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Sunday, January 29, 2006

"CHEESY!"

Here's Dear Daughter working hard on her Valentine's wishes. She is sporting her best "Cheesy!" grin. No time to share more right now...just wanted to offer a quick pic.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Law and Lack of Order

A few stolen moments…Dear Daughter is chatting happily in her bed (naptime is a misnomer these days) and Dear Son is pleased for the present and snoozing peacefully in his bouncer chair. The demands for my attention are many, but today, I decided, I need to treat myself to the release this blog writing often affords me. All my life I’ve aspired to be a professional writer and even obtained a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. However, I never wanted to engage in journalism or stoop to the levels that writing for the media often require one to stoop. I wasn’t well prepared during my undergraduate studies for how to get work as a “creative writer.” And…upon completing my degree I entered the world of the “starving new college graduate” facing the realities of real bills and paying student loans. Sure, I had a brief stint as an editor for a timber trade publication while living in Idaho. It was a bit lacking in the creative side I longed for, and tended to bend a little too much toward the journalism side for my taste, but I figured it was a start. When the project to which I was assigned lost its funding, I went the route of a stable job with good benefits. This was far from the route of a “starving artist” of the aspiring writer type. I couldn’t support myself with a freelance article here and there, and quite honestly, I’ve never wanted to write a novel. So I settled to write for fun, passion, and release. People throughout my life have asked my why I don’t “do more” with my writing. Two reasons at this stage of my life…no, actually three reasons: 1) I don’t know how to get started and 2) don’t presently have the time to figure it out. 3) I’ve gone a different route in my career in order to bring in some more reliable bacon and fulfill another passion I have: to help others achieve optimal mental health (ha!). Currently, I settle for the creative release this blog affords me. Granted, it’s just rough ramblings of the current state of things in my life as a mother, but I once had a much admired high school English teacher who encouraged me to “Write, and write often” simply to keep the creative juices flowing. She also told me that if I don’t “do something with my writing, she will haunt me.” Indeed, the fact that I remember her and her comment so well tells me that she is haunting me. Maybe someday I will have the time and energy to figure out how to “do more” with my writing or maybe someone will stumble across my path and be able to guide me in just what to do to get started. For now, I have to settle for stolen moments for some rough ramblings.

I’ve taken a reprieve for several days as I’ve been a bit distracted. I hadn’t intended on returning to work quite so quickly, but I’ve been shaken out of my “post-partum slumber” (what a terribly inaccurate reference to the realities of my present state of sleep deprivation) by the issuance of a subpoena. Six weeks post-partum, hormones raging, severely sleep deprived, and exhausted by the demands of being a Mommy to a toddler and a newborn…and sadly, completely ignorant to the legal system. I hate law, politics, and trying to comprehend things like the ins and outs of insurance policies and tax rules. That’s why I studied creative writing and classical piano the first time around in college, and then, when I realized I couldn’t pay any bills with those particular talents, re-trained in graduate school to be a professional counselor. None of these things involved having to understand or deal very much with all that dry, yucky stuff I mentioned above.

Now, the best news of all is that while I’ve been subpoenaed for an issue related to my work as a professional counselor, I am not named as a party in the litigation, but I am simply being dragged in as a witness. Did I say simply? HIPAA, and the laws therein, fall too closely under the umbrella of “dry, yucky stuff” that I despise trying to comprehend. Nonetheless, I have studied the laws of HIPAA, knowing I couldn’t afford not to in my profession. I even completed some continuing education credits for my studies in the area. Nevertheless, I feel woefully unprepared. While confident I conducted myself appropriately throughout the time I was involved as the plaintiff’s therapist, it did involve my having to legally break confidentiality as a mandated reporter and it was a “sticky” situation. And…I despise lawyers in general about as much as I despise the “school” of law. I’ve seen colleagues go through legal proceedings and be completely raked over the coals and thoroughly rattled by lawyers regardless of how competent they are as LPCs and Psychologists. My hormones can’t deal with being attacked like that at this present time. I will either end up a bawling mess, or become even more bold and brazen than I already am in a natural, non-raging-hormonal state as I defend myself. Why, indeed, should I have to be prepared to “defend myself” when I am not the one on trial? I just know this is how lawyers work, and I’ve seen it happen to others. I have too much else going on in my life right now to deal with getting dragged into depositions and court proceedings and having to research and consult, consult, consult, about how to CYA on issues such as when I can be forced to give testimony, how much to say, and when my treatment notes can be pulled into the mix.

Thank you to my Dear Mother-in-Law, from whom I just received a card in the mail today. She sent me a couple scriptures that are encouraging, even though she does not know (until now) that I am facing this.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch forth Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me. The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy and loving-kindness, Oh Lord, endure forever-forsake not the work of Your own hands.” Psalm 138:7-8

“And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He defer them and delay help on their behalf?” Luke 18:7


On the “Mommy front,” handling two “babies” is apparently becoming second nature. It doesn’t seem nearly so hard as it did a few weeks ago, though not easy, mind you. Dear Daughter no longer bats an eye at her Dear Brother’s crying. Dear Daughter also seems to become much more patient and less demanding. We’ve dealt with a few fits and meltdowns along the way, but she’s learning. A couple time outs in her bedroom with the door shut and an egg timer set to make her wait when she whines and demands and carries on have been helpful in that realm. Currently, I am trying to put a positive spin on “time outs,” encouraging Dear Daughter that it can be a good thing to take a break before losing her temper, and suggesting she go to her room to sing a song or read a book and then come back out when she feels better. I told her that Mommy was going to “take a break” too when I need one. While we discussed this, lying in her bed one night with the lights out, she sweetly reminded me that Daddy might also need to do this sometimes. She is a good little “policer.” Another example of her “policing” is when she has wanted to go play with toys in the neighbor’s yards and I’ve told her “that’s not yours” and told her she needs to ask someone before playing with their things. Later, at the grocery store, I put something in the cart and Dear Daughter serenely stated, “Mommy, that’s not yours.”

Dear Daughter has kind of befriended a slightly older little girl across the street who is about 4 years old. This neighbor girl sometimes likes to play with Zoe and sometimes looks at her like she’s an alien. This neighbor girl’s name is Autumn, but that is a new word for Zoe, so she calls Autumn “Ottoman,” which is not a new word for Zoe. We happen to have an ottoman in front of our couch. Those are the times that Autumn looks at Dear Daughter like she’s an alien. Poor Zoe hasn’t had a lot of opportunities to learn social skills yet, and I’m working on that. She hasn’t had siblings, and has no cousins or other young family peers close by to interact with, she’s not in daycare. The only peer social interaction she gets is in the church nursery. When she meets another child, she doesn’t know how to conduct herself. The other day Dear Husband was outside playing with her and a different little neighbor girl about 3 ½ years old came running to meet Zoe, and Zoe ran the opposite direction towards her daddy shrieking in fear, “Hold me! Hold me!” Dear Husband was embarrassed as he tried to reassure Dear Daughter that this was just a little girl, and she didn’t have to be afraid.

I’ve tried to teach Dear Daughter that when another little girl approaches her, she could say hi and tell her her name. The second time that “Ottoman” visited us in our driveway, Dear Daughter waited until “Ottoman” had talked with me a few minutes and was walking away before she peeked out from behind my legs and leaned toward her and shouted, “My name is Zoe Grace!” Ah well, she’s beginning to get it…sorta.

We’re also working on putting boundaries around the newfound skill of nose picking. Dear Daughter used to simply announce loudly, “I’ve got dried goobers!” I taught her the word “goober” instead of “booger” because I thought it sounded a bit better. Now she has learned how to stick her finger up there and twirl it around. She practiced this new skill the entire time we shopped at the stuff mart the other day. I kept trying to get her to take her finger out of her nostril, telling her it wasn’t polite to do that in public, but she continued to twirl away. Later, we talked about this lying in her bed at night. This seems to be where and when we have our deepest and most serious conversations. She reminded me to discuss it with her because she had that finger rammed up her nosed again. I told her that it’s okay to pick her nose at home or in her bedroom but it’s not okay to do it around other people or when we are at the store, like the stuff mart. She pondered this while her little finger twirled away. Then she sat up as if a light bulb went on inside her head. The little finger never stopped twirling as she announced, “But I can pick my nose in my room!”

Great. I’m going to have a daughter that is a chronic nose-picker, and a son that can’t stop farting, loudly—I might add. So much for being parents of “popular” kids at school someday. I just hope they can go on in life to have a friend or two and eventually maybe a date with the opposite sex.

As long as I’m rambling on a variety of topics, I will also share that Dear Son began smiling and cooing a couple weeks ago. It’s a relief when the little personality begins to emerge from a newborn. Sometimes those grins and coos are just enough to take the edge off of a rough night or a fussy day…or the fear that he’ll never outgrow the compulsive farting stage.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

One Month

Here's Zachary at one month. I looked up Zoe's one month picture for comparison. She was so petite and still wearing preemie clothes. Zachary is filling out his three month clothes already.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Toddler Time

Toddler Time, I’ve realized, is different from Parent Time, Adult Time, Eastern Time, Central Time, Pacific Time, Tea Time, or any other “time” that I can think of. When you are running late, this is especially frustrating. When I am trying to get Dear Daughter ready to go somewhere in the mornings, the routine requires helping her get out of bed, get dressed, have breakfast, go potty, brush her teeth and hair, gather up the “fishies” snacks and sippy cup, and put on her jacket/coat and shoes.

Getting out of bed is the first challenge. Dear Daughter often likes to lounge around for an inordinate amount of time, burrowing in the blankets and pretending to be a bear in a cave or just playing “hide and seek” (my job being to repeatedly “seek” her as she repeatedly “hides” under the covers). When we finally get past that and she agrees to get dressed she likes to run around in circles, or sometimes all over the entire upstairs level of the house after each article of sleeping clothing is removed and before each article of daytime clothing can be placed on her wiggly body. She likes to do this running around half-dressed antic while slapping her belly (or whatever bare part is exposed) and squealing, “I’m naked! I’m naked!”

When we finally accomplish the task of getting dressed we begin the trek to the kitchen for breakfast. First, we have to gather up “Taggie and Balnkie” and then we have to do the typical “toddler tricks” on the way down the stairs. This involves finding new and interesting ways to descend the staircase. Sometimes it’s sitting on her bottom and sliding stair by stair; sometimes it’s hopping one stair at a time; sometimes it’s sitting down on the stairs to pet and harass the geriatric cat (who just happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time). Saying things like, “C’mon, let’s go!” or “C’mon, Zoe, don’t you want to go shopping? (or whatever activity we’re trying to get out of the house for)” does not seem to help. Dear Daughter either ignores the question, or insists that she does indeed want to do the activity, though it bears no influence on her “toddler tinkering.” We make it to the kitchen and she typically requests Rice Crispies or some other cold cereal, followed by fussing and whining about how it’s not getting “squishy” enough for her. I’ve learned to pour an extra bowl of cereal to sit and get “squishy” while she eats the first bowl. She often has multiple bowls of cereal in between playing with her spoon, flinging milk around, and drawing pictures on the table with the spilled droplets. Reminding her that we are in a hurry to get going still does not register, or matter for her. I’ve realized that in Toddler Land, only the immediate presenting activity matters. If that activity is drawing pictures in the spilled milk, then that activity receives full toddler attention and effort, and no amount of parental effort can break through the toddler attention “force field.”

Following breakfast, Dear Daughter manages to immediately get involved in some toddler activity like “spelling” words with the letter magnets on the fridge, pretending to cook a birthday cake with the pots and pans, or harassing the geriatric cat some more. She has to complete the activity to her full appreciation before she will agree to transition to the task of going potty and brushing her teeth and hair. Meanwhile, I find myself standing at the bathroom sink saying “C’mon, Zoe! Let’s get your teeth brushed” repeatedly, which does no good until she is good and ready anyway, due to the above described toddler attention “force field.” Saying things like, “We won’t be able to go if you’re not ready on time” only agitates her to whine and carry on about how she does indeed want to participate in the said activity, which then only distracts her for a few moments from the toddler activity that she still has to finish first, and thereby serves to delay our progress even further.

When Dear Daughter finally places her toddler attention on brushing her teeth, the activity involves multiple toddler steps not found in the adult rendition of brushing one’s teeth. First, Dear Daughter has to splash in the water a bit, grab a cup and fill it up with water and dump it (usually in the sink), insist on putting the toothpaste on her toothbrush herself, use the toothbrush as a tool to fling more water onto the counter and mirror, chew on the toothbrush (hands-free) while squirming and climbing up and down her step stool, and make faces at herself through the water-splashed mirror.

Once we complete the grooming and hygiene tasks, hustling Dear Daughter across the house to the front door to don shoes and jacket is also challenging as we have to cross by many distractions, such as toys, the television (which prompts her to request being able to “watch a show” and suggest that we pause to let her watch the “show” of her choice before we proceed to the errand or activity at hand), and the geriatric cat again. The adults have to have their shoes and coats on and have all the necessary toddler (and now newborn) implements necessary for an outing packed and ready before wrestling shoes and jacket on Dear Daughter so that as soon as she is ready, we can hustle her out the door, lest she get herself involved in another toddler activity before we can get her out the door.

Toddler Time, I’ve decided, requires an adjustment like Daylight Savings Time. It would work to counteract Toddler Time by adding an extra hour or two as needed whenever a parent needs it to get their Toddler out the door on “time.”

Monday, January 16, 2006

Do Chickens Have Fingers?

My Darling Daughter is such a crack up. We had a big family day today since Dear Hubby had an extra holiday from work. We took Dear Daughter (and Dear Son, though he isn't old enough to care) to the Wonders of Wildlife museum (click the link if you are curious). We purchased season passes late last summer as Dear Daughter enjoyed it so much. It's a nice activity if it's cold or hot outside. We are getting back into the running-around-with-a-newborn groove. Today it went something like this:

8:00: everyone up (Dear Son and Dear Husband had alread been up awhile as Dear Son was doing his usual need-to-break-lots-of-wind fussies); get Dear Daughter dressed
8:15: feed Dear Son
8:30: everyone has breakfast
9:00 am: Dear Husband gets a shower
9:30 am: get my own shower
10:00 am: get all the baby and toddler gear together that is required for an outing. This includes Dear Daughter's potty insert for using public toilets, her goldfish snacks and juice cup, her beloved taggie book, a bib in case we stop for lunch, Dear Son's diapers (lots of 'em), a complete change of clothes including extra onesie and socks in case of a "blowout," burp rag, blanket, changing pad, wipes, stroller......
10:15 am: get everyone loaded up and pull out of the driveway; contemplate with Dear Husband whether I need to stay out in the car and nurse the baby when we get there or just wait until he screams and either try to find a discreet nursing place or return to the car
10:30 am: Dear Son starts screaming to be fed when we pull into the parking lot; I stay out in the car to nurse him while Dear Husband and Dear Daughter head in.
11:00 am: I go to find Dear Husband and Dear Daughter inside the musem
12:00 pm: change Dear Son's diaper; leave museum and stop at baby supply store to buy some gripe water for Dear Son (I've heard it is really good to calm a gassy baby; I'll let you know); promise Dear Daughter that we are on our way to Applebee's (her favorite restaurant) so she can have some "ketchup with french fries on top."
12:30 pm: park in a remote area of parking lot, climb into back seat of the van to get fussy Dear Son out of his car seat and nurse him again before he drives us all batty with his screaming; promise Dear Daughter it will be "her turn" soon to get her french fries (thereby avoiding a big toddler meltdown); stop at the vet's office to get the geriatric cat his blood pressure meds and potassium and iron supplements
12:45 pm: change Dear Son's diaper again while waiting in the van for Dear Husband to come back out of the vet's office (what's the saying... "Shit happens?")
1:00 pm: get to Applebee's; take Dear Daughter to the bathroom to go "pee pee" and finally get our lunch
1:30 pm: Dear Son starts fussing again and needs to be held; Dear Hubby and I take turns as we try to eat our lunches one-handed and simulataneously try to prevent Dear Daughter from dumping the milk out of her cup into her lap
2:00 pm: finish lunch (this is much later than we usually manage to get lunch, but doing things on a newborn time schedule takes much longer what with all the stops for nursing and changing diapers); debate with Dear Hubby about whether we can make it home before Dear Son demands to be fed again; decide to "go for it" and drive home

Let me say this, minivans are great when you have young kids. I have been able to climb from the front seat, inbetween the middle seats, and to the very back seat to get Dear Son out of his car seat and nurse and change him in the very back seat. How we ever did this stuff with Dear Daughter before we had the minivan is beyond me.

So...as we were sitting in the parking lot as I nursed Dear Son at 12:30, Dear Daughter began howling about going to Applebee's. Poor thing was hungry, I am sure. It was already past lunch. We gave her our talk about waiting her turn and not having a fit. She shaped up pretty quick, lest she lose the privilege of getting her "ketchup with french fries on top." While we waited for Dear Son to finish nursing, we talked to Dear Daughter about what she wanted to eat for lunch besides french fries...a cheeseburger or chicken fingers? She stated she wanted chicken fingers. Then she paused a moment while contemplating this and tossed out this question, "Do chickens have fingers?" How do you respond to such a logical question coming from a toddler? It reminded me of that commercial a few years ago about the chicken nuggets...something about what part of the chicken do the nuggets come from?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Heffalump

Dear Daughter LOVES the new purple coat G Uncle Ron and G Aunt Pat sent her. We thought she would get to wear it yesterday as the forecast speculated on some snow. But no such luck, and today it is back to 60 degrees. The minute Dear Daughter put on her new coat, she had to run to the bathroom and climb up on the stool to look in the mirror. She spontaneously stated, "I'm an elephant!" Later when Dear Daddy came home from work, she couldn't wait to try it on for him and then revised her statement to, "I'm a heffalump!" (which is the elephant-like creature in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, in case anyone doesn't know). She then had to wear the coat around the house for awhile and pretend to be a heffalump. We hope she gets a chance to wear it outside this year, although we are not sure how we will cram her into her carseat with it. Perhaps she will also be able to wear it next year. Hmmm....That's what I thought when I bought her a largish 24-month-size winter coat last year, and this year it has been a bit snug (which apparently was the impetus for G Uncle Ron to decide Zoe needed a new one).

Thank you, G Uncle Ron and G Aunt Pat! Zoe is also enamored by the "critters," which is what she calls the little teenie beenies you sent, and the outfits for both the kids are adorable as well. Leave it to G. Aunt Pat to find cute little boy clothes (complete with adorable shoes). I didn't think cute little boy clothes existed, but a few adorable little boy outfits have come our way, so while they aren't as easy to find as adorable little girl clothes, I have decided they do exist afterall.

Gas

We figured out several days ago that Dear Son's fussies can primarily be blamed on gas. Dear Son is showing his gender loud and clear (Ha!). What is it about males and "passing wind"? Dear Daughter struggled with gas in the early weeks too, but she rarely brought up even a dainty little burp. Dear Son gets madder than a hornet until he's finally able to blow the roof off the house, followed by a big gratifying poop. This process usually begins about 4:30 am and extends sometimes until 9 or 10 am. The entire household is finally relieved when he finally relieves hinself. I do hope this is a short-lived phase.

We've finally gotten to the point with Dear Daughter that the poop discussions are subsiding. I wonder if, thanks to our return to the newborn and infant stages, we will find ourselves back there again? (click here for the original reference to this topic)

Yes, even without the obvious external genitalia, I would know this child is most definitely ALL BOY! Thank goodness for Mylicon--it doesn't solve the problem, but at least it takes the edge off!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Adjusting

Dear Daughter is adjusting well to the addition of her Dear Brother. I frequently think she is adjusting better than I am. We've been telling her from the beginning that "Babies just cry." Last Friday, Dear Son "just cried" all day long. Fuss fuss fuss fuss. I was at my wit's end by late afternoon, which Dear Daughter could sense. She has always been very in tune to what is going on with me. While I was frazzled to the max, Dear daughter appeared relatively unfazed. "It's okay, Mommy," she reassured me, "sometimes babies just cry." I looked at her with disbeleif and pride. My two-year-old...giving me a pep talk.

I have tried very hard to keep her routine the same as BZ (before Zachary). For example, I still read her stories at bedtime and snuggle with her for a few minutes after turning out the light. A few times I've had to cut the routine short to manage Dear Son's needs, but I try to never skip the routine for Dear Daughter. When I do have to hurry it up to tend to Dear Son, I feel bad to cut Dear Daughter short. I try not to "blame" it on Dear Son, but when he's been crying and Dear Daughter knows it, I will sometimes tell her I need to go take care of Zachary. I am sensitive to what I say and how I say it because I don't want her to resent him or feel second choice. The other night I was tucking her into bed and I was NOT in a hurry. Dear Son wasn't crying, and I didn't feel rushed. I barely finished reading Dear Daughter her beloved stories and turned out the light when she said to me, "Can you go take care of Zachary?" That's when it hit me (not for the first time, I must admit) that my snuggles with her are sometimes more about my needs than her needs. I just want to hold onto her forever. God help her when she decides she doesn't "need" Mommy to squeeze her and kiss her anymore!

Yes, Dear Daughter seems to be adjusting just fine. And while my adjustment may be taking a bit longer, as long as I take my cues from her, I at least feel inspired that I will get there, too.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

They Lost the Photos

Zachary Noah's hospital photos have finally been recovered. We were told 5-7 days was how long to wait before we would receive them in the mail. Meanwhile, Dear Husband (who is MUCH more patient and tolerant than I) convinced me to be patient and wait. Afterall, it was the Holidays, he said...and mail would be slowed down. The hospital web nursery also did not have the photos posted. Finally, I could wait no longer. I called to complain that we'd not received the photos, nor were the web nursery photos posted. It was January 2nd, by the way, when I finally placed this complaint. I'd been plenty patient. "We have no record of them." The lady at the other end of the line said curtly. Then I was placed on a long hold. When the unpleasant woman returned to the phone, she said, "We need 72 hours to research this. Sometime after 72 hours, we will contact you." Oh brother!

Seems they've finally "found" the photos now that Zachary is almost a month old. At any rate, click here on "Zachary," and you'll be linked to the web photos.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Lowering My Standards

I shoveled out a spot on the couch to plop down and write a quick post. Toddler toys, burp rags, the past 10 days of mail, cracker crumbs, and dirty clothes all went flying. I considered picking everything up and one by one finding a home for it all, but I decided to let it go. After all, I do well to get 30 minutes a day to myself these days. Today, I apparently wanted to spend it writing a post to my blog, a therapuetic outlet for me.

Those who know me very well (and some who only sorta know me) are likely to know what a perfectionist I am. If you were ever at my house pre-Zoe days, you might have commented on how clean my house was. Especially if you were one of my friends with kids. At the time I did not fully understand what all the hype was about. I just liked my house clean. I didn't understand about goldfish cracker crumbs ground into the carpet or juice stains on the floor, or just toys, toys, toys everywhere and never being able to keep up on putting things back in their respective places. Now I understand. My friends don't come to my home and comment anymore about how spotless it is. Some days it gets to me. Those are the days when I'm well enough rested to 1) notice 2) give a hoot.

The other day I put on my professional counselor hat and reminded myself of the advice I once gave a client: that a less than spotless home at that particular stage in her life indicated that her priorities were likely in the proper order and to give herself a break. Sometimes it's hard to take our own advice. Nevertheless, I try to remind myself lately that a cluttered home at this point in my life reflects that my priorities are in the right order. Paying attention to my kids, napping when the moment allows it, and giving myself some permission for down time are all more important at this stage of my life than being able to eat my breakfast off the floor. Although, if I wanted to, there are probably enough cracker crumbs on the carpet to provide a solid breakfast should I decide to partake.