Friday, May 29, 2009

a sigh of relief

So yesterday went about a million times better than the previous two days. Both Wednesday and Thursday nights by the time I put Donovan down to bed, I was near tears from exhaustion and frustration from dealing with his blow-ups. To give you an idea, Thursday morning he had at least 3 full-on fits just in the first hour since waking up (I later had a good laugh when I read the tantrums section of What To Expect: The Toddler Years when they classified "frequent" tantrums as 2 or more in a whole day). As it turns out, "irritability" is listed as a symptom of roseloa and Holy Hannah they were SO NOT KIDDING. We still had some crabbies to deal with yesterday, but nothing compared to the previous days. I was actually able to enjoy being with my child as opposed to wishing I could take him in for an exchange at the Baby Store.

Zach's at the park now with little D. He's gonna be in charge of the kiddo for a lot of today while I focus on other stuff-- this morning I'm gonna go spend some ME time outside the house, then in the afternoon I want to work on some new ideas for my etsy shop and also get some chores done around the house (we're practically drowning in dirty laundry over here). I'm excited about the shop-- I was hit by a wave of creativity and new motivation the other night, and I have this list of ideas some of which I've already implemented in the bits of free time I got yesterday (like new card sets and a new print that I adore). So yeah, hopefully even more new stuff to come soon, and hopefully y'all will love it as much as I do. =)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

He's mighty cute when not screaming and writhing on the floor

Managed to snag a few minutes to play around with some presets in Lightroom the other day. Don't have a whole lot new to share (D's all better, but as of yesterday has a rash which identifies his earlier to fever as being due to Roseola and apparently not a big deal in any way. Still irritable and crabby. I think when Zach gets home tonight I'll escape duck out to Borders and try to read some of Harvey Karp's book on toddlers. I despise the man's writing style, but he does seem to have good ideas so guess I'll have to put up with it... but maybe I can still avoid buying it) so figured I'd post some pictures instead.

Also, not a great shot, but shows off the cute hat and shorts we got him recently. To me he looks like he belongs on a golf course in Florida in this outfit. I think the belly hanging over the shorts helps the look. ; )

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One of those days

Most of the time I love being a stay at home mom. It's hard, yes, but I know it's what I want to do. That I would much rather be here and get to watch him grow and share each day with him. That even if the perfect work and childcare situation presented itself, I still would opt to be at home, and am so grateful to have this option. Most days I drink him in, able to brush aside the occasional tantrum in favor of the way he smiles at me when I sing or asks to read the same books over and over again sitting on my lap or makes silly faces at me while eating.

But then there are days when I feel utterly defeated. When it seems like nothing that I try to do to teach Donovan right or wrong, or even just how to not throw his damn sippy cup to the floor at meal times, that none of that is making any difference whatsoever no matter how much effort I put into it. Days when I'm counting down the hours and minutes until Zach gets home, or until the weekend gets here so I can have a decent break. Days when I honestly wonder if I have it in me to be a parent for another 17 years, let alone think of doing it with a second kid one day. Days when I start to fantasize of a life without children, when I could have my time, my self, my freedom back.

But that is not an option. The only way I could ever go back to not having a kid is through tragedy so unimaginable I would never ask it on anyone in a million years. There is no "quitting" being a parent (Mother Nature was very smart in making it so). So you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going for another minute, another hour, another day, until you get past this awful place and start feeling better again.

I adore him like crazy, but being his mother really really sucks sometimes. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.

(PS- He seems to be all better now, both the fever and zombie eyes are gone. Unfortunately the tantrums are not, and in fact are occurring in full force anytime he is told "no" or just when he decides it's time for another one. Hence this blog post.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Prop 8 makes babies cry

Poor D looked mighty miserable last night. Thankfully he slept better overnight, and today while still being quite, um, touchy, he seems to be feeling better overall. I didn't take his temperature before bed but he felt much closer to normal, and while his eyes still look pretty tired (nasty-looking dark circles) he was also running around the living room with Zach before his bath. He kinda had this funny cycle of moods that he went through over and over today-- he'd be playing and then get super frustrated over seemingly nothing, cry cry cry, eventually settle down in my arms where he'd rest with me for a while seeming almost ready to fall asleep... and then he'd all of a sudden pop up and look at me with a devilish grin and do something super cute. Then that good mood would last about 5 minutes before something pissed him off again.

My personal theory is that, while he's still not feeling quite 100% and that was part of what fueled today's tantrums, he was mostly reacting to the news of the California supreme court ruling to keep Proposition 8 in place. Can't say I blame him.

Monday, May 25, 2009

At least we have pie

Saturday night we drove up to San Francisco to have dinner with our friends Bob, Aruna, and little Jules. It was kinda strange to see them there-- Zach's worked with and known Bob for years, but I didn't get to know their family until we all moved to Geneva at about the same time and bonded as fellow expats. We had many dinners at their house in the time we lived there, and I baby-sat Jules quite often. We hadn't seen them since shortly before we moved back, a good 8-9 months ago at least. They just moved back in March, and this was our first time to see each other since then.

Jules is about 5 years old and had another friend over as well, so she went back and forth between concern over The Baby messing up the stuff she and her friend were playing with, and very sweetly asking if Donovan could play with them. It was very cute. Dinner was fabulous, as usual, and Donovan ate the broccoli, mashed sweet and regular potatoes, and chicken strips like a champ (refused to try the pork, though). He had a bit of trouble going to sleep, but not too much, and once that happened I enjoyed being able to actually sit through an entire adult conversation without having to tag-team with Zach on who was watching the kiddo. It was a lovely dinner and so nice to get to see old friends again. Unfortunately we paid for it by not getting to bed till past midnight, and then being up at 6am with a very awake kiddo. Reminded me of why we don't go out to dinner more often.

Jenny and her friend Mariah drove down Sunday morning. Mariah's a college friend of Jenny's who's visiting for a bit before finishing up a year-plus long travel stint before starting med school. We all headed down to the farmer's market for shopping and lunch, then in the afternoon the three of them took Donovan out on a long hike (I opted to stay home, too tired). Zach had his heart set on burritos from a nearby taqueria for dinner, but after finding out it was closed on Sunday nights, and driving to a few alternate locations that were also closed, he settled for Wahoo's which did hit the spot. And then Mariah made peach pie, and oh my was it yum.

Unfortunately little D seems to have come down with something, as Sunday night we noticed he seemed warm and also looked kinda pale. I took his temp-- 102 (under his arm). No other obvious symptoms. Zach gave him a bath and got him into bed, while I called the Kaiser Permanente advice line to double-check that our course of action (give Motrin if needed, otherwise wait and see) was the right one, and as usual the nurse on the line was incredibly nice and helpful. D did not sleep well at all, waking up several times crying pretty hard, but seemed to go back to sleep ok at least until 5:30am when Zach got up with him. The funny thing is, I think it was on Twitter that when I mentioned we'd gone to the Discovery Museum someone replied that they loved that place, but their kids always got sick afterwards. Well, we went on Tuesday and he got sick on Sunday... hmmm. (Won't stop me from going again, but might be a reminder to whip out the hand sanitizer more often on the next trip.)

Jenny and Mariah left this morning to go camping for a few days, and Donovan feels a bit cooler this morning but still pale and a bit more tired-seeming. For the most part he's acting normal so I'm not too worried, we'll just keep an eye on his temp, etc. We had a bbq we planned to go to at a friend's house today but looks like we'll be staying at home instead. It's been a really fun weekend, but it's kinda left all of us pretty drained of energy. But hey, at least there's pie.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

On Childbirth

I finally got around to watching The Business of Being Born today (via online streaming on btw). I've been wanting to ever since I first heard of it, just a few months before Donovan's birth. By then I had already switched from my OB to my midwife and was planning a natural birth (with, of course, backup plans if needed). In a way I think it's good that I waited this long to actually watch it. I think enough time has passed now since giving birth that I could look back on the experience while watching the documentary, and actually start looking forward to next time-- which has not been true of any other time in these past 15 or so months.

Most of the facts and arguments brought up were not new to me-- the US has a very high rate of c-sections; mid-wives have a horrible name in our country for some reason when they are the norm in prenatal care world-wide; too often doctors make decisions in childbirth that are based more on cost, schedules, and worries over getting sued, rather than the best interests of the mother or baby. And so on. But there were a few things that I had no been aware of, or had not thought of before, that I found extremely interesting.

At one point in the film one of the doctors interviewed wondered whether some of the drugs now being routinely given to women in labor might have some connection to Autism, ADHD, or any of the other disorders and problems that have been on the rise in recent years. I forget what percentage of women one of the hospitals said they gave pitocin to, but it was well over half. There are also at least 10 other drugs mentioned that are routinely given to laboring women to help speed up labor, reduce pain and discomfort, and help deal with the side effects of previously given drugs. How well do we know the long-term effects of thse drugs on women and on their newborns? We have a pretty dreadful history of using drugs in pregnancy and childbirth that only later are found to have devastating effects: two examples include Thalidomide in the 50's and 60's, and in the film they mentioned another drug that was given to women during childbirth in the 90's, that was later linked to causing the uterus to rupture in women who had previously had c-sections. (EDIT: the drug is Cytotec (Misiprostol), given to try to induce labor.)  We've spent so much time and energy trying to find a link between vaccines and Autism, has anyone looked at any of these drugs used in childbirth and looked for a possible link?

As Zach brought up when I was telling him about this, isn't it odd that we take so much care of what we put into our bodies when pregnant, freaking out about the tiniest potential exposure to mercury or listeria, and also are so careful about what the give newborns, yet we bombard ourselves and our babies with all these drugs during childbirth?

(I also always wondered how, when we're told over and over again not to lay on our backs during those last months of preganncy b/c it restricts bloodflow to the fetus, how it makes sense to then labor and give birth in that same position)

The second interesting point was one related to medical care. Childbirth in the US costs 2-3times as much in the US as in most other developed nations, yet our mother and infant mortality rates are mong the highest among that same group. A hospital birth, even a completely normal, uncomplicated one, often costs $10,000 or more. But that same birth at home or in a birthing center will be half the cost, if not less. It reminded me of all the talk lately about our health care system in general-- how we spend so much more than other countries, yet end up less healthy. I don't know if this expands out well to other areas, but when you look at prenatal care there are clearly a lot of interventions used that cost a lot of money, and that 90% of the time are not necessary. It's pretty easy to pinpoint where these are, and it'd be pretty simple to cut these costs while still providing excellent care-- and maybe even with better results and fewer deaths. That's the ironic thing, that most doctors and our culture in general will have you believe that giving birth outside a hospital setting will put you and your baby in greater danger, but when you look at other developed countries where home/birth center births are more common their childbirth-related mortality rates are lower.

Medical advances are, clearly, a WONDERFUL thing. Amazing, awesome, super increedibly great. Lives are saved every day because of the advances we have seen in medicine. C-sections are a necessity and save lives. Epidurals can be wonderful and beneficial to mothers who are overwhelmed by labor pains. Sometimes labor can be so intense that a woman stops progessing because her body is too tense, and an epidural can help her relax and get things going again. However, just because something is good some of the time does not mean it's good all of the time. Certain practices, like the use of continuous fetal monitors, have no medical evidence behind them that they make any difference, yet hospitals use them because they're easier on staff... even if that causes the mother to be confined to bed in a position that's not only uncomfortable but may inhibit labor's progression (meaning she then needs pitocin... and then an epidural b/c of harsher contrctions, while lying down...and so it goes). Our medical advances are great for the small percentage of the time when they are truly needed. The rest of the time, they are not only not necessary, but may in fact be harmful.

One of the things I hope this documentary does is change the public opinion of midwives and hospital-free births. A midwife is not some woman who just comes in with a warm towel and hopes everything goes well. Midwives are trained professionals. They come with most of the same supplies your doctor does, and is trained and prepared to look for any signs of potential complications that may come up. The center where I gave birth was just a few minutes away from the nearest hospital, and my midwife was in touch with the midwives at the hospital so they would know that a birth was taking place and be alerted in case I needed to be trasnferred so the whole process would be as smooth as possible if it needed to happen (I can't speak for sure, but imagine most midwives here do the same). I think it is so sad that most OBs have never seen a truly natural, intervention-free birth. In so much of the rest of the world, the norm is to be treated by a midwife, and the OB comes in only when needed in the case of complications or high-risk pregnancies. This seems so much more common sense.

I could probably go on and on about this topic, but I think I'll stop here. I will mention that Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein (producer and director of The Business of Being Born) launched a new website called My Best Birth, geared to help inform women of all their choices so they can make an informed decision of what is THEIR best, preferred birth scenario. No, we can't plan our birth perfectly and anyone who doesn't realize how unpredictable birth can be is fooling themselves. But you an have a plan, and be prepared. And whether that plan is to give birth at home or in a hospital bed, it should be made with care and consideration, and with all options laid out on the table.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Walking

It's a pretty common joke among parents to admonish parents of still-immobile babies to "Enjoy it! Soon they'll be moving and then life as you know it is over!" Ah ha ha ha. We'll act as if learning to crawl and walk are these to-be-dreaded milestones. It is true that being able to place your baby down in one spot and have them still be there when you return 10 seconds later is a very, very, very nice thing. But I was thinking about all this the other day and realized that I really like having a walking child. I know they say that crawling is really good for babies and can prevent dyslexia and everything, but all that aside I almost envy people whose babies skip crawling and go straight to walking.

There's so many things that have gotten so much easier since D became a fairly steady walker. We can go to the playground! And he can actually play! Or even just hang out in the patio here at home. I seriously looked forward to this for so long. I also love that now we can walk out the door together. D can step down the two steps in front of our door, and walk out to the car beside me rather than me having to carry him. Of course, this requires heave precautions and a close eye to make sure he doesn't go off into the street, but it's really nice to have my hands free. It's little things like being able to carry groceries in myself, or hold those extra few things we need to take out to the car (like the stroller).

When your baby is immobile, you can go to the park and sit on a blanket and everything's pretty cool (as long as baby is happy, of course). They they start crawling and want to go everywhere, but "going everywhere" means putting their hands all over the ground, hands that will soon end up in their mouths, and that can be kind of a nightmare. Then they start walking and their hands are FREE and they can move more easily, explore more easily, and you don't have to cringe at how their poor knees must be feeling or how dirty their hands are getting, etc.

There are, of course, parts about walking that suck. He can be pretty quick. Mostly, when he's on his feet he can reach a LOT more things that he could when on his belly or knees. But overall, it gives us both a lot of freedom for him to be able to walk on his own. Like being able to carry his own uber-stylish European man carry-all.

Frankly, I'm kinda looking forward to the days when we won't need to bother with a stroller anymore.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DANGER: Nap Reduction in Progress

Donovan has been extremely moody the past few days. I take it as no coincidence that he is also transitioning from taking two naps a day, down to one. His mood swings put your average teenager to shame. It seems he's constantly wanting to play with things that he can't have (every single time he sees my keys, if not given to him IMMEDIATELY, he'll start crying) and then throwing a fit when he can't have them. This is partially my fault as in moments of desperation I have been known to give him the damn keys/glasses case/whatever just to make him happy. I know how important consistency is, but man is it hard to stick to (it's not such a popular parenting advice point for nothing). I realize part of this may also be emerging toddler tantrums, increasing frustration at his inability to communicate with us as he'd like to. For example we've had a few snack sessions lately where he'll have a plethora of food in front of him, yet he's still eagerly signing "more" and even if I could tell what other food option he wants, I don't want to cater to it when he already has food in front of him. And, well, this makes him angry. So who knows. I'm hoping most of it is him being more tired in general as he gets used to this new sleep schedule. God, I hope so. I also hope I survive until then.

In other news, we checked out the Children's Discovery Museum this morning. There was enough going on that D was pretty happy the whole time we were there. I debated buying us a membership, but decided to wait-- there was a lot of stuff D loved to play with (like the real ambulance that the kids could play in), but it also was pretty overwhelming. At least 3 different school groups were there, and the place isn't that big, so with all the noise and big kids running around it felt pretty chaotic. I asked the moms I was there with, and they said that level of activity was pretty standard. There is a special section upstairs just for kids 4 and under, that area was a bit calmer and still fun for him. We went in the morning, had a quick lunch there and then came home, and of course D fell asleep in the car... and thankfully was able to go back to sleep ince we got home and into his crib. If nothing else, the museum sure did seem to tire him out.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Shower for Goby

My lovely friend Karen is about to be a mommy. In honor to celebrate this event, a few of our friends threw a shower for her and daddy-to-be Benjamin. Julia, aka Party Planner Extraordinaire, took care of the lion's share of the duties, while the rest of us brought a couple things and put up some banners. ; ) We were still kind of in the middle of setting up when the guests started arriving, but no one seemed to mind. I had the foresight to bring my camera, and Donovan allowed me a few moments of freedom to actually use it a bit.

Carolyn made these cupcakes. Aren't they THE CUTEST THING YOU'VE EVER SEEN?
Baby Shower
"Goby" is baby's nickname (short for Girl or Boy)
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It was a HOT weekend-- it got up to the 90's on Saturday. So we turned on the sprinklers and let the kiddoes cool off. Some of the adults ended running through a couple times, too.
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One of the games was a replay race among the men-- they had to run with the stroller to a table set up with diapers, change the doll's diaper, then race back and chug a couple ounces of lemonade from a bottle... with newborn nipples on them. (Zach was in the game and D started getting clingy right about here, so I can't take credit for the relay pictures)
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Apparently they were having trouble with the nipples...
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Sophia and Daddy Cyrus being cute.
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And of course, what would a shower be without the gifts. =)
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The happy Mama and Papa-to-bes. =)
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More pictures here.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

six word sunday: Almost as old as the dinosaurs

almost as old as the dinosaurs
six word sunday challenge

This is the stereo my mom gave me as a birthday present one year when I was in high school. So this thing's at least 10 or 12 years old by now. As far as electronics go, that practically classifies it as an antique. I'm frankly amazed that it still works after all it's been through-- multiple moves, near-constant use, sitting in a locked storage unit for a year and a half during our stay in Switzerland... but, still plays. The only thing is, it seems to be kinda possessed. I think this only happens when you turn it off by pressing the power button while the CD inside is still playing-- it'll turn off alright, but then sometime in the next several hours/day it will randomly turn on again and start playing. There's been a few confused nights when I wake up to music playing at 2am. It happened again just now-- I was sitting here on the computer and all of a sudden our Donovan CD (singer, not kid) started playing even though I never touched the player.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Nap transitions?

I helped host a baby shower for our friends Karen and Benjamin this afternoon. Getting everything ready was a bit hectic, but once things got started the shower was much fun. It suddenly warmed up a lot again today, so at one point we stuck all the kiddoes in swimsuits and let them run around in the sprinklers. We also did a dads relay race as one of the games, where 2 teams of men had to run a baby doll in a toy stroller across the backyard, change its diaper, than "chug" a couple ounces of lemonade from a baby bottle... with newborn nipples on them. The best part was that one of the kids, Josie, who's 2 years old, got REALLY into it and kept on racing and changing diapers on the dolls long after the game was over. Donovan also really liked playing with the toy strollers.

Speaking of little D, both yesterday and today he's taken a long morning nap and then no nap in the afternoon at all. I'm also realizing that, while before I used to have to kinda fight to keep him up till 9am (he seemed ready for a nap sooner than that) now more and more it's me looking at the clock and deciding it's nap time even though he seems happy playing. He tends to go to sleep easily still, but then after the past 2 days... So I guess tomorrow we'll see how he does in the morning and not put him down for a nap till he shows more clear tired signs? I'm wondering if he's already transitioning to one nap a day. I was so sure I'd get to keep 2 naps for a while, since the whole first year he always took more (though shorter) naps than "average." *Sigh* So I guess we'll see. I don't think I'm ready to give up that morning break yet, but then again it'd make scheduling things in the morning a lot easier...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

no swimming today

We missed swim class today. I kinda count on Donovan to wake up from his morning nap by about 10am, which gives us enough time to eat a snack and get ready before needing to leave the house by 10:45 to get to class on time. Today he slept late, and I slacked off on keeping track of the time, and before I knew it it was 10:40 and he was still asleep. He woke up a few minutes later, but even then there was no way we'd make it in time, and the class is only 30 minutes long anyway. Boo. Unfortunately they don't offer make-up classes either, but then again as Zach said I doubt this even makes it onto the short list of money spent on him that goes unused (for this one day's class).

In the afternoon we played again with Scarlet, D's new friend down the street. We've gone over there I think every afternoon this week so far, and she and D seem to really enjoy each other. When it got to be the "usual time" to head over I turned to D and asked him, "Do you want to go play with Baby Scarlet?"(what the grandmother calls her) And his eyes got big and he smiled a little, and headed straight to the door. She's about 10 months older than D is, and while it's not quite as big a difference as that between a newborn and a 1 year old, the difference between a 1year old and a 2 year old is still startling. She's so much bigger, and not only is she speaking tons but in both English and Portuguese. It's so incredible what goes on inside those little bodies and minds these first few years.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

happy feet

Whenever D's sitting in his high chair I can usually hear his little feet banging and swinging and moving... and occasionally I see one of his feet creep up onto the table itself. The other day I had the camera out and after taking a couple pictures of Sierra on the floor, I turned over at just the right angle to notice his dancing feet under the table and decided to crawl closer to capture them a bit.

I figure I might as well capture them while they're still cute and little. =P

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

a familia portuguesa

The day started a bit rough-- Donovan woke up a couple times overnight, so even though he then slept an extra 40 minutes past his usual wakeup I was still all kinds of groggy through the morning. But then things got better, and in the afternoon he was almost unbearably cute in his playing. It also helped that I switched out his toys and was so interested in the "new" ones I pulled out that I got to sit on the floor near him and read a magazine for a whole 10 minutes. Then he came over and started literally walking in circles around me. lol

There's a Brazilian family that lives down the street. Well, Mom's from here, but the dad is Brazilian and his Brazilian mother lives with them to help take care of their 3 kids. The youngest is a girl who's about 2 yrs old, and she and Donovan are fast becoming playmates. They often play on the sidewalk outside their house and if we see them while D and I are out walking we'll stop by and play for a bit. They usually have a few toys out and at first as soon as D showed any interest in one of her toys, the girl would grab it and run off with it out of jealousy/possessiveness. But now she'll bring him stuff and shares really well with him most of the time. The grandmother told me she asks about Donovan when we're not around (she calls him "the baby" as in "where's the baby? I wanna play with the baby"). It's all very cute. The grandmother speaks only Portuguese and a few words in English, so communication is tough, but enough of it is close enough to Spanish that we can kinda understand each other. It is fun to listen to her and the kids speak back and forth in Portuguese, there's a fun rhythm to the language... sort of like Spanish with Italian attitude. Who knows, if we spend enough time around them maybe D will pick up a bit of Portuguese, too. ; )

Monday, May 11, 2009

creepy crawlies (but cute ones!)

Donovan and I went to Gymboree this morning. The classes are starting to fill up again so I guess people are getting over the swine flu fears. I started thinking this morning about when I should move him up to the next next age level for the class-- the "break" is at 16 months, just a few weeks away, but he's already kinda bored by the group time at the end of class and tends to walk off to play with the equipment again. So who knows, maybe I'll ask the teacher on Wednesday if she thinks he might be ready for the next level.

In the afternoon we went to a nearby nursery to pick up a few things--a bigger pot for our rosemary plant that's starting to show, um, unhappiness; bird seed for my cute new bird house; ladybugs. Lady bugs? Well, we have a couple of rosebushes out front and one of them looks very sad, and a friend pointed out that it seems to be getting attacked by aphids. Which ladybugs love to eat. So I bought a jar of ladybugs at the nursery. Donovan was instantly drawn to the wriggling little bugs and was doing his best to try to pry off the lid. The instructions suggested to let them go in the evening, out of direct sunlight (apparently they're much less likely to fly off if it's darker) so once Zach got home and before starting dinner, all 3 of us went outside to let the ladybugs go.

It was pretty cool to watch, actually. There were probably a couple hundred ladybugs in the container, and we shook most of them out on this one bush so it was then pretty covered in them. A bunch of them stayed on the lid and wouldn't shake off, but eventually walked out onto my hand as I held it. Unfortunately I didn't grab the camera till most of them had fallen/flown/been shaken off, but for several minutes there I had a good 50-100 ladybugs on my hands. And it felt really WIERD.
I got some better, closer-in shots with my point & shoot camera (since I can use the macro-mode on it, as opposed to my slr lenses that require 1.5ft of distance *pout*) but haven't downloaded those yet.

We also have 5 painted lady butterflies that I got from a kit, we've been watching them grow ever since being tiny caterpillars. They're ready for release, but I'm waiting for overnight temps to go above 55F which should be in another night or 2. So far Donovan and Sierra are both greatly enjoying having them around, though. I've taken pictures all along, will share those in one big post once the whole process is complete (I'm hoping to get some good butterfly-release shots, but that may be aiming kinda high).

And now... to bed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

six word sunday: He's the reason for it all.

six word sunday challenge

Yesterday we met up with an old friend in San Francisco, and he commented on what a calm and happy kid Donovan is. I am, too. I sometimes get so wrapped up in daily struggles and moody days that I forget, but really it is amazing to me what a calm, happy, social, joyful child he is. I feel so blessed to be his mother. The other day I was listening to a program on the radio about teenage boys, and I looked at D as he played and smiled at me and I was suddenly flooded by several different emotions: grateful that he was born into our family and thus has an abundance of love and opportunities in his life, sadness at all the children who don't have that, and pressure at the responsibility of trying to raise him into a responsible and caring human being. It's funny how I accept the responsibility and pressure of his future rearing, but not for how well he's turned out so far (in that I see his current disposition as being more innate to him rather than a result of what I've done as a parent).

Mother's Day is supposed to be a day when the spouses and children of the world say thank you to the mothers in their lives. As it should be-- parenthood and, in our culture at least where mothers still take on more of the responsibility and demands on raising children, motherhood are the toughest, most demanding, and quite easily most important jobs in the world. Yet there's little pay or recognition, and no required training to help us figure out our way. We've come to believe that most of the time for something to be truly amazing and awe-inspiring they should be very rare. Commonplace events, because they occur so often, by their very nature don't deserve much attention, right? Motherhood, childbirth, and children are among the most commonplace things that have ever existed, yet they also deserve to be among the most awe-inspiring and precious. We must all be crazy, as it seems no one in their right mind would willingly give up their freedom to instead devote all of their energy, time, and money to these little beings for 18+ years. And, amazingly, most of us are doing a pretty good job of it, and it is from our hands that the next generation will grow up and come to lead the world.

I look forward to a mother's day spent with my husband and beautiful baby boy. But I also want to take this moment to send out my mother's day wishes and a very heartfelt thank you to all you mothers out there. It is you mothers who have carried me through so many rough moments in the 15 months since I became one of you, and I am eternally grateful for all the love, help, and support I have received. I know I will count on it again many times in the coming years, and I hope I can also offer the same back to you when needed.

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

The milk factory is closed

Donovan and I are no longer breastfeeding. We actually stopped a good month or so ago. I've been meaning to write about it but kept forgetting, which kinda shows just how low-key of a process it has been.

It's so funny because when D turned 1 year, when we reached the nursing goal I'd set for myself and was facing weaning, I really didn't feel ready to totally stop. Breastfeeding had been such a huge part of our lives up to that point, that it just felt so WEIRD to think of NOT doing it. It's not much of an exageration to say that breastfeeding kinda took over my life for that whole first year since D's birth-- it dictated what I could wear (easy access!), what I could drink, where we could go when (I was not averse to nursing in public and often did--in fact I once nursed him sitting in as booth at Central Market in Texas while sitting across from my brother and dad without so much as a nursing cover-- but still had to plan when I thought he'd be hungry so we'd be in one spot and someplace that would be semi-comfortable for nursing). It had been a pain, but a fairly delightful one, and I didn't feel ready to be totally done with it. I was done with nursing bras, though, and having to hike my shirt up so many times a day, so over a period of a week or 2 we went from 5 feedings/day down to 3, and eventually to only 2-- when he first awoke in the morning, and then right before bed at night.

That continued for another couple of months, and I guess that's all the time I needed to be ok stopping. It stopped being such an essential part of our day and instead was almost an afterthought, and so one day I went to get him in the morning and I just... didn't nurse him. And he was ok with that (he made weaning very easy-- was happy to take the boob, but didn't seem to miss it if not offered). And thus ended our breastfeeding adventure.

I can't say I miss it.... not yet, anyway. He loves to snuggle so we still get plenty of cuddle time together. And I'm still relishing in the freedom of not nourishing another being through my body for the first time in nearly two years. I'm sure it'll come with time, though-- just as it's only been since D's birthday that I've started looking at pregnant women and newborns and thinking "wow, that'd be nice to do again..." something I couldn't fathom before that point.

So in total we nursed for about 14 months. D really deserves alot of the credit for that-- Lord knows we tried to get him on formula and bottles when he started dropping in the weight charts, but he'd have none of it. I'm still a bit torn on what we'd do if our next baby (which despite what I said earlier will not be happening for a while still) refuses bottles. Part of me thinks that, having been through this once, I'd do what it takes to get him/her to take bottles even if that means leaving him/her with dad or grandma or someone for a few hours (or days-- an idea I hated, which is why we didn't try it, but would have probably worked). The other part of me sees that D would have probably been weaned much earlier if he had taken bottles and maybe it wasn't such a bad thing after all. Who knows. Most likely whatever new baby we eventually have will come with a whole new set of problems and conundrums that we'll be wholly unprepared for. What's the fun of parenting otherwise, right? ; )

Thursday, May 07, 2009

He pooped in the potty!!!

WARNING: Lots of talk of poop. You've been warned.

About 2 months ago I got a small potty chair for Donovan. I know, he's only 15 months old, it's way early, etc. Really, I'm implementing Diaper-Free Before Three's first "step" which is to simply have the potty around, let him sit in it every once in a while, basically just get him familiar with it and know it as a regular part of our home. I have a semi-plan to get more aggressive about potty-training by the time he's 2yrs old, but we're taking our time and I will always follow his lead on this and not push him if he's not ready.

Anyway, so yeah right now he doesn't even really sit on it every day. Sometimes when he's in the bathroom with me he'll go to sit on it with his clothes on, and I might take his diaper off to let him see how that feels, and that's about it. There was one time a month or so ago when Zach was getting D ready for his bath, and with all his clothes off D went to the potty, sat, and peed. Hasn't happened again.

Then the other day I was reading D a story and noticed he was kinda shifting his body around and straining a bit. I asked him if he was pooping, and if he wanted to go to the potty. He looked at me, looked in the direction of our bathroom, and got up to start walking towards it. This alone AMAZED me. By the time we got there I think he was already done, but I let him sit on the potty diaper-free for a few minutes anyway while we kept looking at the same book, then got him dressed again and went on about our day.

Today I noticed him doing it again-- shifting around and straining, etc. I asked if he wanted to use the potty, and he again immediately got up and started walking towards it. I took his diaper off and sat him down and we kept looking at his book. After a few minutes I noticed that he'd pooped in the potty. And, well, it was kind of a lot. As a side note, he's been having a little trouble pooping lately-- not really constipated, but sometimes he'll just strain a little with nothing coming out and when he did poop it'd be smallish and fairly firm. I've read that the position of sitting on a potty with feet on the floor, etc, is in itself conducive to pooping, and it think it really did help him do so today.

He of course then tried to stick his hand in the poop, which I promptly stopped while at the same time trying to also tell him how neat it was that he'd pooped in the potty. I got him cleaned and dressed, and then after I'd also cleaned the potty he came back into the bathroom and kept wanting to sit on it again. lol

I have no idea if this might be the start of an association with him, or just a random event that won't be repeated for a while. We'll see. But I was proud enough to want to come share the story with all you lovely people, which I'm sure you appreciate greatly. ; )

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

getting out

During Donovan's first year, or at least those first 6-9 months, I made a conscious effort to spend lots of time at home. Especially in the beginning, I'd carefully plan what I wanted to do which days so that we didn't have two outings back-to-back, and D got plenty of calm, peaceful time at home with me. Part of this was b/c of the logistics of going anywhere from our house in Switzerland-- I could drive a few places, but to go into town I'd take the bus which was a 30 minute ride each way and then we'd usually spend a couple hours in town, which always meant naps in the stroller, etc. They were kind of big to-dos. But I also just in general worried about over-stimulating him, over-whelming him, and also wanted to make sure he got lots of free time not confined in a stroller, being able to instead stretch out and play on the floor or just be held. There was also the complicating factor of D's short-but-frequent naps, which made it tough to plan things around (unless I just planned on walking him in the stroller as he slept, but that never seems to provide as good a sleep as in his own bed).

It's amusing to me that now we've done an almost complete 180. These days, I'm focusing on how much we can fit into each day, where else can we go, what else can we do? D seems to just get bored or restless at home, and I'm finding that especially on those days when one or both of us isn't at our best it is imperative that we leave the house and go somewhere ANYWHERE to distract us and give us some fresh air and a change of scenery. He's finally (finally!!) on a pretty consistent sleep schedule as of the past couple months (ever since he dropped his 3rd nap, actually). Most days he wakes at 6am, takes one nap from 9-10ish, a second from 1-2/2:30, then bed by 7pm. And so I'm starting to plan places to go at 10:30-noon and 3-5p as many days of the week as possible. I think we'll be spending lots and lots of afternoons at the local parks this summer...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

not sure I'll survive to the teen years

We've been having kind of a rough day today. Donovan has just been so MOODY. One minute he'll be playing happily, the next all of a sudden OHMYGOD THE SKY IS FALLING AND LIFE IS AWFULLLLLL. He threw a full-on tantrum last night, and again today, b/c he wanted to drink juice from his sippy cup but wanted me to hold it for him. He literally was sitting on the floor, screaming, tears rolling down his face, trying to push my hand on his cup, refusing to hold it himself. Then after a few minutes he got over it and was ok again????? Then as I was making him lunch today he was super upset and acting like he was STARVING, so I set him in his high chair and offered him some food, which he played with then turned his plate over, and when I took it away and set him back down on the ground he was fine, just walked off babbling and found a toy to play with. I wonder if he's in pain about something-- a few days ago I swore I could feel part of a new tooth breaking the surface on his gum, but now I don't feel anything so I don't know what that was. I hate to give him pain meds for no reason, but I also hate thinking of him in pain and me not know it. *Sigh*

I also got very frustrated with thew weather today, which was apparently undecided on whether it should rain or be nice and sunny. D and I were all set to walk to the park this afternoon (Get some fresh air! Conserve gas and pollution by walking instead of driving! Spend some time outside of this friggin house where D was finding everything to be horribly upsetting!) and halfway there it started raining. So we come home, and instead drive to Gymboree free play time... and the sun comes out as I drive into the parking lot.

I think D may be going through a pahse of a stronger preference for me now. When Zach's parents were here they'd bathe him every night, and he kinda threw a fit. Usually he LOVES his bath. Then they left and those following 2 nights Zach gave D his bath... and again, he screamed both times (which is odd, as usually he's happy with either of us). But now if I bathe him, he's fine. Tonight I left as D was finishing his dinner so I could go to the post office, and he started screaming as soon as he realized I was going somewhere and didn't stop until going into his crib to sleep 30 mins later. In a way it's sweet, but EGADS!

And now, to remind us all of how cute that little monster my sweet boy can be:

I guess he is a mighty cute ball and chain.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Reading: Parent Effectiveness Training by Thomas Gordon

Last week Zach and I visited a used bookstore where I had a credit. I was looking through some of the parenting books looking to see if by any chance they had What To Expect: The Toddlers Years. They didn't, but I did find a copy of Parent Effectiveness Training. I didn't know much about the "P.E.T." method, but had read a blurb in a different book and the little I'd heard made it sound similar to the Montessori approach and the advice in How to Talk So Kids Will Listen... (a book I have and find to be brilliant: I may not have direct parenting experience with it yet but saw those methods used in the classroom with 3-6 yr olds and be very effective). I figured it would be "free" since I had the credit, and what the heck-- I can't seem to get enough of reading about parenting advice (I figure I'm maybe just getting better at filtering out the advice I don't agree with...?).

I started reading it over the weekend, and am still only in the first couple chapters. I find myself going back and forth on the things they say, loving some things and feeling pretty apprehensive about others. But, it's only the beginning, and figure I should try to read the whole thing before making judgments.

I did have a pat-myself-on-the-back moment when I read their advice to try to let kids be and not interrupt them as much as possible, something I already practice as much as I can. Their reasoning is that when a child is doing something (building with legos, painting a picture, etc) any time we interfere we're sending a message that says "you can't do this right on your own, you need my help" (a message of unnacceptance in their words). Giving them a chance to explore on their own, even if they do it "wrong", sends a message of "you are capable of doing this on your own." In Montessori we also try to interrupt as much as possible, so as to allow the child to have uninterrupted flows of thought and as a way to help them develop concentration and focus in what they are doing. I realize I am quite lucky in that I have a kid who is able to entertain himself pretty well at least part of the day, and I try to get out of his way when this happens. This attitude also, very conveniently, allows me to not only feel no guilt but feel good about being able to do other things while he's happy playing with his blocks or dragging a paper bag all around the house. ; )

The other, more important, piece of advice they give is how to develop "active listening" skills. This I know I will have much more trouble with-- as is why I'm reading about this stuff now, in the hope of getting into good habits from the beginning. Active listening is about allowing the child to talk and elaborate on their thoughts without any sorts of judgments, advice, or opinions on our part. The idea is that this helps validate their feelings and thoughts, and allows them to talk things out and find their own solution rather than being told what to do by someone else. I'm a big-time advice giver, I always want to help people out and so am constantly giving out advice when it seems people are struggling with something. There are times when this can be helpful and appreciated, but I also should work more on not giving advice unless it's asked. The funny thing is I know I get frustrated at Zach for doing this exact thing-- when I want to just vent about something and he tries to help me solve it and all I want is an ear to listen. So this will be a challenge, to be aware of my reactions (both to other aduts, and eventually to Donovan as he starts speaking more) and work on developing these skills. One big lesson in parenting and dealing with children in general, is that KNOWING what you should do and how to handle certain situations and then ACTUALLY DOING IT, remembering to use that knowledge in the moment, are two very, very different things.

I'm curious to see what else they cover in the book. I've read a few things they allude to that kinda made me cringe-- at one point they mentioned being against "limit-setting" and I really want to know what they mean by that, as I so strongly believe that children most definitely need strongly-defined limits. I don't know if I had much of a purpose to this post, other than to "think aloud" some of my thoughts on what I've read so far. If any of you have experience with the advice in this book or other thoughts/comments to share I'd love to hear them.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Hold the Phone

A friend of mine jokes that when you're a stay at home mom, every day is a Saturday. It's true in that we don't have to get dressed up and go to a job and have much more freedom about what we want to do on any particular day. But I still always look forward to the weekends and having Zach home-- both for the sake of his company in general, but also as an extra pair of hands to help out. He usually gets up with Donovan Saturday mornings, letting me sleep in for an extra couple hours. By about 8:30 he usually gets bored, I think, and he and D will come into the room while Zach sings "On va reveiller la mere" (we're going to wake up mom, a song he made up and which I find really adorable) and as soon as Zach opens the door D makes a beeline for me laughing and smiling, so happy to see me. I'm not always completely ready to get up, but he's so darn cute that it's hard to turn him away.

Yesterday afternoon the sky clouded over and today we continued with cloudy, almost-cold, almost-rainy weather. We headed to the mall to use up a coupon I had, and while I shopped Zach let D walk around in one area of the mall where he made lots of new friends by being unbelievably cute. He also started trying to re-arrange the GAP display windows. I got to take a luscious 2 hour nap in the afternoon while Zach took D to the park and to pick oranges with his new fruit picker. He's so funny, coming back with reports of which house has the best fruit, and the one house down the block that has a great orange tree and the owner doesn't even like oranges so never picks them (he does at least try to ask permission first, of course), etc. He then opens up the oranges and tangerines, determining which types seem better for eating vs juicing, noting how one type makes juice with lots of pulp while another has hardly any. This is the man that also loves the apple and grape stands at the farmer's market that have as many different varietals as possible so he can taste test the different ones. Most of us grew up buying produce from grocery stores where your choices are red vs green grapes, or maybe 3 or 4 types of apples, and he's fascinated by how much more variety nature holds that most of us have no idea about. True story-- I always wondered why grape flavoring tasted the way it does, as it didn't taste anything like grapes to me. It seemed so strange. Then a couple years back I tasted concord grapes for the first time at a market stand. OH!, I thought. So THIS is where that flavor comes from! I'd had no idea.

For dinner tonight we treated ourselves to Panera, then I put D to bed while Zach headed out to watch a local soccer game with a friend. It's always a bit of a bummer spending the evening alone, but I did manage to get a lot of little things done tonight. One of them was catch up (I'm always catching up!) on recent pictures. Below are a few cute ones from the other day-- D's had this toy phone since his birthday (a gift from my dad) and he's had lots of fun playing with it and pressing the buttons, even holding the phone up to my ear so I can talk into it, but this past week was the first time that he put the phone up to his own ear. I swear he even said "Hello" into the phone, then started just babbling. So. Friggin. Adorable.

"Hey, Sophia. Yeah, I'm calling from my purple phone. Pretty sweet, huh?"

"SAY WHAT?! OMG no way! That's CRA-"

"Um, hold on, my mom's in the room and can hear me talking. Gotta go. Text me later?"


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