Monthly Archives: July 2011

Person most wanted

People often say how lucky I am to have two boys because “boys just love their mamas!” And while I am super lucky to have my boys, I’ve known pretty much from the beginning that I am not No. 1 in their lives.

With Declan, as soon as he could see clearly, my mom became his favorite person. I’ve always said he would gladly leave me in a ditch for his BeBe. Kids always love their grandparents (what’s not to love? All the cookies you can eat and no time outs! Sign me up!), and Declan is no different. In fact, all of his grandparents rank higher than me on his list of favorite people. I’ve yet to hear him tell one of them “No, you can’t come downstairs with me! You go UPSTAIRS!” during play time. He has lately become a huge daddy’s boy and actually cries when he leaves some mornings. He doesn’t notice when I drop him off at the gym and cries when I come get him. I’ve accepted this, and I’m totally fine with my place on the list, which I think falls somewhere between the cute teenaged girls on our street and the nurse at the doctor’s office that holds him down for his shots. But that nurse gives out stickers, so I may fall below her.

Anyway, with Simon, you’d think that since we are breastfeeding, I’d be Numero Uno in his world. Wrong. He does seem to hold me in a bit higher esteem than Declan ever has, but I’m pretty sure that’s because he knows I’m the primary food source. He certainly doesn’t cry when I leave him at home, with BeBe (of course not, nobody cries when they are left with her) or at the gym. And now that he’s eating solids and takes an occasional bottle, Paul and I are on equal footing with him, I think. I am positive the cat ranks higher than me because he goes ballistic when she’s around, and he will stop nursing to laugh and play with her, so yea, she wins that battle.

But of course the absolute best person in Simon’s eyes is none other than his big brother.

There is NO ONE that makes Simon happier than Declan. I’ve written about this before, but it still never ceases to amaze me how much he adores his brother. No one could have prepared me for how totally amazing it is to see his adoration, especially while we are in the calm before the storm that will come when Simon is officially mobile and in Declan’s stuff. Because after babysitting in my home for the past 2 years I’ve learned that Declan adores other kids until they touch his toys. He’s going to lose his shit when he realizes he had it easy before, because the kids I babysat at least went home at the end of the day.

Anyway, today was one of those great days where the brother adoration was at an all-time high. We were leaving a toy store and I knew Simon was tired and hungry. I decided to risk the 25 minute drive home without feeding him first, hoping that he’d either pass our or not scream bloody murder until we got on the interstate. Instead, I listened to two boys giggle and cackle for the full ride home. I have no idea what was so funny, and I’m sure most of the time, I won’t. But listening to Simon laugh hysterically at Declan, which prompted Declan to put on a show for Simon, which led to even more laughing was the perfect way to spend the drive.

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Lessons learned at Target

Everyday is filled with learning opportunities when you have kids, both for them and us as parents. I’m constantly amazed at how much their little brains take in and process, and I am regularly surprised by some new skill or ability that one of my kids has mastered. For example, for the past week, I’ve been singing our address to Declan when we pull on our street. Now you can ask him where he lives, and he sings it right back. Cute!

Today at Target, I learned somethings from my kids, and from another customer’s kid. Let me pass my knowledge on!

The first thing I learned wasn’t new to me, but it was something that Declan had introduced me to and Simon reaffirmed this afternoon.

When one of your kids — be they potty trained or in diapers — has to pee/blows out a diaper, it will happen at the farthest point from the nearest bathroom. Guaranteed. Declan has taught me this a couple of times. The first time was a few months ago, we were fresh into potty training, so I was a nervous wreck to be out with him in underwear. As soon as we had arrived, I asked him if he needed to go. “No,” he said. “Are you sure?” “Yes! I don’t need to go potty!”

Fast forward 20 minutes and us standing at the far aisle of the grocery department. “MOMMMYINEEDTOGOPOTTY!!!!!!!”

SHIT! Let’s go!

So off we start, hauling ass through the store, Simon barely hanging on in the buggy as we take corners at 40 MPH, and Declan stopping every 3 aisles to look at something. Of course, my buggy is full, so there’s no where for him to sit, so finally I grab all 40lbs of him, throw him over my shoulder and push the cart with one hand, hoping to God Simon doesn’t go face first on the floor as his infant carrier gets knocked by some poor bystander I run over. Luckily, we made it. I finish my shopping trip panting, red-faced and out of breath, but no one is covered in urine. Score. Lesson learned. Always make him go before we leave or as soon as we arrive.

But I, of course, forgot that lesson, and a few weeks later when we were much more comfortable with Outings in Undies. So there I am in the kids’ clothing section, picking out just a few PJ sets for Simon, so Declan wasn’t contained in the cart (this is rarely a good idea, as you will see later) as it was a short trip. Next thing I know, Declan says “MOMMYIGOTTAGOPOTTY!!!”  as he does. But this time, there was no time to grab him like a sack of potatoes. He just let the stream loose right there on his shoes.

And we left.

Yea, I’m not proud of that, but I was so flustered and freaked out that I just grabbed him and ran. Sorry, Target carpet cleaners.

So now we’ve mastered Declan’s public bathroom habits, Simon has to step up his game.  It is almost a guarantee that if he needs to blow out a diaper, he will wait until A) we are out of the house and B) are, again, at the farthest point from the bathroom. Luckily, his mess is somewhat contained, but why can’t it happen at home? Or in the car on the way? Or right when we walk in? Nope, today it had to happen as we are rounding the corner in the last aisle of the grocery section. I want so bad to finish my shopping trip, but I know that’s not fair to him or his outfit. So off we return to the front of the store, only to head back to the back and then back to the front again. That has to count as exercise, right?

Another interesting fact I learned today is how Declan’s vocabulary has grown. While we were perusing the granola bars, looking like the picture of cute family life, me with my cute little boys happily chattering away, a sweet little old lady, looking like she came straight from her Baptist church meeting, pulled her buggy up behind mine. She smiled at my little boys and I gave her that knowing smile, the one that says “I know, they are so great, aren’t they? So blessed…” and as I walk over to grab some chocolate chip granola bars, I hear my precious 3 year old say something… strange…

“What did you say?”

“Damnit.”

“What? What DID YOU SAY?”

“Damnit.”

I looked up helplessly at Ms. Southern Baptist Convention hoping she didn’t hear. But just to make sure she did, Declan repeated it again.

“Damnit!”

I looked at her with a look that I hoped would convey “OMG, whose horrible kid is this?? Not mine!” but the fact that I had already claimed them with my smugness a few seconds before gave me away.

Then I tried to play innocent.

“Where on EARTH did you hear that?? WHERE could he have heard that??!” I said in a voice that sounded nothing like my own, looking at this woman that clearly couldn’t give a shit that my kid just cussed in Target. But she was a witness to this crime and I was trying to convince her I wasn’t guilty.

She just laughed and said “They only have to hear it once!” and walked away. I wanted to yell “Yes! He heard it once! From TV! Not my TV! We don’t have TV! He was kidnapped and his kidnappers taught him!” but she was busy with her cereal selection. I hung my head in shame and slunk off to the baby section, where I hoped to find other bad moms hanging out, watching their kids smoke and get in fights.

When I got there, I didn’t find any smoking toddlers, but I did witness another woman’s “bad mom” moment. As soon as we were parked to scope out the baby food selection, I hear a woman yell “JACKSON?” and see 2 adult women and an older teenaged guy standing together. They began splitting up and they all were yelling for Jackson. The mom was clearly getting very panicked, and yelled down to some workers “MY SON! HE’S 2 AND WE CAN’T FIND HIM!” and the grandma and older boy were frantically running around the men’s section screaming for Jackson. Finally, the teen boy stooped down and appeared with a red-faced toddler, who had been hiding under a shelf the whole time. The  mom came running over and I know she was torn between beating the ever-living daylights out of him and hugging him to death. She chose to hug him and her relief was obvious.

Three adults amount to nothing when a toddler puts his mind to something. THREE ADULTS lost 1 child in a small section of a store. Lesson learned: don’t ever underestimate the little ones. Ever.

 

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Turning the corner

The first rule of Sleep Club is don’t talk about Sleep Club. Don’t mention it, don’t brag about it, ignore the questions. Any mom will tell you that the MINUTE you go squawking about how great your little peanut is sleeping, that child will be up every 90 minutes for the next 6 weeks. It’s a proven fact. Look it up.

I’m risking breaking this rule, though, because the relief I have been feeling lately is worth it. This isn’t so much a brag about how great Simon is sleeping, but more of realizing that we have turned the proverbial corner of babyhood from the miserable “WTF is going on, why can’t I figure this out???!” to the  place of “I GOT THIS!”

Coming in at just under 6 months, it took me a while, but I’ll take it.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve gone from frazzled, emotional and stressed maniac to cool, calm and collected  mama. Well, as cool, calm and collected as I’ll ever be. The transition has happened in stages, so it’s not like I’ve been totally miserable for the past 5.5 months. But the last few hurdles standing between me and my sanity (pretend I have some, I do) seem to have been conquered.

I no longer feel like this every night. Winning.

I’ve written recently about starting sleep training. We started sleep training to get him napping in his crib and out of the swing, to stay awake during nursing so he would get a full feed, to get him to sleep longer stretches at night and to keep bedtime from taking 3+ hours. It was gradual. The first couple of nights were great. Yes, there were tears, but he seemed to immediately get the gist of what we were doing. He has been napping pretty great and waking up consistently at 1 and 4 to nurse and go right back down. But bedtime was taking FOR-EV-ER if I let him call the shots and nurse himself to sleep. But if I cut him off from nursing when I thought he was done, he would then cry for upwards of an hour or more before falling asleep. We were stuck.

I was getting so frustrated. Yes, we had made strides, but I wasn’t able to sit down child-free with Paul until after 9 at night. And with an early-rising boy and an up twice-a- night infant, I need to be in bed by 10 or 10:30. This wasn’t cool with me. After a few weeks of hoping this would resolve itself (including a visit with my in-laws that saw me spend every dinner they were here stuck in Simon’s room while they ate, only to have Simon still awake after they were done), I knew something had to change, but I didn’t know what.

We tried letting him cry again with less intervention, thinking that was the issue. It wasn’t. He got too upset and I wasn’t willing to do that to him. But I couldn’t keep going back and forth, back and forth all night. So one night, I just kept nursing him past the point when I normally put him down. He typically nurses for 45 minutes and is dozing during this time. He would finish and I would lay him down, he would wake up and the drama would begin. Well, this time, after 45 minutes, we just hung out. Despite his little nursing siesta he had just taken, he perked up and wanted to cuddle. He played with my face and hair, I kissed him and made him laugh. He cooed and babbled, I whispered and tickled him. We did this for a few minutes, and then I could tell he was ready to sleep. So the lights went out, he finished nursing and when I laid him down, he looked up, rolled over and that was that.

I have figured out that there seems to be almost a quota of Mommy time that Simon has to get before he can peacefully go to sleep. I was cutting him off before he was done, and he was unhappy. But mommy was unhappy with no limit at all, so by guiding him into more independent sleep, we have struck what I think is the perfect balance. We end our day with a complete focus on each other. I am relaxed and am able to give him everything he needs. And he is happy as can be and is able to sleep great. After an hour to an hour and a half, Simon is snoozing and I am able to spend time with Paul, work out, meet up with friends or do anything I need or want to.

Victory.

Because of this new found rhythm, I am enjoying nursing 100% for the first time. I suffered through pain, doubt, more pain, claustrophobia and frustration and now feel love, bonding and pride in what I’m doing for my child.

I am so looking forward to all the next events on the horizon with both my boys. Now that we’ve turned this corner, I can start enjoying the ride.

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What is Jeopardy?

So yesterday was my big Jeopardy! audition in Lexington. I have qualified via online test THREE times, but have never been able to go until yesterday. Paul, of course, had a bit of success on the show this year, and being the uber-competitive person that I am, I of course have to give it a shot myself.

So Paul, Simon and I headed out to the Bluegrass State while Declan enjoyed a day with his BeBe (Simon goes where I go since I make the food). I had my “interesting” tidbits about myself, my TV-ready outfit and my brain on overdrive. In other words, I was ready.

We made it to the hotel with about 20 minutes to spare, and by then, I was getting nervous. What if I got NO questions right? What if I totally froze? Or even worse, what if I acted like a fool, which happens to me from time to time? Oh lord…

Luckily, Paul prepped me and boosted my confidence by telling me to be myself and to remember that since I’ve already passed the online test, they know I’m smart enough, so this is really about how I would appear on TV. So they were looking for charming, and I’ve got charm in spades.

We made it to the location of the testing, and immediately the casting people recognized Paul from his audition and his appearance. Score! One of the casting crew, Robert, a hilarious hipster full of energy, grabbed Paul and Simon and pulled them into the room with all of us auditioning and had Paul talk a little about his experience on Jeopardy. I loved this, of course, because A) I love when my man is the center of attention, B) I knew this made ME more memorable and C) I kinda hoped it intimidated the other people. Who knows if it did, but they at least took notice of us.

The first thing they had us do was get a polaroid taken and fill out an application form. So far, so good. My photo turned out decently, so hopefully that’s a +1. Then, we got an answer sheet with 50 blank spaces on it. I’m not allowed to discuss the questions since they use the same test around the nation, but let’s just say there are a couple that I am KICKING myself over. There were two questions specifically that I KNEW I knew, but my brain froze. I kept coming back to them but they answers remained a mist in my head until literally the second the casting girl, Carrina, took my answer sheet. The answers came flooding into my head and I almost cussed. I know there were several I got wrong and I also know that somehow I missed a question because I only had answers to No. 49 on the sheet. Nice. I’m hoping I at least scored in the passing range.

The next part was my time to shine. They called us up in groups of 3 to do a practice game. We practiced with the buzzer (the timing is crucial and not as easy as you would think) and they went over how to keep the game moving. If you are a fan of Jeopardy!, then you know how annoying it is when somebody gets the rhythm off, like when they get a question right and then wait to pick the next clue, or they leave ONE DAMN CLUE LEFT IN A COLUMN AND GO TO ANOTHER ONE. I HATE THAT. They told us to speak loudly, speak clearly and keep it moving. Got it.

Some of the categories had me sweating, and I kept my fingers crossed that my name wasn’t called when they were featured. Like when Economics was up there, or 5-Star Generals. I of course missed out on Oscar Winners and Potent Potables, categories that I would have dominated. But when it was finally my turn, my choices were decent: Banned Books (+1), World Capitals (+1), and NYT Book Review (+1).  Yay. Then they did the mock interview. I was standing with 2 other girls about my age. The first one, I gotta be honest, was a total dud. She had the enthusiasm of a wet rag, but the fact that she is 6 months pregnant with a 1 year old out in the lobby might have been the reason. The second girl was a doctor in Nashville. Very cute, very bubbly. I wanted to Tanya Harding her.

Then it was my turn. Again, my connection to Paul was a major +1 because Robert (casting guy) asked  me more specific questions than the typical “what do you do for fun” and “where are you from” that the other contestants got. I luckily did not make a fool out of myself and got chuckles out of everyone with some of my answers.

Soon after, we wrapped up, and I headed out to meet up with Paul and Simon. Robert walked out with me and immediately went up to them. He instantly grabbed Simon from me and was all over him, and then told me flat out that he thought I was beautiful. SCORE. I know Jeopardy! isn’t a beauty pageant (far from it, most days) but again, memorable and personable is what I was hoping for, and I would think not being repulsive would be a major bonus!!! If I have learned anything from watching The Golden Girls (and I’ve learned so much from them), it’s that on the episode where Dorothy tried out for Jeopardy! and didn’t make it, it was because the casting director told her “we don’t think America would root for you.” Well, America will root for me, I’m sure of it!!

So now, we wait. My application is on file for 18 months, and if they deem me acceptable, they will call sometime during that time period for me to fly out there. For Paul, he was called up 17 months after he auditioned, long after we had given up hope that he would be on the show. I am not going to hold onto hope because while I’m sure I was in the top charmers of the group, based on the amount of lawyers, doctors, chemists, professors, teachers and other brainiacs in the room, I wasn’t the smartest. It was a total worthwhile experience though, even if it ends here. I had a blast. Paul was my biggest cheerleader and Simon was as well-behaved as always, despite crappy naps, over 6 hours in the car and limited Mommy time for the day.

I loved all my FB messages of good luck and well-wishes, it made me feel so confident and supported. Keep it coming if they call me back!!!!

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Comparing notes

Comparing siblings is, I suppose, only natural, especially when you have 2 of the same gender. Side-by-side comparing was actually one of the only concerns I had when finding out Simon was a boy. I didn’t want everyone (or me) to expect him to be exactly like Declan, or to achieve things on the same pace as Declan did. I would think as the second child, especially second boy, a natural competition exists between you and the first-born. Or a natural desire to shake things up and find your own path. Or hell, maybe the second kid is  just glad to have somebody to blame things on, I dunno. My parents didn’t want to risk it and stopped with me.

But with all the milestone-watching that comes with raising a baby, some comparison is bound to happen. Even though Simon, at 5 months, is only just starting to display his personality and do things besides eat, void and sleep, I am already seeing major differences in his timeline and his brother’s.

The biggest one is that this week, at just over 5 months, Simon has cut his first TWO teeth. I can’t believe it. Declan was well over 9 months old before he cut a tooth, even though every day from 3 months on, I was CONVINCED he was teething. Every mood change, every “off” day, every time he didn’t sleep (and Declan NEVER slept), I blamed it on this mystery tooth that I was certain was just about to burst out of his gums. Yea, that wasn’t the issue. Babies are just weird.

Anyway, Simon suffered from his first bout of the sniffles last week (Declan’s first cold: 8 weeks. Simon’s: 5 months. Score 1 for Simon) and any crankiness or neediness I attributed to that. He has always been a hand-chewer and a drooler, so whenever someone commented “I bet he’s cutting a tooth!” I’d dismiss them with a “Doubt it, it’s too soon.” So imagine my surprise when I noticed a white mark on his gums the other day. Could it be?? Really? Yep, there it was, the first little jagged edge, poking through. 24 hours later, Tooth 1 has broken through and Tooth 2 is on its way. Crazy.

Other obvious differences in my boys is their interest in eating solid food. Being a first-time mom, I couldn’t wait to start feeding Declan “real” food. I don’t know what the obsession is with feeding babies, but people love it. So the minute he turned 4 months old, we busted out the old trusty rice cereal, and he hit the ground running. Declan LOVED baby food. Loved it. Everything you put in front of him prompted a huge, baby bird-like open mouth, huge smiles and a total eagerness to gobble up anything he could. He remained  a great eater up until 2.5, which is pretty damn good for a toddler. He’s much pickier now, but that’s just him being 3, and I still think he does pretty well, considering. He will actually eat meat, veggies at times and doesn’t scream for mac and cheese more than, oh, 3 times a week. Success.

My eagerness to introduce solids is diminished for Simon, probably because of breastfeeding. There’s a certain sense of pride or responsibility (or pretension, whatevs) that comes with being your child’s sole source of food and nutrition, so the desire to mess with that hasn’t been very strong. But as I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been having sleep struggles, so I was willing to give solids a shot.

We offered him rice cereal first. He was unsure of it, but didn’t reject it. Normal first reaction. Tried some avocado next. Same reaction. But then we took a break because we were working out some gas issues (with him, not me), and his sleep wasn’t improving anyway. Over the course of the past month, I’ve frozen some batches of homemade goodies like I did for Declan, and so far, he has been less than thrilled with my culinary skills. My sweet potatoes and squash taste good to him but are too thick (and I’m too stingy with my liquid gold to thin it out), so he gags a bunch. My peaches and plums are a better texture but are too tart/sweet for his taste. I bought some Stage 1 jarred food, and he seemed ok with the baby peas, although he only got about 3/4 of a jar in him before losing interest. All of this is fine with me, I’m in no hurry. I like to keep the door open so that I can watch for his readiness, but I am not pushing the issue at all.

I have to admit it is really strange to see him so underwhelmed by the food, though. He just doesn’t care about it. Declan would have unhinged his jaw and eaten a whole steak at 6 months old if he could have. Simon is apparently content with what I’m serving up. Fine by me.

Now that Simon is about to get into the mobility stage, I’m very curious to see if he follows in big brother’s footsteps. We already know he definitely shares Declan’s hatred of sleep, but unfortunately for him, Declan taught us that that hate of sleep can be remedied. Or at least defeated. So we are nipping that in the bud now.

He’s a chunky monkey like Declan, but not nearly as big overall. I love that Simon has inherited Paul’s looks but fear he may have inherited my (lack of) stature. Whoops. Sorry, kid. Declan can reach the high shelves for ya.

I’m fairly confident he’ll be more laid back than Declan, but I hear that a lot about second kids. I’m sure that has a lot more to do with parents being more relaxed with the second kid, but even in utero, he was calmer than Declan. Neither boy was colicky or overly fussy as a baby, and they both learned EARLY to flirt with women. Declan puked constantly (literally. Constantly. Happily, but constantly.), Simon thankfully doesn’t. They both love bathtime, but Simon especially, even as a newborn.

The list is endless, and will continue to grow. I look forward to seeing their differences and similarities, but hope I can always remember to view them individually and appreciate their own rhythms.

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Profound

I have to start jotting down things Declan says, because he is HILARIOUS. I swear, the only thing that makes 3 year olds tolerable is their commentary on life.

Here are a few recent jems:

  • Picture it, my driveway, Monday afternoon. Declan, Simon and Paul are in the car, I am grabbing last minute items and decide to switch purses. I get in the car. “Oh mommy, I love your purse! It’s perfect!”
  • Paul ordered a new watch and came home from work with it on. “Daddy, I love your new bracelet! Did you get it at the mall?”
  • Declan knows his dinosaurs very well. Here’s his verbatim description of a triceratops, given any time you ask him: “A triceratops has 3 horns on his head and a giant frill on its neck. It’s a plant eater, a herbivore. It lived millions of years ago.” Every single time, the exact same thing.
  • He also has invented his own dinosaurs, such as the “Bounceasour” (It bounces), the “Swingasauraus” (it swings), the “Cleanasauraus” (it sweeps and mops) and the “Weinersauraus” (no description necessary).
  • When exasperated or angry, he has mastered true teenage angst by giving a “Uh, FINE. OK.” Which is better than “I swear to GOD.” Whoops.
  • And the best: Last night in bed, I asked him if he was my bestest boy. He said yes, he is my bestest boy. And then he said I was his bestest girl. Swoon.

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