Monday, December 31, 2012

On Nursing and Weaning

If I had to coin my parenting style, I'd use the word "natural." That's not necessarily "crunchy" or "attachment", but rather that I tend to let my instincts and the needs of my individual child take the lead. For the most part (here's where I state that I completely eschew this theory when it comes to things like modern medicine and vaccination), I really believe that the human species has evolved over millions of years thanks in part to following our natural instincts, and that we should not try to veer too much from the urges which feel so instinctual in our parenting - after all, they tend to be there for a reason. Parenting is a pretty primal activity, and babies especially, with no 21st century modern influences, seem to be such mirror images of their ancient selves. (pause to ask myself, "am I even making sense here?")

So, on to the topic at hand.This tendency I have to veer toward a more ancestral, evolutionary approach to having and raising babies is, I think, one of the reasons I have so loved and latched on (pun intended! ha!) breastfeeding, and committed myself to allowing any nursing relationship I have with a nursling to come to a natural stopping point. It just feels right to me.

I mentioned in one of my last posts how I think Ellie is pretty much weaned now. This is actually less bittersweet for me than I anticipated it would be - I fully expected weaning to be something very emotional for me when the time came, and when it wasn't, it highlighted for me that the relationship had probably come to a point of natural conclusion. Likely this is because I'm pregnant, and I really have no more milk to give. I refuse to feel guilty, or like I'm ending the relationship prematurely, when my body has literally given all it has to give. She's strong and healthy, and has made the transition well, so I've pushed any guilt I could possibly feel aside, and am instead focused on celebrating this transition in our lives.  The other night though, as I was rocking her before bed, she asked to nurse (as she's been doing on occasion since we stopped nursing). I offered, and instead of latching, she simply laid her head against my skin and closed her eyes. It was such a sweet and fulfilling moment for me and it almost felt like everything we had been doing for 19 months was paying off right then and there. In that moment, I could literally feel the strength of the bond which we had built in our hundreds of hours attached in that form. Here she was seeking out physical comfort in the same way she had been nurtured for all these days. Gratifying doesn't really begin to cover it - despite the fact that she is no longer receiving my milk, she is still seeking the physical closeness that she wants and needs in the same way, and I can certainly continue to provide that.

The degree of which I fell in love with breastfeeding kinda surprises me. It was  something that I planned to do without giving it much thought at all. It seems to be the natural way to feed babies, and after reading horror stories of how hard it can be for some women while I was pregnant with Ellie, I just decided to jump in without over-planning it too much. I knew I would be in good hands at the hospital (they've got a great Lactation Consultant support network), and beyond that, I knew there would be resources available if I needed them. Seattle's a great place to build a strong breastfeeding relationship - I never experienced any negativity while nursing in public (no cover) or even talking about our (relatively) extended relationship. Needless to say, she was born, and before I knew it, the nurse was helping us get set up on our first time feeding. (In hindsight, I do wish we hadn't waited so long. I think she was at least an hour old when she first latched, and it looking at the pictures and videos of our first hour, she's obviously exhibiting signs of being ready to latch. I was just clueless and exhausted and had frankly, forgotten about the importance of getting her to the breast ASAP. Next time I hope to do this right away). 

For us, nursing wasn't entirely without difficulty, and the real trials came when I was working and she was demanding more than I could keep up with. It took some serious effort to boost supply during this period of time - I was eating a TON, drinking Mother's Milk Tea, taking Fenugreek (smelling like maple syrup), eating Oatmeal for breakfast, increasing my pumping sessions, drinking a beer at night, drinking gallons of water, etc. Once a month my supply would plummet and I'd worry about the ramifications of this, but we'd pull through (just barely). I'd given away most of my freezer stash by then, so we didn't have a lot of backup, and I'd ask her care providers to ration the bottles and feed extra solids. Thankfully, when I left my job, any supply issues I had seemed to dissipate.

I started thinking about how long we'd continue the relationship, and quickly decided that I couldn't be the one to pull the plug. Just thinking about refusing my baby made me sad, so I decided that I wouldn't, and as long as she'd ask, I'd give. I loved that my body could do something for her long after she was a part of it. When she was sick, not only could I give comfort, but I could give antibodies too, which somehow my body could create specifically to attack the particular illness she was battling. I could hydrate her. Before she'd had any other foods, I would marvel at the fact that all the cells in her body were nurtured and created by mine. 

I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this. I'm definitely feeling a bit nostalgic and thankful right now, and so incredibly lucky that we were able to run with this. At the halfway point in this pregnancy, I cannot wait for the moment where (hopefully, god-willing), this baby emerges and is placed on my chest, and we can start the heart-breaking (in a good way), emotional and powerful journey all over again. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just because

Eleanor's learning how to have friends. Although, I think we still need to teach her a thing or two about boundaries. :) (thanks Kelli for the pics!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

18 weeks

Here we are at 18 weeks, and I'm resigned to the fact that I'm going to get fat. Not pregnant fat, but fat fat, because apparently, that's what my body does when it tries to grow babies. Luckily, it has *so far* done it's job with the baby growing, so I really can't complain about the fat (although, I hear that it's a lot harder to lose the second time around. Oh well). Last time I outweighed by 6 foot tall husband by probably 20 lbs by the time delivery came; hopefully I can keep that number down by at least 10 lbs this time around. :)

Other notable things of late: 

-I seem to get all the non-scary (I suppose the word "scary" is debatable) side effects and symptoms. Meaning, nothing that seems to be life threatening to myself or this baby, but certainly pain-in-the-rear symptoms. Including: varicose veins which rival my father's (and by that I mean all up and down my leg and snakelike), extended vomiting (well past that lovely 12 week mark when it's "supposed" to go away... I count it a blessing that it's only a couple times a week now), restless legs, headaches, heartburn, massive amounts of fatigue, stretch marks, etc. 

-I'm not the kind of pregnant lady that dresses cute. I wear my husband's pajama pants, sweatshirts and tshirts around the house, and my outside wardrobe consists of leggings and some top which hopefully a) covers my rear and b) is weather appropriate. I suppose if I was working this might be different, but being home with an active kid coupled with my extreme laziness fatigue, and well, I just don't care.

-I also don't care about things that normal mom's-to-be seem to be focused on. I'm not sure if this speaks to being level-headed, or lazy, or not being "mom enough" but things like: decorating the nursery, following the "rules" when it comes to food/drink, genetic testing, etc just doesn't interest me. I'll prepare for this baby in my own way: wash the onesies and receiving blankets, clean and install the carseat, figure out the diaper situation and prepare for that, and line up a sitter for Ellie for delivery day. In the meantime, I'll eat whatever I want, enjoy a small glass of wine here and there, and eschew blood tests and ultrasounds in lieu of trying to relax. I'm wondering if this kind of nonchalant attitude is a result of being detached from the pregnancy and is indicative of a greater problem, or is just a result of being a second time mom (although - I didn't do a whole lot more than this the first time around). 

-There have been a lot of facebook announcements about new babies lately. While I may feel detached from this pregnancy, I am SO, SO excited for the big day. Can't wait.

-I had my first real emotional breakdown the other day. The tears came and could not be stopped, no matter how hard I tried. For HOURS. While the situation which triggered the tears was real and valid, the ongoing nature of the tears was obviously hormonal in nature. What a trip to experience that kind of emotional outpouring. I'm not sure I've ever had that experience, and I could go a long, long time without experiencing it again. Being completely out of control of my emotions is new to me.

-I'm pretty sure I finally weaned El. She wasn't getting much, if anything, and was only nursing once or twice a day, and I was finally ready. While I didn't meet my ultimate goal of letting her self-wean, I'm completely at peace with how it played out. She's asked to nurse a couple times over the last five days or so, and I let her, but then she's not interested (probably because she isn't getting any milk). It gives me comfort feeling the peace with this decision - my fear was that we'd wean and I'd end up regretting it shortly after, and luckily I've had no regrets yet. 

-I'm huge. HUGE! I'll take a picture this weekend when I'm all dressed up for our annual Christmas party, but man, do I look well into my third trimester.

That's it for the updates. :) Trying to be better about documenting this pregnancy! 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Let's Go There Together

I'm an anxious person. I've never done well away from my family (and I don't really mean when we're separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. I mean when we're not all physically together in the same room). It was tough to be a kid of divorced parents. I was always afraid one of them would die while I was at the other's house. That kind of anxiety doesn't ease up when one grows up and the reality of the world sets in. After 9/11 I was always, always looking for the nearest exit. I still do this, almost every time I got,  somewhere. I mentally seek out "safe" places to hide and try to have an exit plan. I've yet to go to a movie after this summer's shooting in Aurora, and I'll be honest - having tickets to The Hobbit for opening weekend this coming Sunday (like I do), stresses me out. My heart will be pounding the whole time I'm in the theater. 

I left work partially because of my anxieties. Being away from my baby, my flesh and blood, was literally paralyzing some of the time. Every single night for the past 19 months, without fail, before I give in to sleep I lay awake thinking about terrible things happening that night and how I could rescue my girl. I imagine bad guys invading the house from different entrances, and figure out where I'd go to escape. I envision earthquakes and mentally calculate how long it would take for me to get to her before a tree falls on her crib. I'm positive I'd beat the force of gravity. I even think about hurricanes or flash floods or nuclear attacks and try to prepare for how I'd handle those things. 

Today in Connecticut, parents are having to live every parent's absolute worst nightmare. People all over the world are watching the news and crying. Normally, I'm glued to the TV in the wake of a tragedy. Today, I simply can't. I'm so heavy hearted with grief and sadness, and I can barely see straight with anger. I'm angry at that shooter, but I'll admit it: I'm irate with the government today, with Congress and with our President who have yet to even discuss gun control in the wake of this horribly violent year. And I'm angry with our citizens, with my neighbors and friends and family, who continually say "now is not the time." The White House has released a statement saying "today is not the day for gun control debate."

When is the time? 

When will we not be in the wake of a tragedy? Certainly not yesterday, when we were fresh off a shooting spree in a mall in Portland. Today is too late.

Call me tacky to bring this up on the internet today. But children died today and it's time to address this issue. (Along with others, such as mental health care).

Guns are designed to kill. Yep, tragedies would still happen without such easy access, but isn't it our responsibility to each other to make it more difficult to allow these things to happen? Rocks aren't designed to kill, nor are steak knives, nor are vehicles. Guns are. And almost every mass homicide this year in the United States involved a handgun. The US has twice the murder rate as the rest of the first world. 

More people having access to guns will not lower the violence or these incidents. Remember when four police officers were killed in a coffee shop by a man with a gun? Police officers, men and women trained in shooting and each with multiple guns on their body, and they could not stop the attack or alter the outcome. Yesterday in Michigan a law was passed allowing guns in schools, churches and daycares.  Is this the world we really live in? Where Congress will bring a record number of bills to the table in one year attempting to restrict a woman's control over her own body, but not one SINGLE bill or even attempted discussion on gun control? Where we'll debate the damned fiscal cliff without budging one inch, pointing fingers and acting like children on both sides while almost an entire classroom of actual children is murdered by what is reported to be "at least a hundred rounds" fired by a legal .223 caliber rifle days before Christmas?

I'm not really a gun control advocate. I'm an anti-massacre activist. And I suspect you are too.

Signing off to be with my babies.

Friday, December 7, 2012

slow mornings

Since I've been pregnant, mornings seem to creep by at a snails pace. I'm always too tired and sick to do much of anything, so as a result Ellie watches episode after episode of whatever's on PBS (or, her "D's" as she lovingly refers to her Baby Einstein DVD collection). I'm 16 1/2 weeks along now, and even though I'm still sick, I can finally stomach a couple ounces of coffee in the morning, and it definitely seems to help shake the fogginess (which is only getting worse with the lovely December weather).

So here we are, Ellie snacking on whatever I can pull together for breakfast, me trying to focus my eyes on the morning news updates on the computer, the sound of a D in the background, and it's somehow just perfect. Luckily, she's gotten used to this, so doesn't protest too much. I keep telling myself "this too shall pass" and someday she'll no longer be watching the ungodly amount of television that she's been watching lately, but deep down, I wonder if that's actually true. Let's be real: my parenting life is only going to get more difficult before it gets any easier.

(Just paused to run to the bathroom, heaving. Came back to find Ellie drinking my lukewarm coffee straight out of my mug. Gross for both of us).

We've had a pretty stressful month around here, but I'm finally starting to slowly get into the holiday spirit. I figure this is the last year I can do totally bare bones minimal for El before she wakes up to the fact that Christmas is obviously all about presents, and more = better. For now, she's going to be content getting crayons, sippy cups and big girl training pants from Santa. (speaking of undies, she's totally asking to be potty trained. She's ready and I am so not).

(Pause again when she comes up to me for a snuggle, saying "mama!" as she leans her head into my chest. It would be so sweet (it really is so sweet), if I didn't quickly realize that she's got a massive diaper which needs changing. Coffee apparently works for toddlers too! Change diaper, run back to bathroom, heaving. Gross, again).

This pregnancy is simultaneously creeping and flying by. I'm huge, which makes me feel way further along than I am, but am still pretty functional. Bending over all the time and lifting up a 25 lb toddler seems to be wearing me down a lot faster than my almost 17 weeks of gestating would otherwise, and by the end of the day I am so incredibly sore and exhausted. I'm still quite nauseous and still throwing up, which is lovely (and normal for me), and starving all the time (which is also normal for me. Now I remember why I gained so much weight last time!). The sad thing is, I'm trying desperately to connect with this little fetus and seem to be having a hard time. My mind is otherwise preoccupied a lot of the day, and ultimately, when I think about the reality of having children, I'm pretty terrified. I think about how exhausting it must be, how little sleep I will get, how I will never, ever have even a moment of rest again. It's intimidating, and makes me wish I could stay pregnant forever - despite how much pregnancy and I disagree with each other. Rationally I know that when the day comes and this little one makes his/her appearance, my love for it will blossom out of thin air, and I will love it just as much as I love Ellie, but I cannot fathom how that's possible. It simply isn't, because I could never, ever love anything the way I love this girl next to me. So for now, I trust the words of all the mothers of 2+ who have come before me, and choose to believe that these feelings will come, and they will knock my socks off.

Okay. Gonna try to get this day started. Maybe a little second breakfast, maybe even a shower and then we're off to find compression nylons, which is just as fabulous as it sounds. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

On the lovely first trimester

This'll probably be one of those posts that's mainly for my own sake, because even though at this moment I swear I'm never, ever having another baby, who honestly knows what the future holds? Also, maybe someone out there can find some something useful here.

I'd heard going into this that every pregnancy was different, and I was hopeful that this one might be a lot different than last. Unfortunately, I did zero documentation of my pregnancy with Ellie, so during those first couple of days & weeks that absolutely seem to DRAG on, I found myself once again googling "pregnancy symptoms at 4w5d." It's just nice to have reassurance that somebody out there had a similar twinge or backache, ya know?

Some of my symptoms are a little different this time around, but mostly, I'm dealing with the same things as last time. Maybe that means it'll be another girl?

So, here we go:

3 weeks:
-Before I found out I was pregnant, nursing suddenly became SO painful! We're talking, pain like in the first couple of days of the newborn stage. Even though Ellie's been a pro at latching on for, oh, 17 months, I found myself trying to unlatch and relatch her, and wondering what the heck?
-The day before the test finally turned positive (yeah, I'm a serial POAS-er. Even when we aren't trying), I was so, so exhausted. I kept complaining and telling Peter it felt like I was seriously hungover, or maybe pregnant?

4-6 weeks:
-Fatigue. Total exhaustion, lots of napping.
-Low back aches, constantly
-Stinky!! Hormones went crazy, and all of a sudden, I smelled like a teenage boy who hadn't showered all week.
-Cravings/food that sounds palatable: fruit, citrus, lemon/lemonade, cheese, mac & cheese, bagels & cream cheese, sausage, french fries, pizza, Mexican food, gatorade, sour candy
-Unappetizing food: dairy, caffeine, veggies, sweets, water
-must eat first thing in the morning
-dry, itchy, flaky scalp. Gross, gross
-nighttime insomnia
-insanely complicated and detailed dreams

7 - 12 weeks:
-Nausea. Round the clock and totally unrelenting. Less vomitting than last time, but possibly worse nausea. Totally debilitating
-Fatigue still there
-Back ache: check
-Started really showing around week 7-8
-No appetite, forcing food to keep stomach from going empty (makes my nausea way worse)
-Food: same as before. Also loving: grape juice
-Week 11: discovered Trader Joe's carbonated, unsweetened flavored water. Discovered I can drink the lemon flavor (0 cal!) and actually almost achieve hydration.

13 weeks:
-slightly less nausea
-slightly less fatigue.
-new food obsessions: guacamole. still loving french fries. chocolate milk shakes. Did I mention my intention to not gain 60+ lbs? Not sure how that's going to happen. :)
-headaches kicking in

Hopefully I'll start documenting moving forward. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I disappeared, again...

Two years ago at this time, I disappeared from the blog for a couple of months. I reappeared with a quick little life update, ending with a picture quite similar to this: 

And, look! Lo and behold, it happened again. (yes, both the hiatus, and the fetus). 

(Funny little fact: not only did it happen again, but it... ahem... "happened" on the same date it happened two years ago. That puts baby 2.0 due exactly two years to the date after his/her big sister. I'm predicting May 16th, 2013). :)

We are so incredibly lucky to find ourselves, against the odds, in this position again. We're excited and totally just a little bit apprehensive about the reality that two children will bring. Mostly, we're just grateful at this opportunity and hopeful for a healthy baby. I cannot wait to do it all again.

Needless to say, our Fall season has been very low key. It turns out that I'm not that good at being pregnant. Granted, I've got a great record of making super babies, but man is this first trimester thing rough for me. Totally sick all the time, massive amounts of fatigue, back pain, body pain, moodiness, etc. Not to mention the HUGE belly I'm already sporting - they aren't kidding when they say you show sooner with your second! I'm pretty sure I popped out around 7 weeks. Pregnancy while "parenting" a toddler is quite an experience, and I use the word "parenting" lightly. :) Sweet Ellie is pretty bored these days - kicking her toys and throwing them across the room with a look of despair on her face once she realizes that, once again, our day will consist of watching an endless stream of Baby Einstein and PBS, me trying to convince her to take a second nap, and her eating french fries for lunch because that's the only thing which won't make me want to throw up. Wait - that last part makes her pretty happy. :) Every time Ellie naps, so do I, which means that I have little time for house cleaning, grocery shopping, and yes, showering. My mom has started offering to watch her so I can get a shower in, which is usually by the time the third or fourth day rolls around and  my hair is so greasy it looks like I dumped it in bacon grease. Thanks, Mom! 
seriously. 11 weeks pregnant - and yes, there's only one. Photobomb courtesy of my darling little sis.
What else? We've still managed to make some fun memories this fall. Maybe I'll blog about what we've been up to, but probably not. Halloween was incredibly adorable this year thanks to a sweet little ladybug. We celebrated our third wedding anniversary, and my nausea let up just enough to enjoy a fabulous Mediterranean dinner out. Lastly, this little thing called the election kept us glued to the news nightly, and gave us something to talk about ad nauseum. Poor Ellie. She was bored to begin with, and on top of it, she had to listen to her parents political ranting over dinner every night. Needless to say, and I won't spoil the results here: we WON, and last night was one of the happiest nights of our lives. Literally - it was probably among the top ten nights for me, and made so much better by the fact that I was able to celebrate and dance with my sweet girl when the race was called. She (and baby 2.0) are the reasons I'm on this planet, and I was waking up nightly with anxiety about the outcome prior to last night. I know the world isn't perfect, but where we can live in a place where we trust elected officials to have our backs and elect a Supreme Court which isn't threatening to make decisions about our bodies for us, and we can love the ones we are made to love - well, I'll rest a little easier. :)

There you go. A small update on our lives. Hopefully I won't disappear for the rest of this pregnancy, as I did with my last one! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Update time, bullet style

How's THAT for a creative title? I think I probably should have just stuck to titling blog posts with the date back in the day, but now it's too late, and I'm left with lame titles like the above. Moving on...

It seems it's time for an update. The hard part about writing general "what's going on these days" updates, when one person in the family stays at home, one is a one-year old, and one has a job which requires him to work 7 days a week, is that our days start to run together in ways which are simultaneously somewhat boring and blissfully fulfilling. I think this is probably the way it is for most families though. :)

Let's get to it:


It's almost over, sadly. Kids have gone back to school. Yet, we're stuck in that weather pattern (September in Seattle), which is essentially still summertime, only with cooler, autumnal nights. It's 80 degrees outside, but the way the sunlight hits the trees and the crispness of the evenings are playing tricks on my psyche. I don't want the summer to end - ever - but I've started to daydream about beef stew and fattening comfort food dishes and other fall-related things. Ellie and I had the best summer together, and I'm sad to see come to an end (or maybe just serious decrease) in our outlets of ways to entertain ourselves during the day. Yes, we can still play outside during the fall, winter and spring months, but it's not quite as easy, and not quite as fun for this mama. I've started collecting ideas of fun things to do with a toddler during the long grey PNW 3/4 of a year, but it's challenging. She's still putting everything into her mouth, which seems to limit our indoor activities slightly.... ideas welcome!


Back-to-school's on my mind right now, for obvious reasons. I read too many mom bloggers & online articles than is good for me, and keep seeing people talking about putting their toddlers into "school." This is something I am SO NOT comfortable with, and by "this," I mean, the whole "school thing." Is it really time to think about school for Ellie? I think not yet, but then again, I really don't know anything about early education, and Washington State educational requirements. Heck, I don't even know the difference between preschool and pre-K (someone care to fill me in??). Here's what I believe, based on nothing but my own instincts: early education should be more about socialization than anything else. Anything "academic" she could and should be learning can come from me, just as easily. Plus, I'm a big believer that kids learn best (at least in early years) by exploratory, self-led play time. When I was a kid, we did one year of preschool, followed by kindergarten at age 5. It seems it isn't that way anymore? I'm seeing preschool start at 1-2, do that for a couple of years, pre-k start at 4, then kindergarten... I'm just not comfortable with that kind of structure in a kid's life, but I do worry that she could miss out on the social aspects of all this (or, heaven forbid, she misses out on the educational aspect and falls behind her peers, setting her up for a lifetime of educational struggle).

(Okay Jordan, I guess I need to talk to you about this... thoughts?)


Speaking of play - here's a new thing I've observed in Ellie lately. She is OBSESSED with babies. She wants to look at pictures of babies, points out babies when we go places, and loves, LOVES, baby dolls. This is interesting to me. Is this a gender role kind of thing, where she's drawn to playing with babies because she's a girl? I've always thought that gender-traditional play (ie, boys playing with trucks, girls with dolls) was  a result of kids being coaxed to gravitate towards those types of toys, either consciously or subconsciously by their parents or those around them. We definitely do not do that. Ellie has more trucks and cars than she has "girlie" toys, but time after time, she prefers her babies. (In fact, yesterday at Costco she had a total meltdown passing the Cabbage Patch Dolls display. Like a good parent who parents discipline effectively, I caved and got her one. But seriously - Cabbage Patch Dolls smell SO good!). I'm thinking that her gravitation towards dolls is likely due to a phase and not because she's a girl, but I guess we'll see. She's the most physically active little girl I know, and does loves balls and being rough & tumble, so it's not like she's being "traditional" in all senses. (and not that I have anything against her playing with dolls or her playing a traditional gender role [I play a very traditional gender role in our home] - I just want her to explore her preferences freely and without social constructs of what she "should" and "shouldn't" do, based on her gender).


Sadly, the time has come to find them new homes. Here's what I wrote in an email:

Mary Bailey is a medium/long haired tri-colored, small adult female (spayed) and is likely part ragdoll. She's got a purr you can hear across the room, and is very sweet and content.  She's happy to go outside, but generally prefers to be snuggled up on a pile of pillows or clean laundry somewhere in the house. 

Janey is a short haired, dark grey and white, small adult female (spayed), with striking green eyes. She's very independent and loves to go outside, but is happy to find a good lap and cuddle as well. 

Both kitties are free to a good home. Both are house trained, and neither has ever had an accident in 6 1/2 years. They are very easy cats, and will make a great addition to your home! 

If anyone knows anyone looking for one or two great kitties in the Seattle area, please let me know!!

Lastly. Pictures. You're welcome! 

I *almost* purchased this incredibly ugly recliner at Costco. I know, it's hideous. But seriously, seriously comfortable and I have had it with the glider in Ellie's room. I fantasized about this recliner at 3am whilst rocking El back to sleep... maybe I'll have to go back. :)

park fun! 

Toddler shoes. So dang cute!

Indoor activity #1 for the fall: Library story time. She was captivated!

Why hadn't we grilled pizzas before? Use this recipe for crust, and her grilling technique. This was phenomenal. 

I got nothing. She's seriously the cutest.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

How To Sleep Train Your Toddler

So, obviously, I am a total expert, having had all of one child, and by some miracle, having that child emerge from my womb as peaceful and calm as a the sea (truly! She may have a ton of energy, but she's so mild-mannered and sweet...). I was marveling tonight at the transition El has made lately, and told Peter that I'd like to tell all the so called "sleep training experts" to suck it. Everything that I've read that says that if you don't "train" your babies to sleep properly they will grow up being unable to get good sleep on their own can no longer prey on my guilt. We finally did it, and we accomplished it without any additional tears shed whatsoever.

disclaimer: by "we", I really mean "Ellie" and by "did", I mean to say, "this all happened as a result of nothing I did or didn't do." And, if I have to be honest, I should admit that I'm pretty certain this is all just a result of Ellie's personality, and not our all-star, stellar parenting. Even so, I feel kind of triumphant. 

So, just what's happened? At the age of 15 months, Ellie is finally putting herself to sleep, all by herself (no rocking needed!), for her naps and at night, and better yet, staying asleep FOR THE NIGHT! This means, if we could just get those darn kidney stones under control (Yes, I'm looking at you, darling husband), we'd be all night sleepers for the first time in lord knows how long.

So, how did we accomplish this feat? Let me explain...

Step 1) Get lucky. Have a newborn who sleeps 20 hours a day, and sleeps through the night solidly by 8 weeks old. Go back to work under these ideal sleeping conditions.

Step 2) Have world of peaceful sleep fall apart when baby gets sick with a cold at 5 months. Figure out how to cope with waking every 2-4 hours (on average) for the next 5 months. Please note: 99% of time, waking baby will only be soothed back to sleep by nursing. This means it's mama's job, almost every time.

Step 3) Somewhere in these 5 months, attempt to "sleep train" with the "Pick Up, Put Down" method. Make a little progress, but don't have any strength to leave baby to cry for any considerable (ie, 3 minutes or more) amount of time. (In my defense, I firmly don't believe that babies should be left to cry in an ideal world. I recognize that sleep deprivation makes for an un-ideal world, which is why I tend to follow the "do whatever works for you" camp when it comes to sleep training. But seriously, I believe that biologically, parents - specifically mothers - are programmed to be unable to leave their babies crying, so CIO goes against our evolutionary instincts... but, I digress).

Step 4). When baby is 10 months old, throw up your hands and... quit your day job. Problem, solved! You no longer need to have good sleep at night, because now you can nap during the day! All better!

Step 5) Wrestle with growing toddler for the next five months. Problems include said toddler no longer "fitting" in your lap, throwing your back out and generally butting heads with toddler every time sleep time rolls around. Get desperate. Start researching sleep training again. Start drinking upon successful tries at getting kid to sleep.. (kidding. maybe).

Step 6) Enter hot, hot summer days.

Step 7). Have child, who cannot verbalize, do everything but climb into the crib by themselves during one of your marathon rocking to sleep sessions. Seriously - she's on my lap, lunging out of my arms, pointing violently to the crib, saying "da, da!" Okay then. I'll follow your lead.

Step 8). Kiss child goodnight, and put her in crib. Walk upstairs and listen to her on the monitor. She will babble and chat with herself and her stuffed animals while she gets sleepy, and then the monitor will go quiet.

Step 9). Peek in. Verify child is asleep, and not simply faking it.

Step 10). Repeat for naps and nightly.

So, there we have it. Eleanor told me when she was ready, and she was. Granted, like I said earlier, this is probably all the result of her peaceful, independent personality, but... I kinda like to think that maybe, just maybe, I was doing something right by waiting until she was ready.

(Upon pressing publish on this post, I realize that my yet-to-be-conceived second baby is already plotting ways to mess this all up and make me question everything I've learned thus far. But, as said baby doesn't exist yet, I'm content thinking that maybe I had something to do with this newly acquired sleeping skill...)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Real Life

There's this quote that I really like that says something like "don't compare your real life to everyone else's highlight reel." I'm not sure who said it first, but it's sound advice. It's one of the main reasons why I stay completely off Pinterest - I know myself and seeing what other people can do with unlimited creativity, time or money is a great way to make me feel inadequate. My solution is to avoid that trigger. Reading other people's blogs can be a dangerous slide into this territory, as naturally, people tend to only blog about the highlights of their days and lives. I know I do. Why relive the messy, ugly, sad or scary moments for the world to see, in a place that is permanent? Especially when these moments unveil a side to you or your loved ones which shows your insecurities, shortcomings or outright failures? 

Why am I going here? I guess to apologize to anyone reading this blog who might feel what I call the "pinterest effect" sometimes. I do highlight the highs, and try to skim over the nitty gritty of real life. The reality is that last week was a serious week of Real Life (capitalized to emphasize the significance) - not the highlight reel, and definitely not the pinterest special. I honestly feel like I'm still coming down from the stress and digging myself out of the emotional hole that I climbed into and wanted to wallow in. Let's just say that on Tuesday I'm pretty sure I ate a 10,000 + calorie lunch (take THAT, Olympians!), and that was BEFORE shit really hit the fan, emotionally speaking. Try as you  might though, it turns out you really can't make things "all better" by enjoying scrambled eggs, toast, hashbrowns, chicken fried steak, gravy AND a chocolate malt. By the end of the day I was in hysterical tears after realizing that my darling husband ate my leftovers without asking. Needless to say, I won't be sharing the details of what had happened, but will say that by week's end, I'd gained several pounds, cried a lot at the smallest of things, and appreciated my highlight reel that much more. 

So, here's the photo dump of some recent highs. :) I'm so, so grateful for this summer which allows us to take advantage of sunny days to create some magnificent memories.
we took El to her first Mariner's game. So fun.
swimming lessons. My future Olympian!
Drove down to Olympia for the day...

Ferrets. In the park. Hello!
Pushing her stroller!
Sisters and Mama. So thankful for them! 
Drive to Vashon Island didn't go as well as drive to Olympia. She screamed the whole time (2 1/2 hours!!), only to stop for 40 minutes when this happened.

Wearing mama's old dress!

You know you have a toddler when a trip to the doctor's = date afternoon! Capped off with mojitos and happy hour!

Sweet, sweet girl. :) 

Friday, July 27, 2012

14 months!

I've been told lately that with an increase in serious political posts, my loyal reader(s) are missing the cuteness. Consider this post a remedy. :)

Miss Eleanor is now 14 months old! How in the world has this happened? She's developing quite the personality, and every day seems to bring something new out in her. Here's her the rundown...

Eating: Ellie is apparently a typical toddler in her appetite. Some days she seems to be fine with nothing but crackers and the air she breathes, other days she's famished and eats enough to feed a teenage boy. When she's in the mood she'll eat anything - lentils and smoked salmon are new favorites (not necessarily together). She's still enthusiastically nursing, and while I don't expect this to change anytime soon, I do see that some days she's more into it than others. My plan right now is to let her wean whenever she wants to and is ready (yes, I realize that could mean several more years of this!), so I'm pretty curious how this'll play out.

Sleeping: hahaha. She gives us the runaround on this one. Some nights she's great decent, others she's not so decent. Usually she'll give us a couple of great night sleeps before she comes down with something, so if we wake up fully rested, it's a pretty sure sign that she's about to spike a fever. I'm thinking that it's high time we do some sort of sleep training, but I just don't wanna. So, my laziness means that we're avoiding fixing the problem, which is kind of the lowest form of parenting. Still taking two naps a day, but on days when she wakes up late, we're starting to transition to one nap. We'll see how this goes. I'll miss the second nap, but I'm hopeful that this will help bedtime. I'm sure it'll backfire on me somehow though.

Playing: All the time! Loves outside, loves parks, loves "swimming" (I use the term loosely, of course). Turns out, she loves the zoo, as well! (no surprises, as she generally goes bonkers over doggies and kitties...). Loves her grandma and her daddy, her friends and, of course, her Monty, who generally loves/tolerates her back. She's into grabbing our fingers lately and pulling us to where she wants to go (almost always this is outside). It's so sweet though that she tends to get her way.

Size: Ellie's still a big girl! Size 2T, size 5 shoes and diapers. My arms are looking stronger and leaner than they have in years, so I'm thankful for her 25+ pounds which like me to lift her up frequently. :)

What else? She's generally hilarious. Loves to make faces at us and is starting to really get when things are funny. She joins in on the laughter when appropriate, and is always happiest when surrounded by "her people." She's learning to talk, slowly but surely, and is collecting a handful of words (not that she likes to use them unless prompted however. Why talk when you can always get your way by gesturing and pointing?). Words include: mama, dad-dad, dog-dog, night-night (she likes to scream this in my face as a diversionary technique while I'm trying to actually get her to go night-night) "mmmm" when food is tasty, no (of course), balloon and her latest "Gabey" (although she says it "day-day" which is pretty cute).

All in all, still the light of our lives!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Mindless Menace of Violence

Peter and I sat in silence together last Saturday evening, holding hands with tears streaming down our cheeks as we watched the movie Bobby. We cried for his life, cut short, for the other victims of the assassination and for the  millions of other lives which were changed that day; both by the act of murdering this light in such a dark time, and by the altered course which history undoubtedly took with the passing of Robert F. Kennedy. My week started in this grief, and ended in a grief much greater. 

When tragedy strikes, I tend to sit back and watch the influx of news and social commentary silently, without adding my own voice to the mix. I have my reasons for holding back, but tonight I feel the need to add to the dialogue. Yesterday's theater shooting was the largest mass shooting in American history. Words aren't enough - not enough for the victims and those directly effected, and not enough for those of us indirectly effected but deeply and profoundly saddened.

My week started with tears of anger and sorrow over a tragic act of violence, and ended in the same way. This speech was given by RFK the day after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. We listened to it intently last weekend through our tears, and listened to it again tonight. 

I share these words and encourage you to read each one in remembrance of lives lost through victims of violence.

Robert F. Kennedy
April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once agai

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beautiful Girl

I've been mulling over this topic for a while, and had the chance to "talk it out" with my big sister, but I'm left wanting more discussion. So, please please, dear reader(s?), bear with me as I sort some things out...

I read an article that made me sick yesterday. The title was something like "Two Thirds of Six Year Old Girls Aspire to be Sexy." I wanted to vomit, and most of all, I wanted to shelter, protect and cocoon my girl from ever - EVER - aspiring to be sexy. As a parent, I have a very strict "no sexy" policy, and you may laugh at this, because my daughter is only 14 months old, but sexy clothing starts very, very young.

For example: newborn size onesies reading "This Is My Little Black Dress", onesies with an outline of a voluptuous female body, even bathing suits for babies with gatherings to emphasize their "bust." String bikinis on a baby? On a child? I can promise you, my child will never wear a string bikini until she's out of the house.  I digress though.

I am so troubled at the emphasis on looks and beauty when it comes to raising daughters. Even things meant to be light hearted and playful - painting your baby daughter's toes, for example, teeter on the edge of pushing our daughters to value beauty, and do so at an early age. When I was expecting, and would explain to people that we didn't know the gender of our unborn, I'd get the same question almost every time - "how will you decorate the nursery then?" Cue: dead stare. Um, in color? With great, inspirational posters and art on the walls, and books in the bookshelf? (For the record, Ellie's sheets are blue and green, her crib skirt is red, she has a framed picture that says "HOPE" on the wall, an embroidery her great grandmother made me of the ABC's, and a painting of the United States. Lots of books, and a white dresser with clutter. She shares her room with her dad's office). My point: the genderification (what's the word I'm looking for here?) of our children starts young - pre birth for most babies - and the inherent value we, as a society, place on our girl's beauty starts well before they start play pretending with their mama's makeup.

This morning on my walk, I started a list of characteristics I value and would want to teach my daughter to embody. As I walked and thought about this, I realized that the list is exactly identical to what I'd value in a son. Here's a sample of what I wrote down: Compassionate. Nurturing. Joyful. Curious. Honest & Forthright.  Determined. Confident. I'm hoping this is a list I keep and add to as I think more about it.

(Okay - thanks for bearing with me as I ramble through these thoughts... I'm getting to my main point - slowly, and via a meandering way...) :)

With this list, I realized that it is on ME as her mother, her main female role model and primary caretaker, to embody these characteristics and model them for her. Yes, it's on her father as well, but it's a different responsibility he carries. I take the responsibility of raising this child seriously, and in mulling this over, I realized that I need to challenge myself to daily, and in everything I do, ask myself what I am modeling for my daughter with my behavior and actions. What am I teaching her with my actions? Does every action exemplify a characteristic I want my daughter to someday develop?

Obviously, this is quite a challenge, and obviously I will stumble and fall short. I am not always kind, I am not always confident and sometimes I am a raging, lazy, hormonal wife. But, I think this is a good starting place. A challenge to myself to lead by example.

And - here's where I really struggled, and what I'd like to ask for some help with. I struggle with vanity. I do my makeup and style my hair. I pick out outfits based on what I think looks good, feels good and compliments my body. What does this behavior teach my daughter about valuing our looks? Am I, with these beauty related rituals and despite my resistance, teaching my daughter these things are important? I don't want to be a part of the messaging that she's going to be, and already is, inundated with just by being a member of society. Is there something wrong with valuing 'pretty'? How can we teach our girls that we are more than what we look like, when we ourselves have spent time and money getting ourselves to look "better" by some external standard? 

If I consciously resist things that teach my daughter that what she looks like and how "pretty" she is matter in any way whatsoever, am I erasing this effort? Honestly - I'm not sure I can quit the makeup and hair, quit wearing clothes I think look nice, and only wear practical clothing which suits the purpose in which I wear it.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Writer's Block

I've got it. Writer's block. Normally it wouldn't be such a problem, but I've been working lately on a project which requires me to write, so... I'm feeling a little unproductive. Plus, little Miss El has decided to stop sleeping, so my "breaks" (ie, nap time) lately are spent snoozing and/or zoning out until she wakes up. I suppose the other "clever" name for this post could be "Random Things Only My Mom Cares About" (although, really, she's got a life, and I doubt she cares that much!)

Mostly though, all this silence comes from a lack of major events going on in my life right now. We're trucking on as usual these days, but made a hundred times better by warm temps and sunny skies which have descended upon Seattle. It's days like these which make up for the 300+ days of grey a year, and explain why we natives decide to stick around. It's been perfect weather for playing outside, which we're really taking advantage of. Plus, we've learned that Ellie is a serious outdoors girl - always wanting to play outside. Saturday morning I was in the kitchen and realized it was strangely quiet in the house. I peeked outside and saw El and her dad walking up and down the street outside, just enjoying the morning. Did I mention it was 5:30am?
swing high little girl!
so lucky to live in the beautiful PNW
Oh hey. Super cool!
We've been hitting up at least one park a day lately, sometimes two, going for lots of stroller walks, playing with friends and even exploring the beach. Girl loves the water, and I'm so excited to start swimming lessons next week with her. She's a little fish, and hopefully, these early signs of being a water baby will translate into future summers with long days spent in the water.
splash park!
peaceful mornings on the lake
bff round 2!
She's also fearless, both in and out of the water. This means hyper-vigilance for whoever is watching her at all times. She's climbing on absolutely everything in sight - big toys at the park, coffee tables, crib railings, baby gates, you name it. Last night Peter asked if I thought she'd wait to climb out of the crib until after she figures out about gravity, and I laughed. I highly doubt it! I'm betting she won't last until the end of the year in her crib as it currently is... sigh. big girl!
waiting for dad to get off work at South Lake Union
future medical professional
All in all, nothing too exciting. :) Peter's staying busy with work, my garden is growing, the house could be cleaner and I need to go hop in the shower so I'm ready to go to the park when the kid wakes up. Happy Monday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thoughts on this day

I wrote most of this yesterday, so the title was accurate. If I were to pen it now, it'd say "thoughts on yesterday"... but. I'm keeping it as is. :)

She's been sicker than this before, I've been more exhausted and Peter's had more on his plate. But this day felt long, and hard. I'd really like a do-over, and I so hate feeling like that.

She fights for what she wants so hard these days. She fights to get into kitchen cupboards, to go outside, to reach for the sharp object, etc. She fights to pull the tails of the pets (luckily, they haven't fought back, yet!), and for me to stop whatever I'm doing and pick her up. Sometimes that's possible. Sometimes it's not. Now she's fighting against this damn cold to get good rest and to breathe easily. This makes her fuse extra short - she feels like crap, she's unhappy to not get her way, she can't breathe well and she likely has a headache. She coughs and coughs and whines and stumbles and falls more than usual. Sweet girl, but, man - exhaustion inducing for everyone.

And I? Instead of being the extra patient and extra kind mother as I should be when she isn't feeling well, as the day wears on I begin to unravel. By the end of the day I feel completely worn down and like this day, and her mood, had gotten the best of me. Defeated. Peter's had a rough couple of weeks, so bless his heart, but he wasn't able to step up tonight. Poor guy had to come immediately home from the office and log right back on his laptop and work until bedtime. No rest for him these days - I wish I could take some of it off his plate.

So here we are, a run down family, none of us feeling or acting like our best. I'm ashamed at raising my voice at a 13 month baby, and ashamed to admit it probably won't be the last time. Bedtime was a battle tonight, and as I was about to go downstairs for who knows what round of the battle, Peter offered to do it for me. I would have loved to take him up on his offer, but knew that if I didn't end this day on a positive, warm-fuzzy-feeling note, I'd go to bed feeling even worse. So I went downstairs and rocked my girl, and watched her finally stop struggling against her cough and drift to sleep in my arms. And I realized I know her. I know almost everything about her. She rubs her hand against my arm as she falls asleep, the other hand tucked behind my back scratching it. She fits in the crook of arm still. She trusts me and loves me. Shame on me for letting her down with my lack of patience when she needed me today. I'm her mother, I owe her better than our day today. I kissed her head and told her I loved her, and promised her that tomorrow would be better.

And, today - is better. Still a little rough around the edges, like we're hungover from yesterday's cranky-bender. She woke up early and took a very short first nap. But as I dutifully made muffins this morning with the bananas that needed to be used today, and she whined to be picked up, I remembered my promise. I didn't pick her up, but brought the bowls and batter to the floor and sat with her as I walked her through what I was doing.

"See El, you put the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix it up. It'll be lumpy, but don't overmix". She was fascinated, and peered curiously into the bowls as I stirred. She reached her hand in (a little too quickly!) so I asked her to sit on her bottom, please. She sat obediently, as she licked her fingers, and I promised her that when she's a little older, she can help me stir.

And then I realized that my years of waiting for this very moment were coming to fruition. I am baking, with my daughter.

And when the muffins were done, we ate them together.

The rest of the day might be difficult, or it maybe not, but I will try my hardest to uphold my promise to her last night that today will be better. And it will be. :)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Here She Goes - All Political Again

Here I sit with my heart literally pounding away in my chest, getting all riled up about Supreme Court decisions. I'd joke and say that it's too early on a Monday morning to be up in arms about such things - but the truth is that is isn't. It's never too early to feel passionately about issues that really matter, and you're never too young (or old!) to start caring.

The Supreme Court started handing out decisions like free candy today, and I was reading my twitter feed watching them come in while rocking El to sleep this morning. Then I saw something along the lines of an announcement that they will announce their ruling on the Affordable Care Act on Thursday at 10am. I thought for a moment that I read it will happen today at 10am, and started shaking with nerves and literally feeling ill at the prospect of what could happen if this gets overturned. Then I realized that we have several more days to wait, and instead of the nerves settling down, I realized it's possible I might be feeling this way for several days. 

I refuse to call this act Obamacare, which I believe is a phrase intended to be derogatory. This is one of President Obama's signature achievements since taking office, and I can remember quite literally crying (and blogging) about the possibility of it not coming to fruition in the wake of Teddy Kennedy's passing, and then quite literally cheering and celebrating at it's passage. Millions of additional Americans' access to health insurance is on the line. Vital preventative care coverage for women and children. Allowance of adult children to be covered by their parents for just a bit longer. No longer allowing insurance companies to deny people with preexisting conditions. Almost every single person I know would benefit from the ACA (not to mention the 50+ million Americans living without coverage, or the millions living with coverage but experiencing rapidly rising costs and diminishing coverage). 

This is personal. I challenge any person who thinks that this doesn't or won't affect them or their families to do some research and think again. Last week I found myself on the phone with my insurance company, and after hanging up the phone and thinking to myself about how we are on a budget, and is it really worth spending another hundred or so dollars to get my baby's lungs checked out just to find that most likely we'd be diagnosed with another virus, and told to wait it out, I wished out loud for health care reform. And then I realized that we are lucky. We have coverage - good coverage - and our health, and some financial means. So while the ACA is not a fix-all (in my mind, doesn't go far enough...), it is a step. When we proudly assert that we are the best country in the world, we cannot, with good conscience, allow our citizens to become tragedies of a seriously broken health care system. 

Now we wait with baited breath. 

(And PS - looks like I'm not the only one in my family right now concerned with health care economics... Apparently, this is her favorite textbook. Can't blame her!)

EDITED TO ADD: Upheld. :) HUGE sigh of relief in our home yesterday, along with millions of other homes around the country. Emotional day, for sure, but I'm so proud and practically giddy with excitement at this step in the right direction.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Best Friends.

These two

are gonna be

best friends.

I just know it.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

And I love her

More than I did yesterday, more than the day before that, and more than I thought humanly possible.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

sick. whine. cough.

One of my many character flaws (yes, shocking I know! hahaha) is that I very much like to have things scheduled, agendas planned, the flow of the day pre-arranged in my head, etc. I've been known to fall asleep thinking out the next day, "If El wakes up at 6:30, then she can nap around 8-9:45, I'll do the dishes, jump in the shower, sweep and mop the floors and be ready to go when she wakes up, we'll head to the store for 45 minutes and when we come back, we'll...". I usually run down several scenarios in my head, and when the day doesn't go as planned, it stresses me out. When there are appointments or big things to do on the day that doesn't go as planned, it really takes me a while to settle myself down and realize that, most of the time, it just isn't that big a deal.

This whole week was like that for me. It's Saturday and I've left the house exactly three times since Tuesday.  Nothing has been accomplished. I've basically worn the same thing all week, and consider it a major victory that I have washed my face and brushed my teeth each day. Plus, it's been really shitty weather. Sorry for the cursing, but it's true. I got a text from Peter yesterday saying that a major hailstorm had just passed his office downtown, and letting me know it should be overhead shortly. Two minutes later, the sky opened. Hail, ya'll. In June. I'm ready for next week to start, and hoping it starts tomorrow and brings some sunshine with it. Whine, whine, whine.

Monday morning El woke up with a runny nose, so we scrapped plans for that day. Spent the day hanging around the house together, which was just fine. 

Tuesday things seemed to unravel with a routine trip to the dentist for a filling for me. I tend to get uncomfortable and antsy with the idea of dental work, but honestly - after having an unmedicated childbirth - getting injections anywhere just doesn't really make me nervous at all anymore. This was different though - the moment the dentist injected me with the local anesthesia, it felt as though he had injected epinephrine directly into my heart. Heart palpitations, dizzy, nauseous, room spinning - major panic attack like symptoms. It was horrible. The filling was quick and painless and I went home deep breathing and trying to make sense of the reaction I'd just felt. By that night though, it was obvious that this reaction was really going to take some time to get out of my system. My whole body felt drugged; like I was fighting staying awake after taking a sleeping pill. My heart pounded for hours. To make matters way worse, El's cold had intensified (and I was starting to come down with it, too) and she woke up 6 times that night. Twice, I literally could NOT move my body to go rescue my crying girl. It was like I was pinned down by the medication.

Wednesday was spent recovering from Tuesday's disaster (took all day to feel normal again) and taking care of both of us, who now had full fledged head colds. Thursday the colds were worse, and Friday they were worse still. Today I can hear that for both Ellie and myself, the colds have settled in our chests and we are both wheezing and coughing and generally just cranky and unhappy. And, bored. Slightly stir crazy, and because I tend to fill the boredom with baking, I've paid for it with a couple of extra pounds (just water weight, right?!)

So - that's that. I know usually I try to end blog posts on a cheerful, upbeat note, and while there are definitely things to be cheerful and joyous about today, I'm not really feeling it. 

Although, the perk in all that, has been spending some serious quality, pj time with this girl:

Okay - pictures of my El is a little upbeat, right? Can't not add a little sweetness, right? 

Monday, June 4, 2012

ah, vacation!

Peter took last week off work, and we were so glad he did. We realized that in the four years we've been together, there have only been two times where we were both off work for a full week at the same time - once was our honeymoon, once was last week. And, it turns out that the more time we spend together as a family, the more we like each other (previously thought this would have been impossible, as I think we've always liked each other an awful lot!) :)

We spent the week just enjoying the time off with no agenda. Unfortunately Ellie got sick so we were around the house quite a bit waiting on her to feel better, but that's life! We spent the morning leisurely hanging around the house, took a lot of naps, ate really well, explored some new and old favorite parks, read books, etc. A perfect week (minus the fever), really.

The house definitely seems a bit bigger this morning, and we definitely miss "dad-dad." When I got Ellie up this morning, she immediately called out "daddy!" and ran off to our bedroom to find him, looking in the bathroom and up on the bed. She soon settled for Eeyore though (not a good substitution, but a decent distraction!).

Some pics from our week:

Thursday, May 31, 2012

on labels and doctor visits

For some reason which I haven't really figured out yet, I'm totally resistant to allowing myself to be labeled. Except relationship labels - those are fine (wife, mother, daughter etc). When it comes down to occupation, parental style - basically everything thing else - I resist madly and try to prove myself outside the label. For example: I've been a... stay at home mom... (yep,  I just used those words) for almost three months now. If someone asks me what I do, I pause, searching my brain for an appropriate answer, and say something like, "nothing" or "hang out with my kid." Not that I actually do nothing but... I can't say it.

As a new mother, the worst label this year was "a first time mother" - and every time someone said, "oh it's okay - you're just a new mom" or "all first time mom's go through this..." I'd internally berate myself for having failed the name game. At my three-day postpartum check up at the hospital, the nurse told me "you're acting just like a third time mom" and I literally wrote it down in my journal (which I've yet to write in again!) and underlined it with pride. No better compliment!

And yet.

When my kid gets sick, I throw it all out the window and act just like the first time mom I really am. I'd be willing to bet that her medical records probably have a sticky note attached to them - NEUROTIC NEW MOM! After all, the pediatrician doesn't know me outside my relationship with the clinic, and all she knows is that I call literally every.single.time Ellie gets sick.

And of course, like any good for profit business, they always tell me that I'd better bring her in, "just so they can take a look at her." :) (in fairness, I really do like and respect the pediatrician office we go to). And so far, with one (minor) exception, she's been diagnosed with a virus every time.

We've probably spent at least a thousand dollars this year on my new mom habit. We've even had one bill labeled "fussy infant" under Reason For Visit. We spent one night in the ER, visited urgent care, and gone to the pediatrician more times than I can count. Just so I can be told everything that I already know, which I've read on every website which google will generate while I search her symptoms in the middle of the night looking for the magical diagnosis or cure. And yet we go in anyway, because in the back of my mind I think, "but.. what if...?" And when we leave, I tell myself that next time she gets sick, I'll behave a little more rationally. And then next time she gets sick, she goes right ahead and comes up with a new symptom or new pattern to her sickness and it all starts over again.

This week was no exception. Out of nowhere on Monday night she spiked a fever of 102.6. In the middle of the night she was burning up at 104, and by the next day, even with tylenol, it was measuring 103.6. I tried my hardest, really I did, to not call the pediatrician, but by Wednesday I caved and in we went. And guess what she has? A virus.

Of course, I've been warned that with viruses like this one, it's quite possible she'll sprout a little rash over her torso, so I've been on spot watch all day. And sure enough, tiny little red dots have appeared little by little over the course of the day. It's normal. It's benign. They won't hurt her and it's just the virus running it's course. I know this, but tonight I find myself thinking, "maybe tomorrow I should just call.."

Sigh. I'm not immune to First Time Mama label after all, not in the slightest.

baby girl doesn't feel so hot

she's trying to escape the doctor's office

rough night = morning snuggles with dad-dad