Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Noah's Birth Story: Part the First

In honor of Noah's first birthday, his birth story in two parts:

Sunday, August 16, 2009 T-minus 0 days
No baby.  HA.  HAHAHAHAHA.  No child of mine shall ever be born before or on his or her due date.  So I just shrugged and waved 'D-Day' good bye in the mirror.

Monday August 17, 2009 T-plus 1 day
My OB had me scheduled for a non-stress test (NST) and ultrasound in the event that the baby was past due.  (HAHAHAHAHA).  So Dyl and I headed off to the St. Joe's Perinatal Center where the boy evidenced his extreme displeasure to being hooked up to the monitor by kicking the ever-loving shit out of me and basically rendering the monitor useless.  The tech told us his heart-rate was strong and he was active.  (Really?  I hadn't noticed.) and my OB was there for the oh-so-fun and thrilling cervix check.  I'm pretty sure that Dyl was squicked out by that.  No contractions, just a party so we're back to waiting.  Did we want to schedule the induction for the next day?  No, no we do not.  Let's give it a bit more time as I saw my sister deal with a useless induction that ate up a week of her life so NO THANK YOU!  Then we headed over to the ultrasound room to check the amniotic fluid level and size.  Fluid level was fine meaning he could continue to hang out for a while longer and the tech asked us if we wanted to know his size.  Sure, amaze me.  So in the hushed tones one uses for delivering bad news, she intones:  "9 pounds, 4 oz".  To which I replied, yeah, that sounds about right.  Probably not the response she was expecting. "And it's a boy".  Again, yeah, I know.  Four sonograms are pretty conclusive so him suddenly sprouting a vagina at this stage of the game would be news indeed.  What can I say?  I was very pregnant.

Back to work we went with everyone giving me a wide berth along with the terror-filled eyes of "please GOD don't go into labor here!"  No worries gang, that ain't happening today.

Then the hospital registration office called me to confirm the induction the next day and I went through that whole thing again.  No thank you, we'll wait and see if he comes by himself.  Everything looks good, no need to rush him, blah blah blah.  They really seem to want the baby out whereas I'm the one who should be storming the hospital in search of a Pitocin drip and yet was strangely content to let him marinate some more.  I finally convinced them that no, I don't want it.  I'll wait, thanks.  To which my coworkers were all, 'DAMN WOMAN,  GET OUT OF HERE!'

Thursday, August 20, 2009 T-plus 4 days
And...the second NST.  No accompanying sonogram though so was a bit disappointed.  I will be honest:  at this point, even Noelle had been born so I was ready to be done and eagerly awaiting the news that we could schedule an induction for the very! next! day!  To which I would have been 'HELL'S YEAH!"  But...no.  The hospital doesn't do Friday inductions?  Or something?  For the love of pants people, I AM DONE!  What a difference three days make.

Friday, August 21, 2009 T-plus 5 days
I just didn't feel like going to work that day.  So I didn't.  And I kept Noelle home with me too so we could have one last Mommy/Daughter only day.  We played, lunched and napped together while I lulled my coworkers into a false sense of security by not being there.  No baby yet beeshes!  I win the pool!

Sunday, August 23, 2009 T-plus 7 days
Seriously considered going down to the Eastern Shore for my cousin's baby shower because hey!  I'm still pregnant.  And a 3 hour car ride is JUST what the doctor recommended for the giant beached whale of a woman.  Luckily, cooler heads (hi honey!) prevailed and convinced me that doing this was a really, really bad idea.  Turns out that a monsoon or something hit so my mom (with whom I would have been riding), was very grateful I was not there as navigating Route 50 in the second coming of the flood with an enormously pregnant daughter next to her might have pushed her over the edge.  Oh, and still no baby.  But!

Monday, August 24, 2009 T-plus 8 days
Now it had gotten beyond ridiculous but luckily we had ANOTHER NST scheduled for that morning so off we went to the perinatal center again.  I offered to buy Starbucks but Dyl was not in a good mood after dropping Noelle off at daycare.  I, however, needed something to get me going as I only got about 3 hours of sleep the previous night.  While hooked up to the machine, I started fantasizing about my OB taking one look at the screen and hollering, get her to L&D STAT!!!!  Alas, no, though he did ask me if I was feeling contractions to which I replied, not really, I mean, I feel Braxton Hicks up here (indicates fundus) and a weird pressure in my lower abdomen but the 'contraction' contractions.  To which he informed me at this point they were ALL contractions.  The only thing that was missing was the eye roll with 'Bitch, please.'  Yes, things were progressing and we all decided to bring this exciting adventure to an end by the next day if he didn't vacate the premises voluntarily.  So we packed up and back to work Dyl and I went.  I seriously walked into the office and people looked at me with uncomprehending eyes:  'What the hell?  Why are you still here?'  My office mate even asked me that and really, I came in because I wanted to finish up those last minute details, let people know that one way or the other it was my last day for a while and most importantly, I would have gone absolutely stir crazy at home.

12:00 pm - I had lunch which consisted of leftover pasta and sausage; in hindsight, perhaps not a stellar choice.
3:00 pm - Stacey was getting ready to go and we were saying our goodbyes, getting contact information, all that jazz.
3:20 pm - 'POP'!  And all holy hell broke loose...

To be continued...

Monday, August 30, 2010

I have seen the future and she is walking away from me

Have you ever just been standing somewhere and the feeling of absolute certainty comes over you that you are seeing the future?  I had an experience like that this morning.

Today was a big day in our house.  Noelle is starting in a new preschool classroom today, the 3/4s which, ironically enough, coincided with the first day of school in our state.  We have been talking up the switch to the new classroom for a while now; you'll be with your friends again!  New toys to play with!  New things to learn!  More freedom in art projects!  So all weekend she has been telling us that she goes to the 3/4 classroom today because she is a Big Girl. 

She wakes up this morning literally bouncing out of bed.  We have our morning cuddles but she is alert and telling us where she is going today, "I go to 3/4s today Mommy!".  She does her morning business and gets dressed with no tantrums.  At all.  This is, indeed, a watershed moment.  I explained to her that we'll go to her new room first and put her things away then go back to her old classroom to wait for her new teacher Ms. Lisa to come get them.  Well, we were very late as apparently every idiot in the greater Baltimore area decided that this would be the perfect morning to turn 695 into a parking lot thereby making my (wonderful, sainted) mother-in-law late in getting to the house to watch Noah. 

We finally made it to her school and as we were walking down the hall, Ms. Lisa comes out of the classroom going to get the rest of the kids.  Since herding 20 or so preschoolers is even more difficult than wrangling cats, she recommended that I bring Noelle back to the other room as it could take a while.  We located her cubby and unpacked her lunch then headed back down the hall where the wrangling had taken a record time to perform.  Noelle joined the end of the line and we had hugs and kisses and "I love you"s.  Then we walked apart, her one way to a new learning experience and I the other to the door and the responsibilities of a job.  But I watched her little figure walk down the hall and every few feet she would turn around, wave, smile and blow kisses.  I finally stopped and just watched her, waving and smiling back as she reached the classroom door and gave me one last smile, wave and kiss before disappearing inside. 

It was then that I shivered, knowing that I was seeing a sequence of events that was happening right then in elementary schools everywhere as mothers took their children to kindergarten for the first time.  Knowing that in two years, the scene would play out again for us; her smiling, waving and blowing kisses and me smiling, waving and blowing kisses back to her as she disappeared into her classroom.  And, like today, with tears running down my cheeks. 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Yes, they really do listen to what you say

For a while I've been convinced that talking to the wall or my shoes would be of bigger impact than talking to Noelle.  It feels like I tell her fifty times a day 1) don't pull your brother down  2) don't grab things from him  3) be gentle, don't squish him 4) don't hit your brother, that's not nice and 5) if you have an accident I'm going to be very upset with you.  Before anyone thinks I'm punishing her for having an accident, it's in the context of accidents that happen outside of nap time.  When she knows full well she needs to use the potty but can't be bothered to stop what she's doing to go.  Still, not my finest moment of parenting saying that....  Well, this weekend I got confirmation that while she was listening, she had no intention of actually following my directions. 

While she was using the potty, she said to me in all seriousness "Mommy, I no have an accident."  "That's great sweetie, I'm really proud of you."  "Mommy, if you have an accident, I'll be so mad at you!"  *Insert mental cringing here* "If I have an accident baby, you have every right to be mad at me."  Man, I felt bad.  Now every time she goes to the potty, she tells me that she didn't have an accident.  I'm really proud of her but man, what have I done?  I know that it happens and when I said it I was frustrated as it was her second accident in 4 hours but the last thing that I wanted her to do was fixate on it.  I only wanted her to be more aware.  I'm so glad that I didn't say anything to put her down or make her feel bad, just expressed disappointment and she doesn't seem to be too traumatized by it though I'm sure the therapy bills in the years to come will be huge. 

She's also been giving me advice on how to take care of a baby.  "Mommy, you don't hit the baby.  You can kiss the baby.  You can cuddle the baby.  You can pet the baby but you don't hit the baby.  If you hit the baby, I'll be so mad at you!"  And I agree with her wholeheartedly "You are so right baby, we never hit a baby.  If anyone ever hits a baby you should be mad at them!"  Though so far this maternal concern has only applied to her baby doll.  We've yet to see this sentiment applied to her little brother who has, fortunately and unfortunately, reached the age where Yay! he can play somewhat now and Crap, he can get into her business and really piss her off. 

Tangent 1:  the music table just decided to start playing by itself.  That's not scary at all.  Good thing I had peed already as I would have had an accident and incurred the sanctimonious wrath of a 3 going on 13 year old. 

Tangent 2:  for the past two nights, she has been sleeping in her sleeping bag.  On the floor.  No particular reason other than she saw it in her closet and wanted to sleep in it.  Indulgent parenting or wise selection of battles? Discuss.

Thankfully she shows that she listens in other less guilt-inducing ways.  She clears her plate off the table now and puts it in the sink, she almost always says 'please' and 'thank you' and even once when I took her with me to get a new bathing suit, she said to me while I was changing, "Mommy, you are so pretty."  Yeah, I think I'll keep her.  And watch my mouth since I know now she's listening.

Friday, August 13, 2010

I passed, but I failed. Yeah!*

So you remember the job that I didn't get?  The one that would have springboarded me from the 9th circle of hell to oh, the 3rd or 4th?  At least?  Yeah, that one.  I received this morning one of the most bizarre phone calls  that I have ever received in my life (ranking up there with the guy who asked me to go out with him in 7th grade to whom I replied in all seriousness:  go where?).  It was, no joke, the hiring manager wanting to explain things to me.

This went down at 8 this morning after I had already been A) up at 4 to B) get to work by 6 so I was C) very tired and still really bummed but D) put on my happy professional voice to take her call even though I had not had enough coffee yet.  She was very impressed with my resume and interview and thought I was an excellent candidate and would be holding onto to my resume for future reference.  The only thing that the 'winner' had that I did not was packaging experience and in their succession planning, the only person who had that type of experience would be retiring within a few years.  But she stated over and over again how impressed she was with me and how it had been such a great career move on my part to apply for the job as it raised my visibility within the company since plant personnel tend to be invisible and overlooked in talent reviews and succession planning.  How did this raise my visibility?  She personally handed my resume to the CORPORATE VICE PRESIDENT OF QUALITY...and HE was impressed by my experience and qualifications!  Holy. Effen. Cow.

The timing could not have been better as they are beginning their quarterly talent review for succession planning and now HERE I AM BITCHES; NOBODY PUTS ME IN THE CORNER!  The icing would have been getting the job but you know, being on the radar of the Corporate Vice President isn't such a bad silver medal all things considered.  I guess I can tough it out here for a while longer.  This probably means I should get my butt in gear with the starting of the MS in Quality Assurance.  So I'm in a much better place mentally now though the 4 cups of coffee I've had this morning haven't hurt. 

So thank you for putting up with my pity party the other day (in which I actually did not knock back a beer.  Or three)..  This is one of the reasons I love the Internets and blogging  - you can dump your feelings, work through them and no one (for the most part) is judgemental.  At least not to me yet but I'm a newbie. 

*I'm feeling a need to watch Real Genius tonight....

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcome to my pity party!

This week has, in a word, sucked.  Worse than a vacuum cleaner on steroids.  Worse than the snot-sucker I regularly torture the baby with.  Worse than me throwing all the grammar rules out of the window and ending a sentence with a preposition.  In the grand scheme of things/big picture/perspective, they are but minor annoyances.  I know this.  But still, it's my party and I want to pity.  Myself that is.  What is so bad about this week you may ask?  Oh, just let me tell you.

1.  I didn't get a job I applied for.  Yes, I have a job and I should be be grateful/ecstatic/pooping rainbows that I have one and my family is not precariously teetering on the precipice of disaster.  It doesn't change the fact that I hate my job with the passion of a thousand fiery suns. I hate the constant state of emergency, I hate how quality is always blamed for everything that goes wrong, I hate smelling like the inside of a garbage can at the end of the day.  I've been with the company for almost 13 years and am no longer the young, ingenue-type employee that everyone wants on their team.  I fear that I've been typecast and pigeon-holed as 'that plant person' and will never escape from this ninth circle of hell in which I spend my days tasting raw materials in failing products for the elusive off onion/garlic note and GODDAMN IT, THERE IS NO OFF ONION FLAVOR!  But!  the analytical work said there was so I must taste every. single. one.  Of about 60 raw materials since GOD FORBID these people make a straightforward product.  I also just might need a good cry.  I'm not discounting that.

2.  My laptop was infiltrated by a rogue computer virus that said there were myriad number of nasty viruses/spyware/etc. lurking on my machine.  So I've been in utter fear of even booting up and almost in as much fear of the amount it will cost to make it safe and whole again.  Hackers/thieves/assorted nasty persons:  LEAVE MY COMPUTER ALONE!

3.  Noelle actually does have strep throat.  The rapid culture was negative but the 48 hour incubation came back positive.  It happens, kids get sick but the timing forced her to miss a planned swimming date at our friends' pool, a trip to the zoo with Grandmom and Grandad, water play day at school, soccer day at school and, oh yes!  The ENTIRE week of school.  I love having to pay for her NOT to be there. 

4.  There was a massive morning thunderstorm today.  Which was fine, whatever, I was locked in my little veal-hole of an office but!  I left one of the car windows down about 2 inches.  In a storm that I'm pretty certain rivaled the one that got the ark floating.  The only bright side is that Noelle won't have to sit in her seat until Saturday at the earliest.

5.  While shaving my legs in the shower this morning at 0-dark-thirty, I was A) half asleep and B) not really paying attention when I completely zoned out and nicked my butt.  Because of course I did.  So now I'm having to spend a large chunk of the day doing data analysis and data entry for the roughly eleventy-million raw materials which requires sitting.  On the butt cheek with the slice.  This?  Is not comfortable.

So yeah, the pity party is in full swing round these parts.  Pull up a stool and help yourself to the pretzels.  I'll bring the beer.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mommy guilt is alive and well. And ridiculous.

Noah will be one year old in less than two weeks.  And I can count on the fingers of two hands the number of bottles of formula he has and in the past eleven and a half months.  Otherwise?  All breast milk.  This is good, right?  The AAP recommends breast milk exclusively for the first six months.  We made that with no problem.  So why the guilt?  My supply has inexplicably decreased from about 40 ounces a day to 25-26 and we are down to our five bags of frozen breast milk.  So sometime this week he will be getting two bottles of formula a day to cover what he drinks. 

And this is why the guilt is ridiculous.  We made it to over ELEVEN MONTHS on straight breast milk.  I didn't come anywhere close to that with Noelle (I'm sorry sweetie).  It will only be for about two weeks but still, I feel a sense of failure.  I was thisclose to achieving my goal of one year with no formula supplementation.  And I'm going to miss it by two weeks when he'll switch to whole milk.  It's not a big deal, I know this.  But I still can't help but feel that I failed him in some way.  Is it a response to the battle lines which have been drawn between breast and bottle?  The ongoing debate on breast milk versus formula?  I try to stay out of the fray, to do what is best for my baby but can't seem to get my head and my heart to agree.  It's not like there is the mourning of the closeness of nursing as he has not nursed since about 4 months old though I have developed a very strong bond with my pump.  So why do I feel like a failure?  Rationally I know that two weeks means precisely jack.  If I'm being honest with myself, it's because I set a goal and will have come so close to meeting it but won't quite.  And therein lies the issue:  as mothers we are in competition with each other and ourselves to prove that we are doing it 'right'. But there is no absolute right, it's all shades of gray which plays right into the notion of 'competitive mothering'.   The competition is ridiculous.  The guilt is ridiculous.  But it's there and it's pervasive and it isn't going away.

Someday I'll be asked what my biggest regret or failure of motherhood was and as of today I would have to say:  two weeks.  And that pisses me off.  So as of right now, I am making it my goal to not subject myself to guilty feelings over what needs to be done be it having to work or supplement with formula for two weeks.  I'll do my best for my baby, for my family and only I can know what it is.  But I made the goal and I wrote about the goal so I ask you to help me in remembering and working to achieve the goal.  It will be hard and will require absolute conviction in what I do but if something is not worth doing right, it's not worth doing at all.

Still, two weeks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I am a grownup. And I can prove it.

Though you wouldn't be able to tell this by looking at my normal selection of reading material.  One could easily get me confused with a 12 year old girl or a 16 year old boy.  Let's put it this way,  I used to work at Barnes & Noble and took the opportunity to bury myself in fantasy and YA (young adult) novels.  Not the latest memoir/self help tome from the celebrity/asshole du jour, not the most recent offering for women examining relationships with food/sister/friends/self/sex and definitely not the 'classics' (in fact I have never even picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice).  Nope, give me my fantasy and YA.  Why?  Because to me they are better written and (this is most important) unpretentious.  They aren't trying to impress the reader with erudite, flowing lines, for soaring metaphors or for existential truths.  They simply tell a story.  Reading is my escape and I'll be damned if I want to be lectured at so I simply choose not to read it.  My 'library' table is piled high with The Darwath Trilogy, the Percy Jackson series, the latest in 'he Wheel of Time, and the newest from Rick Riordan 'The Kane Chronicles'.  And of course, the Twilight series.

*Okay, I don't know what just happened but I tried to Control-I and instead Control-somethinged which published the post even though it really wasn't supposed to.  So sorry about that....*

So it is with great fanfare that I announce my recently completed reading marathon of...the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larssons.  The story and conflicts were gripping though the Swedish history lessons took me a few tries to follow (I was way too distracted trying to figure out how to pronounce some of the names but finally got past that) and as I also like a thrilling mystery, this fit in my repertoire nicely.  HOWEVER, and I'm loath to speak ill of the dead, Herr Larssons seemed to have a MASSIVE problem with women.  As in, they were repeatedly assaulted and abused throughout the series which was quite disturbing at times.  To his credit, they didn't all rely on a man rescuing them; they rescued each other and found strength and independence through their respective experiences but still.  DAMN.  Also distracting was the very very short, simple sentence structure.  I'm no fan of the page-long run on sentence with wanton use of semicolons, colons and parentheses but a few compound sentences and the restrained sprinkle of adverbs and even(gasp!) the judicious use of metaphors would have been a welcome way to keep the flow from breaking.  But, I'm willing to overlook that as it was translated from Swedish and the subtleties do tend to get lost in translation.  To summarize:  while I loved the overall story, I was aghast at the treatment of women and lukewarm on the writing style.  Check it out for yourself and form your own opinion before Hollywood gets completely ahold of this and bastardizes it beyond all recognition. 

Though with the assaults and abuses are such an integral part, I don't know how they can pull this off without an NC-17 rating and still do justice to the story.  So there you have it, my first book/series review and no spoilers given away.  No plot given away either; I'm coy like that.

(Also, I'm pumping right now any my boobs itch.  Lovely.  I'm sure that you wanted to know.  I'm a giver. No need to thank me.)

Sunday, August 8, 2010

It had to happen sometime

Our unprecedented run of health-related good luck has come to a screeching halt.  Noelle has had a decent fever since yesterday prompting a cancellation of pools plans for Saturday and potentially derailing a special sleep-over/zoo trip at Grandmom Yvonne and Granddad's house tomorrow.  I say unprecedented because she has not been sick since her first year of life where pink eye and diarrhea were the norm. And one episode of RSV that required a trip to the pediatric ER for a nebulizer but we don't really count that one. But she isn't complaining mostly because she has been able to watch a ridiculous amount of TV and movies the past two days.  What else do you do with a preschooler who is running a fever but can't read to herself?  She plays with her toys (it was soccer and baseball this morning.  Yes, in the house.  I know.) until the Motrin wears off and her eyes start looking glassy.  And to top it off, it is a beautiful weekend that should be spent outdoors.

But she doesn't complain.  It's amazing given that she got a new bike.  A big girl bike that Dada put together this week and she has been chomping at the bit to get outside and practice so she can ride bikes with her friend Nico who also has a big boy bike.  Her bike is pink with Disney Princesses on it.  It has sparkly tassels and a 'purse' on the front she can put things in; in fact it is already full.  She has her bike helmet and has been practicing getting onto and off of the bike by herself.  She wants to go outside in the worst way.  But she can't.  Or rather, we won't let her.  It's amazing she doesn't complain even though we can to cancel plans to go to our best friends' pool so she could swim and splash around.  She wanted to play with her friend; she was really looking forward to it and it made me sad to tell her that she couldn't go.  But she didn't complain.  Not in the slightest. 

She is such a good girl even when she isn't feeling well.  She lets me take her temperature without fuss.  Okay, without fuss after the first time yesterday when her fever first spiked and she didn't want anything to do with the thermometer or the Motrin.  But the subsequent times, she pulled her arm out of her sleeve and let me get the readings.  She takes her medicine wonderfully though I'm sure that it doesn't hurt that it tastes like bubblegum.  So my poor baby is sick.  Just a fever and nothing else to do but ride it out. 

All we can do is monitor it and hope that she feels well enough for her special day with her grandparents.  But if not, then we reschedule.  Nothing else to do but that.  Though it hurts to see her propped up in our bed, so tiny and vulnerable under the covers, my heart swells with love looking at her knowing that, for a short time at least, she's counting on me to make everything better.  It's the crux of parenthood; the delight and the despair:  the gift and burden of  absolute trust our children have in us which is simultaneously gratifying and terrifying.  I'll always do my best to be worthy of your trust sweet pea, I promise. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

The agony, the ecstasy...and the agony

Noah is now 10 months old.  Take a minute, let that sink in.  He is now 10. Months. Old.  Where did the time go?  I swear it was just yesterday I was in the Pediatric unit sobbing hysterically because my brand-new baby boy was sunning away in a baby tanning bed due to his very high bilirubin levels and I a) just wanted to go home and start out lives as a family of four and b) could not hold him as much as I wanted/needed to since he needed to stay in that damn box to get better.  My mother knew how hard it was for me, how hard it was for us. Dyl knew better than anyone since he ran himself ragged getting Noelle to school, working, picking her up, bringing her over to the hospital to visit, taking her home, keeping her on her routine as we had planned. And she did beautifully.  Noah got better.  And we came home to begin our new normal.   

I wasn't blogging while pregnant with him but the fam remembers how he was a stubborn little Pain In The Ass even then.  He waited a whole NINE (!!!) days past his due date to arrive, only deigning to join the world when his eviction notice was signed, sealed and delivered. (I will get around to posting his birth story at a later date - maybe by his first birthday).

Extreme tangent:  Why the HELL does it smell like bananas/circus peanuts in here?!?!?!?!?!

And we're back.  Talking about....um, oh, right!  Noah.  Where was I....? Oh yes, about how he was a royal PITA.  Okay, not really but as Noelle was the most ridiculously easy baby ever, you can understand why we might think he was a bit more...challenging.  He nursed pretty well though there were days I cringed through the latching process.  And it never really got better until one day, he just...stopped.  Refused to nurse.  Would scream bloody murder if a boob came anywhere near him.  AUGH!  IT'S THE BOOB!  THE EVIL, EVIL BOOB.  PUT IT AWAY WOMAN, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?  So we stopped trying.  I switched over to the all-pumping all-the-time channel which is where we are today.  He's a decent sleeper though nothing like his sister.  He will fight falling asleep tooth and nail (sometimes both at the same time) even though we know he's tired, he knows he's tired, the folks in the next county know he's tired. He just will. not. give. in.  He has a temper and gets frustrated easily, not unlike his sister and mother.  Apple.  Tree. How you doing?

But oh!  The joys a little boy brings.  He wakes up each morning happy and smiling.  He'll play in his crib quietly though we'll hear him 'talking' and 'singing' to his toys in the crib.  (Yes, he has toys in the crib.  I'm a bad mommy.  Moving on...)  His natural inquisitiveness as to what is OVER THERE. BEHIND THE DOOR.  WHAT ARE YOU HIDING FROM ME PEOPLE? can drive you bonkers.  He loves. loves. loves. to open and shut doors.  He has a favorite piece of play food, peas, that he carries around in his mouth like a puppy.  He plays in the kitchen set with it, constantly opening and closing (there's that theme again) the 'oven' door, putting the peas in, taking them out.  I'm sure that they are quite well done now.  He'll crawl over to the box of play food and empty the entire thing out to find the damn peas.  He adores his sister and 'chases' her around the house while she runs and shrieks through giggles that 'Noah's chasing me!'  He loves the cat who, while tolerant of the newest interloper does most emphatically NOT love him back though she will allow him to pet her under close adult supervision.  That doesn't always work out right since his meaty little paw is FAST and will seize a handful of fur before you can say 'boo'.  He loves silly songs and playing 'Where's Noah' where he'll raise his arms up over his head as if to say 'Here I am!  I'm SO BIG!'  He can climb steps and pull himself up on almost anything.  He looks too thin to me but he's right in the middle of the pack for weight. 

He has no fear and will chase after everything as fast as he can.  When he grins, his eyes crinkle up and he seems to smile with his whole face.  He loves his 'Peek-a-Boo' books and any book with animals.  When he's tired or being shy he'll cuddle against your shoulder and snuggle his head into your neck, looking up at everyone through his ridiculously long dark eyelashes.  He has big deep blue eyes and is such a pretty baby that people have corrected us saying 'No, no, that's not a boy.  He's too pretty to be a boy.'  I wish to GOD that I was making that part up.  He loves eating and trying to get to the TV/receiver and DVD.  He is a total man in that he will commandeer the remote every chance he gets.  He gives big, sloppy, open-mouthed kisses and snatches my glasses off my face.  He pats our faces when he drinking his bottle or pinches our arms when being held as if to remind us that he is still there and wants nothing more than to be held close.  He lights up when he sees Grandma, practically leaping our of my arms with a squeal of delight.  When he's happy he kicks his legs like there is no tomorrow and waves his hands together, trying to clap, not really succeeding but also not caring. He is SO MUCH, it's exhausting and exhilarating; terrifying and enrapturing, like an out-of-control Tilt-a-Whirl but a ride I don't want to stop.

It's these burgeoning expressions of independence, personality and affection that makes it exponentially harder to leave him every day.  Watching this little person unfold, blossoming like a lily is such a joy and a privilege...and a source of constant heartache.  I want nothing more than to be with him as he discovers the world around him inch by delighted, wondering inch.  I don't have that option; all that I can do is to be the best Mommy to my special little man that I can.  And hope that it's good enough.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Spin Cycle: In honor of Dad

Some may have castles on the banks of the Rhine,
And hire an orchestra each evening at nine,
But richer than I they will never be,
I had a Dad who spent time with me.

- author unknown

This was on a plaque that I gave to my dad many years ago for Christmas.  It rings so perfect and true for us, all the more impressive when you stop to consider the environment in which he was raised with very traditional gender roles.  He was the primary earner, the only earner in fact when I was growing up and yet he still made the time to play 'tin-foil football' with my sisters and I after dinner and to coach us in basketball and softball.  He taught us how to catch and throw, how to dribble and shoot, finesse a lay-up and lay down a bunt.  He taught us how to drive a car, check the oil level and change a tire.  He 'taught' us how to parallel park with his patented method:  turn the wheel this way, turn it that way, and you're in.   He imparted to us a deep and abiding love of the Washington Redskins and how the best way to watch the game was with the TV sound off and the radio turned on to Sonny, Sam and Frank.

He showed us what to expect from a partner by how adoringly he treats our Mom.  He has a temper but only with himself.  He could be intimidating to those who didn't know him but he has a wicked sense of humor and has never met a microphone he didn't like.  He is a talented singer, dancer and drummer of which I inherited precisely zero ability.  He sang at all three of our weddings and performed a special 'dance' with my cousin at his.  He was the only one who could calm Rob down when he got too wound up and to this day has a special relationship with him. 
The semester I graduated from college he lost his job.  Beyond a job, a career, it was his identity as Dad had been working steadily since high school, perhaps even earlier.  But he didn't let the job loss define him; instead, he threw is considerable talents into supporting the Knights of Columbus locally and at the state level.  It would have been all too easy to simply give up and turn bitter but he hasn't.  He has embraced his evolved role and stretched himself in ways most of us cannot imagine as at the age of 63 has his own fundraising and conference organizing business.

He is a man of tremendous faith and lives the creed of Catholicism every day.  He inspires all of us to be better people, to be more tolerant though heaven knows he has been known to make sweeping proclamations on what is right and good.  And here I was wondering where I got that lovely trait from....
He ends every conversation wanting to know how he can help and to call on him if we need anything.  And I have as my Dad has helped us with painting the baby's room, putting up borders, fixing the banister, raising and lowering the crib, assembling the TV stand.  I love that he wants to remain involved and I think that he loves being needed.

He is a wonderful grandfather who is adored by all of his grandchildren.  He is a huge part of their lives, even going so far as to be with me when Noah was born lo these 10 months ago.  He supported my shoulders when it was time to push, physically supporting me like the metaphorical support for all of these years.  It meant so much to me to have him there with Mom and Alice and Dylan.  Now a whole new generation will be introduced to tin-foil football and Tickle Monster.  And I don't think that he would have it any other way.

I love you, Dad.  Happy Father's Day.
Now head on over to Sprite's Keeper for more tributes to Dad:  The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

RTT: The preschooler edition

"I a police officer.  And Mommy, you a police officer.  And Bonnie a police officer."

"What about Daddy?"

"Daddy a boy.  Boys not police officers."

"Boy's can't be police officers?"


"What are they?"

Well, it's nice to know that the boys have some opportunities available to them.

"Noelle, look!  There's a horse that's colored like a cow!" (Black and white palomino)

"Oh wow Mommy!  I see it!"

"I've never seen a horse that looks like that before."

"It a horse-cow."
If we can have tiger dogs, why not horse cows.


A snapshot of Noelle's week:  bowling, birthday party, picnic, pajama day, ice cream sundae day, bike day, Ultimate Playzone day, Storytime Live, Father's Day festivities.  Anyone else envy this kid her social life?


We got tickets for Nickelodeon's Storytime Live and have been talking it up to Noelle.  Perhaps a little too much since at least 20 times a day we hear "Daddy take me to the show and I gonna see Kai Lan and Wonderpets and Backyardigans and Dora the Explorer."  (Takes a breath) "And then I go to the beach and we make a sandcastle and see little dolphins and little giant clams but not big ones cause they are scary and little sharks and daddy sharks but not mommy sharks.  Mommy sharks scare me.  And jelly fish and whales.  And we see mermaids and we make a sandcastle, Mommy." 

So much for me getting any rest this vacation!


I had an interview for a new position last Thursday.  While searching for appropriate interview wear I realized that I had donated every. single. blouse. I. owned.  Hi, irony!  Welcome back!  I've missed you!

Now head on over to Keely for even more random Tuesday fun!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spin Cycle: Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't all out to get me!

"Hey, we've got the 'Skins game today.  Want to watch?"

"Really?  The Ravens - oh that's right, they play later.  Sure, what channel - hey, when did the game start?"

"Uh, not sure, maybe 15 minutes ago?"

"Well, we can turn it on real quick to see how they're doing but after that we have to change the channel."


"Because you know that if I don't watch from the beginning, we'll end up losing and it will all be my fault."


"Just can't take the risk."

Eye roll.  "You are so odd."

This fascinating trip into my addled psyche has been brought to you by the Spin Cycle over at Sprite's Keeper, the provider of mystery topics.  Can you guess what mine is?  Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and crack my knuckles in counts of eight.  Mostly in frustration as I STILL cannot seem to be able to add the awesome 'Spin Cycle' button/badge but a little bit because that's the way I seem to roll.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Beautiful Day

Children may just be our greatest blessing, not because they represent hope for the future but because they force us to slow down and appreciate the beauty around us.  I know that I am guilty of not slowing down, of the constant rushing to get dinner on the table, baths and bedtimes on schedule, out the door to get to school and work but it was always in the abstract, the 'I know, I know but this is real' way in which we inflexible adults live our lives.  Family and childhood, what should be the first consideration in everything, gets relegated to weekend or vacation status and that is only if Mommy doesn't have to work. 

This morning was no different:  getting Noelle up, dressed, fed and ready for school.  My repetitious statements to finish your breakfast, are you done yet, please be quiet, Noah's still sleeping, little by little draining the color out of the vibrant preschool world.  I know I'm doing it, I hate that I'm doing it yet can't seem to be able to stop.  Yes, we have to get ready to go but what I think at the time is a logical statement 'Let's finish getting ready and you'll have more time to play with your 'Wonderpets' before Grandma gets here', is it crushing her little soul?  Twenty years from now, will it matter?

We walk outside to the car and she stops and looks around. 

"It's a beautiful day, Mommy!"

I turn and look at her, see what's she seeing:  a brilliant blue summer morning sky, warm golden sun illuminating everything, the bright green of the grass and leaves and the stunning pop of color of the purple irises in the flower bed.  But nothing is as lovely as the vision of her in her pink skirt, white t-shirt and sparkly pink shoes smiling and squinting up at the sky, delighting in the perfection of a new day, full of endless possibilities.

"It's a beautiful day, Mommy!"

Yes it is sweetheart.  Yes it is.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

60, 40, whatever, they're awesome!

40 years.  That's how long my parents have been married.  That's half an (average) lifetime.  They are just getting started.  And this past weekend, we celebrated them in style.

Renewing their vows

The happy couple

The famCath, Mom, Dad, Shann and Me


The first fortieth dance

This is just for blackmail

Dancing with Grandma

Let's get this party started.  My backside.  You are welcome.

Jeff, Dyl and Mike.  The boys who put up with our shenanigans.  Yes, my husband is the one flashing a gang sign.  Le sigh.

Um, yeah.  I got nothing.

It was a fabulous time, a truly tremendous celebration of a phenomenal relationship with family and friends old and new joining in the fun.  Mom and Dad have touched and influenced so many people over the years that the outpouring of love for them comes as no surprise.  We are honored to be your children and may we ever live up to the shining example of a strong and successful marriage and partnership that you have wholly lived out these past 40 years.  Congratulations and here's to the next 40 being just as wonderful!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Weird and Wild Wednesday

Okay, so technically this stuff all happened yesterday and I was too busy playing on Facebook and Twitter last night to do real work which is why it's neatly fitting into today's little slice of heaven.  Behold the glory of suburban existence!

No, your car is NOT the open audition for the next American Idol 
Driving home from work with Noelle in the back seat last night, I looked in my rear view mirror as I am wont to do when sitting in bumper to bumper traffic.  Because people watching? Is the BEST spectator sport ever.  And on this glorious afternoon, the lady in the big-ass truck behind me (seriously, it was like a 4-runner on steroids) was giving her rendition of something (Copacabana?  Paparazzi?) her ALL.  To the point where it really looked like her head was growing out of the steering wheel and the veins in her neck were trying to escape the what I'm sure was divine caterwauling.  It kind of reminded me of the 2-headed podrace announce in Episode I.  Since I was already in a bad mood, being reminded of that little piece of cinematic travesty did not help matters at all.  Thank God for the Backyardigans Born to Play CD. 

Why?  Why would someone think this is a good idea?
A bit later on the drive home (yeah, we were still in the car), I glanced out of my window in a vain attempt to alleviate the boredom from the view of the lovely car that had been in front of me the past 13 miles and guess what I saw in someone's yard?  No, really, guess.  You'll never get it.  The oddest lawn ornament I've ever seen.  And I've seen some odd ones. We have some odd ones.  This proud Raven fan displayed purple...flamingos.  Because the flaming pink actually FOUND IN NATURE isn't hideous enough, no, some store somewhere decided to improve on this by making it purple.  And not like wearing a jersey, no.  This was your regular (isn't that sad that we can identify these things are 'regular') garden variety plastic flamingo.  In purple.  In their front yard. Grazing in the flower bed.  I...give up.

The paso dobee
While still in the car (because of course we still were), I make the turn onto the main road to get to our development and BAM!  Sudden standstill.  Still have no idea what caused the back up but whatever.  So we are inching (and I do mean inching) along when out of nowhere a bee lands on my windshield, right in my line of vision and starts....spinning.  In a circle. Round and round and round and I'm just watching absolutely fascinated by this random display of bee-ness.  It kind of was like Noelle dancing - spinning round and round.  Then it slowly got tired and staggered off to the side of the windshield (still spinning but much slower) before finally falling off and I hope making it home safely because that was comedy GOLD there people.  So in a much better frame of mind we whip through a no-thru parking lot to get home where we are greeted with...

Snakes!  Snakes under a porch!
Only 1 snake really, a long black snake apparently likes under our stoop.  And our neighbor's stoop.  Little ingrate.  Anyway, Mom and Noah were sitting outside and saw the snake yesterday (Mom is really into gardening so isn't fazed by something like that.  Neither am I as long as it 1) stays out of my house and 2) gets rid of the spiders before they get into my house.  As long as we have an understanding....)  But it's NOT poisonous as our neighbor Steve bravely volunteered to test this by PICKING THE DAMN THING UP.  And got bit.  This is where being a big giant wuss is a good thing.  I would never get bit because I would never be tempted to pick up a snake in the first place.

Introducing Captain Chaos
It's not a post without some relation of the asinine doings of my children so Noah was glad to oblige.  He's a very busy little man.  Lots to explore, doors to open and close, things to put into his mouth, cats to torment (this time with a spoon.  He was...petting her.)  Anyway, we have these door locks that loop over the handles and tighten so you can't open the doors.  (Well, duh, that is what they do, you idiot).  The ones that we have look like a bow when you use them properly.  Or just use them.  Which we have to be better about since he crawled to the cabinet under the sink which wasn't latched (one side hanging off), you know, the one that houses the trashcan, carpet cleaner, kitchen cleaner, dish washing detergent-you get the idea- pulled it off the knob and handed it to Mom.  Oh dear lord in heaven are we in trouble now.

So thanks to Captain Chaos and Boris the Dancing Bee, I ended the day with jellybeans and my sanity intact.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Technology and I go together like red wine and peanut butter or EPIC. FAIL.

I admit it, I've been a slacker missing the last two spin cycles the first of which I was too stressed to do a post about stress (file that one under 'I' for Irony) and this week's on proms (those photos will stay safety buried for another year).  But when Jen from Sprite's Keeper offered up technology as the topic this week, well my friends, this I can speak to.  But only using small words for reasons which shall soon become clear.

Oh where to start?  How about with the mind-boggling 4 remotes needed to watch a DVD.  Remote #1:  DirecTV remote.  Remote #2:  TV remote.  Remote #3:  VCR remote.  Remote #4:  DVD player remote.  And now the process:  Turn on TV with Remote #2, change to Channel 3 with Remote #1.  Turn on VCR with Remote #3 (because CLEARLY you should run your DVD player THROUGH the VCR) then finally turn on DVD player with remote #4.  Oh, and volume can only be controlled using Remote #2.  The wiring system was...impressive.  This also explains why when in college I DID NOT disconnect the TV/VCR wiring before leaving for the semester.  Though in all fairness, I did not come up with this system - it's all Dyl's fault.  I just couldn't figure out how to fix it.  And yes, we had very detailed instructions on how to use the TV for all babysitters who looked at us aghast when we handed them 4 remotes and an instruction booklet.  Have fun!  Though we recently upgraded to a LCD TV AND Blu-Ray player requiring only 3 remotes.  How's that for progress?

Then we have my ancient iPod that Dyl got me for my birthday 4 years ago? ish? Even after getting a new computer and finally (!) downloading iTunes (this would be LAST FEBRUARY), I still cannot transfer the songs that I bought on iTunes to said iPod.  And when I say ancient, I mean ancient: 500MB.  I am clearly one of the early adopters that will pay $600 for a phone that makes my coffee.

Speaking of coffee, I'm on my third cup this morning and I have a 12-pack of Diet Coke under my desk.  I'm just sayin'.

Last year (or was it the year before that?  Hm. I'm not sure) I got a new phone.  That! Even! Took! Pictures!  And 2 years later figured out how to send the pictures from said phone to my email address so as to share the blurry action shots of careening 2 year-olds to everyone.

Luckily I'm not a complete idiot when it comes to computers but I have been stumped by the fun buttons.  I wants them.  Blogger says I cannot has them.  But YOU has them.  Please, tell me the secret because Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V is not my friend right now.  And, what the sam hill is a hash-tag?  Can it be smoked?  Braised? Sauteed in butter?

Ah, it's finally lunchtime.  Good thing that I can at least work the microwave.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where I make up for my absence with a lot of filler....

Hi-dee-ho sports fans!  Its been quite the boring couple of weeks around here recently.  I worked.  A lot (just ask Dyl).  And will be working most likely until I keel over or the nice men in the white coats come to rescue me.  But you don't want to hear about that!  You are here for my riveting descriptions of my oh-so-glamorous-life and I will not disappoint you.  So onward we merrily slog!

First off, I bought a dress.  Well, my mom helped me buy the dress because I, in the huge, ginormous rush of FITTING INTO A SIZE SIX OMG WHICH HAS NEVER EVER HAPPENED BEFORE missed the first digit on the price tag of said dress.  And there were multiple digits.  Three of them!  Had I seen said first digit, I would NOT have fallen into deep and abiding love with the dress but merely lovingly consigned it to the 'way the hell out of my league but boy did I feel pretty damn awesome for a minute' return bin.  I am not the best shopper in the world.  CLEARLY.  And then we had pizza, beer, milkshakes and pedicures though not in that order.  But I have a dress for a fancy party next weekend and pretty toes so all is right with the world now.

Noah is now 9 months old.  Can you believe it?  This time last year I was already exerting a gravitational pull on objects around me and that was BEFORE the real summer weather started.  I'm sure that I was an absolute joy to live with.  He is...active.  And possibly a vampire because hello fangs!  His favorite toy in the whole world is the cat who exhibits an inordinate amount of patience but gives off a very obvious 'WTF DUDE?  I'M 12 FREAKING YEARS OLD' vibe as the babe crawls/lunges after her like a deranged howler monkey. (OK, that metaphor was used by someone else first but I can't remember who so if it is you, please don't go Patton Oswalt on me cuz I tried.)

Today I experienced culinary nirvana:  New York Cheesecake and pancakes.  Together, all warm and gooey and my god did that imagery get away from me.  With a side of eggs, bacon, and hash browns natch.  Where did I stumble across such a delicacy?  If you guessed 'IHOP' then *high five* and *bitchslap* for not taking me with you when you went in the first place.  Unfortunately the occasion for our IHOP adventure was not a happy one....

My friend Stacey's last day is tomorrow and it's not of her own volition.  If you need a Chemist/Supervisor/All Around Awesome Person, you should totes hire her.  She'll work for an unlimited supply of Diet Pepsi Max and iTunes gift cards.  Bonuses in the form of Edward Cullen are always welcome. 

In my quest for power and glory* (or a better job - whichever comes first), I came across a masters program in Quality Assurance that is 1) completely on line and 2) not ridiculously expensive.  Now I just have to convince Stacey to do this with me so we could drink study together then at the end have rockin' graduation party.  Because I need someone in my face to get me to do stuff otherwise I'd spend all my time on twitter and facebook and I need to justify my laptop purchase somehow.  What do you mean my rich uncle isn't real?  He's not going to give me actual money?  Well, nekrab.**

* Bonus points if you can correctly identify the movie from which it was swiped.  And you totally need to get a life
** Even more bonus points if you know where this one came from
***Super extra bonus points for getting the voice right

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I can't decide if I'm angry or sad

I had hoped that this day would never come.  I had hoped that Noelle could have avoided the pain and hurt that comes from 'friends' using their words...in not nice ways. But my daughter lost a piece of her innocence this morning.  At school.  At the hands of a friend she has been with since she was 12 weeks old, a friend that she adores.  Her heart broke today and so did mine.

Dylan took her to school this morning and part of the routine is that when we get into her classroom, she goes to the potty.  She was finishing up in the bathroom this morning when her friend and another little boy came into the bathroom and called her a 'peeper'. Or something.  Noelle is a VERY sensitive child and immediately broke down in tears.  I don't believe that it was because of the word but because of the intent.  And the intent was to cause a reaction, maybe even to hurt.  But she understood enough that it wasn't nice and it wasn't say 'hi'.  Dyl immediately took charge of the situation telling the boys that it wasn't a nice thing to say, that it hurt Noelle's feelings and to go play somewhere else.  He also told the teacher about the incident and was assured that it would be dealt with.  I really love this teacher so I have no doubt that it will be.

Yes, they are kids and yes, they are testing limits and their new found power over words but therein lies the rub.  I'm not an educator or a sociologist but I kind of think that this is how bullying gets started.  The little ones are given a free pass on using words to hurt since they 'don't really know what they are doing'.  So they learn that there are no repercussions beyond a 'time-out' (if they are caught/reported) and more importantly, they learn that words have the ability to wield power over others.  In this case, power over feelings and friendship, which could very easily lead to bullying and the horrible things that have been reported recently.

I really don't want to see this happen to this little boy; he is such an energetic and sweet child and Noelle adores him but this isn't the first instance of him using words to test limits - a few weeks ago he called Dyl a 'diaper'.  Which, admittedly, is kind of funny but on a deeper level disturbing.  And I will have no problem addressing this with his parents (who are also lovely people) should it continue.  Though I will squash my knee-jerk mama bear instincts and have the discussion in conjunction with the teachers who can speak to the behavior.

And you better believe that if I ever hear of Noelle saying things to hurt another child that she will be leading the most austere existence possible for a long (to a preschooler) time.  If there is one thing that I don't mess around with, it's bullying.

I mean, really, who would want to hurt this fairy princess?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Recession vs. Biological Clock Smackdown!

So you find yourself mired in the deepest recession since the Great Depression.  What should you do?  (Hint:  not getting knocked up is a good place to start.)  What's that?  You already are?  Well fear not my good friends for I am here to shepherd you through this (even more) frightening time with the fruits of my own experiences since apparently the ticking of the ol' biological clock TKOs common sense Every. Damn. Time.  (Full Disclosure:  I snark but our baby was very much wanted so we were prepared to do whatever was necessary to fulfill our family dream.)

Step One:  Breastfeed.  No, it isn't 'free' especially if you are working so you'll need a good pump, milk storage containers, nursing pads etc. but when you figure the cost of those supplies versus the cost of a giant container of formula (which for us with our daughter lasted only a week and ran $37), the monthly savings averaged $112.  Health Bonus:  Since you are more focused on what you put into your body, you'll tend to consume less soda and alcohol.  At least that is what has happened with me substituting a ridiculous amount of water for said soda.  You'll feel better and keep more money in your wallet.  Score!

Step Two:  Make your own baby food.  Most likely you have a food processor.  It is your friend.  Use it.  All I needed to purchase were the whole foods or frozen fruits/veggies and a couple of ice cube trays.  For example, cooking and pureeing two medium sweet potatoes filled an entire ice cube tray. Figure that the sweet potatoes cost around $1.67 and the ice cube trays (if you had to buy them) went around $1.50  Each tray holds 16 ice cubes so each serving of sweet potatoes costs 20 cents.  Compare that with the upwards of 50 cents you'll pay per jar of commercial stuff and the savings add up quick.  Bonus:  by buying more fresh and frozen fruits and veggies for your baby, you'll inevitably start serving more to the rest of the family setting strong eating habits in place for years to come. 

Step Three:  Reuse as much as possible.  Since we didn't find out the sex of our first child, all of our baby gear was gender neutral.  The nursery was light blue and the onesies/sleepers were as unisex as we could find them.  So when our son was born this past August, we were able to reuse all of our baby gear from Noelle's infancy and just update the nursery with a new border and crib sheet set.  We kept the nursery furniture in the nursery and bought new furniture for Noelle's room which was significantly less expensive then nursery furniture.

Step Four:  Hand me downs are your friend.  We were able to get all of Noah's clothes from what my nephews had outgrown.  Of course, he is as big as his twin cousins now so the flow of clothes has trickled to a stop but for the newborn stages, it was wonderful.  You can also visit consignment shops for clothes which require clothes to be stain-free and not 'worn' for less than half the price of new clothes.  Which they will outgrow in a matter of weeks.

Step Five:  Child care.  We were very fortunate that my MIL had retired and we were able to hire her to watch Noah saving us 2/3 of the cost of an Infant tuition.  We did opt to keep Noelle in school as she had moved to the preschool class and the benefit to her far outweighed the actual cost of her full time tuition.  Though we may drop her back to only 3 days a week which could be another $150/month saved.  However, we were prepared to shift work schedules or drop to a single income if need be.  Because these guys?  Are totally worth it.

I could do more to cut costs:  cloth diaper, grow own veggies, etc. but there are only so many hours in the day.  Also, I 'm pretty sure that Grandma would balk at the whole 'cloth-diaper' thing.  It absolutely sucks to have to do a cost analysis before having a child.  And many won't have the advantages that I have so this is in no way a knock on anyone.  It's just what has worked for us.  I hope that you can take away something useful from my experience and head over to Sprite's Keeper for more spins on saving money!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Ghost of Conferences Past

Last night was my parent-teacher conference with Noelle's teachers.  It didn't start off particularly auspiciously as we began almost half an hour late but that ended up being due to a miscommunication on the start time.  But first, a little background is in order.

Noelle transitioned to the 3 year old class last December, the week before her birthday.  Our first conference was in mid-January and was...less than encouraging.  She didn't participate in circle time.  She didn't run around on the playground.  She didn't interact much with her classmates, preferring to play by herself.  She didn't want to play with her friends, some of whom she had been with since she was 12 weeks old.  She had always been a reserved child, not wanting to give or receive affection to or from anyone but Dyl and I.  And I worried about this.  A lot.  Who wants to be around a person who needs that much personal space?  This is in direct contrast to my niece who is just the most open and bubbly person ever.  And is the exact same age. Of course people are going to gravitate to her; she rewarded their attention with smiles, hugs and cuddles whereas Noelle would remain firmly attached to my leg as if grafted there.  I get that, I understood that and I stressed about that.  For a long time.  But slowly, slowly, Noelle became more accepting of attention and affection until she is just as open with family as her cousin. So this development was surprising and I had asked for a follow-up conference when lo and behold, the scheduled ones were back. 

And this time...a complete 180.  Her teachers had nothing but glowing and positive things to say about her and her progress.  She is a super-active participant in circle time.  She constructs amazingly complex play scenarios with her best friend.  She is sensitive to other children's feelings and is a 'nurturer'.  She is a leader and a great sharer.  She talks all the time and loves running around with her friends on the playground.  She is a drama queen the blame for which goes squarely on Dyl's shoulders.  She knows all of her letters, numbers, shapes and colors.  Numbers in English and Spanish to 25 and most colors in Spanish too.  Note:  we are not Hispanic.  She recognizes all of her letters, upper and lower case where the 'threshold' for 3 year olds is...2. 

I am so proud of her progress!  All of this and potty trained in the span of 3 months.  She is funny and silly.  She sings and dances.  She loves hats, dress-up and her little brother.  She's a beautiful little girl who still loves cuddling on my lap first thing in the morning. She is an absolute joy and nothing makes me happier than other people getting to see what I've known all along.  She is my Noellebear.  She is my princess.  And she is so very loved.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dude, I'm tired

It's only Tuesday and I'm exhausted.  My eyes feel gritty and limbs feel heavy.  Plus it's raining and gloomy out which only serves to make me even more tired.  So this will be a lovely drive home this evening after the parent-teacher conference at Noelle's school.  Did you know that you have parent-teacher conferences in preschool?  It's true!  We even had one when she was only 6 MONTHS OLD.  That was fun:  well, your child drools and flaps around like a deranged baby duck but she sits so nicely and is very cuddly.  I'm...still not quite sure what the point was.  How, as a parent, do you ask any questions around child development when her biggest accomplishment to date has been not spitting baby food back at you? 

*Comes back from tangent*

Right, I'm tired.  And here's why:  I haven't had a weekend off since Easter.  I have worked every Saturday since mid-February (and a couple of Sundays as well) with the exception of two of them.  After working a full week.  And caring for a preschooler and infant.  Don't get me wrong, Dyl has been amazing through all of this but getting up at 4 am to be at work by 6 gets real old real fast.  I end up missing seeing the kids wake up on the weekends, no chance at big cuddles in our bed.  No relaxing in the family room drinking coffee and sharing the paper while they watch cartoons.  I miss it.  I'm missing it.  Soon we'll have Scouts and practices and stuff eating up our lazing time and I'm actually angry about being away from my family.  No job is worth it.  Except when it is.  When it has to be.  I so want to be like Cartman:  Screw you guys, I'm going home. 

I'm also getting maudlin and at bit weepy which so doesn't fit with my Alpha-Bitch rep here at work so:  Screw you guys, I'm going home.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Random Tuesday Thoughts: With a side of 'Rants'

Since it's Tuesday, you know what that means!  Even more randomness than usual around here.  We've got a lot to cover so let's get right to it:

On kids really ARE watching you
Two Christmases ago we got Noelle a play kitchen with pots, pans, a blender, plates, spoons, etc.  This past year we got her some new food to go with the kitchen.  Six months later she is finally starting to play with it.  Which entails putting certain select foods in a 'dutch oven', stirring them with a spoon and then force-feeding me, Dylan and Noah 'lunch' or sometimes 'dinner'.  Force-feeding in terms of her grabbing our chins, yanking our mouths open and shoving the spoon in there.  Except for Noah who is just starting to get the hang of this spoon-food connection so he willingly opens his mouth.  And is very confused when there isn't anything on it but continues to open his mouth when he sees the spoon in the hope that someday something might appear on it.  For the record, we have never modeled this behavior for her so I'm not entirely sure where she picked it up but it's funny.  When she does it to Dyl that is.  It's what she serves that makes me cringe:  french fries, waffles, broccoli and a 'bowl of 'sketti'.  Care to guess what we have for dinner in our house a lot?  I think that I need expand our menu and FAST.

Suze Orman isn't the only one getting her financial house in order
Dyl and I are celebrating another accomplishment.  We've paid off two credit cards completely and have made great inroads on the last one so we are planning to have everything paid off by the end of the year.  This?  Is awesome!  I'm so proud of us!  No snark, just a big ol' YAY US!

You take the good, you take the bad
Since last August when Noah was born, I've dropped 60 pounds.  An entire grade-schooler.  And yes, half of that was pregnancy weight but still, 30 pounds on top of all the baby weight.  I'm pretty damn pleased with myself if I may be so bold.  How could there possibly be any downside to this?  Well, there is a downside though 'backside' might be more accurate.  As in mine is disappearing into 'Flatassland'.  When you are worried about your pants being literally on the ground at work, this is cause for concern.  And let's be honest here, baggy pants do not look good on anyone.  I'm looking at you MC Hammer!  So, why don't I buy some new pants.  That fit?  Well I would but see above RE:  CREDIT CARDS PAID OFF!

Secret, secret, I've got a secret
I've been harboring a secret celebrity crush for many years now on David Boreanz of 'Buffy' and 'Angel' (And also 'Bones' I guess but I don't watch that show )fame which has come to an abrupt crashing end    For now, my dear, sweet, Angel has been revealed to be no better than, oh, Tiger Woods or Jesse James.  Yes, he has been cheating on his wife of 9 years with many women apparently.  One of them even linked to Woods.  Seriously, what do these famous guys do?  Get together in their Famous Manly Club and swap fame-whores phone numbers?  Do they NOT THINK THAT THIS WILL GET OUT?  Why for the love of all that is holy can they not just KEEP IT IN THEIR PANTS?  Or not get married in the first place? I...am just done.  With them all.  Fie, a pox on you!

Hello Captain Obvious!
I've just noticed/discovered that the blogspot template does in fact have a spell check button.  I'm going to pretend that this is a new and exciting thing so please do not ruin my carefully crafted illusion if it turns out that I'm just a raging idiot.

The hubs and I are going to the midnight showing of 'Iron Man 2' on Thursday.  My MIL is taking the kids so WE HAZ A DATE. 

And now for something completely different
I've been toying with the idea of a weekly column thingy dedicated to the glorious decade of excess known as the the 1980s.  Also:  the decade I grew up in.  Good idea/bad idea/don't really care.  I might do it, I might not.  But *I* think that it would be fun.  And embarrassing as oh yes, pictures will be shared.  My hair.  That is all that you need know right now.

That's it for Baltimore, Maryland, head on over to Keely the Unmom for even more random fixes!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Spin Cycle - The Mother's Day Edition

This week's Spin Cycle assignment is all about teh mammas.  And how we celebrate/acknowledge Mother's Day so make sure that you head over to Sprite's Keeper after this to read all about how others celebrate Mother's Day.  So here we go, it's time to spin!

I've been a mom for 4 years now so I guess this makes my fourth Mother's Day.  And...eh.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE being a mommy.  It's the best thing in the world as far as I'm concerned.  But Mother's Day doesn't really feel about me.  In my family, the emphasis has always been on the grandmothers and to a lesser extent my mom.  But this year will be different, a definitive paradigm change.

My grandmother died 6 weeks ago.  This will be the first Mother's Day that she won't be around.  And this makes my mom the 'matriarch' as it were.  It is...difficult because we were all so close to my grandma.  She was the center of the family so her being gone has knocked the world off of it's axis; at least for the short term.  Growing up the tradition was to all go to church together then off to grandma's house for the festivities.  Which mostly consisted of eating but it was a relaxing afternoon with my mom doing the cooking when my sisters and I were younger and us taking on more of the cooking responsibilities once we got older.  And could be trusted to not burn the house down using the oven.  Over the years the location shifted to my parents' house and we do all the cooking now.  And it drives my mom bonkers not being 'allowed' in the kitchen to help.  Breakfasts in bed, brunches, etc. were not our thing and my mom rarely eats it seems.  It was all about just being together.

My all-time favorite Mother's Day was in 2006 when my middle sister and I both announced our first pregnancies to our mom.  The cheers and the tears made it such a special day for everyone.  Tears of relief for my sister who had struggled with infertility and cheers for the first grandchildren who ended up being born just a week apart and are the best of friends.

This year we've all moved up one level on the hierarchy; my sisters and I are now firmly in the middle tier after having spend the past 30-plus years as the cellar-dwellers.  Mother's Day won't be about me for many years to come and you know what?  I'm okay with it.  My mom deserves to have her years, nay, decades in the spotlight.  She is such a terrific woman, so smart, so loving, so giving and I can't think of anyone who deserves to be feted as much as she does.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  You are the best and I love you so very much!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RTT - The spelling edition

It's Tuesday so you know what that means - time to get random!

"Mommy, spell 'houses'"
"Houses - H-O-U-S-E-S.  Houses"
"Spell 'traintracks'"
"Traintracks - T-R-A-I-N-T-R-A-C-K-S - traintracks"
"Spell 'cars'"
"Cars.  C-A-R-S Cars."
And so it went.  The entire 30 minute drive home.  And you know what I discovered?  Spelling while driving is SO much more distracting then cell phones.  Those seventh graders in the Scripps Spelling Bee?  AMATEURS.  Spell 'australopithicus' while navigating winding back country roads, then you get to claim world champion status.

Speaking of all things ancient, if you keep your shoulders back while walking, your palms face your thighs.  If your shoulders slump, they face behind you so it looks very Neanderthal-ish.  I'm just sayin'. 

From the gospel according to Noelle:  your pajamas bestow different personalities upon you as tonight she is a watermelon. 

I went searching for alphabet noodles for Noelle to try to expand her menu beyond chicken nuggets, fish sticks and tater tots.  And I found them figuring that hey, her obsession with spelling and letters, she'd eat them and all would be sweetness in light.  I showed them to her and she was so excited she kept a box next to her.  Even gave her the option for dinner:  noodles or fish sticks and she chose noodles.  Made said noodles with a butter/cheese sauce, put the plate in front of her and....no.  "I don't eat noodles."  But, she ate broccoli. I...don't get it.  At all. 

There is no 'Lost' this week.  I'm bummed especially since last week's episode was so darn good!  But, Iron Man 2 opens next week and I has a date!  To see it!  Maybe at midnight with the hubby.  On a completely different but kind of similar note, why are the movies from the 80s mostly awesome and the ones now just seem to suck?  Or maybe the actors were better.  And they hadn't run out of ideas yet. Or maybe I'm just nostalgic.  And old.

How is it that clutter simultaneously multiplies and exerts a lethargic effect on all those near?  Is this the real terror we should be fighting? The sight of it just kills my will to clean.  Which is odd since you would think that it would have the opposite effect.  Hence:  clutter.

I really need to keep a digital recorder in the car as Noelle comes up with the most interesting stream of consciousness that I've heard in a while.  Though I was ready to throw both her and her carrot bat out the window as she spent a good 10 minutes of the drive this morning letting me know the type of each passing vehicle.  Usually I wouldn't mind but A) it was Monday B) it was raining and C) it is Maryland.  A + B + C = Dear God in Heaven, What the Hell is Going On?  Is it wrong to really want a beer at 8:30 in the morning?

You should head over to Keely the Unmom for even more randomness!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And the Oscar for Most Outstanding Performance by a Woman in the Role of 'Life' Goes To....

Many years ago I read a novel whose plot I forget and whose author has been struck from my memory but something from that nameless book stuck with me.  There were identical twin sisters who, having taken very different paths in life with one going the glamorous jet-setting career route and the other becoming a wife and a mother, decided to 'try each other's life on' for a while.  The career sister masquerading as the mother attempted to quantify to her sister's children the value of being a wife and mother and what all that entailed.  She was a chef, a chauffer, a laundress, a maid, a proofreader, an editor.  She was a tailor, a seamstress, a handyman and a delivery person.  By listing the jobs done by one person in support of multiple people, she illustrated to the kids and herself the value of the role of a mother. 

Reflecting on my own life I could add a few more jobs to that list: triage nurse, teacher, coach, entertainer.  And yet this only makes up a small subset of the roles that I and many other women play.  I'm a wife, a daughter, a granddaughter, a sister, a niece and an aunt.  I'm a coach and a player, a boss and an employee.  I'm a lover and a friend, a writer and a reader.  It is a struggle, every day, to find the balance in these wildly differing roles; not just for me but for women everywhere.  It is exhausting to think about it to the point where some mornings I wish I could just pull the covers back over my head, eventually emerging from my cocoon 5 years old again with no role to play in the greater game of life beyond just living and enjoying every minute.  And yet the relationships borne of the roles which had the greatest influence on me as a person are the ones that have been shifted to the background.  Not less important for they are the rock upon which I stand but a foundation, a touchstone to bring the wildly shifting colors of daily life back into some sort of pattern. 

But for all of that being said, there is no role that I would give up voluntarily.  For as much as I love being the mommy, there are times when I like for my mom to 'mommy' me.  I enjoy the strategy of coaching but also relish the days where I don't have to run the show, can just worry about my piece of the game.  I have a tremendous amount of autonomy at work yet there are situations when I crave a mentor.  The grass may not always be greener but it sure can look cleaner.

Be sure to head over to Sprite's Keeper by Friday to read more spins on roles!