Saturday, May 31, 2008

I Might Be Acting Rash...

The baby has a rash. I thought it was heat rash. All my friends thought it was heat rash (no, I didn't go dashing about town with a potentially contagious child possibly infecting all my friends. Although, that would be a fun April Fools prank, wouldn't it?). I swear, honest to god, it started as a heat rash. Then it got worse. Red and bumpy and awful (but don't worry, still not contagious. Let's just take that off the radar, shall we?) but not bothersome to her. It would go from darker to lighter, worse to better, and worse again, throughout the day. Finally after a week of this (3 days of it looking really bad-- ie not so much like a heat rash), I took her to the doctor. The doc didn't buy heat rash at all. She then guessed several things including: 1. an allergic reaction to sunscreen that I had put on her the day before things got really ugly 2. contact dermatitis/ eczema 3. other, if she doesn't get better with hydro-cortisone.

I am voting for 1 since 2 means she has food allergies that would not only haunt her for the rest of her life, but would also mean that I have to give up the offending foods. The most likely offender being dairy.

Which I could do in a heartbeat if it didn't mean giving up cheese. Or yogurt. No worries, smooth sailing. But cheese? Really? Talk about hitting below the belt. I was reading about a woman whose child has more than 20 food allergies and the mom has lost 40 pounds from her elimination diet. The weight loss does sound nice, but cheese? That just can't be right. I mean, if cows could talk, they themselves would recommend cheese, right? I mean, assuming they are being treated humanely and not being given horrible drugs and if they get to keep their calves near them and such (Yes, I advocate attachment parenting even for those of the bovine ilk.). I know no cows getting this kind of treatment actually exist, but if they did, they would be in the front running for developing speech, right? And when they did, they would probably tell me how healthy they are from eating greens and organic and vegan. And I would say, "Yeah, right. You're a cow. What the *&%@$#@!% do you know about cheese? You have never even TRIED it."

That mom says she has never felt healthier. Oh goody. This is what I have to look forward to? Being thin and healthy? All in exchange for giving up dairy? Hmmm.

Please, let it be the sun screen!

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Resume

Oh god. The time has come to spruce up the old resume and look for a job. A work at home job, of course, but intimidating enough, considering I can't possibly go for anything I am actually trained to do. Is there anyone who actually feels comfortable with writing resumes and cover letters? With (gulp) interviews? If so, could they please get me a job by impersonating me so I don't have to go through all this? I do still have a contract job that would be great, if there were any work. Its one of those feast or famine jobs, and you can see my ribs, people. I look like a Hollywood actress (figuratively speaking, of course!) these days.

So on the hunt I go, with only my wit to sustain me. Pray for me, people! I need it.

An Ode to Slings II

The baby is big enough to be worn like a big kid in my ERGO Baby Carrier!!! Yea! This is such a comfortable carrier when you are up and about. Today I put her on my back in the Ergo to make breakfast. It was awesome. She has been doing that scary try to sit forward and fall on her face thing in the bouncy seat (meaning bye bye bouncy) but she is still too little to hang out in a high chair (we don't have a fancy-pants one, just a wooden restaurant one). I have been wracking my brain to figure out what to do with her when I can't be holding her in front. Generally she is in my Maya Wrap Sling, but I find it really uncomfortable for wearing on the back. Also, I have to admit that I totally forgot for 3 whole weeks about being able to wear her on my back in my Karma Baby Sling (hey, this is actually my color and everything!). Mommy brain strikes again! But it was a good thing since it made me get out the Ergo to see if she fit into it correctly.

Now this is silly. This is turning into an ad for slings. Which I would totally advertise (see previous post where I almost admit to my addiction...), but that wasn't the point. The point is, the baby is getting bigger and therefore grabbier and therefore more dangerous to wear in front when doing potentially dangerous things like juggling knives. Ok, not really that exactly, but maybe slightly less challenging but still dangerous things. Like making breakfast.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Last Baby

I woke up again this morning missing the child that will not be. Our third child that I never really thought we would have, but somehow now want so desperately. This phantom baby syndrome came with the birth of my daughter, now almost 5 months old. In her early months I would literally cry while holding her and nursing, immersed in the sadness that this would be my last. My last baby to nurse, to have fall asleep on my chest, to see that first smile... they are small for such a short time! I am still sad about it, but it is a dull ache rather than a sharp pain.

I keep trying to release this feeling, and trust in the universe. If we are really meant to have more children, it will happen. We will be drawn to adoption (and we will suddenly have more money so we can afford more children!). Someone we know will have an unwanted pregnancy and ask us to take the baby. I am guessing immaculate conception is too much to ask for. Generally I love that we don't have to worry about birth control, but I am suddenly jealous of people who accidentally get pregnant. Without a vial and syringe, I can't make it happen. So I just have to trust, let go, and enjoy the baby I have. It is so bittersweet. My baby is so precious. But she makes me want more.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Ever get a song STUCK in your head?

It happens to all of us. A song starts out innocuous but ends up stuck, stuck, stuck your head. Then it germinates in there, growing and growing until you think you can't stand it anymore. Then you start complaining, and people start singing bad songs to you to try to dislodge the interloper. "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" is an old favorite of ours, previously sure to get rid of the now SO ANNOYING song.

The Lion has nothing on this one. The whole family is infected, and we keep passing it back and forth like a bad cold. The weird thing is, no one seems to be annoyed by it yet. I mean, its been over a month of the same song being sung CONSTANTLY, and we all join in happily. There is no groaning or complaining, "NO! I just got that OUT of my head!" Its just bunnies and sunshine for us all. This is starting to freak me out. Really, how long can it last? And does the annoyance level increase the longer you previously enjoyed it? This song has definitely displaced The Lion as the best song to unstick any other song. I am a little scared.

I have included a link if you want to hear (part of) it. But I warn you, this thing will spread like an epidemic. I wonder if we could get this song stuck in every person's head in the whole world. Don't say I didn't warn you! Track 10. Seven Days of the Week (I Never Go to Work). Its not even the best part of the song. But thanks to They Might Be Giants for this very sticky song.

FYI, yes this links to Amazon, and yes, I make a teensy amount of money if you actually buy the items I link to if its done exactly the right way. My real purpose is just to have the link, money be darned.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I miss the good old days...

Remember when the 6 year old who didn't talk was just shy? When the kid lost in his own world was just a late bloomer? When a freakin' 4 year old didn't "need" testing and TUTORING to get into KINDERGARTEN? Back in the good old days, kids were on a spectrum, and I am not talking about the autism spectrum, and were allowed be be outgoing or introverted. They were allowed to be more or less athletic, book smart, etc. These days, even when the parents don't want a diagnosis slapped on their kid, their friends jump to do it for them. Badly. I am so glad that as I was growing up with no friends I was labeled "more mature" rather than "antisocial."

The labels that kids used to get had a couple of kinder and gentler components. First, the labels weren't diagnosable, treatable, this-means-the-kid-is-screwed-for-life kinds of labels. Second, the labels implied that the child would change if and when they were ready to do so. Unlike most of today's diagnoses, which follow you on paper forever, being the 'wild one' didn't mean that you wouldn't be able to get a job some day. And don't even get me started on the drugs that kids are on these days....

I will say that I do think a SMALL percentage of the child population actually needs diagnosis, treatment, etc. But the majority need to be left alone to grow in their own time, at their own pace. With love and encouragement and excitement for the new things they do. Not because you can check it off a list, but because of the joy of discovery that children only have for this most delicate time of life. Childhood: cherish it rather than judging it.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Wanting it all

We have made certain decisions in our life. For me to stay home and be a full time parent to the kids is the biggest. This is something I have always wanted, but in the midst of the day to day grind, I often forget that this is a choice and an honor (not a sacrifice). Sure, my career is on hold, moldering away. That doesn't bother me much. However, this choice means we don't have much in the way of extras (ie Broadway tickets, see previous posts). Sometimes I get pretty grumpy about it.

Then here I am reading a parenting book (Peaceful Parents, Peaceful Kids: Practical Ways to Create a Calm and Happy Home) that advises me to set priorities for our family, and then live that way. This is the basic stuff, chapter 1. And we have, and we live according to that, but I forget too often that it was a choice. There are all these examples of parents making choices to live more like us (ie lots of family time, little money) and I had to chuckle at myself. I actually forgot that getting to be with my kids is such a gift. Sometimes the big picture is hard to see.

Here I will write the big picture, so that I don't forget. I get to see my kids grow, missing nothing. I get to be home with them, in their safest environment, where they can achieve their full potential. I get to play for a living. I never have to miss milestones. When one of the kids does something new, no one has to call me on the phone to tell me about it. I get to have my kids be my teacher. Nothing challenges you to grow like these little people who don't know the rules yet!


Nothing illustrates what I sometimes take for granted like this!

My son is again obsessed with Dreamgirls: Music From The Motion Picture [2-CD Deluxe Edition]. He is walking around reading the lyrics out of the liner notes from the CD singing at the top of his lungs. He got to a part that said "repeat chorus" and sang those words over and over: REPEAT CHORUS!!!! REPEAT CHORUS!!! REPEAT CHORUS!!! It was awesome. How lucky can I get?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

How Many Partial Conversations Equal One Conversation?

Once upon a time, long ago, (i.e. before kids) I remember going to parties and chatting with friends. I learned about their lives, their hopes, their interests. I shared my own.

Today we went to a 4 year old birthday party. It was lots of fun, but child wrangling (Check your local community college for classes on perfecting this art. There won't be any listings.) creates one serious issue in adult conversation. I am used to my partner and I taking 2 or 3 days to complete one story from our day. But at a party, it gets really apparent really quickly that not much of a connection can be made, no matter how much we want it. Following are some stories from the party. I am not holding back on you. This is as far as they got (damn it!).

1. The hostess hired a cleaning service that DIDN'T SHOW so they had to clean like crazy. By the way, they did a bang-up job. I am sure there are lots of juicy details about this, but I know none of them.

2. A friend's husband now travels 4 weeks at a time, leaving her alone with their 17 month old. She said its hard. Of course it is! I bet there are a TON of stories here. I didn't get to hear any of them. I wanted to give some support and encouragement. If you are reading this, man do I respect you for being able to do what you do. Parenting without any back up sounds impossible!

3. A friend is working on her bachelor's degree. She wants to go to grad school in my profession. Boy would I have some input to give her there. I really wanted to hear all about her dreams, plans, etc. What I got is pretty much what I wrote.

4. There were some notable people missing from this party, including the uncle of the birthday girls (Yes, a twin 4 year old birthday party. Twice the chaos for half the cost!). Considering that they have him wrapped around their little pinkies, there has to be a story here. I wonder what it was....

There were many more stories that didn't get finished, but you get the idea. It was so good to see everyone... I just wish I could have spent more time with them! The eternal desire of the parent with young children. Or maybe that's sleep.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rolling Over!! and over and over and over….

The baby is officially able to do a 360! She has been able to roll back to front for a few months now, but as of yesterday, she rolls front to back too!! Even better, she can do them both in quick succession, as if she is going to roll her way to where ever she wants to go. Not as fast as a car, but reasonably effective if you don’t mind the dizziness and not being able to see where you are going. Or being able to see where you are going but ending up going in a circle from looking up!

I feel like this baby is growing so fast! People are always telling us to pay attention because babies “grow up so fast” and we say, “Yes, we know.” Invariably, they continue to berate us with this fact as if we had been dismissive. “No, you have no idea how fast it all goes,” they say and we once again agree. Rarely are two rounds of this enough. With the truly intent grandparently person, this conversation (if repeating the same thing over and over and over again constitutes a conversation) can go 7 or 8 rounds. Sweet, but redundant. Repetitive too.

How do we slow down time but by paying attention? Tonight I was making her laugh and laugh and all I could think was MEMORIZE this sound! NEVER forget this joyful smile. She is already so big, and I have a feeling that this kid is going to be one of those that races through childhood (probably scaring the crap out of her parents by standing on top of the monkey bars and learning to do that really cool but scary-if-its-my-kid back flip dismount off the swings eep!

So as always, I will renew my intention to be mindful and be with my kids in meaningful ways while I still have a chance. Cause I hear once they are teens I won’t be nearly as cool…. (I already have plans to get a convertible to help counter the mom factor. Think it will work?)

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Birth Story (just for you birth story addicts)

Here it is, the story of my daughter’s birth, only 5 months overdue. Thank god the baby wasn’t that late!

I had felt from the beginning of the pregnancy that this baby would be early. Not dangerously early, but before her due date of January 3. At week 39, my midwife wanted me to start some herbs to spark labor. I was so ready and uncomfortable, and the baby was plenty big. On the 27th, I got a massage and had reflexology done to help labor start. A few hours later, my water broke. Yea!! We were getting started!! I had been so impatient and tired and uncomfortable for so long. I was having sporadic contractions that were very easy to manage. We felt so excited!

Around 9PM I had light meconium staining so we called the midwife and asked her to come over. Kristen, one of the midwives, came and checked me out. She assured me all was well, and suggested I get as much sleep as I could. Actually, it was kind of funny, since there were many exuberant suggestions on ways I could relax, and I kept trying to explain that if everyone would let me alone, I would go right to sleep. And I did, once I was able to get that out.

I should mention that when I am in labor, all the parts of my brain that evolved since lizardhood stop functioning. At all. I can’t speak during contractions; I can’t move around, I can’t really do much of anything. I read these amazing birth stories where women are talking and walking and all that, and I find it really impressive. Back to the story.

Kristen stayed at the house and checked in a few times. I slept through all of that. It got harder to sleep around 3:00 am and by 3:30 I decided that laboring alone was just too selfish and I should let everyone in on the fun. How thoughtful of me! I was having pretty strong back labor, with contractions starting at my back and gripping around to the front. With by son, it was all in my tummy. With my girl, it was full body pain. My thighs were especially sensitive. At one point they put hot packs on my thighs and oh, what a wonderful thing that was.

Around 5:45 my 4 year old son left the house with his godmother. I had held it together really well up to that point, but from here on, things got more intense and more, well, intense. I started vomiting and ended up alone sitting on the toilet as I threw up. I am not sure where everyone else was, but I vividly remember being alone and not being able to call out, not knowing how I could get help. I think I finally got up and wandered back into the bedroom myself.

Understand, most of the time, I had people around me. My partner was amazing and wonderful and supportive. She knew, better than anyone else, what I needed. Especially not to be touched. Touch was like a lightning rod for pain. Anywhere I was touched, even on my head, made the labor pain a million times worse. So much for those images of relaxing massage and all that. When anyone touched me, I moaned this prehistoric horrid sound that ended up being very effective at getting people the heck away from me.

Kristen checked me at 7ish and told me I was at 4 cm. Given that I was at 3 cm 20 hours into labor with my son ON PIT, I was ecstatic. I told her I loved her. Really. They had me go on hands and knees, pump for a while, sit on the birthing ball (I literally couldn’t balance) to move things along.

Around 9 Michelle, my head midwife, arrived. I remember being very into my labor but hearing her voice questioning Kristen and Kristen saying, “I swear she just started making these sounds!” I was too out of it to notice, but apparently I was making those unmistakable ‘transition noises’ you hear so much about. I was doing really well, completely relaxed between contractions, not at all aware of the world around me. I do remember everyone in the room screaming, “DON’T TOUCH HER!” when Michelle crouched next to me and started to put a hand out. Such a rush of gratitude ran through me! Michelle’s voice and presence had a huge impact on me, though. She is so amazingly grounded and strong. She gives the impression that if she were run over by a truck, she would get up, give the driver what-for, bandage herself up, and drive herself to the hospital to borrow their machines to confirm her diagnoses. I would hate to be her doctor, but I loved being her patient!

Michelle sat with me for a little while, and then suggested I get in the tub. This sounded wonderful to me, even if it meant I had to move. She had me go to the bathroom and decided to check my dilation once again. I remember being so happy that I was going to be getting in the tub! This was going to feel so good. Then Michelle announced I was at 10 cm and ready to push. My little lizard brain couldn’t really keep up with such intellectual stuff. As they were moving me into position, asking me to squat and stand and PUSH, I kept thinking, ‘but what about the tub?’ I was so confused. I did not believe in any way that I had been in labor long enough. Keep in mind, #1 was 28 hours, so barely 12 hours into this one, I just wasn’t grasping the possibility that I was nearly done.

I only pushed for about 20 minutes. Shortly into this, they kept telling me to touch the baby’s head. I honestly thought they wanted me to put my hand INSIDE to feel the baby’s head. As if I wanted anything else going on down there. I thought they were nuts. They kept going on about the baby’s hair. I am thinking, “Yes, hair, WHO CARES!!!” Finally someone grabbed my hand. The baby’s (admittedly very hairy) head was halfway out! I think I started crying.

It was during the whole pushing stage that Michelle’s presence was the most powerful to me. She said things like, “You are so strong! You are amazing! You are so beautiful!” She said these things like she meant them. The look in her eyes was awed. She had told me that birth is her church, and I totally get that. What is more powerful and sacred than this amazing act of giving birth?

My partner had asked to do all she could with the birth and the midwives had told her that she could do “everything.” She honestly thought that they would let her be nearby when they actually did everything, so boy was she surprised when Michelle stepped back and told her to catch that baby! She did perenium support, delivered the head, and with a short pause to let the midwives suction the baby’s mouth, she then caught our baby’s little body in her hands. She caught the baby, told me IT WAS A GIRL!!!, cut the cord, and was generally amazing and wonderful.

All of this by 9:51 am December 28, 2007. What a great start to the day!

My first birth experience had served to make me feel weak and powerless. This birth was the opposite. Instead of only 1 person on my side (my partner, of course), I was surrounded by people who believed in me. Even more powerful, they treated me like a capable person. No one held me in a birthing position. I held myself (my arms were sore afterward). No one treated me like anything other than a powerful, wonderful, capable woman. Thank you, everyone present, for giving me the healing experience I so wanted. And most of all, thank you, my beautiful daughter, for choosing me as your mama.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What a day...

Today was one of the hard ones. My boyo had a major freak-out over nothing at all. It turns out he wanted to help me bring in the disgusting compost bin, but it took more than 30 minutes of him screaming and crying to be able to tell me that. After several attempts to calmly figure out why there was a major tantrum, I lost it. I yelled, which I hate so much. Every time I do this I feel like he will be damaged forever. Like he will become a stereotypical man who can't access his emotions because his mother wouldn't let him express any. (I pretty much disagree with everything Freudian, but since having a child, I agree that its always the mother's fault. More accurately, all MY fault. I can't speak for what happens in your household. Nice of Freud to blame me so many years in advance. That guy was a regular Nostradamus. About that one topic. In all other ways he was a loon and a pervert. With serious mother issues.)

I just get so worn down from being screamed at. It is by far the hardest part of being a mom. I have never been yelled at so much in my life, and my dad was an honest to goodness MARINE CORPS DRILL SERGEANT. A bit worn down by the time I came along, but still. I want him to stand up for himself and be assertive and all that, but I want him to do it respectfully. Screaming "PUT THAT DOWN" is not on my radar as respectful.

I recently read this book (Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves: Transforming Parent-child Relationships from Reaction And Struggle to Freedom, Power And Joy) that has great, wonderful information in it for parenting and how to handle rough times. It suggests you pause before you say anything and recognize all your issues your child is bringing up for you with their behavior. I love that. But even when I do it, there comes a time when I need a break from the yelling, and asking for one doesn't help. I often ultimately threaten to lock myself in a room somewhere for a few minutes if he can't quit screaming at me. (See, I cry if someone yells at me long enough. Even if its my son. Here lies more evidence for how I am twisting the poor child. He ends up calming down once I am crying. eep.)

The other thing this book does is put everything squarely in the parent's lap if things go poorly. (Like Freud.) double eep. Just so we are clear, its all my fault and I need to get myself together and not yell or cry. Just sit there like a happy mama Buddha as he rants and raves. Got it. Anybody got some earplugs?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Ethics of Chutes and Ladders

Its been a marathon of Chutes and Ladders around here. I guess most parents would inwardly jump for glee at the thought of having discussions regarding the ethics of Chutes and Ladders with their 4 year old. Most parents think, "Yes! My child is asking me questions through which I can impart my progeny with my belief structure! This is when I can MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"

I just want to play the freakin' game.

OK, so a few of the "consequences" make perfect sense. Yes, if you plant seeds, you (might) grow flowers. Yes, if you put all the right ingredients together and you will indeed make a cake.

I don't mind talking about why the kid pulled the cat's tail and the consequences of that action. I am happy to talk about the consequences of coloring on the wall (something my child has yet to do, and I must say, I think I saw a speculative gleam in his eye on that one...).

However, how do explain to my child that some people bribe their kids? 1) You get to go the movies if you help clean the house? No. You get to clean the house since you live in it. 2) Take out the trash and you get a big fat whoppin' ice cream sundae? My god, that is quite a reward! Did he take out all the trash in the whole city? Or better yet, did he achieve a way to drastically lower people's output of garbage? For that one I would give him a sundae a week!

Even worse is the third category: the over-exaggerated or under-exaggerated consequences. The fact is, if you skate on thin ice, you won't be sitting there with your feet in the hole. You will be under the ice drowning. Pretty gruesome image to stick on a game, but how the heck do I answer the question, "What happens when you really skate on thin ice, Mama?" eep. Or, "If we measure me before and after I eat, how much will I grow?" ummm....

And finally, my personal favorite, poorly executed drawings of the consequences. "So if you ride your bike unsafely, it turns into a unicycle?" Yes, thats right. "Why is the girl getting to climb a ladder if she hurt the dog? Well if she didn't hurt it, who did? How did the dog's paw get hurt? Why would someone hurt a dog? I am glad she is helping the dog. Do you think it stepped on a sharp bone?" Can't we just freakin' spin already?

I shouldn't complain. In exchange for this ludicrousness, I get to see the amazing empathy of my child. We can't continue play until WE put a band-aid on the dog, cat, kid etc. Every time someone falls down a chute, the other player must come and help fix the situation. He kept hoping he could fall down chutes so he could help the poor kitty get out of the tree again. Many of the kids in the game now have names so we can help them better. When he (finally) won, we had to play till I won, too.

Thanks, buddy, for teaching me the real ethics of Chutes and Ladders.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Ubermom. I worked out!

Yes, that's right. Only 4 1/2 months after my baby was born, I went and worked out for 20 whole minutes. I am on the cutting edge of the phys ed craze, I tell ya. Sure, I have taken some walks around the neighborhood. At the speed of a 4 year old. As those who have 4 year olds know, this means you stop to look at bugs, cracks in the sidewalk etc and then have to RUN to get to the next house number, tree, etc. I guess if I were tracking, this would be considered an oh so trendy variable speed work out. I'm not really sure how much watching my son run really improves my metabolism though.

I only got the chance to go today because my partner is home from work today and offered to hang out with the kiddos while I went. I don't trust the child care at my gym for a 4 year old, much less for a baby. It looks a lot like The Lord of the Flies in there. I bet if you look close, the "child care providers" really just sit around exchanging bets on which 10% of those kids will make it out in one piece. To say its a zoo is an insult to zoos. Unless there is a zoo out there where there are no cages and its every species for itself.

But back to the gym. I went to the gym, currently about 50 lbs overweight (but my partner generally doesn't let me count the 20 I was carrying before I got pregnant so I guess 30...) with all the nuts who are at the gym in the middle of the afternoon. They all have muscles on their muscles and look like they eat babies to pack on more protein. I walked past all these seriously buff people toward the indoor pool. It was nice to get back to swimming, and I told myself over and over that I would take it slow. I then raced a woman who was doing laps without stopping. She didn't know we were racing though. She would hit the wall and push off immediately, and I would wait a few seconds and then follow. My goal was to do 2 laps faster than her. Even though she was on lap number 402 without stopping and I was taking a break after every 2. I beat her at least twice. Go me. Look for me at the next Olympics I tell ya, I am gonna be there. In spirit.

For now I will keep my focus on the mommy Olympics, where the sports include speed diapering without letting the baby roll over, babywearing while doing freakin' everything, and projectile spit up avoidance. My daughter is my coach. I bet I will sweep the whole thing.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Paying Attention

Today my son needs my attention. He is the kind of kid that can spend hours focusing on one thing or seconds flitting between a hundred things. Some days I am asked to join in his world. Other days I am left behind. I don't mind. Those are the days I get a little break. Today he wants me present. This is a gift too, since I can choose to go with the flow and stay mindful of being in the present moment rather than fighting against his needs to do my own agenda. This is a chance to slow down and be completely in the now. I can't focus on future or past, just this moment. He challenges me to stay with him, not doing my own thing (ironic since I am blogging right now, isn't it? But he is playing computer with a running commentary right now, so its ok.).

I find this so hard. My brain wants to go go go go rather than be. Everywhere I look there is so much to do. The house is never clean, the baby needs attention too, and where am I in my sleep-deprived state in all of this? But being with him in a completely focused way asks me to let go of all of this, and enjoy the moment. I notice how I often want him to go faster (is it really reasonable for his turn at Candyland to take 15 minutes?) so that I can get to the next thing. All of these next things are going to add up to his whole childhood if I am not careful.

I know that when I stay present I feel better. But it is much more tiring. Maybe. Or maybe when I am not present with myself I just don't notice how much energy I am leaking out. Maybe I need to change what I am reading and reread Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children instead. She has a new book out too, Buddhism for Mothers of Young Children: Becoming a Mindful Parent. Its on my wishlist!

For today I will work to be present. Even if Candyland takes a whole hour.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Seriously? New Stitches?

A friend came over with a book called The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches. It's a Reader's Digest book and I glanced through the knitting with a sense of awe. I am not a great knitter. To be honest, I am a rank beginner. I think its fun and I enjoy it... at least I did when I was able to do it. New babies and knitting do not always gel. Then I flipped back to the crochet section, thinking, here I will see all the same stitches I have seen for years. I have been crocheting for 25 years or so. There is really nothing I can't do. I even crocheted my son an elephant costume from scratch. No pattern. I am really good. Or so I thought. This book had new stitches! Ones I didn't know existed! I am so excited I can hardly speak! I kept squeaking things like, "Oh! I have to try this one!" and "(gasp) look at this! I didn't know you could do this!" I am truly humbled. A book that makes me see that I am not the expert I thought I was.... At least its easier to crochet while nursing than knitting is!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

An Ode to Slings

I love slings. I honestly don't know how anyone can parent a little one and get anything done without a sling. Or two. Today we cleaned out the attic (part of the preparations for getting the insulation done, see below. Donations for Broadway tickets welcome... ;)) and for the most part the baby was in a sling. She even went into the attic with me at one point so I could turn off a light. She was happy as a clam. Yes, I might just be a sling addict. I think I have 7, but part of being an addict is you don't count too closely, or else you start thinking you are an addict. Actually, its a good thing that I have a few, since she is the spit up queen. I should do ads for Biokleen since we use so much of it at our house. I still can't decide on a favorite sling, since they all have their pros and cons. I get all jazzed hearing about a new sling, and I am sorely tempted to get every new style I see. Or new fabric patterns. I have even been known to make a few slings from scratch here and there. Hmmm.... I am missing one designed like a Mei Tai right now. I bet I know what I am doing tomorrow!

I will say that certain aspects of babywearing take a bit of practice. I have helped many friends figure out the ideal sling techniques. Even I, on an off day, can have a mishap. Now, for instance, I get to go give the baby a bath since she is wearing some of the pizza I had for dinner in her hair now. Oops. She thought it was funny.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Just Say YES!

There are two pieces of parenting advice that I have been trying to remember to implement. One is to find ways to say YES instead of NO. Even when you are disagreeing, find a way to agree. Generally. Not when they are running out into traffic, obviously. Just things like, "Yes, we can play that game as soon as you help me pick up the game we are playing." Not, "No, we can't play that game until we clean up this one." It helps the child to feel more attended to, empowered, and generally happier. It makes sense to me. I don't like being told NO all the time either.

The second is to stop using labels. The book I am rereading, Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids: 7 Keys to Turn Family Conflict into Cooperation by Sura Hart and Victoria Kindle Hodson, refers to it as "unpacking the labels." Rather than calling my son smart or crazy or hyper, I should tell him exactly what he is doing that makes those words come to mind. I am really guilty of this one. I can generally tell how checked in I am to my son by noticing how many labels I am using. The labels become a short cut in communication that hurts both of us. Him by speaking judgmentally, and me by not taking the time to really connect and say that I really mean. Of course, sometimes figuring out how to talk to him as he runs by singing a song at the top of his lungs is an issue too.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Musicals vs. the Environment

Ah, the incentive program. How to spend our "free money." A Wii? Various books I have wanted but didn't buy? We had great fun fantasizing about it. But then we got responsible and planned to add insulation to the house and seal the ducts. I wasn't all that excited, but who really gets excited about duct work? I mean, even Al Gore doesn't actually get excited about duct work, right? I hope not. Yea for being environmentally responsible, that's exciting, but this one just doesn't thrill me like reusable bags.

Then temptation arrived via mail. Our annual tickets for Broadway Across America came. A whopping almost $600 for 5 shows. I was devastated! We are broke like you wouldn't believe. Yet how can we miss out on our obligation as gay women to support the arts? Who doesn't love a good musical? My heart swells that the thought of sitting in a darkened theater, surrounded by music telling a story I have never seen before. I admit it. I am a theater and theater tech junkie. Seeing how they work the special affects, marveling at the talent of the artists on and off stage, absorbing the beauty of it all: seeing musicals is the one of the few parts of my life that transcends the day to day, that will be remembered in the sunset of my years, that will live on in my memory no matter how befuddled I get in my old age. They even make me wax greeting-card-poetic. Obviously. This is hard core love. Seriously, how could anyone be forced to choose between these necessities? What is a musical addicted green mama to do?

Obviously, the environment wins. We will get insulation and duct work. Maybe the guys who install it will sing while they work.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ah, spit up...

For those who haven't had the pleasure of accidentally stepping in baby spit up, let me tell you, it is an experience you will never get used to. It never becomes common place, even though I do it pretty much daily. My daughter is a spit up queen. She can do it on the sly, over your back, leaving a trail for you to later discover as you walk along, unsuspecting. A tactile experience not to be rivaled. This girl could win the Olympics in this sport (eww, remind me to never get tickets to THAT event!) . I am honestly amazed that she keeps growing, with the amount that she expels. I know one day I will look back on this with nostalgia. At a far enough distance, even spit up will be cute. Right?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Invisible Edge

Do you ever have those times when you think you are fine and dandy, and then some small thing (or series of small things) just tips you over an edge you had no idea you were about to careen over? That happens to me sometimes. Tonight, for example, I got home from work, the baby was having a hard time, the boyo was bouncing all over the place, and my partner was doing her best but little had gotten done. I thought all was well, but then I felt tension going through me. Dinner wasn't even started, the boyo hadn't eaten, we were running out of time for everything that needed to happen.

Suddenly I was the queen of the ultimatum. I hate that so much, the whole "do this, or else" parenting technique. It doesn't feel respectful to my child, it doesn't fit me as a person, and most of all, it teaches bullying behavior. I have power over you, so I can use it to deprive you of anything I want. Ick. My poor boy just got bouncier and bouncier the more I threatened.

So there I am, losing it slowing, trying not to totally lose it. I am sitting at the table with my son who is eating dinner quickly so he can watch the show he wanted to see before bed (see ick above!). I start crying. He asks, "Mama, why are you crying?"

I tell him that I am anticipating a really hard night and I am thinking he won't go to bed easily, etc and that I am feeling overwhelmed. With such a sweet look, he says, "Ok, so I won't do that."

I thought, yeah, what are the odds, but I said, "Thank you, baby."

And he did. He went to bed so easily with no fuss.

Once again he teaches me some lessons: 1. live in the now rather than living in fear of the future, and 2. expressing real and honest emotions is a much greater way to influence than being a big bully. What a sweet and amazing kid he is. Most of all, he is a teacher, when I bother to check in to his curriculum.

Uh oh, maybe I should stop before this turns into something resembling 'all I need to know I learned in kindergarten.' What do I know? I dropped out of kindergarten.


Here I will write all my shoulds. You know, the things that I should do, should think, should be, etc. Today is mostly things I should do. Thats what is most on my mind at this moment.

1. I should be exercising. Taking walks, doing yoga, dancing to fun music if I can't talk the boyo into leaving the house. I should be going to the gym after the kids are asleep at night.

2. I should be meditating. Its been years since I had a regular practice. 5 to be exact. Right around the time I got pregnant with my first and about the time that throwing up became a form of exercise.

3. I should be spending more quality time with my son. He has been entertaining himself for almost 2 hours with minimal input from me, and I feel increasingly guilty for not paying attention to him. But I have to work when the work is here. Thats the fun of being contract.

4. I should be getting more sleep. I operate better with more sleep, but I end up staying up to get down time after everyone else is asleep. I need down time, but I probably need sleep more....

5. I should be earning more money. My staying home puts us in an economic crunch, and its up to me to find ways to bring in the cash. I have two tiny jobs, one that is my passion and the other that is... well, its at least at home, anyway. The problem is, since the home job is contract, the work comes and goes. As does the money.

6. I should be eating less. And healthier foods. But mostly less.

7. I should be kinder to myself and acknowledge that I am doing the best I can in all things. I should not beat myself up or expect myself to be super human. I should let myself be in the moment as it is, finding the beauty in it, and not taking away from that by being in the "shoulds".
I think I will work on that last one first... at least I should.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Its late and I should be in bed. Tonight I went to work, and the baby cried most of the time I was gone. I don't know how other people do it, this whole leaving the baby for hours thing. Three hours felt like a lifetime to me. I enjoy my work, but the guilt I feel when she has a bad night makes leaving seem selfish and it hardly seems worth it. My partner has such a hard job, taking care of the baby who clearly wants to just be with me most of the time. I can 't imagine how horrible that feels.

To top it off my son has nightmares that make him scared to sleep. So there he was, staying up and getting more and more wound from trying to stay awake at all costs. Once he fesses up to what the nightmares are about, it will get better, but we are looking at a possible 2-3 weeks of these bedtime shenanigans. Oh joy.

At one point, he asked my partner if she was upset, which she clearly was, after an hour of screaming baby plus insane 4 year old. She said that she was, and asked if he knew why. He paused, and answered, "Well, cause the baby is crying..."

"Yes," my partner replied.

He was still thinking.... "And cause I badgered you?"


"And badgered you?"


"And badgered you?"


"And badgered you?"


"And badgered you?"


"And then badgered you some more?"

Ahh, kids. Just when you want to go jump off a bridge just to get away at any cost, they go and be cute. I am sure its a survival instinct.

Day One:

In a desperate attempt to maintain some hold on reality, I am starting a blog. Why, do you ask? For the purpose of holding myself accountable to my greater intentions for my life. To remind myself to connect in meaningful ways to my two amazing children. To take nothing for granted. To create a space for myself to rise above... and fall, inevitably, below.

I am snatching a few moments while my mother's helper is here playing with my 4 year old. I type as my 4 month old nurses, and I stop to look into her eyes. She smiles at me, and nothing else seems to matter. But then my monkey brain kicks in, telling me that I need to bathe the dogs, and its a little cold today, and blah blah blah... you get the idea. Then I look into her eyes again. How did I create this miniature wonder of the world? How can something so perfect end up making you so crazy in a few years? How do I stay at home with my beautiful children and still be me? There is much to explore.

Ah, she is falling asleep. She will only be little for such a short time. Every moment of this time is fleeting. Everyone says, "They grow up so fast!" and no matter how much you nod and agree, no one really thinks you understand. I didn't get it with my first. But with my last, it brings tears to my eyes that she will so soon be crawling and walking and talking and going to college. Will she visit much when she is married? Will we be close when she is an adult? How many crimes of impatience will I have to make up for?

Busted. I am sitting here, missing her magical connection to my body in favor of pushing myself 20 years into the future, making a peaceful moment sad. This mindfulness stuff is harder than it looks! For now, I am reminded to be in the here and now. And to bathe the dogs.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

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