Monday, December 26, 2011

Mommy Roid Rage

Christmas at the Holloway house included a fairly intense crying / yelling match.  Emily sat on the potty with a puddle of ballet clothes at her ankles, shouting with all her might, "I am NOT going to go potty!"  The baby started crying because it's sooooo easy to sleep when there's yelling going on in the next room.  I threw a wad of toilet paper at my daughter (not kidding) and yelled, "Emily!  Go potty!!"  Jason came to the door and gave me a look that said, "What in the H is going on in here?!"  I stormed out in tears and locked myself in our bathroom.

It's a Norman Rockwell image, is it not?

Let's rewind....  Christmas morning actually began very smoothly.  We did all of the things parents are supposed to do (half-eaten cookies left on the plate, stockings overflowing, etc.) and opened presents together as a family while holiday tunes played in the background.  Jacob even stayed awake for about 10 minutes of it before needing to go down for his morning nap.  Then it was time to rush out the door for my last steroid infusion.  Boo.

I did this one solo.  I didn't want my mom to have to watch her daughter hooked up to an IV for 2 hours on Christmas.  I wanted our kids to be with Daddy if they couldn't be with me.  And I knew my all-time favorite nurse, Phyllis would be there to make me feel better.  What I hadn't anticipated was a scary allergic reaction that had me tomato-red from head to toe and itching.  Everywhere.  The sweetest old men were in the infusion room with me.  I went into a crazy-lady-itching-frenzy and one of them said, "I still think you're pretty even when your scalp itches."  Gross!  My head is actually sore today from the frantic brushing I resorted to.  They shut off the steroids and monitored me until my color returned to normal.  I walked shakily to my car and pouted for a few minutes before starting the engine.  No more steroids.  A wave of happy/sad/relieved/resentful feelings washed over me.  I know that I'm supposed to trust God's plan for me, but that doesn't mean I necessarily have to like it all of the time.  In fact, this week I've been more than a little angry with Him.  I need to be angry.  I get the feeling He understands.

I walked in the door to find Emily refusing to sit down for lunch.  Fine.  You need to use the potty first anyway.  Fast forward to our ultimate potty power struggle.  Happy, happy Christmas!  I cried in the shower while doing some more crazy-lady-scalp-scratching, spent some time thinking about how to fix the mess I had made then called for my little girl. 

"Emily, I owe you an apology.  Mommy had a bad morning at the hospital and it made me cranky.  I shouldn't have yelled at you."

"You kind of had a temper tantrum.  That was really rude."

Deep breath... Ignore the sassy-pants tone and stick with the apology plan.  "Yes, It was.  I'm sorry."

Emily then climbed into my lap, kissed my cheek, jumped down and danced away.  Just like that, everything was OK again.  If Emily can forgive me for losing it on Christmas, I suppose I can forgive God for this week.  I can learn a lot from my little girl.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cooking with Jenny: A Multiple Sclerosis Relapse

My perfect recipe for a MS relapse:
1.  Have a baby.  Childbirth is amazing.  It’s also a fairly traumatic experience for your body.

2.  Put your house on the market.  Watch as the first offer falls through.  Then the second.  Jump up and down when the house sells and the buyer lets you rent while you finish building your new house across town.  Building a house is awesome.  It's also a little stressful with all of the appointments and decisions to be made. 

3.  Approach the holiday season with a large dose of excitement and a pinch of anxiety with all there is to do.  Send 80 Christmas cards.  Bake 10 dozen cookies and 2 trays of fudge.  Decorate the new house one week after moving.  Get a beast of a tree and take the kids on a few memory-making holiday outings.  Watch as your daughter has a panic attack when Santa calls the house.  Promise he’ll never call again.

4.  Get up with your infant son every 3 hours and swear you’ll get him sleeping through the night by 4 months.  OK, maybe 5 or 6.  7 months at the latest.  Continue to wake up with him each night then cake your face in the morning with products designed to help you fake the "awake" look.  Thank God for coffee.

5.  Visit the urologist’s office for your 8th UTI in 5 months.  Suggest a prize for having the most in the shortest amount of time.  Suggest that perhaps prescribing the same antibiotic every time isn't working. Notice for the 8th time in 5 months that you're the only person in the office who doesn't have white hair.  Awesome.

6.  Care for your two lovely children under the age of 4 and marvel at parents who decide to have more than 2… On purpose!  Try to be patient as they struggle with the adjustment of moving to a new house.  Remind yourself that it’s possible to love a child more than anything in the world yet have moments when you just don’t like them very much.   Google “explosive toddler tantrum” to read horror stories and make everything feel more normal.  Google “Bipolar disorder diagnostic criteria” to rule it out… Just in case.

Mix all of this together and see what happens…  MS is unpredictable and affects everyone differently.  For someone else, perhaps nothing would have happened.  In my case, my symptoms became worse.  Then I got some new ones.  I look goofy when I walk and have some trouble with balance these days.  On the upside, I have a handicapped parking permit now.  Finally a perk!

I had a 2.5 hour MRI on Monday.  An hour later, my neurologist called to tell me I have not one new lesion, but three; two in my brain and one in my thoracic spine that is apparently “active.”  In my post-MRI Ativan haze I pretended to understand what that meant and agreed to begin a 5-day course of IV steroid infusions the following day.  I called the next morning to have him explain what exactly I'd signed up for.  Apparently the steroids will reduce the inflammation around the newest lesion and hopefully keep my current symptoms from becoming permanent.  Unfortunately this means I can't breastfeed for an entire week. 

I have an amazing support system.  Friends and family are offering their prayers, dinners, childcare.…  I've told everyone I'm fine and really don't need anything.  My first dose was yesterday.  I stupidly went alone and suddenly felt very overwhelmed.  I can't breastfeed my baby for 7 days?  I've been storing milk, but not for this...  I'm actually very saddened by this.  I've never had an IV infusion and was more than a little scared.  The nurse came to the waiting room looking more like a loving grandmother than a nurse, held my hand and said, “Hello, Dear…  It’s time to come with me.  How are you today?”  I said, "Um...  Actually, not very good" and then I began sobbing!

I get it, of course.  She’s safe.  I can fall apart in front of her and it’s OK.  I just didn’t think it would be so hard to pull myself together again!  I was mortified when she asked what I do for a living…  “I’m a psychologist.  But I promise I’m not usually so mentally unstable!”  Phyllis is great.  I use humor to cope with stress and she kindly laughs when I joke inappropriately about putting someone else's name on the infusion bag (so that maybe someone else can get it today?)  "If you give the drugs away, you’ll also have to give that person the disease, too.”  Fine, Phyllis...  You're obviously a better person than I am.  Give me my drugs.  Today my loving husband came with me.  I confirmed my name and birthdate on the infusion bag again.  Jason noted, “An excellent vintage.”  Indeed.  It was easier today.  By Christmas morning I might even be OK with all of this.  On the 26th I can nurse my baby again. In retrospect, I really did cook the perfect recipe for a MS relapse!  I promise to be more careful in 2012. 

Thank you to my friends and family for all of your support! 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Have Yourself a Merry Little Argument

I saw an article recently that said moms and toddlers argue on average 20-25 times / hour.  I believe it!  Emily's new favorite thing to do is argue with me.  Over everything.  Yesterday we listened to the radio as Nat King Cole crooned O Holy Night.

"This is Santa Claus."
"Actually it's Nat King Cole."

"No, It's Santa."
"His name is Nat King Cole.  It says his name right here....  Nat....  King.... Cole."

"This is Santa!  It says Santa.... Claus."
"I'm not lying to you, Babe."

This argument was repeated with EVERY song on the radio.  Emily is convinced that Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and Frank Sinatra are all Santa.  The back-up singers are sugar plum fairies.  White Christmas was no exception.

"This one is Santa, too."
"Raise your hand if you've seen White Christmas."

(Em and I both raise our hands)

"Emily, You have not!  Put your hand down!"
(Laughing) "Yes, I have.  This is Santa. You're a coo-coo!"

Is it any wonder?!

Monday, November 14, 2011

"Kids, This is my MS... MS, Meet my Kids."

Emily and I walked to the mailbox every day over the Summer. I made her put shoes on and I braved the hot sidewalk because a) I'm too lazy to get my own shoes and (b) I don't really see the point since I can't feel temperature in my feet. As it turned out, this provided my first opportunity to talk about Multiple Sclerosis with Emily. She wanted to know why I wasn't wearing shoes and I told her that Mommy's legs and feet are sick. Sometimes I can't feel things the same way everyone else does. She has asked a few times why we're moving and I explained that stairs are becoming a little tricky.  Our new house doesn't have stairs.  This is as far as these conversations go at this point. It's not like I'm going to start talking about myelin and lesions with a toddler!

I figure there are two ways that a parent can let their kids in on the presence of a chronic health condition... Either we have a dramatic family meeting at some point (think Lifetime Original movie) where everyone sits down with serious faces and tries NOT to scare the kids (ultimately terrifying them, of course) or it can just be a part of our everyday lives from the beginning.  I'd prefer that.  I'm happy I was diagnosed when Emily was just a baby -- This will never be new to her or to Jacob.

My neurologist is urging me to go back on my disease-modifying therapy (Rebif) sooner rather than later. He's pushing for me to stop breastfeeding at 6 months so I can return to giving myself injections 3x / week. For obvious reasons, I'm not super motivated to do that! Thankfully I'm a dairy cow and have a full freezer of breast milk already (Moo). My symptoms have returned with a vengeance since Jacob was born and I doubt I'll be able to hide my Tin Man walk when I see the doctor this month.  I still plan on arguing for at least another month or two, though.

Once I go back on Rebif I've decided I want to do my
HAMSTER DANCE in front of Emily on occasion.  My only worry is that this will be yet another thing she shares with teachers that just sounds bad. They're already going to hear "My Mommy and Daddy finished a WHOLE bottle of wine last night!" Now she may say, "My Mommy has a whole big box of used needles!" That should make parent-teacher conferences interesting!  We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cry Me a River...

I was up five times last night between midnight and 5 a.m. Granted, a few of those times were with Emily (bathroom break and a nightmare that had to do with not having her arm in the right hole?!) This morning Jason and I knew it was time to start sleep training with Jacob.

We were waiting until he was over the croup he had last week. We were waiting for a stretch of days when I would be home with him, so we wouldn't have to worry about inconsistency. Apparently we were also waiting for the worst night of sleep yet because this was the one that told me without a doubt that IT IS TIME.

This time around I'm using the advice of a friend's sister who has had amazing results with her own two kids. We let Em cry it out one night back in the day and she was a fantastic sleeper from then on. It was the hardest 30 minutes of my life, but I learned two things...

1. Babies don't die after crying for 30 minutes.
2. I can finish an entire bottle of wine in a half hour on my own.

We're starting with days instead of nights. Jacob began getting cranky at 8:30 and had droopy eyes while I carried him to his crib. I set him down and he began wailing. I went in after 10 minutes to soothe him then set him down again once he was calm. I've repeated this several times and each time I keep thinking he will pass out. HE CAN'T STAY AWAKE FOREVER, RIGHT?!?

My internal dialogue isn't helping...

Heart: How could you do this to your baby!?
Head: I'm teaching him how to put himself to sleep.

Heart: CPS is going to knock on your door any moment now.
Head: I'm doing this because I love him. He needs this skill.

Heart: Do you feel that nagging urge to help your crying baby? That's a natural instinct. It's there for a reason.
Head: We'll all be happier. He'll be a happier baby if he's more rested. I'll be a better mommy.

Heart: You're a terrible mommy. Attachment parents across the globe are weeping for your child right now. He'll have abandonment issues his entire life.
Head: Bullshit. One morning of crying does not equal lifetime trauma... Wait... Does it?

Right about then I poured a shot of Pendleton Whiskey in my coffee. I'm not a huge whiskey fan, but we were out of Bailey's. So, now I'm a 9 a.m. drinker. Awesome.

He's still crying. We're going on almost TWO HOURS of this. I pick him up and he immediately calms and begins to fall asleep. I set him back down and he starts screaming before he hits the mattress. I set the timer for 10 minutes and try to distract myself while he loses his mind in there. I reset the clock if he calms even for a minute. I'm doing the right thing. I'm doing the right thing. I'm doing the right thing.

Emily wants to know why I won't help him. I explained how this works and why it's so important as if this is a developmentally appropriate conversation to have with a 3 year old. "Do you understand, Honey? Do you think this is a good idea?"

"Yes... And I think we need to get a cat." Right. I'm finding absurd things to do to fill 10-minute crying sessions. I polished my toe nails blue. I bleached the bathroom sinks. I'm blogging. Next I plan on looking at cats on the Humane Society website. We'll name him Ferber. Or Pendleton. He'll be fantastic and all he will do all day long is SLEEP. Good kitty.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm on a roll...

We move in 4 weeks and somehow I keep breaking things! Last week I broke a kitchen drawer. I managed to break a toe in the process and later the same evening spilled red wine in the nursery. Admittedly, I'm a little sidetracked lately by everything going on. Packing our things, going back to work, preparing to move... It's a bit much. I think everyone in this house is getting a little anxious about all of the changes taking place. The kids are more emotional than usual, I'm freakishly accident-prone, and even our Weimaraner is a whole new level of neurotic. Last night, for example...

Emily refuses to eat her chicken.
Jason and I promise M&M's and a bath for little girls who eat chicken.
No chicken. She'd rather scream and throw food.
Early bedtime.
Hungry baby.
Tired baby.
Wine, please.
Blue wants outside.
Blue wants inside.
Blue wants water.
Emily has rubbed her tears and runny nose all over her face.
Now we have to put a dirty, snotty kid to bed without a bath. Yuck.
Crying baby.
Blue is pacing, whining. Attention hungry?
"Take a number, Blue!"
More wine, please.

Blue takes a backseat to kid chaos most nights. This morning he found his revenge by peeing while walking ALL OVER upstairs. He left a squiggly trail around furniture and into every room upstairs as if he was trying to write something (swear words?) I was worried about whether my hands smelled like Resolve while driving to a psych meeting today. Then I saw the dried spit-up on my day planner. Things seemed to go downhill from there... I cleaned off my day planner and called Jason on the way to my meeting.

"So... Hypothetically speaking... If one were to clog a toilet this morning and could NOT get it unclogged.... What then?"

Go ahead and snicker AS IF YOU'VE NEVER CLOGGED A TOILET IN YOUR LIFE! I had to run to the store after my meeting anyway, so I picked up a new plunger while I was there (ours was about a decade old and getting a little funky). I came home to find that the toilet was brimming with water and had OVERFLOWED! I bagged the rugs and 8 dripping bath towels, plunged the Hell out of the toilet (success!) then laughed at how ridiculous my day had become. Em asked what I was doing. "Mommy just showed that toilet who's in charge!" Looking back, it's possible my aggressive plunging caused the next problem. There's water dripping from the ceiling downstairs as I type. A slow, steady puddle is seeping from the base of the toilet.

Maybe I should just not... touch... anything for a while.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Inquiring Toddler Mind Wants to Know

How long does the "Why?" phase last???

I love my daughter, but I could do without having to explain every little thing I say and do... repeatedly. Jason has figured out that he can stop the why train if he gives her a long, technical answer she's too young to understand. Tonight I overheard him explaining in great detail why it was raining outside. My problem is (a) I don't remember 6th grade science facts as accurately as he does and (b) I don't have that kind of patience.

I try to answer all of her questions, but there have been a few times when I've had to shut the whole thing down. She asked me the other day, "Why are bad guys bad?" I smugly thought to myself, I've got this...

"They don't have something called empathy. Empathy is understanding and caring about how other people feel. They don't have that."

"But why?"
"Um... Because God made them that way... I guess."

"Why did God make them that way?"
"I changed my mind... I don't think God made them that way. I think maybe life made them that way. Can we talk about something else now?"

"Why do you want to talk about something else?"
"Because you're 3 and this is getting a little weird."


At this point I went with a response designed to foster the development of her inquisitive nature. Wait... No, I didn't.

"Oh! I see an airplane! Where do you think that airplane is going?"

Confession: There was no airplane.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Red Means STOP

I have the world's youngest backseat driver. It's my own fault... Emily asked why I was stopping and I explained that the light was red. This rolled into a discussion about traffic lights, signs, and later pedestrian crosswalk signals. That part was a little awkward when she said, "The white man says, 'walk!'" while standing beside two African American women. Lovely.

We spent the day at the beach yesterday and enjoyed Emily's backseat driving throughout the trip. She was in awe of the bright lights and dark sky on our way home (something she rarely sees with her 7 p.m. bedtime) and feeling super chatty...

"Mommy, Go! Why are you slowing down?"
"It's really, REALLY dark... There's Chuck E Cheese! It's dark at Chuck E Cheese."
"The sun is sleeping and the moon and stars are awake."
"Those were big waves. The little waves are friendly and the big waves are scary. No, They're not scary. They're friendly."
"Red means 'Stop.' It's green! Go, Mommy! Green means 'Go.'"
"I see the moon! My, my, my, my, my... It is SOOOO dark outside!"

The wave bit is my fault, too. She was running toward the ocean and I yelled, "STOP!" I may have then said something about the big waves being so strong they could pull you under. I totally botched that one, right? The tiniest little ripple came toward us and I've never seen her run faster! She was hysterical when we caught up to her. Apparently I created a little ocean phobia with my little "waves will pull you under" comment. Oops. I tried to backpedal by telling her ALL waves are friendly and the big ones are only scary to Mommy when she goes too far out without us. Too little, too late. She was still talking about the big waves today. Nice work, Mommy. Where was my traffic signal on that one?? Red means "Stop before you traumatize your kid!"

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two Kids 101

It's been nearly a month since I've posted anything here... It's just one of the many things I wish I had time for that just doesn't seem to fit into the day. A friend of mine tried to prepare me for having two...

"You know that 10 minutes of the day that's just for you?? You don't get that anymore."

So true...

Both kids are sleeping at the moment and while I should be frantically getting ready for bed and lying down for 60 seconds before one of them wakes up (because that's just how Murphy's Law works) I'm choosing instead to write something. Quickly.

I'm still juggling away and actually finding a routine of sorts. I'm on a ridiculous allergy elimination diet for Jacob's sake. Pros: Jacob is a MUCH happier baby and I'm about 10 lbs from my pre-pregnancy weight. Cons: I can count the number of things I can eat / drink on two hands and wine is NOT one of them. Neither is coffee.

Which leads me to the lessons I've learned so far from having another baby...

1) I can justify a glass of wine at 10 a.m.
2) Pumping breast milk is FASCINATING to toddlers. Before I just felt like a dairy cow. Now I'm a dairy cow with an audience. Sweet.
3) Newborns and toddlers like to melt down at the exact same time. Then they get together and snicker about it. Or they would if Jacob could snicker.
4) Just because a trick worked for the first baby doesn't mean it will work for the second. Hair dryers and car rides were magical for getting Emily to sleep. Jacob acts like I'm torturing him when I put him in his car seat and the hair dryer is like a challenge and yes, he CAN scream louder.

Still learning. It's getting easier and I love my babies very much... Even when they're conspiring to send me over the edge. Do they make a low-allergen wine?? Just checking.

Friday, July 22, 2011

And baby makes FOUR!

I'm happy to announce that our baby boy is here! Jacob William was born on July 2nd following a relatively easy labor and delivery. He looks very much like Emily did when she was born minus the chipmunk cheeks and we love him very much. Em has been fantastic as a big sister aside from a few rough kisses on the head. She frequently wants to see "Baby Jacob's little baby hands" and is very much looking forward to teaching him how to eat an ice cream cone. Whatever.

I've been asked several times how Jacob is doing. I know there are babies out there who sleep really well from the get go (or so I've heard). These are easy going babies who are content and generally happy all of the time. I don't have those babies! Poor Jacob is struggling with the same reflux Emily has. When he's not sleeping, he's usually crying and we're trying everything we can to soothe him. We've started a trial of meds and I've given up dairy to see if that might help. Hopefully we'll see results in a week or so... Fingers crossed.

In the meantime, I'm attempting to juggle two. Sometimes it works well and others I feel like a circus act gone wrong. On a good day (e.g., right now) I'm typing a blog entry, bouncing on an exercise ball, and enjoying a glass of wine while my fussy baby is strapped to my chest. A not-so-hot moment took place a few days ago when my son started pooping mid-diaper change. Without getting too graphic, you should know that nothing comes out of Jacob without an exceptional level of force and quantity. My hand was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Emily chose that exact moment to walk into the nursery bow-legged to announce, "Mommy, I pooped on my leg!" Of course you did. Moments like these I remind myself that God wouldn't give me more than I can handle. Then I start questioning whether he has me confused with someone else or perhaps he just gives me too much credit! Either way I'm pretty sure He was laughing at that moment. I know I was!

I'll let you know when my circus act goes on the road...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Did you really just say that?!

Things I don't want to hear while taking my 10-minute shower:

"Mommy, I broke the wall! It's OK... Sometimes little girls break walls." WHAT?! Make that a 2-minute shower. Thankfully she had just picked at a scuff in her closet -- hardly the gaping hole I'd envisioned when I was frantically rinsing my hair.

Today it was, "I drew you a picture!" This is so nice... except for the fact that I DIDN'T LEAVE PAPER OUT FOR YOU. I love Crayola for making washable crayons. I suppose coloring the inside of her easel isn't really a big deal in the scheme of things. It's not like the time she colored the closet door for me -- Thank you, Olivia, for teaching Emily about murals.

I have a whole list of things I really didn't want to hear. Sometimes they're things that come out of her mouth (e.g., "If that's how you're going to be, then FINE!" followed by a door slam) and sometimes it's something I've said and wished I didn't have to...

"Please don't play the piano with your feet."
"I don't think Blue wants you to stand on him, Honey."
"Emily, We don't play with our bottoms at the table."
"Do you ever see Cinderella spit out food she doesn't like?"
"If you don't stop, you and Alex will both get a time-out."
(Alex is Em's imaginary friend. How exactly did I plan on following through with THAT one?!)

I can only imagine the things I'll hear when there are two of them running around the house. Or three, depending on whether Alex is still with us!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pick and Choose

There should be contests for who has the pickiest eater. I realize this is an incredibly common toddler trait, but I'm pretty confident we'd at least bring home a ribbon if not the Big Kahuna trophy.

It's improving... Kind of. At least now Emily understands that all of the Apple Jacks taste the same, so there's no need to request "just the green ones." I'd guess only 1 out of every 25 Apple Jacks is green and it's not like Crunchberries... They don't make a box of "Just the Green Ones" (I checked).

Emily would eat nothing but eggs, cheese, and bread if we let her. She pretends to like food and even requests things on occasion only to take a single bite or make an art project out of it. I asked the other day, "Are you going to eat your Cheerios?" "No, I'm just going to make a caterpillar." I appreciate her honesty.

I like to think that if your first kid is a picky eater, then the second will eat anything. This little boy will be requesting hot sauce by one year. That's how it works, right? I get one of each -- girl and boy, picky and not. I'm making this up, of course, but it sounds good to me.

Our son is going to be a rock star when it comes to sleep -- none of those 20 minute naps we were blessed with the first time around. He'll be SO healthy! Reflux? What reflux?? We won't have to relive the crying (I'm hungry) followed by crying (that hurts) and more crying (both of us). No expensive prescriptions or GI tests either.

I only want the opposite when it comes to things that were difficult with Em, though. Is that too much to ask? I had a relatively easy labor and delivery. Really hoping that doesn't mean I'm due for one of those horror stories everyone likes to tell pregnant women about (Seriously, folks... Stop already).

I know expectant moms all say the same thing -- "I just want a healthy baby." This is the part where I roll my eyes. Of course we want healthy babies!! I'm not going to pretend that's all I want. I'm hopeful for all of the good things and none of the bad. Aren't we all? Health is number one on the list, but it's not the only thing. Easy labor. Sleep. Hot sauce. Or at least be willing to try the red Apple Jacks. Please?

Say What??

I let Emily watch YouTube clips of My Little Pony in the mornings while I get ready... There's one clip in particular where the ponies are in a heated argument with a herd of buffalo. They're arguing over whether the land should belong to the buffalo so they can do their stampedes or to Apple Jack's family for growing apple trees. Highly realistic story line, right? Bear with me... At one point a pony yells, "It's not fair!"

And so begins my daughter's use of the phrase "It's not fair." It's not fair when I tell her it's time to go. It's not fair when I want her to take a bite of breakfast. Nothing I do is fair anymore.

She's very good at picking up lines from books and screen and trying them out on us. This morning we walked down the stairs and she asked, "Is this a mountain?" No, Corduroy. Lately, I ask her to stop doing something and she asks, "Do you forgive me?" This tends to get some funny looks in public. I can thank Ni Hao Kai-Lan for that one. When I come home from work, she likes to quote her favorite line, "Mama Llama, You came back!"

Today I heard a new one and I'm not sure (yet) where it came from...

"Mom, You're so boring!" (said with a smile while riding in the grocery cart)

"What?! That's not a very sweet thing to say to people! What could you say to me that is sweet instead?"

"Mom, May I please say you're so boring?"

Close... At least she understands that magic words = being sweet. We're moving in the right direction. I suppose I should just remind her that I don't call her boring. That's not fair!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Passive Agressive Parenting

I had some beautiful preconceived notions of what my adventures in parenting would look like prior to having a baby... Rocking my daughter to sleep at night, reading stories together, playing games and teaching her new things. All of these scenes were full of laughter, love, and a warm fuzzy feeling that I would be a good parent.

Fast forward almost three years to a scene that took place earlier this week. We were driving in the car and I offered Emily a bite of my cereal bar.

"That's MY cereal bar."

"No, Honey, it's actually Mommy's cereal bar and I'm sharing it with you. Would you like a bite?"

"No, you DON'T take a bite of my cereal bar."

Admittedly, this is where I could have taken the parenting high road and continued on a mature, good parenting path. I was exhausted, sick, and getting kind of fed up with the new "that's mine" stuff. I ignored her protests and took a very large, slow, passive aggressive bite of MY cereal bar. Then I reached back to offer her a bite. Emily took the bar and threw it into the seat next to her!

I said, "Emily! That's not OK! Do I need to pull over?"

"You don't eat my cereal bar!"

I actually followed through with the age old threat of pulling the car over. The problem with this is that I had NO idea what to do next! I got out of the car, fetched the cereal bar from the seat beside her, took ANOTHER bite (Am I 12?!) then closed the door, and thought, "What am I doing??" She was already in her car seat, so a time-out was out of the question... It's not like I had anything to take away or reinforcements to offer and what would I be asking her to do anyway?

I got back in the car and tried to think of how to explain why Mommy was acting like a nut, but when I looked in the rear-view mirror she was fast asleep. Let's just pretend that didn't happen, shall we?? I drove her home, carefully took her out of the car and walked in slow motion as I carried her to bed. I was on my knees covering her with a blanket when I remembered the popping sounds my knees tend to make when I raise from a kneeling position. Very pregnant and crawling feels funny, so I imagine it looks equally as strange. I slowly crawled to the door and prayed to God she would stay asleep!

I'm not proud of my parenting choices I made that day, but I don't think I did any major damage either. Note to self: Grow up before you decide to teach your daughter a lesson. I don't even like cereal bars!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Toddler Time

Toddlers have no sense of time. I know that. It still kills me, though, when Emily acts like something happened years ago. She melted into a tantrum as we pulled up to the house last night. "I want out!" That's not how we talk to Mommy. Em responded with some impressive yelling. I told her she could stay in the car until she calmed down and sat on the rear bumper while she screamed for literally 5 minutes straight. Neighbors walked by and I gave them a look that said, "I totally know what I'm doing here." (Liar)

Finally she calmed down and I opened the door to ask if she was ready to be calm and sweet. Not only had she completely regained composure, it was as if the whole scene hadn't happened at all. In fact, as we walked into the house she said, "Remember when I had a tantrum in the car?" As if it was SOOOO long ago!?! She was over it. I suppose to her it was a long time ago.

On a related note, I'm waiting not-so-patiently for a clock I ordered online for Emily. I'm not interested in teaching time concepts, I'm interested in getting another half hour of sleep in the mornings. The day we moved Em into a big girl bed was the day she dropped her habit of sleeping in until 8 or 9 a.m. (those were the days). She's all smiles and laughter as she runs into our room and I love when she crawls into our bed for a cuddle. I just want it to be at 6:30 instead of 6. Is that too much to ask? The new clock has a picture of a sleeping bunny. When the other picture lights up (the one where bunny is out of bed and playing), she's allowed to get out of bed. We'll see if this actually works... In the meantime, I've asked Emily on more than one early morning, "Remember when you used to sleep in and we were both well-rested?" She just laughs and says, "No, silly!" Yeah... Me, neither. It really is beginning to feel like SO long ago!

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Little Helper

We spent two hours at an OB appt. this morning. We arrived early and the doctor was running late, of course. Emily was a trooper and well-behaved up until the last 10 minutes or so when she tapped out. I really couldn't blame her at that point. Jason and I canceled our lunch plans to avoid a potential sassy-toddler-in-public scene. Not worth it.

Emily demanded I take her to a local play area. Not happening. Then she yelled that we NEED to feed ducks and geese. Yeah, right! I explained to her that I'm not taking a yelling, demanding little girl anywhere but home. She was not pleased. I picked up a salad from Wendy's and Emily requested a straw (whatever). I told her she could have one when she decides to be sweet. Suddenly my little girl was using her sweet voice and magic words as if nothing had happened. For a straw?!? Good grief.

Em spent the remainder of our ride home making letter shapes with her straw. "Look, Mommy! I made a V! And this is a W!" We passed a car accident and Em was briefly sidetracked by the flashing lights of the two police cars and ambulance helping those involved. Both cars were badly damaged and I explained to Em that the ambulance was there to help anyone who might be hurt. Emily said, "I need to help them."

"We've already passed them, Baby, but how did you want to help them?"

"We need to stop. I'll make them a W and that will make them feel better."

Emily, I take back all of the rotten thoughts I had while you were yelling in the car earlier. You really do have the sweetest little heart.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Go, Team, Go!

The J-Walkers are on a roll with fundraising... Our team of 26 has raised $7,875 to date with 16 days to go until our MS Walk. I have to admit I'm beginning to get a little anxious about being able to walk a 5K!

The past month has been more than a little nuts. The combo of increasing work hours and speed cleaning our house every few days so a potential buyer can walk through is beginning to do a number on my body. After a few blocks of walking, my legs are weak and each step becomes challenging. Most days I can count on making it about 3/4 of the way up our staircase before I need use both rails for support. The shift (and gain) of pregnancy weight is certainly not helping! If I'm panting after climbing the stairs, how on earth am I going to walk a 5K?! I think the answer is very slowly. I'll be the one starting at the front of the crowd and finishing at the end after several bench breaks. If I have to take a short-cut at some point, I won't beat myself up over it. I totally take back all of the jokes I made last year when I saw a group make a beeline for the finish before the last stretch!

No matter what, I'll be there. I have a fantastic team of friends and family walking with me. Many of them have made generous contributions themselves along with all of the support we've received from others. Sara at Sarandipity Sweets is still taking orders for 7 more days of J-Walker fundraising (a portion of proceeds will benefit the National MS Society on our behalf). She even let me write a guest post to tell my story. Thank you, Sara and thanks to everyone who has so kindly supported the J-Walkers in our fundraising efforts! Fingers crossed for sunshine on April 9th!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Dollar Store Display

I have these brown corduroy maternity pants that have a terrible habit of sliding down with each step. My growing belly provides a ramp of sorts for the waistband to slide down little by little. I don't wear them very often for this reason. I really wish I wasn't wearing them last Tuesday.

It was too many errands for one morning. The excitement of visiting the pet store made the grocery shopping we had to do seem pretty lame and then I dragged an overtired and hungry Emily to the dollar store to get gift wrap supplies. My mistake. I balanced a handful of gift bags, tissue paper, and ribbon in one arm while carrying my diaper bag and holding Em's hand with the other. Emily began pulling in the opposite direction. I used my usually successful tactic of offering two choices -- "Are you going to walk with me or do I need to carry you?" She always chooses to walk with me. And I'm the idiot who forgot that I should always stick with acceptable choices. She fell to the floor and proceeded to melt down in a part-seizure, part-breakdancing tantrum. I quickly whisked her up onto my hip (or what's left of it) and waddled across the store to the carts so I could buckle her in for a time-out. Why didn't I put the gift wrap supplies down?

The problem with having both arms full as I walked in my saggy pants is that by the time I got there, the waist was already at hip-level. Picture a very pregnant woman with her pants on the verge of dropping to the floor, struggling to put a cat in a bathtub and you'll get the idea. Eventually I got her in and quickly pulled my pants up. Emily said, "Mommy, Do you need to take a break?" and I told her, "YES! I'll be at the end of this aisle taking deep breaths." If I'm going to hang on by a thread, I'm at least going to model some anger management strategies while I'm at it.

I LOVE my little girl. I love spending so much time with her and I usually don't have to remind myself of that fact. This was one of those days when I put her down for her "rest time" when we got home, went to my room and fell to the bed in tears because in a few short months there will be TWO of them!

Thank God the rest of the week went more smoothly. I'm learning to explain rewards and consequences BEFORE we get out of the car and will certainly buck up and pay the $4 for a gift bag before dragging her to yet another store next time. I would've paid much more to avoid mooning everyone in the dollar store last week!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Counting Down to St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day will be here before we know it. I'm celebrating this year with my book club over a traditional Irish dinner and banoffee pie. I'm in charge of dessert and when my friend, Taryn suggested this tasty item I had a hard time thinking about anything else. Maybe it's a pregnancy thing, but the combo of bananas and toffee with cream in a graham cracker crust just sounds dreamy!

Taryn is one of the co-founders of the Irish Life Experience, a tour company specializing in taking groups of high school and college students throughout Ireland. She's done this for years, so I figured she would be the one to ask when it came to Irish desserts. Taryn also asked me to write a blurb for their travel blog about St. Patrick's Day. Not only did this get me in the mood to celebrate more than I usually do, but I also learned a thing or two! My guest post can be found here and I'd recommend passing along information about the Irish Life Experience to any high school or college-aged students you may know! It's an incredible travel opportunity and Taryn is fantastic. I truly hope she's still running this program when my kids are old enough to participate.

As for the banoffee pie, I found an online recipe I plan to try... Here's hoping it's as good as it looks! Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Wild Ride

What a week of highs and lows! We finished our preparations and put our house on the market (high)! I had an eval planning meeting where the mother yelled at me... in Turkish (low). We got an offer on our house in just 3 days (high)! My friend's mother received a scary medical diagnosis (low). Our buyer changed their mind (low). My friend at Sarandipity Sweets made the incredibly generous offer to donate a portion of March sales to the MS Walk on behalf of my team (super high)! My friends from college are coming for a girls' weekend (another high)! An emotional roller coaster such as this is probably not great for my health. Not so much because I'm pregnant, but because it leads to the consumption of far too many Girl Scout cookies. I've decided Thin Mints don't count, so I shouldn't feel too guilty... yet.

At this point I'm still feeling optimistic and smiling from my last two highs. Sara is my very talented best friend from 2nd Grade who operates Sarandipity Sweets. She makes adorable cake pops that taste AMAZING!! There's nothing cuter than a tiny cupcake on a stick and Sara lets you choose the colors, flavors, etc. If you happen to have an occasion to purchase these in the month of March (birthday, baptism, St. Patrick's Day, etc.) I'd love you for it! I can't get enough of them and am already making plans to order some this month. If you're still recovering from the Valentine's Day sugar overload, but would still like to make a contribution you can do so on our Team Home Page. The "J-Walkers" are growing steadily and making great fundraising gains for the National MS Society. I'd love for you to walk with us in Portland on April 9th and would appreciate any support you can give to this important cause!

As a side note, those cake pops freeze beautifully. Feel free to order in March and eat in April. I may have to do that if this wild ride continues... I doubt my Girl Scout cookies will last that long!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Oh Boy...

The past month has been a whirlwind... Our house goes on the market this week, so we've been frantically packing boxes to take to storage, updating the Master bathroom, touching up paint, and doing the really fun deep cleaning (think dusting mini blinds and scrubbing floorboards). I've been wearing a combo scent I call Eau de Windex / Soft Scrub / Pledge. It's pretty hot. On top of this, I increased my hours at work from 4 hours per week to 20, registered Emily in a preschool for Fall, and Jason and I have been working with our bank and a great builder in preparation for building a house! My head is spinning from all of the craziness, but it's a GOOD kind of crazy. That helps.

I'm finally feeling like I'm on top of things, which is nice. I'm also super excited because Jason and I learned a few days ago that WE'RE HAVING A BOY!!!

For two days I've told Em that there's a baby boy in my belly instead of the girl we all thought it might be. The first time I broke this news didn't go so well.

Mommy: "Emily, Mommy is going to have a baby boy!"
Emily: "No, It's a girl."
Mommy: "No, Honey, It's a boy. You're going to have a little brother!"
Emily: "Nooo... I think it's a baby pig."
Mommy: "What? No pig. It's a boy, Sweetheart."
Emily: "Is it a cow in your belly?"
Mommy: "What are you saying?"
Emily: "I think it's a goat."

Today we had a similar conversation with the addition of kitty cat and dog. Apparently Emily is convinced this baby is a girl, pig, cow, goat, cat or dog. Most certainly NOT a baby brother. This is the beginning of a beautiful sibling relationship, don't you think?

I asked Emily for name suggestions. She likes "Pink." Jason isn't helping. Tonight he suggested "Maverick." I told him it's not happening. He said, "So, I suppose Ice Man is out?" My daughter is convinced I'm having a farm animal and my husband wants to name our son a Top Gun character. The craziness continues...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

2 going on 13

Around the holidays Emily frequently asked us to have a tea party at the dining room table. She'd pass out the plastic cups and say, "Let's cheers!" as she banged hers into ours. One day she and Jason were having tea while I sat behind them.

Emily: "Mommy, Do you want to have tea with us?"

Mommy: "Maybe in a few minutes."

Emily: "Well, Hi there, Mr. Scrooge!"

What?! Who knew a toddler was capable of sarcasm?? I have no idea where she got this. She's never seen Scrooge. We've never even talked about Scrooge. But this isn't the first time she's given me a little bit of attitude. I've been shushed. I've even been told to "Cool it!" (I'll admit she got that last one from me) I recently took away a spoon at brunch when she was being too noisy with it and she very calmly said, "Well, Waaa." Who is this sassy toddler? Stupidly, I laughed. I'll be hearing that one again for sure.

She's still my sweet little girl, but Emily is definitely testing the waters with some new material. We're just trying to stay one step ahead of her by coming up with new material of our own. At dinner recently Jason read the menu to her. "Please be sweet and use quiet voices in this restaurant." A little boy behind us threw a fantastic tantrum and we told her, "He must not have read the menu." I figure we can get away with this for at least a few more years. If it means less attitude, I'm all for it.