Monday, September 21, 2009

Anna's 3!

Happy Birthday Anna!
Who knew that two and three-year-olds can bowl(let alone pick up a bowling ball)? I had never really considered it before this weekend. But I think they had a lot of fun. The bowling alley back home has a contraption to launch the bowling balls down the lane and the bumpers prevent them from getting gutter balls. That just makes it harder for me to have a better score than my almost-two-year-old... Rick at least broke 100... I think I was in the mid 90s... and the creepy part is that Rick and I had the same score for the first 7 rounds, until he broke away and beat me by about 20 points. At least I still beat Ada's score boosted by bumpers and that contraption... but anyway...
Here's the cake... WOW! Turns out miss Anastasia wants to live in a castle so she got a castle cake. Helps with the princess theme that she is named after a princess (or two if you count princess Anne and all iterations thereof...)

And here are the little monsters at the post-party-pizza-party. (This is the birthday party that never ends... yes it goes on and on my friends... ) Needless to say, the proof is in the pictures. They had a little bit of fun.

Thanks to uncle Rob and aunt Michelle for putting on such a fab party. And to DD for the post-party.
See more photos on snapfish...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Such a bad mom...?

From over here, it looks like you might be a bad mother.

Sometimes I feel like that's what other people are thinking of me. I don't believe it's true, but women can be very judgemental and critical, and well, sometimes I just wonder if they are being critical of my parenting style.

Today at the park was a great example--especially following Ada's fall down the back steps yesterday (my neighbor probably thought we were awful to let her stand on the stairs on her own. Gasp, oh the horror!) We're at the park--a tiny neighborhood park on Belmont that isn't much bigger than the size of a standard house lot so maybe 30 feet wide by 120 deep. There are over 20 kids and their moms or dads or nannies and their strollers. It's a lot to take in and I'm clearly over stimulated. Moms on cell phones. Kids eating snacks. Toys being borrowed, stolen, and fought over. Pretty close to full-on chaos.

We've been at the park for about 15 minutes. I'm yawning and daydreaming when all of a sudden I hear a mom squeal and look to see that Ada has run under a swing and got kicked in the face by the woman's child. Everybody is fine. One minute of screaming and all is right with the world. Too bad Obama doesn't have it that good. Then about ten minutes later she ran straight into a railing at forehead height for the ramp up to the jungle gym. The same mothers saw her do both. And they saw me watch her do both, or watch me not watch her in the first case.

To that I just say "So what?" This is a big city. When am I going to see those moms again?

Moral of the story: Don't be too quick to judge other moms, and don't worry if they are quick to judge you. Focus your energy on being a good mom.

Six steps at a time...

Ada learned this weekend that the quickest way to the bottom of the steps on our back porch is to fall down them. She's fine, amazingly. She really only feel down about seven steps but that was enough to do a complete head-over-feet roll and bend her neck back in a way that creeped both of us out.

Rick and I watched the whole thing happen, with our neighbor standing next to me, and couldn't do anything about it. I was sitting at the top of the stairs telling a story about how I thought I just mailed my credit card to my doctor's office with a bill I was paying (I found it later on the kitchen counter) and he was at the bottom landing with his arms full of potting materials as it was repot-the-houseplants day for us. She fell so fast and time went into a slow motion blur. It was all so surreal. Our neighbor was totally freaked out and worried about her. I knew she was just fine and stayed calm. Rick picked her up and cuddled her. Five minutes later it was all forgotten... minus the tiny scrap on her nose.

This isn't her first trip down the stairs, but it is her longest. She's wiped out a few times on the front steps and gone down like a ragdoll. That's partly why I don't get freaked out when something like this happens. She's built to be floppy at this age... not that I don't encourage parents to watch their children closely around stairs, because I do. She's not indestructible by any means. But I think she's built to bounce. She falls down at least ten times a day. I can't say I'd be in good shape if I fell even twice a day. I also believe in giving kids room to learn on their own and make their own mistakes. My brother and I both tumbled down the stairs as kids. (I don't think there is any lasting damage but others may disagree.) It seems to be a right of passage. Just something that happens.

Moral of the story: Try not to freak out too soon when your child falls. Chances are that they are going to be just fine and their injures are fixable. And only make them wear a helmet in moderation (ie. bikes, skateboards, scooters, etc., not going downstairs).

Friday, September 11, 2009

Noooo...Don't Leave Me!!!!

Leaving Ada to go to work gets harder as she gets older. As a baby at daycare, yeah, she cried. At that age there is a lot of crying so it is less effective at pulling every heart string that I have. I admit I wasn't very emotional on the first day of daycare. I do remember walking away from dropping her off and feeling like I should be having the freak out moment I expect moms to have, but I didn't.

Now...well, she has just started this thing where she clings on to me in a vise-like bear hug for a few seconds when I drop her off. She didn't do it the first two weeks but I think this week, she wised up suddenly. And it could be so much worse. I'm only getting a short crying wail as Alison guides her into the vestibule. Typically followed by a text message saying all is well by the time they get upstairs and start to play.

On the other hand... last week when I would pick Ada up from her days with Will, she didn't want to walk home. I'd coax her into walking the whole three blocks so that we didn't get into a habit of me carrying her all the time since I'm not dealing with a stroller each morning. It was going just great until we got to our house and had two days of extraordinary tantrums, literally on the threshold of our building entrance. And the biggest tantrums I've ever seen Ada throw -- which is significant but still much less dramatic than most kids her age. They start with her dropping to the ground, laying on her belly, pounding her fits and kicking her feet into the floor (gently in Ada's case), and screaming hysterically until her breathing becomes irregular and I finally give in and rescue her from the most horrible moment of her life thus far. Of course, the door is wide open and no less than ten neighbors have walked or driven by to witness the spectacle and grin along with me. It's kind of funny, but not. And I'd never tell her that.

According to Colette and the half-dozen books she's read on how to be a good mom (she is my version of Cliff's Notes) she suggests I crouch down to Ada's level, acknowledge her feelings and the situation, and offer support. At least I think that's what she suggested. It seems to work and she's a pretty mellow kid so after two days of tantrums in the doorway, she was done. Hopefully, next week she'll forget about the whole strategy of clinging to mommy before her days playing with Will. At least I know that Alison is taking good care of her, she's learning new things, she comes back in a great mood, and she's safe. That peace of mind is priceless. Kudo's to Alison for making her happy (and me happy too!)

Moral of the story: It's okay to let go of your children. It's okay for them to throw an occassional tantrum and have a dramatic parting of ways when you leave. Just be strong, help guide them through it and hope that it's only temporary.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Labor Day, Go Go Go

To grandma's to get Ada (she stayed at Ba's and we stayed at DDs).
A nice breakfast date for us while Ada and Ba got in a few more tickles.
From breakfast, straight to Chicago.
From unloading and parking the car, to the WOOGMS (Wellington Oakdale Old Glory Marching Society) Parade down the street.
At the parade, the Jessie White Tumbling Team preformed and we made new friends (imagine that... Ada got some random woman to give her a little flag and I met a new mom neighbor who's daughter is 10 days older than Ada --whereas Colette was on the other side of our house and Eva was 10 days younger than Ada... freaky).

Within five seconds of getting home and closing the front door, our friend Bob arrived.
Rick made lunch as the men prepared for the pending fantasy draft down the street.
Ada and I went down for naps as they snuck out the front door.
Awake in time for dinner.
While they fantasized about football, we dined with our friend Lisa who lives just blocks away.
We walked Lisa home and on the way back, we happened to walk by as Rick and Bob were leaving the draft and we snapped them back into reality.
Once home, we started playing our favorite board game--Settlers of Catan.
Ada crashed soon thereafter.
Bob won, then went home.
9pm, time for bed.

Rick? Where's Ada?

This past weekend we were packing to go to Sycamore for a few days of family fun, football games, fantasy drafts, and food. Actually, Rick was packing and I was trying to get in another four hours of work before we left.

Once my four hours was up and I'd finished what I was doing, I asked, "Rick, where's Ada?"
"She's in our room on the bed." he replied nonchalantly.
"How long has she been in there alone?" I question as I start walking toward our bedroom.
"I donno. Awhile I guess."
I walk though our doorway and there she is, happy as a clam and smelling to high heaven of Calvin Kline cologne.
"Ricky, you've got to come see this."
Ada's sitting in the middle of our bed, gnawing on the exposed tube that peaks out of the top of the cologne bottle and typically sits under the spray cap. She's removed the lid and the spray cap, they lay discarded on the bed, and she is having a grand old time chewing on that little tube.
"She must be teething."
"At least she didn't swallow the cap or drink the cologne."
"Boy does she ever smell."
"How about you not leave her alone like this again, okay."
"It was just a few minutes."
"My point exactly."

Moral of the story: What kids can get into, they will get into.

Naps are back!


Ada's back to taking naps. And they've been easy some days and really hard other days. But they are back and that makes the world a better place.

Now we just have to keep it that way.

Me, On a Soapbox

Here's one thing that really gets to me, and I think I've mentioned it before.

People who are disrespectful to nursing mothers.

If you are one of them and think nursing in public is wrong, please read this so you can be a bit more open-minded and educated on the subject.

Nursing your child is natural. It's normal. It's not gross or disgusting or something that needs to be done in a closed room. Men should love public nursing since they might get to see a glimpse of part of a sliver of a boob. Woohoo. Hello? Who doesn't like boobs? Am I right?

Come on people. We saw more boob from Janet Jackson at the Superbowl than you'll ever see from a woman nursing in public. How long will it take for times to change on this issue?

My first beef is regarding an article I read recently about a woman nursing in a park in Logan Square, a neighborhood here in Chicago. Some woman, a mother of two girls mind you, went by and said the nursing woman was disgusting, a disgrace, indecent and she was going to call the police. The nursing woman of course encouraged her to do so knowing that she has every right to nurse in public and not be arrested for indecent exposure. It's not like her breasts are flapping in the wind people. Thankfully, that woman got media coverage and arranged a "nurse-in" where she had about 30 moms meet at the park the next day to openly nurse their babies. Take that stupid woman who's against public nursing. And my your daughters not have to deal with people like you once they procreate. Here's to a better, more accepting world for them.

And my second beef is concerning a good friend of mine. A family friend and a bridesmaid in my wedding. She's a young mother at 20. She has a job at Wendy's to pay the bills while going to school and managing a newborn. She has grand plans to marry her boyfriend once they are on solid financial ground in a few years but college comes first. (At least this setup is becoming more acceptable in society.) So here she is. A new mom. New to nursing. New to her rights. Her boss at Wendy's has told her that she can't work more than a 3 hour shift in a 24 hour period, supposedly so that she can go home to nurse for the other 21 hours of the day, and she is not allowed to pump on Wendy's property. Not at all. Not in the bathroom. Not in her car in the parking lot. Not anywhere. Not ever.

I'm doing everything in my power not to call La Leche for her (since those are my only facts and they'll need more details), and I've implored her to contact them on her own because this is just outrageous to me that a new mom can be treated this way. But REALLY? I hope that someone who really knows the laws as they apply to nursing mothers can explain to me how any company can legally do that to a new mom. Obviously she started looking for a new job and found something temporary at a local orchard for the fall. But REALLY? Deep down I'm hoping she calls La Leche and they send over some high powered attorney that just throws Wendy's to the ground and stops on their head repeatedly. Ada and I will surely be there for moral support when it happens. A place like Wendy's must be governed by FMLA rules and there is no way that a restaurant can really claim that it's unsanitary to nurse on the premises. If that's the case, someone really needs to straighten this out.

If anything more develops on this, I'll keep you posted.

Moral of the story: Nursing mothers deserve way more respect and rights than we have right now. You can help by simply being a supportive friend.

My Little Social Butterfly

My mom's a realtor.
I'm in business development.
We're social people.

It should come as no surprise that Ada is a VERY friendly child.

It's not just kids in the parks that she instantly befriends. Those actually take a little bit more time.

It's adults. A man eating along in a local Mediterranean restaurant soon finds Ada helping him review the menu while suggesting dinner entrees. Another set of local restaurant patrons are convinced that Ada is so parched she can't make it a block home with me. They offer her a drink of water from the orange glass, and then the green glass, and then the orange glass again. After five minutes of this game, I'm tired of holding my take-out bag and call it quits. But that doesn't help since she befriends someone outside on the sidewalk. Then we see two people we know on the way home and when I finally turn the keys in the front door, my food is cold.

The other day we went to grab a few things at CVS and stop by to see Kelly from upstairs since she's the pharmacy manager at the store down the street. We're standing in the aisles of CVS when Ada starts starring at a man shopping for shaving products. She starts walking back and forth in front of him just daring him to look at her. After about two minutes, he finally breaks down and makes eye contact. Then she does her little Happy Feet dance and starts waving her arms up and down out of sheer joy. A way to say, "Look Mom, another friend!" We made friends with another three patrons before checking out of CVS that day.

And just last week was the biggie. While walking with Ada to run some errands, we first saw one of the street cleaners tightening his belt in a store doorway as we walked by. Ada stopped me and went over to shake his hand and smile. He played along and smiled back. Then it was someone in front of Alison's apartment, a nice man with a rescue dog. Ada was nice to the dog and we had a little conversation with the man. Then we stopped at the drycleaner where she made her own little dance party to the entertainment of all the employees and patrons alike. Then it was off to Express for a sale. She somehow convinced our sales assistant to pick her up and give her a hug. Then she got the three Asian ladies in the store to coo over her and dance with her and pat her cheeks. Then we went up to another store and she got those ladies talking to her. When we exited the elevator our Asian friends were passing by and stopped for another tickle and a smile. And then it was back home for a nap. All that socializing is exhausting. Now she must know how a politician feels. And that was all before noon.

Some kids are shy. They couldn't be any farther on the social scale than from Ada. I don't have to worry about her fitting in anywhere, but I do have to worry about her with strangers since she makes everybody her best friend.

Moral of the story: If you want to get something done quickly, shy kids might be a blessing. If you have an Ada, just be sure to allow for more social time as you go to get things done.

This message brought to you by plastic...

The problem with having a tall child is that she can reach the countertops that much faster. Plain and simple. I'm just not ready for that yet as this story will show.

Two days ago, Ada figured out how to pull a towel off the countertop. She didn't know that a small lunch-sized cooler was sitting on top of it, and I watched as it bonked her on the head--hoping that the tiny bump she'd get would be a mini sort of lesson to her. Sure enough, it bonked her head and she looked at me like "Huh? What was that Mom?" She's clearly too young for a lesson on how gravity works.

In the past, her ability to reach the counters hasn't been much of a problem. She can reach her sippy cups to tell us to refill them. She pulled the dried pineapple and the raisins off the counter as a "Mom, feed me!" sign. I've done my best to train myself and Rick to keep the knives far back on the counter or in their block so she can't reach them. We've been keen to do the same at parties. All is fine and dandy until last night...

Last night, I had too much on my "to do" list. I always do so this should come as no surprise. I'm a list maker and a list checker-offer. It's what brings me joy in life. Completing a task and starting something new. So last night, I'm trying to get something off my "to do" list and feed Ada dinner. While eating dinner, Ada was throwing her food on the floor so I was reprimanding her for the millionth time hoping that lesson would soon sink in. It didn't. She seemed to be finished eating so I took her out of her high chair. Just then, our lovely neighbor Kelly came over to hang out before her haircut appointment. She sat and ate a sandwich while chatting with us. She was eating so Ada wanted to eat. That's just how it works. So I decided to peel an orange for Ada. We're fine up and to this point.

Here's where I get stupid. Oranges are messy and I figured I'd put it on a plate. I SHOULD have grabbed a plastic plate or a bowl, but I didn't. Instead, I grabbed a plate my good friend Colette gave me for my birthday this past June. One of a set of four mind you. They've been put into the everyday rotation so I can remember our year and a half of good times before she moved to Seattle this Summer.

So I get the orange peeled and onto the plate. Ada immediately goes to grab a piece of orange from the plate and I realize what's about to happen... SO I MOVE THE PLATE TO THE FLOOR. Part of me felt like I was putting down the dog's dish at my parents house. Dishes just don't feel right on the floor. Somewhere in my gut a little voice was screaming "Nooooooooooooooooooooo!" But I didn't listen.

We hung out with Kelly. She stayed for about 45 minutes. Ada did her thing, ate some oranges, hung out. Then Kelly left and I resumed work on my "to do" list by paying some bills on the computer. Ada's babbling and finishing the oranges. Something tells me to look over at her and sure enough, she's got the plate two feet off the tiled kitchen floor and is holding it awkwardly.

Oh shit.

There it goes. In s-l-o-w-m-o-t-i-o-n. Down. Down. Down to the floor where it crashes into 4 main pieces and a dozen little shards we'll be finding three weeks later. I freak out and yell "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" Ada starts crying. I start tearing -- I really miss Colette and this is a new plate. Damn it Ada. I scoop her up and maneuver through the kitchen to her room to keep her safe. Silly me thinks I can just shut the door and she'll play while I go clean up the mess. Nope. She starts screaming like the neighbor's kid just squashed her favorite donut.

New plan. Let's lock both of us in Ada's room and clean it until daddy comes home. Then he can clean the kitchen.


Moral of the story: Always use plastic. For everything. Until your kid is 25, at least.