Sunday, April 30, 2006

sushi boy strikes again

If sushi isn't the perfect toddler food, I don't know what is.


artful flotsam

On the Oregon coast.

Friday, April 28, 2006

kiss your what!?

I can’t end a beautiful day like today without something more upbeat than bitching about my insecurities at the playground! So, Henry learned how to give kisses yesterday. For many months he has slightly pursed his little lips and leaned in to receive kisses upon request. Now, he is gleefully giving big, smacking mmmmmwwaaaaa kisses. This comes as no surprise since he loves to make all manner of funny noises with his mouth. The surprising part was when he walked up behind me a planted a big kiss on the back of my thigh, which is right at his face height of course. Since then, he has taken many opportunities to kiss my hands, arms, knees, cheek and belly, each time grinning and giggling. Even though Jason and I haven’t modeled this type of all over kissing* (no, really, I swear!) he can’t get enough of it and this afternoon he walked up behind me a gave me a big kiss on the butt. We’ll have to work on that in the coming days but for now all I can do is laugh.

*I take that back. Actually, I do kiss Henry’s sweet little baby skin all over.


park park park park

Who knew that the dress code for mothers at my neighborhood park is cropped denim or khaki pants, a pastel button down shirt or form fitted pastel tee shirt, and leather sandals (often platform or with a little heal)? Not me. I got up this morning, a little tired after a great evening out with some very cool mamas, and put on some yoga pants and an old tee shirt and ratty running shoes. In a rare occurrence, I didn’t have much work to do and Jason had left for work and it was beautiful outside. So, I put the boy in the stroller and we headed out for a nice walk that would land us at the park. Ug. The 20+ homogenous moms and toddlers with their loud proclamations and organized snacks was just what I didn’t need. I am generally social and pretty self-sufficient but I felt trapped and way out of place. Henry had a good time of course but I was nervous when he would pick up another kid’s toy or when he sat in the wooden car for too long while other parents loudly told their whining children to wait and they could have a turn soon. Fuck if I know toddler park etiquette. So, no more spontaneous park visits for us, at least not without out someone for me to talk with and distract me from what felt like a junior high party at which I was the new kid in town. I am probably being a bit melodramatic but seriously, who are these women?

Last night, I was talking to Nonlinear Girl and Bridger Mama about the inevitability of mama guilt and I think that’s what hit me this morning. The park moms (and a couple of nannies) were so organized and put together. They were doing their jobs. As someone whose schedule is so variable that I might be at the office, working from home, on a conference call, taking care of Henry, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, etc. on any given morning or afternoon, I don’t have organized park dates or playgroups or music classes or preschool. I am lucky that I get to spend so much time with my son and my husband, and do work that is fairly interesting, and do much of both out of our comfortable home. But, it is hard to feel like I have any of it down all that well. It’s constant juggling and balancing and I never know exactly what part I should be playing when. I let myself fall into a comparisons trap on many levels today and I have to figure out how not to. Maybe avoiding the park is the right answer and maybe not.

Note: just so you don’t think I’m selfish and crazy and denying my kid the joys of the park because of my own neuroses, Henry goes to another park with my mom several times a week and Jason and I get out with him on the weekends. He also plays in our yard constantly. It’s just the full-time mom clubs I may need to avoid until I can get some more perspective on the issue.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

family feud

A few years ago my sister decide she was done with us all and cut off all contact. Our parents had moved to town a year or so earlier and she felt like her space was being invaded. She was going through a tough breakup and decided that our family dynamics weren’t helping her. I am the first to admit that our childhoods were less than perfect but our parents tried and still try. Their biggest fault may have been that they tried too hard to be cool, be our friends, instead of sucking it up and realizing that we really needed something else. She and I actually spent a lot of time together in our young adult lives and generally had a good time. In retrospect, yes, I was sometimes overbearing and protective but we seriously got along really well talked all the time. Then, she decided it was over. She returned all of the stuff she had been borrowing from me and said she would get back to us in a year or so. Actually told my parents that she couldn’t deal with me and me that she couldn’t deal with my parents. She wasn’t even very straight forward about it. She changed her phone number (in part due to the ex-boyfriend) and wouldn’t return emails. We later learned that it wasn’t just us. She cut herself off from our college and all of her college and even high school friends. This was a girl who had very close friendships so at this point we started to worry. Was she mentally stable? Was there a cult involved? But no.

It has now been over 3 years since I have talked to her. One of the craziest parts of the whole deal is that she still lives in the same town as my parents and I. We knew when she left her (stable, professional) job and started law school. My parents drove by he apartment on occasion so they knew when she moved. A friend of mine is in the same program she is and so I know she’s ok. She’s holding a professional life together just fine and I actually saw her driving a few months ago and she looked happy. Some days I feel like I should do something and a year ago I did send a short note (to her old address) and received it back a few days later with “return to sender” written on it in her handwriting. So, I have pretty much given up. I was pissed for quite a while and now I’m closer to neutral. She is well and that’s all that matters I guess. I have a good life and maybe some day our lives will intersect again. Or, maybe not. I guess it’s up to her, and while that’s not easy, I can live with it just fine. So, when I received an email this morning from my dad containing links to articles about a public award and scholarship she is receiving, I though “good for her.” I was glad to know that she’s still doing well and thriving in her new life. I read through the articles and was about to move on to my own work without a second thought until I read the following line. “The scholarship acknowledges the recipient’s ability to balance a dedication to legal studies with family and community.” Well, she must be doing pretty well for the community because there is no balance with this family. Or perhaps, it’s simply easier to balance one’s legal studies without a family. I wonder if she gets the irony. I hope so.


Wednesday, April 26, 2006

getting philosophical on tantrums

First off, I have one child and he is only 21 months old. I am by no means an expert on tantrums. Hell, my kid doesn’t even have very many of them yet. However, they do happen, as does other undesirable behavior like throwing toys at the dog, screaming at us, and just today, spitting out his lunch on the floor and laughing.

So, I have been thinking about my reactions to Henry’s behavior lately, figuring that if I have a plan I am less likely to do something I wish I hadn’t in the moment. I haven’t had to leave a cart full of groceries behind yet but Jason and I tell each other that we are prepared to do so.

I follow words with actions instead of commanding a behavior to stop from my seat across the room. I will continue to try timeouts even though the kid doesn’t seem to give a shit. I will turn my back on screaming and whining if appropriate. I will comfort and show empathy when appropriate. I will try to prepare Henry for transitions by telling him what is happening next. I will try to distract him with something new when I know he isn’t into whatever I need him to do next. I try to give him something when I take something else away. I will even bribe him on occasion to prevent a meltdown.

I read a comment on BMC’s blog this morning in response to previous comments about dealing with toddler tantrums and I found that it really pissed me off. They guy suggested that making fun of your kid while they freak out works and that leaving the kid alone also works. He gives the example of pretending you are leaving the child alone in a grocery story and peeking around the end of the aisle. I had to step back for a minute and ask myself why I was bothered and the answer came quickly.

For one, I fucking hate being made fun of and I don’t want to do it to my kid. I have accidentally laughed while Henry had a fit because it really is kind of funny sometimes. And he stopped and gave me this look that was a combination of surprise, frustration, annoyance and a little amusement he was trying to hold back. While it did make him stop crying, I didn’t like it. I know that expression and the feeling that goes with it very well and I hate it. I have known it and hated it since I was about 3 years old. I was a sensitive kid around a bunch of sarcastic adults who cut me no slack and it still pisses me off to think about it. Don’t get me wrong. I can laugh at myself and am a sarcastic pain in the ass. If I screw up or do something goofy, bring it on. I can take it. But if you make fun of me when I really care about the issue, I don’t do very well. I feel like a defensive kid again and I really don’t want to pass that on. Maybe I will have the desire to bitch about the pretending to leave the kid alone approach later or maybe not but I don’t like that one either.

Kids are all so different and I know we can only do what works for our individual situation and cut other people some slack. But I also know that just because something “works” doesn’t mean it’s okay. I have learned that I have/had a lot of parenting ideas before I was a parent and some of them have held but many haven’t. I do know that I won’t hit my child and I am going to do my damnedest to make sure he feels supported and not ridiculed/made fun of, unless of course, he does something really stupid.


Monday, April 17, 2006

favorite words this week

Henry is really getting into two syllable words lately. My favorite oft repeated words this week include:

Thank you

In all fairness, I should mention that many of these words are only intelligible to those of us who live with the boy but they are so cute I hardly care. I have been trying to capture it on video when he will cooperate (not often) and hope to try a video post soon.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

a night at the circus

Last night, Henry stayed with my parents and had a great time. He was delivered to us safe and sound, if not really ready for a nap, at noon today. (Interestingly, it is now well over an hour since he went down and I can still hear him playing awake in his crib. hmmm.) Jason and I had a nice date night out, which made for a very good birthday celebration. We dropped off the boy and then had woefully mediocre Thai food. Sad considering the wealth of great food in Portland but we picked the restaurant for location and convenience and an apparently outdated recommendation.

The night then got better as we were headed for the Cirque du Soleil. The overall experience had its ups and downs but the performers were truly amazing. Indescribably, really. The strength and grace of the dancers/acrobats was like nothing I have ever seen. But, since I can never just leave well enough alone, I must note that the seats were very narrow and hard and that at times the music was deafening. There was no plot holding the acts together at all but it didn’t really matter because the performers’ talent stood on its own. At times there was almost too much going on to focus but again that’s better than if it were boring. Outside of the performance itself, it felt like a real circus with carnies hawking overpriced food and drinks and an overwhelming amount of memorabilia crap that people seemed to be eating up. Definitely not a usual night out- as if we usually went out anymore!

I must also admit that part way through he second act my mind began to wander and think about how these people train and perform together every day and presumably live together in different cities for months at a time. The performances are so physical and intense that they must really trust and rely on each other for their own safety. Are they friends? Are there cliques and jealousy issues? Do they have sex with each other? What happens if they break up? What if they then get together with someone else? There were also two child performers and I kept wondering if they had been sold to the circus. As much as I hate/pretend to hate reality TV, if a “Cirqu du Soleil: The Truth Under the Big Top” were to air, you know I would watch it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

6 things about me

Ok ladies (both Nonlinear Girl and Sofrito Gringo got me simultaneously), I’ll play your little game but the buck stops here.

1.I love black licorice, even the salty Dutch kind.

2. I gave birth to my son at home in a big tub of water in my office. We joked that it would be just like going to work when we set the tub up in here. Ha. Work it was. It was long and hard but I loved curling up in bed with my baby minutes after it was all over.

3. Cleaning out old boxes a few months ago, I found a small spiral bound sketchbook. The only thing in it was “Jan. 22, 1993.” Nothing else. Best I can figure, it was the first time I had sex. I was a senior in highschool. It was at my parents’ house in the afternoon and they were home. My door didn’t have a lock on it. Not particularly romantic. After the fact, we walked to Baskin and Robbin’s for frozen yogurt. Funny thing is, I remember it being spring and it would have been snowing in January. Hmmm, what the hell was I doing on January 22nd, 1993? I will probably never remember.

4. Today is my birthday.

5. I am freaked out by chain letters. I got my first one in the mail when I was in middle school. My mom said it was crap (or something to that effect) and wouldn’t let me do it. I was so mad at her. Didn’t she know that she was screwing up the order of the universe?! Now with the email kind, I am more freaked out about offending the recipient than the order of the universe.

6. I have several friends who are telepathic/psychic/intuitive and I believe them.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

sleep update

The whole new sleep schedule was touch and go for a few nights, including the one in which Henry woke up at 4am and screamed maaaaaamaaaaaaaa!!!!! for what seemed like forever. He is prone to screaming maaaaamaaaaa!!!! frequently these days. But, we seem to be on track with generally full nights of sleep and 7-7:30 waking times! I seriously need to work on my own random night waking now and we'll all be set. Tomorrow night he is camping out at my parents' for the second time so we can have an adult night out to celebrate my birthday. I am really looking forward to it, and Friday in general, after a long work week. Now if only the sun would shine for more than a few hours at a time...

a love letter to my dentist

Dear Dr. F,

You are the best dentist I have ever had. You are sweet and friendly and extremely good at what you do. Even the long and arduous procedures I have undergone at your hands have been better than I could have hoped for. You are so precise and detail oriented, while cautious and conservative in your recommendations. You are young and cute and well groomed and seem like you genuinely love what you do. You were the best damn looking 39-week old pregnant lady I have ever seen and you still managed to smile and do a great job. (For that I love/hate you since I was nowhere near as put together and graceful at 39-weeks.) You appear to balance work and motherhood perfectly (if there is such a thing). You fixed my tooth yesterday in a matter of minutes and didn’t charge me. And when we were talking about our spirited, boundary-testing toddlers, you told me that you let your one year old play in the dog’s water until she chucked the thing across the room and you laughed. In that moment I could hardly hold myself back from asking you to be my best friend forever. Until next time…..

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

my new best friend

Most years I like daylight savings time just fine. I love the summer months and having it lighter in the evenings is great. This year however, the clock changing is having a truly meaningful affect on my life. Henry, who has been waking up between 6 and 6:20am for countless months, has woken up at 7:20 or later for the last four mornings. I am not a morning person and the extra hour is making a huge difference in my mornings. I won’t be surprised if he works back to 7am but that’s just fine with me. He’s going to bed at the usual time so I am hoping that this isn’t just a fluke or adjustment period. God, how I hope not. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

toddler tales

Henry likes to pick the little cubes of dill pickle out of tartar sauce and eat them. Tonight I learned that he prefers I stand next to him with a warm dish cloth and wipe the excess sauce off of his hands in between bites. Sometimes I wonder if I love him so much despite the insanity or because of it.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

how to piss me off and make me hate you forever

As our toddlers are making friends, ask how old my kid is and then say “Wow. He is so little. Oh my gosh, he’s really little. Yeah, short. He’s really, really short. Wow, so short.”

That means you, bitch at the Apple store today. And don’t think trailing off with, “what a cutie” as we were already walking away did you any good. You are, as my grandma would say, on my shit list. Forever.

lucky me

This past week has been a really good one for me. Jason didn’t have any work, which is not a great thing for the obvious financial reasons, but for me and my sanity it has been amazing. I was able to get a lot of work done, start training a new employee (which will hopefully help a lot in the long run) spend time with Jason and Henry, take a few naps and finish our taxes. And we didn’t drive each other nuts! I love having him around in general but the benefits of having another responsible adult on call with Henry gave me room to breathe that I hadn’t realized I was missing. The days flew by and I didn’t have to dwell on whether or not it was a day I had Henry all day myself or whether I had to drive him to my mom’s before rushing to a meeting or how I was going to crunch in a deadline after he went to bed. Jason even did a little website project for a client that I was too crunched for and he probably did a better job than I would have. I am feeling very lucky.

on doing it all again

There have been a number of discussions and swirling thoughts in our house about trying to have another child. A few weeks ago when Jason and I had the night to ourselves, we talked for the first time about whether we really wanted to do it all again. We have been assuming yes but never really discussed the possibility of just staying a family of three. Overall we decided that yes, we do want to try to get pregnant again in the not too far future.

There will be major changes and I didn’t really love pregnancy and the sleeplessness and who knows what it will mean for work and income and savings and there could be complications, and, and, and… Then a few mornings ago after Henry crawled into bed with us around 6am, I had another thought. Are we tempting fate here? This kid of ours is so sweet and special and as he lay there patting me on the arm and singing a little song and kissing our cheeks and playing with his stuffed dog, I felt like maybe we are insane to think about having another child. Of course I imagine we could have another wonderful child but do we deserve it? Are we pushing our luck?

Fast forward a few days, after Henry has woken up repeatedly at night, refused to eat decent food, dumped his water over his dinner, thrown gravel at the windows, and yelled “no, no, no!” and “please, please, please! (sounds like “bees”)” and “gaaaaahhhhhh” at me more times than I can count. I am now thinking alternately, am I insane to want another kid, and, hell, we can certainly do better than this!

So, even with all of the talk and musing, I know that this is something I want. Really want. And then this morning after a particularly sweet, long cuddle session with Henry, as Jason continued to sleep next to us, Jason slowly woke up and said, his face obscured by blankets and stuffed animals, “I have been thinking about it more and I’ve decided I really don’t want any more kids.” I was sort of sleepy and dumbfounded and said, “really, are you serious?” “Yes,” came the reply. “You mean it, seriously?” “Yep.” Pause. Then, “April fools!” And I all can say to that is that he really did get me.