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 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.