Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mommy’s got a face too, y’know!

I know my daughter loves me very much.
But there are certain parts of me she loves maybe a little TOO much.
I am really proud of the fact that my daughter is closing in on 16 months now, and she is still nursing. I find that nursing past a child’s one year birthday these days is a real rarity among mommies. Sometimes I get the “are you crazy?” from other mothers who nursed their own children maybe three months, or six months tops (most I’ve spoken with gave up either when they went back to work or when their babies’ first teeth started emerging, which are both perfectly logical reasons).  I just assure them that for me extended-breastfeeding has been a source of mama-baby bonding that I wouldn’t give up for the world.
That having been said, I sure would like to wean Emmy by the time she turns two.
And that having been said, it sure would be nice if she were at least night-weaned by now.
And that having been said, it would be REALLY great if Emmy weren’t TOTALLY booby-obsessed. You see, while other toddlers have binkies, blankies, wubbies, and noonies (I made that one up, but it sounds like something a child would love) to turn to as sources of comfort, my beautiful girl wants to hold mama’s boobies. All… the… time. Oh, but she doesn’t just want to FEEL mama’s boobies. She wants to take them out of mama’s shirt and play with them.
When I go to pick Em up from daycare, the first thing she does is put her hand down my shirt. Even If I am wearing a winter jacket, a zip-up-sweater, a button up shirt, a tank-top and a bra, she will somehow squirm her hand down and through all the layers upon layers of fabric until she has found what she has been looking for. She is a pint-sized girl on a super-sized mission.  Sometimes I feel like saying “Hey, Em. Mommy’s got a face too, y’know?!”
When we go to the supermarket on the weekend, Em sees it as the perfect opportunity to try and expose mama’s nipples to the greater Upstate New York area. I don’t know if I get more embarrassed for myself or for the countless number of fellow shoppers who try to do me a favor by averting their eyes from my chest area.  With Em’s hand very obviously fishing for booby while mommy tries to shop, we’ve made vegetarians take sudden interest in what’s on sale in the meat section, and grandpas take sudden interest in feminine hygiene products.  We’ve got everyone scared that they are going to run their shopping cart smack into a classic Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction.
And I always feel bad for the folks who work behind the counter. They try to look me in the eye while taking my order, but they obviously can’t ignore the fact that my daughter is motorboating me as she looks for her booby-toys.
When we go over to friends’ houses to socialize, and Emmy spends half the time with her hands shoved down my shirt, talking to my boobies, I’ve got some explaining to do.
Now, I was never a shy breast-feeder. I am comfortable nursing Emmy in public, given that the people around me are ok with it. My father-in-law, a rather conservative fellow, would rather not watch me nurse, and he accommodates me by leaving the room when I nurse Em, rather than making me feel like I should be the one seeking out privacy.  I think that’s great. Most of the time, when we are out in public, I will try to find someplace quiet and semi-private to nurse, but that’s  because I don’t want Emmy to be distracted by the hubbub around her. If the situation calls for it, though, I am totally fine with whipping out the boob in front of perfect strangers for the sake of getting Emmy fed.
This booby-as-comfy-plaything is a whole different animal, though. I don’t really feel justified (OR COMFORTABLE) taking my boobs out in front of strangers just so Emmy can play or nuzzle with them.
I did try, on one horrible, terrible night, to discourage Emmy from seeking playful comfort in my boobs, and it did not turn out well. She couldn’t understand why she was suddenly being denied access to her breast friends!  She screamed, she wailed, she clawed! I gave in. And then I went online to do my research, and found that most people say that mommies should NOT discourage children from seeking comfort in their breasts, as this may prove to be traumatic, and the whole booby-obsession thing is just a “passing phase”. Hmmm… my daughter’s passing phase seems to have lasted about 15 months…
Other people suggest wearing turtle necks. Really.. like, all the time? I really don’t like turtlenecks at all (they make me feel like I am in a permanent  choke-hold), so that plan ain’t gonna work for this mama.
I’m totally open to suggestions on this one. I know that 18 years from now, Emmy will not be playing with my boobies as she researches which college she would like to attend, but I would kind of like to resolve the matter long before then.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

“Standing” is the new “planking” … at least in our home.

It started about two weeks ago.  I left Emmy in the livingroom for ten long seconds so I could go grab a tissue to wipe her nose, and came back to find her striking a “I’m king of the worrrrld!” pose atop her little mini sofa chair. Of course I immediately walked over to Em and started  to negotiate with her. It was like one of those movie scenes , where the good cop is trying to get the suicidal woman to NOT throw herself off a ledge. I didn’t want to get too close for fear she would jump.

“Emmy, come on, sit down. Chairs are for sitting, not for standing.”

Em sat down for two seconds before popping right back up into standing position.

“Emmy, mama doesn’t want you to go boomps and get an owie. Sit down”

See Emmy sit. See Emmy stand. Stand, Emmy, Stand!

“Emmy, you’re still young. You have your whole life in front of you. Don’t throw it all away. Sit. Down.”

To which, shaking her head vigorously, Emmy replied “nononononononononononoooooooo” (her favorite words these days.)

So much for negotiations! I removed Emmy and made myself comfortable in her little mini-sofa, with her sitting in my lap.
Sidenote: It’s  actually a really comfortable chair, even for adults. My husband and I have discussed getting rid of all of our adult-sized furniture and replacing them with mini-versions.  It would free up a lot of space in our living room.  And if upholstery gets stained with crayon marks or blueberry juice, we could just throw that piece out and buy another for sixty bucks at Toys R Us. AND it would make me feel like Alice in Wonderland, which would be super-fun, at least until the novelty wore off.

Anyway, I showed Em, by example, that chairs are for sitting, not for standing.  Situation averted.
Until the next day, when Em decided it would be really awesome to try standing up on the seat of her toddler-sized car. While it was moving.

And the following day, when I was folding laundry and had my back to Em. I turned around to find her standing on our coffee table. Totally proud/sneaky look on her face.

In the days that have followed, the objects that Emmy has attempted standing on include but are not limited to: her Elmo doll, her music table, her little play kitchen, a laundry basket , her highchair, a bottle of squeezable yogurt, a random cardboard box, her Elmo drums, and a large kitchen pot.

I know that as a fifteen month old, Em is just exploring her world and figuring out how to interact with all the objects around her. But I also think our daughter may secretly be taking pictures of herself standing in various precarious positions and uploading them to Youtube.  If babies around the globe start taking pictures of themselves standing on weird and dangerous objects, it’s probably our fault.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fitness Fantasies

image by bettyx1138

Before Em was born, I was a bonified gym bunny. The gym was my best friend. I was on the treadmill or elliptical machine every morning or evening, I worked out on my office lunch break, and fit in a long walk outside with my hubby whenever possible. I may have gone a little overboard with my fitness regimen, but working out was not just key to my physical well-being; it also served as a huge emotional outlet for me, and kept my inner feng shui in check.
Ever since Emmy was born, the gym has been more like a distant relative then a best-friend. Em was definitely a “high needs” baby, and did not like to be put down during her awake time or sleeping time. She was most at home in her Ergo carrier. While this did help me build my lower back strength and shoulders, it did NOT help me get back on track physically in any other way. I was definitely attachment parenting, and on my few trips to the gym for a group exercise class during the first year of Em’s life, I was racked with guilt and felt like crying even while Zumba dancing to “Party Rock Anthem” (side note: they should really start a “mommy and me” Zumba class for mommies like me, if they haven’t already). I did find an outdoor mommy-baby bootcamp class, which was amazing (and tough), but then the instructor got pregnant and winter arrived (double-whammy!).
This past December, at nearly 14 months old, my daughter started daycare two days a week at the local JCC, which requires all daycare families to also be members of the fitness center. I don’t LOVE the fact that daycare comes with an additional mandatory $70+/month membership fee, but I thought that belonging to a gym that is at the same location as my daughter’s care would be great motivation for me to get my behind in gear at least a few days a week. I fantasized about driving over to the center on my lunch breaks so I could fit in a good 40 minutes of intense exercise, then peeking in the “Busy Bees” room to make sure Em is playing nicely with the other kids, and eating my sandwich on my way back to work. Or alternatively, I would just go to the gym AFTER work, and leave Em in daycare for an extra half hour.
As it turns out, I truly was fantasizing. Emmy’s transition to a daycare setting has not been easy, to say the least. The first two weeks she cried ferociously every time I left her in the morning, and her face was tear-streaked and utterly exhausted at pick-up time. I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving Emmy a minute longer than my work schedule allowed, so the “after-work workout” plan did NOT work out.
And then the onslaught of daycare-inspired sicknesses began. Emmy has had about 87 colds in the last 59 days. My husband has caught about 86 of the 87 colds. I believe Em attended 8 out of the 16 days of daycare she was supposed to attend (and we paid for!) in December and January. The rest of the time she has been cared for by grandma when possible (or C or me when not possible), with me shuttling back and forth from the office on my lunch break to breastfeed Em or take her to a doctor’s appointment. Needless to say, establishing a daily routine that allows time for personal fitness has not been a real possibility.
With Emmy’s seemingly endless congestion, coughing, vomiting and fevers, night times have been no easier or more predictable. Our family “down time” is spent snot-sucking or disinfecting the house, and our idea of a really good time is a night where we are all able to breathe out of our noses.
I have given up on the old fantasy, but am starting to work on a new one. In this fantasy, spring arrives in Albany on February 15th. Emmy’s daycare is able to open their windows to let air circulate, and there is no longer a marathon of viruses being passed back and forth between the children. I am able to go to the gym on the days when Emmy is attending daycare (with a 100% attendance record, of course), and am able to take a nice long jog/walk outside on the other days. I’ll be listening to “Party Rock Anthem” on my Sansa mini, and I won’t be feeling an ounce of guilt.

Friday, January 27, 2012

“Today will be the day! I can do this! I can stop drinking coffee!!”

You are either laughing at me or with me.
 If you are laughing at me (in a smirky, “I don’t get it” kind of a way), you are probably a tea drinker with no children. Or you are a tea drinker with several organic-and-locally-grown-produce-only raised children, in which case, I bow to you.  You have my humble adoration. Truly, I wish I were you.
 If you are laughing with me, you are probably a coffee addict yourself, or at least a person who cannot start their day properly without a good cup o’ joe (I define myself as the latter, but know that the latter IS  probably the former, just more gently worded). You may be just like me, a coffee drinker who has read several articles about the benefits of green tea,  who would gladly make the switch to green tea if only green tea tasted JUST LIKE COFFEE instead of like mildew-y grass. You may be just like me, and go to bed at night telling yourself “tomorrow I am going to wake up, steep a bag of delicious chai, add a little honey and milk to that baby… Man, is that going to taste terrific”. And then your daughter wakes up twelve times during the night to nurse, and by morning time you have bags under your eyes the size of pillows, and you say to yourself “you know what? I don’t think chai tea is really gonna cut it today. TODAY I WILL drink coffee. But tomorrow, I’m all over that chai tea thing.”
I have thought of making tasty blended chai-vanilla shakes in the morning. That sounds good, right? In theory, it sounds great. But when you are running around like a maniac, trying to dress yourself and your daughter, pack her lunch for daycare, check the weather report, warm up the car, and wash last night’s dishes all in 20 minutes, blending a frothy tea-based beverage is the last thing on your mind. Especially when you know it won’t taste as good as coffee.
I’ve tried that Yerba-Mate thing too. Some people swear it has the earthy-goodness taste of coffee. In my opinion, it does have earthy goodness, but the kind that tastes like burnt dirt.
I did give up coffee for pregnancy, but that was only because G-d decided to play a joke on me and made me want to vomit every time I even SMELLED coffee. That’s actually how I discovered I was pregnant. I woke up two mornings in a row with a gag-reflex when I thought of having my morning “cuppa”, and knew something was definitely up with my body.  I remember that before I gave birth, I told myself I would stay a non-coffee drinker FOREVER, even as a new mama.  That decision lasted maybe three days. On the fourth day, after being up with Em for three straight nights, with my achy c-section scars and sore boobies, I needed a source of comfort that would simultaneously provide me with enough energy to just make it through another day. And so I reunited with my coffee cup, and the two of us have not been separated since.
If I get pregnant again, even if I don’t have the heeby-jeebies when I smell coffee, I will give it up for the baby’s sake. But in the meantime (or if I am not to get pregnant again), I really need to develop some willpower, or find a green tea that really does taste just like coffee.

My daughter looks cute in everything. Me? Not so much…

Not really my fashion icon, I swear...
You could put Emmy in jogging pants, a stained t-shirt, mismatched socks, and craptastic shoes and she would still be stunningly cute. Sure, go ahead, add a mint green beret and an ascot. ADOoorrRABLE!  What’s that you say? Glasses and a fake mustache?  Sure, add that to the mix, she’ll look even cuter. Even when Em is running a 102 degree temperature, has snot bubbles (so heartbreakingly sweet on a toddler!) erupting from her nose, and berry yogurt smeared across her face, my little girl just rips me to shreds with her cuteness.
Me? Not so much… The amount of effort I have to put into just looking decent these days is discouraging, so I generally default to my normal fashion statement, a la “obviously very busy, very distracted, not-so-rich mommy who doesn’t have time to  put herself together”.  I shouldn’t really use mommyhood as an excuse, especially since BEFORE mommyhood, I could be seen making other equally fabulous fashion statements, such as “early 30’s-ish woman who is thinly disguising her gym clothes as office-appropriate attire” and “scantily clad 20-something who moved from the east coast to L.A. and wants to expose as much of her pale body as possible to the California sun.” Meh. The truth of the matter is, I am just one of those people who truly, deeply admires others who care enough  about their appearance to make it a real priority, but when it comes to me, something always gets in the way, and that little fashionista inside me gets shoved to the back-burner.
Yesterday, as I was dressing Em (in a not-particularly-adorable outfit that she would still make her look  beyond-belief smooshable), I began worrying about the day when, somewhere in the not-so-distant future, Emmy returns from school (pre-school? Kindergarten? Please, lord, push it off until at least first grade) and says “mommy, you need a makeover.” I felt like I should start preparing myself now, taking pre-emptive measures to be a more fashion-forward mama, so that this embarrassing day never arrives.  I vowed to myself to put more effort into my wardrobe, my makeup application, to eat better and maybe wear a side ponytail.  I would pull myself together and make my daughter-of-the-future proud!
This morning, despite the exhaustion of last night’s battle against Emmy’s double-ear infection and the craziness that ensued,  despite feeling my own cold symptoms and crampiness, I still made efforts to make myself more presentable. I showered. I moisturized. I combed my hair and put on a nicer-than-usual outfit…
which Emmy threw up all over 10 minutes later.
Yeah, I’m putting the fashionista on the backburner again. My daughter’s health is the number one priority, and let’s face it, I am a better nurse when I am in jogging pants and a t-shirt.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

mooshkatooshka sunshine bird

Siskel and Ebert-ing the Future

When I watch a wonderful movie these days, or remember a movie I used to love watching as a kid, I daydream about future family movie nights, curling up on the couch with Em tucked comfortably between me and C, with a bucket of homemade popcorn for us all to share. I've already started composing a "short list" of the movies I hope Emmy loves as much as I do. The age-appropriateness of the films varies quite a bit, but there are some that I hope we will be able to revisit at different ages, as Em's sense of humor and understanding of the world develops.

I'm sure I will have lots more to add, but here is my starting list. Feel free to make your own suggestions!

  • The Dark Crystal
  • Despicable Me
  • The Iron Giant
  • E.T.
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The Little Mermaid
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • The Muppet Movie (the original)
  • The Music Man (the original)
  • Never Ending Story
  • The Secret of Nimh
  • All Dogs Go To Heaven
  • Up
  • Paper Moon
  • Savannah Smiles
  • The entire Faerie Tale Theater television series - I wish they would re-broadcast this amazing program.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you... COLD #1,453!!!

Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration in number, but it really does seem like ever since Emmy joined daycare, she has had more sick days than well days. Oh, people warned me this would be the case. I knew to expect our house would be host to a few more germies than usual. But I guess in the back of my mind I was sort of hoping that perhaps Emmy would be the exception to the rule (I tend to due this with all negative aspects of child-rearing). I thought that maybe, just maybe, Emmy would be that ONE child who manages to cruise on through her first year at daycare with nary a snot bubble. If only that were TRUE!
So this week, Emmy's nose is once again running like a faucet, and she's got one of those congested, mucusy coughs that makes my heart hurt every time I hear it. I've got to hand it to her, though... each time her immune system gets thrown a curve ball, sure she's a bit crankier and sleepier than normal, but Em still dances, plays with her toys, and really seems to make the best of it. Kind of the polar opposite of me when I am sick. If I get a cold, I drag my feet, hang my head, and ask everyone I know if they think I might be dying. Kudos, Em.
I brought Emmy to daycare this morning because she seemed well enough to survive the day, and told her teacher to just push fluids, and of course to call me if Emmy's health seems to be too "iffy". Em's teacher informed me that this week there seems to be a whole new round of germs circulating - a gastrointestinal bug that wreaks havoc on the digestive system for two to three days. AWESOME. I keep looking at the clock, making silent bets on when I am going to get the call that Emmy has thrown up on one of her classmates and needs to be picked up.
The icing on this proverbial disgusting, germ-ridden cake is that poor C keeps getting sick one day after Emmy gets sick. The last time around, C was sick with a sinus infection that took control of his body for about 3 weeks. NO FUN. This time, C got body aches and flu-ey feelings one day after Em took a turn for the worse. Like E.T. and Eliot, Em and C's bodies are synched up in some weird, metaphysical way, and one feels the other's pain. I am dealing with a bit of survivor's guilt, having made it through the last three or four of Em's colds without having contracted much of any symptoms myself .  I am, however, NOT feeling guilty enough to WANT to be sick (I have to say that out loud so that my white blood cells won't suddenly pack their bags and go on a winter vacation to Bermuda).
My hope is that by springtime, we will have made it through the worst of the cold season. I might just go out and buy a baby t-shirt for Em that I can hand-decorate for her, a la  "I survived my first winter in daycare (barely) and all I got was this lousy t-shirt". And I'll make one for you too, C.

P.S. One minute after I finished writing this, the daycare called to say Emmy just threw up in her crib. You gotta love it.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Die! Die! Die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you happen to be in the supermarket, and overhear a 15 month old yelling "die! die! die!!!!", fear not, my friends! Continue shopping at leisure. No, Emmy has not developed homicidal tendencies.  And no, her toddler aggression has not transformed her from the Gerber baby to evil Chucky. Quite the opposite, actually. You see, Em is on the fast track toward developing her vocabulary, but seems to be pronouncing "nice, nice" as "die, die". Thus, when she pats me on the head, or rub's Elmo's belly, she often accompanies the physical affection with an equally affectionate verbal expression of "die, die".
Yes, it's totally creepy, and yes, it's also totally cute.
We are very proud that she already knows how to say "thank you", and is starting to say "please". She says "no","dada", "ball", "up" and "down", "hi" and "bye", "happy" and "all done" with the greatest of ease. I am beginning to lose faith that she will ever call me mama, though. Every time I try to coax, plead, or bribe her into saying mama, she looks at me with a "whatchoo talkin' bout, Willis?" expression, and changes the subject.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Urban Dictionary: Mooshka

A term of endearment. A small being that's both sweet and adorable.
Elizabeth my little Mooshka, You're so cute I could just eat you up.

I honestly wasn't aware that mooshka was used by others as a term of endearment! Have I heard it before and just not been conscious of my borrowing the term? 
Of course, there was no urban dictionary definition for mooshkatoo. :)

Hushabye, Emmy

I love nights like tonight, when I actually have enough presence and peace of mind to really focus on Emmy's bedtime ritual.
Ever since Emmy was born, getting her to sleep has been a challenge. We sort of unintentionally fell into co-sleeping with our daughter, and that definitely caused our quest to get Emmy to sleep in her own crib a whirlwind adventure. But at least since she turned one year old, we have been quite steadfast in at least getting her to start the night out in her crib. Em has agreed to our plan, contingent on our rocking her and singing to her for at least a good 10 - 15 (or 20. ok, sometimes 30)  minutes prior to bedtime.
There are nights when, I am ashamed to say, I don't "give my all" to Em's pre-bedtime lullabyes and snuggles.  Sometimes I am singing words, but also thinking about grocery lists, or my budget for the week, or what I will be doing at work the next day. Sometimes I kind of try to rush things along because one of my favorite tv programs is going to be on, or because I just really need some end-of-the-day-down-time that is self-focused (ugh. i'm not a huge fan of myself in the aftermath of those evenings). And then there are nights like tonight, when I really don't have much to distract me, when I've had a complete and wonderful day with Em, when I have no particular tv program to look forward to, and I can TOTALLY focus on singing and hugging my baby girl to sleep. yayyyyyyy.
tonight i chose lullabyes that were meaningful (some my mother would sing to me or my sisters, others which just have wonderful lyrics) and really sang them to Emmy, interrupting only to kiss her on the cheeks and forehead. I held her so close, with her ear right up to my heart, and I just GAVE IT MY ALL.
I end every pre-bedtime the same way, singing the prayer I used to sing-song as a kid during MY pre-bedtime ritual, as I transition Emmy from my arms to her crib. On some nights, I am sort of relieved to finally be putting her down for the evening, so I can go squeeze in a few "me" moments before she wakes up and cries, wanting to be held again. Tonight, I was in no hurry to put her down. I really felt like I could have just rocked her and sung to her forever.

Friday, January 20, 2012

I Wub my Hub!!!

I want to take a moment to be thankful for my husband. True, I don't get all his weird jokes, and I kind of wish he didn't post raunchy comments on Facebook that I am worried about my family reading. Ok, so some days it seems he doesn't understand the concept of "laundry basket", and sometimes he IS a little grumpy (from lack of sleep). But can I tell you, overall I have REALLY hit the jackpot. C is a wonderful husband, and a great partner in parenting. In a nutshell: he REALLY REALLY cares.
I went to lunch two days ago with my new co-worker friend again, and she is pretty much single-parenting 5 out of 7 days a week, with her husband on the road with work the majority of the year. I honestly can't even imagine it. I watch Emmy by myself all day on Saturday while C works, and by the end of the day I am EXHAUSTED. There are other nights when C comes home a little late from work, and while I love love love Em, and try to focus on making the most of our "just us girls" time, there are definitely evenings where I sort of count the minutes until Dada gets home.
C is great with Em. His playtime with her is both educational and silly (sometimes one, sometimes the other, but most of the time both). I feel like I can learn from observing how they interact. Even on the days when Emmy is totally mama-centric and clingy, C finds a way to catch her attention, get her to play with him, and unclench her tight hold on me just a little.
C is also very concerned about Em's well-being. Is she too hot? Is she hungry? Has her diaper been changed? Does she know enough words? What's going on with her left eye?? Sometimes living with him is a little like living with a human embodiment of that website, BabyCenter.
Not to mention that on Mondays, C's day off from work, he stays in and cleans the house (can you hear the angels singing?), so that when I get home from work and Emmy gets home from time with Baba and Grampy, our kitchen floor is shiny and our living room rug is crumbless. The house STAYS clean for approximately 20 seconds, but it is the most GLORIOUS 20 seconds ever.
Also not to mention that C is the primary bread winner for our family (I'm the primary bread baker). Also not to mention that he pays our bills (on time), that his job affords us great health care, and that he bought enough cheesecake to share with us yesterday while he was on lunch break from work. He really didn't have to call and ask what flavor I prefered, but he DID.... gotta love.
I also have to mention C is a great smoocher, and has the arms of Adonis. :)
What would I do without C? If I didn't have him as a partner in crime, I would be so far up a creek. The house would be a mess (I would try to keep it clean, but it is so hard to clean AND watch Emmy at the same time). I wouldn't have a grown-up around to share Emmy's best and worst moments with. If Em cut herself or bumped her head badly, I would somehow need to pull my own bawling self together so that I could take care of the situation... I don't know if I could do that! I wouldn't have a checks-and-balances system to make sure Emmy wasn't being neglected in some important area of child-rearing. EVERYTHING would be SO MUCH MORE DIFFICULT.
I've been writing with my grandmother about her own experience with motherhood. I'll be posting some of that conversation soon, but I can tell you now that it was hard for her. I'm not criticizing my grandfather for taking his role as provider seriously, leaving little time to raise his children - he did what he needed to do to take care of his family. My new found co-worker friend doesn't try to rose-color her own experience - it is a CHALLENGE raising a kid without another adult helping out with the child-rearing responsibilities. I don't criticize that either - I think my co-worker's husband is a loving dad and husband who has to deal with a career that demands he be away from his family the majority of the week. I'm just finding myself being super-thankful for my husband, for all that he is and all that he does for us, and for the way he REALLY REALLY cares. I love you, C.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Why Emmy Looks Like Edward Norton in Fight Club

She just doesn't look down atthe ground when she is walking, dancing or running! Our family had a super time visiting with our friends and Emmy's big-girl friend Miss A yesterday, but a day cannot truly be complete without Em finding some hard or pointy object to slam her face into.
We have Em's 15 month check-up today, which means another appointment where we will have to explain a bruise on our daughter's face. Generally Em's pediatrician gives me a knowing and reassuring look, a la "I see this all the time  and don't worry, you are not a horrible parent", but I always wonder if she REALLY means it.

A Visit to the Saratoga Childrens' Museum

My quest to make our "Saturday Mommy-Daughter Days" more interesting continued this past weekend. After hanging out in our pjs for the first two hours of our Saturday morning, I decided that it would be best for Emmy and me to brave the 2 degree weather and trek up to Saratoga for the day. I knew there was a Children's Museum up there, and after visiting the museum website, I thought it sounded quite suitable for toddler entertainment and exploration.
On our drive up to 'toga, Em and I listened to two of the new children's music CDs my sister sent us. The first CD is a compilation of my sister's family favorites, which include a lot of "old school" classics from Free to Be, You and Me and Sesame Street, among other gems. Emmy  bopped along in her car seat for at least three of the songs before her body gave in to the lulling motion of the car and she fell asleep. I continued to listen to the rest of the songs, proud that I could still remember many of the lyricss from the soundtrack of my childhood.
Parking pretty much sucks in Saratoga. A museum which can accommodate 100 people comfortably has enough parking for three and a half people. After waiting around hoping that some of the Children's Museum visitors would be leaving 15 minutes after the museum opened, I faced reality and parked two blocks away in the Saratoga Public Library lot. Ordinarily, a two block walk would be a non-issue, but on a frigid, icy, 2 degree day, thirty paces outside seemed like an eternity.
Overall, both Emmy and I loved the museum. It was, however, SUPER crowded with birthday party attendees and their parents. It took Em about 30 minutes to warm up to the new environment and feel comfortable enough to leave my arms, but after that she roamed about, exploring all the very "hands-on" exhibits. The museum is set up with different themed areas and rooms, including a theatre area with lots of costumes and puppets, a construction zone (one of Emmy's favorites), a little diner with real booths and swively chairs at the counter, and a marketplace. The marketplace was definitely a highlight, because it was all truly hands on, and Emmy was able to do what she normally would not be allowed to do in a real-world grocery store, i.e. take all the food off the shelves.
An hour and a half in the museum was enough to tire both Emmy and me out, but on our way back to the car we stopped in the library to visit the children's section. As a new mommy I have a renewed curiosity in local libraries, as they are ideal hang-out places and great for brief escapes from the house. Emmy is not exactly a lover of books as of yet (though her patience for sitting through a few pages is definitely increasing), so I am more interested in what libraries have to offer children in terms of educational toys. Our local Guilderland library doesn't have much to offer other than a small collection of puzzles and a lego table. Saratoga's library is a jackpot wonderland of toys, puzzles, stuffed animals, and yes, books too. Emmy and I had a lot of fun there until our stomaches started grumbling and making us kind of cranky.
We popped into the Bread Basket (again, a parking nightmare) to eat a freshly baked snack before heading home. I wish the folks that ran that bakery weren't always so moody and irritable. The baked goods are really yummy, but always tinged with a bit of cranky-pants.
On the way back home, Emmy and I listened to the second CD sent by my sister, music by Eizabeth Mitchell. EM's voice makes me so happy and I could listen to her sing forever. I really wish I had a voice like hers. I feel like if I did, I could go for a walk in the woods, and as soon as I started to sing, birds would fly around my head, squirrels would clap their hands, and the shyest of deer would offer me a ride.
Overall, a super day with my little companion. On to our next adventure!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What to do about toddler aggression?

"Emmy.. Don't hit mama. That hurts mama. Be nice..."
This mantra has been overheard quite a few times over the past couple of days in our household. Emmy seems to have developed a rather sudden aggressive streak (hitting, biting and pinching) that she is taking out on mama, and only mama. Aren't I lucky??
It comes out of nowhere. I will be washing dishes, or playing a game with her, and suddenly Em will get this fierce, intense look on her face, and OUCH! she delivers a blow. Or several blows.
Now, I have seen my fair share of Supernanny. I know that it is important to make eye contact with your child, to get down on their level and speak to them in a serious, authoratative tone. Thus, I established the mantra. Sometimes, when I look Emmy in the eye and speak to her, she pulls her hands away and seems to have listened. Success! But most of the time, it seems this sets her off, and she gets more upset and hits/pinches with even more anger.
So for the first time in our roles as parents, we have established TIME OUT. C thinks it is important that we use those words in our mantra, i.e.: "Emmy.. Don't hit mama. That hurts mama.... If you hit mama again, I will have to put you in Time Out"
For yesterday's outbursts, we used the crib in Emmy's room as the "naughty chair", but C thinks (and I agree) that creating a negative association with her crib might be quite detrimental in the process of establishing a better bedtime routine. I  have my reservations about a "naughty chair" because I am quite convinced that Emmy will either pop right up from the chair, or try to climb up on it and dance (yes, this is another not-so-great tendency she is starting to develop). If we use a "naughty step", Emmy will almost certainly use it as an opportunity to try climbing up the steps so that she can practice her yodeling from the top of the staircase. In other words, it is hard to find a situation that Emmy can't somehow manipulate into a fun time. We are thinking of trying a "naughty, empty play pen" in a secluded area (AKA, baby jail).
I am kind of wondering if this sudden aggression is due to her day care attendance (she has only been attending day care for about a month and a half now), or a cry for more of my attention (though frankly, in order to give her any more attention than I already do, I will have to cut back on some essential functions such as eating, peeing, and/or taking a shower)? I wish I could ask her to explain why she is mad, or sad, so that we could get to the crux of the issue, but if I ask her that question, she will likely answer "beggelserbiggebillmumm" (an approximation of her 15 month old lingo).
I am totally open to suggestions on discipline, except for suggestions that include hitting, spanking, biting, or pinching my girl. I'm a lover, not a fighter, and will not change the core of who I am, even if it means I will need to develop a lot more patience as a mommy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The inner (and outer) debate on whether to have another baby...

When I found out I was pregnant with Emmy, I truly felt like I had just been blessed with one of those itty bitty micro miracles. You know, like G-d may have had a "slow day at the office" and was reaching the way bottom of his/her to-do list, and was about to take a nap or play Angry Birds or eat a really good sandwich when (s)he saw a post it note stuck to the bottom of his/her shoe that said "allow d to finally get pregnant"... and (s)he did... and it was GOOD!
Truthfully, C and I were not TRYING to get pregnant, but ever since the beginning of our relationship (and I am talking the VERY beginning of our relationship... more "beginning" than I would honestly like to admit to) we were taking zero measures in order to NOT get pregnant. Looking back, I would say we were being quite stupid and irresponsible. But I also truly thought I would never be able to get pregnant (for various reasons) and therefore thought the risk involved in having unprotected sex was incredibly minute.
C proposed in August of 2009, and after excitedly jumping up and down on the couch for a good three and a half days, I settled down and we set a wedding date for June 6, 2010. I have to say that in accepting C's proposal, I also felt quite guilty because I believed my fiance was making a lifetime commitment to someone who would NOT be able to provide him with any children. We talked about this on a number of occasions, and discussed the possibility of looking into adoption, etc. We were both "ok" with not being able to get pregnant, though I would also say neither of us were truly thrilled.
In early 2010 (after about 2 and a half years of quite regular, quite unprotected sex), with the wedding date only 5 months away, I woke up one morning with a severe gag-reflex at the thought of coffee. Huge... red... flag. Slowly other symptoms of pregnancy started surfacing - achy boobies, morning nausea... but I couldn't believe that I could actually be pregnant. I think I waited through about a week of very obvious pregnancy symptoms before I took the pee test on a lunch break at work. I was SO sure I would get that little minus sign.  But woh - WHAT??!! I got a PLUS sign, and I was preggers.
To this day, I still look at Emmy and say to myself  "did this actually happen?"
And now, with Emmy being 15 months going on 16 years old, and with other tick-tock timeline issues forcing me and C to make big decisions about whether or not we are going to expand our family of 3 to a family of 4, I find myself wondering "could this actually happen again???"

I've started talking to women about having a second child. There are two issues that generally come up:
1) A woman never gets her body back after her second child (I never got my body back after my first, so this is not a deal-breaker)
2) A woman has to want to have the baby for HERSELF, not so that her other child will have a companion.
Hmmm.. really? Because, honestly, though I am totally excited about the possibility of holding another newborn in my arms, and showering it with love and motherly attention, I would have to say that the MAIN reason I would want to have a second child is so that Emmy will have someone else in the house to talk to besides mama and dada. I mean, I remember growing up in my childhood house, and I can't even IMAGINE not having my older sister as a companion. There were many times when our folks acted bats%^& crazy and I am so thankful I had someone else to turn to for sanity-checks. On a more positive note, I want Emmy to have someone besides mama and dada with whom she can share a collective memory bank (because lets face it, mama and dada's memories are no longer at their peak), and a collective imagination while playing at home. And ok, maybe sometimes I kind of think to myself "having TWO children to support us in our old age and visit us and give us grandchildren would be better than just having ONE child bearing that burden".

Of course, whether my reasons are judged as good or bad, I think C and I have a tough road ahead of us in our pursuit of baby #2. It took us two and a half years to get pregnant the first time, and that was when we were young and drunk :) and had lots of free time on our hands. I am giving myself til June 2013 to get pregnant again. If it doesn't happen, who knows? Maybe we can foster parent, or look into adopting a baby, or maybe we will just find a really cute puppy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Little E in the NYC (and the NJ)

What a crazy end to 2011(!) - poor Em came down with a viscious cold (24 hours of throwing up, followed by the "head cold from hell", which made her not want to drink or eat anything for 7 days, which led to us taking her to the pediatrician and then to the ER, where thankfully she did not have to get an IV but she WAS forced to eat a popsicle for like 8...long... hours. ugh.) Then just as Em was returning to her normal, cheerful and energetic self, her germies attacked Dada and put his body in a week-long vice grip. Poor Dada. Now everyone seems to be on the mend, (hallelujah) and I have promised Dada that the next time Emmy gets sick, I will try to catch whatever she has and hold her germies captive in my body.
I felt bad about leaving Dada all by himself when he was feeling "not so fresh", but I had promised my extended family a week-long visit over Christmas break. Emmy and I trekked down to Jersey for the better part of last week, so that we would have plenty of time to spend with all our relatives. We had lots of fun visiting with Sabi and Savtah (one set of grandparents), seeing Moma in the hospital (recovering from galbladder surgery), hanging out with Aunt Ellen and Grommit (the woof woof) and playing with Emmy's older second cousin, Ella.
Emmy REALLY has a thing for girls who are about two to three years her senior. She follows them around in what seems to be something akin to Bieber Fever, watching their every move and attempting to hug them at every opportune (and not so opportune) moment. Ella was wonderful at sharing her toys, and Emmy was thrilled to be in the company of a "big girl".
On Friday Sabi, Emmy and I took a trip into New York City to see the beautiful holiday windows at the big department stores. I carried Emmy in my Ergo carrier for most of our walking tour, and her head was tilted back at a 90 degree angle (a la "flip top head") for at least an hour of our walk. True, we don't spend much time around skyscrapers and neon-lit buildings, but I was suprised that Emmy was so taken with the architecture that she hardly glanced at the gazillions of people who were passing her by (she is usually a huge fan of people-watching). I would say of all the windows we saw, the Lord and Taylor windows were the best for Emmy because of all their moving parts and child-themed allure (I would also give them bonus points for showing children's artwork in some of their windows). Bergdorf Goodman was also spectacular, with its displays made entirely of paper, human hair, etc. I took lots of photos, but none of them came out very well because of the reflections in the glass.
Of course our trip had to include a stop at FAO Schwartz, which was crowded beyond belief. Luckily the floor with the toddler and baby gear was less congested, so we were able to play with some of the toys on that level and Emmy was able to work off some of her energy (it is hard for her to stay in her Ergo for really long periods of time without a break, as comfortable as it is.) We DID get to see the BIG PIANO which is really just a tourist trap now, and we got Sabi to take a photo of us with Indiana Jones, lego style.
All in all a fun day, and I realized that I actually kind of enjoy the city more when I am focused on doing kid-friendly stuff, because it limits the possibilities of what there is to do in such a big city. I think I will take Emmy back this summer, when the weather is warmer, so we can explore Central Park and maybe visit the Children's Museum too. It is nice to think that each time I return to NYC with Em, she will be a little bit older, and her interests will have shifted and developed, so that it can be a different experience with every visit.