Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who Rang That Bell?!

I love the Wizard of Oz. As a kid, I think I probably watched that movie at least 100 times (a week). And I remember always thinking "Jeez, what a crab" about the guy who answers the door when Dorothy & Co. reach the doors to the Emerald City. "WHO RANG THAT BELL?" While, yes, he is supposed to find out the answer to that question, you'd think maybe the greeter to the sparkling green paradise would have a little more patience and class while performing his duties.

I realized something this weekend, though. That poor door greeter, it wasn't his fault. He was just sick to death of political supporters and politicians themselves ringing the doorbell. He was probably incredibly relieved to see a walking talking bag of straw and trembling feline instead of some suited-up, fake-smile wearing liar toting enough literature to have single-handedly taken out half of America's remaining trees.

Ah, campaign season...

I have never been terribly interested in politics. I vote. I spend some time getting to know which candidates are which. A lot of what I base my vote on is purely gut - do I like the candidate, think they'll try to do their best, etc. - because regardless of whether or not they agree with me on issues like big/small government and federal spending, whatever, if the person is of faulty character, they're not going to get the job done anyway. I've tried to ignore the mountains of junk mail I've received from both political parties in the recent months, but after I cleaned up our piles of mail this weekend and filled our indoor recycle bin TWO TIMES with a majority of political fliers, I'd had enough. That is why when we received multiple calls to our cell phones and personal visits to our house (during nap time, no less), I found myself shouting, "WHO RANG THAT BELL?!"

You know what? As soon as one of them shows up wearing ruby slippers, I'll be happy to talk them. Until then, "Nobody sees the wizard!"

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Toddler Mommy Bill of Rights

I was celebrating one of my small victories this morning (namely, convincing Anna that going to the grocery store was in fact a cool enough reason to leave the library where puzzles, books and coloring sheets abound), and it got me thinking: There are some "rights" that Toddler Moms should just automatically be awarded. So here's my stand. For Toddler Moms everywhere!

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. That all moms deserve a day to sleep in without children prying their eyelids open with sticky syrup fingers before the hour of 8 a.m.

2. That as a mom, I am allowed to go out in public unshowered/with food on my clothing/with my pajamas on WITHOUT being judged. As long as I have my kid along with me.

3. That ketchup IS a food group in our house (whether I want it to be or not!) but I can still serve good food (as long as I'm OK with watching Anna put ketchup on it).

4. That someday, maybe, the interior of my car will be leather or cloth, instead of what it currently is : Cheerios.

5. That if my muscles really hurt from my last workout, I'm allowed to eat an ice cream sundae. Or two.

6. That no matter how crazy this kid is driving me before bedtime, I'll miss her the instant I close her bedroom door. And I am allowed to hover outside her bedroom door to determine whether or not she's "asleep enough" for me to go in and peek at her.

7. That moms are allowed to forget the bad things and remember only the good (Mommy Amnesia!).

8. That being a mom is both the most rewarding, fun, exciting AND challenging, frustrating, exhausting challenge we've ever encountered. And we are allowed to feel all of those things AT THE SAME TIME.

Cheerio Mom

Amendments welcome!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Small Victories

I've heard of computer games in which you "play against the computer," or a pre-programed player that is intelligent in that it "learns" from your play and changes its behavior accordingly, making it harder and harder to beat the game.  Even the small victories turn into larger battles because, yes, you've managed to temporarily defeat the monster, but that monster was paying attention and will not be bested so easily on the next level.

Parenthood is my computer game, and Anna is my monster. 

Don't get me wrong, she is a very sweet little girl.  ("BIG GIRL!" as I'm reminded every time I affectionately refer to her as "baby.") But she doesn't miss a thing!  If I tell her at bedtime one night that maybe tomorrow we can go to the park/have chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast/watch a certain annoyingly loud explorer girl and her pet monkey on TV - she ALWAYS remembers.

Small aside - How old is Dora supposed to be?  Six?  What parent in their right mind lets their six-year-old go traipsing through the woods and over rivers with a blue monkey and other various bilingual mammals, constantly pursued by the most easily deterred thief I've ever seen?  Seriously.  Anna's going to grow up thinking if she says "Carjacker, no carjacking!" three times fast, she'll be safe on any city street in America.

For a while I thought I was clever for figuring out I could bribe her to let me put pigtails in her hair by giving her a Popsicle.  Then one day when I tried to brush her hair and she looked at me, offended that I would dare to even attempt this, and demanded "Pot-errs" (which is how she says Popsicle).  When I tried to give her a half a Popsicle (because it was 6:30 in the morning and what mother in her right mind gives a two year old a Popsicle for breakfast), she looked at me like I was the dumbest person she'd ever encountered and demanded, "BIG Pot-errs."

To get this smart little gremlin into her car seat, not only do I have to let her climb into the car by herself (and heaven help us if she has mud on her shoes!), but I also have to tell her that her 13-year-old uncle (whom she adores more than anyone else in the world), is going to beat her into the car and steal her seat if she doesn't get buckled before he gets to the car.  This, for now, works whether he is present or not.  I dread the day when she realizes that he won't actually take her seat when he's clear on the other side of town!

One day she and I had gone to share a bagel and an apple juice for breakfast (because I was so organized that week that we had no milk or anything resembling breakfast food in the house).  We were planning to head to the grocery store after we finished our breakfast, so I asked her what kind of cart she'd like to ride in - a shopping cart where she could sit near me and we could sing songs (regular old boring shopping cart that I tried to spice up a bit because it was likely that this would be the only one available upon our arrival at the grocery store on a Saturday morning) or one of those fun (i.e. horrible to steer, run into everyone and everything around you) shopping carts with the car on the front so she could "drive" through the store.  She wanted to drive.  I thought she meant the cart. I soon realized, as I wrestled a flailing, shrieking banshee into the back seat amidst horrified stares from the coffee drinkers on the patio at Stone Creek, that Anna had thought I'd meant she could DRIVE THE CAR TO THE GROCERY STORE.  Um, sorry, kid.  I like my car in one piece, thank you very much!

You'll often see me doing the happy dance after one of my "Jedi-Mom" tricks has worked on Anna.  You may also see me suddenly stop and look around ashamed.  That look of shame - that's me realizing that I'm celebrating outsmarting a TWO-YEAR-OLD, which, really, should be a lot easier than it usually is.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tough Times in Toddler Town

Things have been a little tough around here lately. And none of it is related to parenting a toddler, surprisingly!

My Two Year Old Knows the Phrase "Cat Pee":

Our cat, fueled by a raging UTI, decided that our bed and couches so closely resembled his litter box that he no longer actually needed to use the litter box. After several frustrating weeks of sitting directly on the box springs of our sofas while the cushions, drenched in Nature's Miracle, dried in the yard, Mac has successfully completed his round of antibiotics. They have still been relegated to the basement overnight (which means I get to listen to a chorus of yowling for most of the night) and when we're not home, but have been invited back up to join us when we are home on the weekends and in the evenings.

Anna, who witnessed many of the urine-soaked cushions and their aftermath, has taken to asking me periodically, "Cat pee, mama?" or exclaiming at any spot of wetness in the house or out, "CAT PEEEEEEE! Mama, Mac peed!" I fear I've ruined her.


Wheezing and Swelling and Hives...OH MY!:

Our house was hit by a crippling bout of sinus/bronchial mutiny that left all three of us in coughing, sniffly, exhausted heaps for 2+ weeks. (I'm officially firing my immune system for insubordination!) Finally when I couldn't take the burning in my chest any longer (and most frankly because one of the girls I work with who had the same symptoms had been given antibiotics that seemed to help), I went to Urgent Care and got myself hooked up with the handy-dandy z-pack. Five days to freedom! I took every dose exactly when I was supposed to. And my cough began to clear.

Steadily on the road to recovery, that Friday, I spent the evening out in the yard with Anna, my mom and our neighbors. When I came in, I noticed I had some bug bites on my legs and rear end. We've got bugs galore in our yard, so I chocked it up to sitting in the grass. The bites itched a little bit on Saturday as well, but seemed to go away, so I didn't think any more of it.

Anna and I were getting ready to go meet hubby at church Sunday morning when I realized, "man, I'm ITCHY!" This thought was quickly followed up by, "man, I'm BUMPY!" Naturally, I called hubby in a panic. "Something is really wrong with me. You should come home."

Then I did the only smart thing I could think of - I stripped down to my underwear and SCRATCHED. Anna stood next to me asking,
"It itchy, mama?"
"You better believe it, sister."
"I not sister, I ANNA!"
"Yeah, yeah, make yourself useful. Scratch!"

Because I'm an incredibly patient, smart and mature grown up (Hahahahahaha), upon hubby's arrival home, I began running through the house, still in my underwear, yelling, "It's ITCHY!" Naturally, my party-time playmate, Anna, joined me. Amidst the cacophony of screeching and thudding of footsteps, hubby grabbed my phone and took a photo of the backs of my legs. Hip to toe - covered in hives.

"Shut up and go to the doctor. Now. Take a Benadryl first."

"Aye Aye, Captain."

So off I marched to Urgent Care for the second time in a week. After what seemed like eons of waiting (was only an hour, which really isn't bad at a walk-in clinic), I was joined by a very nice doctor who kindly asked me to drop my pants (nice to meet you too, sir) and took 30 seconds to diagnose the severe allergic reaction I was having to my miracle antibiotics. A reaction that will likely last for 7 to 10 days. Awesome. And I should take Benadryl. Done and done.

Back at home, heavily sedated, I napped the day away, periodically awoken by an enthusiastic toddler climbing on top of me to see if I was "Feelin' sick, mama?" Finally around 5, hubby offered to make some delicious dinner while I rested on the couch. But rest, I did not. For my lips, they were a-swellin'.

"Uh, hubby? Do I look a little like Angelina Jolie to you?"


"Hmm...hubby? Do my lips even look like lips any more?"

"HAHAHAHAH...you look like Will Smith when he has that allergic reaction in Hitch."

"So is that a definitive 'no' on me ever getting collagen injections in my lips...??"

Thankfully I haven't experienced swelling to that degree again, but have had quite a bit of numbness/tingling in my face and hands. And some really fun bouts of wheezing. And hives every day since. So. Not. Cool.

My mother in law has often said, "If you're going to laugh about it later, then why not just laugh about it now." I'm done with sick. I'm done with allergic reactions. I'm done with cat pee on my furniture. But I'm still laughing.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Testing Boundaries

Do you remember that scene in Jurassic Park where the raptors are jumping up against the fence, testing it, to look for holes or weaknesses? That's Anna lately. Man, I sure do compare her to raptors an awful lot. Maybe the dinosaurs aren't actually extinct. They just morphed into toddlers.

She asks every morning for popsicles. Heck, she doesn't ask, she DEMANDS. And sometimes, it's just easier to give her a half of a popsicle so we can actually get out the door on time for once instead of waging the battle of the wills at 6:30 in the morning.

Our biggest boundary test lately though has been with teeth brushing at bedtime. Anna is a CHAMPION dawdler. And it's amazing how she is able to S L O W down when the words "tooth" an "brush" are mentioned. I'm surprised she doesn't move in reverse. She threw raging, screaming tantrums for almost a week before she figured out that every time she did, she got story time taken away at bedtime (this was always explained to her - she was given a choice: she could let me have a turn brushing her teeth and we could read stories, or she could put the toothbrush away and go straight to bed, and she had one minute to decide). There were a few nights with her screaming bloody murder in her bed, I sat crying on the other side of the door until she finally gave in and fell asleep. But as I said, after about a week, she now willingly offers me her toothbrush after I give her a turn to brush.

I'm posting a video below of the strangest boundary test I've witnessed yet. This was the day after Anna's birthday, she'd been running around barefoot for most of the day playing outside and swimming. We were driving home from my in-law's house and heard strange noises coming from the back seat. And the more we asked her to stop, the more ferociously she...well, take a look.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday!!

It was two years ago tonight that I checked in to Elmbrook Memorial Hospital to be induced after what seemed like a 5 year pregnancy. I was excited. I was ready!

I made it through back labor, I made it through the epidural, I made it through the birth itself. More importantly, I made it through those first few challenging weeks. I figured out how to take care of that tiny person we brought home with us. And we did it! We made it to two years.

I can't believe how much can change and how much a person (small and big) can learn in just two years. Anna has gone from tiny helpless infant to capable, conversing, sometimes challenging toddler.

I love being a mom. I love being Anna's mom! And I'm so excited to celebrate her birthday with her tomorrow.

We're planning to take her to the pet store to let her pick out a fish (she LOVES fish). Then, depending on the weather, we're either going to go to the Zoo, go swimming someplace or go to Betty Brin Children's Museum. And eat popsicles. Because that's what she requested for dinner. (Don't worry, we'll have an actual dinner, but we'll definitely have a popsicle or two as well!)

**Also, Anna had a total of THREE poops in the potty this week! I'm so proud of her!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Vacation - Part 2 of 2

As I indicated in my last post, we spent a glorious 3 nights and 4 days at my Grandma's cabin in Longville, MN over the 4th of July.

About halfway through our second day there, I half jokingly said to hubby, "you know, we shouldn't go back Tuesday, we should just go to a waterpark for a day or two."

To my absolute shock and joy (and Anna's too, though she didn't know it at the time), he said he'd been thinking the same thing and had planned to surprise us on our "way home." YES!

So on Tuesday afternoon after one last trip into town for ice cream with Hootie and Bubby (Unfortunately my photo of this is an iPhone photo which won't post in Blogger for some reason), we packed into the car and made the hour or so drive to Baxter, MN's Holiday Inn Express and Water Park.

Anna slept the whole way so she was a bit groggy when we arrived.

But she perked right up when I mentioned putting on our swim suits and heading down to the water park!

We went to the water park 5 times over the next few days. We actually even wound up calling the front desk on the day we originally planned to check out and extended our stay for one more night. We had such a GREAT time - no work, no stress, no schedules. One night Anna fell asleep for the night at 6:15 p.m. The next night she stayed up until 10. It didn't matter. We just spent time together as a family and truly enjoyed every minute of it.

We enjoyed a couple of dinners out as well - at Famous Daves and Applebees (always a tossup with a toddler along, but again, since we had no stress, dinners out were a breeze). The service, both at the hotel and at the two restaurants we visited was OUTSTANDING. People were friendly. I could have stayed MUCH longer than we did.

A couple of funny stories from our trip:
First, Anna and I were out in the kayak on our last day in Longville, when a mama duck and five baby ducks came swimming by right ahead of us. Anna was excited. REALLY excited. She could be heard all the way back at the cabin across the bay yelling, "Baby duhs! Where are you, baby duhs! Oh, HI baby duhs!" These baby ducks made quite the impression as we are STILL hearing about them today. I'm sure the fact that Hubby and I kept quizzing her about what she saw (I like the way she says "baby duhs!")

You can see here, she's getting a little irritated with our apparent inability to understand that she saw "baby duhs!"


At the water park, there was a huge bucket of water that filled up and spilled all over some very excited, brave kids every twenty minutes. There was a bell that rang for about 60 seconds before the bucket dumped and Anna learned quickly what that sound meant. "It's TUMIN'! It's TUMIN'!" ("It's comin'" for those of you who don't speak toddler). She'd yell at all the kids to "run" and "wasch out!" The water was a little too strong to take her all the way under the bucket, but she and I stood a few times on the edges, and she was thrilled!

When we returned to Milwaukee after our trip, we headed to church. As we were walking in the church bells started to ring. Anna whipped her head all around trying to figure out where the bucket was and started yelling excitedly "It's TUMIN! It's TUMIN!!! Mama, water tumin!" All the world is her water park. :)


Anna is proving to be quite the little road tripper. A far cry from where we were less than a year ago on our first airplane trip though it probably helps that I now know what to expect from her and how to keep my own stress lowt. I can't wait to take another trip with her and hubby!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Vacation (Part 1 of 2)

Ahhh...we just returned from our most fun, most successful and most extended family vacation to date. We headed north to my Grandma's cabin in Longville, MN (the Turtle Race Capital of the world!) and spent a long weekend there, followed by an unplanned, but OH SO FUN three night stay at a water park in Baxter, MN.

Anna is such a good little road tripper. She's especially happy with one of us (me) sitting in the back seat with her. We left at 4 a.m. on Saturday and arrived at the cabin around 2 p.m.

First stop - Boat ride with uncle Mike (this photo is of her second boat ride, I didn't have my camera for the first).

We did all sorts of fun stuff at the cabin - kayak rides, swimming off the back dock, building block towers, and of course, eating popsicles! But her favorite activity (which drove me nuts) was playing in her bed, which we turned into a "tent" by throwing a bedspread over the top. The kid wouldn't come outside. She just wanted to be in her bed.

Oh, yeah, she's wearing bunny slippers on a 75 degree day...definitely a two-year-old!

And we took the traditional kid/pump photos and family photo under the "hospitality house" sign.

We took trips into town for ice cream, to roar at the stuffed bear (who I'm pretty sure is older than me), play on the playground, and get groceries. We ate lots of delicious food and just relaxed.

We had a GREAT time on Anna's first trip to the cabin. I'm looking forward to taking her up there when the mosquitoes aren't swarming like Twilight fans at an Eclipse premier.

Stay tuned for part two...Here's a sneak peek:

Monday, May 31, 2010

Biting the Parental Tongue

Being a grown up sometimes means biting your tongue when you really want to unleash a tirade on someone. Especially when you're a parent. Here are two situations I've encountered in the last week that I assume are fairly common. What would you have done?

Situation 1:
We were at the park with my friend and her daughter. Anna was approaching a larger slide and had waited her turn in line (I was really proud!). As she sat down another little girl, I'd assume about 3 years old, came running up behind her, sat down and started pushing Anna down the slide. Not only was Anna scared, she was also being touched by some stranger, which she didn't like.

At this point I stepped in because the little girl's mother wasn't paying attention and said "excuse me, please don't push her" in my nicest, I'm-sure-you-don't-mean-to-be-doing-that voice. When she didn't stop, I tried again, "HEY! Stop pushing her!" At which point the mother noticed, came over and told her daughter to knock it off. I was pleasantly surprised to then see her talking quietly to her daughter off to the side after she came down the slide (I assume it was to talk about taking turns but it could have easily been to talk about what a mean, nasty lady I was to yell at her - who knows).

At what point in a situation like that should the parent of the non-offending child step in? I chose to because I was worried about Anna get hurt from being pushed the wrong way onto the slide. I think if Anna were a bit bigger and able to really speak for herself I would have bitten my tongue and let her handle it.

Situation 2:
We were at the zoo on Sunday and I had consumed too much coffee prior to our departure. We found a bathroom in the Apes of Africa and I rushed inside, only to bump (literally) into a mother with her son who was AT LEAST 11 years old. In the ladies room. Um...?

How old is too old? I'm not a parent of a son so I admit that I haven't had to deal with the "Do I send him into the men's room with possible gross dudes in there or do I tell him to close his eyes, shut his mouth and drag him into the ladies room with me?" dilemma. I do think that 11 is too old to be in the ladies room. If I as a woman feel uncomfortable using the facilities while your kid is in there, maybe it's time for you to switch to the "family" restroom. Or ask a respectable-looking stranger to check to see that the men's room is clear and then stand outside the door until your kid is finished.

Is my opinion out of line? I chose in this situation to bite my tongue, especially since they were washing their hands and on their way out when I entered the bathroom. Again, I haven't been in this situation with my kid yet, so I may very well change my tune. What do you think?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekend Recap

I know it's been two weeks since my last post. I'm sorry. No excuses, I'm just sorry. There have been at least 15 times I thought, "I want to write a post about that!" but just never got around to it. So this is going to be a long one. I hope you will bear with me.

Last Weekend
Hubby has been working a crazy amount (so we can Live Like No One Else) and was planning to be at the office all weekend. I decided to make it a super fun weekend for Anna so she wouldn't feel the stress from the "Grownups" in the house.

We started our Saturday morning with a trip to the local bagel joint. Shared a blueberry with light cream cheese, in case you were wondering. Then we headed to the grocery store. I came prepared with a big baggie of cheerios and several of her favorite little toys (just a few of my grocery store survival strategies. We made it all the way to the checkout before she started getting fidgety. Made it out of there pretty much tantrum free (a small miracle)!

Since Hubby had been at work until 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning (yes, from Friday morning - he logged 22 hours that day...), I decided I needed to keep Anna out of the house a bit so he could get some sleep. Since it was nice we packed up the wagon and walked the 5 or 6 blocks to the park. What should have been a fairly quick walk was made QUITE longer because Anna insisted on pushing, no pulling, no pushing the wagon most of the way. Oh well, the point was to give Hubby some quiet time, right?

Finally we made it to the park (I'll skim over the part where some obnoxious teenager had pooped on the big curly slide and smeared it all over the place - SICK), and played for an hour or so on the (non-pooped on) slides and swings.

Anna repeated her push/pull performance on our way back from the park. When we got back Hubby was just getting out of the shower. Anna seemed to take this as her cue and began (for the first time that I've seen) to peel all her clothes off.

Ahh, my little nudist. I drew the line (and replaced the pants) when she came running into the living room, with her diaper pulled down below her butt, chanting "Poop, pee, poop, pee!" Um, no, I think not.

Sunday Anna and I took a trip to the zoo for an hour and a half. Our second trip of the year, her third. I LOVE our zoo membership! We really just walked around a lot, trying not to get run over by the crazy masses of people. Anna was cranky and needed a nap so we cut out of there around lunch time.

My mom came up Sunday afternoon and we walked to get ice cream. Later when Hubby got home from work, he sent Anna into the kitchen to ask if we had any ice cream for him. Her request came out something more like "I-seem daddy?" I sent her back to ask him if he wanted chocolate or vanilla, emphasizing vanilla since I didn't think she'd ever heard the word before. She took off running for the living room yelling, "GORILLA, DADDY?!" Close, honey, but not quite.

This Weekend
Saturday we had a playdate with friends at a park in Waukesha. We had a picnic by a pond and it was a beautiful morning! Oreos, hummus, strawberries...all were pleased.

Today we went to 8:00 church so our day was relatively open. As soon as we got home, I filled up Anna's kiddie pool and got her and myself slathered in sunscreen and ready to play. We headed out a little while later and, well, I'll let the photos and video tell the rest of the story because it's taken me a really long time to write all this (because I'm also watching the Lost recap at the same time) and I'm falling asleep.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why Being a Mom is Amazing

It's 7:30 on Mother's Day and I'm in bed. I'm supposed to be sleeping in, but the sun is shining and I can hear Anna in the other room with Hubby and she's making me laugh.

At first she amazed me just by being. Her noises, her facial expressions, her tininess...I could have (and often DID) just watched her for hours.

Now, she's speaking in sentences (granted, small sentences), terrorizing our cats by chasing them around the house yelling "C'mere, Mac, Hi, Zacie (her name is Macie, but the mispronunciation is cute)," and now she tickles us back when we tease her ("Get you get you get you" squealed at a pitch only a dog can hear while she pinches and scratches - but it's so funny that she has turned the tables on us that I don't even mind the little bit of pain).

Being a mom is amazing because I created this strong-willed, smart, compassionate human being.

And now I'm going to get my butt out of bed and go make her some pancakes!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Top 10 Reasons my Mom ROCKS

Some of you may know the wonderful woman known to Anna as "Gamma Hoobie" - known to most others as Hootie McJowls (no, that's not her real name), and known to me and my siblings as "mom." For those of you who don't have the pleasure of knowing this wise old owl (ha, mom, get it - hootie/owl...ha...ha. Ok, sorry), here are the top ten reasons she ROCKS:

10. She used to make little hot dog people for us when we were small by cutting arms and legs into the hot dogs before microwaving them, then drawing ketchup and mustard faces. They always tasted better like this.

9. She let us destroy the front lawn with our slip and slide (remember those??) and never complained (at least not that registered with me) when we left our wet towels on the floor.

8. She taught us to road trip early. And she showed no fear, packing all three of us from toddlerhood on up into the car for 8-10 hour drives at a crack.

7. She totally took my dad up on his offer after one of our road trips out west to let her fly back while he drove back across country with the three of us in the camper. I actually applaud both of my parents for that one!

6. She partied with all my college friends back at her hotel room after my wedding. Until 4 a.m. Yes, she IS that cool.

5. She always went out of her way to make the magic of childhood real for us. Whether it meant elaborate letters from the Tooth Fairy or staged sooty footprints on the hearth from Santa's boots (that thoughtless man - clean your feet!), we believed!

4. She let out the biggest WHOOP of joy when the nurse told her Anna had arrived in the hospital. I heard her all the way from my room, which was down the hall from the waiting room where she was.

3. She listens to my whining and complaining on an almost daily basis without telling me to shut up and deal with it. She's my sounding board and that frequently means listening to me moan and complain about the water temperature of my shower that morning (and other irrelevant things of that nature).

2. She drunk dials/texts me when she's with her friends (rarely) and they're far more hilarious than any drunk dials/texts I got in college.

1. She has seamlessly transitioned from nose/butt wiper to homework checker to taxi driver to sound adviser to trusted friend in a mere 28 years.

You wear a lot of hats, Mom. And they are all awesome. Thanks for being a great role model and also thanks for not rubbing it too much in my face that I'm getting my just dessert for a lot of the crap I pulled on you as a kid! :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pity, Party of One Your Table is Ready

Broken record here.

I don't even know if this makes any sense, but it's so much harder to go back to work after a tough weekend than a good one. I feel like I spent most of today talking Anna down from tantrums, trying to find a reserve of patience that just wasn't there and feeling in general frustrated with her behavior. And now my weekend is done and I have to wait 5 more days before I can spend more than an hour at a shot with my daughter.

I thought this would get easier. I thought if I gave it some time the whole working mom thing would stop feeling like I was ripping my heart out of my chest every morning on my way out the door. I thought I'd stop spending Sunday nights crying on my couch. I know I've said it before, but I HATE being a part-time mom. I hate it. (The "part-time" part, that is.)

We're working on getting out of debt. I think that's part of what's got me feeling crumby. We've still got at least two years left. We crunched the numbers and it's going to be at least that long before we're finished paying off the rest of our debts. Problem is that I can't stay home with Anna or even think about having another baby until that's paid down. Anna will be almost in Kindergarten. I'll have missed everything with her by then - heck, I've already missed most of it.

Ugh, I hate when I give in to thinking about this stuff. Most of the time I can keep it out of my mind by staying busy, but sometimes, especially after a rough day, it's hard not to let myself go there. And once I'm there it's hard to pull myself out of the slump that inevitably ensues.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Blessed Freedom!

I'm sitting at Caribou Coffee in Brookfield by myself at a quiet table in the corner. I have my over indulgent decaf vanilla latte and my free internet connection (and a nearly dead laptop battery - doh!) and most importantly, I have my FREEDOM for the evening!

There's a quote on my coffee cup that says "Spend time with your kids, tomorrow they're a day older." True. However, in Anna's case lately, maybe that's a good thing. Or perhaps we should just say that thankfully every day is a new day. Terrible Twos, thy wrath is mighty!

She's becoming a very independent kid. Everything is "mine," "I do it!" and "I don't want it!" She has awfully strong opinions for someone who can't yet wipe her own behind. I caught myself arguing with her the other day (the typical "yes/no" argument that even the dimmest witted person knows not to get trapped in with a toddler). She won. Well, she only won because Hubby wanted me to see if she'd change her answer if I changed mine. She stuck to her guns.

I love watching her figure out what's what in the world. She met my sister-in-law's puppy last week and immediately pointed to my sister-in-law and said "Abby's Mommy?" and then pointed to me and jubilantly announced "My mommy!" When I was lying in a Nyquil-induced haze on the couch this weekend, feeling achy, Anna looked at me, concerned and asked, "OK, Momma?" When I told her I was ok, but had a headache, she nodded seriously and said, "Pack." As in all I needed was an ice pack and my "owie" would be fixed. I wish everything was as simple as she sees it. I don't want her to lose that innocence or that pure view of how things relate. But I guess that's growing up. I'll just enjoy it while she's got it.

I just realized that I'm spending my entire "free" time talking about my kid anyway...I guess that's how it goes!

A few random thoughts to wrap up the post:

When did my wardrobe get so boring and "mom-ish?" YUCK! I'm in dire need of an upgrade...ten more pounds and then I'll treat myself to a few new things.

I'm 3 pounds away from my initial weight loss goal. Next goal will be to get down to what it says I weigh on my driver's license - only another 10 pounds.

Every moment with my kid lately feels like a hostage negotiation (Put the kitty's water bowl down, slowly, no need for anyone to get hurt! Want a bean? Want to watch Dora? What an endless piggyback ride?? Anything, just please come in the house!). Is this what TWO is going to be like...is this what ALL YEARS are going to be like??

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Embrace the Disco!

Today after picking up Anna, I helped her put on her ridiculously posh, pink Dora sunglasses and got on to the congested freeway. I attempted to find something on the radio for Anna to boogie to after my CD player unceremoniously spat out the only kids CD I had in the car after our road trip this past weekend.

I settled on Beyonce's "Single Ladies," which Anna loudly and vehemently protested from the back seat. Keeping my eyes on the road, I fumbled furiously through my meager CD collection. At last, ABBA's Greatest Hits! Surely Anna would find something on here to be an acceptable alternative to Tom Hunter's "Great Big Man" - the song that's usually on repeat whenever we're in the car (we've listened to it so much that Anna knows the words and sings and claps along).

"Here, Anna, Dancing Queen!"


"Ooookay...How about, this! How about this? Mama Mia? It has Mama in it!"


"Anna, just embrace the disco"


"EMBRACE THE DISCO!!!" (one hand on wheel, the other disco dancing as wildly as my compact car will permit)



"Mama Mia, here I go again...

"Yay, Momma!"

Once again, ABBA saves the day. She embraced the disco and the rest of our ride was spent crazy dancing and scream-singing "Mama Mia." Well actually, one of us was crazy dancing and scream-singing "Mama Mia." The other was sitting in her car seat, wearing her posh pink sunglasses, staring incredulously at her ridiculous mother.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Our First Family Road Trip

This weekend was my grandma's 90th birthday (Happy Birthday, Grandma!!). Early Friday morning we packed into the car and trekked up to Minnesota near the Twin Cities to celebrate with my mom's entire family. It was a 7 hour drive and as Anna has historically hated the car seat, I wasn't quite sure what to expect.

We got up around 4 on Thursday, had the car loaded and were on the road by 4:50 a.m. Anna stayed awake for a little while after we took off, but fell back asleep and didn't wake up until we were already halfway there. We stopped, had breakfast and let her run around for a little bit and got right back on the road. We made it to our destination by noon with only one more 15 minute break at a rest stop with a playground. I was thanking my lucky stars for the Elmo's World dvd I have on my computer (as well as a few others) as that was what kept her occupied a majority of the rest of the trip.

The weekend is a blur of fun times with family, chasing my uncles cats through the yard (Anna, not me) and lots and lots of food. All the cousins were there and it was so good to catch up. For many of them, it was the first time they met Anna.

Me with my brother and sister

Our stay at the hotel even went OK. Hubby was able to help lull Anna to sleep the first night and the other two nights we simply let her lay between us on the bed until she was out and then we moved her to the pack and play. Getting her out the front door of the hotel to head over to my grandma's house (whom Anna affectionately called "Bubby" all weekend - "Hi, Bubby! I love you, Bubby!" was shouted gleefully on the second day we were there). Unfortunately the entrance to the pool was right next to the front door. Anna would run as fast as she could up to the pool door and yell "SWIN SWIN! PLEASE SWIN!" We did take her in twice. She LOVES the water.

Me and my water baby!

We only had one little hiccup. On Saturday, the day of the official party, Anna was up ALL DAY - no naps for that little party animal! We finally got her down around 4:15, only to need to get her up at 5:45 to get ready for dinner. MISTAAAAKE! I should have gone with what Hubby suggested and let her sleep and have him bring her to the party late. She threw a tantrum like I have never seen before. Nothing we tried calmed her down. I was so frustrated and disappointed that she was obviously not going to be able to attend the party, and therefore, neither were we. Hubby took one for the team and told me to go have fun with my family, that he and Anna would hang out and go get something with ketchup for dinner.

The return trip home was equally uneventful. Anna slept for the first three hours, watched Dora the Explorer for the next 2.5 hours and sang songs/read books/ate snacks the rest of the way. For the last 45 minutes or so of the trip Anna would ask from her seat next to me in the back, "Mama? Where ARE you?"...keep in mind she was asking this while making eye contact with me. She changed from that to "Where ARE we?" about 15 minutes from home. I think the kid was ready to be done with the car.

We'll definitely be doing more road trips in the future. The kid travels well when she's got someone to entertain her. I'm not sure I'm ready to do a drive like that solo, just me and her, but definitely with another grownup we're set! Big change from how nervous I felt about Anna's first flight in September and how the travel itself actually went!

Me, Anna, "Bubby" and Grandma Hootie - 4 Generations

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Grocery Shopping with a Toddler

Since having Anna, going out in public has sometimes been a challenge for me. First because I was a little wigged out by how many people felt the need to touch my new baby and now because Anna wigs out at the slightest bit of boredom. Here are a few things at each age so far that have helped ease if not eliminate grocery store our freak-outs (hers AND mine).

1. (Infant - about 1 year) Use a sling or front carrier. This almost eliminated the number of people rushing up to touch Anna when I would keep her in her car seat in the cart (in the big basket - PLEASE don't set it on the seat like you've probably seen lots of other people do! The seats and carts are not designed to this and I've heard horror stories of carts toppling over with helpless infants on top). Also, Anna was a child who detested her car seat, so keeping her strapped to me kept her happier for longer as well. As she got older, I faced her forward in the front carrier so she could watch the people. Beautiful solution!

2. (6+ months) Cheerios! Cheerios, animal crackers, raisins, any small, non-messy snack will do the trick. My husband affectionately refers to these as my "pocket cookies," as I always keep a big pocket full of animal crackers when we take Anna out shopping with us. I may eat one or two myself. She needn't know about that.

3. (18+ months) Little Tikes Cart. Our grocery stores have shopping carts with those Little Tikes cars on the front. Anna LOVES them. I hate them because they make the cart really heavy and hard to steer. However, there is an additional perk to using these: When the aisle gets crowded and I, as a grown up, have to act polite about how slowly someone is moving or is taking up the entire aisle with their cart, Anna thinks it's terrific fun to yell "BEEP BEEP" when we stop moving for too long. The other shoppers think it's cute because she's little and I think it's cute because that's EXACTLY what I was thinking!

4. (18+ months) Let her help. This is a tricky one because if not done exactly right, giant meltdowns ensue at checkout. Sometimes I'll let Anna pick out an item or two (that we need) and hold it while we ride up to check out. If I don't either (a) take TWO of that item, one to be scanned and returned, the other to be clutched tightly and continuously by chubby baby fingers, or (b) make sure there's something else interesting I can give to Anna at checkout time to swap for said item, I have to wrestle the item away from her to be scanned. The ensuing screams are loud, quick and difficult to calm, usually lasting for the rest of the time away from the house.

That's all I've got. There's a lot of "where are Anna's eyes" and "what sound does a lion make" going on these days. It's also all about timing. If I try to cram in a shopping trip right before nap time, I'm just asking for it. If I don't give her a little time to wake up and play, then she's too antsy to sit in a shopping cart for an hour.

What are your shopping survival tips?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Weight Loss Milestone

You know that garbage bag full of clothes you wore in college but haven't had a prayer of fitting into since you got married, binged on cheetos for 9 straight months, had a kid, binged on poptarts for 8 more months and then realized that your fat jeans were now your skinny jeans and your sweat pants were suddenly your best friend? The bag with the jeans that sat just right on your hips, back when you were young and fit and didn't even realize it? The bag with the cute tank tops that you could wear then because you didn't have whale arms in those days? Tonight, I unpacked that bag.

I pulled out my pre-pregnancy skinny jeans (meaning the jeans that only fit me on my best days before I put on the baby weight) and my shamefully large collection of Old Navy and Gap tank tops and countless cute skirts that haven't seen the light of day in far too long. I was feeling gutsy tonight, even though I just polished off a package of Ramen Noodles and a glass (or two) of wine. I went for it. I tried on the skinny jeans.

It is truly a pity that Anna is sleeping in the next room. Because I want to celebrate. CELEBRATE!! The skinny jeans FIT. And not the "I'm going to get into these pants if I have to grease my hips and thighs with mayonnaise (huh...who knew "mayonnaise" had two Ns? Learn something new every day)" kind of fit...They comfortably fit and I zipped and buttoned them without even having to suck it in.

I realize I'm making a much bigger deal out of this than most normal people would. But it's really exciting to #1 have access to a basically new wardrobe for summer, #2 be just 4 pounds away from my original goal of losing 30 pounds and, most importantly, #3 not be completely disgusted by myself when I look in the mirror. The pre-pregnancy skinny jeans are just the icing on the cake!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Moms Judging Moms

When I found out I was pregnant, I signed up with all the usual parenting sites and newsletters. I started reading all kinds of "Mommy Blogs." In general, I established an extensive social network of other new and experienced parents to rely on for advice.

Instead, I predominantly found judgment. Judgment about whether moms chose to breast or bottle feed. Judgment over moms using the "cry it out" method of sleep training. Judgment over co-sleeping. Judgment over whether birth was done naturally or with medical intervention. A whole lot of judgment.

Why do we do that to each other? Why do we turn on our allies, going through essentially the same situation we are experiencing ourselves? Over some dumb little detail like breast vs. bottle? Why aren't we supportive of each other?

As someone who felt negatively judged by many in my "support network" when I weaned Anna at 10 months, I have endeavored to never force my parental preferences on anyone else. If your parental choices are not going to harm your child or mine, then have at it. If you are breast feeding and need to lean on someone who's been there and done that, give me a call. If you are frustrated by the applesauce your toddler painted in your hair with her spoon at dinner time, well, sorry, that's on you. Don't sit so close next time.

My primary point is, as moms (or dads) we should be lifting each other up - offering to lend a hand where we can and keeping our mouths closed when need be. My secondary point is that there are some sites that will definitely not be receiving my membership if/when baby number two comes along! If I want to feel bad about my parenting, I can do that plenty fine on my own. I don't need some stranger insisting that I feed my kid only organic, non-dairy, non-fat, non-taste food matter from 6 months on. That's just not my style.

*For the record, my REAL LIFE network of new and experienced parents is the best, non-judgiest group of people around. I wish there were more of you in my birth club - yeah you other new moms know what site I'm talking about. Nothing but drama.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Having a Toddler is Fun!

Having a toddler, at least THIS toddler, is fun! Anna's vocabulary is growing every day and she's becoming more of a little person right before our eyes. We have a lot of conversations, mostly consisting of the words "Mama, Daddy, No, Mine, Biddie, Bampa, Riley and Kitty."

At dinner, Anna likes to evaluate what everyone is drinking. If she has water and I have water, she'll proudly announce "Water mama. Water me!" She's discovered the joy of ketchup. She eats it with a spoon. It grosses me out.

The following words should not be spoken in our household, unless you want to start a riot:
- Jelly Bean
- Orange Juice
- Hot Dog
- Dora

Easter Sunday was a BIG day for us. Not only is it one of my favorite services of the year, but Anna made it through the entire sermon. The ENTIRE SERMON! She sat quietly and nicely through almost the entire service!! And I actually got to participate and pay attention! I was so proud that I swear the Pastor must have thought I was REALLY moved by the sermon because I was just beaming for the last 3 minutes of his preaching. I was moved by the sermon, but I was also really excited that I was even there to hear it!

Anna in her Easter dress

I had this thought during bath time tonight: "How concerned should I be that this child is holding her bathtub penguin under the water and maniacally chanting what sounds suspiciously like 'DIE!'??"

"Anna roaring has got to be one of the cutest things I've ever heard."

I know this post is all over the place, but that's pretty true to our lives right now. Sometimes the funny things Anna does just don't fit nicely into a themed blog post. I'll talk to her about that and see if she can shape up before my next post.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Never Going to Forget This...Until I Do.

Shortly after I had Anna, I took her into work to meet my coworkers. A girl I worked with had a daughter about a year and a half old at that time and she marveled over how she couldn't remember her daughter being so tiny. I remember thinking to myself that I would never forget Anna at that size or any size for that matter. I would remember her in every way always. And then real life came back into play and time moved on and I forgot.

I forgot how tiny newborn feet are. I forgot how even a sneeze out of a week old baby seems completely amazing. I got caught up in the every day routine and sure enough when I went to visit a friend of mine and her new baby boy last week, it occurred to me that I don't remember holding Anna when she was an 8 pound little bundle.

This scares me. As a kid growing up there were several occasions that I promised myself "I'm never going to forget this when I have kids" or "when my kids are my age I'll remember how I'm feeling right now and I won't make it hard on them." That's not to say my parents made anything hard on me. I'm talking about crushes on boys who didn't know I existed, or worse, considered me to be their best friend. Or when I got my first period and my mom told all her friends at work (I'm sure out of new parental territory/advice seeking motivation!), who in turn congratulated me the next time I was there. Or how awful I could feel just from waking up in the morning from a bad dream and nobody quite understood what I was talking about.

If I can so easily forget what it feels like to hold a new born baby, how beautiful her little yawns were and that aching tired feeling of new parenthood, then how on earth will I remember the other important things I'm supposed to remember in order to make sure Anna knows I understand what she's going through?

I think the answer is that I'm not supposed to remember. She and I are supposed to have "That Fight." You know the one where she yells that I have no idea what it's like to be a teenager and then slams the door in my face? That fight. If all parents always remembered their "I'm always going to remember" moments, the universe would be thrown off its keel and we'd be walking around in a world where toddlers always say please and teenagers never slam doors in their mothers' faces.

And you know what? I just can't be responsible for that kind of global upheaval. I'm going to go ahead and live in the moment and enjoy her just like this for as long as she'll be like this and then I'll take the next stage as it comes.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dealing with Change

I was told this week that I'm good at handling change (at my job). I actually laughed at the person who said it. Then I apologized because he had no idea why his complement had elicited such a sarcastic scoff from me. I am horrible at dealing with change. It stresses me out. I've never been capable of handling transitions gracefully. The only change I like is hiding under my couch cushions.

Since I was Anna's age, the mere mention that we would have to leave the park led to a meltdown. I've gotten better about little changes like that, but the big life changes (graduating from college and joining the real world, having a baby, going back to work after said baby) send me into, well, sometimes they send me into depression.

Thankfully, my stress over dealing with the recent change in Hubby's job, and therefore our entire homelife schedule, has not sent me into depression. Instead, it's sent me into McDonald's. And the candy aisle at the grocery store. And into the freezer for second helpings of ice cream.

Anna, on the other hand, seems to be coping pretty well with the upset in her routine. She was a little (ha, ok, A LOT) cranky for the first week or two (we had taken to calling her "she-beasty"), but she seems to have settled into the new schedule now. She would come home on nights that Hubby was working late and wander around the house calling "Daddy, Way Ah Yoo?" But thankfully she seems to have inherited his "go with the flow" personality and has accepted that some nights she just gets mama time.

I'm still adjusting. I imagine it will take a few more weeks before I stop feeling overwhelmed. I'm trying. Really, really hard. But I'm just not that quick to adapt. My almost-two-year-old seems to be developing faster in that area than me. And I'm ok with that!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Mama Bear Instinct

"I wasn't even going to tell you, because it's really not a big deal," was how my conversation with Hubby started tonight. He told me that someone broke into our cars early Tuesday morning and tried unsuccessfully to get into our garage. He hadn't told me because he didn't want me to freak out. They hadn't taken anything and thanks to our frustratingly difficult to work (thankfully so!) garage door openers, they hadn't gotten into the garage. He reported it to the police, and found out from the neighbors tonight that they found a purse with contents strewn about behind our garage on Tuesday morning and also called the police.

I'm not freaking out (especially since I verified that the 7th Harry Potter book on CD is still in my glove compartment - THANK GOODNESS!!), but my mind is wandering to "what would I have done if they had gotten into the house?"

Since the day I gave birth to Anna, I've known without a doubt that I could and would do ANYTHING to protect this little girl. And if that anything included defending her with my life, then I have no doubt that I'd put up an amazing fight. I try not to think about these kinds of scenarios often, because I can actually give myself an adrenaline rush just by thinking about "what if there was a fire, how would I get out of my bedroom and into hers?" or "what if some creep came into our home and Hubby wasn't nearby, what exactly would I do?" I have no doubt that I would surprise even myself with the lengths I would go to to protect my daughter.

That mama bear instinct is powerful. God help the burglar that tries to come into our house...he may find the goods he's looking for but he's also going to find one seriously ticked off and riled up woman, ready to do anything to keep her kid safe.

*Just a note - All sorts of circumstances here were EXTREMELY lucky. For some reason both of our cars were unlocked that night so no windows were broken. Neither of our garage door openers seemed to work and both doors to our house were locked. For a "break in" it really wasn't such a horrible thing. A blessing.

**A second note - to the burglar - thank you for leaving my Harry Potter book on CD in the glove compartment. You have no idea how that would have ruined my week had you taken it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Fun with Words

Anna's vocabulary has boomed, seemingly overnight. As a result, her capacity to entertain has also drastically expanded.

Exhibit A:
Yesterday as she, Hubby and I were playing together on the living room floor, Anna began waving her arms around wildly, hitting herself several times in the face. Obviously faking, she looked at me, whimpering and begged "Pack? Pack?" I responded (because I'm such a caring and compassionate mom), "Did you just hurt yourself on purpose so you could have an ice pack?" To which she responded, "Yeah." and stopped whimpering.

Exhibit B:
This morning I asked Anna if we could brush her hair before we left for daycare. As I brought out her hairbrush (something I have to hide or it elicits immediate protesting from my young friend), Anna began running through the kitchen, clutching her hair, screaming, "NOOOOOO!!! MYYYYYYYYY!!!!!" Apparently her hair belongs to her and I'm not allowed to make her look presentable. To be fair, her reaction may have something to do with my attempt to give her pigtails this weekend. She was not a fan (but I was!!!).

Exhibit C:
When we got in the car this morning I asked, "Are you ready to go to grandma's house?" To which Anna responded, "Biddy? Biddy Way Ah Yooo?!" This is Anna-speak for "Billie! Billie, where are you?"

Exhibit D:
I learned this from Andy's mom, who is clever, so clever that we shall call her Clever with a capital "c"! Whenever she needs to change Anna's diaper (which is a chore these days), whether there are other kids at her house at the time or not, she announces, "Who wants to be first for diaper change?" And without fail, Anna will respond, "Me me me me!" and run to wherever she's supposed to go. Ladies and gentlemen, this works at home too! It's crazy. Last night I announced, "Who wants to be first to brush teeth tonight?" and Anna responded "Me me me me!" and ran into the bathroom doing her excited dance. It's hilarious, and it's handy!

Exhibit E:
Over the weekend Anna and I had this conversation SEVERAL times:
Me: "Anna do you want Milk or Water?"
Anna: "Zeus"
Me: "No juice, milk or water?"
Anna (tone and facial expression unchanging): "Zeus"
Me: "Milk or water?"
Anna: "Zeus"
and on and on...

Exhibit F:
If you ask Anna to say napkin, she immediately and always responds, "Money." It's really funny.

I love hearing her talk and sing and listening to her start to put sentences together. When she gets really excited, she'll chant "daddy mama daddy mama daddy mama!" I'm sure we'll get more of the "no"s and "MYYYY"s before long, but hopefully I can continue to be proud of her developing understanding of the world and not focus on the fact that she is growing up way too fast right in front of me.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Somebody's Getting Married!

Six years ago today, I woke up my best friend Jen with this song:

I then proceeded to call my siblings and my parents who were staying in the same hotel as Jen and I were to sing that song to them. That "somebody" was me!

I wasn't your traditional "don't see the groom before the wedding" kind of bride. Actually, we spent pretty much the whole day leading up to the ceremony together with our friends and families. I had just as much fun BEFORE our wedding as I did during!

Did I mention that it was midterms week our last semester of college? What the heck was I thinking?!?

Anyway, today we celebrate six years of our life together. I can honestly say, I couldn't have chosen a better person as my husband and I'm looking forward to our future together!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Confessions of a Normal Mom

You know what? We moms aren't always good. We're not always on our best behavior. We cut corners occasionally. And most times, I don't even feel bad about it. In fact, I have a few confessions to make publicly:

1. Sometimes I skip pages in the books we read at bedtime. She usually doesn't notice. It's only on the books that she requests to have us read EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT. and I am just so sick of "finding the cow in the barn!"...ugh.

2. Hubby, look away for this one. I ate cookies in bed one night this week after a particularly rough evening filled with much screaming on Anna's part. Sorry, Hubby.

3. I often try to keep Anna up later on the weekend nights so she'll sleep in a little bit in the mornings. This frequently results in her nap schedule getting thrown all out of whack. And often results in me sleeping until a gloriously late 8:30.

4. Sometimes, when Anna is throwing her 8th tantrum of the morning and has only been up for 15 minutes, I DO let her have a "cooka" for breakfast. It's just a graham cracker, but also, it's at least 60 seconds of her NOT screaming.

5. I think it's both adorable and spooky that Anna has watched Finding Nemo so many times that she now runs around, waving her hands, chanting "my buh-buhs, my buh-buhs" when that little yellow fish who loves bubbles comes on the screen.

6. I sometimes sneak into her bedroom before I go to bed and hope just a little teensy bit that she'll wake up so I can rock and snuggle with her.

7. Sometimes I lie and say that the TV is broken or that "fishy" is "all gone" so we won't have to watch Finding Nemo for the 5th time in a day (I'm not exaggerating that number, folks).

8. I let my kid eat off the floor. Not always, mind you - mostly in church. Sometimes I pretend to pick up and pocket the crackers she drops on the floor at church, but when I'm sure no one is looking, I hand them back to her. Yes, I know that's disgusting. But she hasn't been harmed by it yet, so you'll have a hard time convincing me to stop!

9. I secretly ALSO want to taste test the playdoh to see if it still tastes the same as it did when I was a kid. I haven't. But I want to.

10. I LOVE being a mom. I love pretending to be a flying bird and doing staring contests at dinner and "making it rain" at bathtime by turning on the shower and blowing bubbles in the house and building humongous towers of blocks and knocking those towers down. I also love naptime.


Sharing time! What are your "normal mom" confessions? I know there's at least one other mom out there who's tasted the playdoh or at least thought about it. Fess up!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our Weekend: The Good, The Bad and The Baby

I'm really glad weekends are two days long. Especially this weekend. Just enough time for Anna to prove to me that she's got a really good side and a really bad side.

Days like this are why I wanted to be a mom:
Saturday started out kind of perfectly. I'd done most of the grocery shopping after Anna went to bed on Friday night so there was no pressure when I woke up. Anna and I had breakfast, played for a while, sorted through her old toys, cleaned up the kitchen and did a quick run to Sam's Club. After that, she and I went to the West Allis library for Anna's first library experience

The West Allis Library has a great children's section. It's upstairs and a little secluded so I didn't feel too paranoid about Anna's constant vocal stream of "WOW!" and "BOOK!" Needless to say, she liked it quite a bit. There were puzzles on little tables with little chairs, all her size, scattered around the children's section. The board books are all in little bins right at her level. She didn't know where to go first. We spent about an hour exploring and picking out books. After we checked out, I let her put a couple in the bag that she brought along for herself and then she carried it by herself all the way to the car. We had to sit down immediately when we got home and read all six books that we brought home. I had such a good time, I actually wondered around 3 if it was too nerdy to go to the library twice in one day. (For the record, I decided that YES, it is too nerdy and we baked instead.)

Anna and I both took long naps on Saturday afternoon and then we baked a homemade pizza together. Mostly Anna just snuck pepperonis out of the bag while I was spreading out the pizza crust, but I think that's a crucial (possible the MOST crucial) part of homemade pizza making. The girl's got it down.

Church with a toddler: an exercise in frustration:
I'm not going to dwell on the particulars of today other than Anna has been throwing tantrums ALL DAY, beginning with the mother of all tantrums in church this morning at the end of the service. Definitely my most embarrassing parenting moment thus far.

Just another "I had no idea how easy I had it" moment - Right after Anna was born going to church became a significant source of stress for me. I think it was a combination of sleep deprivation and an uncomfortableness with nursing in public. After all, if I wanted to sit in a room by myself trying to coax this new little human to eat, why should it be in public at church where lots of other parents (and their nosy children) could witness my frustration? It was just easier for me to be at home. TODAY me wants to smack THEN me on the back of the head and tell her pipe down, sit in the rocker and enjoy the fact that I could at least listen to the service!

Church with a toddler is an entirely new sort of unpleasant from those initial days of parenthood. Now instead of stocking the diaper bag with diapers, changes of clothes and burp cloths, I stuff every toy, book and crayon conceivable in that bag that might possibly hold her attention for more than 2 minutes (which, of course, none of them do). Snacks, a sippy cup, stickers, coloring books, board books, baby dolls, puzzles...it doesn't matter. I always spend the service the same way - walking up and down the hallway with Anna who just wants to RUN! Or on weeks when she's feeling particularly generous, we'll get to play in the nursery. Nevertheless, I find myself thinking that same thought from the first few weeks of being a mom - why am I chasing a screaming toddler at church when I could be doing this exact same thing at home and getting the same amount of spiritual fulfillment out of it?

This is not to discount Hubby, who does his best to grant me reprieve when he can. But even on weeks that he takes Anna out when she starts getting antsy (usually during the opening hymn), I can't focus because I can still hear her or I am worried about what she's doing.

So how about it, fellow moms? Will she ever sit through an entire service? When does church start to be fulfilling rather than frustrating? Because I gotta tell you, it's nice of Hubby to give me the rundown on what the sermon was for the week, but I haven't gotten much more than that out of a service in almost a year. And after the "show" she put on this morning, Anna can wait until she's 19 before I take her ANYWHERE in public again. Any tricks besides those I've mentioned above?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Working Mom's Survival Guide

Being a mom is a full time job. That is the conclusion I have reached in my brief stint as a parent. It's a full time job, with no monetary pay, a sometimes unappreciative and always demanding boss, and no time off (unless your business partner - a.k.a. Daddy - is up for a stand-in). That's why the term "working mom" holds a lot of weight for me. Not only am I at work, busting butt for 9 hours a day, 5 days a week, but I'm not off duty when I arrive home either.

By the way, I'm convinced that single mothers must be super heroes. BIG TIME respect for those of you tackling both the parenting and working worlds on your own!

If you've read some of my posts lamenting being a working mom, you know that this isn't a title I hold completely willingly. Again, I am incredibly lucky to have a job that I LOVE, but it's very hard for me to be apart from my daughter as much as I am. However, I've found a few things that make this challenge a bit easier and I wanted to share those things here:

1. Make a meal plan and stick to it. Nothing kills time after the work day like trying to figure out what you're going to make for dinner after you get home. We set a meal plan at the beginning of the week and many nights after Anna goes to bed I prepare the meal (or as much of it as I can) for the next day.

2. Embrace the crock pot. I have tons of AWESOME crock pot recipes that I'd be happy to share. It's great having dinner ready and waiting for you when you get home!

3. Housework waits until after bedtime. If your kid(s) are anything like Anna, you only have an hour and a half to two hours after the work day before bedtime. Do the dishes later. Build the towers and read the stories now. I doubt in 10 years any of us will look back and say, "Man, I wish I would have been better at doing the dishes when Junior was little."

4. Get everything ready for the next day before you go to bed. I pack my lunch, my gym bag, my purse, Anna's daycare bag and any other important items before I hit the hay. That both frees up time in the morning for any unforeseen catastrophes (Anna deciding that pants are so last year and taking 30 minutes to get dressed) and minimizes forgetting or losing items (my lunch or my sanity).

5. Keep a calendar. I have ours in the kitchen so it's prominent. We keep track of daycare parties, things I have going on, and things on Hubby's docket so that our schedules are coordinated ahead of time and we're not frantically trying to coordinate a last minute pickup for Anna because we forgot about a meeting someplace.

Those are the biggest things we do to keep this "working mom" sane! Got any other tips or tricks?

Payback's a Fish

When I was little (I don't know, Mom? 3?), I watched Wizard of Oz like some people watch the news - morning, noon and night. Over and over until my poor mom had it memorized. It's almost a pity that's not my tale now, or the title of this post could be "Payback's a Witch," which is a lot funnier in my mind.

Alas, payback is a fish. A fish named Nemo. Anna discovered "fiSHEE" when she was feeling under the weather a few weeks ago. Since then, we have watched the movie AT LEAST 50 times. As soon as she wakes up in the morning, "fishy?" After breakfast, "fishy?" When we're reading stories at bed time, "fishy?"

I'm starting to wish that Nemo would just stay lost.

The other night I decided enough was enough. There was not going to be any Nemo playing in the background tonight. We were going to have a nice dinner and family playtime after that with the TV OFF. Anna asked several times after arriving home from daycare, "fishy?" To which I replied, "Not tonight, Honey. Let's build a tower!" Finally, after knocking down several towers and tiring of my attempts to amuse her, she looked at me, long eyelashes batting, and said "Fishy? PLEASE?" To get the full picture, you need to know that Anna does an altered version of the sign for please when she says it. She puts both her hands on her stomach and rocks her entire body back and forth. Now picture the above scenario again...See why I cracked?

After I said we could turn on the fishy for 10 minutes, there was much toddler rejoicing, complete with attempts to jump up and down (just up on her tiptoes) and clapping and shouts of "Yay! Fishy! Yay!"

I suppose I deserve Nemo on repeat after the hundreds of times I made my mom suffer through Wizard of Oz. And I suppose I'm lucky that Anna landed on a good movie like Finding Nemo (I mean, who doesn't LOVE Ellen Degeneres as Dori?!?). But I am eagerly awaiting the day that Anna says "Elmo" or "Ariel" or ANYTHING other than "fiSHEEE!!"

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Road to "Smokin' Hot"

A while back I posted that I was working toward losing the baby weight. Well, I am happy to report that we have successfully passed the pre-baby weight marker and am now down a few pounds even from there! WHOO-HOO!

This week (prior to the stomach flu I dealt with Monday and Tuesday) I reached the 20 pound point. That's 2/3 of the way to my 30 pounds by Anna's birthday goal. I think I'll be able to blow that goal out of the water.

In the first post I made about my decision to finally shed the weight, I mentioned that I HATED exercise. That has surprisingly changed. I made my trips to the gym such a part of my routine that it now feels wrong to come home right after work.

As I promised Hubby, I'm going to get smokin' hot and then hopefully knocked up again...and may I remind you, Hubby has only approved the first 50% of this mission statement. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

I'm Still Alive

Sorry for the total lack of posts for the last week. After we finally got Anna over the bronchitis and pneumonia, she came down with some kind of stomach bug and spent all of last Thursday night throwing up (mostly on me). Now she's finally well and I'm the one with the stomach bug. YUCK.

Anyway, I've got some fun posts for later this week. Just please bear with me while my digestive rebellion sorts itself out!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Slow Down!

As I'm cleaning up the house from what looks like a cheerio factory/Toys R Us simultaneous EXPLOSION, and thinking that exactly 18 months ago at this very moment, my body was doing miraculous things and I was pushing that baby out (or pushing a coconut through a tube of toothpaste, as I used to say). A year and a half ago! It feels both much longer and much shorter than that in my memory.

Do you remember as a kid wishing that you were just a little older so you could go to the movies with your friends by yourself, drive, go on dates, etc? And it seemed as though the clocks and calendars of the world were conspiring against you to move extra slowly.

And then suddenly one day, pop! Out comes a baby. And the exact opposite happens. The hands of the clock are suddenly hyper-caffeinated, flying around in circles so fast that you fear they may fly off and hit you in the face. I feel like I'm constantly wishing for one more minute, one more hour, one more day. But no amount of digging my heals in slows the time down.

I can only imagine that time's speed will double when we decide to go for baby #2. I'm going to be in a wheel chair, spying on my neighbors through the curtains and drinking nothing but prune juice before I know it.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sleepless Nights

Well we've had plenty of tales of cheerios here, I suppose it was time for some tales of sleepless nights.

Anna has bronchitis and pneumonia. And for the last 3 nights she hasn't slept if she hasn't been on my chest (though she did snuggle with hubby quite a bit last night).

For 3 nights in a row I've gotten less than 4 hours of sleep and I've suddenly remembered why it was so hard with a newborn baby. It wasn't the baby that was difficult, it was my inability to rationally function on so little sleep. That said, I feel like I've done a reasonable job of staying calm and alert (and still managing to get work and home stuff done during this past week).

I took her to the doctor on Wednesday and he ordered a chest xray. Ha. It was a wrestling match that required precision...and sandbags and LOTS of masking tape. Yep, they taped my poor kid to the table. I was pretty proud that she kept managing to wriggle free from whatever they tried to do to keep her still. My little one is a fighter.

She's been running a fever and has pretty much just lived on my shoulder for the last 3 days. I'd be lying if I didn't say I love all the sick baby cuddles I've gotten this week. I finally got her to eat a little chicken soup and drink some apple juice yesterday. We also got antibiotics yesterday.

And our house suddenly transformed into a scene from the Exorcist, complete with pure white medicine spraying from Anna's screaming mouth all over her bedroom wall, where it immediately began to harden.

I was so proud this morning because I got her to take some Motrin off of a spoon. It was unfortunately a tactic that only worked once and we are now back to the "pin 'er down and force it down 'er throat" approach. Not cool.

I had planned to write something else here too tonight, but I'm so tired that I can't remember what it was. Here's hoping she sleeps a little better tonight!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I'll Take "Naughty" for 1,000

The toddler who has managed to unroll more than 3 rolls of toilet paper in the last 48 hours.

Who is Anna?

If this was your answer, you are the winner of Toddler Jeopardy.

This has been both a fun and trying weekend. It seems as though Anna's already bug-sized attention span has gotten even shorter and now when she gets bored with something she goes looking for trouble. And if she can't find trouble, she creates her own. In the garbage can, under the sink, up or down the stairs, in the bathroom (though, thankfully not in the toilet...yet), you name it, she's tried it this weekend.

And it's not as though we get much warning. We'll be playing a nice game of stack up a tower and knock it down and she'll suddenly leave the room, shouting "bye!" as she goes. Before you can even get up to follow her, the toilet paper is out the bathroom door and around the corner, the cat is covered in Tinkerbell stickers and half the basket of clean and formerly folded laundry has been shoved back down the laundry chute. Ok, maybe not THAT bad, but you get what I mean.

The hitting has been a problem this weekend. She's been hitting me in the face, both when she's exhausted and when she's excited to see me. I've been telling her "no, hitting hurts!" and then asking her to say she's sorry. Except now I feel horribly guilty because she's been walking around all day apologizing for...well...I'm afraid she's apologizing for existing! Or maybe she doesn't understand what "sorry" means. But I think it's the former.

Her sense of humor cracks me up. She amuses herself to the point of giggles constantly, which of course sends me and hubby into fits of giggles of our own. It's a good thing. A really good thing. I'd get a lot more frustrated with her hijinx if the cuteness wasn't as prominent!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Fun at Betty Brinn Childrens Museum

On Thursday I took a vacation day and got to play mom all day long. Anna's daycare was taking a field trip to Betty Brinn Childrens Museum so my mom and I got to go along as chaperones.

BBCM is designed especially for little ones under the age of 10. Our favorite space to play was The Big Back Yard. It has a big sand table with lots of shovels and sifters, a gardening shed, a "vegetable garden" where kids can plant and pick cloth veggies, a slide, a bridge, rocking toys, foam blocks, magnetic pictures, etc. It's PERFECT for an 18 month old!

We were joking that Anna was the troll of the little bridge because she was getting very upset (loudly) at any other children trying to get near the bridge.

Once she discovered the slide she was content to play there for most of the morning. She and the other kids from daycare raced up the stairs and down the slide (and many tried to also race up the slide).

A little boy hopped into the apple truck with Anna shortly after I took this picture. He didn't speak English, but his mom did. She told me that he said he and Anna were going to drive together to Toronto and they would see us later. He was only about 3 or 4. Why Toronto? His mom didn't know.

I chaperoned this field trip last year as well. But that time, I was recently unemployed (I can't believe that was a year ago already!) and Anna was only 6 months old. She couldn't even sit up on her own yet, and now, just a little less than a year later, she was running around, trying out the exhibits and playing with her friends. I can't believe how much things change in just 12 months.

After having such a fun morning escaping the house (the snow and cold is not Anna's favorite and her formerly beloved "'side" is no longer a place she wants to visit very often), I've been wondering about other places around Milwaukee that would be good for us to check out. Toddler moms? I'm lookin' at you!