Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Have a Confession to Make

Pregnancy is all about change you can't control. I suppose it's good preparation, then, for all the changes you are about to encounter as a mother. Intellectually, I knew motherhood would change me, but it wasn't until all those changes started happening that I realized how easy it would be to lose myself to this mom person. And that is a big part of why I started this have a place of my own, somewhere to voice the thoughts, the frustrations, the joys, sort out the confusion.

Recently, I've noticed a few of the subtle changes from the professional working gal to the stay at home mama.
  • The steady increase of the number of flats in my closet, their position at the front for easy reach and the fact that on our few and far between date nights I often plan my outfits around which pair of heels I can wear. Sad, but true.
  • The budget, oh, the budget!
  • The metaphorical dust on the iron. Hubby's got the market on this household appliance, lately since my t-shirts, shorts and jeans very rarely, if ever, need an iron.
  • The complete and utter lack of math skills. Okay, I never really had a strong handle on math, but my working life required enough budgeting skills that at least it kept it fresh. Let's just say there was a coffee brewing mishap this weekend because I couldn't differentiate between ounces and whatever the heck was marked on the side of the coffee pot. Sorry again, hubby, for the caffeine headaches!
But the biggest indicator...this news junkie has canceled her daily newspaper subscription. It was all too often going straight from the driveway into the recycle bin. I suppose I should take comfort that in canceling it I'm actually doing something good for the environment. The fact of the matter, however, is that I feel like I'm admitting some sort of defeat. I used to read three papers a day, not to mention track more news websites than I can number, five business journals a week, and a slew of news mags and trade journals. And that was just the print media I kept up with, then there was the TV and radio.

Have I had withdrawal yet? Nope. As I said, I wasn't reading it before anyway and I can seek out the news I want/need. So why does it bother me so much? At least with the paper nearby, there was always the potential that I'd get to it. That I'd be an educated citizen.

It's probably worth pointing out that in the media relations field, I was paid to read, watch, know what was the top story of the day and how to include my client's messages into that narrative. Now, I'm not exactly paid to stay on top of the news. It's much more urgent that I know Brown Bear sees a red bird or that My Friend Rabbit means well or that the elephant is allergic to flowers.

And that's really all the news that's fit to print around here. Which sounds like a happily ever after ending to me.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Son the Comedian

Sorry for the repeat title, but I can't think of anything better today!

The other night, peanut was offering up words for the "Name Game" song while we were diapering and readying him for bed. It all started out innocent enough:

Peanut: "Mommy!"

HHM & the Hubby: "Mommy, mommy, bo-mommy, banana-fana, fo-fommy, me, mi, mo, mommy. MOMMY!"

Peanut: "Car!"

HHM & the Hubby: "Car, car, bo-bar, banana-fana, fo-far, me, mi, mo, mar. CAR!"

Peanut: "Kitty!"

HHM & the Hubby: "Kitty, kitty, bo-bitty, banana-fana, fo-fitty, me, mi, mo, mitty. KITTY!"

Peanut: "Truck!"

HHM & the Hubby: "Truck, truck, bo-buck, banana-fana, fo-WHOOPS! WHAT?!"

Cue peanut giggling mischievously while the hubby and I practically fall on the floor in hysterics for falling for this one - even if peanut has no clue what the heck he just said.

I won't even get started on how funny it is when he says "Let's go" because it sounds like something else entirely (think "Meet the Fockers") or how hilarious he thinks it is when he poots in the bath tub. As the only female in the house, I'm doomed to a lifetime of fart jokes and dirty word puns, aren't I?

A girl to even the score around THAT would be a reason to try for another!

Monday, May 26, 2008

When I Knew We Were a Family: Summer Edition

The first time I heard his heartbeat while holding the hubby's hand.

The first time we saw him swimming around in there, healthy, taunting the ultrasound technician, showing off his goods.

The first time the hubby could feel him kicking from inside me.

The first time I held onto my little bundle and the hubby held onto me moments after he was thrust into this world.

The first time we walked through the doors of our home as a threesome.

The changing of the outgoing answering machine message to include a third name.

The retiring of a variety of boxed Hallmark holiday cards to be customized for each receiver for the Shutterfly, family photo version.

The "party of three" announcement at a restaurant.

The family membership at the YMCA.

All of these things, in the past 22 months, have solidified that the hubby, peanut and I are a FAMILY. Not just a husband and wife. But a bona fide, playground loitering, crafting, endless photo-shooting, memory making, holiday focusing family.

But it really hit home for me Sunday evening while sitting on the front porch with the peanut and the hubby eating a popsicle in the warm summer sunset. The same popsicle. Passed around between the three of us. Knowing that peanut has a cold.

Nothing says family like sharing licks off the family petri dish.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Friday Night Fever

Peanut was sniffly all day Friday. An icky cold has been circling amongst his toddler posse and a free-for-all toy pass-along during our Wednesday workout meant peanut had his share of exposure to it.

I'm a seasoned enough parent at this point that a little sniffle doesn't have me panicked, but the kicker was we actually had a babysitter set to come for the first time since February for an impromptu date night (I know, I know. We need to get out more. But with no family nearby to sit for free or at the last minute...well, you all know. It sometimes slips your mind that you need to schedule parent time outs). Needless to say, I spent the remainder of the day analyzing his symptoms from moment to moment.

Well, until he went down for his nap, the hubby came home from work early and I headed to the salon for a much needed trim and blow out.

After I returned, ironed the evening's outfit, spot cleaned the house for the sitter and wiped up some more snot, I thought I might have noticed a warm forehead on the peanut. Sniffles I can ignore, but a fever. Not so much.

The hubby kept trying to reassure me he didn't think peanut felt hot at all. Trusting my instincts, I whipped out the thermometer for a quick check. Sure enough, we were around 100. The one time I didn't want to be right. Do we go out leaving a sick child in the care of another? Do we stay home for only a minor ailment? Does leaving mean I don't care about my kid's health and comfort? Does staying make me a paranoid mother?

So, we took a deep breath, dosed the kid with Motrin, passive-aggressively told the sitter if she didn't want to stay we'd understand and left quickly after she said she was fine with it. By the time I was halfway through my mojito and our third tapas dish, the guilt had taken a backseat. By the time we were at the movie and the peanut would have been well in bed back at the house and the cell hadn't wrong, I was feeling pretty good.

And of course peanut was fine. Fine enough that we actually haven't seen a trace of fever since then. It's a good thing, too, since we had tickets to the game on Saturday afternoon!

The moral of the story - sometimes you just have to put yourself and your marriage first regardless of the speed bumps. Sure - leaving a possibly sick child in the care of another is a gamble - but how many of us complained of tummy aches, were sent to school by our parents anyway only to be picked up a few hours later after we puked all over the first grade reading corner?

At least I got a mojito, Harrison Ford and a quiet night with the hubby out of the deal. Just what the doctor ordered.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Coming out of my Shell

With last year's bathing suit experience still burning a hole in my memory, I headed out this weekend to try on a few suits. The hubby's (not-so) baby sister is getting married at the beach this summer and a few days of beach bumming and a summer of mornings with peanut at the pool means mama needs a new suit.

Luckily, last year's post-preggers, still-nursing suit is too big. Once I stopped nursing in August, I was able to drop the last of the baby weight, which means most of last summer's wardrobe is a no go. I shouldn't complain, I know, but the thought of going through the whole body in a bathing suit, fluorescent lighting, icky mirrors humiliation just wasn't inspiring a lot of excitement as I left the house Saturday afternoon.

Because I wasn't very hopeful, I decided to try on some suits at Target while I was there picking up a sand & water play table for peanut. I figured this would give me a total excuse if they all ended up looking horrible. I took a deep breath, navigated my cart into the aisle, ignored the teens giggling over the itty-bitty-teeny-weeny-pink-and-white-polka-dot-bikinis, and started grabbing just about every style suit they have in just about every size not sure what would look good or what would fit.

First of all, curse the Target six-items only rule for the fitting rooms. It took me about three trips in and out to try on everything I'd picked up. Second, the new Target near my house has seriously good mirrors where you can see front and back without that weird three way mirror widening effect.

There were still some horrible suits out there with too little support, too little fabric or too short torsos that (and I didn't even think this was possible) pulled the boobs even farther south than Key West. But, as I stood in the dressing room bravely trying on two-pieces, I started gaining a bit of confidence. Considering this body has born a child, it was looking pretty good. Sure, it wasn't looking like it did at 18, but for 32, pretty decent.

Since I've stopped working, I have had a crisis of confidence. The third party validation, the public speaking, the satisfaction of putting ideas in front of people and seeing them work all boosted my confidence while on the job. As mom, it's a bit tougher. I know I'm doing the best that I can do, but a screeching toddler isn't always the best job review. So I made a conscious decision while standing in a dressing room - to feel good about me. To feel good about who I am. And so I put the judgements aside and bought two suits. And neither of them is a one piece.

Even as I write this, the thought of wearing them makes me smile. Sure, the belly skin still puckers when I sit, my booty will always be big and I will continue to make sure the ladies get pulled into the right position, but when I play with peanut on the beach, I won't feel like a fuddy-duddy-mummy. I'll feel like a hot mama. Even if I'm not one, it's all about the mind-set, right?

I'm taking a risk in order to take a little ownership of the non-mommy me that is so often given the cold shoulder. Of course trying them on for a dressing room mirror and the hubby is different from wearing them out in front of other people, but it's a risk I'm willing to take.

And I have the safety net of wearing my best accessories - the hubby and peanut. Their laughter and fun are the best confidence boosters I can imagine.

See you in the water.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Philosophy of the Terrible Twos

We are so there. That crazy land between 18 months and three and a half where being contrary is an art form. All hail the terrible twos.


I have noticed, however, that I can sum up these tantrum moments in one parent/child impasse regarding the "no" word:

Peanut is always allowed to use this word in any and all situations.

Mommy and daddy, however, are not.

I'm sure this is no revelation to parents out there. I think the real shocker to me has been the sheer number of times I can say and hear that word in a mere 24 hours. It's reverberating off the walls and echoing in my mouth.

Any advice from those experienced parents out there on how to get a 21 month old to listen/obey/respond/stop forward motion/cease and desist/pause/or otherwise acknowledge that I actually am speaking to the child? I'm starting to feel like a broken record.

And I'm sure it was a record that peanut broke after I asked him to put it down, took it away from him, warned him not to do it again, spent 20 minutes attempting to put him in time out and then he managed to get his hands on and throw at the cat and break anyway.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hooked on Laundry Worked for Me

My mother-in-law often tells the story of how the hubby could read when he was two. Apparently, while reading the paper, the hubby read the word "Sears" off an advertisement. Like most moms who brag about their brood, she gets teased about this story a bit.

I have no doubt that the hubby was probably an early reader and that he was super curious, super smart little boy (after all, that's the man he became). And I definitely don't doubt that he recognized the word. My theory, though, is that Sears would be a really tough word to truly read. I mean the "ea" - if you're sounding that out - would a two year old be able to figure that out? I don't know, but I believe that my mother-in-law believes that he read it, so who am I to argue?

Especially after yesterday.

After a morning out (Happy Birthday again D!), we stopped by the grocery store to pick up milk and a few other essentials we wouldn't be able to survive the afternoon without. It was raining and the idea of strapping peanut into and pushing a huge cart around for just a few items wasn't worth it to me, so I let him walk the aisles with me. He was actually very well behaved and only stopped to look at a few things and everything stayed on the shelves.

We were taking a short cut through the detergent aisle when peanut stopped at the end cap display, pointed at a bottle and said what sounded like "Tide." I peaked around and sure enough, it was a bottle of Tide. WHAT?! We buy Tide, but I always just call it soap around the peanut when we're doing laundry.

I took his hand and we found the shelves of Tide products. I pointed again, "Peanut, what does this say?"


WHAT?! So I did what any good parent does...I called the hubby on the way home and said "Holy cow, the kid can read."

Okay, so I don't really think he can read. I imagine he saw something on the bottle and whatever he was trying to say just came out sounding similar (after all, his word for outside sounds a lot like tide). A pure coincidence probably. Peanut knows his letters (well, all of them except for L, K and G), but putting them together? I'm not convinced.

To really kill my thrill, when the hubby came home, we took out our own bottle of Tide, showed it to peanut and asked him what it said. His response: "Soap."

Oh well. Either this is an example of severe over-excited-mama-bragging-itis or an indication that I spend entirely too much time doing laundry.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

One of "Those" Days

I think as a mother we all have "those" days. And what qualifies as "those" is different for every mommy.

For me, it's the perfect storm of a no-nap day from peanut meeting a high pressure emotional situation followed by irritating minor annoyances all taking place in the same hour until they all add up to me WANTING to YELL at my innocent child. "Those" days usually mean mommy has to take a step back and we head to the playground or the hubby's office for a visit/lunch or to the grocery store. Anywhere that we can get a change of physical and mental space to ease both my and the peanut's crankiness.

Today, my no-napping child met up with my emotional stress over our poor sick kitty (we found out yesterday that only one of her kidneys is functioning and that one looks filled with kidney stones so we're working on getting her seen by a surgeon to see if she's even a candidate for stone removal or if it would be too much of a risk) followed by minor annoyances of bugs (yes, I live in an old house in the south and that means icky, gross creatures that feel the need to make their presence known right about the same time that the bug man is due back for his ritual spraying) and laundry that seems to be multiplying as each load goes into the dryer.

Then this happened:

Clearly trying to blame the innocent elephant

While on the phone with the vet and then the hubby, the peanut, apparently feeling neglected for 10 minutes, decided to act out by taking out. Every. Thing.

The shirt kind of says it all, doesn't it?

It was at this point that we went to our mommy emergency kit, pulled out our zoo membership pass (thanks again, grandma) and headed to the zoo come hell or Atlanta rush hour traffic. I don't typically do outings after 3pm, but desperate times call for lions and tigers and panda bears, oh my.

It was just what the doctor ordered. We were able to get some walking, quality time and laughter in. Nothing like watching a baby panda eat bamboo three inches from your face to change your mood. That and calling the dinner audible (hello take-out) at 6pm.

Some days, motherhood just kicks your tail. When "those" days happen, we just have to remember that those "other"days could be just another wake-up away - those days where you are a mommy genius, the sun shines, birds land on your shoulders and your toddler says please and thank you without being prompted.

Or we can just go to the zoo again.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I hope you all had a lovely mother's day celebrated in just the way that makes you happy. I had a lovely day of breakfast out with my boys, flowers, a gift-bag full of relaxing bath products and a surprise trip announcement from the hubby. The sweet, sweet man has already booked a trip back to DC for our anniversary complete with airline tickets, boutique hotel stay and dinner reservations the night of our anniversary in the very restaurant we went to just about every anniversary when we lived there. Oh, and he already arranged child care (thanks again mom and dad!). I'm already counting down the days. This will be our first trip away from the peanut and although I'm sure I'll miss him like crazy, it will be heaven to just spend some alone time with the hubby as we celebrate our 10th anniversary.

Anyway, I spent some time last night contemplating motherhood. I babysat for a friend's 9 month old. I could tell right away that there were some differences between Baby J. and my little peanut. First of all, Baby J. is quite the hefty baby, while peanut has always been long and lean (not for lack of eating - today he ate Cheerios and cantaloupe before we left for breakfast, ate three mini-muffins, more than half a huge pancake and a few bites of my french toast all before 10:30am). Baby J. also has several teeth making appearances, while peanut didn't cut his first until well into his 10th month. And Baby J. is clapping. Peanut was well over a year before he decided to grace us with this adorable little baby feat.

But as I played with and tickled Baby J. I found it hard to take myself back to peanut at 9 months. And that was just a year ago. How, after trying to spend every day memorizing every detail, could I possibly not remember what peanut was doing a year ago?

It seems that motherhood forces living completely in the moment. It starts during pregnancy. As soon as the "morning sickness" (read: all day nausea) passed, I practically forgot about it by week 16. As soon as I was in labor, the cravings and hip pain and shortness of breath were replaced with more immediate concerns. And as soon as peanut was laying in my arms, the 30 hours of labor that proceeded that moment were completely forgotten. By the time I got home, the labor process was replaced in my mind with nursing information and wet diaper counts. By week six, the lack of sleep was replaced with when to move peanut out of our room and into his nursery. By month six when peanut began sleeping completely through the night, I soon replaced the middle of the night wakings with thoughts on solid food. By a year it was baby proofing the house to protect my newly mobile guy. And by now, month 21, I'm completely engrossed in the terrible twos and spending my days working on ignoring avoiding tantrums and testing timeout tactics.

I suppose that's why folks start thinking about another at this point - to try to remember it all again, experience those magic baby moments and perhaps do a better job of committing it all to the memory bank. Today, I'll try to relish in today's memories: the use of "purpose" instead of uh-oh at the restaurant when peanut intentionally tossed his crayons to the floor; "happy mommy, happy daddy, happy peanut" recitations; his beyond elated reaction to ice cream for dessert; dancing at the dinner table to some motown hits; psycho-babble to himself before bath that cracked him up no end and the big kiss and squeeze I got at bedtime.

And just to be safe, we took a few pictures and video. And just to be safer, I better back those up. If only my mind came with a built-in back-up.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Post for High Heeled Sister

My sister is the singer in the family. I did band, so I feel somewhat musically inclined, but am certainly no musician (a music appreciator, of course, a music maker, um, no - unless you count my tambourine shakin' prowess in toddler music class).

Anyway, I'm not a singer. Unless I'm in the car with the windows rolled securely up, the radio blasting "Midnight Train to Georgia" and a long stretch of highway in front of me. But that's when the stars align.

Of course, with peanut around, we do a fair share of singing. I've gotten over my self-consciousness of singing out loud in front of others (and by others I mean the hubby and peanut), but I still acknowledge my limitations. So, last night, during bath time as peanut was playing with his numbers (and by numbers, I mean those foam stick-to-the-tub-when-wet-letters, but he calls all letters numbers - hey, he isn't even two, I'm cutting him some slack) I sang him the alphabet song. He laughed and clapped after my first pass through.

So I asked, "Would you like mommy to sing it again?"

Peanut: "No."

Me: "Are you sure? Mommy can sing ABCs again?"

Peanut: "No." But smiling. So I forge ahead and begin to sing with gusto my ABCs.

Peanut proceeds to cry. And cry. Until I stop.

Nothing teaches humility like a 21 month old nekkid baby who thinks letters are numbers and all colors are yellow but knows that you can't sing a lick. Maybe I'm raising the next Simon Cowell.

In other news, I went on a mini-shopping spree today. I was in a desperate way for summer clothes, so the hubby and peanut dragged me out knowing if I went alone, I wouldn't actually buy anything (it's much easier to justify the $70 silk top that will look totally cute at sister-in-law's wedding rehearsal dinner when the hubby sees you in it and says you have to get that than staring at a price tag in bad dressing room lighting by yourself). Anyway, a pivotal moment occurred while perusing the DSW aisles. I ended up buying a pair of cute casual sneaks, a pair of brown heeled sandals and a pair of blue ballet flats...and the ones I'm most excited about wearing?

The flats.

HORRORS! Please don't tell the blog title police. (But seriously, they are ADORABLE.)

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Color Me Mama

I love the creativity that comes from a good, old fashioned art project. It is important to me that peanut be exposed to lots of different activities in his life - sports, art, books, music, games - so that he can not only find and confidently forge his own path in life, but also be a well-rounded kid and adult.

We already participate in a Music Class that we plan to continue in the fall and there are hours upon hours that we spend outside crawling, climbing, running, swinging. But I've been struggling with the arts and crafts. It can be extremely intimidating and exhausting to pull out all the supplies, coral peanut, introduce the activity, and clean-up for all of about 3 minutes of actual activity. So our projects have been limited to stickers, crayons and markers.

Until I came across her blog. Reading about her weekly toddler art group got me thinking. And then she wrote this post and I figured there was nothing stopping me from doing this. So out went the email to a few mommy friends who all have kids about the same age as peanut and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

We had our first toddler art group play date this morning...and it was a resounding success! We decided to try something easy first, so finger painting was the activity of the day. We met at the playground across the street from my house and set up the supplies on the picnic table. Every kid got a piece of paper taped in front of them and we put out paper plates of various colors of washable finger paints. The munchkins all focused on their projects for about 5 minutes and then they were off to play on the playground and share a snack. It was interesting to watch every child's approach to the project - some wanted their hands cleaned between each color, others only dipped a finger in and drew small lines, others put whole hands in and smeared the colors into a mash-up of gooey goodness.

Five minutes was more than I expected from a group of one to two year olds, to be honest. Having the playground was a distraction, but also a blessing. The kids could simply run off to another activity and I didn't have to worry about my house becoming a mess of red and blue hand prints. We plan on trying this play group strategy out about once a month rotating houses among the other mamas and hopefully trying new activities.

So peanut hasn't proved himself to be the next Van Gogh or Pollack yet, but he did correctly name a few of the colors. Hey, it's a start.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Grilled Cheese and Grape Jelly

Two plane rides. Two days without any naps. One flat tire. One family dinner with the in-laws. One bridal shower. One birthday party. Three nights in a row of later than normal bedtimes. Three different cakes. Two major meltdowns. Countless giggles, smiles, stories, new words, kisses and squeezes.

We made it! And 24 hours after getting back into my house, having a long nap yesterday and getting 9 hours of sleep last night I am STILL T.I.R.E.D. Of course that might have to do with all the unpacking, laundry, grocery shopping, Mother's Day card Target run (that, yes, did turn into a full-fledged Target retail therapy of beach towels, picture frames, art supplies and two new outfits for peanut), and general cleaning up I've also done in the last day. Whew.

Considering the serious sleep deficit peanut had from the moment we arrived, he did remarkably well. He let me totally abuse his schedule as we ran errands, ate dinner at his bedtime one night and generally just ran him ragged with family visits. A few firsts:
  • One of peanut's favorite phrases (as I'm sure it is in any house with a kid under 3) is "uh-oh." Grandma managed to teach him "on purpose" after he threw his sippy cup on the floor for the third time during dinner and saying "uh-oh" each time. And it stuck. The hubby and I were playing with peanut before dinner last night and he threw a toy behind the sofa and proceeded to say "purpose, purpose."
  • Upon arriving at Opa's house, a deer crossed the driveway pretty close to where we were standing. As I pointed it out to peanut, a herd of 15 or more deer came running from one end of the woods, crossed the driveway and kept going. Peanut was so excited he started to run towards them and then follow. I had visions of my poor guy getting run over by a straggling fawn, but luckily he avoided any collisions.
  • Grandpa had his first foray into solo babysitting for seven hours on Saturday. He did great. And apparently introduced peanut to one of his favorite snacks - grilled cheese with grape jelly. I actually tried it once and it's not as gross as it sounds, but let's just say, I haven't had another. Grandpa gave peanut some grape jelly to dip his sandwich in (because peanut currently has a fascination with dipping things) and peanut apparently thought it was the greatest thing he'd ever tested. Like grandfather, like grandson, I suppose.
Now we're just focused on recovering, which includes eating lots of vegetables, taking long naps and going to bed on time. And the trip gave me a lot to think about. Every time I go home since I've become peanut's mom, I have a hard time figuring out how I fit in. I know a lot of it is my own hang-up and probably my own family's adjustment to my at-home mommy status. Of course this trip was also unique in that I had the opportunity to have dinner with the in-laws without the hubby being present. It also gave me food for thought on where I fit.

As I alluded to in my pre-flight post, I think I'm at a crossroads. I'm starting to take a step back and evaluate who I am becoming. I like what I see, but for some reason, it's still been difficult... I chatted with mom about it a little bit. Mainly that I feel less than confident lately. She, like all good mamas, laughed at me. She said that from what she could see, I was more than confident in the areas that mattered right now. And I think that's why I've had such a hard time of it - I'm still evaluating myself with my heels on, when really, the outfit calls for flip-flops.

So, now that I have some time to settle back into my life of play dates, mom's night out and afternoon's by the swings, I'm going to take a vacation from judging myself. Yes, hubby, I hear you laughing at me. But really, I'm going to try. I promise. And when I put on the heels and they don't feel as comfortable as I remember, that's okay. It doesn't mean I can't wear them or that I'm any less of a high heeled mama for wearing flats most days.

Hey, if I can manage to not judge my father for eating grilled cheese and grape jelly, I can give myself a break on my shoe selections, don't you think?!