Monday, February 28, 2011

Weekend Air Travel

I was tired before I went to visit my sister-in-law, Heather, for the weekend but now, I'm exhausted. I got several funny looks this morning from neighboring passengers as I slogged through the airport with my sunglasses on. I even wore my sunglasses in the underground tunnels. Getting up at two in the morning to catch a flight after being up early and out late the night before does not agree with me. And the one hour time change completely kicked my butt. But I had fun, got a break from the kids, and got to visit Boston for the first time.

For those of you who may attempt to fly while nursing at some point in your life, take note.

The morning we left for the airport, I had to wake Iain up to eat and get into the car. In hindsight, I should have pumped while he slept and gotten a bottle ready to feed him on the way. Instead, I tried to encourage him to eat and when he didn't, I gave up and said, "I'll just nurse him before I go into the airport." That might have worked had we not been confused about Continental being bought by United, and what terminal I was supposed to be at, and the security folks moving the cars along in the departure drop-off area, and me just completely forgetting that I hadn't depleted the milk supply in my chest yet. Despite the recommendation of several friends to check my luggage, I followed my gut instinct and carried it on.
At bigger airports like O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, chances of being stopped and searched for your breastpump are more rare. They let me right through with not even a second glance. (The woman next to me bringing Greek yogurt with her wasn't so lucky.) I remembered to chug my bottle of water right before going through the TSA line, and then forgot to take off my shoes. Luckily, the guy in line behind me let them pass through the x-ray machine in the bin with his laptop. The whole process made me really nervous.

Being that I was boarding a small plane that didn't have much storage space and I really didn't want to lift anything overhead for fear of injuring the herniated discs in my neck, I checked my bag at the gate. Things went well on the flight until we had about twenty minutes to go. The captain turned on the "fasten seatbelts" sign as I realized I had to go to the bathroom thereby foiling my plan and forcing me to hold it. Then, about five minutes later, I also realized that my chest was starting to hurt from the buildup of un-pumped breastmilk. It dawned on me that my right breast had gone sixteen hours without being drained. Youch. Not good. Somehow, I survived the twenty minutes until we landed, and didn't bulldoze the twelve rows of passengers in front of me as they removed their bags from the overhead bins. As I stepped off the plane I was given two gifts from the gods; my bag was there waiting for me and the bathroom was right next to my gate.

Peeing was my first priority and was easy to take care of. Pumping was going to be another issue. The handicapped priority restroom was being cleaned and the main women's restroom didn't have an outlet within reach of the bathroom stalls. I had read a suggestion somewhere to bring along an extension cord but didn't pack one. And I wasn't sure how long it would be before I reached my next destination so I figured pumping now would be the best option. Not wanting to set up a public pumping session in the main women's restroom, I went out to ask the janitor if the airport had a nursing room or other space where I could pump. She suggested the handicapped priority restroom she had just finished cleaning and I set up shop.

I learned a few things while in that airport bathroom...
  • Don't set things in the automatic sinks as if they were a countertop. They will turn on whenever they want to and you're stuff will get wet. (In my case, it was my makeup in a Ziplock baggie so I was okay.)
  • Bring along a small hand towel or two. Not every bathroom will have paper towels and you'll need something to dry off yourself and your pump supplies after you rinse them.
  • If you are carrying on your luggage, use the handicap stalls whenever possible. The extra space is great for storing your bag.
  • If there is any chance that you might, maybe, possibly need to pump even the slightest bit before, after or during your flight, carry-on your pump. The stress of worrying if it will be lost in your luggage or stuck on the plan during a delay isn't worth the convenience of not having to carry it.
Twenty minutes later, I was feeling much better and on my way to meet Heather outside the security entrance for our weekend adventure to begin. Since Iain was eight-months old, I was able to get by with only pumping twice a day. I was disappointed with how little I actually extracted, but thankful that I didn't have to carry a lot of milk back with me.

On the way back home through the much smaller Bradley Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, they did a much more thorough search. As I loaded my luggage on the belt, I explained that I had a breastpump in my suitcase, and breast milk with frozen gel packs in the cooler. I was a bit surprised when they pulled me aside to search my entire suitcase, cooler and pump. The TSA employees were very professional and explained that they would be taking my cooler of milk away for a minute to test it but that the test would check the air around it, not the liquids inside. I was sure they would make me toss out the gel-filled ice packs but they said those were okay. I had extra Ziplock baggies and was ready to ask a vendor on the gate side of the security line to fill them with ice for the rest of my trip if that was needed. After a thorough search of my suitcase (during which I noticed the chocolates I had purchased for Rick and Ada had melted into a blob since I left the packed suitcase near the wood stove overnight) they removed the breastpump and took it away for testing as well. Then the TSA gentleman returned, repacked my luggage and set me on my way.

I'm pretty sure I have a bit of anxiety when it comes to dealing with authority because the entire process made me very nervous. When they were done, I wanted to sit down and cry. It wasn't that I felt violated or anything like that. The experience just made me very emotional. Blame hormones. Blame exhaustion. Maybe it is just the seriousness of flying these days and the fact that we need such a long list of rules to follow for the TSA. Anyway you slice it, it was stressful.

On the way home, I wasn't worried about needing my pump so I again checked my bag at the gate. I didn't realize that I'd then have to retrieve it from the baggage claim since this was a bigger plane and they only did gate pickup for United Express service. Either way, I was home. I took a train to a bus and then walked three blocks back into reality, complete with hugs from Ada and a napping Iain.

Moral of the story: Traveling while nursing isn't always easy, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Plan ahead, ask friends for suggestions and try not to stress out about it.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Now that I know how to cook, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to learn how to compost and get a compost bin started. I've been researching it for a few months and originally thought about getting a big rolling compost bin to set up behind our condo building. The biggest issue I had with that idea was the cost of the bin since they are a couple hundred dollars, and the fact that I'd need two of them. One to "cook" the compost, and one to add to while the other one "cooks". I still might eventually go that route if I find bins on an amazing sale but until that happens, I ordered worms.


Yes. Worms.  I ordered a cute terracotta colored worm factory that has five bins to hold worms and compost and compost tea--which is supposed to be a great fertilizer. And I ordered a set of starter worms--about a thousand. I'm not going to count them. Unfortunately, the worms were delayed since it has been too cold for them to survive the shipping and at twenty dollars a thousand, you don't really want these things to arrive dead or frostbitten.

While I was explaining my recent purchase to my neighbors at a blizzard party, our friend Kelly expressed her displeasure with the word "Compost Tea". In typical man behavior (always finding a solution), our neighbor Stephen suggest we call it "Composty" to make it sound "cute" and less disgusting. In a few months, we'll be able to have Compost Tea parties. It's going to be great.

Moral of the story: Composting can be cute, educational and fun.

Our Tiny Bathroom

My plans have all been foiled by this whole potty training experiment. I used to be able to hide in the bathroom at least for five or ten minutes with a book without anyone really noticing that I had disappeared. Not anymore. Now that Ada needs the potty urgently and her stepping stool blocks the door from shutting unless I take the extra effort to move it over, privacy and my bathroom sanity sessions are gone. All gone.

To make matters worse, the door doesn't lock. Even if she doesn't need to use the potty, Ada comes in to check on me every chance she gets. I know I'm cool and fun and "mommy" and all but there comes a point where I just want a few minutes of peace and quiet all to myself. Our bathroom was that place for me and now I too have to learn to share. Not cool.

And this potty training thing isn't helping in other ways. Our bathroom is already really small. By the time you have Iain's cloth diaper pail, Ada's potty step stool, Iain's diaper covers waiting to be washed, and all of the clothes soaking in the sink that Ada has soiled during various accidents throughout the day, we don't have much room to turn around. Ada had an accident in the kitchen and ended up getting poop on herself and on the leg of my pants somehow. We then dumped her in the shower to wash up. After she refused to stand up and let me rinse her off, I turned off the shower and threw a towel over her while she was still in the empty tub. I thought she would give up and want to get out of the tub, but after half an hour thinking she was with Rick on the couch, I realized she had fallen asleep in the tub under her towel. And, of course, while she was in there sleeping, I had to go to the bathroom. I tried to be quiet about it but she stirred and Rick moved her to her bed, but not until after taking a picture of her passed out in the tub. That's something I expect from a college kid after a good party, not a three-year-old after lunch.

Now I get it. I know why everyone wants a house with two bathrooms. And I get why they want a place with a bedroom for each kid too. It just makes life easier when everyone has their own space.

Moral of the story: "The more the merrier" applies to having bathrooms, too.

Potty Training Weekend

Last weekend, Rick declared an all out war on Ada's use of diapers. She's three-years-old and he thought she was ready to use the potty. I wasn't so sure about that but was willing to at least watch him wage war and offer ground support. To my complete surprise, she was ready, but I'm not sure I was.

Potty training can be a lot of work. We started on a weekend knowing that we would both be home and that we had completely cleared our schedules. We rolled up all the rugs, covered the couch and chairs with waterproof tablecloths and reusable hospital bedding pads, and found a potty dance video on the Internet. I spent much of Friday doing all of the laundry so we would have plenty of clothes and towels to clean up any messes made along the way. We had a bag of Pull-Ups in Ada's closet, several pair of underwear in her drawer, and enough elastic waist-banded pants to get us through a few days at least, or so I thought. I didn't really inventory our supplies since I wasn't confident that she was ready or that this was going to work. After all, the experts said she was supposed to tell us when she was going pee pee or poo poo in her diaper and she wasn't. She never told us when she was pooping or poopy, and a soiled diaper never bothered her. Diaper changes were still a big struggle in our house, as was the occasionally bout of constipation which is common among children.

Even though she wasn't showing the typical signs of being "ready", she was interested in watching us use the toilet and she would sit on her little potty and pretend to pee or poop. Occasionally she would have little successes but very rarely and never while pooping. At least she could say pee pee and poop so there was that.

Rick and I didn't really know how to train Ada to use the potty, but we'd heard a method that involved letting her run naked for a few days until she got the hang of it and started using the potty. So that's what we did. She ran naked for two days and understood the urge to pee very quickly. We had her use the big potty from the start since she didn't seem to like her little potty much. And it worked. She was ready, we just didn't know it. Each success brought cheers from Rick and I, and then the potty dance video. We really only had to spend the first morning encouraging her to use the potty and she was pretty well trained as far as peeing on the potty goes.

That first afternoon, I thought it would be good to introduce pants and underwear as a trial. Unfortunately, almost all of the underwear we had was too small. The few pairs we did try got wet pretty quickly. But only a little wet and then Ada realized what she had done and ran to the potty. Rick insisted on two days of naked to make this work so I acquiesced. She was making a lot of progress and at least understood the concept. We were elated... until it came time to poop anyway.

Pooping was a whole different story. Ada has been constipated in the past and doesn't really like to poop for fear that it will hurt. And when she does poop, she doesn't want to be changed since the wipes tend to hurt even though they are "sensitive". She fights diaper changes and doesn't deal well with pooping in general. Not the best scenario for anyone involved. Potty training didn't help matters. She dealt with pooping by just bearing down wherever she was and pooping. If we caught her, we'd swoop her up, run to the potty, hold her hand and encourage her to "put the poopies in the potty". When we didn't, she pooped in the hallway, the living room, and the bathtub. Thank goodness for the tablecloths covering the rug. Unfortunately we didn't notice one incident where she had pooped until it was too late for her furry pink rocking unicorn, which later got a series of serious scrubbings.

In two of my attempts to swoop her up and onto the potty, she fell in. I didn't make a big deal of it and quickly showered her off while mentally chanting "bad mommy" and holding back belly laughs as best I could.

I spent so much time figuring out if she was showing an interest in using the potty that I didn't check to make sure we had enough underwear for her. When Monday finally arrived, Rick got to go shopping for little girls' underwear on his lunch break since we didn't have enough in her current size. What a great dad. He came back with Dora the Explorer and Princess undies for her. She's a lucky girl.

After two days of nakedness, I didn't have a plan for how we were going to get her to wear clothes again. Whenever I tried pants and underwear, she would wet them. I added a PullUp over the underwear and that helped contain the accidents when we went out of the house. But we kept trying.

A week later we were still in training. Maybe there was some truth when people say their kids were potty trained in a day. That wasn't been the case for us. Eventually the training will officially be over. When? I don't know. We'll just have to be prepared to clean up the accidents along the way. We'll get there.

Moral of the story: Potty training is a lot more complicated than it might originally appear. Accept that there will be accidents, be patient and stay positive.

Flying Anxiety

I don't consider myself someone who is afraid to fly. Maybe a tiny bit, but not enough to worry about. I don't like to fly, but I'd much rather fly somewhere than drive. That all dates back to my frequent bouts with motion sickness as a kid. I used to throw up on every trip over forty minutes. Not fun. And on airplanes, I threw up on every landing until I was in high school. But this isn't about motion sickness.

My current flying anxiety is about traveling by myself with my pump and frozen breast milk and clothes for the weekend while following the three ounce rule and carrying on my luggage in case I get laid over and have to have access to my pump. Stack all that on top of my herniated cervical disks being on the verge of getting really, really aggravated if I make even the slightest move to set them off--such as lifting said luggage--and I'm a mess. Just researching suggestions for how to manage getting the pump and breast milk through the TSA screening process has me on the verge of tears.

I have to learn to accept that my days of being a pack mule are over. I'm no longer able to pick up anything more than about twenty pounds, and even that can be a stretch. Imagine how I feel with twenty and forty pound kids. There are still times when I have to risk it and pick them up to get them out of the tub, up to the sink, into the crib or into bed after they fell asleep in the car. Sanity ranks higher on my list than having a painful back episode. I don't think you can easily come back once you've gone crazy, whereas a back flare up can be short lived, or at least managed with rest and medication.

Ah. Deep breath.

I've flown before with a pump and milk. I just didn't have to worry about my back...and I borrowed a soft-sided cooler from my in-laws...and it was summer so I didn't have to lug winter gear with me...and I stayed with a friend with a freezer instead of a hotel where I have to either clear out the mini fridge or ask for them to store it in the hotel kitchen. But at least I've done it before. I can do it again. And it will be fun, right?

I don't understand why breast feeding has to make travel and life so difficult. And why someone hasn't already figured out all of this and gotten everyone else on board to make it easier? Motherhood is hard enough as it is. If breast feeding really is better for our children and the experts want more women to nurse their children, then we need to make the entire process more easy, acceptable, and supported as a society.

Moral of the story: Breast feeding is a huge sacrifice as a mother. To be successful, seek out other nursing mothers for support and advice on how to make it manageable.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three Carrot Noses

Ada's first snowman was quite a hit in the neighborhood. During the snowfall a few days after the blizzard, Rick took Ada out to run an errand and returned to say, "Quick! Grab the camera and a carrot." He tagged into the house while I tagged out since Iain was just waking up from his nap and hoping to be saved from his evil crib. Ada was all bundled up waiting in the vestibule for me to document her latest masterpiece. I quickly donned my coat and scarf, grabbed the camera and two carrots, and ran to see what they had made. I handed the carrots to Ada as I steeped outside and looked all around expecting to see some huge snowman under our front tree. Surprisingly, there was no snowman to be found. I asked Ada where it was and she pointed him out. He was tucked into a nook next to the front entry to our building. Standing half her height, her little snowman was in desperate need of some facial features. I went to get the carrot back from Ada, but she had already eaten it. And his back-up carrot was in her mouth. I buzzed the door for Rick to bring carrot reinforcements and he appeared with two almonds too. Ada had already picked out his stick arms so the hard work was done. I added the almonds and carrot to his head and she posed with her new snowman friend (alternate nose in hand).

Moral of the story: Keep extra carrots in the fridge during winter in case your child likes to eat snowman noses.

Snomagedden 2011

Earlier this month, on February 2nd, we were blasted by quite the winter storm. All told, we were just shy of two feet of snow in twenty-four hours. It was amazing. So amazing it's being called "Snomagedden" since the city went into emergency mode and virtually shut down. It was deserted and a bit creepy, but beautiful and serene all at once.

Being the snow-loving people that we are, we went to our neighbor's house for a blizzard party the night it started. We took the kids, cosied up to the fire with good food and drinks, and hunkered down with a great third-floor view of the world outside. We spent hours watching traffic fishtail down the main street near our house. We watched as emergency vehicles crawled past on their way to a rescue. We listened to thundersnow for the first time in our lives. And we cheered on dozens of people pushing stuck cars out of their snowy entrapments.

Ada loved being allowed to stay up late and celebrated the blizzard by running up and down the hallway around eleven at night. The neighbors in the unit below our friends didn't really appreciate her method of celebration and came up to complain that we were being too loud. I immediately blamed Ada, but they didn't really care that it was just a tiny little three-year-old having a little fun. She spent the last hour of the party tip-toeing back and forth down the hallway to compensate for her previous thunderous footsteps. It was adorable.

At midnight, we decided to call off the fun and get our kids home to their own beds. We bundled up to walk down three flights of back porch stairs, through snow drifts up to our knees, and up a flight of stairs to our home. Iain wasn't excited about having a blanket tossed over his head but it was that or cold, wet, whipping snow in his face. I thought the blanket was the better option by far. Our friends had to shovel the snow mounds from the stairs just so we could get home. Thankfully we lived that close.

After a warm evening all nestled snug in our beds, we awoke to a snow covered calm on the streets. The street in front of our house was completely impassable with four foot snow drifts stretching the entire block.  The sidewalk in front of our condo appeared as if it had been shoveled, but was really just blown clear by the intense winds. I went out to explore a bit before the kids woke up and enjoyed the peacefulness of it all. A quick check of the weather report explained that we still had another big wave of snow heading our way so it was best to stay home. Within just a few hours, we were blanketed with another five or six inches. At that point, I took Ada out just to see how she would react.

Eh, she's not such a big fan of snow whipping up into her face and she didn't really like walking through snow up to her knees. She wanted to hold my hand the whole time so she didn't slip and fall. When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was slip and fall into the snow. That's what made it fun.
Somehow, I coaxed her into the middle of the street to show the drifts. She wasn't very excited about that plan either and quickly insisted we go back inside. So much for our snowbunny adventure.

After seeing these drifts, it was clear to me that we would not be getting our car out of its parking space on the street for a few days.  It was in the back corner of a dead end side street that was surely on the bottom of the snowplower's list. With a thousand cars stuck on Lake Shore Drive overnight, the plows had other priorities and us going anywhere in our car wasn't one of them.

The brunt of the storm came between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Rick had to get the car out for a Friday morning meeting in the suburbs so he dug it out Thursday night and deemed the street passable. Unfortunately, the maintenance crew for the parking lot at the end of the dead end street we were parked on decided to shovel their snow onto our car sometime during the night. Rick again had to shovel out the car at six in the morning while dressed for a client meeting. And his fun didn't stop there. Once home Friday night, he had to shovel a new spot for the car to be parked in since there weren't any shoveled spots on the street and most cars had yet to be moved. After forty-five minutes of shoveling, he finally had a parking spot fit for a king. It was beautiful. That's what happens when you have a perfectionist digging out the spot. You can imagine, after shoveling parking spaces three times in twenty-four hours, Rick wasn't about to move that car for anything. And he surely wasn't going to let me move it the next day (I took a cab). From now on, if a blizzard is predicted in the city, we will hide our car in a covered parking structure with an entrance on a main city artery so we can get to it if we need to.

Moral of the story: Snowstorms are a time for being patient, helping others, and having fun. Be prepared to stay put for a few days and stay safe. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Each year, instead of holiday cards, we send out Valentines. Getting a photo is always the hardest part, and even more challenging with two kids. We're learning new tricks each year. This year, we learned how to take a photo indoors since it was too cold to get both kids outside and smiling at the same time. And next year, I'll start a little earlier so I'm not getting all of the cards mailed out at the last minute--three weeks wasn't sufficient. Rick made a good point by saying that I'll have double the labor force next year since Iain will be old enough to color on the cards, lick the envelopes, and maybe even stick on a few stickers. It could be double the help, or double the chaos. We'll just have to wait and see.

Moral of the story: Give yourself triple the amount of time you think it will take to complete a project when you have kids, and have fun along the way. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Juggling Naps

Getting two kids on schedules that allow you any freedom to accomplish much of anything is one of the great challenges of parenting. I've been talking about getting the kids on a schedule and building more structure into their days for weeks now. I'd love to say that I'm succeeding but I'm just not sure that is even possible. With one child, you have at least a chance of knowing what their nap schedule will be and how you can plan around that. Granted, it changes every few weeks in the beginning so any schedule you make is temporary, but at least there is something that can resemble a schedule. With two kids, it gets complicated.

When Iain was taking three naps a day, one tended to overlap with Ada's afternoon nap. Sometimes they aligned quite well and I got to play catch up or take a mini siesta myself. Now that he takes two naps a day, with an occasional third cat nap, there isn't much overlap. His morning nap tends to be long, which is great if I want to spend a lot of time entertaining Ada, but awful if we want to leave the house in the morning. They just aren't on the same page. And it isn't like you just set the alarm an hour later and they magically synchronize their schedules. Or is it? Maybe that's something I should try?

Iain typically wakes up at six. I have to say "typically" because it could be five thirty, or it could be six thirty. Everything on his schedule is a range which makes planning anything firmly on the calendar next to impossible. Maybe that's why, as the saying goes, we should "pencil it in". I'd like to add "...and carry a BIG eraser." Ada could wake up with Iain, but she is more likely to wake up around seven thirty or eight. Now I could see this two ways. A) I get to spend quality alone time with each kid while the other sleeps or B) It would be so much more efficient if we could all just play together at the same time and let me take a nap and get stuff accomplished too. My personality screams for option B, but I'm trying to accept option A.

By the time both kids are changed and fed in the morning, we have about half-an-hour or an hour until Iain's first nap at nine thirty. Since we can't leave the house while he's sleeping, that makes Ada and I home bound until he wakes up about two hours later. You can imagine how hard it is to explain to a three-year-old that she can't go outside because her brother is sleeping. This is when a back yard would come in handy. We could always go out and have Iain nap in his stroller, but he might not nap as long and many experts claim he wouldn't get the same quality of rest. That also means I would have to have my ducks in a row early enough to actually get out of the house and plan a destination that would burn Ada's energy and entertain her while being quiet enough for Iain to nap. Not easy.

After his first nap, we can go out and play for a little while until everyone gets hungry, or we can eat and then go play. His second nap is around two and Ada's could be around two if she burned enough energy in the morning, but it is more likely not until three, if at all. Age three tends to be when kids start dropping naps altogether. That doesn't mean they don't necessarily still need naps. That just means they are no longer willing to take them. And a day when Ada skips her nap frequently turns into a night of crabbiness, whining, tears, and an early bedtime. Not exactly the recipe for a good time.

If Ada does take a nap at three, then Iain wakes up at three fifteen and my dreams of taking my own nap are shattered. A) Yeah, more one-on-one time with Iain! B) Poor me. If only I could catch up on some sleep.

To make matters more challenging, if Ada takes a nap it tends to last anywhere from one to three hours. The longer it is, the less time we get to go out and have an afternoon play adventure, and the more time we get to spend cooped up in our house. Again, I could see it two ways. A) Such well-rested kids surely won't be cranky and will grow up big and strong.  B) Damn it! Why can't I take a nap? I'm the one who got up early this morning and was woken up last night. I need a nap too. So what if I'm not three years old anymore. Moms need sleep too!

On the bright side, at least Iain can hang out in his exerscauser while I empty the dishwasher, make dinner or take a shower. He's at an age now where he can entertain himself for windows of time that are long enough for me to accomplish minor chores. And he's really good at sitting on our bed and playing with a toy while I fold laundry. And Ada is in love with movies just like her father. She loves to sit attentively watching an episode of Dora the Explorer and that gives me just enough time to knock a chore or two off my list. Not all is lost.

And then we arrive at dinnertime and bedtime. Somewhere between five and seven Rick comes home and we eat. Iain eats first since he will crash and burn if we don't get him in bed at or before seven. Ada might eat with him for convenience unless she is actually going to eat what we are having for dinner. We do the bedtime routine with her around eight and then we hope to be in bed ourselves by ten to do it all again tomorrow.

This all assumes that the kids are healthy, they are sleeping well at night, we haven't been traveling, and no appointments were scheduled that would totally throw off our schedules. Once you add those into the mix, then you really do need to be a professional juggler. Again, you have two choices. A) Accept that you are frequently going to be late and can't do it all. B) Get stressed out at how late you always are and how little you get accomplished.

Moral of the story: Draft a typical schedule but accept the fact that it will always be a draft in constant flux.

Brotherly Love

Iain really loves Ada. He wears the biggest of grins when she plays with him, even if she steals his toys and says, "No! No! Iain!" with her open palmed hand just inches from his face. She can be kind of bossy like that, but he doesn't seem to mind much. He watches in awe as she runs around the room or sits playing a game. And he often just stares at her. Ada doesn't seem to mind until she is pooping or newly awakened from a nap and just wants to be left alone. Then she will try to move behind him or to his other side in hopes that he won't turn his head around to follow her. She is struggling to learn that I can't make him stop looking at her. How happy she'd be if I had superpowers that could control his much would I love those superpowers? "You're getting very sleepy baby Iain..."

When she's not bossing him around or telling him "No", Ada actually likes Iain too. She enjoys taking his toys away from him. She likes feeding him, even if she does jam the spoon into his mouth a bit far. She likes tickling him. And she's already becoming protective of him. Whenever I do something he doesn't really like, she yells at me to make me stop hurting him. If he doesn't want his diaper changed or the goobers in his eyes cleaned out, she's convinced that I am torturing him and I should stop immediately and do something to make him happy. And she is finally at the point where she will give him random kisses without being prompted. Her kissing technique still needs some work since she doesn't purse her lips while making the lip smacking noise but instead just brushes her closed lips against his head. We still count it as a kiss.

There will likely come a day when they aren't as fond of each other as they are now so I'm going to treasure these times and hope the love continues. I'll be on the lookout for superpowers in the meantime.

Moral of the story: Take time to notice love between siblings. It may or may not last.

Friday, February 4, 2011


The day has finally come where I can honestly say that Ada and Iain are consistently sleeping in the same room at night. We attempted the merge about three weeks ago and things were hit or miss with Iain spending the second half of alternating nights back in the living room in his Pack-n-Play. Rick spent a week going in to flip Iain over after he got stuck on his tummy or push his feet back into the crib after they poked out of the crib slats. Occasionally, Iain would get too loud and Rick would move him out to the living room to spare Ada's sleep. Thankfully, she is a great sleeper and has been very tolerate of the whole process.

Last week I finally made time to fetch Ada's old crib bumper out of the basement since Iain can roll over now and is strong enough to move himself away from the bumper to breath if he needs to. With the bumper attached, things were going much better. Maybe he just needed to be a bit more contained and protected from bumping his head into the crib slats during the night. Who knew?

Rick also gets credit for teaching Ada how to sneak into bed at night without disturbing Iain. Since Iain goes to sleep around seven and Ada gets to stay up until eight (or nine or whenever she stalls until we finally insist she retires), Rick has taught her how to sneak in to pick two books to read on the couch. They quietly creep back out of the room, books in hand, and read for a few minutes. Then they sneak back into Ada's bedroom with Iain sleeping soundly. Ada climbs into bed. Rick tucks her in while quietly singing a song and then he slides out for the night. Occasionally Ada opens the door to protest for another book or song or a diaper change, but that is rare since she tends to be exhausted and embraces the comfort of her bed and the stuffed animal cuddles that accompany it.

Moral of the story: It might take a long time to transition the kids to sleep in one bedroom (seven months in our case) but it is worth it. Having the rest of your house back is liberating.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Go with the Flow

I get the saying, "There is no use crying over spilled milk." But after having someone spill something somewhere in the house every single day for the past week, I'm kind of tired of cleaning up messes and doing laundry. We stopped using sippy cups months ago when the health inspector came into Ada's daycare and said two-year olds didn't need them anymore. That was a good decision since Ada was good with an open cup. Unfortunately, accidents happen and open cups spill.

Earlier today, Iain knocked over Ada's cup of water from lunch and it went all over my pants. Yesterday it was grape juice and water with her breakfast at the table. Before that was juice on the dining room table she dumped on her cousin sitting next to her. And before that was a cup in the kitchen next to the sink that landed on the opened mail. Friday night Ada knocked Rick's beer over while he went to get ice cream. And if it isn't caused by her complete lack of attention to what she is doing, it happens because she is just being a three-year-old. She frequently moves her placemat out from underneath her cup while trying to get down from the table and causes her beverage to come with her, albeit unintentionally. At least she doesn't yell timber and giggle right afterwards.

And it isn't always Ada spilling. My mom set her mug of tea at the base of the rocking chair this past weekend and one of the girls knocked it over. Maybe it was physically Ada's fault, but I still give the credit to my mom for putting it on the floor in the first place.  And I'm not much better since I constantly have a water cup with me and frequently overturn it while distracted trying to do too many things at once. Or I over fill it at the refrigerator door and create a puddle on the kitchen floor. I downplay my clumsiness with the fact that it is typically only water that I spill and that doesn't tend to be as destructive, but still.

I think it's time we make some new policies on beverages around here to mitigate our messes and conserve some water and energy cleaning up all the time. It might help to avoid leaving cups of anything unattended, limit all beverages to the kitchen or dining room table, and make my bedside cup of water a sippy cup since I tend to spill that one the most.

Moral of the story: Accidents happen. They happen a lot more often when you have small children. On the bright side, you get really good at cleaning them up so learn to just go with the flow.