Thursday, December 31, 2009

Nothing Says Love Like Sharing Cheerios with Elmo

I have the day off of work today and have spent the entire day watching Anna play, explore and try (successfully) to make me laugh.

After breakfast this morning, she wanted some cheerios after she finished her breakfast. Not wanting to miss more playtime to eat in the high chair, I put some cheerios in a bowl for her and let her bring them in the living room, where it looks as though Toys R Us exploded all over the room...some day it will look like adults live here again...anyway, I digress...

Anna brought her cheerios into the living room and was playing. I started trying (in vain) to clean up some of the mess and when I turned around I was greeted with the sight of Anna force-feeding her Elmo doll cheerios on the floor.

When she figured Elmo had had his fill, probably because his little muppet mouth couldn't hold anymore cheerios, she started sharing with her blow-up lion punching bag. When she tired of this, she began just pouring them directly from the bowl into her mouth.

This child...What a super-sass. But hey, at least she's learning to share with her friends, right??

Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas, Mama!

Anna and I left Wednesday night for my mom's house in Illinois - in the middle of the biggest storm we've had so far this year. We made it safely, but not before seeing 12 cars in the ditch (some of them heading there right in front of us!) and nearly doubling the amount of time it usually takes to head to Grandma's. But we made it and my lovely sister had an appropriately large glass of white wine waiting for me upon arrival. Much fun was had after the munchkin went to bed, catching up with my sister, making fun of my mom (kindly, of course!) and just relaxing after a nerve-shattering drive and busy work week.

We spent Christmas Eve in Illinois, running errands, eating an unhealthy amount of food and in general, having a great time. Hubby and my brother joined us on Thursday evening in time for church and then we ate some more and watched the "Anna: Rare and Uncut" DVD that Hubby made for the grandparents as a Christmas gift (video clips from telling his family that we were expecting up to just a week or two ago - so fun/sad to watch, I can't believe how fast she's turned from a newborn into a little person). I made the comment a few times on Christmas Eve that I wish I had known what cool people my brother and sister were (or were going to become - no offense, Mike, but you were kind of a punk as a kid :), but to be fair, I was a moody brat too) when we all lived under one roof.

And then, as if she knew it were just the right time, Anna looked me in the eye and called me MAMA! Yes! It's true! I am no longer daddy! I now have my very own identity as "Mama!" I can't even tell you how excited I am about this. Even though she's mostly just been whining Mama at me (might as well get used to it, right?), my heart just melts every time she says it. Best. Present. Ever. Followed closely by the diamond necklace Hubby gave me. I felt awfully spoiled by the time our Christmas was finished!

I think Anna got more of a kick out of prying the lid off of a tin from my cousin than from actually opening presents, but she still chanted "Wow!!" over and over while shredding wrapping paper. She got a pair of Pink Bunny Slippers from Grandma Hootie that she has refused to take off since we put them on her feet (never mind that they are two sizes too big and make her look slightly like she has clown shoes on...) and a little table and chair set that I hope to have put together tonight or tomorrow for her play area in the basement.

Around 10, Anna had had enough and was screaming (literally) for a nap. We packed up all our goodies and headed back to Milwaukee to Hubby's family for Christmas day celebrations! I have really fun in-laws (and I'm not just saying that because I know my mother-in-law reads this blog!). Hubby has 3 sisters and a little brother and getting together with their side of the family is always really fun! Even after sleep for an hour and a half on the way back to Milwaukee, Anna stayed awake only long enough to open a couple of presents and then went down for a 3 hour nap. I was bummed because I actually had more fun when she was awake to play with her new toys and open her presents, but she made up for it when she (finally!) woke up! She got the rocking horse that Hubby got when he was this exact age and she loves it! She keeps walking up to it in our living room and petting its head. And she knew right away how to rock on it - Yes, I know, my child is a GENIUS!

We had the extended family Christmas gathering on Saturday. Unfortunately at that point, Anna (and I, if we're being honest) were just Christmas-ed out. She spent most of the evening there rubbing her tired eyes and fussing (and, since we're being honest, so did I). Just too much crammed into one weekend.

Sunday was spent just Anna and me laying low. We played for hours with her new toys - blocks and play kitchen, and a little wooden school bus with removable people that prove far too irresistible and must be put immediately into Anna's mouth (and if we're being honest, my mouth too - what? I said they were irresistible!), and a great tent and canvas tube which Anna immediately moved her blanket, teddy bear and pacifier into, and then kept pushing me out of. What is this? No grownups allowed already?? We shared a pizza (which she ate like a barbarian, doing her best to eat only the cheese, sauce and toppings with the slice plastered against her entire face) and then watched (about 10 minutes of) Finding Nemo. Anna stood 3 inches away from the TV screen chanting "Fishy, Fishy, Fishy, Fishy" the entire time. I didn't even know she knew that word.

As usual as I dropped her off at daycare this morning, I felt that stab of regret at not only the weekend being over and done with, but that she and I had to part ways for the day. But then she squished her face up against the front window to wave goodbye to me. A mental picture that is still making me laugh. Such a goofball, that girl. Can't wait for our next long weekend together!

Christmas Letter to Anna

I wrote this a while back but wanted to post a copy here. I really enjoy the interaction this blog allows me to have with other parents but am also looking at it as a sort of baby book for Anna (since I'm too busy/lazy to do much writing in her actual baby book!). Anyway, something special my mom did for us kids growing up was writing us special letters at different times. Sometimes that was Christmastime, or graduation, birthdays, etc. But I have saved many of those letters and read them once in a while. It reminds me that I was and am loved and I want Anna to share that feeling as she grows up. So here is my first letter to her:

Dear Banana,

Your daddy and I spent hours last night after you went to bed watching videos of you when you were just a few weeks old. I found myself tearing up over how much you've grown in such little time. It's so hard to believe that the little bundle on the TV screen is YOU!

You are a constant source of amazement and joy to me and your dad. I would be content most days just to sit and watch you explore your world. You're always so proud when you discover something new - showing it to each one of us, marveling at your new abilities. This morning you looked at me from the kitchen while I was drying my hair in the hallway and pulled up your shirt to show me your plump little belly and belly button. Then you toddled over and pointed to my bellybutton and said "Beddy" so clearly. A year ago at this time, you couldn't even sit up yet, and now you're SAYING things to me!

I love how much each day with you changes. You are learning at an unbelievable pace. You understand so much and are such a little performer, that your daddy and I just want to spend every waking moment with you. I can't begin to tell you how much I love you.

Here are my hopes for you on future Christmases:

*I hope you are able to distinguish between the magic of Santa and the MIRACLE of the birth of Christ. Both are exciting in their own way, but only one is real and true. There is Christmas magic in the world, flying reindeer or not.

*I hope you know as you grow up just how much you are loved. Not just by me and daddy, but by countless others who would do anything for you. You are a little charmer and have managed to wrap an awful lot of people around those chubby little fingers of yours. I hope you can feel this love and learn to love BIG as a result of it.

*I hope you keep your curiosity. This world is full of fun and interesting things and I hope you continue to love finding out what each of those things are.

*I hope you cultivate big dreams for yourself. You are persistent (nice way of saying stubborn!) and smart, and have already managed to conquer many toddler-sized obstacles. I can't wait to see what you do in the real world!

I love you very much, sweet girl. And I look forward to celebrating many, many more Christmases with you!

With all my heart,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Great Cookbook Giveaway!

Since having a baby, I've suddenly found myself more inclined to cook family meals each night, keep the kitchen clean and hunt like crazy for deals at the grocery store (also part of staying on our budget!). One site that has helped keep me focused on preparing healthy meals for a low price is $5 Dinners. Erin posts daily recipes she makes for her family for less than $5 per meal, and I can tell you from trying many of these recipes myself - they're GREAT!

She just had a cookbook published and is doing a HUGE giveaway over at her site. Even if you don't win the cookbook, peruse the site. You'd be surprised at the inspiration you find there!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bedtime Routine

I've worked hard to establish a bedtime routine with Anna. This routine consists of giving daddy kisses good night and saying I love you, chasing each other into her bedroom and then selecting 4 or 5 books off the shelf together (most of which will be met with "NAHNAHNAH!!" in mere seconds - she's as quick to make up her mind as she is to change it!). We snuggle together in her rocking chair, reading and pointing out animals and things she knows and after we've read 3 or 4 stories, depending on how tired she is that night, I ask if I can have a "Kiss for Sweet Dreams" - a line from one of our books. And then she helps me sing "Anna's Good Night Song" sung to the tune of "Good Night, Ladies."

Good night, Anna
Good night, Anna
Good night, Anna
It's time to go to sleep

Mommy loves you, Anna
Daddy loves you, Anna
Jesus loves you, Anna
It's time to go to sleep

Most nights she willingly lays down in her bed, grabs her pacifier and musical seahorse and goes to sleep. Some nights (like tonight), she throws a tantrum. But that's how we handle bedtime.

Hubby teases me because when he's in charge, all he has to do is take her in the bedroom, put her in bed and close the door. He jokes that I only have to go through the bedtime routine because that's the standard I've set. But I remember my bedtime routine from when I was little - both my parents read to me all the time when I was small. And I want these things to stand out for her too. So if that means I have to take 20 extra minutes of my night to read a few stories (the SAME stories, OVER and OVER) and sing a song (which she now tries to sing along with), then so be it. It's one of my favorite parts of my day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Working Mom Woes

I'm going to give myself a second to wallow because in spite of my best efforts over the past few days, I've been unable to shake myself loose from my constant regret over not being able to stay home with Anna.

Since I was a punk two year old, pretend-nursing my stuffed Ernie doll, I've wanted to be a stay at home mom. I've never had strong career aspirations. Don't get me wrong, most of the jobs I've had (and currently do have), I've loved. But love of my job comes no where near to the love of my daughter and my desire to be the one raising her.

I've always thought it was pointless to have children if you weren't even going to be raising them yourself. Why have a kid just to dump him or her off on someone else for 50 hours a week? I'm DEFINITELY lucky and have the second best person to myself to be raising my child. But I am painfully aware of how much of my daughter's life I'm missing by being merely her part-time caregiver.

Alas, there's nothing I can do about it because we need my paycheck. I'm trying to stay focused on the fact that I get weekends with her because during the week I get less than an hour a day. Tonight she was so tired when she got home from daycare that she ate dinner and was in bed by 6:45. She didn't even get home until 6:10. Understand why I'm crying crying over my laptop at 7:30 on a Wednesday?

UGH, as much as I want a second baby, there is NO WAY that is happening until we have the money for me to stay home. I'm not going through this again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Anna-Vinci Code

Robert Langdon's got noting on me. Symbologist? Bah! Toddler-ologist, am I!
Decoding babies is my game. (Please forgive me, Dan Brown. I actually quite enjoy your books.)

For example, within the last couple of weeks we've figured out that Hubby is "Dad-Daddy" and I'm just plain "Daddy" (unless I have food or we're in church, please don't ask me why that's the case).

"Cooka" is cookie and will be requested at all hours of the day, in the same tone of voice, regardless of my reaction.

If Anna doesn't know what sound a particular animal makes, she resorts to "Boo." This has yet to be the correct response to anything.

When Anna starts digging in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, it means she is ready to go to sleep. I'm not kidding.

Frequently she starts getting naughty when she's tired. I know it's time for a nap when she starts chanting "nah nah, nah nah" as she's doing something she KNOWS she's not supposed to do (pushing the cat off the couch, trying to climb down the basement stairs, pulling the dishwasher soap out from under the sink and carrying it around, the list goes on and gets drastically more destructive).

All done...oh dear, Lord, all done. She shouts this day and night, at varying volumes, mostly loud. She does not always mean that she's all done eating as this phrase is usually followed by her stuffing a pile of food into her mouth.

If you cough, she'll cough back. I think she thinks it's just good manners to answer when spoken why not cough when coughed to?

Yes, my life is a lot like a Dan Brown novel, except, you know, without the imminent danger, conspiracies, or symbology. So, not really at all like a Dan Brown novel...But does it count that Anna frequently demonstrates behaviors of Angels and Demons? No? Shoot.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Adventures in Sewing

I recently "borrowed" (long-term with no defined return date) my mom's sewing machine. After several hours of battling with an obstinate bobbin and my own complete inability to do ANYTHING in a straight line (especially sew!), I have started giving myself a few simple projects to get accustomed to using the machine.

I first finished a set of curtains for the recently created play area in our basement (worthy of its own post, but if I forget, please remind me. I'm quite proud of it!) and then set about FINALLY sewing together the pieces of fabric I cut out months ago to make Anna a pair of soft shoes. If you are interested, this is the pattern I used.

It went so well that I decided to make a pair for a friend of mine who is expecting a baby not too long from now. They're not perfect, but they stay on much better than socks. I used denim for the soles, but they would be perfect with leather as well. I'm quite excited and am busy brainstorming my next sewing machine project. Any ideas?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Reason for the Season

If you're like me, you've heard the Christmas story told a million times and can probably even quote the verse from Luke "Fear not, I bring you tidings of great joy which shall be to all people..." But as I was addressing holiday (yes, we have to say holiday because there are many Hindu people at my office) cards and listening to Christmas music yesterday, I started really thinking about the birth of Christ and how truly AMAZING that time must have been.

#1. If you've been 9 months pregnant, or have known a woman who was 9 months pregnant, you know walking more than a few steps at that point is tiring. Everything is tiring when you're THAT pregnant. Can you imagine riding through the desert on a donkey for DAYS? All that bouncing at that stage, I would have needed an adult diaper. Plus add in the back pain and swollen ankles of late pregnancy and I feel for Mary.

#2. Christchild or not, labor and delivery is painful. Not only did she have no pain meds, she had no bed, no clean environment, and was forced to go through that ordeal in a barn. A barn! Compare that to the fancy birthing centers nowadays. And then once her baby was here, she had no bed to put him in. She had to put him in a manger. Do you know what a manger is? It's a trough. To feed animals. How humbling it must have been to just have to make due with what she and Joseph had available to them.

#3. Angels - the ULTIMATE birth announcement. Really can't compare to those cute little postcards or emails we send out now. Imagine people rejoicing in the fields at the mere news of the birth of your baby. Imagine the heavens opening up and choirs of angels proclaiming "GLORIA". Imagine people dropping what they were doing and traveling, possibly many miles, just to SEE your child. That's pretty intense.

#4. Have you seen a newborn? Ever? Small, helpless, sweet little bundles of new life. That's who Mary was holding. And that little bundle was GOD'S SON. That is amazing to me. God-made-man, came to earth as a baby. A baby who couldn't lift his own head, who couldn't speak, who couldn't do anything for himself at all. Which brings me to my final point...

#5. God sent his ONLY beloved son to earth to die for all of us. If you are a mother or a father, I expect this will hit you particularly hard. I can't even think about losing Anna, it physically hurts me. Can you imagine putting your baby in a situation where you KNOW he or she is going to die? Even if it is for the good of others, I cannot fathom the selflessness of this act.

Funny how now that I have a child old enough to start enjoying Christmas, Santa Claus is not even on my mind a little this year. I hope I can convey the awesome miracle of Christ's birth to Anna when she's old enough to understand, because that is a great reason to celebrate.

Friday, December 4, 2009

An Anniversary of Sorts

I'm getting really emotional today (shocker!).  I absolutely love this time of year.  Not just because of the holidays and the snow and the sense of goodwill that seems to be especially strong among everyone about now, but because this was when I found out I was pregnant.  Which (if you've ready any of the last few entries) you know, was a defining moment in my life.  It was exactly two years ago today that my coworker Kristie told me at lunch, "You're pregnant. Go home and take a test." She knew me better than anyone in the office, but how on earth did she know that?  All I told her was that my chest was killing me and I must have some monster PMS going on.  She didn't even know we were trying.  Well, not trying, just not NOT trying.  Anyway, that's beside the point.

I spent some time writing about that exciting time in my life and here is an (slightly exaggerated - poor hubby wasn't quite this panicked, but he was no cool cucumber either!) excerpt of the recounting of this exact day, two years ago.

This is not nearly as romantic as they make it out to be in the movies.  Taking a pregnancy test.  Peeing on a stick.  That's all you're doing.  And believe me, girls CAN'T aim.  How am I supposed to know if I've got this positioned correctly?  What a mess.

I carefully put the white stick on top of the box that it originally came out of.  That's the other thing.  After you pee all over this little plastic beast, where exactly are you supposed to set it to wait for the magic to happen?  I opted for the box because I really don't want to have to clean the bathroom sink again this week. 

I wash my hands slowly, figuring a little extra soap will make up for the my ungraceful test taking ability.  Can I wash my hands for 3 minutes?  Apparently not, since my cell phone alarm still hasn't gone off and I'm already finished drying my them on the towel next to the sink.  Couldn't hurt to take a sneak peek at the test, right? 

Oh holy crap.  Holy crap.  That's a second line.  That line was NOT there before.  For sure.  That's definitely a second line!!  Oh my God, I'm pregnant.  I'm pregnant! 

I'm pregnant??  Now what the hell do I do?  They don't tell you about this part...take a test, eat healthy, have a baby.  They tell you that, but nobody tells you exactly what to do in the precise moment following the biggest news of your life. 

I'll wing it.  I grab the little white stick that has just confirmed what I've been hoping for forever is true and with shaking hands, open the bathroom door. 

Hubby is watching TV on the couch in the living room.  Poor, unsuspecting Andy.  He just thought I really had to use the bathroom after my long commute home, when I dropped all my belongings, coat and shoes in the hallway just inside the front door and made a beeline for the bathroom.  Nope.  I'm about to set his world on its ear and he's wrapped up in an episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. 

"Hey, Hubs?" My voice is shaking like it does when I speak in public.  What is wrong with me?  You wanted this!  You BOTH wanted this! Now buck up and tell him he's about to be a daddy.

"Hello?  Can you turn that off for a second?"  He grabs the remote, pauses his show and looks at me.  I hold up the test that I brought with me from the bathroom.  "I'm, um, I mean, we're pregnant."

Hubby stares blankly at me for a second before blurting out "Did you pee on that?" sounding disgusted. I look down at my hand. 

"Yeah?"  I say, more of a question than an answer to his question.

"Gross.  Go wash your hands."

Huh.  That is not how I pictured that going at all.  I head back to the bathroom, put the test back on top of the box and wash my hands again.

After washing my hands and heading back to face Hubby again, I was instructed to do the following:

1. Take another test.  There was no way a home pregnancy test could be must have been a false positive.  The second one proved positive just as quickly as the first.  I was EXTREMELY pregnant, apparently.

2. Tell no one.  He didn't believe that home pregnancy tests were reliable enough to prove that we were truly pregnant.  We had to confirm with a doctor before he wanted this news going farther than the two of us. Sure.  No problem, hon.  You have fun at hockey practice tonight.  I will just sit my little pregnant self down on the couch, watch some TV, and NOT tell a soul the biggest, most life altering news that I just received. 

I hear his car pull away from the garage downstairs and run for my phone as soon am I was certain he won't come back up and catch me in the act.

"Hey, Mom," I say as nonchalantly as possible. "How was your day?"  An evening phone call from me is nothing unusual.  I call my mom at least once a day just to chat. Just in the middle of her description of that morning's Bible study class, I quietly say, "I'm pregnant."

She keeps talking for a second.  I can actually hear the moment that the news registers with her though.  She goes silent.  "Wait...WHAT?! WHAT????  You're pregnant?  Oh!" followed by much squealing and little sniffles.  This is what I wanted.  Someone to celebrate with me!  Someone to understand how exciting this second pink line on that little plastic  truly is.  Not to be told to wash my hands.

I tell my mom about Hubby's reaction.  She points out what I know deep down is the truth: That he is probably being both cautious and scared by this news.  It's one thing to say "let's try for a baby" and it's another thing to say "we're having a baby."  Don't worry, he's just as excited as you are, she assures me.

She's right.  The next day as we're getting ready for work, Hubby sneaks up behind me and gives me a long hug.  "Call me after you talk to the doctor today," he says, smiling.  And I can tell by his smile that he's excited to find out when our twosome will become a threesome.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Holiday Traditions

I am quickly getting into the holiday spirit - listening to classic Christmas tunes by Gene Autry, Judy Garland, Dean Martin and Bing Crosby on Pandora; admiring all my neighbor's and Downtown Milwaukee's amazing holiday lights displays; debating whether or not I want to put up a Christmas tree that will automatically be a shameless hussy, gracing my living room with her bare nether-regions exposed (due, of course to my toddler's propensity for throwing any and everything down the laundry chute); excitedly peering out my bedroom window every morning to see if it's snowed yet. It's exciting!

Some of my favorite childhood memories involve the holidays and the great traditions that my parents established for us. The family trip to the Christmas Tree farm (complete with hayride and hot chocolate and sesame sticks in the warming house, of course!) is one tradition I KNOW we are carrying forward for Anna. But I've been thinking a lot lately about what other traditions I'd like to establish for her and our family. So I'm turning to you for ideas!

Send me your favorite holiday traditions. Traditions that you either followed as a kid growing up, or invented when you set out on your own. I want to hear them all!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Baking Baby, Er, Banana Bread

I got sick over Thanksgiving weekend. Not the point of this post, but a necessary bit of info so that I don't sound like a total slouch who was hanging out in bed at noon on a Sunday while my poor helpless daughter had to dig cheerios out from under the couch for her breakfast. Of course she DID dig cheerios out from under the couch for her breakfast, but it was by choice. So I only suck a little bit as a parent.

Anyway, I was laying in bed and I heard what sounded suspiciously like Anna banging a metal spoon against something glass - hopefully not the window - I thought to myself as I rolled over, trying to sleep for just 1 more minute while I decided whether or not to investigate/stop whatever was going on beyond my bedroom door. Then I heard Hubby "keep it in the bowl! Good smashing! Boom Boom Boom" At which point he was joined by a little voice chanting along "boom boom boom." Oh good grief, I HAVE to know what the heck is going on in there.

As I walk in, Anna proudly looks up from the mixing bowl in the center of the kitchen floor. One hand clutching a slightly slimy and soggy Graham Cracker (or "COOKIE" if you ask her) and the other holding a potato masher. Hubby was squatting on the floor next to her, attempting (in vain) to keep at least some of the squashed banana batter in the mixing bowl. Anna's shoes and about a 2-foot radius of the floor around the bowl were sloshed with bits of squashed bananas and batter.

"Daddy! Daddy!" Her usual, INCORRECT, greeting that makes me feel great even though I am "Mama," so very proud of her mess and her special time with daddy. How on earth is she so grown up already??

All weekend she walked around saying "Whoa!" and "Zis is coowhoa" (This is cool) and "Uh-uh!" She truly is a little person with a HUGE personality and I'm loving every second of watching that develop. I promised more pictures and I will post a few tonight that I snapped of the banana bread making. Also, here's the video Hubby took of the event:

What a great four day weekend...made me wish, REALLY REALLY wish that I was home with her always. But then hearing that this morning upon arriving at daycare that Anna yelled "HIIII!!!" to all her friends and then did her crazy dance that she does when she's really happy and excited, I know she'd be sad to miss out on the time with her friends every day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Post About Boobs

***This post is going to be about boobs - and not in that fun way, dudes, so you've been fairly warned.***

Perhaps my biggest bout with mommy amnesia comes in the area of breast feeding. Because right now I actually think I missing nursing my daughter. When I got pregnant, I was on the fence about nursing. I figured I'd give it a try (because "breast is best"), but wasn't going to stress over it. I was actually excited when right after Anna was born, the nurse asked if I wanted to try breastfeeding her. Exciting until I realized that I was leading a toothless shark to what would soon be lumps of chapped and bleeding flesh. OUCH! But not one to quickly give up, I stuck with it in the hospital figuring that it would get easier eventually.

Then we went home. Any of you other moms have that "oh my, God, where is the emergency call button???" moment when you first walked into your house with your new baby? But Hubby was great, got me all set up on the couch and commenced whole-heartedly supporting me while I endeavored to feed our child at intervals that seemed inhuman at best.

Did you know that it's completely normal for some new borns to nurse, TRULY, around the clock? Anna would be up to eat, take nearly an hour to do so, sleep for 15 minutes and wake up wanting to eat again. Lather, rinse, repeat for a 12-hour cycle and you not only have one tired Mama, but you also have some EXTREMELY sore boobies.

I told the hubby, "Don't even look at them. I can feel your eyes and it HURTS! Definitely don't ever think about touching them again. EVER." Poor hubby.

Then let's consider when my milk came in. I laid down for a catnap with my normal, somewhat larger-from pregnancy breasts in place and woke up with HELLO - Size F cup chest puppies throbbing like you wouldn't believe and busting (pun INTENDED) out of my piddly little D-cup nursing bra. Hubby was somewhat happy until he saw me crying from the pain. Then he dutifully and without me even having to ask went to Target to buy me nearly every nursing product they offered in the baby section. My favorites were the icepacks to fit into my bra with holes in the middle to spare my sore and bleeding nipples. It takes a good man to unashamed go into a Target and purchase all of those products. Honey, I commend you. Not sure if you even remember doing that, but I was/am very greatful!

Plus Anna had latching problems, but you know what? Lack of sleep, soreness and frustration aside, breastfeeding took on a whole new importance to me when I had to go back to work when Anna was just 6 weeks old (let's not get me started on the archaic maternity leave policy of my previous company!). That separation was (and often still is) one of the hardest things I've ever endured. I can't explain it, but I imagine some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. It took a long time for me to accept that this tiny little person was building her own little life apart from me. But at the beginning and end of each day she and I had 30-45 minutes of quiet time together where I was forced to just sit quietly and nourish my child. And I began to live for those times. I didn't even mind the awkwardness of pumping in an office full of people who either hadn't breastfed or were men, just to hang on to those precious moments.

One last fact that I grew to accept as a result of nursing - everyone, including my pastor, has now seen the ladies. And I'm OK with that!

So I'm sold on breast feeding. I plan to do so with any/all subsequent children. Especially now that I know what to expect and that thigns do indeed get easier. I made it to 9.5 months with Anna and I'd really love to make it to a year next time. But I'm not going to stress over it. I'm just going to enjoy the closeness and bond that it builds between me and the baby.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spreading the News

(Yes, you're getting two posts from me today - give thanks! :))

There's nothing quite as exciting as sharing the news with friends and family of your first pregnancy. In fact, I still get emotional thinking about how I told everyone in my life about what was to me, the most exciting and life altering news I've ever had to share. I found out I was pregnant with Anna on December 4th, 2007. BEST. TIME. EVER. to find out you're expecting. Know why? Because you get to tell people during the holidays!

The impending holiday season has me thinking about THE Christmas. The Christmas that has set the bar so high that I don't think any other will ever measure up for me. Let me preface this by telling you that I had great joy telling all of the people in my life that I was pregnant, but this particular incident stands out for me. Enjoy!


Finally. It's FINALLY Christmas Eve. Well, it's 7:00 a.m. on Christmas Eve. But whatever, at least it's today. I've saved some gift wrapping and cleaning specifically to keep myself busy today because I know how anxious I'm going to be to get over to Hubby's parents' house. This is the most excited I've been on a Christmas Eve since I was a little kid begging to open "just one present" before Christmas morning.

No one in Hubby's family has any idea, except for his dad of course, who was in on the surprise. Here's the deal. My mother-in-law is a family childcare provider and has run a successful business out of her home for more than 20 years. There is a waiting list for childcare at Billie's house. One need only fill out an application to get on that list. So that's what "one" did. Only we wrapped our application in a Christmas package and stuffed it under the tree with the rest of their family's gifts. The name line says "TBD Mylastname." The parents are listed as me and Hubby. And the birthdate says "On or around July 28." We addressed the package to Billie, but knowing their family, everyone will be watching as she opens it.

I spend the day cleaning, organizing, wrapping and napping, and FINALLY 6:00 pm rolls around. Hubby and I load up the car with our remaining gifts and make the 10 minute drive over to his parents' house in Milwaukee. After grabbing some Chinese food for dinner (a family tradition, which I am usually fond of, but for some reason chicken smells and tastes really bad to me today) we settle in the living room to open eachother's gifts, another family tradition that I love at the in-laws'. There is more bonding and conversation than gift opening that happens on Christmas Eve. Suffice to say, when the whole family is together, there isn't much quiet time.

In order to not arouse suspicion, we simply allowed Billie to put our extra special gift in her present pile to be opened at her leisure. But this suspense is KILLING me. And, is it hot in here? Or is it just me? I suppose it doesn't help that I'm sitting in front of the roaring fireplace. Or that I have the 75 pound golden retriever lounging on me like his own personal sofa. I had a nice cushy space on the couch picked out, but realized that it was the best vantage point for video-taping Billie's reaction to the gift so I casually mentioned how cold I was to Hubby and asked him to switch with me, winking so he'd understand that this was more for his benefit than mine.

Billie grabs another present and I crane my neck to see around the arm of the couch which gift she's grabbed off the pile. We've been at this for a while now and I'm starting to feel really anxious. Yes! She's got it! It's on her lap! I sit back and try to look casual, nonchalantly interested in what her gift might possibly be. My adrenaline is flowing now from the anticipation. I'm shaking and my face is turning red. Someone around here MUST notice something. But everyone is absorbed in their own conversations, paying a bit of attention to Billie opening her gift.

"Oh, it's really light. That reminds me..." Billie starts telling us about an encounter she had at the store earlier this week. That's it. I lean forward at stare at her, willing her to open the present faster.

Finally she reaches the inside of the box, where I have tied a red ribbon around the rolled up sheet of paper. This whole process is going in slow motion. I'm really shaking now. My eyes are tearing up with anticipated emotion from everyone else when they find out what Billie is really opening.

She slips the ribbon off of the paper and unrolls it to read. She's straight-faced and silent for a moment, and then, in the most perfectly revealing way I could have ever imagined, Billie's eyes widen, her jaw drops and her left hand flies to her face. Now everyone is paying attention.

Choruses of "What is it?!" and "What did they give you?!" ring out around the room. Her stunned silence lasts only a minute as she finally turns the sheet of paper around for everyone else to view and, with tears running down her face stammers, "It's an application for childcare. They're going to have a baby!"

"What??" one of Andy's sisters stutters out from her position on the couch.

I can't hold it in anymore. I'm crying now and getting to my feet. "I'm pregnant!" I am so excited and so happy and so nauseous and oh, my God, I'm going to be sick. No, wait, I'm OK.

There's much hugging and many happy tears. And this is Christmas. This is by far the best Christmas moment I have ever experienced. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to top this feeling of excitement, joy and love...and nausea.

We head to church as a family that night and I spend more than half of the service lying flat on my back on the floor of one of the Sunday School classrooms, praying, pleading and begging God to keep me from throwing up all that Chinese food I ate for dinner.

It's moments like those that reinforce the mommy amnesia, convincing me that the nausea, the weight-gain, the moodiness and the cankles are all worth it. And, you know what? It IS all worth it. Just to be greeted by an exuberant, yet confused little girl smiling and shouting "Daddy! Daddy!" up at me when I arrive home tonight. At least she's not shouting "Go back where you came from!"

I'm Thankful, Just Short on Time!

I know what you're thinking: "What the heck? Kerry, that ingrate - she's not even really thankful for anything. She was supposed to be posting once a day until Thanksgiving."

Yes, I WAS supposed to be posting once a day. But life has gotten in the way, as it often does. We'll just say that it counts that I've been THINKING ABOUT POSTING every day for the last week and leave it at that!

Since I know I'm not going to have time to keep up with my previously set posting schedule, please see my list of 14 things I am thankful for below (please note that these are in no particular order):

1. My Family (as previously stated in my last post)
2. Being a Mom
3. A job I sincerely love
4. Friends who not only put up with me, but also seem to kind of enjoy spending time with me :)
5. Being an organized person
6. Other Mom friends I can talk to about the joys, frustrations and questions of parenthood
7. Non-mom friends who I can cut loose and relax with
8. Opportunities hidden in seemingly bad situations* (will elaborate below)
9. Enjoying the age I am, no matter the age I am, 'til death do I part
10. Looking backward and clearly seeing the hand of God guiding my life
11. Our house, quirks and all, I REALLY love it
12. A husband who loves me in spite of the crazy (or maybe because of it?!) and who I'm fully aware I am lucky to have as my partner
13. My health and the health of the people I love - something I frequently take for granted and SHOULDN'T!
14. Chocolate (OK, I can't lie, making a list of 14 things was getting hard - though I do appreciate chocolate!)

There is one point above that I'd like to elaborate on a bit. And it sort of ties in with another point - #8 and #10. First of all, 2009 was a stressful year. A pretty challenging and bad year, if I'm being honest. I was laid off of a job I loved in January. I have a lot of opinions on this particular incident that I won't share in a public forum. I wish that company the best, but I certainly am not happy at how I was treated. Such is life. Moving on. I went through a couple of REALLY tough months after that. Suffice to say it threw me into a depression that I really didn't think I would be able to climb out of on my own. Finally after almost 6 months, things started to get better. And I realized that while I was suffering through the gloom and doom of my daily life, I had actually, inadvertently wound up in a much greener pasture. I found a job where I am appreciated, where I am able to stretch a bit, where I am trusted for the capable individual that I am. When I really thought about it, the only thing I missed from the old place (besides a few friends who I've kept in touch with) was the extra day off that I had arranged each week to spend with Anna. It was an opportunity that I NEVER would have sought out, but has in fact put me in a much better place both mentally and financially. I guess my main point here is, looking back now, I can see that even though it wasn't a path I had chosen for myself, that it was, in the end, for the best. It was an opportunity stumbled upon in what seemed like a bad situation, but has obviously become good.

Anyway, that's definitely not everything I'm thankful for, but that's all you're getting! I hope you all have a fantastic Thanksgiving. Rest assured that I'm once again tackling my life-long goal of eating my weight in mashed potatoes this Thursday!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Two Weeks of Thanksgiving

Multiple times over the last couple of days I've started writing posts that just sound downright whiny. And the more I think about it, the more I realize that I need to shut my mouth when I feel like complaining and just be thankful for the MULTITUDE of great things I have in my life. Focusing on the positive is not always easy to do, but I'm going to make a go of it by posting one entry per day until Thanksgiving about the things that I am thankful for in my life.

Today's focus: My Family

I am blessed to have a supportive and loving family. Yes, we've gone through rough times, but who doesn't? I am fortunate enough to have loving parents, an awesome brother and sister, in-laws who treat me like I was born into - rather than married into - their family and three sisters- and one brother-in-law who I'm lucky to call family. That doesn't even cover my husband and child or my outstanding extended family. When I'm feeling lonely or bummed, I need to remember that there are LOTS of people who love me (even when I'm a raging crab who doesn't deserve it!).

It was a humbling moment when the hubby and I arrived home from the hospital with our new little crying, pooping, sleeping bundle of joy and realized that we were now a family. Not that we hadn't been before. But when you're a twosome, it's different. Now we are the ones saying "eat your peas, don't stick that up your nose, just WAIT til your father comes home." He and I have marveled at the fact that in a few short years, we'll have a homework-doing, attitude-having (ha! few years?!), party-attending teenager. And I am privileged enough to be wiping her hind end until those days arrive! It's an odd change going from being a kid to having a kid. REALLY makes me wonder how my mom made it look so easy with three of us!!

Anyway, to those of you who read this to whom I am related - thanks for being awesome! I'm grateful to be part of your family!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Everybody's a Critic

Between a dentist visit for Anna's chipped front tooth from her intimate moment with the floor of aisle ten at Target on Saturday and an impromptu trip to the pediatrician to get the Pig Shot for Anna this morning, I pulled up to a red light. When Anna is in the back seat, I like to flip the sun visor down and open the mirror to interact with her a little bit. She gets to get antsy in the car so this seems to help remind her that I am still paying attention to her. While we were stopped, a song by Credence Clearwater Revival came on the radio. I LOVE them. So I understandably started singing along.

At that same moment, Anna made eye contact with me in the mirror. She frowned and emphatically shook her head "No!" Surely she couldn't be telling ME no! So I kept singing. For about 5 seconds. At which point I heard an exuberant "NAH!" from the backseat (which is how Anna says "No" these days) and looked up to see her shaking her head "No" even harder than the first time, frowning in between "nah, nah!"s.

Bah. Everybody's a critic.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Nothing Stops the Party like the Pediatrician

"It's a party over here, a party over there. Put your hands in the air. Shake your derriere." That's from a song, right? I'm pretty sure it's also Anna's philosophy on life. The girl is non-stop fun! Dancing, singing, performing (sometimes at inopportune times, such as during church) her, life is a good time.

Unless she's visiting the doctor.

We had Anna's 15 month well baby visit yesterday. I picked her up from daycare just as she was finishing lunch and she pulled her usual "Daddy?" as in, "You don't usually pick me up, Ma, what's the deal?" When I started putting on her shoes, she thought she had it figured out - FIELD TRIP!

She chattered away to me from the backseat all the way to the doctor's office. Probably telling me just exactly how her light pink pants had turned a strange, streaky shade of mud in just the few hours since I'd gotten her dressed for the day. I bet her excuse was a good one. I'll let it slide this time.

Even as we entered the reception area, she was still in party mode. Playing with my glasses, hiding behind her sippy cup, all was right with the world. But she became suspiciously quiet when her name was called by Mary, the nurse, and we followed her down the hall to the exam room. Fear not, that quiet was replaced by ear-shattering, blood-curdling, heart-breaking screams as she realized that I had done it again. Mean, mean mom had brought her to the one place where there is no party.

We didn't get an accurate weight because she was clinging so tight to my arms that we couldn't pry her off to put her on the scale. We couldn't get an accurate height because she was wrestling so hard to get off the table. We couldn't hear her heart, well, because nobody within a 4 block radius could hear anything but her screaming. And all the while she glared at me with a hurt and accusing look of betrayal.

The doctor told me he was impressed that someone her size could fight so hard. He said he'd never seen a 15-month-old wrestle herself away from two adults with the wiry, efficiency Anna displayed. "Thank you!" I said. I think he meant it as a complement. I hope he did. He may have just been afraid. It took me laying across her, pinning her hands above her head and the nurse pinning Anna's legs with her body to get Anna prepped for her two shots. I'm not even sure she knows she got shots. She was just SO MAD that we would even think of putting her on a paper covered table in this accursed place. No book, pacifier, animated version of Old MacDonald, funny dance from mom would make up for this at all...but wait, that Tigger sticker? Yeah, that'll do it.

Long story short, I've got a healthy kiddo who is ONE HECK OF A FIGHTER, according to the doctor. A fighter and a party animal. Yeah, that's my kid.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Financial Peace University

If you had asked me two months ago, I would have told you that there's very little that I dislike talking about more than money/paying bills/my credit card usage/etc. In fact, I believe I said something very similar to my previous statement in response to my husband's invitation to join him for a class called Financial Peace University being offered through our church. He said it would be a beneficial thing for both of us to go through, plus it would be some time for us each week to do something baby-free together. As always (no sarcasm intended!), he was right.

Financial Peace University is a program designed by financial guru Dave Ramsey ( who, after making millions in real estate, lost everything and had to rebuild his life from scratch. And rebuild he has! He lives debt free and has made millions by educating people around the country on how to regain (or simply GAIN) control of their finances.

"Bah! We don't have financial problems," I thought as I started the class. "Who wants to spend two hours listening to some guy talk about money?" Turns out that we DID and I DO! Dave lays out a very simple plan to follow in order to eliminate debt, live only on the money you have coming in each month and, even better, he does this in such a way that you're laughing for a good majority of the class. I (gasp!) look forward to budget meetings with the hubby each month because budget has now become "structure" rather than "restriction" for us. And it's almost become a game for me to see where I can make cutbacks in order to pay off some of our debts more quickly. $300 per month for groceries? Ha! You're eating nothing but beans and rice. I can do groceries this month for $100. How do you feel about training Anna to pee on newspapers? What? It's OK for puppies but not our kid? That's discrimination.

We've done the math and by sticking to the principles we've learned so far from FPU, we will be debt free, with the exception of our house, within 2 1/2 years. And better than that, we've learned exactly what to do in order to build sustainable retirement and college funds. We haven't used our credit cards in 2 months now and have no plans to ever go back to using them. We spend 30-45 minutes a few times a month to tell our money where to go rather than looking back at the end of the month wondering where it all went. And best of all, we've done all of this with open and kind communication - no fights!

I just wanted to share this with any readers who might benefit. Doesn't matter your age - we have everyone from newlyweds to retired couples and singles in our class, all of whom are equally benefited by the class. If you live in the Milwaukee area, our church has another session starting after the holidays (and it's a non-denominational class, so you don't have to be Lutheran to attend). If you don't, ask around! FPU is big and I bet you can find a class meeting near you.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Picking My Battles

This was a weekend of picking my battles. I'm starting to become a practiced expert at asking "Is she hurting anyone? Is she endangering herself? Us? The cats? Are we going to be late because of what she's doing? Bah, I'll clean it up later." I'm also becoming a master of asking questions that I don't really want to know the answers to, such as:

"Did you just shove that entire pretzel up your nose?"
"Aww, did you just wipe your own nose? WITH THE KLEENEX YOU ARE NOW EATING?!?!"
"Why is my hair/my face/the couch/the cat/the floor sticky?"
"Why did it suddenly get so quiet in there?"
"What in God's name did she throw down the laundry chute THIS time?!"
"How can you possibly want MORE applesauce? You just ate 3 bowls!"

Most of these questions are met with a devilish grin and baby feet pounding the floor in whatever direction will get her away from me the fastest. Some of them are met with sass-back of teenage proportions. And some are met with a wide-eyed, "what you talkin' 'bout, mama?" face that makes me laugh, even when I don't want to laugh. (By the way, I actually DID ask all of these questions this weekend. I sometimes wish my life was videotaped so I could offer playback on this blog to prove to you that I am living as weird/amusing of a life as portrayed in my posts.)

A coworker (a childless coworker) asked me earlier this week "why do parents let their kids get so messy when they eat?" to which I responded, "what's the harm? Stopping them is harder than it looks and at worse she needs a bath and a change of clothes when she's done." Sometimes it's just easier to deal with the consequences of letting her explore her independence. Plus she does usually learn something in the process of creating the mess(like "mommy thinks it's funny when I blow raspberries after taking a big bite of applesauce").

Anna went outside with her dad yesterday to play in the yard while he raked leaves. I decided since it was nearing 3:00pm that I should probably change out of my PJs and brush my teeth (we had a lazy weekend) and go out to enjoy the weather a bit myself. I went out and poor little Anna was trying with all her might to climb into her wagon (Cadillac of wagons - thanks, Grandma Hootie!). I, without thinking, picked her up, strapped her into the wagon and headed the 7 blocks to the park near our house. Without telling Andy where we were going, or even checking to see that he had seen me grab her. She and I continued to the park and had a grand old time, climbing the steps, going down slides, reading some really lame grafiti (really, "" qualifies as graffiti? Lame, teenage delinquents, lame) and swinging.

Finally she decided she was finished and we went to get loaded up in the wagon. But no. "I'm walking, mom, and I'll scream as if you are abusing me if you try to put me in that seat." Right. So we began our 7-block trek back from the park with Anna pushing the wagon while I pulled. Letting a toddler walk 7 blocks is a PAINFULLY SLOW process and definitely exercised my patience more than little, but she was bound and determined to keep going. Finally when we got about 4 blocks of the way home, and she was wandering yet again toward some stick or mud puddle that looked interesting to her, I told her it was time to ride. She protested a bit, but eventually gave in and enjoyed riding in style the rest of the way home.

As we approached the house, Andy was in the front yard raking leaves into the street. I apologized up and down about taking her and not telling him where we were going, but was met only with a blank stare and a "no problem" from him. He said he saw me put her in the wagon and figured we were heading someplace to get out the way of leaf raking. I was strangely disappointed that he hadn't called in the national guard, but felt better when I took Anna out of the wagon and we pitched her into the leaf pile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adventures in Parenting

This past weekend, I exercised my "I'm a strong mom and am going to do a weekend away with the kiddo on my own" muscles and spent the weekend at my mom's in Illinois. Hubby has a ton of projects all hitting at once so I offered to give him some quiet time at home to catch up. On Friday afternoon after work, Anna and I loaded up the car with enough stuff to last us for two weeks at least, and headed south.

I may have mentioned previously that Anna HATES being cooped up in her car seat. Maybe? Small mention? Well she must have heard me tell you that. And she LOVES to make a liar out of me. She was a perfect angel in the car all weekend. I thought maybe I had packed up the wrong child. She spent quite a lot of time "singing" along to her CDs that I brought along for the ride. Then talked on her pretend cell phone and snoozed the rest of the way.

Yes, you did read that right. Anna, 15 months old, talks on her pretend cell phone. She will be walking around, or in this case, sitting in the car, and will suddenly stop, put her hand up to the side of her face (or hold whatever object she's been playing with up as if it's a telephone) and say "ah? Ah-da? Da. Ya. Ah-ya." In her phone voice. I can actually tell when I'm driving when she's "talking on the phone" because her voice changes. It's ADORABLE.

Lately I've really been struck by what a performer Anna is becoming. She loves to get a laugh out of people, especially me. And she has no problem laughing at her own jokes. She waddles and toddles all over the house chuckling to herself about some baby joke that I am not in on, but her chuckling is infectious and she knows it. She knows it so well that she tries to use it now to get out of trouble. She'll look me dead in the eye with a big smile on her face as she stands up on her rocking chair. She'll chuckle at me as she squats down, not sits down like I've asked her to, and continue to look at me with a face that says "Come on, mom, it's funny! You said to sit, but look what I'm doing right here. It's not sitting!!" Obviously I have to enforce the rules, but there are times that it's really hard not to just say "You're right, Anna, that is pretty funny" and just laugh along with her. Like when she dumps her dinner on the floor so she can wear the bowl it was in as a hat. Those are the times I have to leave the room to laugh so that my reaction doesn't reinforce her behavior.

She's keeping me on my toes. Constantly surprising me with some new trick or suddenly being content with something that used to enrage her (like the carseat). It's such a blessing that toddlerhood has so many fun moments because it certainly has a fair number of frustrations too. Thankfully, so far, the fun has outweighed the frustration.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Parental Fears

As a new parent, countless people told me (much to my irritation), "relax, this is the easiest you'll ever have it!" You know, I can't think of a more disrespectful thing a person could say to an overwhelmed, overtired, inexperienced parent trying to figure things out for the very first time. And it took all my willpower not to say so to the people who said this to me - if you were one of them, fear not, I have long since forgiven you! I've forgiven you because I realized, after I got some sleep and a few diaper changes under my belt, that you weren't wrong!

In the beginning with Anna I was so afraid to set her down, let her cry for more than a millisecond, under-dress her, overdress her, take her anywhere in public where she might cry, nurse in public, you name it, I was scared of it. And I know it was all because I had never done any of these things before. Not only had I never dealt with such a little human for more than an hour or two at a time, but I had never gone on such little sleep, and there were days that I truly felt like I was losing my mind. I've made a mental list of things that I will do differently with any future babies and number one on that list is RELAX! Also, pretty much everyone on earth, including my pastor has now seen the "ladies" so I'm pretty sure nursing in public won't be such an issue next go-round either. Ahh, modesty, motherhood has destroyed you so.

Now I look at that early stage of Anna's life and think, man, that was a piece of cake and I had no idea (Mommy Amnesia, probably!)! I'm sure in 5 years I'll look back at the stage she's in now and think "wish I would have relaxed and enjoyed the toddler years, they were so easy compared to now!" I'm really trying to get past the worrying and frustrations and just enjoy where I am now as a parent. Trying to make myself believe that this parenting thing is not as difficult as my mind wants me to believe it is. There are days that this is easier than others.

As a parent of a toddler I fear her running into the street, getting nipped by the neighbor's dog, knocking out a tooth on a particularly bad fall, amputating a fingertip when slamming a door, drowning in the toilet during an explorer mission gone horribly awry...and the list goes on. What I'm trying to convince myself of is that I had irrational, overly worried fears like these was she was a newborn too and now wish I would have just relaxed and gone with the flow a little more. So I should focus now on trying to relax and just enjoy Anna for the inquisitive, funny little monkey that she is and stop worrying (within reason, I still won't let her slam doors or play in traffic or the toilet without SOME supervision...).

This is sort of a rambly post, but my point is this - being a first-time parent is confusing and frequently overwhelming. It's easy for me to look back at Anna's infant days now and think of how easy that was. I'm sure with baby #2 in the future it will seem somewhat easier because I will know better what to expect. I'm sure all of these stages will feel at least a bit more familiar. So I'm going to try now to relax and take in as much as I can and enjoy as much as I can of Anna because she is growing up way too fast.


Totally unrelated to this post - Anna's favorite thing to do in the mornings now after she gets changed and dressed is to go find the kitties. She makes a beeline for the door as soon as I put her on her feet. I always know when she finds them because you hear the most joyful "HI!!!" from the other room. She is genuinely, purely happy to see those cats. Unfortunately her exuberance usually comes across as scary godzilla noises to them so they scurry for high ground. But she doesn't care because she got to see her furry friends and that makes her happy.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Yes, No, Read My Mind!

Up until recently, Anna has nodded "yes" to every question asked of her. Even when the answer was not yes. So I've gotten into the habit of only asking her questions that I know the answer will be yes to - keeps me from feeling so confused. But ever the saucy little minx, Anna has changed up the game and learned how to shake her head "no," though I don't think she entirely understands what "no" means (judging from her tendency to continue an activity after I say no several times...).

A quick bit of backstory - Anna HATES having her diaper and clothes changed. Diaper changes are cleverly disguised as wrestling matches that include butt wiping in our household. Once in a great while I can hand her a toy or some new object to play with and keep her happy for a few seconds, but a majority of our time at the changing table is spent trying to keep Anna from clawing her way up the wall and off the table. Spider monkey.

However, I've discovered a tactic that seemed to be working. Anna LOVES putting on her shoes. In a really short span of time we went from having a child who had never worn more than socks on her feet and hated the restricting feeling of shoes to "gotta have 'em, even during my nap!" So upon prying her off of my hip and doing my best to lay her on the changing table I start talking to her about her shoes. Do you want to wear the pink ones with the doggies on them today? Oh, wait, don't cry, see? Look! Shoes! Shoes? Please?

Yesterday morning I tried this tactic again, as the back arching and dog-whistle-pitch screeching started as soon as she saw where we were headed. She laid on the changing table and I said, "Anna, do you want to wear put your shoes on?" And she shook her head no. Oh crap! But then she handed me her shoe and grunted at me until I put it on her foot. When I asked if she wanted her other shoe, she nodded yes. As if I'm not already confused enough!

In addition to Yes and No, she does this bobble-head-maneuver that I'm not entirely sure what the meaning of it is. I imagine as she continues to grow that she'll come up with more and more strange gestures that I'll need to decipher - hopefully she'll start using yes and no consistently so I know that when she says no, she actually means no.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Anna and the Stolen Gym Shoe

I had the rather unique experience last night of scouring my house (and yard and car) for a gym shoe that I KNEW made the trip home from the gym with me. My desperate cry of "Have you seen my shoe?" was met with a muffled "Yeah, Anna had it in the living room" from the hubby upstairs. Great. Anna had it. The culprit can't even tell me where she's hidden it.

Let me take a quick second to explain something crucial here. I am NOT a morning person. If I don't have all my stuff lined up the night before, I forget things. For example, if my gym bag isn't packed and waiting for me by the back door in the morning, then I don't go to the gym that day. Counter-productive to my weight-loss goal. So I pack my gym bag every evening and put it by the back door.

I'm not even sure where to start searching, as my first scan of the living room yielded nothing. She has developed a weird fascination with the laundry chute lately, but I don't think she could have fit the shoe down there. Even so, down to the basement to check. Sippy cup cover, old newspaper, and duplo block, but no gym shoe. OK...maybe Anna didn't take it and it fell out in my car. Outside to comb the floor of my backseat. Cheerio, baby doll, another, I should vacuum in here. No gym shoe. Back to the living room - under the coffee table, behind all the curtains, in the coat closet (THERE'S where that puzzle piece went!). No gym shoe. "Anna! Where did you put my shoe?!?!" "Ayahyahyah!!" (which I take to mean "Suck it, mom, I'll never talk!").

I search high and low, mostly low, in her bedroom and ours, the bathroom (the tub is another favorite hiding spot and frequent residence for her pajamas, baby doll and sippy cup) but all to no avail. I enlist hubby's help. At this point, a good 15 minutes has gone by and I'm starting to laugh maniacally at the idea that a toddler could take something as large as a sneaker and find such a good hiding space for it. Anna follows us from room to room, playing a bizarre little baby game of "warmer/colder" without actually offering any real hints as to where she's stored her loot.

On a whim, I open my closet door. Usually I hear her when she digs in here because she's not terribly subtle when she's up to no good. But, what do we have here? Gym shoe! Anna looks at us with a bored look and offers one more "Bah!" as if to say "I can't believe it took you monkeys so long to find a lousy shoe!" Neither can I, kid. I'm going to have to lock my stuff up from here on out or I'm doomed to walk the halls searching, in vain, for gym shoes from now until eternity...or at least until she leaves for college.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lesson Learned

We went to a wedding this past weekend. Hubby was the photographer so I was on single parent duty - and had been since Wednesday since he'd been traveling on business since Anna and I returned home from vacation. I learned a valuable lesson at this wedding: Always, and I mean ALWAYS, get a babysitter for your toddler when attending an adult function. Always.

The weekend started off with a bang - me texting the hubby who was already in Appleton for the rehearsal dinner that I was this close to finding a truck stop and leaving Anna there, would he mind if we just swung through to see if she was still there on our way home Saturday afternoon? She started screaming from the moment I strapped her into the car seat after daycare to the moment we stopped for dinner an hour later, pause for delicious chicken nuggets and dirty, but exciting to explore public restrooms, resume screaming upon reentry into the car seat and finally stopped when we pulled into the hotel parking lot another hour later. Suffice to say, I didn't have a shred of patience left in me at that point. The only thing that would lower the volume of her screaming even a fraction was me scream-singing Jesus Loves Me....After about 15 times through, my voice cracking with effort and volume, Jesus Loves Me lost all melody and meaning. And she was STILL screaming.

We got to the hotel, got settled in, implemented my genius setup for secluding Anna's bed enough that she should have been able to go to sleep in the same room as us without much trouble and we headed down to the pool - the high point of my weekend. Anna had a great time splashing, chasing her ball around, watching us swim underwater, etc. We played for about 45 minutes then took Anna up for a bath. Got her ready for bed, read stories, sang the goodnight song, and then the screaming began again. My genius setup idea had a rather monumental hole (as most of my "genius" ideas usually do) - Anna could pull back the curtain I had draped over her pack'n play and see the entire room reflected in the mirror that was on the wall across from where I'd set up her bed. At least she goes to bed at 8:30 and her screaming couldn't have been waking up too many people. The hubby and I cowered in the bathroom in fear, taking turns peeking out the door to see if she was still glaring angrily from her cage like the angry wildebeest that she is. After about 15 - 20 minutes she settled down and went to sleep. We tiptoed around the room the rest of the night, and then enjoyed a somewhat peaceful night of sleep in a king-sized bed (nice!).

On wedding day, I knew I'd be facing a challenge, as the wedding started at 10, Anna's usual morning naptime, and we'd have to check out of the hotel before the ceremony so I'd have no place to take her in between ceremony and reception. I'm not going to go into details here, suffice to say that I saw exactly 4 minutes of the ceremony and spent a good chunk of time before the reception fighting off tears of frustration at missing out on spending time with my friends and feeling excluded from the fun. Anna and I wound up leaving as soon as brunch was over (she made it through the meal with minimal food throwing - keep in mind, I said MINIMAL), thankfully she managed to nap for a good chunk of the drive home and screaming was kept to a minimum. And my dear, dear hubby, who realized, possibly from me telling him with my hands clutching my hair, down on my knees, head thrown back in my very best "why! God, why?!" stance that I could. not. take. anymore. screaming. - gave me Sunday off. Let me sleep in, took Anna to the airport to pick up his parents, fed her dinner, even came with us to the grocery store.

Lesson learned. Even though it's fun spending time with Anna, it's easier at adult functions to actually spend time with other adults rather than pushing a very crabby, overtired child up and down a riverwalk for an hour plus while begging God for the courage and patience to take her in to be a part of a group meal where she's expected to sit politely for more than an hour waiting for her lunch...not bloody likely. Babysitters from here on out!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dads Get All The Love

When Anna first started saying "dada" with a purpose I, of course, started trying to get a "mama" out of here. For the longest time my pleas for her to "say mama!" were met with a sneaky grin and exuberant "Dada!!" No matter what...daggers, kid. Daggers in my heart. She has since mastered a decent "mama" upon request, or if I have something tasty-looking on my plate that she would like to sample.

Well, we've got a new one. A few weeks back my heart was melted by Anna repeating in her little baby voice "I love you, daddy" or at least some approximation of that statement. Yesterday our conversation went like this:
Me - "Say I love you!"
Anna - "Dada!"

Ugh! Kid, don't you know who carried you? Birthed you? Fed you every hour on the hour for months?! Dads get all the love.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Travel Tips

Anna and I flew home yesterday, sans Daddy - quite an adventure! Anna was on her very best behavior, especially for being cooped up in her car seat for a half hour on the way to the airport, stuck in her stroller for nearly an hour going through security and getting to the gate, shoved back into her car seat for a 3 hour and 40 minute flight, back into the stroller for 40 minutes to get our bag from baggage claim and then into the car seat AGAIN for the half hour drive home. That poor kiddo did a lot of sitting around yesterday. And I did my best to keep her entertained. I learned a few things about traveling with a toddler that I'd like to share with you here.

1. Snacks, snacks and more snacks! We had cheerios, yogurt melts, cookies, muffins, crackers...and Anna ate many of them. The rest she had great fun throwing around the airplane. I'm STILL apologizing to the flight attendants for the mess that I'm sure they're STILL cleaning up!

2. Travel magnadoodle serves multiple functions - fun for sticking stickers to the screen, figuring out how to draw, and oh, yes, the "pen" is great for getting at those hard-to-reach toddler-sized boogers. I handed the magnadoodle over to Anna and she was enjoying it so I leaned my head back and rested for 30 seconds. When I realized just how quiet it was in the seat next to me, I became suspicious. My investigation revealed an inquistive Anna sticking the magnadoodle pen up each nostril of her cute little button nose. Don't fault me for this, but I actually paused to weigh my options at this point: "She's quiet. It's entertaining her. Do I REALLY need to stop her from sticking that thing up her nose? How much damage could it really do?" In the end I decided that a carefully placed bounce of the plane could leave us with skewered brain so I kindly requested that Anna remove said wand from her nose. My request was met with many ear-shattering screams.

3. Stickers, while sometimes frightening for their super-sticking power, are a GREAT time-waster. Again, apologies to the flight attendants - I'm sure Strawberry Shortcake and Cookie Monster are still hanging around on the walls, windows and cracks of seat cushions in 4 aisles surrounding our seats. Anna discovered that sticking stickers on places other than on her fingers (which freaks her out) is great fun! Mommy's back, mommy's face, Anna's face, Anna's pants, the laptop, the stranger next to us, any part of the airplane that will accept stickable stickers...My laptop is still covered with Big Bird, Elmo and Oscar the Grouch. I kind of want to leave them there as my badge of "way to go, Kerry, figuring out how to keep that munchkin occupied for more than an hour with self-adhesing paper!"
Just a note - if you decide to go this route - make sure to remove said stickers from your face prior to disembarking the aircraft. Strangers have a tendency to look at you a little, well, strangely, when your forehead is sporting a giant strawberry sticker. Whatever, dude. My one-year-old thinks it's hilarious.

4. Don't force ANY issues. Don't want to drink your water? Fine. Don't want to wear your left shoe? Fine. HAVE to keep the right one on? Whatever. Need to stick your thumb up mommy's nose? If it makes you happy, kid, that's cool. Within reason, the word No should just be gone from the vocabulary during the flight. You know, except when you need to perform magnadoodle wand nasal extractions. And even then...make sure she thinks it's her idea.

All in all, flying with a toddler - even by myself - wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Once I got over the "everyone will be mad if she cries" thing and adopted the "it's 3 hours of your life, whiny 20-something brat - suck it up!" attitude, things were great. Not something I plan to do again anytime soon, but I think I'd be more inclined after this experience to drive someplace farther away with her. That way we can take some running around breaks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Excuse Me, Sir, But Do You Have a Tranq Dart?

We made it, with minimal carnage...but we made it nonetheless. Here's a brief overview of my Saturday:

5:00 a.m. wake up to get ready to leave for airport
6:15 a.m. depart for airport
7:00 a.m. unload car - my God, whose stuff IS this? Do we really need 5 bags, a purse, a stroller, a carseat AND a baby? Let's leave the baby...
7:30 a.m. arrive at security - again, do we REALLY need all this crap? Hubby gets an extra pat-down after his camera equipment sets off an alarm during the scan.
7:40 a.m. arrive at gate. Where the hell did the baby wander off to? Oh, there she is, giving her baby doll to that crazy looking dude by the newspaper stand....we are AWESOME parents.
8:15 a.m. board plane amid glares that truly say "Your kid better sleep through this flight or we're going to have a hit out on you when we reach our destination."
8:30 a.m. Take off - hey, this isn't so bad. Flying...Flying...bribery with cheerios, muffins, dolls, books, finger puppets, kids videos, etc. This really isn't as bad as I expected.
10:30 a.m. Oh wait, Yes, this IS as bad as I expected.
10:45 a.m. Kind, young flight attendant stops and asks if there's anything he can do to help with the baby, I resist the urge to ask for a tranquilizer dart or parachute.
11:21 a.m. Anna falls asleep nine minutes before tires hit tarmac.
11:30 a.m. We arrive at our destination nearly an hour EARLIER than anticipated - SCORE!!!

I shudder to think what that flight would have been like without my husband. I shudder to think what our return flight WILL BE LIKE without him....Oy.

Ok, really it wasn't that bad. She was fussy, but consolable for the first two hours. We managed to keep her entertained with the various items we had in our arsenal of baby gear. The problem really started when we began our descent. We are all still battling colds and our sinuses and ears were throbbing .

However, as Anna fell asleep, the guy across the aisle started to laugh at the face I must have made. I struck up a small conversation with him which ended with him saying, "You guys are really doing a great job keeping her happy during the flight." Which immediately alleviated any stress I was feeling about her 45 minute screaming fit.

I'm SO drinking wine on the return flight.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Grass Isn't Greener in Previously Visited Pastures

I was wiping Anna's nose the other day, asking if she had pooped yet, when it struck me: The romance has been killed good and dead around here, replaced with shrieks of indignation during diaper changes (from baby AND mom) and 3 a.m. feedings and splotches of flung yogurt on the kitchen curtains and endless streams of "don't touch that, don't eat that, don't stick that your/the cat's nose/ear/eye/hind end"...Having a baby changes EVERYTHING. I don't mean this in a bad way. Believe me, I find a lot of the above very amusing and the hubby and I make it work. We have fun with it. We tease Anna (just a little-it's good for her!) and we laugh (mostly) at the frustrating moments. But there are definitely some things that I miss from our childless days:

1. SLEEP. I hope you note the emphasis on this one.
2. The ability to pick up and go - to the movies, out to dinner, on a road trip - and not A) need to arrange a babysitter or B) feel anxious about spending yet MORE time away from her
3. Going to work without feeling absolutely wrong about being there. I love my job. I love my baby. I've lost my sanity.

You know, I started this post thinking "there are so many things from my kid-free days that I miss! I'll make a post about them!" But now that I actually sit and think about it, there aren't that many things that I miss. Yes, our relationship has shifted, but we've shifted together. Grown together. Sure, we talk about another person's bowel movements like the most recent football scores. You think that's strange? You should witness the bargaining and arguing over whose turn it is to change her! Maybe we tip-toe around and speak only in whispers after 8 p.m., and maybe nap time has turned into a choice between nap while she naps, or see how much laundry you can fold in two hours. But I like these things. And that sweet little girl who toddled into the kitchen this morning and exuberantly said, "Hi, Dad!" makes any parental sacrifice look like no sacrifice at all.

(We'll see how much I agree with that last statement after our flight tomorrow! Wish me luck!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can I Take a Sick Day?

I am taking a half a sick day from work today. I feel like crap, but enough about that. Why is it, now that I'm at home, trying to relax and rest in order to get better, that I can't stop thinking of all the stuff I could/should be doing?

I could organize Anna's closet! I could pack for our trip! I could get dinner started for tonight! I could pick up Anna early from daycare and spend the afternoon with her! Alas, even though I'm taking a sick day, I'm not REALLY taking a sick day.

Apparently this comes with motherhood, the inability to just sit and relax. Even if I manage to find an hour to sit down in front of the tv at night, I can't just sit there and watch tv. I have to be folding laundry, flipping through a magazine, catching up on Facebook. God forbid I ever just sit and relax for 60 minutes.

Argh! It's so frustrating! I want to nap and just rest and get over this stupid cold, but my to do list is haunting me!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Signs of a Good Communicator

Anna knows two understandable signs. I think she may know more, but I don't understand them, so...I suppose more accurately, Anna knows signs, but I only understand two of them.

The first sign she knows is "all done." And when she signs it, she means it. Especially at the dinner table. If you don't remove her tray of food from in front of her within 5 seconds after she signs "all done" with her look of "remove this food from my sight immediately or I shall strew it about the room with great force!" she, well, strews it about the room with great force. If I didn't have to clean it up, I'd find it extremely funny to watch. Who am I kidding? I find it extremely funny, regardless of the fact that I spend most of my evenings chiseling chunks of chicken, dried mac 'n cheese and globs of coagulated yogurt off our kitchen floor and walls. The food flinging is always very purposeful. She grabs handfuls of food and flings HARD in all directions until the tray is emptied. Then commences screaming at ear-shattering pitches and volumes until she is removed from her high chair.

She also signs "all done" the moment we lay her on the changing table. This is also (usually) accompanied by ear-shattering screams, unless I can get her interested in a rousing rendition of "Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes" or "Shake It Up Baby" by the Beatles. She's got good taste, that baby.

The second sign she knows is "more." She signs this, so far, only when I say the word more, and ALWAYS when I say the word more...even if she doesn't actually want more of the item(s) in question. That's how she started with "all done" too so I'm hopeful that soon she will calmly and politely request more juice or milk by gently placing her cup on the tray and signing "More, please" instead of thrusting her cup at me and emulating a teenager with the attitude on her face accompanying her nod that, yes, indeed, she would like some juice. On the double.

She is becoming a better and better communicator and it's fun to watch. As much as these posts might sound like me cowering in fear of Anna's screaming (which I do spend a LOT of time doing...), I hope that it's clear how much I truly enjoy being her mom, strong will and all. It's so amazing to watch this person emerging from what just a year ago was this eating, sleeping, pooping, crying little bit of a human.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

On a Scale of 1 to 10...

Hubby and I have been home-bound (ish) since Anna was born last summer. Usually we take a few road trips during the year, but having a child who DETESTS the car...well, detests isn't quite the word...more loathes with the fire of a thousand suns...makes traveling a bit difficult.

In a moment of true "mommy amnesia" or just downright insanity, we decided to book a trip this fall. We leave on Saturday. Via airplane.

How I thought this was a good idea, I'm not entirely sure. Anna can't even make it through five minutes of church, much less an hour car ride without needing a break. And yet, I thought we could make it work for a four hour flight.

But, wait! It gets better! I will only have the comfort of suffering through this torture with my husband on one leg of the trip. For, dear friends, I am handling the return leg of the the trip solo. I can hear Anna clicking her fingers together maniacally and whispering "excellent" a-la Smithers from The Simpsons now.

Last night I asked hubby, on a scale of 1 to 10, one being "this flying with toddler thing - no problem, let's book our trip to Rio today!" and ten being "dear God. Please let this aircraft have parachutes. And please let them be toddler sized..." where did he think we stand. He replied "8." Which I took to mean something between "Thank God the other passengers also had to pass through security and very likely do not have weapons on them" and "That's it, we're jumping. That's all there is to it. Oh, what? We're still on the runway?!"

So how about it, folks? Send me your best traveling with toddler tips or worst horror story!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I JUST Had a Baby...Like a Year Ago

About a month and a half ago, Anna turned one. Around that same time my "I just had a baby so you can't judge my humongous and gross body" excuse card expired...I know, bummer. So I joined a gym.

If you know me, you know I hate exercise. If you don't know me, well, I HATE exercise. I hate it because it's tedious and takes up time that I feel I should be spending on the piles of dishes and laundry, balancing my checkbook, chasing my kid, etc. I hate it because it's BO-RING! I hate it because sweating is gross, and sitting on/touching machines that other people have sweat on is even grosser.

However, after nearly two and a half months of religiously hitting the gym after work every day (or at least 4 days a week) and adjusting my eating habits - it's not a diet because I will NOT deny myself my Cheetos or an occasional taste of chocolate - but adjusting my snacking habits and making sure to stock lots of fresh produce and lean meats, healthy snacks, yadda yadda yadda, the weight has finally started to come off.

I didn't gain too much baby weight in the first place. Thank you, God! With all that guacamole and cake I ate, I certainly should have come out of that experience the "two ton walrus" that I was calling myself throughout my third trimester! But thanks to a lot of stress eating when I lost my job in January - that would be a whole different post...I gained a good chunk of the "baby weight" back. When I joined the gym in July I had 14 pounds to lose to get back to pre-baby weight. And let's be honest here, I was no slim, slender lady then either, so I'd surely like to lose more. But more than anything, I want to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes!!

As of yesterday, I have only 8 pounds to go to pre-baby weight! My first goal is to reach that before my doctor's appointment in October. My second goal, as I told my husband when I first joined the gym, is to "get smokin' hot and then get myself knocked up again." He told me he's on board with 50% of that goal....

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Anna, Where's Your Bellybutton?

Anna's developing an understanding of body parts. It's really exciting to watch, but sometimes a little painful to experience.

As I'm sure you inferred from my first post, Anna LOVES bellybuttons. She loves to stick her little fingers in there and poke and prod and see what might be residing at the bottom of that little crevice. Mommy's is especially fun because it's all stretched out from pregnancy and scarred from an old piercing. Daddy's is weird because there's hair on it. When it comes to bellybuttons, Anna abides by the "you show me yours, I'll show you mine" philosophy. If you ask "Anna, where's your bellybutton?" sometimes she'll come over and lift up my shirt, then lift up hers. Or if she sees one of us changing after a shower or the other occasional bellybutton flash (You know, our usual form of greeting each other at home), she'll whip her shirt up as if to respond "hey, man, I got one-a those too!" If you really want to tick her off - ask her to show you her bellybutton when she's wearing a onesie - hee! :)

She also has quite the fondness for teeth. If you even MENTION the word teeth - or anything sounding remotely close to the word teeth - her finger is in your mouth scratching with her talons at your gums as if to say "Ah, yes, teeth. I like yours. Gimme." Gentle touch is still a concept that we're working on in our house! However, after she shreds your gums to pieces, she'll stick her finger in her own mouth to show you where her teeth are too. It's quite cute, and usually worth the pain.

We discovered last week that if you ask Anna if she bumped her head she'll run both her hands through her rockin' baby mullet.

I'm sure her understanding of body parts won't stop here (I really hope it doesn't!), but I think that's pretty darn good for a one-year old! Bellybutton, teeth and head...We need to teach her feet or legs or her first drawings of "people" are going to look REALLY strange.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Where'd you get that Cheerio??

Anna hordes cheerios like a squirrel. Ok, so a squirrel hordes acorns, but the behavior is similar.

Every parent knows, cheerios are a staple in a toddler diet - and a parent's sanity! Our pastors refer to the back rows of the church, where the families with small children sit, as Cheerio Row. And it's accurate. If you take a look back there on Sundays, several parents have busted out their Tupperware containers to bribe their toddlers with that oat-y-o goodness.

We not only rely on cheerios at church, but also at home. Anna munches on (or flings wildly around the room, depending on her mood) cheerios in her high chair while we get ready in the mornings. We bribe her with them on the living room floor when she arises at some ungodly hour of pre-sunrise o'clock. She likes them and they're a healthy(ish) snack in a pinch.

Apparently, Anna likes cheerios so much, though, that she's decided she'd better save stashes of them in various areas of our house. I swear, every time I look at her she's pulling a cheerio out of somewhere: under the couch, behind the bathroom door, in her toy bins, wait...what's that behind your ear, mom? Oh, it's a cheerio!

You know me, mother of the year, I just let her eat those "under the couch" cheerios, justifying it by telling myself that she's strengthening her immune system. The real reason: I just don't have the energy to battle her expert tantrum throwing every time she decides to tap into her stash. The feisty little beasty has taught me early to choose my battles. So what if she likes a little cat hair and dust with her cheerios? Maybe to her they're like ketchup and mustard.

(Bah! I have two great photos of her absconding with the cheerio box this morning but for some reason they will not upload. I'll try to put them on my facebook page.)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mommy Amnesia

"Remember those good old days, when I was pregnant?" I have been saying this to my husband, my mom, my friends, that strange dude who keeps trying to sell me a single sock out in front of the bus station...

Amazing what a little sleep deprivation and tiny hormone imbalance can do to your mind!

All I remember of pregnancy is the adorable belly that rippled with moving baby appendages inside, actually feeling good in a bathing suit for the first time in my life (amazing how great it feels NOT to have to suck it in!), being excited and just in general, loving the feeling of growing a human being in my belly.

Apparently I'm forgetting some rather outstanding details that aren't so easy for others to let go of -
The unstoppable nausea (Used to hold my breath when I'd open the refrigerator because the smell of all that food was AWFUL)
The unbearable fatigue
The swollen ankles (I was so shocked to see that I actually HAD ankles after the baby was born - I forgot they were there!)
The back spasms
The mood swings (This is the hubby's addition. I remember no such side affect!)

This crazy amnesia I am "suffering" from has even gone so far as to make me think I ENJOYED labor and delivery (well, as much as one can enjoy squeezing a bowling ball through a tube of toothpaste!). It was exciting. I knew it was the biggest thing I will ever do in my life - bringing another human being into the world. I had a strong, supportive partner who, even when he didn't know what to do, SEEMED to know exactly what to do to keep me calm and comfortable.

When I brought this up to the hubby the other day, he said he remembers the birthing experience very differently. When I asked why he thinks that is he replied, "you were on drugs!"

As soon as the "Daddy Amnesia" kicks in, maybe we can start talking about number two...Until then, I'll have to reminisce about my experience with the rose-colored glasses that mommy amnesia has so kindly placed on my memories of that time!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

It's Not You, It's 3 A.M.

Let me start by saying this: I am NO MAN'S friend at 3:00 a.m. (just ask my husband!).

I don't require beauty sleep (please, have you seen this mug I'm working with? ;) ), but I require a certain amount of sanity sleep. If I don't reach my quota for sanity sleep each night...well, the results are not a lot of fun, mostly for the people around me (again, just ask the poor hubby).

In the beginning of Anna's life, when the post-pregnancy hormones were coursing through my veins like crack, I thought I was lucky to have the extra time in the middle of the night to admire her sweet baby face, while she fed for hours on end at intervals varying from every hour to every two hours - and that's from start to start, my friends. She would regularly eat for 40 minutes at a time. If you do the math there, that left me roughly 20 minutes to an hour without a child attached to my chest to get any kind of sleep. NOT COOL.

Please note that I am a HUGE supporter of breast feeding. However, after going through it with my first child I have some ideas of what to expect and what to do differently if/when baby #2 comes along. Specifically mastering nursing in bed and purchasing one of those co-sleepers that hooks up to the side of the bed.

I'm not even sure the term Super-"B" would cover my moods during those days. Between the lack of sleep, the swelling from the pitocin, my saggy-ballooned out body now deflated after expelling that little creature, and EXTREME sleep deprivation, even I didn't want to be around me! I would take out my frustration on the only poor target around, who definitely didn't deserve it - the hubster. Poor guy must have listened me to snip and snap at him in the wee hours more times than he can count. It's not like he was (always) sleeping through these middle of the night scream-fests, so I know he was just as tired.

But the ever-patient, understanding, and loving guy that he is, just kept offering to help in any way that he could. And just kept letting my exhaustion-fueld rants slide off of him without ever biting back, as I'm sure he really wanted to.

My point is this - being a new parent is freaking rough. Nobody can prepare you for that. But what makes it better is having a partner who is supportive and loving, even when you don't deserve it. To my husband, dude - I'm glad it's you with me in this first-time parent foxhole. I only hope I can make up for my post-baby crazies through lots of delicious dinners and back massages, because, man, you put up with a lot this past year! And it just makes me love you even more that you were as wonderful as you were about it all.