Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Love Hurts

He looks very cute and innocent, I know.
Don't let him fool you.

I know I haven’t written much about Baby Oren (or as I like to call him, Sir Poopsalot. Or Baby Boo Boo. Or Smooshers McDuff. I really call him everything BUT his actual name).

Oren is the “Clifford the Big Red Dog” of babies. He’s a very adorable, huggable, smooshable, GARGANTUAN child. He’s only four and a half months old, weighs about 150 pounds, and is about 17 feet tall. He already fits into my husband’s clothing.

Yesterday, my dentist’s assistant asked if she could hold Oren (he was flirting with her). Not two minutes had passed before she handed him right back to me, telling me she had to go set up a new appointment with her chiropractor. She then hobbled away, groaning, with her hands supporting her lower back.

He’s big.

Much like Clifford the Big Red Dog, Oren has the best of intentions. He simply wants to love and be loved. But because he is such a huge, strong boy (with rather unrefined motor skills), his displays of affection generally turn into unintentional displays of physical abuse.

One of Oren’s favorite pastimes is gnawing on my chin like it is a chew toy (oh yes, I forgot to mention he is already teething. Actually, I am pretty certain he came out of my womb teething). It starts out innocent enough, with Oren just trying to tongue kiss my face (strangers at the playground think it looks so adorable). But soon the kissing turns into full throttle chewing, as Oren clenches down with his baby jaw and waves his head back and forth like he is trying to rip my chin off my face (strangers at the playground start to think this might not be so adorable after all).

Oren has given me quite a few chin hickeys. Unfortunately, they are not very becoming, and kind of hard to disguise (I can’t exactly wrap a tiny scarf around my chin). I just try to ignore my co-workers staring at my face, wondering what kind of kinky games my husband and I get into once the kids are asleep.

Oh. Then there is the very random, very thrilling, middle-of-the-night nose punching thing.

Although I had truly intended NOT to co-sleep with Oren, as I had with Emmy, I’ve ended up sleeping in bed with him by my side, every night. For the most part, it works out well, and allows me to do night feedings without having to keep getting up out of bed (yes, I am lazy. Especially at 2 in the morning). It also allows me the distinct pleasure of being punched repeatedly in the nose by my son. I’ll be sleeping peacefully, dreaming of bucolic country meadows and rainbows and dancing fairies, when WHAM! Baby Boo Boo lays the smackdown on my face.

And then he starts kicking me. Repeatedly. Right in my belly, by my c-section scar.

I’m pretty sure it’s just his way of making sure I am still lying next to him.

So now, in addition to “hickey chin,” I also have “fight club nose” and a black and blue tummy.

I should also mention Oren’s miraculous ever-growing fingernails. I swear to you, I clip my baby boy’s nails on an every-other day basis, thinking that perhaps it will keep his talons in check. But its not enough. Oren is still able to scratch “I Love Mama” or “This is great mom, but I would really love a prime rib” on my forearm as I breastfeed him.

Speaking of breastfeeding, have I mentioned Oren is teething? I have. Have I mentioned that I feel like I am in grave danger every time I breastfeed him? I do. I watch his face very carefully, waiting for that exact moment where his mouth transitions from “cute sucky-milk” mode to “Hannibal Lecter” mode. Then I say “no biting,” in a gentle but firm tone, and Smooshers McDuff smiles back at me in a “this is a fun game, mama!” way. I try to explain to him that it is not a game. He smiles back at me in a “I’m four months old and have no idea what you are saying, but I’m sure it’s funny” kind of a way. And then he bites down.

Baby Boo Boo also seems to thoroughly enjoy pulling my hair, pinching my neck, and sticking his thumb in my eyeball. Waaaay into my eyeball. Super fun times.

So next time you see me, if I am wearing a ski mask, and a helmet and breastplate, and perhaps holding a sword and shield, I’m not trying out a new “look”. It’s just that I have a BIG baby boy who loves me very, very much.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Princess and the Pee Pee

Em and her beloved Savtah (Grandma)

I don’t remember ever going through a “princess stage,” as a young girl. I remember a distinct “Madonna” stage, circa 1984, when I was about nine years old. I can’t even begin to imagine what my teachers must have thought of my wearing lace gloves and pleather pants to school. I also remember a “Preppy” stage -  it was ALL ABOUT the izod shirts and pink jeans and friendship pins and feathered hair (which I failed miserably at achieving). And as much as I’d like to forget, I still remember my (much later in life) “Grunge” phase, which I now believe made me look like a reclusive woodsman, sans the crazy bushy beard. But mostly I remember going through the “I will wear whatever my older sister has handed down to me,” stage.

But dressing like a princess? I can guess that as a young child, dressing up like Cinderella (post-fairy-godmother-makeover) never really appealed to me. I couldn’t climb trees or play ball very easily in a tutu and tiara, after all. Function over fashion was my motto.

Which is maybe partly why Emmy’s very passionate “princess stage” is driving me coo-coo crazy. She insists on wearing a tutu to school, paired with just the right leggings and just the right pink (has to be pink!!!) frilly shirt. This morning she had a mini-tantrum about her purple pants that had been JUST FINE BY HER two weeks ago. I thought I had convinced her that her pretty, flouncy shirt was long enough to qualify as a dress, but when we got to school the first thing she said to her teacher was, “I’m not wearing a princess skirt,” in a woe-is-me voice, while giving me the evil eye.

She’s two and a half years old! If we are having these kinds of issues when she’s just a toddler, I can only IMAGINE what our arguments over clothing will be like when she’s, say, 14 years old. This is gonna be FUN, folks!

The thing is, I WANT Emmy to develop her own sense of style. I WANT her to take pleasure and to feel confident in the clothes she wears, even now, at such a young age. I want her to be her most authentic self. So why do I take such issue when her whole authentic self wants to dress like a Disney character?

I mean, if my daughter was going through a robot phase, and wanted to dress like a robot every day, would I protest? I honestly would probably think it was super cute, and would likely be fine with making sure her silver shirts and pants were always washed and available for her to wear.

I guess, in my head, wanting to look like a princess seems so PREDICTABLE, and so unimaginative.  And I equate wanting to look like a princess with wanting to ACT like a princess (pampered, not wanting to break a nail, etc.), which I really don’t want to condone as a parent.

But does dressing like a princess automatically make a little girl ACT like a princess? Probably not. In Emmy’s case, it mostly inspires her to want to do twirly dances until she gets dizzy.

So should I just chill out and check my princess prejudices at the door, and support my daughter’s obsession with looking like royalty? Should I rejoice in Em’s ability to express her uniqueness (even though it’s not so unique), and stop trying to convince her that jeans are super fun to wear? I know there has to be some sort of middle ground here, where I don’t force her to wear overalls, but also don’t have to let her wear a tutu ALL THE TIME (she even wants to wear them to bed).

Have you dealt with this or similar drama? Any words of wisdom to share?

Ah, yes, before I forget, I have to also talk about Pee Pee. Em is doing amazingly well at potty training! She seems to be taking the job very seriously, and seems to be getting excited about becoming a “big girl” – she even mentioned not needing her “massy” (pacifier) for bedtime last night. Of course, that sentiment lasted about two minutes, but it is still great progress… I couldn’t be prouder of my.. ahem.. princess! 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Too Many Mornings Like This Morning

I just feel like there have been too many mornings like this morning.

Mornings following horror and tragedy.

I fell asleep last night while watching the news (again). I fell asleep while watching more images of people running in fear, and more images of smoke and ambulances and tears. I fell asleep to the sound of more news pundits interviewing more eyewitnesses and more terror experts.

I fell asleep with my arms wrapped more tightly around my children (again).

How many times has this happened now? Too many times. I don’t want to count.

There have been too many mornings like this. Mornings where I have to quickly switch from the news to Dora the Explorer, so my toddler won’t have to see the images of broken things and broken people. So she won’t start asking questions about accidents and boo boos. So I won’t have to answer questions that she shouldn’t have to ask.

What bothers me the most is I feel myself getting USED to this kind of morning. I feel my brain and body slowly acclimating to news of terror. I feel my heart responding to this kind of news with a sort of:
“Oh no. Again?”
“Senseless killing?”
“Yes, again.”
“Children killed?”
“Yes, again.”

And then I have to go about my day, with a sense of sadness that will slowly fade, with a sense of heartache for people I do not know but can imagine knowing. And with a sinking feeling, knowing that another morning like this will happen again, probably all too soon.

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Scar is Born

So I was at an event this weekend – one where I knew just a handful of people, but tried my very best to be sociable and meet new folks and make small talk. Generally speaking, I find it easy to talk with other mommies, as there is obvious common ground, experiences to compare, and advice to be shared.

At this event, my daughter quickly made friends with a three year old girl, so it seemed appropriate that I talk with the little girl’s mom. The mommy was very warm, and sweet, and even went so far as to share her daughter’s snacks with Emmy.

After a bit of talking, the mommy and I started to share birth stories. She shared that her daughter had been born prematurely, but she was able to avoid a c-section and birth her baby naturally. I then shared with her that although I had hoped to birth my children naturally, I ended up having a c-section both times.

The mommy said she thought I was lucky for avoiding natural birth, and for some reason said that having a c-section probably helped my stomach look better than someone who had given birth naturally. I laughed and told her my stomach was hardly a thing of beauty, especially given the c-section scar that lives right below my beloved “pooch”.

“Oh, yeah,” she said, “but you can just get that fixed. I think that’s what everyone is doing these days, you know? Having a few babies and then just getting the surgery to get it all fixed so you look even better than your friends who don’t have kids.”

I think I responded by saying, “oh, ” and kind of laughing.

Is that what EVERYONE is doing these days? Popping out a few babies and then getting cosmetic surgery to erase any evidence that their body gave birth?

Granted, the crowd at this event was definitely a different and much wealthier crowd than the one I generally hang with, and this mommy's idea of "everyone," is probably very different from mine. It was a crowd of beautiful mamas with designer clothes and super-expensive bags and even pricier shoes. It was a crowd of families that have gigantic homes or beautiful New York City apartments and nannies and lots of all the best things in life. And maybe it was also a crowd of folks who REALLY don’t want to look like they’ve ever given birth.

I am not here to cast stones, or to judge the affluent crowd. Everyone I met seemed very kind and very smart, and I think they work really hard to support their lifestyles. I am totally envious of their beautiful wardrobes, their homes, and their cars. But I tell you, I am NOT envious of the pressure that comes with the sense of needing to keep up with what “everyone is doing.”

When I got home from the event, and took a shower that evening, I looked in the mirror, and saw the smiley face scar situated below my belly. I won’t lie and tell you I think my belly is beautiful. It’s NOT beautiful. But it is a daily reminder of the two most important moments in my life. I am so proud of what this body has been through, and I can certainly live with my “battle wounds.”

Emmy points to my “boo boo” all the time and asks if it is getting better. I always tell her it’s ok, my “mommy smile” doesn’t hurt me, but it will probably really never go away completely.

And honestly, I really hope it won’t. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

She's Making Me DIZZY!

My head is spinning. Like a whirlpool, it never ends…

No, I didn’t just twirl around and around in circles, or get off a killer rollercoaster.

It’s my daughter. She’s a whirlwind. She talks about 286 different topics in a matter of minutes, and it is SO hard to keep up with her.

Here’s a transcription of a few minutes of “conversation” we had yesterday, on our way home from daycare. I put conversation in quotation marks because truly it is just Emmy talking, with me TRYING (in vain) to interject.

EM: OHHHH! There’s a clock, MAMA!

ME: Yes, there..

EM (interrupting): It’s RAINING outside!

(without skipping a beat) I don’t want to get poop in my eye.

ME: You don’t want

EM (interrupting): Do you have a lollipop, Mama?

ME: Yes, I do, but why did you say

EM (interrupting): I’m a dancing dancing princess.

Look out the window. Do you see something scary?


ME: The trees aren’t scary

EM (interrupting): I am going to say MEOW MEOW.

The trees are going to say MEOW MEOW.

ME: How was your day at school Em? What did you do today?

EM: I do did puzzles. And I said I want a bandaid, too. Is Dada here?

ME: No, Em, Dada

EM (interrupting, talking to her Mickey Mouse doll): Mickey, I got you.
ALAZAM! ALAZAM! ALAZAM! (this is Em’s way of saying “Alacazam!” which is her way of magically making the car windows go up and down)
Those cars don’t have an accident.
Mickey, Mickey, YES YES!

ME: Did you do anyt

EM (interrupting): I love food but I DON’T like hot chocolate. I DOOOOO like hot chocolate.

After that I just gave up on asking questions, and listened to Emmy talk TO her Mickey Mouse doll, and FOR her Mickey Mouse doll. Which is all for the best, because it seems Mickey can keep up with my daughter’s train of thought much better than I can.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Thing That Comforts Him Most

Sometimes my baby boy gets himself a little worked up. Whether it is because he is tired or hungry or his belly is full of gas, he gets all tied up in knots over it, like the whole world is just falling to pieces. Oren cries, arches his back, kicks his little legs to and fro, tries to scratch his own eyes out with his teeny little fingernails. He can really make quite a scene.

I’m his mama. It’s my job to figure out how to calm him down.

So this is what I do: I lie down, and hold him real close to my body, with his ear directly over my heartbeat and his belly touching my belly. I hold his arms down at his sides, so he can’t continue to injure himself (this is sometimes quite challenging). And I just concentrate on breathing – long, deep breaths.

Oren continues to cry for a few minutes. It seems like he is protesting being held. But then, slowly but surely, my calm becomes my baby’s calm.  He starts quieting down, breathing like a normal person, and the storm begins to subside.

It is such an amazing feeling, knowing that I have the ability to comfort Oren this way.

Last night, while using this method to get my overtired son to fall asleep, I started wondering how long I will be able to provide him with this same sense of comfort.

When he is a toddler, and gets bent out of shape over a lost toy or a cut finger, will I still be able to comfort him this way?

When he is seven years old, and he comes home crying because he got teased at school, will I still be able to calm him, with my arms and my steady breathing?

How about when he is a teenager? When his heart is broken for the first time? Will he still come to me? Will I still have the ability to soothe his head and heart?

And when he is an adult, will I even know when he is panicking? Will he even tell me if he feels like his world is falling apart? Will he understand, even then, that I am his mother, and it is my job to figure out how to calm him down?

I hope so. I hope so. I hope I can be a source of calm and comfort for Oren, for many many years to come.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Discovered a New Source of Energy!

After running around on the trampoline, Emmy becomes a great source of "clean energy"! Now if only we could figure out a way to somehow hook her up to our house's electrical wiring...

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kids Say the Darndest Things


Emmy is a talker, with a vocabulary that seems to be growing by leaps and bounds every day. For the most part, she is totally easy to understand. But recently I’ve been noticing and appreciating “Emmyisms” – words that are uniquely (and repeatedly) mispronounced in a way that is hugely endearing.

I figure that over the next few years, these words will fade away as Em becomes aware of their correctly spoken origins, so I should probably write them down. That way, when Em is cramming new words into her head in preparation for the SATs, many moons from now, we’ll be able to take a break from studying and look back on this list for a good laugh.

When I was a kid, I won all of my adult relatives over with my mispronunciation of “ketchup” (which was, and still is, my favorite food in the whole wide world). I called it “keppitch” which, I agree now, is a MUCH cuter word than ketchup (hey Heinz CEO, I am willing to license the word “keppitch” to you, for mere millions). Even when I learned to call my favorite food by its true name, my grandparents would continue to call it “keppitch” in my presence, as a kind of eternal running joke.

And I still remember how my younger sister (who will soon be turning 30) called nightmares “NIGHT MIRRORS,” when she was a toddler. “NIGHT MIRRORS” is just a wonderful way of describing dreams, isn’t it?

Will I continue to replace actual words with their Emmyisms for years to come? I have to say, I am half-tempted to continue to call penguins “pengos,” as my daughter does, because it just sounds so much sweeter.

A little list of Emmyisms:

PENGO = penguin
GUBRELLA = umbrella
CHICKY SAMMICH = turkey sandwich
LELLO = yellow
JAMILLA = Vanilla. To her credit, for a while I was working and carpooling with a woman named Jamella, and we used to talk about our friend Jamella a lot. But it still sounds funny when she says she wants Jamilla ice cream.
FRIGERERR = refrigerator
LASSHOLE = lasso (yes, this one makes me particularly happy. Em was drawing one day, and I said, ‘Em, what’s that you are drawing?’ and she said ‘I drawing a LASSHOLE.’ And after projectile spitting my juice clear across the room, I asked her again what she had drawn. ‘A LASSHOLE! To catch!’ she said, making round movements with her hands. Aaaaah. Ha ha. Got it. A lasso.)

Oh yes, and there is the way she sings “Baa, Baa Black Sheep,” that always has me in a fit of giggles. It goes a little something like this:
Baa baa black sheep
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full,
One for my massser, one for my LAME,
And one for the little boy who lives down the LAME.

I’m sure there are SO MANY more words than just these, but I’m sleep deprived and my capacity to remember is totally shot. I think I will keep a running list somewhere on my blog, so I can add to it as I encounter more Emmyisms.

How about you, or your kids? Did you famously mispronounce certain words as a kid, or does your child re-name objects with much more adorable names? If so, please share!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Spring Fling


This winter was soooo very long, or at least seemed that way to me. Maybe it seemed long because I had Oren (or Baby Orange, as we like to call him) back in December, and have pretty much been a total recluse for the past four months. I’m not big on driving a tiny little infant around on icy roads, for obvious reasons. And the media made it seem like this winter’s flu season was the worst flu season EVER, and that if you went to the grocery store you were definitely going to get the flu and die from it, so that kind of killed my enthusiasm for socializing.

Or maybe the winter seemed long because I was anxiously awaiting Season 3 of Game of Thrones, which only began this past week.

Regardless, there were many mornings in March where I woke up thinking spring was just around the corner – the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, the grass seemed to be yawning and stretching, waking up from a long sleep (the grass on everybody else’s yard, that is. The grass on our lawn still looked like it was deeply depressed. Our grass is the Eeyore of all the neighborhood grasses).

But just as I would get my hopes up, and start thinking about maybe storing my bulky sweaters and puffy winter jackets, the local weatherman would put the kibosh on my dreams, telling me that I needed to prepare for the arrival of yet another 6 inches of snow the very next day. And then the snow would come, and Albany looked like yet another winter wonderland (the snowglobe look is so romantic and beautiful in DECEMBER, but I tell you, it wears thin after five months), and I would cry silently into my mismatched scarf and mittens.

But now, with the ten day forecast showing no signs of surprise storms, I think it might finally be safe to start thinking “spring”.

Yesterday, I took Em and O to the playground after picking Emmy up from daycare. Despite the fact that the playground was PACKED with people, and despite the fact that their WAS a strong wind that made me sort of worry about the kids being too lightly dressed, we had lots of fun. Em was all sunshine and happiness on the swing, watching out for planes flying overhead, and throwing her head back in laughter as I tried snatching her shoes off her feet each time she swung forward. We also kicked and threw Em’s bouncy ball around the field for quite a bit of time, visited with the ducks and fishies, and played in the sandbox (I know, I know. The sandbox has cat and skunk pee in it, and is just a total germy nightmare. But I DO wash Em’s hands off after she plays in it, and I try to encourage her not to EAT the sand).

It was wonderful, getting to breathe in lots of fresh air, feeling the sunshine on our faces, seeing all the other folks out walking their dogs and biking and chasing other kiddos around. I felt like a whole new person, saw my daughter totally ecstatic and “in her element,” and gave my son his first real dose of life outside our house. I vowed to myself that I would do my best to take the kids to a playground or engage in another outdoor activity on all the future good-weather days. Because , after all, we DO live in Upstate New York, which means next year’s winter is only about 3 months away.  

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Tricky, Tenacious Twos

Terrible is a very strong word. Therefore, I hesitate to use the word “terrible twos” to describe my daughter, even on her worst days.

Tricky, though? Oh, yes.

And tenacious? Yes, and yes.

Em is two and a half now. Yippee (exclaimed with a very sarcastic undertone).

For those of you who have not yet experienced parenting a two-and-a-half year old, and for those of you who do not remember what your kids were like when they were two and a half, and for those of you who have miracle toddlers who behave beautifully all the time, let me share the joy of this stage.

First of all, Em has about 18 teeth simultaneously pushing their way into her mouth. Not pleasant. To help take the edge off her pain, Em chews on her fingers. She also likes chewing on people (which is even less pleasant than watching her sticking her whole fist in her mouth). C and I have yet to introduce Emmy to the whole Twilight saga, so I don’t know why she thinks acting like a vampire is cool.

I looked up “muzzle for kids” on Amazon.com. Unfortunately, they only offer the Hannibal Lecter style of human muzzle, not a Dora the Explorer or princess-themed muzzle that Em would actually ENJOY wearing. Do you think Disney and Nick Jr. would license their characters for use on child muzzles?

I jest, of course. I would never put my child in a muzzle. It’s hard enough getting her to agree to put on a shirt.

Another issue we are currently running into is Em’s inconsistent sleep schedule. On daycare days, Em takes two hour naps from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. This would be a GOOD THING, of course, if it meant she was also able to go to sleep at a decent hour in the evenings following daycare days. Instead, she becomes super wired from her afternoon siesta, and stays bright-eyed and bushy tailed until about 10 p.m. I am pretty sure 10 p.m. is not a recommended bedtime for tiny tots. I have tried to convince her teachers to cut her nap short, but apparently my request is problematic, for whatever frustrating reason.

On the days that Em is NOT in daycare, she doesn’t nap at all. This is a GOOD thing, in that she is in bed and asleep without any issue by 6:30 p.m. But it is also a NOT-SO GOOD thing, in that the last few hours of her non-nap days are spent with her in a state of near-catatonia. She stares into space, mumbles incoherently, and walks like a drunk. Not so cute on a two and a half year old.

There is no middle ground. There is no day when she takes a quick but much needed EARLY nap. She is either Zombie toddler or Night Owl toddler. Yayyy.

Other issues?

She seems to be making up for her rather small stature by trying to control everything around her. In other words, Emmy is turning into Napoleon. She often barks orders at us like we are her minions (of course, we try our best to remind her to ASK us to do things with her or for her, rather than TELLING us to do things). One of the most often heard phrases around our house is “Talk like a ROBOT!” or “Talk like a MONSTER!” or “Talk like MAP!” (which means we should talk like the map in Dora the Explorer). Yesterday, while we were doing our grocery shopping, Em wanted me to talk like Thomas the Train the ENTIRE time we were at the store. Apparently, she doesn’t like it when we talk like PARENTS. Because parents are super boring, compared to monsters and robots and… maps? I LIVE for the day when she outgrows this phase.

Emmy also pretends she is stuck, like, ALL the time. She’ll walk into any given room, get down on the floor, throw one leg up in the air, and scream “I’m STUCK! I’m STUCK! I need help!” Or she’ll crawl under a table and get herself stuck, specifically so she can TELL us she’s stuck.

I actually remember going through this phase myself as a kid. I remember wedging my body between a sofa and a wall, and screaming for my mother to come and help me. My mom just came over to me and told me that I had gotten myself stuck, so I could get myself UN-stuck. After panicking for a few minutes, realizing that I had to rely on my own ingenuity to figure out an escape route, I finally managed to wiggle myself free. I think it was a useful lesson. Therefore, unless Emmy truly seems STUCK, I tell her she needs to figure out how to un-stick herself.

Emmy is also scared of going into rooms by herself.

She also needs her sandwich to be made a very SPECIFIC way.

She also throws fits when we don’t let her have bandaids (she doesn’t NEED bandaids, mind you. She just wants to put bandaids all over her body on imaginary boo boos).

I’m no dummy. I know that all of this behavior is just Emmy being a two and a half year old who is growing increasingly aware of this big world, and is therefore anxious and acting out. Emmy needs love and attention, as well as guidance and rules, to help her get through this phase. It’s our responsibility and our JOB, as parents, to give her those things. Right now it is just a very EXHAUSTING job that requires a heck of a lot of patience.

But I’d like to end on a positive note (because that is just who I am). For as many headaches as Em provides in any given 24 hour period, she also provides many laughs, many hugs, and many “awwwww” moments. She floors me with her intelligence, her humor, and her heart. She’s as terrific as she is tricky, and she’s as tremendous as she is tenacious.