Saturday, August 29, 2009

A flurry of activity!

Now that things are settling down, we are back at the house with a renewed energy. We are mainly doing little things, but they make a big difference.

My mom and grandmother (Goose) came to visit a few weeks ago and brought several boxes of books that belonged to me as a child. Peanut has taken to some of my old favorites; Bedtime for Francis (we edit a little) and Green Eyes are her new favorites. We decided that the bookshelf in Peanut's room will move into Pumpkin's soon-to-be room and we would get some new shelves to house the new boos for Peanut. We got great unfinished wood shelves and I have been painting them the past two nights. She is so excited about her new shelves! She got to pick out the paint colors (not willy nilly - I did give her three options), and she has been checking them out when she helps with laundry (they are in the utility room right now). She asked about them again before going to sleep tonight.

Today was a run to the Home Depot for ceiling fans. It has finally become clear that the noise from our fans is slowly driving us insane. Beyond that, the light bulbs in the fan are impossible to find, leading me to believe they do not make that size bulb/base any longer and we will soon be completely in the dark. We now have only one working light out of the possible three bulbs in each of the kids rooms. We also got some additional supplies for closet shelving projects. While we have an enormous amount of closet space, it is not well organized. Each child's room has two good sized closets. We are putting a second clothes rod and a few shelves into one of each of the bedroom closets, and the second one will be just the regular rod with storage space below. It should create a lot more space and let the kids get their own clothes when they can reach.

Honey is currently priming the gym walls. We are so pleased to be rid of the scary lavender (I know, you remind me of my lavender kitchen with purple was a different kind of home) and black cabinet boxes. We are opting for a sunny yellow in the gym - here's hoping it spurs us to work out harder!

Our next plans are to replace our beautiful mirror and gold trim circa 1970 closet doors with bi fold doors and to gut and redo the master bath. We have some painting to do in the downstairs bedrooms/office. Oh yeah, we still have not really touched the yard aside from my little veggie garden - lots to do there. It is a work in progress!


It goes so fast. You don't really believe it when people tell you that, but it is true. My Pumpkin is smiling and "talking" with me and reaching up to touch my face. He is showing his personality and getting to be a big guy before my very eyes.

My little girl is growing up. She knows all kinds of things that I don't remember her being exposed to. She tells me to "sit down" when I am in the car and turning around to help Peanut with his binky (I only do this when Honey is driving - promise). She sets up tea parties in her little dollhouse. She sings the right words to songs, remembers and tells the stories in books, and generally wants to do everything she sees other kids or adults doing.

Sometimes transitions that I think are going to be difficult end up being really fast and easy. Peanut has always been really easygoing for the most part, but I don't know that I expected some major events to go so smoothly! She made the transition from a crib to a twin bed in a single day. We put the mattress in her room to start organizing the space for the baby and she decided then and there that she was sleeping in the big bed. She got rid of her nap binky in one day and her nighttime binky in two. No crying or fussing. I just said I couldn't find it and would look for it while she slept. Then it was forgotten.

The most stunning transition has been the "click" of really getting potty training. If you do not have kids, you might not grasp the full excitement here, and you would probably be shocked at how frequently family conversations revolve around pee and poop. I'm so sorry, but this is my life. You may choose to move on to another post. Yesterday, I was in the laundry room and Peanut was in the playroom cooking up a storm in her kitchen. I was gone for a minute or so, and I heard a splash. I thought, "Oh no, she put something in the toilet". Then I thought, "that sounded like a bucket of water into the toilet - oh gosh...". I ran to the bathroom and found that she had stopped playing, gone to her potty, pulled her shorts and undies down, peed, dumped the pee successfully into the toilet (!!!) and wiped and pulled her pants up. She was flushing when I arrived, and she calmly told me "I pee". We have been doing some form of potty learning for a long time - I think we had a potty in our bathroom by 15 months or so with zero expectations. But she likes to do what everyone else does, and by 18 months I was no longer changing poopy diapers. Getting the peeing down pat was the harder part for her, and until we just gave her the choice to wear diapers or underpants, I think she was confused. Once she had underpants on, and understood that you can pee in a diaper but not in underpants, it was a few short weeks and voila! Of course we expect some accidents, and there have been a few, but she is really quite reliable.

What's next for my little ones?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Random thoughts on a wonderful life

I'm just enjoying my life and my beautiful little people here. We do all the stuff that needs to be done each day with my little helpers - laundry, harvesting the garden, making our meals, and running errands. It all takes a little longer - OK a lot longer - but what else am I to do? Kids learn by doing and I'd rather that than wait until the weekend and try to do it all at once.

Here's our garden harvest from just one day! And this is honestly the least attention I have ever paid to a garden probably in my lifetime...

Peanut got up this morning and wanted a ponytail AND a headband - she ended up looking a little like the Jane Fonda of the 80's - feel the burn!

Yesterday, she wanted yogurt. While she did eat quite a bit of it, she discovered the joys of finger painting with food as well...that my friends is why our dining room table was $45 on craigslist!

The little man is busy pushing himself up all over the place and showing off his fabulous happiness and pride with his smiling!

Peanut has also really gotten into making everyone comfortable and having them "go night night". She gives her loveys and wraps up the dog, her baby dolls, her brother, and the cat so they can sleep well. We are so happy our animals are really laid back about all of it!
I just love this - brother and sister loving being with each other. I only hope it lasts when he starts really moving!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Health care with a conscience?

I am finally getting my bills and paperwork in order from Pumpkins birth and I can tell you why health care is so screwy. He was born at home (by accident - you can read all about it here). We were transferred to the hospital by ambulance, and spent about 5 hours there. The total hospital bill for us was $5975.95 or $1195.19/hour. I think my favorite part is that they charged us (yes, a separate charge for each of us - even though Pumpkin never left my sight) for a semi private room from 6/13 to 6/14. Hmmmmm. We were in L&D, not recovery and we were not there overnight! Who is getting screwed here? So an uncomplicated, unmedicated, unassisted birth that did not happen at the hospital, a few stitches for me and a quick shot of vitamin K and the once over for the little man is really expensive! But guess what??? If I had been in the hospital and had my blood pressure monitored 875 thousand times while in labor, and if we had started the cascade of interventions that is prone to happen in L&D, they would have been able to charge our insurance sooooo much more! Maybe that's why that nurse was so hopped up to give me a shot of pitocin to get the placenta out....more $ for the hospital. Never mind that I didn't need it and I'd be in agonizing pit contractions (trust me - they are not like natural contractions) and my little man could just nurse to get surges going for me. I don't know where I stand on all this wrangling about health care, but clearly we need to address the playing of games to increase profits. 'Nough said.

Monday, August 24, 2009


My little girl has a love of music! I'd be shocked if she didn't - her dad and I love music, although we can have very different tastes. I love all 80's, show tunes, lots of classic rock, most alternative, some country, random cheesy singers (Barry Manilow, Englebert Humperdinck) and have a strange soft spot for young boy punk bands. He's fully invested in Metallica. When she was tiny, she smiled and wiggled to 80's alternative and metal on the satellite radio. So we are not really a "kids music in the car" kind of family. The kids get to listen to whatever we have on the radio.

As Peanut has gotten bigger, she has expanded her horizons. In the car, she will ask to change the station until there is something she wants to listen to. It might be Christian rock, electronica, country - it depends on her mood and the day. In our bedroom, she wants the music on so she can dance. Anything with a beat is good here - lately it has been classic rock. In her room, she wants "Chickens" which is the Philadelphia Chickens CD (if you haven't heard it you should - listen to some here). She just wants to boogie. And now she sings along or makes up her own words - what a riot! So here she is dancing to the Chickens in her very cool princess-like canopied bed.

Just Right

Babies and I usually get along great - we oogle and google each other and generally have a ball. I found that initially, when I oogled and googled with Pumpkin, I felt like I was cheating on Peanut. I know that sounds crazy, but it is hard to love two beings so much, so differently, and so intensely and feel like you are spreading the love just right and not too thin. As we have begun to settle into the new dynamic, I am starting to feel pretty good about the time I spend with each of them individually as well as how I can include them in the other's play and snuggle time with mom if need be. It's really nice.

I finally feel like things are pulling together here. We've had all kinds of leaps and bounds this past few weeks and days, and it feels like we are getting into some kind of a routine. We walked this morning for almost and hour and Pumpkin didn't scream once! We had friends in last week and we took all the kids to Old Town Alexandria and out to lunch after - no issues or incidents even with a long outing! Just tired babes and mamas.

Best of all, last night Pumpkin slept ALL NIGHT. Yes, he is not yet 10 weeks old and he has given me the best gift of sleep. I am a pro at hearing the first rustle and fuss during the night and getting myself awake enough to decide if it is a new diaper or milk that is required. I usually wait for him to really "tell me" he is in need before jumping to the rescue. So that means that I can be us for 1/2 hour or so before Pumpkin really needs me. I just listen and wait. And sometimes fall back asleep. Once the decision is made, I can pluck him out of the co sleeper and have him nursing in no time. We have perfected the art of the side lying latch and we both easily fall back to sleep while nursing. There are days that I wake up and know he woke during the night to eat only because he is right there. There are other days that I have been up all night and could tell you exact times of waking and sleeping of everyone in the house. Well, this morning, I hear the first rustle and wake up to peek at the clock. Pumpkin was still in his co sleeper and he was just moving his legs a little. The clock read 6:30, and if I hadn't already been laying down I would have fallen over. It took another 30 minutes or so for him to wake up to tell me he was hungry. I slept from 11-6:30! No wonder it feels like a great day!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Clay in my hands, or not

I wonder sometimes who decided that I was responsible enough to have children. I am awed by the task of keeping these two little lives on track, and at times (honestly, many times) terrified by the prospect of screwing something up. As long as the little one is clean, dry, fed, and has some playtime, I am feeling accomplished. Babies are easy (to me), it's the toddlers that are tough. I've always joked that I worked with kids from birth to 3 years old because once they start talking, they can reason and talk back and I lose too much control. Hmmmm, ever feel like you've been bitten in the butt?

I always wanted to have kids, and I've been working with babies and toddlers for the past 17 (Oh dear, that is a nice way to feel old) years, so I think before I had any of my own, I thought "piece of cake". Having spent a very long time telling parents how best to foster development, it seems to me that I should feel really confident in my parenting choices. With a two year old dealing with the independence/attachment struggle she is going through, it is all blurry and I am so unsure. Should we ignore her 8:30pm pleas to "poop" because she is using them to extend bedtime? Will ignoring them mess up potty training? Am I setting her up for serious couch time later? Do you make a battle out of not jumping on the bed/couch/chair or do you wait until she falls and use it as an example? When you can plainly see terror in her eyes as really big kids play and block her way from coming down the play structure, do you help or let her work it out? It's all a decision making process and when it is your child, logical and rational thoughts can be hard to see through the emotional haze of keeping her sheltered and safe, and being so tired you can see straight anyway.

I've read all the books and theories, and been exposed to almost every situation under the sun. At work, I like to think that I helped parents find ways to help their kids develop and learn. There are lots of ways to get your kids to do what you want/need/wish they would do, and I tried to help people look at the options and choose the one that made sense for their child and personality. I do think I did/do a good job of that, but I now realize that the long way, the gentler way, may be the better way most of the time, at least for our family so far. I find myself now looking to ideas and theories that frankly, I had dismissed as a therapist and educator. I am in uncharted territory.

I find myself frustrated with inane things and I have to remind myself that kids need repetition in order to learn. Reading the same book or story, asking the same question; all of those things that could get under your skin are just their way of organizing the world so they can better navigate. The testing of rules and limits is the same - they test and test and then test again to see if your response will always be the same, to see if you still love and care for them no matter what they do, to see your reactions when they find them to be amusing. It is predictable when you are not "in it".

When Peanut was born, I made a rule that when she was awake, I was a mom and only a mom. I got some push back from folks who felt that was totally unrealistic, but I forged on ahead. My head was in mommying and I wasn't distracted by work, email, the phone or anything else. I always found that when I slipped, she became very "difficult". When I stuck with it, parenting was really fun and laid back and truly enjoyable. I had a terrific reminder of this the past two days. I subscribe to a daily parenting email called the Daily Groove, and yesterday and today the blurb was about separation anxiety and truly being "present" with your kids. You can read it here. It struck a note with me, and reminded me of where my head needs to be when they are awake and what happens when I am not "fully present".

Really, as a parent, there is so much I can do to foster development and learning and esteem, just by being there and really listening and seeing and responding to their needs. How did we get off track from doing this? We got busy, and moved far from our family support networks, and listened to theorists without children. We forgot that after you are pregnant, you will have kids and be a parent. ( I really do have a friend who didn't consider the parent part of her pregnancy...she was quite shocked) We dismiss our own experiences as kids and by default, repeat the same things our parents did that we said we'd never do. I am a responsible parent, and yet I don't always feel that way. Maybe I just think too much. Or too little. It's scary to me how much of an impact we have on and in their lives. And how little we can truly control.

I see this video and how much love and fun is here, and I think "we are doing OK"!

Everyone is fed and happy! I know we've got that down at least!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

All about the boy

So my little Pumpkin is 2 months old today! I thought I'd get some pics of him on here to show him off a little...

He is really pushing himself up on his elbows and hands now! And he has even flipped over a few times. Oh boy - I think I am in for it.

His sister can't keep her hands off him - she is soo super snuggly with him it is really sweet. Most of the time she is really gentle and is just loving on him or showing him toys. She is a little bit of a ham too and can't look away if there is a camera...

He is sweet as pie and a great sleeper - especially when he is in our bed...

He loves to play with his toys - looking at them and trying to hold them. His favorite thing to do though is just giggle and coo at people - he is a very social little guy and his smile will melt you!

Here is a little video of him pushing himself up - he is on my belly and chest so my camera skills were not great while trying to make sure he didn't fall off. He is so proud of himself!
Oh baby - who knew only a few short weeks ago you'd come crashing in and make us so happy with your sweet smile?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

NOT the odd mom out!

It was apparent today why I love my moms group. It started two years ago when Peanut was born and I was on the hunt for a new social circle with babies that could do play dates and such. I had already dealt with lots of skepticism from acquaintances and friends about using cloth diapers, nursing for more than a few months, all the organic stuff that was on my registry, my plan for a natural name it, folks were all rolling their eyes at some of the choices we were making about birth. So when I went looking for a moms group, I knew I'd have to find a good fit for my "unique" style - I had no idea it would be so hard to find a bunch of parents like me! I kept going to meeting and events and playgroups and signed up for every online moms group I could, but I always felt like I didn't fit.

A close friend I met while taking a Bradley Childbirth class in preparation for Peanut's birth was in the same boa and lived close by. We would often find ourselves at the same events, or realize we had found the same new group to check out, and as we got more depressed about it we started talking about starting our own group. We both (independently) found a national group online that looked like "our" people, and she said "let's do this!". So, about a little over a year ago, we started a local chapter of the Holistic Moms Network.

Getting the chapter together has been a lot of work, but it has been an unbelievable experience. We have found so many who are exploring the same things in life and parenting, and no longer feel alone in our choices. I'm not the odd mom out. This was absolutely highlighted today - we had a playgroup at my house, and the discussion topics ranged from dairy free soy free ice cream and sweets recipes without refined sugars to elimination communication to Montessori lessons. We even had a dad who brought an enigma; a vegetable from his garden that he could not identify - turned out to be a lemon cucumber which was quite tasty! We snacked on plantain chips, grapes, sweets made by our baker experimenter. Everyone brought their own water in some kind of reusable container - I remember being so excited to see another person with a sigg or klean kanteen before - now I am surrounded! Someone had made fresh pesto and brought a jar for everyone. Another brought buckets, shovels and paintbrushes to add to our kiddie pool and do some water play. I loaned out some cloth diapers and covers to a mom to try. We traded around maternity clothes. I nursed without feeling obliged to be discreet. Oh yeah - the kids. They played! They were in the water and the sand, running around in the grass, concentrating on their pouring and dumping, taking turns with the bubble wand. They negotiated situations themselves and with help - we tend to let kids figure things out a bit longer than many folks I have met before. Peanut decided to go in the pool and said "no" to the swimsuit. She took all her clothes off and was naked until another little girl came with a bathing suit, then she wanted one too. Pumpkin slept on his blanket in the shade most of the time. They moved from one activity to the next seamlessly and enjoyed interacting with each other. One little guy decided after getting out of his wet suit to just wear a pink apron. That was a sight - one mom took some pictures that I will need to get my hands on. Where else can this happen and just be a regular day in the life??? Oh I do love that this is my life!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Mommy's Life

This morning I was up early (I woke to register Peanut for a Tiny Tots class - a whole other story about online registration opening at 5am today and the madness of needing to be awake to sign up for a two year old class that fills super fast) and I had ENERGY! I was ready to go, and decided to take the kids and dog for a walk. The goal is that eventually we get out the door by 8 each day for a walk...we left at 8:30 which was not too bad considering I had been up since 5, Peanut was up at 7, and we started the "getting out the door" process at 7:50 or so. So everyone is buckled in, the dog is rarin' to go and we head out.

All is well for a bit, and then Pumpkin starts to fuss. The fuss becomes a cry. The cry becomes a scream. We stop. I check him. I pick him up. He calms down. I put him back in the stroller and he smiles. We head off. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Oh boy. So we walked for maybe 30 minutes before I just headed home, screaming infant in the stroller and concerned bikers and dog walkers looking askance.

You would think it all gets better once we get home. Well, I get the dog inside with her leash still on - I'll get that after everyone is indoors. I get both kids out and Peanut goes inside and closes the door on me as I am steering the stroller up the stoop with Pumpkin in my arms. In the time it takes me to get the door opened and go back around to steer the stroller, Peanut has gone to the top of the stairs and grabbed Crazy Dog's leash. As I get inside and close the door, the dog comes racing down the steps towards me. Yes, with my tiny princess still holding the leash. So here I am with one baby over my shoulder lunging to grab my toddler as she tumbles down the stairs. Thank goodness I got her just before she hit the stone floor in the foyer, but she bumped her head on every single hardwood step on the way.

I screamed, the baby screamed, Peanut screamed. Chaos all around. Somehow we got calmed down, and I gave Peanut some homeopathics, put ice on her noggin and a little arnica on her red spots (more than I thought - head, shoulder, hip... she really got tumbled). She was sitting and happily reading a book while I nursed Pumpkin (he's thinking "Finally Lady!") and continuing to shake. The life of a mommy - I should probably have taken some remedy myself.