Monday, August 25, 2008

Another nanny update? Gesh!

Yes, it's true. We're still playing the nanny game. Today I'm interviewing nannies. I found them all on and a few of them actually called me to get interviews which at first seemed weird, but then I found it to be very convenient. And they are persistent which I like.

The first candidate is Gosia. She's Polish, 40 years old, very nice. And she was on time. She doesn't smoke, drink or do drugs. She can't swim -- which makes me nervous near the lake... but Ada seemed okay with her, she's done this before a few times and asked really good questions about paid holidays, sick days, and if this is a permanent gig or not. So that's all good. And she can start Wednesday as a trial day and then next week for sure. She's the front runner but I've got two more to go.

Unfortunately for her, she arrived while I was on the phone with my friend Anne. My neighbor Kelly was chatting with me in the hallway as she let Gosia in. And my house was, and is currently, a mess as I had high expectations of mopping the floors and getting the ironing done this morning. Which I actually did do, but I hadn't had a chance to put the table and chairs back where they go so I was doing that during the first few minutes of our interview. Oh, and my bras are in the wash so that made things awkward. For me anyway...

My second interview is late. It's 12:07 and she was scheduled for 12... hmmmm... not a good sign but parking around here is tough during the day and I understand that. But still. I think I told most of them that and so... things aren't looking good.

On top of all of my other morning chaos, I went to print out this list of questions I have for the interviewees, and the printer won't work. So, that stinks and made me frustrated until I realized I could just read the questions off the laptop and save the world one printed sheet at a time.

Still waiting... maybe she doesn't know our last name so she isn't sure which buzzer to push? I checked out the front door and didn't see anyone... hmmm...

okay so now it is 2:20. The second nanny never showed. And the 3rd nanny just called to cancel and said she has accepted another job. Oh, and the 4th nanny, who started all of this by calling me first to get an interview, called on Saturday to cancel since she got another job. 1 out of 4 isn't bad right? At least the nanny I did interview is good. I've called to offer her a job for Wednesday as a trial day and if she likes us, we can talk Wednesday night about the full time gig.

And on top of everything else, Ada took a crap nap for 1/2 an hour, if even, this afternoon and is teething. Oh yeah, Motrin is my new best friend of the day, and rum for the baby and a martini for me are in a close second place. At least my afternoon is now free and open to run some errands.

I'm sure this won't be the end of the child care saga. I'll update more as I go.

I think pharmaceutical companies who make birth control should print this in their ads to get more business. That's my next moneymaking scam.

Moral of the story: It's tough finding someone you trust to watch your child, but there are many different ways to do so. Just do your best to find one you are comfortable with.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

put on your own mask first...

So I'm joining a new book club this week, made up mostly of moms... and our first book to read is The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine. It's about "how parental pressure and material advantage are creating a generation of disconnected and unhappy kids". The amateur psychologist in me loved reading it. And the mom in me wants to buy 500 copies and start passing them out to everyone I know. Not that the book gives concrete solutions on how to parent if you are an affluent family, but it does bring up some key points that I think are valuable for a mother's self reflection. And a father's too but it is mostly geared to moms.

What's so great about it? Glad you asked. Here are the highpoints (cliffnotes don't cover this kind of thing...) or what I took from the book.
It turns out, parents really can screw up their kids. If the are depressed, absent, mean, etc, it really messes up their kids. Therapy can and does help, but you should get the whole family started ASAP if you are messed up. And most families don't want to admit they are messed up so instead they choose to be miserable and messed up instead of embarrassed and working on getting un-messed up. Funny how that is. However, whether you are a working mom or a stay-at-home mom doesn't seem to correlate with how messed up your kids are.

According to the book, we are all a mirror of our parents-- imagine that. But really, I like to help others because that's what my mom taught me was the right thing to do. But it also works in reverse. If you are a jackass to others, your kids will be rude jackasses too. And the rest of the world won't thank you for that later.

All ages are important for kids developmentally, but ages 12-18 are key in an adolescent's life since that is when they need to find a sense of self and what they like/dislike, etc. That is not the time to say, "I'm a Dr so Johnny is going to be a Dr too." And really not the time to say, "Susie, I think you need a boob job and some lipo so that you can run with the popular crowd, oh, and here's a new porche for turning 16." It isn't the time to demand perfect grades or steer your kid to be captain of the football team when he wants to play the lead in Oklahoma. No wonder kids these days are completely messed up. Hello! Where's captain obvious when you need him?

As a parent, we also need to be positive and supportive. Not critical, judgemental and overbearing. Involved is good, but over involved is bad. Setting limits and rules is good, as well as enforcing them consistently. Balance. They need space and privacy, but not aloof parents who leave them home alone for a weekend--and then act shocked when they throw a huge keg party and you get a collect call from jail while sunning in the Caymans. Uh, duh. Hire a responsible sitter you moron.

(Some of the stories she tells are so obvious-- or should be-- but parents these days really don't get it.)

What I also like about it is that she says you should NEVER let your kids buy their way out of trouble. And I completely agree. Her kid once had a drinking party that got busted while she was upstairs sleeping and she made her son go to court and testify that the charges against her should be dropped. He and his friends cleaned up the house, he missed several basketball games, attended all lawyer meetings, paid lawyer fees. events, and all in all, she taught him a real lesson and part of his punishment was dealing with the consequences of his actions. Love it.

She also explains 3 types of parenting styles -- Because I said so, I want to be your best friend and then the Authoritative warm parent who is loving but also sets limits. My dad was the first, my mom the second, and Rick's parents were the third. No wonder he and his sisters turned out as good as they did. Not only did his parents pick the best of the three styles, but they both did it. And surprise surprise, you and your spouse really need to be on the same page with how you parent.

And finally, my favorite part of the book is the last chapter where she talks about how important it is, as they say on airlines, to put on your own mask before assisting your children with theirs. We moms need to take care of ourselves and make sure that we are setting good examples for our children, leading balanced lives so we are available to them when they need us, and modeling healthy relationships to ensure that we don't set them up for messed up lives of their own. She makes a point to say she understands all that moms are dealing with and juggling and it is hard to keep up appearances when you are doing so much. Just try your best to keep a balance in life and it will all work out.

Moral of the story: It's a good book, parents make all the difference in the world, and hopefully this book will help them realize how much impact they have on their kid's lives and encourage them to seek help instead of trying to save face if they can't manage--after all, seeing a shrink is a lot better than having a kid hurt themselves or someone else.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Three days away...

Ada turns 8 months old tomorrow and I decided this past weekend it was time for me to get some much needed mommy alone time. So I pumped like crazy and stocked as much milk as I could manage and took the Megabus to Minneapolis. Yes, the Megabus. I would have flown but since flights were $400, it just wasn't going to happen. $50 and 8 hours each way later, I had a lovely trip to the twin cities.

I've only left Ada for about 24 hours before so this was a big deal, kinda. I was worried about taking the bus as I typically don't travel well, but it was actually quite nice. And I ran into an old friend on the bus returning home (it's a small la la). Crazy. But I will say, to all you mom's out there who haven't taken a break, for pete's sake, do it! It was awesome. I missed my husband more than the baby and it was so nice to get to sleep in until 10:30 or 11 in the morning -- granted I was staying out until 2 am and partying like a crazy woman five years my junior but I won't get to do it again anytime soon as I can tell.

And what made my weekend so fabulous? Hmmm... we'll, I got to wear my friend's cute clothes, have fun girltime, go shopping with no sales tax -- major bonus when you live in Chicago, and oh, yeah, I got to see MC Hammer and Cindy Lauper in concert in a combined fashion show benefit called glamorama. And they were awesome! Hammer really is too legit to quit. And Cindy's buff for her age. Wow. Very entertaining. I ate well, walked too much which was good for me and my attempt to attack the last few lingering lbs of baby weight, and probably did more damage to my finances than I care to admit. But I did get a deal at a garage sale where a woman my size was unloading cute tops for cheap. 11 tops later, I had to do some creative packing to get home.

Well, I could go on and on, but I'm sleep deprived and really want to crash. One last thing, in all my worrying about not having enough breast milk for the 3 days away, I came home just in time as Rick ran out the night before I got home and I was here at 6:30 to wake Ada up and feed her. Now I just have to get her to eat all of the milk I collected on the trip before it goes bad. Who said motherhood was easy? Milk coordination should be a degree.

Moral of the story: Live a little, don't stress about the baby, and just go do something for yourself every once and awhile. It does wonders on your dark circles (in theory that is, assuming you actually get some sleep instead of partying like a crazy momma in 4 inch heals). Oh, and pack some band-aids for all of your new found blister friends.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mini Surprises

In the last few days, I've found myself surprised by things Ada has done. For instance... while eating my cereal from a square ceramic bowl, I was sitting on the couch with Ada on my lap and the bowl in my hand. Being the little teething queen that she is, within a few bites of my Cheerios she had pulled the bowl toward her and started gnawing on the corner of the bowl. I doubt it offered much relief but it was entertaining.

Then, silly me, I set Ada on the couch to go get a long sleeve shirt since the temperature had cooled and the breeze was making me a bit cold. I left her with a good full roll distance to her right and left, assuming she'd be fine. As I grabbed the shirt from my drawer I heard a thud and a squeal. I sprinted through the house chanting "shit, shit, shit" as I know she has managed to fall off the couch. I arrive to find that she has indeed fallen, but has not rolled to either side. She has surprised me again by bouncing herself to the front edge of the couch and flipping off of it, landing with her head 180 degrees from where she started. Lucky for me, she landed on a blanket I had left on the floor and missed the corners of the coffee table hutch by about six inches. Rick said I've now used up my one freebie so I can never leave her alone again. And I never intend to. She is very deserving of the nickname "squirmy worm".

Again today I was surprised when I returned from making our lunches in the kitchen while she was on her playmat in her room. Surrounded by toys galore, what does she chose to slobber on but the fabric skirt of the glidder's ottoman. Of all things yummy and good in the world, the ottoman is not one of them.

And, after lunch I was changing her diaper on the floor on her pee mat in the living room when I ran to her bedroom for a wipe and new diaper. Moments later I returned to find a five inch curly turd had been neatly expelled and awaited my removal. Lucky for me, again, she didn't have time to roll in it.

Among all of these surprises, the best is learning that Ada loves to bounce, jump, and skip. Or more specifically, she loves it when we hold her while bouncing, jumping or skipping. Galloping works too. The result of our movement is easily the biggest smile in the history of the Universe. Followed closely by the huge smile achieved by standing her up on the couch to look out the window while enjoying a cool August breeze. This my friends, is one happy baby -- despite all of my negligent mommy moments.

Moral of the story: Don't be lulled into the false sense of security during the first six months. Once these babies go mobile, they need constant supervision. And the surprises never end.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Reasons I'm thankful for a 7 month old

She's always in a good mood in the morning greeting you with a beaming smile.
Her funny hair makes me laugh.
She's really fun to play with.
She's more efficient and effective than a breastpump.
Her smile is highly contagious.
She's big enough to fit in the stroller without the car seat now which lightens my load.
My biceps are buff from lifting her.
My body is almost pre-baby again and I still have big boobs. Yippee!
I've met some fabulous people and made several new friends thanks to her.
We spend more time with family.
Seeing her with Rick is priceless.
Seeing my serious father make faces at her is hilarious.
I get to learn a little spanish and baby sign language -- that makes me trilingual right?
I love my new job and the flexibility of it.
I get to work 25 hours a week and play with Ada the rest.
She gets me out of the house.
She's a great excuse for a messy house.
Sending out her monthly photo updates helps me keep in touch with friends.
She's a great excuse not to do things -- "I can't honey, I'm feeding the baby."
She lets' me take a shower while she plays on the floor next to the tub -- but not for long.
She gives great hugs.
She only poops once a day, and often when with a sitter.
She cries less often, and sings more often.
Her hum is soothing.
She adds joy and love to my life.
It's entertaining to watch her learn to crawl.
She helps me realize how lucky I am.
She helps me see the bigger picture in life and not get caught up on the small stuff.
She is fun to cuddle with.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tornado Baby!

Back in the day... when it was just Rick and I... if a tornado siren went off, we'd get excited, stare out the windows and eventually maybe take cover under the stairs. But now that we have Ada, protocol has changed. Last Monday night, the sirens when off in the city and we had a debate on our hands. While wondering is this for real? Do we really need to take cover or am I just hearing things? Can we just hang out until it sounds like a train is coming and then jump under the stairs? The problem this time was that Ada was peacefully asleep in her crib and as they say, you never wake a sleeping baby... unless the tornado sirens are going off.

So Rick grabbed Ada and hid under the stairs while I grabbed a flashlight, cell phone and check the weather channel online. Ada just stared at Rick until it was over, then went right back to sleep. And luckily, the tornado threat passed us by.

Moral of the story: Rules should always be made with exceptions, and tornados are always an exception.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Recovering slowly...

When there is a death in the family, it helps to have a small child accompany you to all of the related events i.e. visitation, ceremony and funeral. This past weekend was tough for the entire family, but made bearable for me at least, by having Ada with us. I stood in the back of the funeral home during the visitation with her as she cooed and sang, making the only audible sounds at times as everyone in the room reflected on life and death. It was a comfort in a way to know that the circle of life continues - how very Lion King of me, I know.

And at the funeral mass, I was able to hold Ada for the first portion of the ceremony in the church as she was amazed by the three, yes three ceiling fans. That worked for about 10 minutes, then the music entertained her for another five minutes and finally, with my mom's help, we moved out to the church's front yard so as not to completely disrupt the rest of the service.

Ada timed her nap well as my mom took her home while I attended the burial. Spending so much time with family causes you to reflect on many things but also to learn a lot about your family. For instance, Ada's great grandma on Rick's side of the family died fairly recently -- in 1990. She's the one Ada is named after, even though we didn't really intend to name her after a family member but it just happened that we liked the name. And then it turns out there is a great grandma Ada on my side of the family too. Bizarre. I never met either Ada, but Rick attended his Grandma Ada's funeral. Which I found a little weird because after paying our respects to Rick's grandfather, we were led around the tent to see the family resting area --complete with a tombstone with Grandma Ada's name on it --same as my daughter's name. Creepy, but cool at the same time. From the stories told this weekend about Great Grandma Ada, she was a wonderful woman.

On the other hand, my mom's Grandma Ada, whom she never met, was not quite the upstanding citizen we'd have preferred. According to my mom, her Grandma Ada had six kids with her husband and then left him and the kids to marry or run off with another man, leaving the six kids to be split up into foster care. My grandfather being one of them. And the sixth child was questioned as to belonging to her husband or not. Drama! So we're sticking with the story that our Ada is named after Rick's Grandma Ada who was a wonderful person.

And I'll just say, while it was great to have Ada with us for all of the family events, funerals are also a good time to catch cooties... so remember your hand sanitizer. Rick caught a cold and gave it to Ada and now we're listening to the biggest cough from the smallest little thing. And to make matters even more exciting, Ada had her first episode of projectile vomit today. Poor thing. Her cough is just too much. We're hoping for a speedy recovery, and some teeth while we're at it.

Moral of the story: Family is always important to stay close to, not just in bad times, but in all times, and a little hand sanitizer can do wonders when you're planning to shake a gazillion hands. Use it often.