Monday, June 30, 2008

And Now I Look Like Tina Fey

I’ve been taking advantage of this time off from work to fit in a parade of appointments – OB (of course), dentist, annual physical, hair stylist, brow waxer, piano tuner, locksmith, charity pickups and so forth. Most recently, I visited the eye doctor and came home with new specs.

I love my new glasses – I’m sure I’m much smarter in them. Now I probably still look like Lucy, but with Tina Fey’s glasses.


~
Do any of you remember Timon and Pumba, the meerkat and warthog from The Lion King? When the baby lion runs away and is recued by the duo, they convince him that he’s going to have to start eating insects instead of hunting game if he’s going to live with them. The lion reluctantly slurps down some grubs, and admits that they are “slimy, yet satisfying.”

Q-ster loves that part, and it saved me yesterday when he was looking at dinner suspiciously.

“It’s a casserole, honey.”
He noticed the sauce on the broccoli. “Ga-WOSE!” (Gross)
“You can try it later, if you want.” About ten minutes later, he was willing to take a bite of the sauce-covered broccoli.

“Slimy!” He made a face and pushed the bowl away.
I thought quickly and replied, “Yet satisfying!”
He paused. And then he ate the whole thing.
Whew. Saved by a movie.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Totally Nailed That Parenting Moment

“What’s that?” asked Q-ster.

I carried a flat box into the playroom. “It’s a new puzzle. You and Auntie can play with it when your dad and I leave to teach our dance class.”

After that, the little dude couldn’t get us out of the house fast enough. I was initially really pleased – I’d avoided a clingy, weepy departure, and we left a happy child. Then it occurred to me that my proud moment was the equivalent of acing Bribery 101.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Other Kind of Creativity

No writing tonight, as I seem to have satisfied my creative need with two successfully taught dance classes tonight. Instead, I shall leave you with Q-ster's citrusy smile:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Three Times Today and Lord Knows How Many Tomorrow

I would watch pretty much anything, even the Abomination-esque kiddie show, if it moves potty training along, but a new DVD arrival is stretching my limits.

The Company does its best to be family friendly and provides a selection of materials to parents, free of charge. I saw something called Potty Power, and figured that it wouldn't hurt to order it.

We watched it three times today, by Q-ster's request. Did he use the potty even once? No. We're holding out hope that there will eventually be results, because being subjected to the "Proud to Wear My Underwear" song and "No More Diapers for Me" song repeatedly is brutal, I tell you. I'm starting to have Stockhold Syndrome and think that the animated toilet paper roll is sort of charming. Or maybe he's just Charmin.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Still Life with Bottle Brushes

After reading a billion articles about BPA being a dangerous substance in plastics, we abandoned our old Avent baby bottles and replaced them with a Born Free set for Buster. The Born Frees have an accompanying pair of high tech cleaning brushes that rotate and fit the bottles exactly. Color = Yellow.

Then it came to light that my beloved Nalgene water bottles contain BPA, so Rugger Mom sent us a set of fabulous ceramic-lined metal Sigg bottles for Christmas. They're somewhat tricky to keep clean, but I didn't feel like shelling out for the special Sigg brushes until SwingDaddy's bottle started smelling suspiciously like algae. I ordered them. Color = Green.

Plus, we have a regular ol' dishwashing brush. Color = Red.

This all leads to a sink-side bottle brush festival that looks a little like overkill.

~
Other exciting news: Silicon Valley Moms Blog has a syndication arrangement, and my last post for them (What Part of Nursing Mother Makes You Say "Dry Clean Only?") got picked up! So far, my post has appeared in six papers, from the illustrious Idaho Statesman to the Charlotte Observer, Fresno Bee, and others. The byline just has my first name, so I'll need to decide whether to start blogging under my full name someday soon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Please Tell Me These Are Not Gangsta Handsigns

Someone allowed the child to watch America's Best Dance Crew and look what happened.

~
Signs of a Blogger

I'm looking into arrangements for an out of town wedding this autumn. Is it really goofy to pass up the plush, fancier B&B in exchange for an ordinary hotel with high speed internet access? I'm trying to explain it as saving money, since our stay will be so short that we won't get to take advantage of all the amenities anyway, but we all know the real reason.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Led Zeppelin Lullaby

Stoplights have never been so stressful. Last week, we were driving home from Buster's two month check-up when he started fussing and crying. We picked up some speed and he settled down. We slowed for a turn and he was displeased. Stoplight. Uh-oh, much wailing.

I pulled out my iPod and searched for the one song that would calm Q-ster as a baby - an orchestral arrangement of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir. It's a little odd for a lullaby, but as a parent, superstitions rule. For example, rocking the baby for exactly seventeen minutes before you set him down in the belief that it will magically allow you to get five consecutive hours of sleep. Not that anyone I know has done anything like that.

Kashmir totally worked, and Buster chilled out. I have strange little boys.

Buster's gotten smiley in the last few days, and time is just disappearing while I smile back at him. I hold him when I glance at the clock a moment later, thirty minutes just went by. He's also mastered the powerful and mysterious word, "GAH!" I'm not sure what he expects to happen, but it seems like quite the incantation.

I'm a little worried that he seemed to reject the bottle today, since I'm going back to work in not so many weeks. I'm attending a meeting tomorrow morning, so I hope he'll eat agreeably while I'm gone. Ack.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Perils of Education

Q-ster and I were having a lovely morning, dancing his version of hip hop and waving microphones in the air. It was high time for lunch, so I made some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (he was very tickled by the abbreviation "PB&J," which was a good opportunity to practice sounding out letters), and asked if he wanted his cut into rectangles or triangles.

He paused wickedly and said, "Octogon!" Troublemaker.

Mama obliges.
The little dude ran off with his father's baseball cap, but he looks so cute that we couldn't bear to take it away.

Buster slept really well last night and is starting to be more alert during the days. He did get pretty fussy at bedtime, and after trying every possible thing to soothe the wails (Hungry? Poopy? Uncomfortable clothes? Too hot? Too cold?), I tried nursing him again, which worked. I'm Very Reluctant to go down this path where the primary source of calming is the boob. First of all, it means that no one else can help. Plus, fifteen years from now, what if he gets sub-optimal results on his PSATs and needs comforting? Let's not go there.

(Joke, haha, in case it wasn't obvious.)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Someone Has Discovered Pockets

Why do little boys have so many pockets in their pants? I guess we need to start inspecting them for crayons before doing the laundry.

Sample result.

And this is how our dryer looks. From the evidence, Q-ster must have squirreled away green, orange, and purple crayons and two rocks. I suppose it was bound to happen at some point.

In other news, I tucked the micro dude in the sling, walked down the block for a neighborhood ladies gathering, and it worked well enough to call the sling experiment a success!

I've heard from a few of you who are also thinking about using a baby sling, so here are my thoughts.

1) Yes, I think it's a tool worth having. It's nice to have both hands free, even for a short while.

2) Possibly helpful hint: Even if the baby is somewhat fussy during the insertion process, keep trying. Once you have him in the sling, you can cuddle and soothe him.

3) Downside: I haven't used the sling for longer than 40 minutes so far, because even though I'm not holding the baby in my arms, my back still gets tired after that amount of time. We'll see if I work up to longer periods, but I know I wouldn't be able to keep the baby in the sling for multiple hours immediately.

Hope you're having a nice weekend! It's mighty hot around here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Two Good Reasons to Get Up in the Morning

Although I'd prefer 8am instead of 4:30.

We have lived in our new house for six months and one day, so we celebrated by unpacking ten more boxes in our bedroom. Only about 400 to go!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Potty Truce Declared

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA – Following several live-fire exercises, parties involved in a heated potty training dispute agreed to a cease-fire. Enforcer Lady M was quoted as saying a senior diplomatic officer advised backing down in a no-win power struggle and resuming debate in one month. The opposition was duly informed that he was still “too Little to use the potty and would continue to wear diapers, like Baby Buster, until he was ready to be Big.” On day one following the truce, opposition leader Captain Q-ster was seen volunteering to use the potty twice.

~~~~~
I have a new post at Silicon Valley Moms Blog, titled What Part of Nursing Mother Makes You Say “Dry Clean Only?Click over to find out!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ever Wonder Why

Why does Infant Tylenol have a cherry flavoring? What does a baby know about cherries?

As SwingDaddy points out, infant medication should be milk flavored.

P.S. I can't believe how many of you bothered to read yesterday's monster-length post. Thanks!

Also, does "P.S." make sense when blogging? It stands for postscript, thoughts that one wanted to add after the writing was finished. If I'm handwriting a letter, I can't go back an insert content in the middle, so I'd use a postscript. When blogging, however, I can just scroll up and type the additional thoughts, so I haven't really been indicating postscripts – instead, it's more of a non sequitur announcement. I'm going to try out a different abbreviation.

N.S. I think I'm rambling. Time to get some sleep.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Prepared for an Early Career in Cease-Fire Negotiations

We never had the terrible twos around here. Three, however, is becoming quite the challenge. We’re finding that we need to develop some kind of joint master strategy with allied adults in handling the little dude, because he is one tough customer.

Take potty training, for example. All sorts of authorities point to invoking a system of small rewards leading to a larger reward if the child is cooperative and uses the potty. However, there is nothing you can offer Q-ster.

Stickers? Not interested. Lightning McQueen underpants? Insufficiently motivational. M&Ms, cookies, other sweets? If we put a condition on having them, he declares that he didn’t really want them anyway. At the age of three, he’s gaming the system pretty well.

After a few too many bedtime delays last week, we said “Honey, if you come out of your room one more time, you can’t have any sweets tomorrow."
Fifteen seconds later, a small boy is seen running down the hallway.
“No candy or cookies tomorrow!”
“Ok, “ replies he, unruffled.

The next day, Q-ster desperately wants a cookie. At last, I think. It's an opportunity to show him cause and effect, action and consequence. I tell him that he can’t have one because he broke the rules yesterday.

He sees the trap and counters. “That’s ok. Another day." He turns to another activity.

Last weekend, the little dude expressed great interest in green socks (his favorite color), and I procure a pair, saying that he can have them if he poops on the potty. He now pretends that the socks have lost their luster. “Some other time,” he shrugs.

Negotiations are pretty much a non-starter at present, so we'll have to keep searching for the right motivation. In the mean time, the kid has a future playing hardball as a lawyer. I pity the opposing counsel.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I read that New Jersey Moms Blog was hosting a book club around the publication of “Writing Motherhood” by Lisa Garrigues, I was intrigued. I write about motherhood, sometimes poorly, and other times with more skill. What does the author have to say about it? I signed up for my free copy of the book.

The project assigned us to address one of two writing prompts, which I’ve done above (tell about a time your child broke the rules), rather than provide a review of the book, but I can’t help but give a bit of my opinion on that too.

Garrigues is compelling writer. She provides great anecdotes and makes me want to continue reading. However, I don’t know whether I’m really in her target audience. I’ve read the first hundred pages of the book, and there's a lot of time spent granting the reader permission to write. Um, I don’t need permission. I’m doing it every day.

The author makes a big deal about keeping a “Mother’s Notebook,” which she insists absolutely must be written by hand on paper, saying how a writer should have a callus on the middle finger and ink smudges. That might be the case in previous generations, but I know I think more clearly and write quickly at a keyboard. I can both capture fleeting thoughts before they disappear, and later edit to my heart’s content. True, you can’t bring your laptop everywhere, but anywhere I wouldn’t risk my laptop, I wouldn’t risk the one and only copy of all my writing either! I keep backup copies of my active writing files, so I won’t lose the scraps of sentences telling me what cute thing my son said, even if I never write it into a full story.

There are also sections on why it’s necessary to have a “sacred” space for writing and how to generate ideas. These concepts may speak to other readers, but I pretty much write where I do all my other work, and at last count, had about 30-40 typewritten pages of ideas I’d love to explore further when I get the time.

Based on what I’ve read so far, I’d recommend the book to someone who wasn’t yet writing or blogging, particularly to a woman feeling insecure about writing. I plan to finish reading “Writing Motherhood,” since the chapters ahead include interesting topics such as how to make quality revisions and sharing work. The book definitely made me think about how I do my own writing and why it's important.

Thanks, to NJ Moms Blog for hosting the book club!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Hoarding Instinct Gone Awry

Like many parents, I keep a secret stash of toys for emergencies. It's useful to have something to distract Q-ster while we review our loan documents. Provide consolation on a bad day, a bribe to get in the bath quickly - that sort of thing. It's become a habit to toss things in a canvas bag for "later," and mostly forget about them.

I went through the closet today while looking for a gift bag to hold SwingDaddy's Father's Day present, and while I didn't find a bag that wasn't covered with pastel baby icons, I did find the following items hidden away:

One Melissa and Doug floor puzzle
Two matchbox cars
Three plastic toys from fast food meals
Six sticker books
Eight books (mostly from a secondhand store where we have credit from returns, but some are gifts that arrived when Q-ster was too young for them)

I think that perhaps I've gotten a little too obsessed with always being prepared with a toy and actually need to hand them out before he outgrows them!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Dad for All Seasons

It's no secret that SwingDaddy is an amazing father to our children.

He'll roughhouse with Q-ster, featuring the legendary tickle-tackle. He makes trips to the park. Outings to Fry's Electronics, which for Bay Area geeks falls into the category of excellent father-son activity, like going fishing. Sure, he does all those traditional things and does them well.

There's a lot more to it though. At four in the morning, he'll be helping me throw a set of onesies soaked in baby barf into the wash and wipe up the micro dude. He's endlessly patient with Q-ster, even when the little dude has missed his nap and gets what even a three year old would call irrational. He does quality time and quantity time both.

I see how he snugly holds each of our boys, how Q-ster adores and looks up to his daddy and know that Buster will do the same, just as soon as he can control his own neck muscles.

Sweetie - I wouldn't have this amazing family without you. Obviously, for the biological reasons, but also because I don't know if I would have been brave enough to shoulder the responsibilities and therefore receive all the joy.

Happy Father's Day to all you dads!

Especially to my dad, who showed me the kind of man I should looking for.

P.S. I fully realize I ended that last sentence with a preposition, but inverted phrase, although grammatically correct, just didn't have the right sound. I'm sure you can handle it.

P.P.S. The photo is an old pic of SwingDaddy with baby Q-ster.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Place for Roo

A lot of you shared thoughtful comments about your own baby-feeding experiences in response to my recent posts. Thank you. It means a lot to know how many supportive women there are, each with her own story.

~
My household to-do list remains spectacularly untouched, but I have begun tackling two major motherhood items. One you heard about yesterday. And here's another step forward with the other. Buster snuggled in the sling long enough for me to check email, tidy up his room, and snap a picture!

~
Our beloved local Park & Zoo is closing down for major renovations in a few weeks, and I just read about the results of an auction they held, selling off various nostalgia items to raise money for the new and improved park. The carousel sold for $12,000. How cool would it be to have your own merry-go-round? A full-size 1943 firetruck went for $1500.

There were also smaller lots, like forty-three individual pieces of this bright colored maze. The highest bid was $250 for a section of wall.


I took one of my all-time favorite pictures of Q-ster there last summer.

I'm looking forward to the grand re-opening next year.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Inordinately Proud

Don't laugh. I consider this progress.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I'll Probably Regret This

I may get firebombed by lactivists for saying this, but I'm gonna anyway. Why doesn't anyone tell new mothers that it's possible to breastfeed part time?

In the last few months, I've run into several acquaintances who are exhausted from stress or pain from nursing issues, pumping, you name it. I tell them that it's up to them what they want to do, but there are a lot of options – one doesn't have to choose to exclusively breastfeed or formula feed. The look of relief on their faces would be comical, if it didn't also make me sad that they'd been suffering. For many women, full-time breastfeeding works great, but not for everyone.

When I went back to work after having Q-ster, I nursed him in the morning, and then he had bottles of formula during the day. I came home early from work to nurse him, then worked from home, and nursed him again in the evenings. I had to gradually adapt my body to the reduced number of feedings, but it worked really, really well. I was able to breastfeed Q-ster for several months longer than I would have otherwise.

I imagine that this wouldn't work for every single woman or infant, but it's definitely a possibility to consider. Especially for women who are actually extending their workdays so that they have enough time to pump at the office. Instead, they can get home earlier and nurse the baby in person!

~
In completely unrelated news, I saw photos from the San Francisco Black and White Ball last month and thought that it was about time to make big going-out and dressing-up plans again. The Palo Alto Black and White Ball may not quite be in the same league, but it's a pretty cool event, and the shorter driving distance will save two hours of babysitting time. October 4 – plenty of time to shop for new dresses and shoes.

I think I will ping my moms group and other friends to see if anyone is up for it. It's pretty pricey, but $90 of the $135 ticket is tax-deductible as a charitable donation. Wanna go?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Busting Out at Trader Joe's

I escaped Chez M tonight after the micro dude was asleep and while SwingDaddy was jousting with the little dude's bedtime procrastination techniques. It's amazing how 22 minutes of time alone – just driving to the grocery store, throwing a few items in the basket, stepping through checkout, and coming home – made me feel in better balance. I think a big part of it was being able to make decisions quickly and without debate.

I thought, "I want some broccoli," and put broccoli in my shopping bag. The broccoli didn't say, "But I don’t waaaaaaant to!"

I tossed some packages of cheese puffs in the bag, and they didn't say, "Noooo! Laaaaater. Not noooooow!"

I selected some pineapple, and it didn't barf on me and require a full change of clothing for everyone in the room.

All in all, an excellent use of my free minutes today.

~
A question for you: What feedreader do you use, and can you see my blog updates? Since I started forwarding to my new url, I think some folks can't see the updates, so I need to investigate!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

No, The Child is Not Asking You to Chill the Gin

Q-ster's perceptive ears will be my downfall. He's got SwingDaddy's knack of picking up lyrics, while I just mostly listen to melody. The latest fave song? "All That Jazz" from Chicago, the 1920's styled seedy-side of life musical. Sample verse:

Start the car
I know a whoopee spot
Where the gin is cold
But the piano's hot

It's just a noisy hall
Where there's a nightly brawl
And all that jazz


Fortunately, the version we've been watching is from the Jabbawockeez, so the hip-hop-ified song has many indistinguishable phrases. That means that Q-ster endlessly asks me why the piano is hot. But at least he's not asking me why the gin is cold.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Kneepads, Worth Their Weight in Gold

I felt pretty goofy, tugging on the old kneepads that I'd bought years ago for hip hop dance classes, but five minutes later, there was no amount of money that you could have paid me in exchange for them, as I crawled after Q-ster in the big indoor climbing/crawling adventure playground. I have a nice set of matching bruises on my shins from a slip exiting a tunnel into the ball pit, but my knees? They are fine.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Poor Impulse Control

June is a major month in our household for selecting the perfect greeting cards. Between birthdays, anniversaries, and Father's Day, Q and I had an quite a lengthy session at Target this week. While we were there, I saw a "congratulations on the new baby" card that I couldn't resist . . . for myself. Yes, it's pretty goofy to buy oneself a congratulations card, but I'm such a sucker (haha) for a cute octopus or two.



As you may have noticed, we've finally gotten around to pointing the blog at the new url that SwingDaddy gave me for Christmas. I thought I was due for a promotion, so it's empress-m.com. Hopefully, we'll have time this weekend to tweak the new graphic (drawn by Secret Agent Josephine) so that it lines up correctly too. Thanks to Lady O for setting me down the path to the logo with her Christmas gift. I fully realize that June is a bit late to be taking these actions, but we've been a little busy around here.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Someone Please Explain the Rules to Me

Anyone who regularly watches children's television knows that there are certain idiosyncratic rules for a show, equivalent to R2D2 talking only in beeps, but being perfectly understandable to C3PO and other allies.

In Bob the Builder, all the machines (bulldozer, cement mixer, etc) are able to talk, but none of the animals do. In Handy Manny, all the tools (hammer, wrench, and so on) run around of their own accord, but no other inanimate objects do. In old days of Sesame Street, children could see the Snufflelaphagus, but adults could not. Shows have their gimmicks and pretty much stick to them.

Or at least most do. We've been watching Oswald with Q-ster lately, and I'm really confused. Oswald is a very round octopus (yay!) who wears a bowler hat and has a pet dog, Weenie. Oswald speaks (voiced by Fred Savage of Wonder Years fame, no less), but Weenie does not. Oswald lives in the same apartment building as his best friend Henry, a penguin. Their other compatriot is Daisy, a walking, talking flower. There is a snowman who sells ice cream, and a café owner named Madame Butterfly (yes, she's a butterfly) who pushes her larval daughter Catrina in a stroller. A set of five co-joined paper dolls didn't seem to suffer in an episode's rainstorm. Other friends include a pair of eggs who speak with British accents and aren't afraid of being eaten by other characters.

I have no idea what the rules for this world are. I think anything goes. Perhaps the creators were enjoying a chemical high when they came up with the concept. It's deeply weird, but very friendly and non-irritating, so we continue to watch.

Picture: Oswald, carefully wearing a safety harness and hat while ascending a tall ladder.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Little Dude Bites the Dust, or Why Idioms are Entertaining

Q-ster and I sat together while I fed the baby, watching dust particles float in the evening light. Q-ster started snapping his jaws open and shut.

Me: What are you doing?
Q-ster: Biting the dust.

Someone is listening to too much music by Queen around here.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Aid Workers of NGOs (New Grandparent Organization) Depart Lady M Household

This morning, the last convoy of humanitarian relief workers pulled out. My mom and dad drove home, leaving us with the basis for a sound democracy, I mean baby-ocracy. Between six grandparents, we've had an amazing six weeks of care over the last seven weeks, making us the luckiest family on the planet.

Q-ster has thoroughly enjoyed all the attention, and it's probably good for him to have more quiet in the house for a while. He won't have quite as many potential treat-providers to play against each other in his dogged quest for another cookie or a later bedtime.

In other news, SwingDaddy is working around the clock on a project for the Company. The timing is somewhat unfortunate, since we're already not getting much sleep with the newborn, but the project itself is pretty darn exciting with the potential for Big Fancy Executives to pay attention.

I'm more accustomed to being the person with the crazy work schedule while he holds down the fort at home, so it's a challenge. Things are going smoothly enough so far, especially with Nanny J here on weekdays. I fully realize that plenty of stay-at-home moms take care of multiple children with no help for weeks on end, but they/you are better at this than me, ok?

I had my six-week postpartum checkup a few days ago, and I have 15 pounds to lose. That's five more pounds than I had with Q-ster, the first time around. I'm hoping that another five sort of melt away as I naturally get more active, but we'll see. In a delusional fit, I tried to put on my old jeans last night, and they were multiple inches from being zippable. I had to scold myself to not feel disappointed.

Well duh. Did I really think that I could be regular sized again without one single workout? That would have to be No. Hopefully, I can slip out to ballet class this week and start moving again.

Photo: While Buster is still sleeping in the baby hammock, his crib is free to store all sorts of sealife cuteness.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Let This Marine Tell Ya Something

Perfect Post Award – 0508 This is going to be much shorter and less eloquent than I had planned, but the baby is sleeping really well tonight and I'm going to catch some winks myself. Can't argue with a sleeping baby.

It's Perfect Post time! This month, I award Gunfighter - a dad, tactical firearms instructor, and former Marine. He writes these excellent posts about the importance of involved fathers, ones that I would aspire to write if I were serious more often here. (As wife to the fully involved and child-skilled SwingDaddy, I'm appalled by articles and news stories extolling the virtues of moms at the expense of dads.)

However, Gunfighter's winning post is about a different topic, something that saddened and educated me, as our country continues to be at war. He describes how we treat our solders when they leave the service. In order to get medical care for their injuries, they'd have to go on medical hold for months, perhaps years. So instead, they live with the painful physical (and for some, mental) consequences of their choice every day. Their choice to defend and protect the US.

Visit Gunfighter, and see Lindsay and Kimberly for the rest of the Perfect Posts!