potty, with all the required hand-clapping and positive reinforcement and happy dances and M & M's. Last summer, when people asked us how the potty training was going, we'd excitedly tell them, "Oh, it's going fabulously, J sits on his potty every day, he's such a big boy, we think by next month he'll have it down, blah blah blah." And then...big mistake. We switched to Pull-Ups. Those damn godforsaken Pull-Ups. We bought into all of the hype from Huggies about "easing the transition" and "cool alert panels so they can feel when they've gone" and even got J singing, "I'm a big boy now!" (admit it, you know the song). We thought Pull-Ups would be the perfect introduction to wearing underpants, to the point that we make sure to call them "underpants" instead of "diapers." The thing is, though, that Pull-Ups are diapers. They're just diapers that are much easier for little 2-year-olds to take on and off whenever they feel like it, which usually has nothing to do with when they have to go potty. I'm sorry, Huggies people, but Pull-Ups have only added to the confusion.

Since switching to Pull-Ups -- and trust me, we can't switch back, that would be even more confusion and now J tells us "bipers are for babies, I'm a big boy" -- we've pretty much regressed back to where we were pre-potty. Lately J has been flat-out refusing to sit on the potty, and he'll let his Pull-Ups get so full that they actually start to fall down into his pants before he'll finally allow us to change him without a major fight. He doesn't want to read the potty book anymore, and the potty itself is now just a step-stool he uses to do naughty things like climb onto the bathroom counter so he can pull vaseline out of the medicine cabinet and put handfuls of it into his hair.

I know what we need to do. Toss the Pull-ups, and just switch to REAL underpants. This is one of those areas where I think stay-at-home moms have an advantage. If I had a good week at home to clean up messes and reinforce using the potty I think it would be pretty easy. But of course, I work 4-5 days a week, and somehow I don't envision this as a weekend project. I may be able to arrange a few days off in a couple of months, but in the meantime...potty training, schmotty training. "Is he potty trained yet?" Hahahahahaha. Don't make me laugh.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Curse you, YouTube.

I've never been into the whole YouTube thing. Some of the videos are kind of funny, I guess, but it's all a little too random for my taste, so I've never spent much time on it. Until I made the mistake of introducing J to YouTube one interminable rainy afternoon when I felt sick and I was basically phoning in my parenting that day. It all started with a search for "dinosaur songs" which turned up this little gem:

http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0FOZ0-VpcU

Not so bad, right? Even educational in some ways. But somehow, J always (ALWAYS) manages to point and click and shift windows around to end up on this ridiculous video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z47EUaIFrdQ

Try getting that song out of your head. I dare you. After that little trip down European Crack Fantasy Lane, we inevitably sample the next selection:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RHkWyhOW1A

J insists on watching that one about five thousand times before moving on. Finally, after what seems like hours of watching inane, grainy picture-quality, iffy copyright status videos, when I tell J "one more song and THAT'S IT, BUDDY," I am forced to endure Barney. Over and over again.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vzo0iHrivVQ



I've started watching closely to see if there's a quick flash of some subliminal message with the instructions enabling J to find these videos every time, because he finds these four without fail in about ten seconds flat Every. Single. Time. A message that reads, "make your parents crazy click this one and then accidentally turn up the volume," or, "click here to increase the chances of Barney world domination." Lord help us in this "information" age.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - So this is what it's like to lose 20 pounds.

20.8 to be exact.

(I can't believe I'm doing this)...BEFORE:




AFTER:




YEAH BABY!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

It might actually help to write about it. So here goes.

I thought long and hard about whether or not to write this post, or even mention the subject. The first time I went through this, 3 years ago, I was not a blogger, and I didn't even really have "mom" friends. TH knew of course, and I told my family, but otherwise I had to sort through all of these feelings on my own. This time, I have a whole circle of friends, in real life and online, who are moms and who can maybe -- just maybe -- understand where I'm coming from. On top of that, I've been slacking alot in the blogging department lately because this is overshadowing everything else, it's the proverbial elephant in the room. I write about Christmas and New Year's and J's latest exploits, but underneath it all I really want to talk about something else. Just this once, get it all out there and then move on.

Four weeks ago, one week before Christmas, the morning after the Great Vegas Blizzard, and on the very morning of my first prenatal appointment, I had a miscarriage.

Again.

I've been coping with it pretty well, but the amount of disappointment, frustration, and grief that I feel after losing a baby that was only with me for all of 9 weeks is somewhat...surprising. Again.

As of this week I would have been around 12-13 weeks along, in the Safe Zone for publicly announcing the pregnancy. I had it all planned out. Today's post was going to be titled, "The Thanksgiving Surprise," with the obligatory picture of the positive test (which I forgot I took until yesterday, nice little jolt there as I was uploading pics.) As the name suggests, we found out I was pregnant again on Thanksgiving. That morning I woke up from a really strange dream where I was doing a c-section on a dog and my tech said to me, "Congratulations! Another boy!" (I know, weird), and I suddenly realized that a certain something that happens every 28 days or so hadn't happened in like, 40 days. So TH ran out, got a test, and we were indeed pleasantly surprised. Because I've been down Miscarriage Road before, I was also a bit nervous, but I tried to think good thoughts. After all, that was a fluke, right?

For 2 1/2 weeks, it was smooth sailing. I had symptoms -- nausea, bigger boobies, and, you know, no period. I even had 24 hours of strange heart palpitations that were confirmed to be yet another joy of pregnancy after a panicked 2am search of WebMD. I made my doctor's appointment and calculated a due date: July 31. I started taking prenatal vitamins again and reading What to Expect When You're Expecting (amazingly, you forget), and my biggest dilemma was when I should stop Weight Watchers and how long I could keep running. In other words, those first couple of weeks I almost forgot about What Happened With The First Pregnancy.

That last week, the week before Christmas, I knew something was off. Like I said, I've been in this part of town before. My symptoms suddenly...stopped. I woke up one morning, and I didn't feel pregnant anymore. It's hard to explain. I kept saying to TH, it's so weird, I'm going on 9 weeks, shouldn't I feel something? What happened to the heart palpitations and the sore boobs? Where's the queasiness? What I wouldn't give to feel like vomiting right now. A couple of days later, I was at work watching out the window as the bizarre snow started falling, and I felt a tiny little crampy twinge in my lower back...and I knew. I'll always remember that. Due to the crazy weather, we were stuck in traffic for four hours on our way home from work/daycare. J and TH were so excited about the snow and the Christmas lights and all of the cars sliding around, so I kept it to myself that the tiny little twinge in my back had turned into a horrible throbbing ache. The next morning, we awoke to almost a foot of snow, closed schools and jobs...and no more baby. (And my clinic Christmas party that night, thank God I had an excuse to drink. Just kidding. Kind of.)

Since then, it's been up and down. The first time this happened to us, it was like I had been smashed flat by a steamroller, physically and mentally. That time, we actually went to the emergency room in the middle of the night because even with all of the cramps and bleeding, I was positive they could just give me a pill or something to stop it. That was my first pregnancy, and it had never even occurred to me that miscarriage was a possibility. This time, I had a little perspective. I have J as living, breathing proof that I can get pregnant after a miscarriage and have a completely uneventful pregnancy. I have J, period. There's nothing like a wonderfully self-absorbed 2-year-old to keep you from wallowing in self pity.

But every now and then, I'll feel a flash of emotion with no warning and the disappointment sets in again. I turn on MSN.com and see a story about the Duggars having their 18th child, and I angrily flip off the computer. I watch a segment on the Today Show about some lady who was pregnant when she sky-dived and her parachute didn't open and here she is a couple years later with her perfectly healthy kid and I want to scream -- come on, that fetus survived hitting the ground at 50mph and mine couldn't take laying around watching Top Chef?? WTF????. Last week I found out that yet another daycare mom is expecting again, and as I congratulated her I felt so jealous. J is the oldest kid there but the last to get a sibling. It's so crazy - we weren't exactly trying to get pregnant, and if it still hadn't happened by now I wouldn't even have been worried about it. But it did happen, and for almost 3 weeks that baby was very real to me. And now it seems almost like a dream I had, a blip on the radar that lasted for a moment and then it was right back to life as usual.

The worst part is that if and when we do get pregnant again, it won't be fun and magical and joyous, at least not at first. I'm already over-analyzing it as it is--is something wrong with me? Is it my age, did we wait too long to start having kids? Is this a sign of (gasp) fertility problems? Could it be that J is the fluke, not the miscarriages? I already feel stressed thinking about this happening again.

So that's the story. I got it all out. I won't say I'm "over" it, but life does go on and I'm generally happy. The future may hold more kids for us, and maybe it won't. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Early Cubist Works of J, Circa 2008-2009 (or is it Impressionist?)

The artist at work in his studio. Such attention to detail.




More editing right before the show.


Finished Works

"Mommy in the Morning" (sold)


"The Small Ghost. Really Small. Like, the Size of a Pea."



"Daddy Heartface - A Study"



"Family I" (private collection)


"Family II" (sold)



Thursday, January 1, 2009

You know you're having a good time when you're too busy to update your blog...

I just looked at the date of my last blog entry and realized it was over a week ago...I thought I posted that on Monday LOL. Time does fly when you're having fun, doesn't it? The last few weeks have been a flurry of extra days off, shopping, visiting friends, Christmas lights, Christmas trees, Christmas cards, Christmas presents...

I've been trying to organize my thoughts about The Year That Was 2008. A lot happened. Some things we wanted to happen, didn't. But all things considered, with people losing their homes and jobs by the dozens and war and famine and economic crises...we did alright. More than alright, actually -- we were very blessed this year in many ways. We made it through an entire year without major illness. Some of you know that our little family has been dealing with a chronic, supposedly debilitating disease for a couple of years now, but you wouldn't know it by looking at 2008. No "episodes." No "relapses." No major progression of symptoms. Praise God.

Unfortunately for many families 2008 was the year of foreclosures, especially in our neck of the woods. But we were blessed in that arena, too. We bought our first house this year -- a foreclosure, of course, was there anything else available? The process was less than ideal (for me it was about as pleasant as a root canal), but now that the dust has settled we have a nice little house with a cute little yard in a decent little neighborhood. Adjusting to the mortgage payment was, well, an adjustment, but so far we've managed to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table at the same time -- isn't that the American Dream, really?

2008 was also my big Oprah-esque lifestyle change, which of course is still a work in progress. I haven't updated about Weight Watchers in awhile but it's still going fairly well. So far I'm down about 16 pounds since starting 14 weeks ago. More importantly, though, I've developed a new way of looking at food and how I eat. I don't know why, but for some reason it's much easier for me to grasp that something is "8 points" as opposed to "500 calories." So for me, Weight Watchers works, although I don't know if it's for everybody (I've gotta admit keeping track of points gets old after awhile.) More than the weight loss, I'm proud of the other changes I've made in my lifestyle. I've always been in okay shape, but I've never incorportated exercise into my life the way I have over the last 4 months. I get up at 5am at least 3 days a week to exercise, usually running. Let me repeat that: I get up -- on purpose -- at 5am, while it's still dark, while J and TH are sleeping, before I've had coffee and RUN. Like those other people, you know, runners. And I really like it. Weird.

What else, what else....oh yes, let's not forget J. What a difference a year makes, indeed. Is this what happens -- one day you're washing bottles and rocking them to sleep in the rocking chair and giving them baths in the sink, and the next day they're jumping and counting to 50 and putting DVD's in the DVD player by themselves and sleeping in a twin-size bed and telling you knock-knock jokes? Because it sure seems like that's what happened. I was looking at Christmas pictures from last year, and I don't recognize that little guy anymore. When were his legs that short? His cheeks that round? His steps so unsteady? Those days are long gone. What I have now is a full-fledged toddler, only half a year away from being a preschooler. We have conversations. He can (sort of) tell me the plots of movies and books. He can remember the vacation we went on 2 months ago and the names of an impressive number of the ever-present Hot Wheels cars (he knows the coupe, the Hummer, the Beetle, the Porsche, the Audi, the convertible, the tow-truck, the frontloader, the Mustang, the Jeep, the F-150...it really is impressive). He draws and paints and rolls out play-doh by himself, and turns on the keyboard and plays what almost (almost) sounds like "Chopsticks." He pulls out bowls and utensils and tells me he's "cooking something" (play kitchen for 3rd birthday, anyone?). He can put his pants on and at least do the head part of his shirts. He can recognize all the numbers, letters, and colors, and can read some words. If I say one curse word in a twenty-minute phone conversation he can pick out that word and repeat it perfectly. I'm loving almost every minute of it, frantically trying to capture everything with incessant picture-taking and blogging, but it's still going by at the speed of light.

So that was 2008 in a nutshell. There were other things that happened, much of which I shared on the blog, and some things I'll keep to myself. As 2009 starts, I'm really hopeful about the future (Obama! I didn't even get started on that LOL), and thankful that I've been blessed to see my family grow for another year. I don't have any real resolutions, but I know I'm definitely going to keep blogging, and running, and drinking coffee, and start crafting or decorating projects that I don't finish, and checking Facebook while I'm at work:) I figure everything else will play out the way it's supposed to, it always does. Happy New Year!!