Patience

I don’t generally consider myself a patient person but I’ve come to learn patience on a whole new level.  If you subscribe to ‘good enough’ parenting then you will know that there are days when there is no patience left, and angry daddy makes an appearance.  Afterwards it may not feel like your behavior was ‘good enough’, but it helps to remember that every parent gets pushed a bit too far sometimes.

A couple nights ago I was going through the motions of LM’s bath and bedtime routine.  I had just come off three straight LMJ over-nights, I had gone to the gym that morning (surprisingly enough it was still there), and I was dragging.  My everything ached.  My ‘make it talk’ capacity was on empty.  The role of King Triton will be played by tired Dad.  Critics called King Triton’s performance that evening “half-assed at best… he didn’t seem like the ruler of anything let alone the oceans… I’ve seen better play acting at seniors dinner theater” etc…

On the other side of this equation was LM.  She had just come from an overnight trip with Red to visit good friends. She had spent the previous day playing with lots of kids, stuffed with treats, and receiving mountains of attention, namely from her Mom… this first day back at home had been well, ‘less fun’ in three-nager parlance, and I was getting plenty of tired toddler behavior.  Just getting up the stairs to the bath was a tug-of-war.  There were tears.  LM’s.  Mostly.  There was repetition. “LM it’s bath time. LM let’s go.  LM, time for your bath.” You get the picture.

In the bath there was splashing, drinking bath water, and meltdown fits over washing.  A veritable hat trick of poor bath behavior.  So LM was acting out and tired.  Dad was exhausted sore and tired.  The patience well was running on fumes.

We survive the bath and the horror that is tooth brushing (do other children find strawberry toothpaste ‘too spicy’?) and trudge to LM’s room for the last stages of bed time.  This involves some play (ie – make it talk daddy), followed by pullups (night diapers) and moisturizers (LM has inherited our pale dry skin), three books, and bed.  LM now barters for more play wherever possible.  “Can we play more and only read two books?”.  Last night she offered to skip her tooth brushing if we could play more, I wasn’t biting on that offer.

If you know LM, you might know that she has trouble with space.  Meaning she bumps into things, often.   My first injury this evening resulted from LM tumbling onto my shin as she jump/stumbled around the room taking off her bath-robe.  Her knee landed on the middle of my shin when she fell mid jump.  That hurt.    My second injury came when LM was ‘reading’ one of her books in bed.  I was sitting next to her bed as she leafed the pages when the book cracked me in the left ear.  Oops.  That also hurt.  Dad was not pleased.  My last straw injury occurred when LM kicked me in the head.  Yup.  That happened.  In perpetual barter mode, LM traded a couple minutes of jumping on her bed for 1 less book before ‘good night’.  I acquiesced since I was falling asleep next to her bed anyways.  I did warn her about 30 seconds prior to being kicked in the head that she should “watch her body” and literally “please don’t kick me in the head”.  We all know what happens next.  She stumbles.  I get kicked in the head.  That really hurt.

Now I’m mad.  Now I yell.  LM cries.  LM starts bawling.  Now I feel bad.  It turns out my head is fine, and LM went to sleep understanding that angry daddy doesn’t appear very often but kicking him in the head is a good way to visit with him.  Patience is a virtue.

Family Planning

We’re spending today traveling back home after a weekend trip to the east coast to celebrate our younger daughter’s first birthday and I’m trying to write this on my phone, which is a pain in the ass, so I’ll keep it short.

We have two happy and healthy daughters – ages 3.5 and 1. I will turn 35 next April and don’t want to have children much past that age. We are really struggling with the decision to have a third child. We both love being parents and our girls bring us so much joy. But I don’t take bringing a life into this world lightly, and there are many reasons I can think of to not have more children.

I could go on and on about our pros and cons, but not while typing on an iPhone! So, I’ll ask you, how did your family decide how many children to have? Comment here or on my Facebook link.

I promise to write more next week!

 

Time to do the Laundry

Seriously, people, can we talk about laundry?  I don’t know if I’m a total crybaby wimp when it comes to housework or what, but I truly cannot comprehend how people are getting their laundry done.  As I’m washing dishes, sanitizing pumping equipment, bleaching toys, cleaning up after an old, sheddy, smelly dog and caring for two children (one who is just beginning to eat) I feel OK, even sometimes good about the way I can juggle those things (alright, sometimes also really bad, chaotic and disorganized and we all give up and watch Tangled for the 400th time instead).  But laundry?!?  WTF?  I am most displeased with a task that cannot get done and not only can my laundry not get done but even when I’m on top of it every single laundry basket is full – one in downstairs bathroom, one in the upstairs bathroom, two in my bedroom (which, who are we kidding is really Little Miss Jr.’s bedroom), one in the girls’ room and LMJ has her own bag that I keep by her downstairs changing table.  That is 6 laundry baskets, people.  That is ridiculous.  Not to mention dish towels, potholders, bouncy seats, activity mats, blankets and the dog bed.  I mean really, WTF?

I remember my mother, working full time, devoted one full weekend day to laundry but I don’t know how she did it.  I think even if I decided one day, from dawn to dusk, I was going to do and fold all the laundry in the house it still wouldn’t happen.  And besides, screw that.  I’m not dedicating one of my precious non-Hubby work days to laundry.  Maybe it is because LMJ “spits-up” (code for vomits) 4-8,000 times after every meal.  Maybe it’s because Little Miss doesn’t consider it a meal unless it ends up in her hair, all over her face, and yes, all over her clothes as well.  Or, because she paints using not just a brush, not just her fingers but her entire body including her hair, face and yes, her clothes as well.  Maybe it is because I am a laundry wimp but any way I look at it, I just can’t understand how you are getting your laundry done people.  Please help me.  Now that I’m done writing this, I’m going to go switch the laundry out…

Baby-Bucket-Lists

 

I have only a few days left until my maternity leave ends so the countdown has begun. To celebrate, I’ve decided to make a mommy-baby-bucket-list of fun things Rose and I will do together before I go back to work. I’m not sure I’ll make that trip to Paris but we do have a few dance parties planned and we’ll be hosting our favorite mother/baby group for lunch and a play date. I’ll try to squeeze in another photo shoot and sneak in as many walks as I can but I keep thinking there is something I’m missing. I don’t think I’m missing anything on the list – just preemptively missing my baby.  

I’m happy I got 4.5 months off but of course it doesn’t feel long enough. On the other hand, I am looking forward to using that part of my brain again and contributing to a project I’m passionate about. I think that will be a good example to set for Rose and I’ll just have to squeeze in some mid-afternoon cuddle sessions and a few late morning moments together. Such are the joys of working from home! So I’m excited for each day and moment I have with Rose over the next few days but l think our time apart will be fun for us too. And we’ll have an ongoing bucket list to get through each evening and weekend.

Without further adieu, I hope you’ll allow me to run and get back to those sweet baby cheeks…4 days and counting!

MumsySus

Lollipops for Sleep

Before I had Kiki I honestly thought that once a baby slept through the night for the first time, that it was smooth sailing in the sleep department.  I always heard people asking new moms, “is she sleeping through the night yet?”  So I thought it was a milestone, like walking.  Once they accomplish it, you’re good.  So when Kiki started sleeping in 8 hour chunks fairly regularly at 12 weeks, I counted my lucky stars.

Oh silly, silly me.  Three and a half years later and I still can’t really say that she’s sleeping through the night.

The thing that gets to me the most about this is the fact that she teases us.  We’ll go through a super tough sleep period, suffer through figuring out how to deal with it, and then the sleep gets better.  Kiki will then go for weeks or even months letting Hubby and I get comfy with our new and improved sleep habits.  And then, without warning, she takes it all away.

I won’t go into all of the gory details of our sleep training history with Kiki.  It’s boring for you and painful for me.  I’ll just sum it up by saying that she doesn’t make it easy on us.  To give you a taste though, here she is just before she turned 2 when we transitioned to a toddler bed.  When Kiki realized that she was able to get out of her new bed whenever she wanted, we had to establish some boundaries.  We told her that she could not leave her room.  We sat around the corner from her room and anytime she crossed the threshold we would silently take her back to bed.  Kiki, of course, decided to test that boundary over and over (my favorite was when she would stand in the doorway waving her arm out in the hall to see if that counted).  After about 86 returns (not kidding) she finally fell asleep like this.  Note how her arm is stretched out defiantly over the line.

sleep

We are currently rebattleing middle-of-the-night wakings.  Kiki was your typical jack-in-the-box, meaning that she kept getting out of bed and we kept having to take her back to her room.  We dealt with this situation by implementing a sticker chart reward system.  We had great success and Hubby and I were pleased that he and I were no longer taking turns sleeping on a blanket on the floor in her room.  She was having fun putting cute stickers on her chart and I got over my guilt from using lollipops as a reward (at least they were organic).  Kiki had been sleeping great for the last two or three months.  Hubby and I were so happy.

She must have sensed our comfort.

The jack-in-the-box has returned.  This week she has been keeping me up for hours in the middle of the night because she wakes up and then won’t stay in her room long enough to actually fall back asleep.  I remind her about the stickers and she tells me she doesn’t want a sticker.  I say, “but don’t you want to be able to get a lollipop?” and she says “not today”.  Yes, at 4:45 in the morning I am absolutely trying to bribe my daughter with candy if it means I can go back to sleep.

I swear she decides to mess with our sleep periodically to show us who is control — like we don’t already know.

So now we have new stickers (she chose sharks over glittery fairies which amuses me greatly), new rewards, and we’ve thrown in some consequences for when it gets real dicey.  We’re crossing our fingers and hoping we get through this rough patch quickly because I am painfully tired.

What are some parenting misconceptions that you had before you actually had kids?

PMS and Sibling Rivalry

Please hang in there with me- I know the two topics in the title seem completely unrelated.

I hope I am not the only one here who has this problem, but PMS turns me into a mommy monster and I am going through it right now. Everything irritates me, annoys me and stresses me out to no end. I also become constantly hungry all day long. I was freaking out because I wasn’t able to zip up my jacket to go outside. I used swear words in front of the kids twice yesterday (I NEVER do). Daddykush said, “Just let me help you, you sound exasperated.” It doesn’t help that baby Banana has had a bad diaper rash for a few days now (hopefully not a yeast rash) and screams every time we change her diaper. Then this morning, as I drove a tired and crying Baby Banana back home from her first music class, I noticed Daddykush’s car was the only car parked on one side of the street. It’s STREET CLEANING!! Knowing that it could be towed any second, I frantically changed and fed Baby Banana, put her to sleep and ran out onto the street to move his car into the driveway. Of course, the tow truck was nowhere in sight. Daddykush even reassured me that even if it gets towed, it’s ok, he will go get it this weekend. I made it more stressful than it needed to be.

PMS and the conflicts between Lemon Cake and Baby Banana is a vicious cycle. I confess that I lost it yesterday morning. Lemon Cake and Baby Banana were playing with magnatiles nicely together. Baby Banana would hand him a tile and Lemon Cake would build with it. In just ten seconds time, she took a piece of tile off his magnatile creation, and he started throwing them at her. I swiftly picked up the crying Baby Banana and took away all the magnatiles, left his room, and closed his door. It was a suggested time out for him. It honestly was more like I needed to leave the room before I exploded. I left his room in anger and he knew I was angry. When I calmed down, I asked him to check on her and Lemon Cake apologized to baby Banana. Soon after, Baby Banana wandered back to Lemon Cake’s room and was standing in front of his full length mirror. Lemon Cake walked in at that moment and immediately decided he also wanted to be in front of the mirror and shoved baby Banana aside. THAT WAS THE MOMENT I LOST IT. I YELLED, “YOU DO NOT PUSH BABY BANANA. YOU DO NOT THROW THINGS AT HER. YOU DO NOT TAKE THINGS AWAY FROM HER. DO YOU UNDERSTAND? DO YOU UNDERSTAND?” Daddykush walked into the room and Lemon Cake was just about to tell him to leave. I started yelling again, “YOU DO NOT SPEAK TO DADDY THAT WAY!” This was the loudest I have ever yelled at him (luckily I later confirmed with my upstairs neighbor that she did not hear me yelling… whew…). I honestly don’t remember what happened after, except that within a short time everything was calm again. Lemon Cake did not get upset but I know it affected him (as evident to his more than usual clingy behavior). He requested to sit on my  lap a little while later as he was eating breakfast, and he asked, “Mama, do you love me?” “Yes I do, I love you very much. Even when I am upset with you.” That was enough guilt to last me a life time.

To give you the full picture, Lemon Cake and Baby Banana share many sweet and fun times together. Every time Lemon Cake gets Baby Banana upset, she immediately looks for her brother when she is done crying. The glee on her face when she follows her brother’s leads to defy us like banging the table loudly or screaming, is hilarious and priceless. Yesterday afternoon, as I was still feeling so much guilt over yelling at him, Baby Banana laid on top of Lemon Cake as he was on top of me (like a Lemon Cake sandwich). She patted his head, caressed his hair, and of course also pulled his hair, poked him in the eye and nose. Lemon Cake didn’t mind at all and continued to lay there. I hope these precious moments will always be in my memory.

The reason PMS is an important part of this blog topic is that I don’t think I would have yelled and lost control like that otherwise. I would still have been incredibly upset and been very stern. It is not an excuse. I am grateful for it because this degree of losing control made me realize I really need to figure out the best way to respond when they have conflicts or when Lemon Cake is aggressing against Baby Banana. I am sure it will happen the other way around as she gets bigger. I leave you with this article I found inspiring:

http://attachmentparenting.org/blog/2012/06/27/toddlers-at-war-sibling-rivalry/

Tired and Smelly

To say it’s been a stressful year so far might be a bit of an understatement… Looking back, our furnace failing in mid-winter might be the most innocuous event of 2013… costly, but innocuous.  Maybe it was the second time we were getting a spinal tap for our newborn, or the hospital stay, or the doctors using phrases like ‘congenital anemia’, ‘cyclic neutropenia’, and ‘chronic benign neutropenia’ (side note – our hematologist seemed to get a kick out of mentioning that Little Miss Junior’s case was more like ‘not so benign’ neutropenia – fun with medical puns!) or the terrorist event nearby… or the ensuing gun/bomb battle roughly a mile from our house… or the lockdown day when we were told not to leave our homes because one of the terrorist murderers from the gun/bomb battle a mile from our house got away and was on the loose… yeah, I think it’s been a stressful year so far.

It’s too stressful to keep talking about those things though… I want to talk about important parenting business.  I want to talk about being tired and smelly.  That’s right fellow parents, the great sleep deprived unwashed masses of mommies and daddies out there.  Today was an MSD.  What’s that you ask?  A must shower day.  I have to tip my hat to a college friend and hysterical mommy blogger, Karen Alpert, for coining that phrase… read her stuff, she’s damn funny – http://www.chicagonow.com/baby-sideburns

So what’s a ‘must shower day’?  Well when you wake up (assuming you slept at all), and realize you’ve got the same clothes on for two days and can’t remember the last time you showered?  It’s probably an MSD.  When your baby (who’s a poop/spitup machine) smells better than you do, it’s an MSD.  People talk all the time about sleep deprivation for parents with young children.  Sleep deprivation is real, and can be debilitating, but nobody warns you about showering (or lack thereof… or how hard finding time will become).  My normal morning ritual had always been to wake up and shower.  That’s just what I did.  I needed the morning shower to start my engine, wake up, become a person.

Welcome parenthood… My morning shower is gone.  Mornings involve getting Little Miss to daycare, up-clothed-fed-out-the-door… or LMJ cleaned, diapered, fed.  Mornings are no longer a time for a personal 30 minute hygiene break.  In our world, you shower when you can, at night if you’ve got the gumption once the kids are down… or during the day when one is sleeping and the other’s at daycare, or not at all.  So you find yourself going much longer than ever seemed appropriate without a shower. This time will pass, LMJ will get older and more self-sufficient, and I won’t have to wonder when my last shower was, but this is our reality for the moment.

One of the real reasons that spare time showers become difficult is the sleep deprivation.  If you’re the lucky parent of a child who doesn’t sleep well, then the extra energy to shower at the end of the day when you just want to melt into the sofa doesn’t really exist.  To date, LMJ has been a pretty awful sleeper.  She’s nearly 6 months old and up until the last week or two she’s never really slept for more than a 3-4 hour stretch, and rarely more than one good stretch a night.  Some nights she wakes up every 90 minutes… to play…and tell jokes… and suck on her own toes.  So Red and I have been zombie people.  Trading nights with LMJ, while one of us gets real sleep on the office futon.

Well this week we hit the wall.  After a particularly rough stretch where LMJ decided to see how often she could wake up to chat through the wee hours, we have moved into sleep training mode.  So what does this look like?  Well we have 2 big beautiful bedrooms in our house, and currently neither my wife nor myself is sleeping in either of them.  LM has a room to herself for the moment (LMJ is coming to join her soon), and LMJ is in a small crib in our room.  Whoever is ‘on’ for the night sleeps on the office futon and deals with LMJ, and whoever is off now sleeps on the pullout sofa downstairs… maybe even for 4-5 hours IN A ROW.  Fancy that.  Basically it started to feel like LMJ was too interested in waking up to say hi to whichever parent was tending her, so she’s in a room by herself now.

We are putting LMJ down in her crib, and we will visit her twice a night, and if she wakes up in between, she’ll have to go back to sleep on her own… or watch ESPN I guess.  We are in day 4 of this new routine, and let me just say that LMJ had a great night!  She went down at 7pm… she did wake up around 9:30 but only briefly, and was able to fall back asleep by 2:30am.  This was quite a victory.  After her 2:30 feeding, she slept till 7am.  Incredible.  After 4 days of not intervening for every overnight ‘mwah mwah’ she already stretched out to multiple long sleep sessions.

I did not sleep so well.  See I was ‘on’ last night (futon duty – feeding duty), and this was the first time that LMJ had ever slept that long for me.  So now I’m sitting at my computer at 10pm thinking she’ll be getting up in the next hour (par usual) for her bottle snack and back to bed… not so.  11pm…12pm…1am…still sleeping!  This is cause for joy, it’s also giving me a small heart attack I as keep checking the baby monitor, and keep thinking I hear her crying (I don’t, it’s newborn parent ear in affect).  LMJ makes it 2:30am and I’ve been up the whole time.

Red has ‘mommy hearing’.  She can hear her kids crying through a wind tunnel set inside a hurricane.  She uses the monitor but she doesn’t need it.  She can go to sleep and wake up at the right time to tend her children.  I envy that skill.  Today I am still zombie-dad, because I hardly slept, even though LMJ slept more than ever in her little life.  At least I’m showered with clean clothes on.  1 out of 2 ain’t bad.