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Monday, February 27, 2006

Catching Up On Some Reading

Dear Daughter LOVES to read. Now she even asks for a book to read "While I wait for poopie to come!"

Well, I have a lot of writing to catch up if I can ever get the time lately. I have about three or four posts rolling around in my head that I can't find time to write. I may also be slowed down a bit with the fact that my photo posting site (zoto.com) has upgraded their services and now I can no longer use their free photoblogging feature. I will have to decide whether to move my photos to another provider or pay for the services. Blogger has photo posting capabilities, too, which they did not have when I first began this website over a year ago. However, there is limited space with Blogger, and I like to post a lot of photos, so it probably won't serve me well for the bigger picture. This website business is a lot like parenting young children; as soon as you figure it out, the rules all change. Sigh. Hopefully I'll get some posts caught up soon. For now I have Mommy duties to tend to....

Friday, February 24, 2006

Whatever It Takes

Dear Son appears to be following in his sister’s footsteps when it comes to napping. Dear Daughter never napped in her crib a day of her life until she was at least seven months old, and at that point it was still no easy feat.

There was no Babywising or Ferberizing Dear Daughter. She required nursing, holding, cuddling, and rocking until she was sound asleep and then ever-so-carefully be placed in the crib if there were any chance of a nap or a night of sleep happening. After being cuddled to sleep in the rocking chair, I had to ensure there were no creaking or squeaking noises when I lifted my derriere from the chair. If there were any noises, Dear Daughter would stir and threaten to open her eyes, which would be the kiss of death that would require starting all over. So there I would perch in mid-squat, frozen and holding my breath until I was reasonably confident she was not going to open those eyes. Then there was the tiptoe to the crib, and finally the very delicate task of lifting her over the crib rail and lying her down. If she stirred at this point, I had to freeze in whatever position I was in, even if my arm was pinned between her body and the mattress, and pray she would settle. Only then could I ever so carefully, in double slow motion, slide my arm out from under her and in stealth fashion tiptoe out of the room.

When Dear Daughter reached 8 or 9 months of age I discovered I sometimes had to take additional measures. If her eyes opened once she was laid in the crib, I learned to duck to the floor very quickly and hide behind the bumper until I didn’t hear movement and her breathing sounded just right. Only then did I dare lift my eyes over the top edge of the bumper to peek, and if it was safe, crawl on all fours out the door, just to be sure.

After sharing these tips with Grandma H, she shared with me one day how she had even gotten to the point of ducking to the floor and then carefully crawling out the door. When she reached the doorway and turned to look, there was her Dear Granddaughter watching her. As soon as Grandma was out the door, the crying began.

I tried Mr. Ezzo and Mr. Ferber’s approaches. They didn’t work for Dear Daughter. After eventually working up to back to back 45 minute sessions of crying it out, Dear Daughter still would not sleep, and I no longer felt humane. I thumb my nose at both Mr. Ezzo and Mr. Ferber’s approaches. In spite of the fact that they both suggest that a baby will not learn to sleep through the night if not made to follow their one-size-fits-all approaches, Dear Daughter has only required parental intervention to settle in the middle of the night a handful of times in her entire 2 ½ years of life. I hear horror stories from other parents that their 2 year old is still waking up several times a night and requiring help getting back to sleep.

Having a baby who loves to cuddle is a great blessing most of the time but terribly frustrating those times that I would like to peel myself away from the other half of the Velcro to do things like pee and sleep.

Looks like Dear Son may be following suit. I tried to put him in his crib to sleep as soon as he came home from the hospital. It never worked from day one. If he cannot be held the whole time he naps, he will at least accept his bouncy chair, which he insists having set on vibrating function. We go through a lot of batteries. Unlike Dear Daughter, who only napped in her swing for the first seven months of her life, Dear Son doesn’t like the swing. That’s just as well; at least I can set the bouncy chair in the crib. Perhaps that’s a step toward getting him to nap in the crib without it once he outgrows it.

On the flip side, Dear Son is already doing quite well sleeping through the night. He is generally up only once between 3:30 and 4:30 in the morning.

I have my own philosophy, which may not be as well written as Mr. Ezzo’s or Mr. Ferber’s, but it doesn’t require trying to force your child into a mold that doesn’t work and it doesn’t make a parent feel like a failure for not continuing to insist on the forcing. My philosopy is do what works, and figure it out as you go along--and always remember that the time is precious short.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Conflicts of Time

“Toddler Time” has a close companion most easily referred to as “Newborn Time.” The two of them, I’ve come to realize, don’t often complement one another, and at times have the potential to produce great stress. I often feel caught in the middle like one of those gel-filled stretch dolls from the 70’s. My brother had an Incredible Hulk one. You could pull each arm in opposite directions and it would stretch way out of shape but never quite break.

“Newborn Time” is most pointedly characterized by the “two-hour alarm.” This is when a newborn explodes like an army of fire trucks when s/he is hungry. It generally happens at two hour intervals around the clock for several weeks and then, thank God, tends to only happen once or twice in the middle of the night for the next few months until eventually the newborn turns into an infant and sleeps through the entire night. That is when “Infant Time” kicks in, but that’s another story for another day.

As for “Newborn Time,” I’m pretty certain that most newborn babies come with this pre-programming. This is one of only a couple things I boldly question God about. The other is why didn’t He design Daddies with the right equipment to share in the breastfeeding duties? It would sure make life easier for Mommies. All humbleness goes out the window when it comes to these two issues, and I dare suggest to God that He surely was not in His right mind when He designed newborns with two-hour alarms and forgot to give Daddies the right kind of breasts.

Newborns are in charge of the clock. That’s just how it is. Before you argue with me, rest assured, I read Babywise and tried it with Dear Daughter. It didn’t work. As soon as I tried to take charge of the time and conditioned her to into a three-hour alarm instead of a two-hour alarm during the daytime, she decided to embark on a power struggle by re-setting her nighttime alarm to three-hour function as well. Prior to this battle of wills, she had only been sounding the nighttime alarm once. Best to let them be in charge of the clock in the first place, I learned.

When Dear Son arrived, I glanced at the Babywise book sitting on my bookshelf, briefly considered reviewing it, then debated with myself whether to burn it or try to sell it on Ebay. Either way I knew that this time I would not mess with nature; I would accept that the Newborn is in charge.

Accepting “Newborn Time” is doable, especially when one reminds oneself that it is temporary. Of course, it also helps at this point to ignore the fact that “Infant Time” will follow with its own challenges. However, when one has a newborn and a toddler in the home at the same time, there is a whole new conflict.. I experienced this at its best yesterday while trying to get out the door with Dear Daughter to go shopping at the Stuff-Mart.

A new quirk has emerged at our house regarding “Toddler Time.” I think the saying goes something like, “Pee or get off the pot!” Forgive me for the rabbit trail I just cannot resist inserting at this time….

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Dear Daughter has been potty trained since 22 months of age, and soon after developed a fascination with public bathrooms. At certain public places, Dear Daughter would always ask to “go pee pee.” These places tended to include Daddy’s office, the Stuff-Mart, and Sears. As soon as Dear Daughter was potty trained, I purchased a folding potty seat with handles to use for these kinds of occasions. I despise public restrooms and could barely stomach the thought of sitting Dear Daughter on a public toilet. Her potty seat unfolds and fits on top of the public toilet, making the opening smaller and more sanitary, and has handles for her to hold onto. In addition to the germs, I despise the tiny toilet stalls in public restrooms. These are tough enough for the average sized woman to navigate. Add a toddler and about six months’ worth of pregnancy, and it’s nothing short of a circus act.

The last time we were at Sears to get Dear Daughter’s pictures taken she decided she had to “go pee pee.” On this particular day in the Sears restroom, I eventually managed to get my pregnant self and Dear Daughter wedged in the stall, potty equipment set up, and sit Dear Daughter upon the toilet (in-between constant orders to Dear Daughter not to touch anything as she busily explored the bacteria ridden cubicle). I sort of semi kneeled and squatted near her (not an easy feat when several months pregnant), supporting her as she teetered on the potty, wiping sweat from my brow and huffing and puffing from all the effort. This particular position, as I recall, was most uncomfortable and difficult to hold for long. Nevertheless, my darling oblivious toddler had all the time in the world. That’s how it works on Toddler Time, after all. She sat listening to the sounds of the public restroom, fascinated by all of them. Doors opened and shut, toilets flushed, water swished, and Dear Daughter was so distracted that she was unable to pee. Throughout the whole ordeal I tried to coax and plead the urine out of her to no avail. Giving up, I got Dear Daughter back off the potty, packed up the gear, wedged us both back out of the stall, got our hands washed, and still huffing and puffing, returned to the portrait studio where Dear Husband was trying to choose which poses to order from Dear Daughter’s photo shoot. Moments later Dear Daughter announced again, “Pee pee!” I pondered my options at this point. I could retrace all my steps with the restroom adventure or gamble on whether Dear Daughter would wet her pants. After repeating the whole ordeal twice, on the third try she finally managed to relieve her bladder.

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Dear Daughter still occasionally pulls this bathroom trick in public places and we never know when to take her seriously. Last Saturday I asked Dear Daughter if she needed to go potty before leaving home and coming with me to the Stuff-Mart. Dear Daughter didn’t hesitate to announce that she needed to go “poopie.” I thought to myself that I was very glad that I asked her before we left. The Stuff-Mart is one of those places with the restroom she likes to visit. Besides, it was about 20 degrees outside with a few inches of snow. I pictured a replay of the Sears ordeal, only this time with heavy coats and boots to wrestle with as well. Yes, I thought with satisfaction, I’m glad we are getting this out of the way before we leave.

Dear Husband set her on the potty and Toddler Time kicked in. Meanwhile, I had just finished nursing Dear Son, and the Newborn clock was ticking. Only an hour and a half left until the two-hour alarm would go off. Dear Daughter asked for a book to read while she “waited for the poopie to come.” Great. This was my first clue that we were about to have a conflict of time. The tension was mounting. The weekly trip to the Stuff-Mart tends to take at least an hour and a half from start to finish. Dear Son was staying home with Dear Husband while I took Dear Daughter shopping with me and now there was only one hour and 15 minutes before the two-hour alarm went off. I silently implored of God once again, “What were you thinking?!!”

The clock ticked…”poopie” didn’t come. All the begging, pleading, and cajoling of Dear Daughter to hurry it up only made things worse as she sat on her throne tearfully insisting she had to go (though nothing was happening) and begging me to wait for her. Indeed, Toddler Time and Newborn Time were anything but synchronized that day. The family-mobile was running in the driveway, coats and boots lay in wait to be put on, time ticked by, and still “poopie” didn’t come.

This time the story has a happy ending. Although I dare not try to take full control of Newborn Time, I can sometimes manipulate it. I snuck in another nursing for Dear Son while waiting for “poopie” to come. This can sometimes re-set the two-hour alarm, but it is not always successful. This time it worked. And while “poopie” never did come, neither did Dear Daughter request to visit the restroom at the Stuff-Mart.

Time has whole new meanings these days. Newborn Time tends to tick by too fast while Toddler Time often goes too slow. And not unlike the gel-filled Incredible Hulk doll, I often feel caught in the middle, pulled from both sides, and stretched thin.

Nanook of the North

Is it Zoe Grace or Nanook of the North? We weren't sure ourselves the other day. Zoe got to try out both her Heffalump coat and her Princess snowboots in the first semi-real snow of the year (about 4 inches worth).

She loves her coat and boots and to be all "bundled up." She wore the whole get up to the Stuff-Mart the other day and refused to remove her coat, hat or mittens the entire hour and a half that we were there. I did, however, convince her to put her hood down. She was met with a lot of smiles and comments such as "I bet you are warm!" from the other shoppers. My daughter has a way of making friends wherever she goes even though she never says a word or does anything to deliberately draw attention to herself.






Zoe had fun making "snow castles" in the driveway, but she didn't last long in the 8 degree temperature.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Another Birthday

Winter is a busy time at our house with lots of birthdays during and after the holidays as well as our wedding anniversary. This time it was Dear "Daddy's" birthday. He requested a cheesecake in lieu of the traditional birthday cake. However, Dear Daughter still got her tradition of blowing out the candles.

Dear Husband and Dear Son are sporting their "duckwear." Dear son's t-shirt was a gift from Aunt LeAnna, Uncle Scott, and the cousins. I can already feel the rise of testosterone in our home as Dear Son is groomed at an early age to become an Oregon Ducks fan.


First Baseball Cap

Here is Zachary in his first baseball cap, compliments of Great Aunt Pat and Great Uncle Ron.

He must like it, because he talked about it for awhile.














"I found my thumb!"

Two Months
























Here's Zoe at two months and Zachary at two months. At Zachary's two month doctor appointment he weighed in at 13 lbs and 8 oz and 23 1/2 inches long. We are wondering if he may have been mismeasured at birth as we are quite certain he has put on some lenght since birth.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tick Tock...STOP!

I held my precious eight week old baby son the other night and felt that wonderful awful bittersweetness once again. His tiny body was warm and snuggly against my chest and his baby breath was warm on my neck. Every so often a tiny contented sigh escaped his lips, and each time my own contented sigh followed. I reveled in the peacefulness of the moment. And then it struck me…hard.

Dear Daughter loved to be held and snuggled too. It was almost constant for the first two or so years of her life. Sometimes I felt like we were Velcro, she and I. There were periods of time that it felt like both a blessing and a curse. While I often longed to be able to hold her close and stop the clock and shut out anything else around me that required my attention, other times I wished she wasn’t so clingy so I could take a shower or do other necessary things that I preferred to do without a constant shadow.

For months and months I rocked her to sleep at night, cuddled her awake in the morning, snuggled her until she fell asleep at naptime, and held her for periods of time throughout the day. It seemed she could never get enough. Somewhere along the way she turned her current age of 2 ½ years, and things changed. She still occasionally pleads, “Mommy, ‘nuggle!” (This was the way she said “snuggle” from the time she could speak, and she still often says it this way even though she is more than capable of pronouncing the “s.”) But when I indulge her (and myself) in some cuddle time, the moment is much too short. She pauses only for a brief minute in my arms before running off to get busy with something else in her toddler world.

Yes, it struck me hard the other night as I held my baby boy close to my heart, and considered that awful tick tock of time that haunts me sometimes. My eyes brimmed with tears as I turned to my husband and said, “Two years will pass way too quickly once again!”

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Scattered

For the first time I can remember, I have Spring Fever. I usually hate Spring because it feels like a dreadful reminder that summer is just around the corner, and that means hot sticky weather. These days, I long for spring and warm days to be able to get out of the house with both the kids and play in the yard, go to the park, or just do some errands. I think if I could do those things I wouldn’t be feeling so…scattered.

Scattered is exactly how life feels these days…and it seems to be lingering about like a chronic condition. It is currently 2:30 in the afternoon. Dear Daughter just got settled for her nap a few minutes ago. It’s late to begin “naptime” for her, but as I’ve mentioned before, naptime is really a misnomer anymore. I just continue to keep it in the daily schedule so that Dear Daughter will stay accustomed to having it. I need her naptime like a long thirsty drink in the dog days of summer. It’s my revival time each day. I usually try to get her down for “naptime” by 1:00 or 1:30 these days, but things are just so…scattered. The days have grown long and boring…it’s hard to keep a schedule at all anymore when the days just blur together. We don’t get out much anymore—due in part to the challenge of carting around a newborn along with a toddler, and beyond that, the current seasonal temperatures in the 30 degrees rage makes it too cold for me to want to expose Dear Son. Getting out with Zoe had gotten rather simple the last few months before Dear Son was born. I would be sure to take her somewhere every day just to satisfy Dear Daughter’s longing to “go some places.” For the first several weeks after Dear Son was born I couldn’t care less about what was going on in the world outside the walls of my home. I was all about trying desperately to get enough rest so my abdomen would heal after the second round of cutting it open. I was so doped up from lingering pain medication and severe sleep deprivation that simply making a trip up and down the stairs or getting from the couch to the floor to play with Dear Daughter was exhausting and overwhelming. Eight weeks later I am sometimes painfully aware that there is a world outside the walls of my home and it is simply passing me by.

Dear Daughter got up around 8:00 am today, her usual. She was hanging out in her bed reading a book and waiting for me to come get her. She’s never in a hurry (as I described in my recent tirade about “Toddler Time"). Today she decided to skip her morning reading session with me and forgo the “hide and seek” in the blankets game. She was ready to get dressed and go have her usual 2 or 3 bowls of Rice Crispies. However, these days, once I get Dear Daughter dressed for the day it's typically time to change Dear Son again and nurse him before I can get Dear Daughter her breakfast. This usually does not bother her as long as I let the situations have the appearance of dawdling by her own choice. This is not difficult; as long as I am not corralling her or trying to hurry her along, she can find lots of distractions. This morning she decided to “ride” on the glider ottoman in Dear Son’s room while I changed him. She declared the ottoman to be her “pony” and pretended we were at the Stuff-Mart where she gets to ride the mechanical pony at the end of our shopping trip if she is well behaved. She was pleased as could be in her own little toddler world. It was nearly 9:00 before she began her breakfast. The day already felt scattered and off-schedule. While she worked on her first bowl of Rice Crispies, I threw together her favorite muffin mix and put the muffins in the oven. She finished off her second bowl of Rice Crispies before I pointed out to her that it was snowing outside. Of course, this led her into a tearful plea to “go outside.” My heart was torn. I wanted her to go outside and see the snow, which is a rare occurrence this winter, but I couldn’t leave Dear Son inside alone. I made a deal with Dear Daughter (making “deals” is one way I’ve learned to get her to compromise). I suggested that as soon as Zachary fell asleep we would go out to the deck for a few minutes and catch snowflakes and then we would come back in and have a muffin. This met with her satisfaction. She did not argue about coming back in, as she was excited to have a muffin hot from the oven.

By the time all this activity was over, it was nearly 10:00. Dear Daughter wasn’t interested in lunch until 1:00, and lunch happens before naptime. Thus, my long explanation as to why naptime is so late today and how that is contributing to things feeling so scattered.

Then came the next dilemma: how to use the precious time for revival today. A gazillion things ran across my mind and I couldn’t stop chasing them around in my thoughts long enough to figure out which one to latch onto and do. All the while there was the awareness that Dear Son could decide that he did not also want to be asleep during my “revival time.” Instead of wasting minutes debating on what to do with my precious time, I just started doing. I was again struck by how scattered things felt as I dumped a load of laundry in the washing machine and pondered how our dirty laundry could quadruple since adding a single 9 pound person to the family. Then I ran back up the stairs to scrub the hall bathroom. It’s the most used bathroom in the house these days and so the most dirty, and it had a peculiar smell going on that I just couldn’t ignore another day. Then I remembered the Valentine’s Day cards I needed to write so they would be ready to send whenever I can manage to pick up the most recent photos developed at the Stuff-Mart. All at once several more thoughts raced through my mind including a brief consideration of beginning to read a new book that my Dear Mother-in-Law sent me. But then I remembered that I have at least four other books to read that I’ve already started. I considered a couple tasks I need to complete in preparation for returning to work next week, but those were easy to push to the bottom of my thought pile. Then I had another brief argument with myself over whether to attempt to get on the treadmill for some exercise. This recurring argument goes something like this: Voice number one says, “Maybe you should get on the treadmill—after all you’ve been complaining a lot about wanting to get rid of that 20 extra pounds you are sporting since Dear Son came along.” Voice number two replies, “Ugh! By the time I get into my workout clothes I will have 30 minutes to run and then I will have to shower again. During that hour, Dear Son will surely wake up and fuss. He will definitely need to nurse again in the middle of it all, and I may not even get a shower even if I make it through a 30 minute run. That sounds like way too much hassle.” Then voice number one chimes back in, “Yeah, you’re right. Besides, remember how you ran several miles a day several times a week for a good year and only lost two pounds-and then mysteriously gained back four pounds as soon as you stopped running for a few weeks?” There was no more thought put into getting onto the treadmill, but I did ponder for a few minutes the fact that apparently my world had gotten so scattered that even my mental status was splitting and I was now hearing two voices.

I decided to do what I often do to regain my grounding lately: I decided to blog. And as I review the words I’ve spent on this post, it also feels scattered. I know this is just another chapter in life as I know it. I am feeling quite torn. I’m ready to go back to work, especially because it’s on such a limited basis. I think I am returning to only about four clients and I will be starting over to build up my clientele. It’s so hard to work and be a Mommy, and yet I am deeply blessed to not have to choose. I get to be a full time Mommy and work just enough to feel like I’m attached, if only by a thread, to my career. Part of me longs to be able to throw myself into my work. There are conferences and trainings I would love to attend, a past employer has offered me a job opportunity for the fourth time since I left his place of work during my maternity leave with Zoe, and the college keeps asking me to return and teach for them again. I hate turning all those things away, but at the same time I hate to be away from my babies even for the brief time I do spend working. Of course, I would likely also be working on my doctorate degree if I weren’t spending my time being a mommy. I feel sad for brief moments when I think of what I’m turning away, but then I try to remind myself that I don’t HAVE to pick and choose what work I take on; I GET to pick and choose. How many people can say that? I know this time with my babies is precious short. The other stuff may be a good investment of my time, but not a better investment than the two little lives I’ve been blessed to have charge of. And so I spend my current days, mostly confined inside the walls of my warm home. Toys are scattered about, endless piles of laundry tend to be scattered throughout the bedrooms and bathrooms, all my unread books remain scattered throughout the house, and my thoughts remain as scattered as the tasks I manage to complete on my “to-do” list. And yet, as I listen to Dear Daughter singing and talking to herself instead of napping, and I look at Dear Son snoozing peacefully in his bouncy chair, I’m overwhelmed with the realization that regardless of how scattered my thoughts and surroundings feel, my priorities are in perfect order.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Cabin Fever

Zoe and I have both been having some cabin fever on long cold days inside. I've been trying to find new and fun things to entertain us all.
Friday I decided to fill up her "jumping bean house" with balloons...

...Zoe had fun squirming and rolling and jumping...

...and burying herself in balloons...




...while Zachary contemplated how goofy the whole ordeal was.

Siblings?



Here's another picture of Zachary and Zoe, each when they are 7 weeks old. I'm seeing some resemblence....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

New Pics!

I felt bad enough about it being so long since I took new pictures that I decided to take a few right away and download and post them. Here's Zachary waving "Hi!"

I forgot that Dear Husband took some pictures of my birthday "party." Here's the cake that my mom and dad had made. Note the holes where Dear Daughter stuck the candles. It's become tradition that she gets to blow out candles on whomever's cake is present for whatever celebration is at hand.

Dear Daughter is all about the "big black spoon" that she is preparing to eat the cake with.

Figuring Out Family

Dear Daughter wanted to wear her slippers the other day. As I was putting them on her, she said, "Mom gave these to me." I said, "No, Grandma gave those to you." She said, "And you call her Mom." So we had a discussion about Grandma being my "Mommy." A few days later my mom was over for a visit, and she wanted to call her mom (my grandma and Zoe's great grandma) so she could hear Zoe sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Later that evening Zoe gave a long explanatory narrative about how how "Great Grandma L is 'Regular Grandma's' Mommy and 'Regular Grandma' is Mommy's Mommy and Mommy is Zoe's Mommy." It's amazing that she gets all that.

Sorry, no new pics this time. It's amazing how challenging it gets to keep up on picture and video taking when you add a second child to the mix. I will work on that, lest little Zachary have huge gaps in his recorded history...newborn--then walking--then kindergarten--then high school graduation. I think Dear Daughter had a daily photo shoot. No wonder she's such a "Princess!"