Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Is she active? Do fish swim?

Yesterday, Loaf had her three-year check-up. In the morning, I prepped her for the visit, explaining that the doctor would look in her eyes and ears, listen to her heart and weigh and measure her.

I also explained that she would likely get a shot and that it would be a little pinch in her arm and not to worry about it too much. She listened and seemed to take my advice. On the way into the doctor’s office, she bounded up the stairs.

“I love the doctor! It’s my favorite place!” she happily declared.

Oooooh-kay, I thought. We’ll see how you feel about the doctor in about half an hour.

After a blessedly short wait were sent into the examining room. The doctor entered soon thereafter and started her exam.

When Loaf was born, I thought she was going to be the bigger child. She was born slightly bigger than Peanut and for a short time stayed in the 75th percentile for height, but since then she’s settled in the 10th-25th percentiles for both height and weight. I shouldn’t be surprised; I’m not exactly a giant.

Then the doctor and I started talking. We chatted about Loaf’s speech, which is always a concern for me. Even though every doctor and speech therapist we’ve spoken to has essentially told us not to worry, the fact that she is behind her peers in this area does worry me. But that is another post for another day.

While we talked, Loaf:

• Climbed on and off the examining table 27 times
• Rolled from one end of the examining table to the other
• Stood on the examining table and “jogged” in place in order to hear the white sanitary paper crinkle under her feet
• Laid on the examining table and waved her arms and legs in the air like a turtle in distress

Then the doctor asked, with a completely serious tone and look on her face, “Is she active?”

Hellllooo?!? Aren’t doctor’s supposed to be a little more observant than that?

"Um, yeah," I answered, nodding my head toward Loaf, who was trying to figure out how to unroll more of the sanitary paper onto the table. "Pretty much always."

Later, Loaf got her shot, during which she did not cry but did shout out, "OUCH!," while giving the doctor a rather pissed off look like, "What the eff, dude?" When it was over, I took her around the corner and bought her a strawberry milkshake.

"Do you still like the doctor, Loaf?" I asked.

"She OK," she answered. "But this," referring to the ice cream parlor, "is my favorite place."


Wordless Wednesday: Spring lambs


They were SO soft

Petting the baby lamb

Is this just the sweetest thing ever?


And of course the members of my little flock:

Checking out the lambs

At the farm

Click here to see more great Wordless Wednesday posts.

NOTE: I know, I've been slacking on posting lately. Life has been crazy and when things are crazy the part of my brain responsible for coming up with witty, interesting posts locks up. I promise I'll try to be better. But for now - happy Wordless Wednesday!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A birthday story

Three years ago, I walked into the Labor & Delivery ward of my local hospital with a swollen belly, an overnight bag and an prodigious amount of anticipation. It was around 6 a.m.

I was pregnant with my second child – a child whose sex was unknown – and a stewpot of emotions swirled within me: excitement, happiness, guilt (at dethroning Peanut from her 20-month reign as center of our universe), fear.

Fear because my first pregnancy ended in a c-section and I was, with my OB’s blessing, going to attempt a V-BAC (that’s vaginal birth after cesarean for those of you not in the know).

It had the potential to be a whole new experience. Would I be able to do it? Would the baby be OK? (V-BACs carry some measure of risk, but for that matter, so do c-sections). Would it hurt?

But I was determined because even back then I had a strong sense that this was our last baby and I wanted to experience birth through the body’s natural door (mind you, that does not mean “natural” birth. When it comes to birthing, I am all about the epidural. I’m in complete awe of women who go without it.) The nurses checked us in, got us settled. My doctor confirmed I was in labor and “well on my way.”

A few hours and an epidural later I was ready to push. I had the most fabulous nurse-coach. She was exactly as supportive and encouraging as she needed to be. She gave me the direction and focus I needed, even talking me into using a mirror (something I NEVER thought I’d want to do) to see the progress of my pushing.

I watched – totally transfixed - as the top of my baby’s head appeared for ever increasing moments. There was nothing else in the world that mattered than the top of that head. It gave me the strength and stamina to keep pushing, knowing that each exertion brought me closer to meeting the child who’d been wriggling around in my womb for the last nine months.

And then, suddenly the nurse woke me from my reverie with a firm, “STOP!”

My little L&D room suddenly became a bustle of activity as everyone prepared for the birth of my baby. At that moment, everyone had a job to do. Everyone but me. I was told, most clearly, to just lie back and NOT do anything, especially push. It was surreal.

My mind danced around the idea of meeting our baby – of finally knowing if it was a boy or girl. Of cradling him/her in my arms right away this time instead of only getting a glimpse before she was shuffled off while my lower half was endlessly sewn back together.

Finally, we were ready. The doctor assumed his “catcher’s position,” the mirror was repositioned and I was told to give it one more push. And with that, I got my first glimpse at our baby’s face.

“STOP!” the doctor said while he suctioned her, but before he could even finish, she just literally slid the rest of the way out.

I can still remember the nurse’s shout of, “Oh my, she just delivered herself," followed by, "it's a girl!"

And just like that, Loaf was born in a manner that was a prefect prelude to her inability to wait, her total lack of patience and her leadership.

That said, she is my snuggler. My sweet girl who nuzzles into me several times a day and still bursts into our room a couple of nights a week just to be close to us. She is tenacious and calculating – a problem solver. She has a million-watt infectious smile and gives the best sloppy kisses of anyone I know.

She’s at times an instigator (she knows how to push her big sister’s buttons and loves to do it) and at others the most fragile and sensitive girl in the world. She is Peanut’s best friend and worst enemy and I don’t think either could survive long term without the other.

She found a way to make our hearts even bigger, our family stronger and our love more complete.

Happy birthday, Loaf! We are so blessed to have you!

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Wordless Wednesday: A child grows

April 23, 2005

April 23, 2005

Birthday girl - April 23, 2006

One: April 2006

Second birthday: April 23, 2007

Two: April 23, 2007

Almost 3 and very excited

Three: April 2008

Happy 3rd birthday sweet girl!

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Friday, April 18, 2008

The fullest of threats

I am not a believer in empty threats. I firmly believe that if you threaten your child with some type of discipline, you have to carry through with it, no matter how inconvenient it may be for you.

Children are wonderful little beings, but you give them an inch and they take a few thousand miles. And you do them no favors by teaching them their actions don’t have consequences.

It was beautiful here Wednesday. The sun was shining, the sky was a gorgeous cobalt blue and the thermometer hovered in the 70s. Relishing the day, I packed up the kids and drove to the local playground.

A few minutes after arriving, we landed in the big sandpit. Peanut started digging a big hole while all Loaf wanted to do was use a sand mold to make herself a sea horse. Upon finishing she proudly declared, “Look Mommy! Look my sea horse!”

Before I could even praise her, Peanut rushed over and stomped on it.

“Don’t do that again,” I warned. “Say you're sorry.”

Peanut apologized with a shit-eating smile on her face and Loaf remade the sea horse. But again, within seconds of finishing it, Peanut rushed over and crushed it.

While Loaf shrieked, I grabbed Peanut by the arm. “I’m serious. Don’t do that again. If you do, we’re leaving. We’ll go right home.”

As soon as the threat left my lips, I regretted it. I should have instead put up “no treat tonight,” or an on-the-spot time out. I really did not want to leave the park on such a beautiful day, and this was a punishment that affected the very well behaving Loaf as well.

On the other hand, I figured the threat was weighty enough that she’d take it to heart. I knew she didn’t want to leave.

I. Was. Wrong.

The third sea horse was instantly destroyed and all the worse, she looked right at me while she did it, daring me to act.

“OK we’re going. Right now. Get your shoes.”

“NOOOOO!” she bellowed as she ran from me. A couple of nearby moms looked over and I instantly felt the shame of being judged for not being able to control my own kid. I caught her by the arm and pulled her to me, but she leaned forward and sunk her teeth into my shoulder.

From this point on, the situation became the proverbial runaway train.

“DON’T YOU EVER BITE ME OR ANYONE ELSE,” I screamed, no longer caring about the other mothers at the park.

I turned to Loaf. “We have to go honey. I’m sorry, but Peanut is misbehaving and we all have to go.”

Well, Loaf did not want to go. She simply shook her head while continuing to scoop sand into her bucket. It became clear I was going to have to carry her out and the only way I could do that was to let go of Peanut.

As I reached down to pick up Loaf, Peanut grabbed two fistfuls of sand and dumped them on my head. Sand ran through my hair, down my face, landed in my eyes and gathered in my bra.

This kid is going to drive me drink, I thought.

Furious, I picked up Loaf, stood and grabbed Peanut by the arm once again. “Now, in addition to leaving, you’re going to get a nice long time out when we get home.”

The sandpit is in the back of a very big park. I still had to maneuver past all the swings, slides, other equipment and about a dozen benches filled with happy, chatting mothers.

I had Loaf balanced on one hip and Peanut by the arm. Both were shrieking. Neither was wearing shoes nor socks, so I had those cupped in the hand at the end of the arm that was supporting Loaf. Every now and then, I’d drop a shoe or sock and had to stoop to pick it up.

It was the longest walk ever and I felt every single eye on us as we passed.

As we approached the parking lot, I sat them both on a bench and slipped on their shoes, but Peanut kept kicking hers off. So I asked Loaf to walk and picked up Peanut, who proceeded to pinch me – hard – on the back of my arm. She then drove her index finger forcefully into my collarbone. (Seriously, are they teaching self-defense at her preschool? Where the hell is she learning this stuff?)

When we got to the car, I set the barefoot Peanut down on the rough gravel, no longer really caring if the stones hurt her feet.

“You stand here and you don’t move one inch. Got it? Not one inch or you won’t see a minute of TV for the rest of the week.”

She was either totally worn out or she finally realized I was serious, because she stood exactly in that spot while I buckled the very unhappy Loaf (”Want to stay! Want to stay at park!” ) into her car seat.

Both girls screamed and cried all the way home. Peanut was sent straight to her room and Loaf sat on the front step and pouted for several minutes.

Me? I poured myself a big, tall glass of cold lemonade. Then dumped a shot of vodka in it for good measure.

Sometimes, even the threats you make in your own head need to be acted upon.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Windows to the soul





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Monday, April 14, 2008

The slow march to autonomy

Sunday morning after breakfast, Peanut marched into the kitchen clutching her Spiral Draw.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Spiral Draw, it involves a plastic square with a grooved circle in the middle and several plastic disks with various sized shapes cut out of the center. You insert the disk into the square and as you trace the shape over and over it rotates, creating a really cool spiral design. It is sort of a take off of the popular ‘70s Spirograph toy (which I LOVED by the way!)

But this one has no pins or cardboard and you need to firmly hold the plastic square down while simultaneously tracing the shape. Peanut has a hard time holding the base hard enough, so I press it down while she draws.

Problem is—standing there doing nothing but holding a plastic square on a piece of paper gets boring. Fast.

So as I stood there Sunday morning, I began to grumble to myself. The kitchen was a mess, I had to get ready for the gym and the unread New York Times Styles section was mocking me from the other side of the table.

But Peanut was happily spinning her designs. Then Loaf walked in to the kitchen fresh out of bed. She needed a change and breakfast and I viewed that as my escape.

“OK honey, I have to step away for a minute so you’ll have to manage on your own until I come back,” I said as I scooped Loaf up and took her into her bedroom, secretly hoping Peanut will have gotten frustrated and lost interest by the time I returned.

But I was wrong. When I came back, she was happily holding the square with one hand and making the designs with the other.

“Look Mommy, I don’t need your help anymore,” she proudly declared.

And my heart crumbled. For right then and there it dawned on me: This is how it’s going to go. She’s already learned to do so many things on her own from eating to dressing herself to inserting a CD in the radio in her room.

Little by little, she is breaking away from me. Someday, she won’t need my help at all.

The paradox is clear: With each new skill, I gain a degree of freedom, but so does she. Freedom from me.

While I look forward to seeing her grow and develop, and am anxious to share her life through years that include proms and driving lessons and vacations in Europe, the prospect of her being completely autonomous terrifies me.

You can bet that the next time she asks for my help, I won't worry about those "more important" things. Rather, I'll try to enjoy the moment, because once it's gone, it's gone.

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Friday, April 11, 2008

A great lesson learned over time

The recent meme I did asked me to reflect on what I was doing 10 years ago.

While I answered it truthfully, there is one big thing about my life in 1998 that I didn’t share because it is a little too complicated to boil down into one simple statement in a meme.

Ten years ago, I was 100% determined to never be a mother. I “decided” back in high school not to have children and I stuck to my conviction through college and many years beyond.

My reasons for not wanting children ranged from the selfish (I like being able to pick up and go, and I like my sleep too much) to the profound (This world has too many problems; why bring an innocent life into it?)

I had a hard time envisioning myself happy as the full-time caregiver to another person. I was too self-centered, I reasoned. I wanted to travel and eat in nice restaurants. I wanted to spend my money on clothing and cars, not diapers or toys. I wanted to be able to pick up and move where ever, whenever.

I did not believe that a life involving children – a life that required constant giving to another human being – could be one of true happiness for me.

But sometime after getting married, my attitude began to shift. It was subtle of course – like watching the tide come in on a rocky shoreline. The sea slowly takes over the beach until the jagged rocks are no longer visible under the turbulent water. Like those rocks, my resolve not to have a baby was slowly and surely drowned under the deeper desire to be a mother. And once my fears and doubts were drowned out, they could not be resuscitated.

Today, almost five years after giving birth to my first child, I find myself unable to imagine what my world would be like without them – my daughters – my blood, my flesh.

Which is not to say that raising children is easy. I get up in the pre-dawn hours several nights a week to comfort a crying child. I sweep the hair out of tear-rimmed eyes and kiss boo-boos. I find myself frustrated when my requests are ignored and when bad behavior takes over. I clean up puke and poop and fetch milk and sweep countless pieces of O-shaped cereal off my floor. I drop whatever I’m doing to read the same mindless stories over and over again. It takes me half an hour to leave the house for even the most routine errands.

Yet I am happy. Truly.

Each day, I give and receive endless bear hugs and kisses. I’m awed by my daughters’ amazing growth and development. My heart swells with joy watching them play and learn. I sneak into their rooms and watch them sleep, overwhelmed by how peaceful they are and the limitless love I feel for them. The highlight of a long day at work comes at the end when I walk through the door and hear, “Mommy!” followed by a cavalcade of racing footsteps and a rush of sticky fingers.

I am settled and complete in the decision to become a mother. It has made me a better person – less selfish and more centered.

Yesterday, on a gorgeous spring day the three of us picnicked together in our yard. The air was warm and full of the promise of summer. We sat together eating pretzels and grapes and then lay back to watch the clouds pass overhead. We snuggled and daydreamed and laughed.

Ten years ago I thought becoming a mother was solely about giving – giving life, giving up your dreams, giving, giving, giving.

But my children have added more love and joy to my life than I ever imagined. The gifts they give me are too numerous to tally. I am so grateful that I had the chance to figure that out.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

High fives for meme

I was tagged by the fabulous Binky to participate in this meme so here goes.

First, the rules:

1. Each player answers the questions about themselves.

2. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves a comment letting them know they've been tagged and to ask them to play along and to read your blog.

Five things I was doing 10 years ago
1. Living in sin
 with Mark
2. Working in New York City
Getting ready to be a bridesmaid in my friend Tracy’s wedding
4. Buying a three-family house
5. Getting engaged (December 1998)

Five things on my to-do list today :

1. Folding an enormous mountain of laundry.
2. Watching "Into the Wild."
3. Snuggling with my husband throughout #2.
4. Eating something really good for dinner.
5. Finishing a work project that has been a thorn in my side for two weeks.

Five snacks I enjoy
1. Chocolate
2. Bananas
3. Yogurt
4. String cheese
5. Pria bars

Five things I would do if I were a billionaire:

1. Buy (or build) our dream house here in the greater NYC area.
2. Buy (or build) vacation homes in Colorado and Hawaii.
3. Travel (non-commercial air only of course.)
4. Hire a staff that includes a chef, maid, driver and personal trainer.
5. Give lots away to numerous charities to help people, animals and the environment.

Five of my bad habits
1. I have a wicked sweet tooth.
2. I weigh myself two or three times a day and let what I see on the scale influence my mood.
3. I get snappish when I haven't had a good night's sleep. 

4. I procrastinate.

5. I shop too much.

Five places I have lived
1. Clarksburg, MA
2. Utica, NY (where the average snowfall is almost 99 inches and it rains 2/3 of the year. Seriously.)
3. Amsterdam, NY
4. Ridgewood, NJ
5. Weehawken, NJ

Five jobs I've had
1. Assembly line in a box factory 

2. Employee in a department store
3. Newspaper reporter
4. Public relations account executive
5. Employee communications manager for a major electronics corporation

Five bloggers I tag to go next:
1. A Madison Mom
2. Part of the Miracles
3. Laryssa
4. True Tales of Little B
5. Mayberry Mom

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: New friends

New friends

Getting to know each other

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