Friday, December 31, 2010


Not only does Ada apparate, but apparently she might sleepwalk too. While enjoying one of four, yes four, Christmas's, we were staying at my parent's house and getting up frequently with Iain in the night. As I was trying to go back to sleep, I noticed a faint set of footsteps on the stairs at two in the morning. Knowing that it couldn't be either of my parents since it was too light, I assumed it was our little Ada. Sure enough, I went to the kitchen and found her rounding the corner by the garage door. She jumped a foot when I said, "Hi, sweetie." I offered her a small glass of water and shuffled her back up to bed. Then I jokingly chastised my mom for not being a better watch dog since they were sharing a room and Ada must have walked within inches of my mom's face without her knowing. She also luckily avoided tripping on either of my parents' large golden retrievers, and navigated the stairs in the dark all alone while in footie pajamas. I made sure to shut their bedroom door after putting Ada back to bed.

She's also been up in the middle of the night at Grandma Ba's and Grandpa Rich's house, but only to turn off the light in the hallway just outside her door and return to bed. That wasn't so dangerous and I'm impressed that she could reach the light switch.

We'll see if this behavior continues and try to be more cautious about shutting and locking doors and clearing all walking paths throughout the house before bed. We may even have to keep the dogs from sleeping right outside the bedroom door since she would surely trip on them and fall down the stairs in the process and that's not really what we're going for now is it? And maybe we'll have to invest in one of those laser beam bells they use in retail stores that ding every time you walk through the front door. Then we could be alerted to the fact that she was on the move and we could at least shuffle her back to bed. I'm hopeful that once she gets back home to her own bed, she'll go back to being our good little sleeping beauty. And for once I'll say I'm thankful that we have two heavy vestibule doors to prevent her from getting outside on any potential sleepwalking missions.

Moral of the story: It is always good to keep your house picked up, doors locked and dangerous items out of reach. Even more so when you have a sleepwalking child.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ada Apparates

This past week, Ada learned a spell straight out of Harry Potter. She can apparate. That means she can instantaneously teleport from one location to another. Or if you prefer a Star Trek reference, she can seemingly beam herself through our house from one room to the next. She used to have trouble just getting her bedroom door open. Now she can do that trick where she passes over the creaky wooden floorboards and appears in our room, next to the bed in the middle of the night, and we never heard her coming. Kind of creepy. Okay, really creepy.

Somehow, somewhere along the way, she learned the value of being stealthy. Maybe Swipper the Fox from Dora the Explorer taught her that. He steals Dora's stuff if they don't notice him soon enough. Hopefully Ada doesn't start stealing and hiding our stuff. It wouldn't change things much since the past few things I've misplaced, I've hypothesized Ada stashed them somewhere or threw them away. (I really just didn't look in the right places to find them.) She did drive DD nuts by hiding her Halloween barrette under the sink. And I'm still holding out hope that I find the plug to our Thermos amongst Ada's toys someday. Maybe she can do more magic than we think...

Moral of the Story:  Weird things might happen when you have a three-year-old in your house. Try not to get too spooked.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthday Weekend

Ada's birthday weekend started out with a play date with a new friend. I can't say it was the best play date since she didn't really get along with this new "friend". He was aggressive and she was possessive. We learned that the combination of those two personalities resulted in biting, hitting, screaming, and more time outs in two hours than anyone should ever have to deal with. It was a great opportunity for us to try to teach her how to share and play well with others. Maybe we'll have a chance to get the two together for a re-match when they are a bit older.

The rest of the weekend, Rick and I cooked and cleaned in preparation for Ada's birthday party on Sunday. When the time came for the party to get started, we didn't have time to pickup the kitchen or properly stash all of Iain's baby stuff into our bedroom. And we didn't get the homemade pizzas we had been slaving over prepped in time for the party. Rick started making them during the party and after he struggled to roll out the dough, we agreed to just call Domino's and be done with it. At least we know when to say when and know the limits of what we can do in a given amount of time. And we are only friends with people who forgive us for having a messy house and a chaotic, unstructured birthday party.

Everyone I asked for tips on birthday party planning suggested we keep it short and simple. We did so by only inviting the five kids from our mom group and limiting it to two hours. We planned it after naps so everyone showed up late, which is why we kept it unstructured. I could have planned a game or more activities, but the one activity we had was plenty. The kids all decorated their own wooden picture frames so we could take a group picture of the kids and they could put it in their new frames. The idea was good. The execution of the photo left a lot to be desired.

I should have rounded up all of the kids at the beginning of the party and enticed them with something awesome (cupcakes perhaps?) if they would sit still and look at the camera. Instead, I waited too long and forgot about taking the photo until one of the kids went into full meltdown mode and we had to corral them all onto the steps in an attempt to get anything decent before he left. This is the result.

Luckily, we have birthday parties for two of these kids in a few weeks, and hopefully will have another chance to try my bribery technique to herd these little animals into the frame for a group photo. I won't hold my breath on it for fear of passing out.

Moral of the story: When it comes to party planning, keep it simple. There is a reason parents order pizza, buy a cake, and serve juice boxes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ahhhh, Here Comes The Spoon!

Iain started eating solid foods on Thanksgiving morning. It didn't go exactly as planned, but it still worked out. The plan was that I would feed him some rice cereal that afternoon at some point. The reality was that I passed Iain off to Grandma DD around six in the morning and she fed him rice cereal thinking he was hungry and not knowing that he hadn't ever had solids before. 

When we got back home from the holiday weekend, Ada finally started to think Iain was okay and wanted to help feed him. She's pretty good when you remind her not to shove the spoon all the way down his throat.
All of a sudden, being a big sister might not be so bad.

And he kind of likes her too. He'll like her more once she gets the food in his mouth instead of all over his face. At least we have something to work toward.
And to make things even more exciting around here, I've decided to try making my own baby food this time around--in all of my free time. So far Iain is a fan of acorn and butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. He's not so fond of lima beans (I don't blame him) and seems to be okay with split peas. By Christmas, we might get to add in some bananas, apples and pears. So far, so good.

Moral of the story: Starting solids can be fun once you get everyone involved. And making baby food is a lot easier, faster, and less expensive than you think.

Milestones & Comparisons

Second kids totally get overlooked when it comes to milestones and their development. I find myself constantly comparing Iain to Ada when she was his age, and ignoring all of his "firsts". Just this past weekend, I wrote up an instruction manual for the grandparents detailing how to take care of the kids, what they eat and their sleep schedules. Rick's parents were a bit shocked when they put Iain on the floor in their living room, went to get something out of the kitchen and returned to the sight of him on his back up against a piece of furniture. Whoops! It just slipped my mind that he can roll over. I've only seen him do it about five times. I can never get him to repeat it. And it's only from his tummy to his back one way. With Ada, that would have been a big deal and I would have called everyone to exclaim my excitement. With Iain, eh. So what? I've been there and done that once already. Next. I should have included it in the manual since he technically could have rolled off a bed or something. But then again, Ada rolled off the bed and the couch a couple of times and was just fine. So what? It's not that big of a deal.

Iain is also really good at sitting up on his own now. That might qualify as a milestone. I've also already trimmed his hair once or twice. And I didn't save a lock of his hair like I did for Ada. He'll probably hate me when he's older for that. (I'm really not all that worried.) And I'll admit that I don't check his mouth every morning to see if he has a tooth yet. I figure one day he'll bite me and I'll notice it. I'm just so much more laid back with him since I've been through all of it with Ada and I've never really been a sappy, sentimental, helicopter mom.

Lately, I've been comparing the two kids a lot more. Primarily since I left Iain with Kelly and Krissie, our neighbors, while I went to pick Ada up from daycare since it has been really cold out. Both times I returned to find Iain screaming his head off.  Nothing they did could please him until he saw me walk back into the room, and then he was fine. Ada had some separation anxiety but only for about two minutes while she still thought I was on the other side of the door and then she was over it. Ada loved strangers. Iain, not so much.

Ada also wasn't bothered by loud noises. Iain hates it when you sneeze, laugh loudly, clap your hands, or pretty much when Ada makes any noise that isn't a whisper. And then we have noticed that he giggles and laughs already. I'm not sure that Ada ever giggled or laughed at his age, or even older. She's always had a bit of a forced laugh that sometimes seems fake. She slept through the night really early on whereas he took his time to get to that point--but he is technically sleeping through the night now so that's another milestone I failed to report.

Part of my laissez-faire attitude might be enhanced by him being a boy and me thinking he won't be soon sentimental when he is older. But I think it has a lot more to do with the novelty wearing off a bit and the fact that I have less time to focus and celebrate his every move. It's probably a good thing that we are done having kids since each subsequent child would receive even less attention and eventually I wouldn't even know how many I had or what their names were. I'm sticking with two and I'll try to be better about tracking his real milestones. Crawling and walking will at least make the cut.

Moral of the story: Try to accept that each of your children will be very different and learn to appreciate those differences. And try to acknowledge each milestone for all of your children, even if only briefly.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

No Sleep Weekend All Around

Rick and I thought it would be better to ship the kids to Grandma DD and Grandma Ba's houses for the weekend than spend a fortune on sitters so we could partake in a few holiday parties this season. It seemed like a good plan at the time, and could have been awesome under better circumstances. The reality was a bit more than we bargained for.

Friday, our neighbor Krissie accompanied me out to Huntley where we enjoyed lunch, switched cars and give Grandma DD the kids. The transfer went well and Krissie and I had a blast on the ride home. The highlight was seeing a motorcyclist wearing a furry hat with a coyote or a fox head on top, and the animal's tail and hind legs blowing in the wind behind him. It was quite the sight to see. Our spirits were high until I parked my mom's car on our street and heard my cell phone quietly summoning me from my purse. It was my brother calling to ask what tricks they could try to get Iain to calm down since nothing they did was working. Instead of making my mom suffer, I called Grandma Ba to go to my mom's aid. Ba is a baby whisperer of sorts and was all too happy to help. My mom ended up giving Iain to Grandma Ba for the rest of the night and kept Ada. Both kids had a cold and I was not sure my mom knew what I had volunteered her for. Divide and conquer works on grand kids too.

Ada ended up getting sick that night. Pretty much all of that night. Bobpa was up until one in the morning doing laundry since she threw up everywhere, numerous times. Not what any of us had hoped for. And it was a good thing Iain wasn't around waking my parents up in the night between Ada's coughing fits and throwing up. Yikes. That would have been like what we deal with and we know that isn't fun.

While Ada was throwing up, I was busy spilling wine at Rick's holiday party. The first glass spilled on the table top because I was talking and waving my hands with my glass too close to me. The second glass I spilled sprayed the woman next to me as I ripped apart a piece of bread and, when it gave way, my hand flew into the glass and sent it flying toward my neighbor. Not the best way to make friends. Sad part was that she and her husband witnessed the first glass get spilled too. I wasn't even intoxicated and was already cut off. Her husband felt bad for me and got me wine in a tumbler the next time he got up. What a sweetheart. At least she was a good sport about it. Unfortunately, Rick and I didn't get to bed until two in the morning.

I woke up Saturday morning to learn that Ada was a hot mess at DD's house, I had lost feeling in two toes from the four-inch heels I was partying in for six hours, and our friends coming from Minneapolis to visit us cancelled their trip. Oh, and a big storm was headed right for us. Good morning Amanda!

While Ada was decorating Granny's Christmas tree back in Sycamore, and Iain was theoretically being good (I never got a bad report from Grandma Ba so I'm making a big assumption here), I was napping in my bed to get rid of the wine headache I acquired the previous evening even though I wasn't ever intoxicated. Not fair at all. Really not fair since this was my day to get so much accomplished without having the kids around to distract me. Bummer.

Rick and I got ready for Holiday Party #2 and went to Five Guys for a quick dinner since we were running late. Apparently, it took me a long time to get ready since I only did it four times a year and needed to enlist my neighbors' help to look anywhere near decent. The party was so fun that we didn't get home until two in the morning. (Two times does not a trend make.)

With the storm fast approaching, we woke up a little after eight, grabbed bagel sandwiches from The Bagel restaurant up the street, brushed off the car and began the trek to retrieve our little monsters.  Rick's parents agreed to meet us in Huntley and had quite the time getting there since the roads were being attacked by blowing snow. At one point, they were driving with their blinkers on and aiming between the telephone poles since they couldn't see the road. That's always fun. Luckily we didn't have any trouble on the expressways. We made the transfer and again switched cars. Grandpa Rich got Good Samaritan points for helping to push two cars out of the ditch on his way home and calling the police to report a third. Fortunately, we all made it home safely and in time to watch the Bears game. Unfortunately, the Bears didn't play so well.

We rounded out the weekend with yet another impromptu gathering of neighbors upstairs at Kelly's house for some delicious white chicken chili and a tree decorating party. After a wonderful night spent with friends, we realized that maybe we really did need sleep and made it to bed around eleven.

Moral of the story: Holiday parties can be fun. Try to remember that sleep is important for the whole family. And do your best to make time to recuperate.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Holiday Card Options

It's a good thing we don't send out holiday cards because if we did, they might look something like this...

Or this... Rick wouldn't let me keep Iain's sock on the third nail, but I thought it was funny while it lasted.
He did let me keep the red ball ornaments hanging from his fantasy football trophy on the mantel though. Rick's team didn't make the playoffs this year so the trophy will be moving on. At least I got to decorate him for a little while.

Moral of the story: Holiday cards can be a lot of work. Consider sending them in the off season or for a less popular holiday like we do for Valentine's Day when you have less family obligations.

Old School

Grandma Ba's basement is full of hidden treasures. Our most recent discovery included an owl sweater Barb knitted for Ada's Aunt Heather about twenty years ago. The owls have green button eyes on the front of the sweater and are repeated on the back side without eyes. Here is Ada in the sweater impersonating an owl mid-wing flapping.
And here is Iain modeling what I call the "yellow banana suit" which Rick wore about thirty years ago.It is the brightest yellow imaginable--think of a Highlighter or a ripe lemon. It has a cute blue bunny embroidered on the chest of the suit. And did I mention it is fuzzy on the outside? It is still a bit big for Iain but is keeping him warm this winter and goes great with his green knit hat our friend Cassie made for him.
Just like Rick's former gray winter coat Ada wore when she was one, this yellow banana suit has chew marks on the cuff from Rick's sleeve biting days. It adds a nice personal touch.
Moral of the story: Some things are "oldie but goodie" and can be reused by future generations. Durable children's clothing tends to be outgrown quickly and can work well as an heirloom, as long as the recipient isn't a style maven.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Get out of Jail Free

How can I reprimand this face?

So what if he did spit up on my jeans that I only wore for three hours. So what if it takes me an hour to wash them in our all-in-one washing machine and then a day to line dry them. So what if they are my only cute jeans that fit. And so what if my arm smells like spit up. I couldn't blame him for that-- at least not for long. He's too cute.

How could I hold a grudge against this guy for waking me up in the middle of the night because he had gas? And how could I be mad when he cried because his teeth were bothering him? With a smile like that, he had the key to my heart and a permanent "get out of jail free" card.

Moral of the story: Kids are cute so that we forgive them easily. It is a survival skill.

Traveling with Kids

This Thanksgiving, we arranged our entire travel schedule with our kids in mind. It was worth it to take an extra day off work so we could leave a day before the holiday city traffic rush. Not only did we avoid traffic delays, we also got to spend three nights at Grandmas house so Iain could get more settled in each night. We left after eight at night so both kids slept in the car making the ride and the transition into Grandma's beds much more enjoyable for everyone.

This will be our travel strategy going forward. I think it may even help Ada since she tends to get motion sick fairly easily.

Ada, Cousin Anna & Iain

Moral of the story: Travel will likely disrupt your family rhythm. Try to cater to your childrens' needs and place high importance on consistent naps while maintaining your bedtime routine.

Birthday Party Planning

Ada turns three in a few weeks and I've been struggling to find the right balance of birthday party fun, cost, and number of invitees. After asking for suggestions from friends and family, they all encouraged us to keep it short, and simple. I finally gave in to a mom friend's suggestion of just inviting our little playgroup over for a craft, an activity, food, and fun. Five of her little friends and thier moms in my house is managable, with a little wine of course. Financially, feeding them all homemade pita pizzas, healthy juice boxes and some sort of cake I whip up is affordable and aligns well with the whole health food kick I'm on. Part of the party activity can be adding their own toppings to the pizzas, and surely I can come up with some sort of little craft. Instead of having party favors to give out, they can take their craft home--and maybe even give it to someone as a holiday gift. And instead of inundating us with more gifts at a time when Ada is likely to have three birthday parties and four Christmases in one month, I've kindly requested no gifts. Starting at three thirty in the afternoon should give all of the attendees time to take their afternoon naps. And two hours later,  they should be fed and ready to go home for their bedtime routine. We won't have time to get too crazy, and that is exactly the point.

The best part? I don't really have to stress about any of it. We have Saturday to clean and cook. Everyone RSVPed last night over dinner at Mom's Night Out. I don't feel like I am leaving anyone out by doing something small with this group. And I don't feel like any of our friends or family are sitting at home saying, "Darn, I was really looking forward to going to Ada's birthday party this year." If they are, we'll let them take her for a personal party of their choosing--preferrably at a time when Rick and I can have it double as a date night (even better if Iain can attend Ada's party).

Moral of the story: Birthday parties can get out of hand quickly. Keep it simple, and focus on what's important, the cake. 

Translation Please

Ada has been slow to talk for her age. We haven't been concerned with her development necessarily, but we have been keeping a close eye on her progress and watching for signs that she was struggling or falling too far behind. In the past, we assumed that, since Ada was so big for her age, she was putting all of her efforts into growing instead of her speech and language. More recently, I was encouraged by a few friends to have her evaluated by a speech therapist to see just how delayed she was and if she would benefit from some speech therapy. I haven't figured out how the program in the city works quite yet, but we got a referral from her doctor and got the process started. Last week, she met with an Audiologist to have her hearing tested and passed with flying colors. Next week she meets with a Speech Therapist and a Behaviorist to see if she is more than 30% delayed for her age. If she is, she would qualify for an Early Intervention program here in the city but... it's only available until age three and her birthday is the following Sunday. So, that means they evaluate her and then she would qualify to go into preschool at Chicago Public Schools as a three-year old.

Obviously I still have a lot to learn about how all of this is going to work, but it should be enlightening. Whether she has a qualifying delay or not, I was told speaking is one of the easiest things to fix versus issues with cognition. If nothing else, I hope the evaluators can give me some tips and tricks on how to get Ada to communicate better with us. She has been so frustrated lately and has resorted to pulling us over to things she wants and pointing, whining, and crying despite our best efforts to encourage her to "use your words". She has a ton of words, she just isn't stringing them together very often. And it is even more obvious when we are around her friends and they are talking in pargraphs. We'll get there. We just might need a little help figuring out how.

Moral of the story: Invest in the time it takes to teach your child to communicate, and stay on top of their development. If you are concerned in the slightest bit, have them evaluated early. It will save you both a lot of frustration in the long run.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Walking Along

We walked Ada home from day care the other day and I thought I'd be silly and walk on a board next to the sidewalk like it was a balance beam. Ada hadn't quite figured out how to walk the balance beam yet so I figured it was a good time to teach her. While I was up walking on the beam, Ada turned her head to watch me and walked straight into a very large tree. She fell and got right back up like nothing happened, intent on trying her luck on this new found beam. Her first few steps looked great, and then she started to tip toward the sidewalk. We thought she was going to rebalance herself but she caught us both off guard by failing to counteract her lean and falling over. Just like that she was on the ground wondering what happened. It was a foreign concept for her to have been attacked by the evil forces of gravity. Now it made more sense to me why she was always falling over. Luckily, she got back up and gladly took my hand to assist her future attempts down the beam.

Moral of the story: Be careful what behaviors you model for your children and know that gravity is always out to get you.

Shedding Like Crazy

I alone could supply twenty birds with enough hair balls to make expansive mcmansion nests. I mean serious nests with a separate wing for each egg. Post-pregnancy, something in my body changed and caused me to shed hair like crazy. Each time I wash my hair I create a hairball of enormous proportions, enough to clog many a drain. It might not be as noticeable or annoying for the average head of hair, but I have enough hair for four people which makes this a serious ordeal. It is kind of like having a golden retriever to clean up after without the benefit of his unconditional love. It wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't constantly picking hairballs up off the floor and stray hairs off my shirt. And if the hairs that fell down my shirt didn't tickle me. I'm trying to manage my mane by wearing constant ponytails, but if I forget my ponytail holder at home, I'm leaving a trail of hair wherever I roam.

Moral of the story: Consider sporting a hairdo that helps manage the shedding stage post-pregnancy so that you can focus on your newborn instead of constantly sweeping up hair.

Ada's Sleep Marathon

I never knew it was possible to sleep sixteen hours straight until Ada proved it could happen. I put her down for her afternoon nap on Friday and she didn't wake up until Rick went in the next morning to make sure she was alive. We checked on her several times to make sure she was breathing, and she was. Somehow she got into Doc's time machine and fast forwarded to being a teenager . I blamed it on her being sick and needing the rest to combat her cold. Whatever the reason, it was pretty amazing.

Moral of the story: Kids need their sleep. Do your best to provide an environment that fosters healthy sleep habits. And try not to ever wake a sleeping toddler.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Neighborly Play Dates

We have the best neighbors in Chicago. We often joke that we live in a real version of the show Melrose Place because we hang out together and keep an eye on one another. Last week, our neighbor Kelly stopped by to tell us about her trip to Baltimore to see a friend. It was right around lunch time when she appeared at our door. While she was here, we decided to invite our other neighbor Krissie over so we could all catch up at once. As the three of us were chatting in the kitchen, I rocked Iain to sleep while Ada danced on the floor in a pink sparklie hand-me-down dress that Kelly helped her put on. What started out as a little get together between a few neighbors, quickly became lunch while standing around to catch up. It was so nice to have good neighbors that we trusted who were willing to spend time with us and entertain our kids. Ada got credit for entertaining us all by sticking quarters to the bottoms of her feet and dancing around the kitchen as if they were tap shoes. She was beyond adorable.

The best part about these neighbors was how they understood kids. At Kelly's for lunch the next day, Ada threw up right on Kelly's dining room table. It wasn't what I hoped for, but Kelly and Krissie just rolled with it as they helped me clean everything up. Then Ada's diaper leaked and that didn't phase them at all either. They were living vicariously through me and learning from my experiences.

Later that week we had another impromptu playdate when Ada threw up on the couch and it was time for Iain's nap. I didn't have enough hands to bathe Ada, clean the couch, and rock Iain to sleep so I called in reinforcements in the form of our upstairs neighbor Krissie. She held Iain while I scrubbed Ada clean, and helped Ada get dressed while I put Iain down for his nap. Without her, I'm not sure how I would have managed.

Moral of the story: Get to know your neighbors who love kids. You never know when you'll need an extra pair of helping hands or a shoulder to cry on.

Doctor Drama

We have had the same doctoress for Ada and Iain their whole lives. I started out with a different doctoress who left the practice four years ago and our current doctoress took over from there. I never had more than one doctor growing up in a small town so it was a bit of a shock to learn that I needed a different doctoress to deliver my children. And when the hospital asked who Ada's pediatrician would be I just defaulted to my doctoress. I didn't know anything different. 

With all of Ada's colds and episodes of throwing up, which we now believed was reflux, I started to question our doctoress' skills as a pediatrician. I asked several friends about their experiences with their pediatricians and found a few recommendations. I really wasn't happy with how our doctor's office handled things administratively either so I was excited to switch things up.

Several friends recommended the same pediatrics office near our house so I called to get us in. My first attempt failed as they were booked and only took new patients for wellness visits. I toughed it out with our regular doctoress another month and then called back to make wellness appointments for both kids. I scheduled Iain a month in advance and ordered a copy of his medical records a week later. Rick faxed the request from his office and learned two weeks later that the fax didn't ever go through. He called to expedite the process and offered to pick up the copied records or have them faxed, but was told nothing could be done since the office used an outside copying service on Tuesdays. They assured him that if the records were copied that Tuesday, they would be mailed and likely arrive in time for Iain's appointment that Thursday. As the eternal optimist that I am, I hoped the medical records would magically appear in time, but they didn't and I had to cancel Iain's appointment. The receptionist at the new pediatrician's office rescheduled me for the following Monday morning at nine. Hoping the records arrived in Saturday's mail, I kept the appointment only to have to cancel it at nine-fifteen on Monday, since they didn't open until nine and they made it clear they wouldn't see Iain without his medical records. And he was sick on top of everything else so it wouldn't really have been a wellness visit anyway.

Two-and-a-half weeks passed before the records arrived in our mailbox. It turned out that they weren't ever copied the first time and then when they were finally copied the next week, they were sent to Atlanta for processing and mailed to me in Chicago from Atlanta. Seriously? Seriously. Because that must have been the most effective and efficient way to get this done. Obviously. 

When I called with the medical records in hand to get Iain rescheduled, the office manager started to give me a hard time and I was almost in tears. After all I had been through to get the medical records, she wasn't going to give me an appointment since I cancelled the two that they did give me previously. After explaining the situation, she squeezed me in and emphasised the need for me to be there early. I thanked her profusely and quickly found a friend to watch Ada so Iain and I could go.

Then a few mom friends recommended I try to get Ada tested for early childhood development intervention since her language skills were a bit delayed compared to her friends. We have been concerned about her communication skills for two years now but everyone told us it was due to her being so big and her body was busy growing. All of a sudden, it was urgent I got her checked out since the assistance program through the Chicago Public Schools stops when she turns three--which was in one month.

In speaking with two other moms who had been through this process, they suggested I call our doctoress, she would give me a referral, Ada would get evaluated and start therapy if needed. Easy right? Never. I called our doctoress and she wanted to evaluate Ada in person instead of giving us a referral. Why? I didn't know. She wasn't a childhood development expert. She clearly had no idea how much effort went into me getting the kids down to her office.

First, I made the appointment for four in the afternoon to maximize Ada's nap. I put her down at one-thirty and had to wake her up at three-thirty to get to the appointment on time. Both kids screamed as I got them into the car and drove to the doctoress' office--one major reason I wanted to change physicians was the proximity of the new peditricians' office since being able to walk to the doctor is a big benefit when your toddler suffered from motion sickness. The kids cried on and off until we arrived. We got into the exam room and the doctoress examined Ada to make sure her cold was completely gone, said she thought Ada did need speech therapy (shock), and didn't seem to know who to refer us to. She also forgot that we needed to get a hearing test to go with the referral until I mentioned that my mom was worried about Ada's hearing. She also didn't mention anything about Ada getting a flu shot while we were there, but thankfully her nurse did.

We walked out of there with referrals for three different speech therapy evaluation services, including the one my friends suggested that I had to specifically request since it was for low income families typically and I'm apparently too affluent for my doctoress to think I'd want to utilize the free services available to my child. Her lack of knowledge on the subject erased any doubts I had previously about switching doctors.

She really got me when she said, "Well, you have insurance that will cover this."
I said, "Yeah. But next year we are switching to an HSA."
And she replied, "What's that?"
I expected that my doctor knew what a Health Savings Account was and how it worked. It was, after all, a key component of how she got paid.

Once we left the office, I went to pick up my husband and our friend Bob from work downtown for a game night at our house. Two blocks from home, Ada got car sick and started throwing up in the back seat. Rick tried to catch it and just ended up with puke on his hands. Iain was screaming and Bob asked if he should just go home since we had our hands full.

I pulled over to unload the kids from the car and told Rick to get Ada since he was already covered in vomit. Bob offered to park the car and met us inside. Rick went to shake the vomit from his hands before he got Ada from the car and ended up shaking off his wedding ring. I heard it ping against the ground as it rolled through the dark past my feet on the sidewalk. My heart sank. Luckily, Rick found it next to the back tire of the car when he walked around to get Ada.

Bob parked and we got the kids cleaned up and settled down when Rick noticed the diamond from his ring was missing. We tried to find it on the sidewalk near the loading zone with no luck. It was gone.

To add insult to injury, once I get Ada's hearing tested and speech screened, they will send the results to her current doctor and...I'll have to have those new medical records sent to her new pediatrician.

Moral of the story: As soon as you get pregnant, start searching for a qualified pediatrician. Location, proximity, doctor's qualifications, responsiveness of the practice, tendency to medicate liberally or conservatively, and size of the practice should all be considered. Save yourself future headaches by getting it right the first time. 

Friday, November 12, 2010


This wasn't our most creative year for Halloween, but we've been kind of busy, and neither of the kids really understand what the holiday is all about so we just let it sneak by virtually unnoticed. We did coax Ada into dressing up like a cat. Her costume next year will have to be awesome to make up for the lameness of this one. She's really good at growling though so maybe she was a black panther instead of just a cat.

And Iain got lucky with a costume from a friend who wasn't big enough for it quite yet. Turns out being a four-month-old boy who wears nine to twelve-month clothing was a benefit in this case.

Moral of the story: Sometimes you just have to wing it when it comes to Halloween costumes and a busy schedule. Hopefully you're kids won't hold it against you when they get older.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Diaper Drama

The other day, we went to Costco to stock up on diapers and baby wipes. A box of size three diapers for Iain, a box of size five diapers for Ada, and a box of baby wipes to share cost us $100. I'd love to say that we didn't have to buy diapers and wipes and were using all cloth diapers and washcloths as wipes, but I can't. Our various babysitters prefer disposables, as does Ada's daycare. And when anyone in the house is sick, or tired, or stressed out, disposable diapers get used because they are just easier. They are a major convenience and until cloth diapers become convenient or easier in some way, that's just how it is going to be.

Last night, I was feeling guilty about all of the disposable diapers we have used with Iain lately. I lost track of where his diaper covers were over the weekend. I wasn't sure if the dirty diapers needed to be washed or what their status was. And we hadn't used the cloth diapers in a few days. We were in the middle of sleep training him via the "Cry it out" method and just didn't have the dedication to deal with cloth diapers. So after the nanny went home, I put Iain in a cloth diaper. That would normally be just fine since it was five o'clock. But he fell asleep at six and only woke up at nine for a little snack. He woke up a few times at night briefly to cry for a bit of attention, but we ignored him like the "Cry it out" method calls for and he went back to sleep every time.

You can imagine my surprise when I woke up at six in the morning and found him wet from head to toe. It made me doubt the whole "Cry it out" strategy. Now I want to modify our strategy to include stealth nighttime visits to check on him to be sure he isn't wet and hasn't pulled a blanket up over his head. To make myself feel better, I decided he was only wet like that for a little while, maybe an hour.

We are getting more sleep, or at least we anticipate getting more sleep now that we know that he doesn't really need to eat in the middle of the night. And I won't be putting Iain in cloth diapers past four in the afternoon. At least not until he has a set bedtime and I can add a doubler to his diaper that will prevent the mess we woke up to this morning.

Moral of the story: Cloth diapers take some serious dedication, patience, and a lack of easy access to disposables. And, using the "Cry it out" method to teach your child how to self soothe can really work if you are committed to it, but it is not easy.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

To Grandmothers We Go

Leaving my four-month old at Grandma's house for a whole weekend was a bit stressful. He wasn't sleeping well for us (really just getting up every three hours during the night, but still) and was having trouble taking a bottle like we wanted him to (chewing on it more than drinking anything). Grandma Ba insisted she was up for the challenge so I let her have both kids. Whereas I was more worried about him not eating, I should have been more concerned about him keeping them up all night. And I should have remembered his Woombie swaddler. He ate wonderfully (maybe thanks to the new Breastflow bottle.) but woke up every twenty minutes at night from the reports we got. I'd love to say that Rick and I were able to get two good nights of sleep to catch up and reset our systems but that wasn't really the case. I still had to get up to go to the bathroom and I pumped at six in the morning. Rick tossed and turned and was up at seven. I didn't sleep soundly and endured bad dreams and a fear that someone was in our house. Then I woke up to the phone ringing at nine saying all was well at Grandma's and everyone survived the night, albeit will less sleep than hoped.

The second night at Grandma's house was more successful. Iain slept for a five hour stretch at night and in the car for Rick's leg of the ride home since he met Grandma and Grandpa halfway to make the kid and car swap. And Ada was the perfect angel of course. I'm just happy that Grandma Ba and Grandpa Rich were willing to take both kids, slather them with love, and donate a few good nights rest to do so.

Moral of the story: Passing off your child into someone else's care isn't easy. Doing it at the last minute makes it even more stressful so try to start off easy and build. And consider bringing items the baby is used to like a swaddler, blanket, and Pack 'n Play.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I didn't mean to dress them up and take photos. It just happened. I'm pretty glad it did because we had a fun little photo shoot. These will be great for blackmailing them someday...
 It's also proof that Ada does kind of, sort of like him, maybe just a little bit...
Moral of the story: Take the opportunity to dress your kids up when they are young since they probably won't let you get by with it when they are older.

Don't Pump and Dump?

Saturday night, we went to a friend's wedding and I had about three drinks. I've always been taught that, as a nursing mother, I had to "Pump and dump" meaning that I could drink as much alcohol as I wanted to but then I'd have to go home and pump all of the milk from my breasts, and dump it down the drain. So that's what I did at one in the morning. Then, on Sunday morning, I decided to research the rules to see if I needed to "Pump and dump" again, just to be safe. To my complete surprise I learned that I didn't even have to dump the TEN OUNCES that I pumped last night! According to several articles I read by reputable sources on the Internet (here, here, and here), it isn't necessary to dump breastmilk unless it is within two to three hours of having an alcoholic beverage when you will be feeding your child or you are still feeling the effects of the alcohol. The alcohol doesn't stay in your milk but instead, gets worked out of your system just like it gets processed out of your blood. Once you sober up, the milk is sober too and no longer a threat to your baby. You only need to pump and dump if you are engorged and need to expel the milk for relief before you have sobered up and your body has had time to process the alcohol from the milk. If only someone would have told me that in the wee hours of the morning. Better to be safe than sorry, and better to be educated about it than not.

Now when my mom asks me what I learned at school today, I'll have a great answer. What? I'm not in school and she doesn't do that anymore? Maybe I had more to drink than I thought... Oh well.

Moral of the story: If you have a few alcoholic drinks, make sure you wait two or three hours, or sober up, before you pump or feed the baby to be sure there isn't any alcohol leftover in your milk. No need to dump.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Date Night Fail

Clearly, Rick and I had been out of the dating scene for way too long. We had been married eight years and hadn't had that many dates since Ada burst into our lives and tethered us to the house. Since we were so inexperienced and rusty, it didn't really surprise me when our impromptu date night went down the crapper.

The day started out in the crapper too, literally. As I was washing out Ada and Iain's cloth diapers, I went to flush the toilet and noticed that the water was turned off. Weird. I didn't get an email that we were having work done on our building. It was a convenient time for me to find out that I couldn't wash my hands since I was elbow deep in baby poop toilet water. It turned out the construction workers installing new fire hydrants down the street had broken a pipe and turned off our water without notice. Yippee!

After attempting to scrub my arms down with the contents of a tiny bottle of water, I checked my phone just to learn that all of my neighbors had to go to work without showering, and that the babysitter I had booked for the wedding we were to attend the next night was sick and needed to cancel. The day just kept getting better.

Luckily Grandma Ba and Grandpa Rich came to the rescue and offered to take my kids for the duration of the weekend. I just had to frantically pack the car and drive them out to Sycamore and drive back in time to miss the brunt of traffic.

Unfortunately, while the ride out to Sycamore was smooth and relatively traffic free, the ride home took two hours and I even detoured to avoid the one hour travel time from O'hare to downtown which increased to an hour and forty minutes by the time I actually got to the city. At least I didn't have the kids in the car to scream at me the whole way.

Once I got downtown, I ran to Target to kill time while Rick was finishing up some work. I didn't kill enough time because he needed to wrap up a few more lose ends before our big date night could begin. I decided to go home for a much needed power nap. Too bad that nap rendered me more tired than when I got into bed since I never fell asleep.

When Rick finally arrived home, I was in my napping clothes looking as far from "hot date" as you can get. He brought soup from Soup Box for dinner, which I didn't really even like, but awe, he was so romantic to bring me dinner. And he was all ready to catch a movie. Now I know why they say "catch a movie". You have to get there at the beginning and catch it when it starts or your date night fails. And that's exactly what happened.

Since I was moving so slowly from my crappy nap coma, we missed the first movie time in our neighborhood and tried to "catch" the eight ten show on the south side. By the time we got there, parked and got into line for tickets, it was eight twenty-five and we were done. There wasn't anything else worth seeing so we just came home disappointed and frustrated that we couldn't even figure out how to go on a date anymore. So sad.

Moral of the story: Keep a list of fun things that you can do on a moment's notice when you suddenly find yourself without kids. And I don't mean grocery shopping or laundry.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


When you see an opening, you take it and run.

It was bookclub Wednesday and it only came around once a month. Dinner was fresh out of the oven. Ada and Rick had just arrived from her day at preschool. Iain was down for bed and I grabbed a bite to eat with Ada on my lap matching me bite for bite, both being bites of my dinner. In my rush to finish preparing dinner and getting Iain down to sleep, I completely forgot to get ready for bookclub before we shut Iain into our cave of a bedroom with all of my clothes and accessories. We put him down in our bedroom and then transfer him once we no longer want access to the rest of the house, making it problematic to go back into our bedroom to retrieve things once he is asleep. Since I was running late and had had a crazy day, I decided to just embrace my lack of preparedness. I could have put makeup on, changed into a nicer top, put on earrings, combed my hair and found shoes that matched my outfit. Instead, I made dinner while watching an episode of Parenthood, ate and left. So what if I wasn't wearing a bra to bookclub and smelled like burnt breadcrumbs from dinner. My bookclub friends didn't ban me from attending. We didn't have a "no matching shoes, no bra, no bookclub" policy (at that point anyway). It didn't matter. That was why, when I saw the opportunity to duck out of the house, poorly dressed as I was, I took it. Brown tennis shoes, white socks, jeans, no bra, grey shirt, army green jacket, and a swipe of mascara was the best I could do. I don't know if anyone even noticed since I was not considered a fashionista of the group by far.

Moral of the story: It is better to be out of the house looking less than perfect than stuck inside missing out on your life. There is always more you can do and sometimes, it is better to just let it wait until you get back or let someone else deal with it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

So Bleeping Lost

Yesterday I lost it. I was lost and I lost my temper at the same time which just wasn't the best combination. In an attempt to run errands and get groceries, I got turned around and the world seemed to be against me. My first and second errands went well, but coming out of the second errand, I didn't turn when I should have and was diverted three blocks by one-way streets. Then when I got to where I thought Costco was, I realized it wasn't there. That would have been okay if this wasn't a chronic problem of mine. For some reason, I can't for the life of me find Costco unless I look it up on a map right before I leave. I'm pretty sure I've called Rick about five times from where I think Costco should be, cursing into the phone as he tries to talk me down from my ledge and direct me to where the real Costco is located. To make matters worse, it was a Saturday afternoon in the City which is a notoriously bad time to be driving around. Even worse than that, the place where I think Costco is, just so happens to be the worst set of intersections on the north side of the City, in my opinion. (Ashland, Fullerton, and Clybourn for you locals). It is a six-way intersection near the river, and all three are pretty major thoroughfares that are incredibly busy on weekends. After I turned the wrong way, went over the river, came back over the river, sat through three lights to turn left, sat through another light to turn left again, and went back over to the wrong side of the river, I finally called Rick and said, "Don't laugh. I know I do this every time but I'm so mad right now I could cry. Where is Costco?" (Note that I have edited out all of the curse words. You can use your imagination to add back about twenty uses of the f-word for fun.)

In his most calm, I-really-don't-understand-why-you-can't-figure-this-out voice he replied, "Damen, Division, and Clybourn."

To which I replied, "Oh, I'm at Damen so I'm close."

"Yeah, go right and then right again at Clybourn."

"What? I have to turn right? (Insert another long rant of expletives here.) I'm in the left-hand turn lane." At this point I was again stuck turning left at another six-way intersection. I sat through two lights before I got my turn. Rick mentioned that Iain was just waking up and I gave up my search for Costco and headed home. But not before I missed a turn that could have avoided me trying to and quickly giving up on, turning left at a wonky intersection at Ashland and Elston (another angled street). I ended up turning left on a dead end street near some warehouses, turned around and then headed north again on Ashland. A few blocks later I decided to make a quick stop at Jewel for groceries since it was on the way and I wasn't about to wage war with traffic and my poor sense of direction again just for some groceries.

To add insult to injury, my situation didn't improve once I got into the store. While perusing the aisles of Jewel, I asked a stock boy where I could find the frozen berries. "Aisle ten past the (garbled word)." I went down the aisle twice and finally asked another stock boy where they were and he said, "Under the sign that says, 'Toppings'". A whole aisle of food and one freezer door worth of frozen fruit. Not to mention that it was the ice cream aisle and I was in more of a mood to buy a case of Ben & Jerry's than frozen berries.

Moral of the story: Don't ask me for directions on how to get to Costco. Avoid the six-way intersections in Chicago on the weekends. And make sure to have curse-filled meltdowns when your children aren't in the car to witness them.

Iain Got a Nanny

We finally broke down and put up an advertisement for a part-time babysitter or nanny for Iain. For the first three months he was easy to manage since he napped so much, but trying to get work done this past month has not been easy. We only got one response, but we liked her. Her daughter, who is about my age, came with her to translate since English is her second language and Spanish is her first. She has four grown children and was a nanny for four other kids, practically raising two of them so she is clearly qualified. I think she's the Mexican version of Grandma Ba in that she loves babies and has that motherly glow about her. You can just see it. I think some of that is cultural too. Ada was instantly in love with her and her daughter.

Neither Rick nor I speak Spanish but I've always wanted to learn and have picked up enough along the way to at least communicate on a very basic level. The fact that we had foreign exchange students growing up and that I've spent time in two Spanish-speaking countries makes me more confident. That, and my pocket Spanish dictionary, and my seven years studying French which is structurally similar as I understand it. And I have her daughter and son's cell phone numbers and email in case we need to communicate anything difficult or critical. That still doesn't make it any less stressful to have someone new come in and watch your child. Rick hasn't even had him alone for an entire day yet. I plan to start out slowly and work from home the first day, and then go into the office for part of the second day. Rick hasn't had much luck giving Iain a bottle so who knows what we'll get.

I just know I'm relieved to have a plan and I don't feel so overwhelmed by doing it all myself. I just hope Iain goes along with the plan.

Moral of the story: Parenthood involves constant change. Try your best to adjust easily and know that it is okay to be emotional, but try to keep it in check.

Ada the Explorer

Ada is addicted to Dora the Explorer. What started out as an attempt to get her to talk a bit more and learn some new words, has turned into a nightly demand for more Dora. While I find it to be extremely annoying and hate getting the catchy songs stuck in my head, she thinks it is the best thing on Earth. Either way, she is learning new words and it entertains her while we have to put Iain to bed so Dora has been a big help.

And speaking of explorers, there is a new place in Chicago that just opened up called Explore and Much More where Ada's friend Clara just had her birthday party. It is a two-story space with an indoor playground, climbing wall, party room, inflatable bouncy room, and this air tubing thing that you put colored fabric and yarn balls into and it spits them out the other end for hours of entertainment.

Here is Ada pushing a ball into the machine. A blast of air escapes when she puts the ball in, and the ball is quickly sucked through the twisted tubing and shot back out into the room.
The whole place feels like a miniature version of something out of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, minus the annoying kids and safety threats. The kids were entertained for two hours and could easily have stayed much longer.

Moral of the story: Kids love to explore and learn new things. Exposing them to a variety of places and things, and maybe a little bit of television, can burn their energy and expand their minds.

Don't Bite My Butt

A few days ago, Ada showed signs of teething. She has twenty teeth, which is a full set, but her back molars must have been bugging her. She was running around chewing on everything in sight. The edge of our square ceramic dinner bowls and the dishwasher racks offered some relief, to my surprise. She was like a new puppy without a chew toy and I was a broken record stuck on the same phrase all morning, "Not in your mouth, Ada." I finally realized that she needed something designed to relieve her teething urge to chew things when I was doing dishes at the sink and turned around to find her teeth clenched around the metal button on the back pocket of my jeans. It was a scene straight out of Madagascar where Alex the lion bites into Marty the zebra's backside after missing a few meals and Marty turns around while Alex's mouth is still on his butt and says, "Alex, you're biting my butt." I was a bit more annoyed when I said, "Ada, stop biting my button."

Luckily, our friend Rosalyn had just given us a pacifier holder for Iain that she made and I had recently scored a free teething pacifier with a flat plastic piece on it instead of a nipple. I put the two pieces together, attached it to Ada's pajamas and her "bite everything in sight" phase quickly passed.

Moral of the story: Once your child has teeth, store the teething toys instead of passing them on. There might be a time for them to resurface.

Rock around the Clock

There was a song I listened to as a kid with my dad by Bill Haley & His Comets back in 1955:

One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock rock
Five, six, seven o'clock, eight o'clock rock
Nine, ten, eleven o'clock, twelve o'clock rock
We're gonna rock around the clock tonight

It had a fun beat and played on the oldies station when we were in the car. Unfortunately, the last few weeks have made this song more of a description of my parenting duties than a fun song. I blame Ada for bringing home yet another cold and giving it to Iain. With the cold, Iain decided he didn't want to sleep for six, seven or eight hours at a time anymore but instead, he got me out of bed every two or three hours. After two weeks of that pattern, Rick and I had both had enough and pulled out the baby sleep training book. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child is the one someone gave us by Marc Weissbluth. I wrote previously about how I hated the book because it went into detail about the importance of sleep and naps and so many other things I just didn't care about when I was a sleep-deprived zombie trying to get my child to shut up and sleep. Knowing how frustrated I was last time, I decided to skim the book and only read sections that jumped out at me as being relevant. Thankfully, Rick started doing the same. It was not pretty.

I can't remember how long it has been, but I'm guessing we haven't had much sleep for the past three or four weeks now. Last week was much better since we figured out, from reading the book, that Iain should be ready for a nap within two hours of waking up and that he should have three naps a day at this point, but not necessarily on a schedule quite yet. I started paying more attention to when he woke up and staying in instead of having him nap in the stroller at the park while Ada played. Rick started getting up with him at night and rocking him back to sleep, wrestling for an hour sometimes, without me appearing for a feeding until eight hours had passed since he went to sleep. It wasn't easy, but it worked so far. Last night, instead of putting him down at six and getting up at nine, midnight, three, and six again, he went down around seven, I fed him at two thirty, and he woke up at six thirty. We are off to a good start.

I'm no expert, and I refrained from going apeshit on Iain's pediatrician when she suggested some kids "Just don't sleep as much. All kids are different." (My kids will sleep. End of discussion.), but I think the key to a well-rested family is catching sleep issues early and training your child to sleep well. I'm not sure if we did something right with Ada or if she just likes to sleep, but she is the best little sleeper I've ever heard of. She goes to bed just before eight and gets up between six and nine in the morning. Some days she gets fourteen hours of sleep and she still naps between one and three hours a day, unless she's at daycare and then her nap is less than an hour. Training her wasn't easy and came with long, sleepless nights and tears, mainly hers, but it worked.

Moral of the story: Educate yourself on the various sleep theories out there and see what works for your family. It isn't easy, but if you are persistent, lucky and successful, the payoff can be rewarding --assuming you like a good nights' rest.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Pee Pee in the Potty

Finally! Ada had an actual pee pee in the potty! First, she peed in the bathtub. Then, I found a wet spot on the bathroom rug where she was drying off. And finally, when I asked her if she wanted to go pee pee in the potty she said yes. So, with Iain on my lap and Ada on her little potty, we heard our first real tinkle noises as she filled the potty. I quickly gave her a high-five, started squealing with joy and beaming with pride, all while I clapped loudly to make a big deal of her success.

Iain, hater of loud noises, quickly broke up the celebration with his fearful screams of terror. He was not a fan of the potty celebration at all.

For the first half-an-hour I was excited to start potty training and got Ada's big girl pants out. She ran around naked for about an hour before she had an accident on the bedroom floor while Iain fought taking a nap. At that point, I counted to ten in my head and gave up. I couldn't do the whole potty training thing and infant fighting naps thing alone.

Unfortunately, Ada hasn't used the potty again since then...and it has been two weeks. Maybe this weekend...or next...

Moral of the story: Potty training is a waiting game. You have to wait until both of you are ready.

The Compact Trumped by Convenience

Ten months into The Compact I finally broke down. I bought the latest book for my book club since I only had a week left to read it and it wasn't at the local used book store. I was overwhelmed with things to do, and tried to keep the spirit of The Compact alive, but convenience won out. I just didn't have time to shop around online for a used version of the book. I did put two copies of it on request at the library, but the wait list was such that I wouldn't have had it before book club. Even if I did find a used version online to buy, I would have had to consider all of the resources that went into shipping it to me when I had a Borders book store three blocks from my house.

Even worse, I didn't even use a coupon.

Moral of the story: As a parent, time quickly becomes your most valuable resource.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Couch Vs. Bed

Amanda: Iain, your nap wasn't very long. We should go take a nap together since you got me up too much last night, and way too early this morning. Where should we take a nap? Mommy and Daddy's big bed, or the couch?

Iain: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (He fell asleep while nursing.)

Amanda: Well, you threw up on the bed this morning and I haven't had a chance to change the sheets. Plus, your sister left crumbs on the bed from her muffin, and the clothes we were wearing when you threw up on me are in the laundry machine in the closet so, it's kind of loud in my room right now. Probably not the best option.

Iain: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Amanda: But the couch isn't much better since the cover is still off the main cushion from when your sister's diaper leaked last night and your dad had to wash it. And all of the blankets are on your Pack 'n Play to insulate you from the cold weather. And there are three extra pillows on the couch that your dad was using in place of the chaise cushion. We'd have to move those and grab a few blankets.

Iain: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Amanda: The couch it is. Let me just set you down while I move a few things and get comfortable.

Iain: Ah. Ahhhhhhhh. Ahhh-ha. (Translation: I'm up and my diaper is dirty Mom!)

Amanda: Well then, let's change your diaper and get you into an outfit that fits a little better. You've already outgrown this one.

Iain: Ah. Ahhhh. Ah. Ahhhh. (Translation: I'm up. Let's play Mommy!)

Amanda: Seriously? I thought you were still tired? Apparently I thought wrong.

Moral of the story: No matter how many times you beg your baby for a longer nap or a few more hours of sleep at night, they won't understand you. Accept the things you cannot change, and ask someone to watch the baby so you can get some sleep.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Two to the Tenth Power

I finally accepted the fact that I'm going to have to hire more help to handle having two kids. With Ada, we passed her off to a friend here or there and it wasn't that big of a deal. Most people could handle one kid. Even if they had a child of their own, they could still handle two kids fairly easily. Now with Ada and Iain, it doesn't work that way. I can't easily ask my friends with two kids to watch my two kids. It just isn't that easy when one of them is an infant. Once their kids and my kids are all a little older, then it will just be a wild toddler playdate. Until then, it is a struggle to decide which screaming child you tend to first if you are watching two infants. Yours? Or theirs? If you settle your own child first, then you might be seen as favoring him and neglecting the other child. If you pick their child first, you then neglect your own and it might take longer to troubleshoot their child's needs when you likely already know what your child wants and how to deal with him more quickly so you can then completely focus on their child. Either way, someone gets neglected, even if just for a little while. Unless you are a super-duper baby whisperer, which I am not.

Since having Iain, I keep hearing, and repeating, "I expected the second child to be twice as hard, but having two is exponentially more difficult." We have accepted that as truth and understand that we have very little alone time these days. Right now, for instance, both kids are napping, I'm writing and my husband is supposed to be studying for his Architecture exams. I can only hope that he'll get to study for half-an-hour before Ada wakes up, and then Iain will follow her shortly after that. Either way, I'm thankful that our children occasionally nap at the same time to give us much needed breaks.

Moral of the story: Having a second child is like going from juggling two eggs in the air to juggling three. It changes everything; timing, concentration, planning, strategy, and technique. Just try not to let any of them hit the floor and hope that you don't have to eat or go to the bathroom.

Why Our House is a Mess

Rick: "My plate with the pear core on it is still over here on the desk."

Amanda: "What? Why?"

Rick: "Iain and I are moving to the living room. One hand for the baby, and one hand for my beer. That's all I've got," he says while grinning ear to ear and holding his beer high.

Amanda: "Nice. You're such a #%$*head," I mutter as I dump the core into the garbage and put the plate by the dishwasher.

Note: Swearing is excusable when Ada is asleep, as she was during this exchange.

Moral of the story: Husbands can often be counted as a third child. They are helpful when they want to be, but often leave more messes to be cleaned up.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Hall Passes

Three years ago I had a life.

Then we had Ada and things changed. We got new friends and saw our old friends a bit less often. We didn't go out much and the idea of taking a vacation was shelved. We gained family obligations, playdates, and babysitting swaps. WE did more laundry and tripped over more toys. We took on the role of parents and all of the responsibilities that went with it.

After awhile, we started to get a routine and accepted our new life. I got a new job with more flexible, part-time hours. We swapped cars with Rick's parents to make more room for Ada and her stuff. We reorganized our house so that we would all fit. It wasn't easy, but we did it.

Just when things felt balanced and I almost had my sanity back, we had Iain. I was totally disillusioned in thinking that life wasn't going to change much. I just assumed two kids was like having a second cookie for dessert. I completely overlooked the fact that he would need my undivided attention for a few months and that Ada would still need just as much attention as she did before he arrived. I forgot how demanding it was to be a nursing mom and how difficult it was to pass Ada off to someone else so I could go attempt to have a life of my own. And I must have suppressed all memories regarding the drama we dealt with in finding her caregivers for the first two years of her life.  I also conveniently forgot how my world was completely different after having Ada and how that no longer aligned with my job when I tried to go back after having her. In hindsight, when we had Ada, everything changed.

The reality of having Iain has finally set in. I'm on lockdown and have been for three months now. I joked with other moms this week about how I have to ask for a hall pass to leave the house. They all could relate. As a nursing mother, I spend more time with Iain. I know his cries and what soothes him. Since he is our second child, Rick is in charge of Ada and gets less time to bond with Iain, making him less likely to know how to handle the baby when I'm not around. That, in turn, makes me less likely to want to leave Iain with Rick since I'm not confident that they won't end up screaming at each other for the duration of my absence. And if I can't leave him with Rick, then who can I leave him with? His father should be the most capable one to know what he needs and how to take care of him. It is really tough to come home to a report on the events of the evening that hasn't gone well. And I'm the first to admit that feeding, changing, entertaining,and putting two kids to bed at night is not easy. I'm also quick to praise my husband as being an awesome dad so I'm totally shocked and amazed that this tiny little baby is winning match after match, so much so that I don't want to leave the house in fear of coming back to yet another bad report of an evening gone to hell. My solution has been to just stay home, or to take Iain with me wherever I go. That just isn't sustainable if I want to maintain some semblance of sanity.

At this point, I need to get out of the house. I need some "me time" to relax, refresh, reset my system and rebalance my life. A mother's mood sets the tone for the whole household and the tone around here hasn't been all that great lately. My latest challenge has been a test of faith. I need to have faith in my husband that he can handle two kids on his own now. I need to have faith that my friends aren't lying when they suggest that it gets better as the baby gets older. I need to have faith that there will be a calm after the storm when I can regroup and rebalance. And I need to have faith that this too shall pass.

Moral of the story: Each child you have changes everything. Don't be too proud to continually ask for help.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Pop Quiz

Who's who?

"Does Iain look like Ada did when she was a baby?"

It's a popular question that I find completely irrelevant, but I humor it anyway. Maybe people are just really fascinated with genetics or something.

So today you can play "Who's who?" Which one is Ada, and which one is Iain? If you are right, you get a cookie. Oops. Wait. I already ate all of the cookies. Sorry about that.

No cheating. Here are the answers: Ada is the first, third and fifth image. Iain is sandwiched in between. Now was that really as fun as people seem to think it is or are they just that short on conversation. This topic ranks right next to "Who does he look more like? You or your husband?" I do get funny looks when I answer, "My brother-in-law." But it's the truth. You be the judge.

Moral of the story: Babies look like babies.

The Cove Movie

Someone once recommended we watch The Cove, an Oscar winning documentary about the mass killing of dolphins in a hidden cove in Japan and the capture and sale of dolphins to animal trainers for captivity. Last week, I finally watched it and was shocked.

The film produced a mixture of emotions. I was proud of the people who made the film for doing something about this awful practice. They risked being imprisoned to stand up for what was right, and they caught it on film to share with the world. Pretty gutsy.

It also made me sad to think we have a membership to the Shedd Aquarium where they have dolphins in captivity. I wonder how their dolphins were acquired and I struggled with the price the animals pay to provide entertainment for us. I was amazed by the size of their tank at our last visit, but when the movie explained how far they can travel in a typical day, I was disturbed.

While watching the last half hour of the film, Ada awoke from her nap and sat on my lap. She loves movies, and apparently she loves dolphins too. Each time a dolphin came on the screen she yelled "Dolphin!" and got all excited. I had to take her to another room while I watched the end of the film since the footage they show is graphic and not something a two-year old should witness.

On a side note (as if these emotions weren't enough to get me to remember the film) as the credits played, I noticed none other than "Iain Kerr" roll by on the screen. What are the chances that someone has the same name as my son (after we tried to make it so unique) and that I stuck around long enough to notice it on the credits? Granted, Kerr is Iain's middle name and not his last name, but there can't be that many Iain's in the world with the Scottish spelling to begin with.

So that brings me to my current debate on the morality of zoos and aquariums and places like Sea World where animals live in captivity. Visiting these establishments has always been entertaining and educational. Some of the animals have been rescued and frequently the exhibits talk about conservation and activism to save the very animals on display. Animals in captivity is a common theme in kids movies such as Happy Feet, Madagascar, and Finding Nemo. What is a parent to do? Do we keep visiting these establishments and supporting the captivity of animals that shouldn't be captive? Or do we explain to our children about captivity and the benefits and drawbacks? Is it okay for some animals to be in captivity? Only those that are unfit to return to the wild or endangered species or animals that can live well in captivity--whatever that means? I'm not sure where the cost of educating our children outweighs the cost to the animals that are captive. It isn't an easy debate for me to reconcile since my education on the subject is limited but I hope my heightened awareness of the issue will at least provide food for thought. There are plenty of institutions that don't use animals in captivity to educate their patrons so perhaps that is a place to start.

Moral of the story: Being a good parent means setting a good example and teaching your children right and wrong. Keep that in mind as you educate and entertain them. What's popular may not always be right.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Bullies in the Park

I've seen a few bratty kids in my time. Not many. I tend not to hang around people with bratty kids since they drive me nuts. I'm not someone who gets confrontational very easily... unless you hit on topics that I really feel passionately about. But if you mess with my kid, you mess with me.

Today, I took Ada and Iain to a neighborhood park and met up with another mom friend and her two daughters. We arrived to the playground first and I released Ada from the stroller to go play. She's not shy so she instantly went to find some new friends. I didn't even have Iain unhooked from the Ergo carrier when she was back at my side wearing her "They are being mean to me face." She looked scared and was crying, very atypical for Ada. Not knowing what was going on and wondering if another kid had hit her, I carried Iain over to the climbing equipment while holding Ada's had and saying, "It's alright. There's nothing to be afraid of." As it turns out, there was something for her to be afraid of. Three boys, probably about a year older than Ada, had taken ownership of the jungle gym and weren't letting her climb on it. I encouraged her to go up the steps and they told her she couldn't. That was their second mistake. I looked at them and explained how they weren't being nice, their behavior wasn't appropriate for the park, and that they needed to share the equipment with all of the kids. Two of the boys gave me dirty looks and said, "We don't have to listen to you!" And I gave them an even dirtier look and said, "Well if you don't want to listen to me, you can point me in the direction of your parent or caretaker and I'll take the issue up with them. But you will not bully my daughter." I got interesting looks from two nannies on the playground. They seemed to be looks of support but I wasn't quite sure since I didn't know who was in charge of the kids I was reprimanding. After the boys got mouthy with me, I steered Ada over to the other jungle gym and then convinced her to have a snack until our friends arrived. As I was telling the story to my friend, she mentioned that she had heard that same complaint about those boys from other moms and was wondering if she could find out who the parents were and if that would even help. There are plenty of other parks in the city, but we shouldn't be bullied out of one by a couple of four-year-olds. That just seems ridiculous.

Apparently, I made an impression on the boys since my friend caught them watching me from atop the climbing equipment. Even their best stink eye couldn't scare me. I learned dirty looks from the dirty look champion of the universe. My father is master of the dirty look and frequently used it to intimidate me, my friends, all of the kids at our school (he was superintendent of the school district), and especially my boyfriends. Who needs a shotgun when you have his arsenal of dirty looks? I'm not the master that he is, but I'd like to think I've been an understudy long enough to have a few dirty looks of my own. Those boys just better hope they don't cross me again anytime soon. And if they do, I have no problem standing up to their nannies or their parents if it comes to that. As a parent, they should be embarrassed by their kid's behavior. I know I would be.

Moral of the story: Part of parenting is setting a good example for your children. Be a good role model by standing up for what you believe in, even if it might not be the popular or easy way to go.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Friends Helping Friends Week

This was my week to add good karma to my karma bank. Tuesday at four in the morning my cell phone rang with friends calling to say the building across the street from their condo on the south side of the city was on fire and asking if they could come wait out the smoke at our house. Turns out their high rise hallways were filling with smoke and they didn't think that would be good for their one-week-old. Not knowing how long it would take for the smoke to clear, I encouraged them to bring their two cats with them too. Within an hour, I found our house filled with four adults, two cats, and three kids. Luckily, I shared some good karma points with my upstairs neighbor Kelly and invited myself over to her house to stay in her spare room with baby Iain so that Rick could take our couch and our friends could take our room. Rick had just changed the sheets on our bed that night but Iain apparently didn't think they were clean enough because he threw up all over them right after our friends called. His first real throw up of his life and it just so happened to be on newly washed sheets.

Luckily, the building that burned down was a vacate showroom so no one was injured. The smoke cleared by noon and our friends had their lives back to normal a few hours later. It was a nice little impromptu slumber party, but I will say it is pretty weird to have two cats sitting behind your toilet when you have to go to the bathroom and you aren't used to having them around.

And then today I volunteered to watch another set of friends' son and daughter while they had a meeting with their son's new preschool. Normally it wouldn't have been much of a challenge but... I had a three-year-old (Will), a six-month-old (Ella), and my Iain at two-and-a-half-months. One infant scares me. Two infants is intimidating, and terrifying.

Will was an angel. He played quietly and entertained himself really well. I wish I could say the same for the other two monsters. Ella was due for a nap, and Iain couldn't decide if he was hungry or tired or both. The first fifteen minutes were okay, but then things went downhill quickly. Ella wouldn't take a bottle and wanted to be held constantly. Iain took a bottle, but really wanted to nurse directly. They took turns crying for the next forty-five minutes. During that time I had to get lunch ready for Will and help him wash his hands and go to the bathroom. Not an easy task when you have two infants screaming for your attention. Fearing that the screaming would continue for the next two hours, I texted Will and Ella's mom asking for tips. At that point, I had Ella in one arm, Iain in the other arm, both of them screaming their lungs out, and I was trying, unsuccessfully, to bounce them both down the hall in a calming manner. To avoid going deaf from their screams, I decided to divide and conquer. I knew how to deal with Iain so I set Ella in his crib to calm herself down while I nursed him. I turned off the lights in Iain's room and turned on Ada's old mobile and a music do-dad we attached to the crib railing. As I nursed Iain in the rocking chair, Ella rolled to her belly and her screams turned to sobs. I managed to pop her pacifier into her mouth as her sobs started to slow and Iain continued to nurse. A few minutes passed before I was able to sneak out of the room with Ella asleep in his crib and Iain passed out in my arms. It was a miracle, or I just got really lucky. I quickly texted my friends to let them know that all was well in the world again and they didn't need to come back early from their meeting because I had things under control. Luckily, they didn't get the first text that would have potentially alarmed them to the chaos at my house, but they also didn't get the next seven texts explaining that all was, in fact, under control and well with the world since both babies slept for over an hour. So much for text messages being a reliable form of communication.

While we waited for the babies to wake up, Will and I spent the next hour playing with stickers and drawing pictures and having a great time enjoying the silence. It was bliss. And, surprisingly, when Ella and Iain woke up, they were both well rested and in much better moods so dealing with them was infinitely easier. It's amazing what a nap can do!

I only had the three kids for three hours, one hour of which two of them slept straight through, but it was a challenging afternoon. My heart goes out to parents of multiples and caregivers who watch multiple infants at once. It isn't a job I could do everyday but I'm happy to help a friend and add to my good karma bank for when I'm the friend in need.

I'm not sure if good karma points transfer to spouses, but Rick apparently just cashed in some of my good karma as he just walked down our back stairs to take down the laundry and found our red croquette ball that went missing this past weekend. A nice surprise!

Moral of the story: When multiple kids are screaming at you, divide and conquer. Keep in mind that their screams are, hopefully, only temporary. If they persist, seek additional assistance immediately to maintain your sanity.

Ada's New Shoes

Yesterday I noticed that Ada was outgrowing her size nine shoes. Yes. My two-and-three-quarters-year-old is already into a size ten shoe! No, that isn't typical. Contrary to popular belief, I am not feeding her protein shakes. She eats the same stuff as a "normal" kid. I may give her a few more cookies and chocolate chips than some moms, but that's only because I'm setting a good example of how to share. One for me, one for Ada. And I strongly believe that chocolate and chocolate chip cookies are the missing food group in the government's food pyramid. But I digress.

After noticing the proximity of her big toe to the tips of her current shoes, I contacted the grandmas to send them on a mission to acquire bigger, Velcro-closing shoes. Grandma Ba correctly reminded me that she had already purchased a new pair of sneakers for Ada in a size ten back when she couldn't find them in a size nine. I conducted a brief search of Ada's extensive shoe collection and quickly located them. A perfect fit. And they even matched her outfit. And they were made out of recycled materials. Sweet.

Today was the day for their trial run. I always worry that new shoes will trip Ada up and cause her all sorts of bumps and bruises. On the way to daycare I cautioned her to pick up her feet as she was shuffling a bit more than usual. Otherwise, she seemed to be doing fine. Fast forward to six in the evening when it was time to pick her up from daycare.

Me: Hey Ada!

Ada: Moooooooooommmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: What happened to your pants? Those aren't the ones you came to school in.

She was wearing the backup brown skirt we kept in her cubby in case of accidents. It was two sizes too big and three inches of her diaper was showing in back as it was falling off her butt. Apparently we never tried it on her before making it her backup outfit. Whoops.

Her daycare instructor: Yeah, well... I've been pulling up her skirt all day. We went to the park this morning and Ada had a bit of a blow out.

Me: Really? Oh, that's too bad.

Inside I'm laughing my butt off and thinking, "Thank God it wasn't on my watch! How embarrassing!"

Her daycare instructor: It wouldn't have been so bad, but she didn't seem to mind that she was covered in poo and kept playing instead of coming to tell us there was something wrong. So the slide got covered in poo and then the other kids in her class started coming up to us and complaining that they had poo on their pants from going down the slide after Ada.

At this point, I might just die of laughter. I'm trying not to be rude since this poor woman had to deal with my kid's poop all over the park and the other kids in her daycare class, but she's laughing at this point too.

Me: Oh no!

Her daycare instructor: We had to come back and scrub her down. She was a mess.

Me: Oh I can imagine. What a mess.

And then it dawned on me.

Me: So that's why she isn't wearing her brand new shoes anymore, huh.

Her daycare instructor: Yup.

Assuming they left for the park around ten, like they always do, and I put her shoes on just before nine this morning, Ada might have worn them for three hours at the most before annihilating them with poo. And while she was in the park, obliviously sliding down the slide with poop all over her, I was sending Grandma DD an email saying that Grandma Ba had previously given Ada size ten shoes and we were going to try them today but a backup pair would be a good idea eventually. No rush. Little did I know that the backup pair would be a necessity within hours of her putting the new pair on. At least Ada's daycare was resourceful enough to have backup clothes and shoes of all sizes available so they didn't have to call me or leave her to run barefoot for the rest of the day. I hope to be able to retrieve her "new" shoes from daycare tomorrow and put them through a sanitary cycle in the wash machine to salvage them.

Moral of the story: You can't control when your child will have an accident, but you can hope for it to happen on someone else's watch. And knowing that accidents happen, think twice before spending a fortune on kid's clothes and shoes, leave that for someone else too.