Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

, originally uploaded by mightymarce.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Online Privacy

One of the many decisions modern parents have to make these days when they have their first child, is how public they will be online with their family/child life and information.  I know many parents who won't post any pictures children online, or very very few, for fear of online predators.  Or they might post only on password-protected websites.

I have, um, clearly chosen a different route.  There was little question in my mind as to posting pictures of Donovan online, in fact my main concerns were how to best get as much of his pictures, videos, etc, online in the most easily accessible way possible, so that family members who were then an ocean away could watch him grow up.

I am a blogger.  I started this blog over 5 years ago, and continue to post regularly.  Especially since becoming a mother, this blog has been my outlet and, at times, my salvation.  I also am a photographer, I enjoy taking pictures and creating something beautiful and sharing that with the world.  It is only natural that my most frequent target also happens to be my child.  Combine all that with a large, very loving family who cannot get enough of their grandchild/nephew/cousin and my deep desire to give that to them as best I can, and what you get is it would be pretty much going against my very nature to NOT post pictures of D, to NOT write a blog on his behalf.

Every so often I've questioned this openness and wondered if I should be more cautious.  I do take precautions, of course-- on this blog I make a very conscious effort to not mention our last names, to not talk about specific places we go to or give away too much detail.  I'm much freer on Donovan's blog, but I keep that link much more secluded as well (you will not find a link to there from here, for example, and his blog is not searchable nor listed in google's directory).  I do link to his blog on facebook and have recently also started importing his posts to my account, but everything on my facebook page is set to be viewable by friends only so should be fairly safe.  My flickr stream is public, but have fixed my settings so only contacts listed as Family & Friends can download my pictures.  I know there are ways around these precautions for someone who is determined, but overall I'm satisfied by the balance of availability and security.

I recently got a weird message on flickr from someone with broken English asking to use Donovan's pictures on Orkut.  A quick search on flickr revealed Orkut to be Google's own social networking site, one that never took off here in the US but is extremely popular in Brazil... and where making up fake profiles and stealing pictures of cute kids and posting them as your own is a very popular game.  Reading through threads in certain groups, this has been a pretty major problem in the past.  It definitely creeped me out a bit.  It made me re-evaluate how public I've been.  This person may go ahead and steal pictures of Donovan, others may already be doing so and there's no real way for me to try to find out.  That is not a pleasant thought.

But I don't think I'm going to change anything because of it.  Here is my thinking-- and I completely understand that many others, possibly most, don't agree, and I'm not trying to make any sorts of judgments on the way anyone else handles this.  Everyone has different comfort levels, preferences, and priorities and you have to do what feels right for you.  But to me, this sort of online "threat" isn't that big of a real threat.  I cannot control what anyone does to an image, just as I cannot control what anyone does to a thought or memory, and I refuse to let that control my life.  Anyone could take a picture of Donovan while we're out (which is legal if you're in a public place) and do whatever they wish with it.  Just as someone could try to kidnap him while we're out, or decide to follow us home from the market (something I see as much more likely than someone tracking us down via the internet).  These are fears, and I take some precautions against them (not letting him out of my sight while in public) but I will not let them keep us from going out and enjoying life and the outdoors. (I also can't help but think that, if the Leta Armstrongs of the blogging world haven't been abducted yet, chances are we're pretty safe.) Similarly, to me (and everyone's different on this) stuff done to a picture of me or him, is not directly harming either of us and it's beyond our control, and it is more important to me that my mom, and sisters, and other family and friends have easy access to them.  The only way to protect him from ever having an image stolen is to never, ever post anything publicly, and I just don't want to be that limited.  Maybe that's selfish of me, I don't know.  This is certainly something that will keep being re-evaluated over time, and Donovan will have a much larger say in what's posted where and how as he gets older.

The funny thing is, while this is definitely a decision that we all make at some point, I wonder how many of us make it very consciously.  I realized when I got that creepy message that I had never sat down and talked to Zach about the way I handle Donovan's online presence (he's well aware of the blog and pictures, etc, and seems fine with it, and overall agrees with me).  So I'm writing this partially to get my thoughts out, and partially to open up the conversation for everyone else, too.  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, September 28, 2009

International Babywearing Week

It appears today is the last day of International Babywearing Week.  We don't use our slings as much anymore these days (though my hugamonkey sling has come in quite handy for carrying D while de/boarding during air travel), but I think it's probably fair to say that neither D nor I might've survived past his first few months without them.  My favorite was my New Native Inc pouch sling (which has since disappeared, sadly...).  There were so, so many times when D would get so grouchy and upset, and I'd slip him into the sling and walk/bounce around a bit and he'd fall right asleep.  We also went out on walks around the village and into town in the sling, when I didn't feel like dealing with a stroller.  Zach preferred the Rocking Baby Pouch (in the pic above) since it fit his body better and was expandable, and later as D got heavier and two-shoulder support a bit more critical, moved up to our hand-me-down Snugli carrier (below).  D loved being carried forward-facing in it.

Most of my slings are now on loan to a friend with a newborn, who seems to also be getting a good bit of use out of them.  I know they're not for everyone, but I found my slings to be such a blessing as a way to hold and snuggle with D without tiring my arms out as much-- or just being able to get other things done while still holding him.  I look forward to using them again whenever we have our next baby-- if nothing else I know they'll be a handy asset for holding a new baby while chasing after their older brother...  ; )

Saturday, September 26, 2009

now we can get her that diamond grill she's always wanted

Sierra's been kinda overdue for her shots, so this morning I took her and Nev (who had an exam last month but needed a booster shot as well) to the vet for get checked out and caught up to date.  The vet literally took a single look at her and immediately said, "Have you noticed that she's lost some teeth?"

Errr... What?

She proceeded to show me, how all the teeth on one side of her top jaw are missing (except for the big fang, that one's still there), and she has a couple missing on the bottom, too, and one that's not looking so hot.  Apparently it's relatively common in cats (affects 28-67% of cats.  Yes that's really the statistic listed) to have these "feline resorption lesions" which act sort of like cavities but are different, an unexplained auto-immune response that basically rots their teeth.  She recommended giving Sierra a full dental cleaning to clean out her mouth and possibly remove that one nasty-looking tooth (with an estimated bill of $500 and a day's stay at the animal hospital).  She may still lose more teeth as she gets older, but the cleaning should sanitize her mouth and help save her remaining teeth.

Amazingly, Sierra hasn't given any indications of being in any sort of pain, and has been eating her (dry) food quite well so at least it seems she's not suffering a whole lot from this tooth thing.  Some websites I looked at recommended doing routine cleanings every 6 months, which is just not gonna happen, I don't even know if we'll get around to brushing her teeth every day (another recommendation).  But I think we'll go ahead with this first cleaning and then see how things go.

I asked if this tooth thing could possibly be caused by stress-- poor Sierra has undergone many major life changes in the past few years including two international moves, the arrival of a baby (who is now a toddler who loves to chase her), and then a new kitten in the house.  But the vet insisted that stress has nothing to do with it, it's just a random thing that happens.  Which helped me feel less guilty about it all.  Other than the tooth issue she's a healthy, beautiful, 9lb, 6 yr old kitty (Nev's quickly catching up, weighed in at 5lb on the dot this morning and she's still only like 4 months old) who continues to adjust beautifully to all these changes and demands in her kitty life.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

smoothie convert

My friend Julia left for a 2 week vacation in Spain with her sister and mother (they're all celebrating milestone birthdays this year), so her mom-in-law Betsy flew out to help take care of baby Sophia. I've met Betsy many times and the best way to describe her is, well, she's about the sweetest soul to ever exist. Yesterday afternoon Donovan and I dropped by to say hello and let the kiddoes play, and while we were there Betsy was telling me about she's been making smoothies for herself more often, and putting greens in along with the fruit (raw spinach, sprouts, etc) as a way to get them into your diet and get those extra vitamins but in a way that tastes much better. As an experiment she made a smoothie for Donovan and Sophia to try. Sophie wasn't too into hers at the moment, but D sucked his down and demanded more when Betsy made a 2nd batch for us grownups. I thought he might-- he loves drinking from a straw, and anytime I've bought myself a smoothie and let him have a taste he's tried to drink about half of it. But it never occurred to me, for some reason, to make them for him myself, at home. Duh.

So this afternoon I went for it-- I found some frozen blueberries and raspberries in the fridge, added half a banana, and some milk, and whadayaknow I put it in a 12oz straw cup for him and he drank at least 3/4 of it. And this is just so awesome to realize, because while certain fruits he can't get enough of (strawberries, and just today he decided he likes blueberries again which he hasn't touched-- at least not in non-frozen form-- in months) most others he won't even bother trying. BUT! He'll probably drink them! (he's guzzled down my peach smoothie before but never dared taste an actual fresh peach) Not to mention getting him to also eat more greens (he does love green peas, and occasionally chows down on broccoli, but that's about it) and I'm seriously loving this idea.

(Of course, now the trick is to remember about this and actually make them for him... which, sadly, is harder than it sounds...)

You know what other frozen drink he likes to sip through a straw? Milkshakes. Specifically, In-N-Out milkshakes. We got In-N-Out a few times while Zach's brother, Andrew, was visiting a few weeks ago, at his request (sadly we don't go very often anymore since there isn't one that convenient to our home) and D showed a very strong preference for their shakes, specifically chocolate and vanilla ones (he didn't seem as keen on the strawberry for some reason). I kinda feel guilty sometimes for giving it to him since he drank enough for it to be a significant portion of his meal both times, but then again it's mostly ice cream which probably has more sugar but otherwise is not that different from the whole-milk yogurt we give him (and, it's not like we do that every day). Besides, he could probably use the extra calories... ; )

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

...grant me patience...

It is alarming how easily he can push my buttons and get me so frustrated and mad... but also amazing how quickly he can also fill my heart with wonder and awe. I realize that while he definitely is difficult to deal with at times, at least a decent chunk of the problem is me not being patient and flexible enough. Each day, each moment, is a new chance to do better. I cross my fingers hoping I'm doing a good enough job, and rejoice in knowing that kids are so damn resilient that even with all the mistakes I have/will make he'll probably still turn out pretty ok.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

all together now: "awwwww!"

I am seriously loving this picture. Believe it or not, it's from a playdate I had several weeks ago and then completely forgot about till I started organizing my backlog of pictures today and rediscovered it. I'm upset that the picture quality isn't that great-- I took it with my point-and-shoot camera and I think the kens was smudged (possibly from tiny toddler fingers brushing against it). Oh well. It still got captured, and it's still just plain adorable.

Today was indeed better than yesterday. We went to the park again in the morning, only to find maintenance people doing yardwork which apparently involves multiple men yielding very, very loud leaf blowers, pointing them at the sidewalks at random and wandering around aimlessly. After about 30 minutes I threw in the towel and brought us back home-- I was getting annoyed and didn't like exposing D to the noise and fumes. We had swim class later on in the morning, he's been doing pretty well there. All of a sudden he's able to climb out of the pool completely on his own, which probably has something to do with all the climbing he's been doing of the shelf in his room.

Then home, lunch, nap... and of course the one day that I'm planning on his hour nap and waiting for him to wake up b/c we're supposed to meet a friend at 2:30 is the day he sleeps in. Oh, Murphy, you are so amusing! We were 30 minutes late, but thankfully Debbie and lil Maddie didn't seem to mind, and the kiddoes had fun playing at the Palo Alto Junior Museum while we mamas caught up. The museum was cool, a lot of the exhibits are geared to kids older than D is but he still had a lot of fun playing with it all, especially the ones involving tennis balls. They also have a mini zoo in the back, D was really into the turtle and teeny leopard shark.

Traffic wasn't too bad coming back, even though it was 5pm already (yay for the carpool lane!), and then we played a bit before dinner, bath time, and bedtime. He was being super cute in his bath and while getting his pjs on. That kid can sure turn on the charm when he wants to.

And now for the usual race of trying to fix dinner for ourselves, fit in a bit of The Daily Show, time as a couple, and hopefully get to bed by a decent hour (you know, like by 9 or 10pm).

Monday, September 21, 2009

Good Morning, Mr GrumpyPants!

This morning... sucked. It just sucked. I keep thinking Mondays should go smoothly since I've just had the nice weekend and should have refilled my stores of patience and love and all that crap, but in reality they seem to not be much fun.

It all started out last night when I made an effort to get to bed at a decent hour, and praised myself for making sure I got 8 hrs of sleep. And then I laid in bed, awake, unsuccessfully trying to fall asleep for a good hour or more. And then D woke up around 11:30 and I had to go soothe him (didn't take long, but getting out of bed is enough). So there goes my good night of sleep. Then D woke up this morning (6am, as usual!) and I wasn't ready at all for it, and apparently neither was he as he started whining almost right away. *Sigh* We spent 2 hours playing at the park, which helped, and then went and played with his friend down the street, but there was still a good bit of whining on his part, and frustration and even some yelling on mine. I'm not proud of how I handled this morning.

Then D took a nap, and because I was so dead tired myself I took one, too, only to then wake up still feeling tired and groggy. And then I kinda had a mini breakdown, because it's kinda ridiculous just how exhausted I am. I feel bad complaining about this as I have friends with newborn who are still waking up several times a night and I do remember that level of sheer utter exhaustion still, and THANK GOD we're past that because it is debilitating. But I expected that once D started sleeping through the night I'd get my energy back, and sometimes I do but so much of the time I'm still just so damn tired and it seems like there's nothing I can do to fix or change that-- even if I try to get to bed early enough, I either have trouble sleeping (so cruel, seriously), or D wakes up, or just the sheer criminality of having to get up at 6am does it. And there's just no end in sight, which is what's so depressing about it all.

So, um, yeah, that all sucked.

But then it got better in the afternoon. D and I went to the YMCA to swim in the pool, and he has such a blast. He kept making funny faces when he splashed the water (and it'd splash him in the face), and then he kept getting out of the pool, walking around to the steps, walking down the steps into the water, then climbing back out the side, over and over again. And I had to laugh at how cute he was being, and that helped everything feel a lot better. Zach then came home a little bit early from work and we went walking around the block, and it is really impressive how far Donovan can walk if you just let him lead (and that's after getting tired out swimming earlier, too). Now Zach's getting him off to bed, giving me time to blog and maybe, possibly, catch up on some of the pictures I'm so behind on (another recent frustration-- now that D only takes a single, 1hr nap, my daytime free time has dropped significantly and I'm really feeling it). I'm crossing my fingers things go better overall tomorrow.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

girlie day

This morning I got to go to a makeup show at Nordstroms with a few girlfriends. They do these shows every year, I think both in the fall and spring. You show up at the mall at 8am, watch a show for 2 hours where they talk about new beauty trends and new products by the various up-scale brands, they give away prizes and stuff, and then afterwards you can go get your makeup done. I've gone a few times before, and it's good fun-- an excuse to hang out and have someone put way too much makeup on you and then spend too much money buying products afterwards, but a fun excuse to try something new nonetheless. And, most importantly, an excuse to have some girlie time away from home... and then hubby, and the kiddo. ; )

I got to try out Philosophy's microdelivery peel, my first attempt at a peel ever as I've always been a bit scared they'd make your skin fall off. Instead it didn't seem much different from a scrub, and my skin did feel pretty nice afterwards. I didn't get it, but did get talked into buying a small vial of vitamin c powder that you mix with your moisturizer (when I showed it to Zach later, classic engineer that he is, reminded me I probably could have bought straight vitamin c powder for a fraction of the price from a lab... whatevs). I then had an appointment with Bare Escentuals for my makeup. I wasn't too crazy about the look she gave me (though everyone else complimented me on it so I guess it wasn't all bad-- though that seems to be how it always goes, everyone hates their own look but others think they look fine) but I still ended up buying a bunch of stuff that I did like, and kinda need since I recently weeded out most of my old makeup. I was very tempted to get their new matte mineral foundation (they out it on me at 11am, and at 8:30 pm it still looks fabulous) but I still have plenty left of my current stuff so I think I'll wait.

I unfortunately then came home to a cranky Donovan and, as a result, a slightly frazzled Zach. D's been waking up either in the middle of the night, or just super early in the morning, a bunch lately-- including last night when he woke up around 11 and I don't think got back to sleep till 1am or later. Not fun. Perhaps he's working on some new developmental milestone or something and that's messing with his sleep, whatever it is I hope it passes soon because tired kiddo = grumpy kiddo = mommy sometimes wants to toss him out the window. At the moment Zach is unwinding by watching FOOTBALL! D went down to sleep easily and quickly, and I'm hoping he rests well tonight and is in a better mood tomorrow. We shall see. If nothing else, I have some brand new concealer to help hide the dark blue circles from being up all night with him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

what I've been up to

Zach had a business dinner to go to last night, and started Spanish class up again tonight (6-9pm) so these past 2 days have been a bit on the long side. Donovan was pretty grumpy today, throwing a few mean tantrums like I haven't seen in a while, and that's with today having been a 2-nap day. But maybe it had to do with the fact that we didn't get to spend much time outside at all today, for various reasons. Will try to remedy that tomorrow. The funny thing is he'll switch from OHMYGODSKYISFALLING grumpiness to giggles and silliness in about 0.05 seconds, so when he wasn't being grumpy he could be pretty darn cute. He's all of a sudden saying more words, both on his own (I heard "appie" for apple a few times the other day, and today, he kept saying "eye" while pointing at my and his eyes) and also repeating after me (semi-comprehensible versions of marmot, tiger, cat, and blue ["boo"]). He then also says a bunch of stuff that's totally indescipherable, which is also pretty darn cute.

I've been having fun playing with my iTouch since it arrived on Tuesday (and then today I received my felt case for it from etsy, wheee!). I love the Wi-Fi access, being able to check Twitter and Facebook without opening the laptop at all, which seems to be making my "online" time a bit more effective (not as distracted by links and other pages, etc). It's also just plain fun, the touch interface is just SO COOL. Zach was playing with it last night after he got home and is convinced he'll have to get himself one, too, eventually. Hype and brand "coolness" or whatever aside, I can totally see the intrigue of the iPhone.

In addition, I started reading NurtureShock the other day. I've read and liked Po Bronson in the past, so was very interested when I happened to catch a full interview with him on NPR about this new book he co-wrote. It's all about our "cultural norms" when it comes to child-rearing and how many of them are not only not supported by any actual research, but are actually discounted by it. Examples include how you praise your children, dealing with racism, lack of sleep, etc. It's been fascinating to read, and is already changing the way I parent Donovan. It's so refreshing to read a parenting book that's backed by real, hard evidence rather than just a hypothesis made up by the author and supported by conjecture and handpicked success stories.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

out of doors

D and I spent a good 2 hours at the playground this morning. Usually there's not many people out yet in the morning, but today there happened to be 3 other blond-headed boys all about D's same age (ranged from 15-18 months) to play with. One of the moms/boys I'd already met a couple times at the playground, the others were new. It was really nice, all of us kinda chatting as our kids ran around (one of the reasons I love that playground-- it's gated in so no fear of kids running off, so can risk carrying on some semblance of a conversation with others at the same time). They all seemed to live around here and frequent that park often, so hopefully we'll meet up again. I even managed to remember their names (both the kids AND the moms!) and wrote them down just in case. I'm so bad at remembering names usually, someone will introduce themselves to me and 2 seconds after they say their name I've already forgotten it. I've started making a conscious effort to repeat their name in my head a couple times right away, even repeat it out loud to them, and that seems to help "seal" the name in my memory.

Anyway, so the kids were playing and one of the moms had a friend with this cute puggle (pug+ beagle, never actually seen one before) that came by as she was walking her dog. This dog turned out to be the most gentle creature ever. She's so well trained that they can let the little boy hold the leash and "walk" the dog (as in, kid holds leash, dog walks at perfect pace for kid to keep up, they walk along together... and OH MY GOD if it isn't the CUTEST SIGHT EVER). So of course, as soon as the kid saw his friend and the dog he wanted to go say hi and "walk the dog." Pretty soon all the boys were out patting the dog, D included although he never actually touched the dog (other than a couple near-eye-pokings) but he did get to walk the dog himself for a good bit. Seriously, adorable beyond words. I wish I'd gotten pictures.

The afternoon was much less fun and cute-- we spent much of it running errands, with D being a bit whiny for a lot of it. Both yesterday and today he woke up extra early, as in around 5am, and has been visibly tired very early in the day as a result. Yesterday he took a morning nap because of it, today I avoided that in the hopes that it'll make it more likely that he sleeps in somewhat tomorrow (like, you know, 6am). But it meant that for all of today he was more touchy and grouchy, which let me tell ya that's LOADS of fun to deal with. Speaking of which, I don't know if it's temporary grumpiness or just the way things are going now, but I've noticed a significant shift in D's happiness levels while in the stroller out shopping. As in, he doesn't have nearly the patience he used to, and browsing is now mostly out of the question when out with him. Which kinda sucks. But I guess it's an excuse/reason to demand solo shopping time more often when Zach can watch him. I suppose I also need to figure out ways to play games and involve him in the shopping experience (whether for food or clothes, etc-- anyone have tips?) so he feels more involved and, hopefully, more patient and agreeable. Sounds easier said than done...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

love nips

As much as I wanted to get a second cat, I was worried for a while that she'd cause a bunch of trouble and stress and basically too much to deal with when I've already got my hands full with Donovan. Nev, however, has been awesome. More than awesome. She lived in a foster home before coming to us, so she was already well-versed in the ways of litter boxes and has not had a single accident to date. Sierra has been reacting so much more calmly than expected, and while there's no cuddling yet and Sierra hasn't quite resumed her habit of sleeping on our bed at night, they have started playing and chasing each other and basically the bonds of feline friendship seem to be growing. And Donovan, he smiles each time he sees Nev and she doesn't run in the opposite direction each time she sees him, so that's pretty much a huge success as well.

Potential extra work aside, it's so great to have a young kitten along with a toddler. It's like Nev doesn't know better and so she just deals with him (part of it is also that D's surprisingly gentle with her, something that continues to amaze me). She lets him pet her, she hangs out near him and even sits next to him, and as a result I get to enjoy such super duper adorable scenes like this one, and this one, and this one. Ok, so maybe she's kinda biting his toes there, but she seems to know not to do it very hard and he obviously isn't minding it. Basically, it's really fun watching these 2 grow up together and get to be such good friends. I think we definitely picked the right kitty. =)

In other news, my new iPod Touch came in the mail today!!! Wheeeeee! Very exciting. I had a few computer issues, and am figuring out how to best work iTunes, but I've now got it loaded up with music, some pictures, and a few fun/essential apps. This will definitely be a fun toy to explore, and has the potential to be infinitely useful. Yay. =)

Monday, September 14, 2009

364 days left in my 20's

Despite the lack that for the life of me I couldn't decide what I wanted to do to celebrate my birthday this year, yesterday turned out to be pretty fabulous. I didn't get to sleep in much since Andrew's flight was at 8am and so Zach had to drive him to the airport pretty early, but Jenny drove down and arrived at our door around 8:30 or so, bringing a box of Krispy Kreme donuts with her.

We all walked down to the farmers market together and did our food shopping, after which Zach and D walked back home and Jen and I did some clothes shopping at Therapy... where I found an incredibly adorable sorta-retro RED winter coat, and a knock-you-out-sized owl ring (I seem to be on a bit of an owl kick at the moment). Then we grabbed a coffee and just chatted for a while.

We got back home in time to make something for lunch and clean the house up a bit, before a few friends came over in the afternoon to hang out and share the prosecco Zach had bought for the occasion... and also the delicious cupcakes that Julia brought over. Eventually kiddoes needed to get fed and bathed, so everyone left and we got D down to bed before picking up some pizza for us to share for dinner before then Jen had to drive back to SF.

Nothing too grand or spectacular, but a pretty great day overall. =)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Food Wars Update+

Ok, first of all, a big THANK YOU to everyone who commented on my last post! All the advice was very helpful and appreciated. I've been trying to really stick to a rule of only eating when he's in his high chair, both from a safety standpoint (choking hazard) and also to not get crumbs and food all over the house. However I know I'm not the best model of this, and it also doesn't seem realistic unless I really want to wage war between myself, Donovan, and his food. So when he gets into one of these moods where he just wants to nibble incessantly, I'll put out a bowl of cheerios or small crackers or something and let him have at it. I also need to break the habit of using his snack breaks to do other stuff. It's easy to do-- he's confined to his chair, the laptop is right there on the table, it's so tempting to check email or facebook while he's eating. Especially since now that he only sleeps for a grand total of maybe 1 hour during the day (and during his waking hours he's incessantly pulling me towards the front door), I don't have much free time otherwise. It'll be a tough habit to break, but I suppose it needs to be done. It also might get me to actually eat regular meals and snacks with him since otherwise I tend to forget (the mommy brain diet!).

It's been a fun, somewhat busy week. Monday we all went to the zoo. It was cool to see Donovan getting more into the animals, watching them with more interest at each visit. I took a bunch of pictures, but have yet to even touch them. Hopefully I'll get around to that soon. After the zoo we met up with Jenny and walked around Golden Gate Park for a bit. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and everyone seemed to be out. Eventually we left, leaving Andrew there to stay with Jenny for a couple days so he could get some work done at his work's SF office. He came back Thursday morning, after which we ran some errands all together and then in the afternoon drove to Capitola for some beach time. I checked the weather beforehand to see if it'd be foggy and was told it'd be 80F by the afternoon. Sweet, right? Well, I completely forgot about the FREEZING COLD wind, which easily brought the temps down a good 20-30 degrees. But, D got to play with some other kids, we all had some Pizza My Heart, sea gulls almost made away with our bag of kettle corn (was rescued about 20ft away from our towels by a few good samaritans sitting nearby), and stopped in for a coffee/hot chocolate and one of the many local coffee shops (seriously, there were at least 3 I could see just on one corner, though none were Starbucks).

I've been meaning to paint D's wooden table and chairs set from Ikea, but haven't been finding the time... and figured this weekend, with Andrew around, might be a good time to start. So yesterday when Andrew, Zach, and D went to a park in the morning I stayed behind to sand and prime the kid furniture. It took a good bit longer than I expected, too, though turned out ok (so far). This morning they all went to a nearby farm, and I put on the first coat of paint. I imagine I'll need to do another one at some point, maybe I can squeeze that in later today (don't know too much about painting wood but it seems to follow the same model as painting your nails-- base, 2 coats of paint, wait crap do I need a top coat?). Then I'll be needing D's (and Zach's) help to attempt a cute pattern on the table. At least, I hope it'll turn out cute.

Last night Zach and I went out on a little dinner date. I got a chance to dress up and wear a new sleeveless cowl-neck green sweater I just found at Target, and test out this peacock feather headband I bought a couple months ago but haven't had the guts to wear till last night. I dare say I think the ensemble worked. Anyway, dinner was nice-- what a change to actually get to enjoy our food together, at the same time, as opposed to taking turns while the other entertains our active toddler. ; ) My birthday is tomorrow, Andrew flies out early in the morning but then Jenny will drive in-- and promised to stop by Krispy Kreme for donuts on the way. WOOT! =P She's been bugging me for ages to figure out what I want to do to morrow to celebrate, and I'm just too lame to come up with anything. So we may just sit around eating donuts and singing birthday songs. Next year both Zach and I turn 30, we've vowed we'll do something really cool for that so I guess it's ok if this year's pretty tame. ; )

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Food Wars

I've been having a really hard time figuring out how to deal with Donovan's eating schedule. How often shoukd he snack? How long is a reasonable amount of time for him to sit and eat, and how much is a reasonable ampount to eat in one sitting? How much of a "schedule" should there be and how strictly to stick to it, vs just feeding him when he says he's hungry?

Here's how it's been going lately: meals are fairly "set" and consistent. He eats breakfast shortly after waking up, sometime between 6:30 and 7am whenever he seems to ask for food. Lunch is then around 12noon, and then dinner around 6pm. Meals tend to go fairly ok. It's the snacks inbetween that I'm having more trouble with.

Sometimes it goes fine, and he'll ask for 1-2 snacks between each meal and it works out. But then he goes through phases, like he is now, where he will ask for a snack, sit down to eat a couple bites, decide he's done, and then 20-30 minutes later ask for a snack again (I get the feel he gets distracted away from eating, and then keeps realizing that he's actually still hungry). I think this has been paertially prompted by being able to climb up onto his high chair on his own now, so he can just get up there when he decides he wants food. To be honest, this cycle on endless micro-eating drives me batty. And this is where I get caught, because I want him to listen to his own hunger cues and know when he wants to eat and when he is full, but I also don't want to have to cater to this fickle eating. It makes me tired and frustrated and also makes me tend to give him more boring snacks because I don't feel at all like being creative with snack ideas or putting much effort into preparing something that will just get rejected after 2 bites. And then there's the added complication that he's still hovering between 10-15% for weight for his age, and while I'm not that worried about it I also don't want to be denying him calories. So should I put in place a "snack schedule" and just ignore his own hunger cues, encouraging him to "eat while he has a chance" and refusing to give him more inbetween? Or set aside a "minimum time limit" between snacks? Or maybe just set out a bowl of cheerios that he can go to if he decides he wants to eat at a random time? What do you do?

There's also the issue of how much he eats, and of what. I realize that toddler appetites are incredibly fickle and so at times he just won't be hungry. But what do I do about times like tonight, when he didn't eat anything at dinner (6pm) but then after his bath and right before going to bed (7pm) he saw a container of puffs and really wanted them? Or when I set out a plate of food and he rejects it, but signs "more" to show he wants something else? I realize I may be powerless over whether he develops into a super-picky child, but at least for now I really really don't want to get into the habit of giving in to getting him alternate foods when what he's been offered isn't what he wants. I really don't want to end up having to have separate meals for Mom and Dad, and The Kids. I try to offer him at least 2 if not 3 (up to 4 for a meal) types of food at a time, and most of it stuff I know he likies or has liked in the past, so it's not like I'm trying to force him to eat something he doesn't like. At the same time, I also don't want to deny him food or calories.

I hope all of that made sense, and I would love to hear advice or just how you handle some of these things with your kids. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

au revoir, mightymarce studio

So I've closed down my Etsy shop. It's been pretty slow-going for a while. I had been on a big kick to really try to "do it right" by putting a good bit of effort into the shop-- working on new cards, advertising, using my facebook fan page, etc. I kinda lost steam after spend 2 weeks away from all that in Tahoe in July, though, and since then the shop has just kind of... sat there. And I've been busy with everything else in life. And I just don't think I have the time, motivation, or energy to devote to to the shop right now, at least not enough to really do much with it. I knew it was time to give up (at least for now) when I got a random order in and instead of being super excited as usual, I felt annoyed at then having that extra "to-do" added to the list. Not a good sign.

I have learned a lot from this little venture. I may very well try again in the future to do something with my photography. There's a part of me that wonders about trying to do portraits, though I feel so uncertain about that that it seems a very slight possibility (or at least very far off). I could maybe one day try to sell prints again, or give the photo cards another shot. Paper goods are so tough, it's such a saturated market already, something I didn't really think about at the beginning. I go into different stores and see so many cute/funny/awesome greetings cards for sale, it's hard to compete. People seemed to love my cards, but not quite enough to actually buy them, and my guess is that was kind of a mix between the economy, the saturated paper market, and people plain ole not using paper greeting cards anymore. Though I think finding the right niche could still find you success... my sister recently forwarded me a blog post where the author complained of the lack of GLBT-friendly wedding cards (since almost all feature or strongly hint of a hetero couple). It's a thought.

I also learned a bit about myself. I knew the first year of parenthood would be really intense, and gave myself license to not really worry about anything else during that time. But it turns out it's still really intense, and I see other moms who manage to juggle all the usual mom/caretaker stuff and also do all these other commitments and I just don't know how they do it. It's dissapointing in a way to learn that you just can't (or aren't willing to?) take on quite so much onto your own plate, though at the same time it's also a bit liberating. There's definitely a part of me that feels like, if I'm taking this time to stay at home and not work, then I should focus my energy into being a mom and not letting other stuff get in the way or take away from that (this is completely aside from taking time for myself and things that replenish my energy tank, which add to what I can give as a mother-- I just don't think this venture was quite it, though photography as a whole can be).

So I'm taking a step back. I have ideas, but I'm putting them on the backburner. I have a lot of new criteria for if I try something like this again eventually-- like finding a better name (was never quite 100% happy with "mightymarce studio"); researching the market better to see what chance of success is really there; identifying more strongly which parts "hobby" vs which parts "legitimate business" it would be, as it's tough to have it be inbetween; and, if deciding to jump in to the "legitimate business" side of it, then treating it fully as so with the proper planning and also carving out time to devote to it, even if that means scheduling baby-sitters, etc. In the meantime I'll continue to have fun taking pictures and learning more about the process, both pre-and post-shutter click.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Can you hear me now?

Andrew (Zach's brother and carbon copy... except fo the freckles) is here visiting. He arrived Friday afternoon and is staying through next weekend. His arrival has coincided nicely with the onset of cable TV in our house, and of FOOTBALL SEASONNNNNNN!!!!!!1 meaning so far they've done some good brotherly bonding by watching parts of the 5+ games per day that Zach is recording on the DVR. At least they don't insist on watching the entire games. These two are 6 years apart and are incredibly close, proof that siblings don't have to be super close in age to have a close bond.

We haven't done too much all together so far-- Saturday was devoted to lounging around and football... oh and GETTING NEW PHONES! That's right, we finally got tired with the non-existent cell phone reception we were getting with T-Mobile (to be fair I think we got decent reception most places, just not inside our house. Also for the record, the customer service I got on the phone was great both times I called) so I called and when it was determined that there was nothing they could do to improve our coverage, they agreed to waive the $400 of cancellation fees to break our contract. WOOT! Our neighbors had said they use Verizon and get great reception, and Andrew uses them, too, and has been really happy, so we went there in the late afternoon and managed to get a pretty nice deal (buy 1 get 1 free... after rebates) on our phones. My number got switched over right away and I can already tell how much better the reception is. Unfortunately Zach's apparently in cell phone limbo, his T-Mobile phone no longer in service but his new one not yet working. We may be calling about that this morning.

Sunday we walked down to the farmers market and had talked about then driving to the beach, but that seemed like too much effort. So Zach and Andrew instead went to the YMCA to play some basketball, and later (at Donovan's insistence-- seriously, he kept grabbing my hand and walking me out of the house to go SOMEWHERE ANYWHERE) we all walked to the nearby school to use the playscapes for a bit before dinner, bath, and bedtime.

Everyone's waking up slowly now, and in a couple hours we'll head up to San Francisco to hang out with Jenny and spend some time at the zoo and maybe Golden Gate park, too, depending on weather. Yay for holidays. =)

Thursday, September 03, 2009

bombarded by needles

I kept waking up last night and not having the best of sleep, ending up in waking up on my own at 6am and figuring at least then I'd feel awake for when D woke up rather than like a complete zombie. He's usually up by 6, maybe 6:15 every morning. It is now 6:40 and still not a peep from him. Figures. But, at least I get a bit of free time before he gets up.

Yesterday I took him in to get his 18 month shots. While there I also asked about the flu shot, so he got his first dose of it (last year he only got 1 dose, and I guess the first time kids get a flu shot they need 2 doses and then after that can get by with ionly 1 every year). We'll need to go back in a few weeks to get the 2nd dose, and then ask about the swine flu vaccine, too. Anyway, in all he got four shots yesterday. It was pretty traumatic, for both of us. Somehow this set of shots felt worse than previous ones. I picked up some more Motrin on our way home (we were out) and he got full doses all yesterday. He definitely was more tired and touchy at times, but other times seemed totally fine. At one point, after he'd woken up from his nap but was still pretty cranky and tired and he and I were laying in bed together for a bit before getting up to play, I was thinking about how bad it feels as a mom to have to put your kid through this and how I can totally see how the anti-vaccination movement grows. As a mom, any excuse to NOT have to put your child through this (temporary, yes, but still real) misery could be quite welcome. I firmly believe that vaccines are a good thing, beneficial not only for the individual but also for the community as a whole, and that any risks involved in getting the shots is outweighed greatly by the benefits. I acknowledge that by giving him vaccines I'm exposing him to small amounts of chemicals that may not be that great, but again it's for a much greater good and I can't see how these one-time trace exposures are much worse than the every-single-day-of-your-life constant exposure he gets to pollution and the chemicals in our air, food, water, and everything we touch (which I try to limit somewhat, but is hard to do). All that said, yesterday as I watched him get four shots in a row, there was a part of my brain that got this nagging, guilty feeling, and I realize I should look more into the delayed schedule idea, that I haven't explored that option as fully as I possibly should have and just learn more about the justifications there and see if it makes sense to me.

Gotta go. Kiddo's awake.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

keep it together

Before you have kids, you have all these expectations and ideals of what kind of parent you'll be-- how you'll interact with your kids, what kinds of stuff you'll do/allow or refuse to, etc. Then you become a parent. Some of those things you stick to. Others you don't, either because they took too much time/energy/motivation or because they just didn't work. And there are moments when you do feel exactly how you thought you would, totally in love with your child and having the time of your life, laughing and learning with them. But there certainly is a lot of stuff I didn't expect, and a lot of things that have surprised me and even disappointed me about myself. I thought motherhood would come so naturally and easily. Instead, I've found I am just human with needs that still exist even if they're nearly impossible to meet when taking care of someone else. I have been humbled like never before, having so many of my most basic beliefs questioned and brought to light, realizing I have no answers. I am very little like the mother I envisioned myself to be, and I'm mostly ok with that-- I readily embrace the idea of the "good enough mother" and one of the few things I feel confident in is that I will do reasonably right by my kids, that in the end it'll be fine and they'll love me and like me as their mother. But holy shit, this is hard.

I've been having a tough time with Donovan lately. Part of it is that he just seems out of sorts to me. With the bed change, and him dropping his morning nap (and often now also waking up a bit earlier than normal in the morning), he's gone from sleeping 13-14hrs over 24hrs, to maybe now getting 12hrs of total sleep. He seems and looks tired, but I don't know how to help him get more sleep. Sunday night he even woke up 3 times overnight (9pm, 11pm, 3am) crying, I don't know why. Either because of this (being tired), or something else that may also be bugging him (which may be causing the sleep disturbances), he's been really irritable lately, getting easily frustrated and crumpling down in tears for little to no reason. Then he'll randomly perk up, almost as if the earlier scene was faked. The most infuriating thing is when he does something that annoys me (like kicking his legs all around during a diaper change, hitting me repeatedly with his feet) and I grab his legs and firmly tell him to stop and he smiles or even laughs back at me. He's so much fun when he's happy, when he's learning and exploring and playing. But when he's like this, it drives me mad.

I also feel like there's something going on with me that I'm less able to handle it all than usual. Maybe I'm battling a bug (have had a sore throat off and on) and that contributes to feeling tired and worn out, and depleting my patience reserves. And so after enduring the tantrums and screaming, I find myself on the verge of tears and feeling defeated, scaring myself with the anger and resentment I could feel towards my own child. The worst is when this happens on a day like yesterday-- a day when I should have felt refreshed, rested, energized. I'd just had a fun weekend, where Zach let me sleep in both days, where I got to go to a friend's wedding and practice my hobby of photography. Where I spent much of Sunday afternoon working on the photos, feeling happy and proud of what I'd produced at the end. Why then, after all these things that should have replenished me, did I still feel so drained on Monday morning? It was almost like a slap in the face, this realization that you may get these little breaks here and there but in the end this is life, this is where you always come back to, and there is no break because this is just the way it is.

The good thing to know, to try to remind myself of, is that these moments are always temporary. Even yesterday we had a pretty good middle of the day, even if the morning and later afternoon felt awful. I know that I need to learn how to handle those moments better and not get so frustrated. I don't like getting so angry in front of Donovan. I would never, ever hurt him, but even still I don't want him to see me like that-- if I can't hold myself together in times of stress, how can I possibly expect him to do so? I know I need to make sure I get as much sleep as I can so I have the best chance of feeling somewhat rested. I'm also making it a goal to fit in exercise a few times a week, for my health and hopefully to help my sanity, too.

And so I continue along this road as a parent, learning as much about myself as I am about the little person my son is becoming.


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