Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Naps, the Path to Salvation

Overall, mommyhood is coming along easier now than the first time around. Still, it's amazing how fast I can go from being content and satisfied, holding a sweet-smelling baby with his full belly resting on my chest, to feeling the sharp loneliness of responsibility when he's expressing more demands. If he's hungry yet again, do I have enough milk?

Most of the excruciating pain of early nursing has passed already, but it's still complicated. If one is sufficiently sleep-deprived, a bit of spit up can feel like a personal rejection instead of being just what babies do. The day returns to sunniness after a nap (his and mine both), so I'm keeping activities pretty low key for a bit longer, even though I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything on our long to-do lists.

A bite-sized story to end on a silly note: All four of us were riding in the car together for the first time this evening, and SwingDaddy and I chatted with Q in the backseat.

Me: Can you see (the micro dude)?
Q: Yep
Me: How's he doing?
Q: He says, "ehhhh, ehhhh."

Truth in reporting, that's my boy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Embarrassed to Admit It

Trashy magazines have really deteriorated in the last three years. Paying for gossip rags is something I can only justify when I've been in the hospital and can't focus on articles longer than one paragraph, so the last batch I read was at Q's birth. Since then? An explosion of new magazines, each with less content than the last. Us Weekly, OK, In Touch, People, so on and so forth.

"Stars are just like us!" screams Us Weekly. They get coffee. They forget their makeup. They park their cars. I'm not all that interested in whether Ben Affleck gets a mocha frappuccino every day or whether Angelina Jolie bought Cheetos for her children at 7-11. I like to see stars when they're on the red carpet, dressed to the nines, after a whole team of stylists, hairdressers and makeup artists have done their jobs. I already know what real life looks like – I see it every day.

My lack of reality star knowledge probably hurts too – why do Lauren and Lo hate each other? Or are they best friends and did Heidi betray them? Sadly, I don't really care. The most coherent articles of the bunch were from People, which at least had some nice photographs of the area outside where Beyonce and Jay-Z's alleged wedding took place. It's a sad day when you hold up People magazine as a standard of journalistic quality.

I think my brain is recovering enough to go back to reading books.

Monday, April 28, 2008

With Legs On

Short post tonight – many body fluids to clean up – no, nothing unusual when there are very small people around.

It's been warm around here, and we've been walking around the house barefoot. Q looks at his sockless feet and announces, "I have my toes on!"

I'm wearing a skirt for the first time in half a year and am greeted with a cheerful comment, "Mama, you have your legs on!"

In honor of Earth Day, come see a whole selection of excellent giveaways at The Full Mommy! Contest entry deadlines are May 2.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wocking Out

Why do all the parenting experts always talk about how babies are comforted by conditions that remind them of the womb? The author of Happiest Baby on the Block encourages loud "shushing" sounds that would be heard by the fetus. Gadget manufacturers sell devices that make heartbeat sounds.

There must be babies who don't miss being in utero – those who thought it was dark, cramped, and had no nightlife. Now, they can make an entire household come running with just a few cries.

Obviously, my mind is wandering to nonsensical thoughts during all the hours I hold the micro dude while he nurses.

I snuggle my sweet baby and realize that all too soon, he will join the sweet boy who is currently stomping around the living room, channeling Freddie Mercury and singing, "We Will, We Will Wock You."

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Animal Butts, On View for Our Children

When I was pregnant with Q, I embarked on a search for the perfect mobile to hang over his changing table. Three years later, here are the animals, cut loose from the mobile after repeated toddler tugging tore the fabric and it seemed best to turn them into regular playthings.

(Scene from last week: Q trots the alligator over to the giraffe.
My mother says, "Look, they are friends!"
Q replies instead, "Yum."
Well, that's probably more accurate anyway.)

I was quite proud of finding this mobile, because it was directionally well designed. For example, here's how the giraffe looked to adults standing near the mobile.

And here's how the giraffe looked when the baby looked upward at it. The ribbons were sewn so that the animal was angled for good viewing from the baby's perspective.
We'd seen so many snooty, trendy mobiles with two-dimensional pieces of art, which were nice for the parents.
But pretty useless from below.
For Swimmy, I found the perfect sealife cribware, but I did the shopping online and didn't see the mobile until it arrived. The octopus is mighty cute. Unfortunately, from below, the micro dude will just see an octopus butt. Oh well. We do our best, but sometimes, funny things happen.

Along that theme of animal rear ends, here's an excellent toy that just arrived from SwingDaddy's parents.

The other side of the peacock is black, white, and red- the high contrast colors that a newborn is able to see. So guess what! We're looking at a peacock's butt these days too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Et Tu?

Q's preschool calendar had "Moms Day" scheduled for the end of April, and I was worried that I'd be in the hospital delivering Swimmy and have to miss it. Luckily, he arrived ahead of schedule, and I happily joined Q at school yesterday.

We examined some fish through our telescopes and played at the water table. He decorated a heart-shaped pin for me (very tastefully, I might add) and led me by the hand to see some sand toys. It was a lovely afternoon.

My favorite exchange on the car ride home:

Me: Did you have a nice time at school today?
Q: Yes. And you?

And you? The little dude is learning all those niceties of interaction, how to show caring for others. What a splendid age.

Due to network connectivity issues, I didn't get yesterday's post up until now, so check it out and let me know if you have an opinion on baby slings!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Being Kanga

When thinking back to Q's babyhood, two areas of personal improvement (mine, not his) come to mind. I never really got the hang of the pump. And I never mastered using a baby sling. I'm determined to increase my success at both, this time around.

I was impressed by Kristen and Christina being able to roam BlogHer with babies in tow, and they kindly gave me some excellent sling recommendations. I haven't had a lot of luck with the ring-based slings, so I'm planning to try out the Rockin' Baby Pouch. Wanna help me choose which one?

There's a basic black and white:

My favorite colors, red and black.

Another red and black:

And now for something completely different:

Thoughts? I think I prefer either the third or fourth design.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

In the Meantime

While I gather enough consecutive minutes to write the micro dude's birth story, here's a quick update on Q's room. The wall decals finally arrived!

I was planning on a set of four drummers, placed in a square, but thought we'd order two to see how they looked first.

Q is quite pleased with the high-haired drummers and so are we.

Monday, April 21, 2008

A Mother of Two

Where to begin? As a mom to two boys . . . wow, tonight is the first time I write those words. The micro dude is one week old, and it's been great.

For the first year of this blog, I wrote seven days a week, and for the second year, six days a week (minus a few sick days). This is the first week I've "taken off." I've enjoyed reading everyone's posts daily, but haven't been tapping out comments with the free hand that's not holding the baby. I'm back now!

I have a lot of scribbled notes to turn into posts so you can hear all about how I showed up all by myself in the Labor and Delivery ward with nothing but my purse. And how Swimmy was kind enough to wait until "Dancing with the Stars" was over before he was properly positioned for me to push.

I've been trying all week to get a good photo of my boys. Q, however, is completely uninterested in posing for photographs with his little brother. Instead, he wants to take photos of his brother. Well, that works too.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

All Hail the Micro Dude

Q is happy to announce the birth of his little brother on Monday night. We're all healthy and home now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Glories of Summer, Coming Our Way

It felt like summer today. I lazed under the big ceiling fan in our bedroom, blessing the Original Owners for installing it, and re-reading Under the Tuscan Sun. It recounts the low key adventures of two Bay Area professors who purchase an abandoned farmhouse in rural Italy and painstakingly restore it between sumptuously cooked meals in the heat. Just the right book for the weather.

I've had trouble finding reading material in the last months, because I've become unwilling to take risks with uncertain authors. Only a master will do, when the rest of my body is preoccupied with building a whole new being. I have no patience for new planets in peril or angst-ridden memoirs. That's resulted in a re-reading a lot of old favorites, and mixing in more non-fiction than usual.

"Tuscan Sun" has been a soothing read, because even though I am surrounded by still-packed boxes and haphazardly arranged living space, I'm not in the midst of replacing a flush-bucket toilet system, working with contractors who speak in dialects unknown to me, or trying to trim one hundred olive trees. I can enjoy the fruits of their labor vicariously and tackle much smaller projects, like finding summer clothes for the little dude.

My mom and I went shopping this afternoon, and it seemed like half the Carter's line featured Q's favorite friendly, fearsome toothy beasts. We took advantage of the half price sales and brought home an armful of shark-emblazoned items. I found one particularly perfect set of PJs that were decorated with not only a shark, but an assortment of octopi and cuddly crabs as well. Something for everyone.

Q at 8 months old.
Does every parent look at her child with amazement at his beauty? I cannot believe there is such pure, luminous glory in the world. Even when he cries tears of exhaustion on my shoulder, having been too excited to play, play, play with his grandfather all afternoon to nap, he radiates.

I feel like it took me a long time to come into my own as a mother. Now, there is no comparison to knowing that when I kneel down and hold him in my arms, he will be comforted by me, that he will feel better, just because I am there.

I only have one more email to send for work and then I am free, on leave for multiple weeks. I've had a few good days with my boy, baking muffins, reading stories. I've had a few good evenings with my husband, enjoying a fine dinner out and quiet time together. We have the baby's hammock ready, clean clothes for him to wear. I am at peace.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Well, That Eco-Effort Didn't Work Out So Well

I finally got around to finding the perfect hand towels to match Q and Swimmy's bathroom. I know you're supposed to wash new towels separately, but it seemed like such a waste of electricity and water, so I threw them in with my own laundry.

The result? The remaining four items of clothing that still fit me are covered in teal fuzz. Great.

In more cheerful news, we joined a great playdate yesterday where Q traded paint pens cheerfully with TayTay and Nah and played marbles with buddy A.

I noticed that the little dude is picking up some goofy tidiness habits from my side of the family. He probably ate half a watermelon, slice by slice, standing at the edge of the doorway so that any drips fell outside on the concrete, instead of the floor of the living room.

I also receive a reminder each time I'm insufficiently careful washing my hands and get water spots on the mirror over the sink. "Mama, you made a mess!" and I have to wipe it up. I guess this is my own fault.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Not Quite Brave Enough

Updated below.

A couple of weeks ago, there was a flurry of pictures posted in response to Sweetney's challenge to show oneself first thing in the morning – no makeup, no pretenses, all truth. I have to admit that I'm simply not up for that.

When I was expecting Q, the only photo we have of those last large weeks (aside from the evening I wore the red Regency gown to a fancy dress ball) is one where I'm almost entirely tucked behind our brand new car seat. This was not by accident.

With Swimmy, things are a little different, because I really wanted to capture that special moment before Q's bedtime when he "hugs" his little brother good night. So this is my contribution to the portrait of truth – a mama and her boys.

My doctor's appointment went really well today. No swelling, no weight gain, and excellent blood pressure, which is better than last week. I think it can mostly be attributed to working at home - both avoiding the commute and the frantic running around to meetings.

Being relatively healthy is a bit of a personal triumph, because it's so hard to sit still when there are things to be done. Actually, it's a family triumph, because SwingDaddy has been playing with Q so much and letting me rest with my feet up. My parents and sister have taken endless phone calls from me, talking nonsense about Dancing with the Stars, so that I don't jump up and start working.

In any case, after today, I'm not calling my family any more. Every time I ring to chat, they think I must be announcing contractions. I'm going to have to find a new way to keep myself distracted while resting. Maybe start playing videogames? (Just kidding y'all, I love you!)

Updated: Just wanted to say that in no way do I attribute being healthy entirely to my actions - there's a huge amount of luck and genetics there. At this point in my last pregnancy, Q had already been induced and born, due to pre-eclampsia, so I'm counting my lucky stars.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Very Literate People Work Here

I can only presume that this office building is filled with people who use their words properly, so that even a sign taped to the bathroom door is nicely worded. On the other hand, if this had been an engineering station, maybe they wouldn't need the sign because they'd replace the lock with one that didn't inadvertently lock you out.

This week, I'm washing tiny doll-sized clothes and socks and sleepers that have been stored away since Q was a few months old. SwingDaddy retrieved the infant carseat, bouncer, and swing from the garage, and all three look surprisingly new. We've been rearranging furniture and crib bedding (Cute! Sealife themed! Featuring fuzzy octopi!) in Swimmy's future room, and it's starting to look comfy. Things are getting very real, as if the kicking in my abdomen weren't proof enough.

I'm having occasional wistful feelings about our family of three. Q is the center of our universe, and it seems cruel to deprive him of being the sole focus of our attention. He'll never again have as much of our time as he does now. On the other hand, being a sibling and learning that he isn't actually the center of the universe will probably make him a much better human being, and having a brother means (hopefully) a lifelong friend. I'm looking forward to our family of four.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Don't Have Blue Eyes Either

We planned to take a "childbirth refresher" class at the hospital, a mere four hour session to recap the whole weekend of material we took as first time expecting parents. It was canceled due to low registration, so I figured I'd just haul out the pamphlets from last time and review. Because what would happen if I didn't study the material? I might not remember what to do and then the baby would never be born, right?

I'd forgotten some of the amusing things one comes across in guidebooks, even things published recently. One hospital handout in particular was definitely not written by someone who lives in the Bay Area. Quote: "All babies are born with blue eyes. It will be several months before you will know whether they will stay blue."

Um, can you say, "People of Asian descent?" I also can't imagine that "all" Latino or African-American babies are born with blue eyes either. Sorry, my eyes were brown from the very first day.

Also, in an area where less than 50% of boys (boys, not 50% of babies, mind you), are circumcised, the section on the procedure was also a bit heavily emphasized.

I find the discrepancies funny rather than offensive, but it does make me wonder if there are more serious inaccuracies that I don't recognize. I do, however, agree with the segment on how a new parent shouldn't expect to get a lot of sleep. Better go get a nap now, while I can.

Monday, April 07, 2008

America's Pastime, Kind Of

Q was telling me all about baseball the other day. There are two components you need to play: "The ball. And the whacker."

Well, I suppose that's accurate.

I'm working part-time from home this week, as a way to wean myself away from the various crises at the office, and finding it surprisingly hard to turn off that focus. I really want to power through a few last documents so that I can get a little break before Swimmy arrives. With Q, I sent final transition emails to my team four hours before we headed into the hospital, and while it was certainly efficient, it wasn't exactly restful.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Higher the Hair

Q woke up with a dramatic case of bedhead earlier in the week, and I was kicking myself for being un-alert at the camera. Fortunately, we had a repeat episode this morning.

"Oh no! Mama, I have very high hair."

We dampened and combed it, but I'm quite fond of his "high hair."

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Taxes, Taxes, Beautiful Taxes


(Ten points to Gryffindor if you can name the what movie from which the post title originates without Googling.)

After many hours of double-checking, double-takes, and cursing, I think we’re done with the paperwork for our taxes. All that money, and it doesn’t even include healthcare and parental leave, like for our Canadian friends. Still, I suppose one should be grateful to be making enough money to have to pay taxes in the first place.

My brain is too tired to write more tonight, but I’m realizing that I’m running out of time to finish posts on these topics before Swimmy arrives.
- The First Diaper I Ever Changed (a tale which involves ambulances!)
- The Stupidity of Not Asking For Help (and how I’m getting better at it)
- Truthfulness in Blogging
- Art Vs Commerce
- And Eyes on the Prize (thoughts on being pregnant)

In the meantime, a photo essay from Q. Digital cameras rock.

Still life with tools.

Future MOMA contribution.

Most importantly, Guitar Hero accoutrement.

Oh yeah, here's Mama and Baba too.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What's that Parking Space Worth to You?

By now, everyone's heard about the failed attempt to pass a Californian law allowing third-trimester pregnant women to park in spaces designated for the disabled. While it would certainly be convenient to have a "temporary disabled" placard this month, I think I agree with the ruling. Each individual experience is pretty different, and if you need the placard, your doctor can write a request to the DMV for you. (Note that I don't know how hard it is to actually get this accomplished, but in theory, it would serve the desired purpose of helping those in need.)

Although I get annoyed driving to the reaches of outer space, looking for parking at the office, and I'm a slower walker now, it's still manageable. There has been at least one time where I would have liked the nice, wide handicapped space, because I've had to turn the engine back on and re-park my car elsewhere, since the first space was too narrow for me to open the car door and squeeze my belly out the opening.

However, for me personally, the most important time to have the parking privilege would have been between 12-17 weeks, when I was horribly nauseated and the endless circling around the parking lot, going over what seemed like hundreds of speedbumps, made me feel sicker with every jarring landing. That would have been a priceless time to have the disabled placard.

As far as stores and malls having spaces designated for expecting mothers, I think that's a great idea. It's goes with the concept of family bathrooms at the mall or TVs tuned to the sports channel for the spouses of shoppers at Nordstrom – proprietors should figure out what will help attract and keep their target customers.

I've often looked for those elusive "stork" parking spaces, but have only gotten to take advantage of them twice over two pregnancies. One time was Babies R Us, where the entire clientele is eligible and there are so many designated spaces that you might as well not have any. The second time was during the holidays at the mall, when any and all parking was nightmare, so it was a happy moment to pull into the pink-signed space. I even took a picture of the sign to celebrate (above). Hopeless blogging instincts.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Cuteness Uber Alles

After a really rough day at work where an important demo actually went quite well and things were accomplished, but exhaustion and preggo grumpiness set in, I was relieved to come home and be incoherent for a while. And play with this little dude.
Practicing for our first dentist's appointment.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Iron Chef Q

SwingDaddy and I have been watching a lot of the Food Network lately, as a mellow way to hang out when we need a break from whatever nonsense is keeping us running. One particularly amusing program is "Iron Chef America," which keeps all the high melodrama of the Japanese original.

The Iron Chefs appear dramatically backlit, dry ice billowing around them, while the challenging chef must call out his opponent. The host quirks an exaggerated eyebrow and declares that today's secret ingredient is . . . (suspenseful music) Ginger! Or Rabbit! Chocolate!

(Aside: SwingDaddy has seen one of the original Japanese versions where the secret ingredient was octopus. I was crushed when he told me, but he said it was ok – they were the slimy kind, not cute, friendly plush friends. It got me to thinking though – what if the secret ingredient was plush octopus? That would be a culinary trick indeed.)

We've only seen a few episodes so far, and to our great surprise, yesterday's show featured an acquaintance and fellow blogger as a judge! Pim from Chez Pim, speaker at BlogHer 2006, and former colleague at the Company, was there on TV, giving knowledgeable opinions on the fancy cooking. She quit her tech job a few years ago to do the food thing full time. I love seeing people follow their dreams and succeed.