Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Consolation


On the down side, Genevieve woke up to nurse last night at 3 a.m. and never went back to sleep. Yep, you heard me. She started her--and thus our--day at 3 a.m.

On the up side, there are chocolate chip cookies in the house.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Good Publicity

Hey! That fabulous online magazine about motherhood, Mamazine, has just listed my humble blog as one of its "Mama Likes" picks. Cool! Check out the list for lots of great writing about parenting, children, motherhood, and more.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Longest Month

You know how, when a new baby is born, everyone really rallies and takes care of the new mama for a few weeks? Cooks for her, brings her treats, calls to ask how things are going, comes over and holds the baby and listens to her incoherent, sleep-deprived ramblings about nursing and diapers and spit-up? Rightly so, of course, since the time just after childbirth, though wonderful in some ways, is also just incredibly hard.

But I've always felt that, at about three months, and then again at about six, mothers really need that kind of support again--just when everyone's moved on and forgotten about the whole new-baby thing. Because, come on, mothers out there: don't you kind of hit a new (second) low right about now? Hasn't your adrenaline failed you? Isn't NOW really the time when a hot meal delivered to your door would send you to your knees in gratitude?

Genevieve's 5-1/2 months old, and she's been putting me through the wringer big-time. She's nursing more than ever, and I'm getting no sleep. Last night she woke up crying at 9:15 and refused to go back to sleep for five hours. Today, after all that, she napped for just 45 minutes. I think I would do just about anything for just one full night of sleep; actually, are you kidding? even just four or five uninterrupted hours would be a dream come true.

And please don't tell me I CAN have that if I just let Genevieve cry it out at night instead of nursing her when she wakes up, because guess what, I tried that last night and she cried for FIVE HOURS. That whole crying it out thing? DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK.

Unfortunately, chronic exhaustion and baby-crying-induced frustration (combined with severe mouse-related anxiety) are taxing my coping skills in a big way. I can't seem to muster the energy to exercise (hmmm, dying of tiredness: should I do a half-hour on the elliptical or lie on the couch with a magazine, barely breathing?), and the only thing that seems able to calm my nerves and give me the energy necessary to get through each day is a prodigious amount of my favorite wonder-drug, chocolate. (Actually, caffeine is my favorite wonder-drug, but I've been off that for four months now.) And I can't be worried about it right now. I'm normally quite health-conscious--mostly vegetarian, lover of vegetables, legumes, and all things soy, inveterate runner, fast-food averse....but right now, it's all out the window, people. I'm lucky if I get my vitamin each day, and nine times out of ten I'll take a PB&J over any meal that requires advance preparation.

It all feels very just-barely-getting-through. And I remember feeling the same way when Julia was Genevieve's age. I know it got better; I just don't remember when.

Shockingly Cute Baby

People, you must go here and see this pic of my friend's baby. The hair, people, the hair! Have you ever, in your life, seen anything cuter and more hilarious? I think not. I wish she didn't live so, so far away (Hawaii!) so that I could give that baby a little squeeze. The funniest part, to me, about the fabulous hair is that this sweet baby is the same age (just one week older) than my own little Super-Baldie.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pre-Weekend Frustrations

There is one way in which being a stay-at-home mom is no different from working at any other job, and it is this: I am in a much better mood in the morning if I can get my cup of coffee and check my e-mail before people start placing demands on me.

Way in which being a stay-at-home mom is totally different from working at any other job: The chances of that happening, EVER, are very, very slim.

Oh, one more thing: Apparently, saying that you haven't seen signs of the mouse in your house that day is a surefire way to guarantee that, the next morning, you will again find mouse poop all over the inside of your kitchen drawers.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yikes.

So I just blew through $72 at Target, and, aside from one bottle of calcium supplements for me and a double roll of paper towels, it was ALL diapers (for both girls) and baby food. (We're starting Genevieve on solids soon.)

Yeesh. Is it any wonder we're having a hard time making ends meet? $72 for a few weeks' worth of diapers? Good Lord. I know it's not good financial management, but I didn't have a choice: out came the credit card.

On a cheerier note, we three girls started our new session of toddler class today. Julia's in the 2-1/2 to 3-1/2 year old class this time, and Genevieve goes to--drum roll here--sibling care! Yes, it's true....I actually drop her off in the baby room before Julia and I go off to the toddler room for joint parent/child play. Just like last session, halfway through class we separate, and the mamas go for parent discussion in an adjacent room while the toddlers play with their teachers. Julia had a fantastic time, despite the class being twice as large as our class in the fall (12 kids this session!), and had no problem with the separation. Genevieve, however, was apparently not so sure about being left with someone she'd never seen before, and was a little bit sad. Dang, I was hoping stranger anxiety wouldn't start so soon--she's only five months old, after all. But it was OK.

As for the mouse? Haven't seen him today. Am trying really hard not to think about him. Have decided that denial is as good a coping mechanism as any.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Brenda's Mom, Are You Out There?

This morning, just as he was leaving for work, Christopher discovered mice poop in our Ziploc/aluminum foil/Saran Wrap drawer in the kitchen. It was unmistakable, because a friend had warned us that it looks like brown rice, only....not. So there you have it. I subsequently found more mice poop in our potholder/cheese grater/cookie cutter/measuring cups drawer. (What? Don't you organize YOUR kitchen drawers this way?)

The worst part about this is wondering how long it's been there without us noticing it. I mean, it's something you notice when you have reason to be on the alert for mice poop, you know? So I can't help but wonder how long we have had mice running around amongst our measuring cups, and there I was, blithely pulling open the drawer and yanking them out and making muffins. Or whatever. OK, there are many worst parts about all this, and that's only one of them. Another is, how are they getting into the kitchen drawers and, relatedly, how in the world are we going to seal off their access if we can't even figure out what it is? Yet another is, are they also getting into our cabinets where we keep our dishes and silverware and into our pantry cupboard where we keep ALL our non-refrigerated food?

People, I am not exaggerating when I say that I have spent all day so far walking around gagging. I never gag. If I didn't know better (trust me), I'd suspect early pregnancy, I am gagging so much, and thinking about gagging so much, and thinking about gagging so much that I actually make myself gag. The mouse in the closet? Bad enough. Truly: very, very bad. BUT! The mouse in our kitchen, on our food-related items, possibly in our food and dishes? ARGH! I'm gagging. I am so repulsed that I cannot bring myself to go near the sink, where Christopher rashly dumped all the loose Ziplocs from the drawer after he discovered the mouse evidence. I cannot bring myself to move them, so I have been unable to wash up the breakfast and lunch dishes. Now, believe me, I am aware that LEAVING DIRTY DISHES piled around your kitchen, complete with food remnants, is probably NOT HELPING THE MOUSE SITUATION. And yet, I am powerless to overcome the irony. I am too busy gagging. I did attempt to mouse-proof some food in the pantry, but all I could bring myself to do was seal the bag of malted milk balls my father-in-law brought for me yesterday in a Tupperware. Because are you kidding me? You have to take care of the most important things first. After that, however, I had to close the pantry and walk away, because the thought of a mouse gorging on our snack foods or snacking on our pasta and bread caused an internal, and then an external, gag attack.

Not long ago I came downstairs after putting Julia down for her nap and discovered our cat, Sabine, hunched ominously near the foot of the stove. You know, the crack between the bottom of the stove and the floor? Yeah, down there. I suddenly had a faint recollection that I'd seen her crouched there a couple of other times in the last few days. (I'm brilliant, I know. It took mouse poop in the Ziploc drawer in order for me to put two and two together: mouse in house, cat stalking something in the kitchen....hmmmm, whatever could it mean?) At any rate, Sabine was her usual unhelpful self, and after a few minutes of peering under the stove she retired to the couch. Meanwhile, I have already accepted the fact that I will be unable to ever again open the drawer at the bottom of the stove where we keep the skillets. Sorry! Cooking is over. I just can't do it.

Several years ago, when we still lived in Minneapolis, we had some friends who discovered a mouse running through the kitchen of their lovely old Southwest Minneapolis house the same week they brought their newborn son home from the hospital. The mouse was seen actually traversing the plates, running over the counter and, I believe, diving onto a nearby couch. I believe there was also something about it being in the toaster. What I remember for sure is that new-mom Brenda told her husband, "You take care of this!", grabbed the baby, and moved to her sister's house for a week. I think they hired an exterminator. They also hired her mother--actually paid her--to come over and scour every inch of the kitchen and every possession in it. And they threw the toaster away. (But not before Eric tried to put it in the Goodwill pile and Brenda was forced to argue that, come on, it doesn't matter if someone is downtrodden or appliance-less or low-income or whatever, and is shopping at the thrift store: no one deserves a MOUSE TOASTER. No, Eric, not even if they didn't even HAVE a toaster before.)

You know, I'm really, really tired. It's been 5-1/2 straight months of nowhere near a full night's sleep. It's hard to be energetic and patient and creative and fun all day, taking care of two wee ones on so little sleep. It's hard to be stuck in the house because it's too cold to go out and there's no place to walk to from where we live. It's hard to take care of a toddler and an infant, nurse every two hours, and also keep the house clean and do all the cooking. It's hard to be worried about money all the time. It's hard to go days at a time without talking to even one other adult during the workday. It's hard to be constantly changing diapers and wiping spit-up and cleaning pasta sauce out of the carpet.

I'm really, really tired. And I just....I don't want mice in my house.

Wednesday Morning

Sorry for the light posting so far this week, people. Company in town, mouse poop in our kitchen drawers, snow and cold, baby waking me up a million times a night, chronic exhaustion, etc.

Hang in there with me!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Milk Chocolate Baby

In our household, we believe that Hershey's Nuggets--do you know them? do you know them and their chocolatey, addictive goodness?--are made from, apparently, chocolate and cocaine. How else to explain the fact that, once the bag is opened, we are powerless to stop eating them until all we have left is a shameful pile of little shiny wrappers? And when I say "we," I mean mainly me. But not entirely. Damn those Hershey's people! How do they do it? How do they make those Nuggets in such a perfect, chunky, nuggety shape that I just adore? Plain milk chocolate, with almonds, with almonds AND toffee--the flavor is irrelevant. It's all addictive.

Which is to say, YES I am back to eating copious amounts of chocolate, since Genevieve doesn't seem to mind anymore. (Now, the dairy? Not so sure about that. Could that have been the cause of Sweet Baby's monstrous constipation?)

But, you know, I'm sort of afraid all this butterfat bypasses me completely and simply goes straight to baby Genevieve. I mean, I must be consuming a million calories a day here, and though I know I have worried in the past about the departure of the nursing-mom metabolism, the truth is that my outrageous appetite--and thus, my outrageous diet--just doesn't affect my weight very much. I may gain a pound or two on occasion (after too many Nuggets), but without fail, after a day of extreme nursing, it's still gone again, and overall I'm pretty effortlessly maintaining my pre-pregnancy weight. But Genevieve? She's chub-a-rrific, as everyone knows. Her cheeks are setting records, I'm sure of it. Her thigh rolls are impressive indeed. She's scrumptious as can be, as scrumptious as any (or should I say, "many"?!) Hershey's Nugget, but....I can't help but wonder if my babies hang out in the 90th weight percentiles all the time because I single-handedly chub them up with my sky's-the-limit-high-fat nursing diet(s). I mean, maybe if I didn't eat my weight in butterfat each day, my children would be 30th, or 50th, percentile babies. Not that those sizes are any better than the fabulously roly-poly states of baby-fat that my girls achieve--I still say that fat babies embody the grand prize of adorableness; but what if they're only that big because I made them so? And deep inside their baby-genes, they're not actually meant to be that big, but are only reacting to, well, the Hershey's Nuggets? Is it fair of me to inflict my fatty diet on my helpless nurslings, just because I can get away with it with little personal physical consequence?

I don't know. But the other day my friend Rachel, newly postpartum and nursing as well, tried to reassure me about the wonders of breastmilk, how its content is magically ideal no matter the nursing mom's diet, how the body knows what the baby needs and creates milk to order, regardless of what mama is consuming. Then she told me how every couple of nights she makes her husband run out and buy her a bag of M&Ms--the big bag, the pounder, you know?, not some wimpy single-serving package, mind you--because the baby is sucking the life energy out of her and nothing else will do. Her argument was that she beats me in the junky-high-fat-high-calorie-chocolate-intensive-nursing-diet department, so I should shut up already and stop worrying. Maybe even eat some more chocolate while I'm at it. It's great to have friends like that, you know?

And, speaking of things sweet and addictive, Julia's pretty much as sweet as they come. The other day, unprovoked, she said to me, "Mama, I love you. I love you more than anything." Since she still says her "l's" like "y's," it was all the more heart-melting. It felt like early Valentine's Day around here. Love and chocolate--it's all good.

Friday, January 19, 2007

TGIF

This has been a rough week, and I'm glad it's Friday. True, my mama duties remain on the weekend, but at least I've got help during the day.

The extreme cold, the car-less-ness, the disastrous attempt at potty-training, the mouse in the house, and poor baby Genevieve being hideously constipated (we're going on nine days here, people), thus resulting in severe fussiness and inability to sleep, all contributed to the general yuckiness of the week. The house is a dusty, crumb-tastic mess, I haven't exercised all week, and we've been eating things for dinner like refried beans on tortillas. With canned fruit if you're lucky. People, it's been really, really sad.

Here's a quick update so far: Genevieve is still constipated despite many, many home-treatment remedies suggested by the pediatrician. She is currently napping, and when she awakes, she has a sad and unpleasant surprise waiting for her in the form of a doctor-prescribed enema. Poor, poor honey, and poor, poor me who has to administer it.

As for the mouse in the house, yesterday afternoon I happened to glance outside just as I was telling a friend on the phone that I used to see a little mouse out there last fall, and I am not kidding, at the very moment the words escaped my mouth, I saw a little black mouse beyond our patio in the snow, probably the one I used to see outside last fall, and looking identical to the one I had thought was still trapped inside our storage closet with the two mousetraps Christopher put out the night before. Wily little mouse! We're sure it was him; he evidently somehow gets in and out from inside the closet. Last night Christopher sealed off some tiny holes and so far we have not seen him again (inside OR outside).

You know, January is a pretty bleak month, even without epic constipation, potty training accidents, and rodent visitors. I'm ready for February. After all, it includes my birthday, Valentine's Day, and the promise of slightly longer days and a lot of chocolate.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I Just Discovered I Have a Phobia of Mice

People, I just saw a mouse in the house. Did you hear me? A MOUSE. IN my house! I opened the storage closet--a big, nice, walk-in, well-lit, carpeted closet, mind you, not a dank space in some basement somewhere (we don't even have a basement)--a closet I go into all the time, as it is where we keep things like gift-wrapping supplies, Genna's carseat, my hand weights for working out, bags of outgrown baby clothes to give away, etc....and a small dark mouse scurried toward the back of the closet as fast as his creepy little legs could carry him. I screamed inside my head (Julia is napping) and called Christopher at work to be appropriately hysterical to someone other than my infant daughter. I am alone in the house with this mouse! It could be living in our sleeping bags! You know what? A mouse outside, running around in the bushes? Fine. A mouse running around INSIDE MY HOUSE? So, SO not fine.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Do the Math

The other night, after one of the usual marathons of evening baby- and toddler-care, when both girls were successfully down in their respective beds and Christopher and I were cueing up the first season of "The Office" on DVD, he said to me, "Now that they're both in bed, I totally miss those girls and wish they were up."

At first I thought he was nuts, and said as much: "You can't be serious! I cannot IMAGINE such a thing." And I can't.

But then I figured it out. In a typical Monday-to-Friday workweek, considering only the hours during which we (the adults in the house) are awake--let's say, approximately 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.--I spend, at most, 15 hours apart from both Julia and Genevieve: from approximately 7 p.m. when they go to bed (if I'm lucky) and 10 p.m. when I do. OK, we can make it 16 hours if I happen to get in three 20-minute runs a week.

In contrast, in the same five-day workweek, Christopher spends about 55 hours apart from the girls: 40 hours at the office, and then those same 15 evening hours after the babies are snug in their beds.

Fifty-five vs. sixteen! That's quite a difference. I love my girls, but comparing the numbers, is it any wonder that, by the time Julia and Genevieve are in bed in the evening, my general feeling is, Thank God, and now don't anyone touch me or talk to me for the next three hours? (I'd say twelve, but Genevieve is still night-nursing, so there's no point in such a demand.) I mean, most of the time, I barely make it to 7 p.m., and I can't make myself go to bed early--despite epic exhaustion--because if I did, I'd lose My Evening, a.k.a., my only alone time. It's so different from a workweek existence outside of the house, in an office, with coffee breaks and solo restroom forays and lunches involving only one mouth to feed (your own) and a milieu of incidental socialization with other adults--that it's no wonder I cannot imagine Christopher's point of view, his inner longing to see more of the girls, to have more of them around, and he, no doubt, has a hard time imagining my state of depletion, of needing any amount of time to myself with no other body glomming onto mine or sucking mine or spitting up all over mine.

So how can it be that I adore my life as a parent, but I apparently love it most of all when the kids are in bed?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Five Months Already



Genevieve Rose is five months old today! In many ways, it's hard to believe--wasn't it just August?--but, on the other hand, if you go by appearances alone, she looks at least five months. She's been wearing six-month-size clothes for awhile now, after all. She's a champion eater, and thus, a champion grow-er. (Good job, Genevieve!)

So, what's she up to these days? Well, mainly, looking extremely cute, smiling a lot (ideally, while sticking out her tongue), and honing her cuddling skills. She's also busy "talking," cooing and giggling and making all sorts of charming noises to herself and us. In other words, she's sublime.

Other than that, she's still teething (no actual pearly whites yet, though), and madly sucking on everything within reach. She has yet to attempt rolling over, sitting up by herself, or sleeping through the night. However, she does pretty well sitting propped in a Boppy, and she no longer spits up a gallon of half-digested milk every time you put her in tummy time. She's still on her reflux medicine, and she seems to be doing well with it. She hasn't had a colicky scream-attack in months, and that's even with the return of my chocolate and ice cream habits (New Year's resolutions? I don't know what you're talking about).

Her latest endeavor has been trying out the Jumpster. Our modern house has a distinct lack of door-frame moldings, so we have to hang the Jumpster in the doorway to the under-the-stairs storage closet. So far, Genevieve hasn't figured out how to actually jump, but she's happy to hang out in her new contraption, idly turning around in half-circles and gazing at us gamely.

I'm working really hard on the sleeping at night thing. Every day, I give Genevieve a little talking to. I tell her, "Listen, you're a giant, OLD baby now. There's no need for this every-three-hour eating thing any longer. Haven't you heard about all the other babies?" But she seems wholly unperturbed by the baby peer pressure I try to employ. She just gives me a slobbery grin and smacks her lips a little.

The big question is, will she make it to six months before the introduction of rice cereal? Judging from the look in her eyes when her daddy holds her on his lap while we eat dinner and she finds herself mere inches from, say, a black bean burrito or a plate of homemade pizza, I'm going to go ahead and predict NO.

An Observation

Monday morning, housebound and car-less on a cold, snowy January day, spent cleaning up accident after accident during our first serious attempt at potty-training, is pretty bleak.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Modern Toddler Part Two

So the other day, two-year-old Julia asked me about the internet. Then yesterday afternoon she and I were in the joint playroom/study and I sat down at the desk, saying to her, "I just need to send a quick e-mail, honey, then I can play," hoping to take care of some playgroup planning before sitting down to have a tea party. Julia scrambled to her feet and hurried down the hall to her room, saying, "I need to get my computer! I need to go get my INTERNET! I need to write a quick note!"

I was simultaneously amused and dismayed. I mean, her pseudo-adult tone was hilarious. But yet: how many times does Julia hear those words--"I need to write a quick note [check my e-mail, look something up], honey, hang on a minute"--come out of her parents' mouths in the course of a week--heck, a day? How much of a constant background presence is the laptop, the internet, in her little toddler days, because of her mama's writing habit, her daddy's online-Scrabble addiction? It's just way too easy--especially with a laptop and a toddler who is perfectly content to sit alone and read a pile of books to herself more often than not--to get online numerous times a day. Is it bad that my toddler--a two-year-old still in diapers--knows the language of modern-day busy communication? Egad.

It all reminded me so much of Adam Gopnik's wonderful essay--excerpted in The New Yorker awhile back, and forming a chapter in his lovely latest book, "Through the Children's Gate: A Home in New York", which I am reading right now--about his preschool daughter's imaginary friend, Charlie Ravioli: an imaginary friend who, being the consummate New Yorker, is too busy to play. Gopnik's daughter Olivia is always saying things about "bumping into" Charlie Ravioli, "grabbing a coffee" with him, "getting his machine" when she tries to call. Gopnik and his wife worry about the meaning of their child creating an imaginary friend whose schedule is too crazy to actually meet up for a playdate. But, of course, their daughter is just parroting the phrases she hears among the adults in her life--her parents, her friends' parents--within the urban landscape every single day: I bumped into so-and-so. We grabbed a quick bite. She had to run. I left him a message. The language of not-actually-connecting.

Isn't that sort of what Julia is absorbing, as well? I have to write a quick note, not sit down and have a long conversation. I have to check something really fast, not slow down the pace of my day and stop multi-tasking for five minutes. I have to finish this thing I'm writing, now, before I lose my thought and can't remember it later on when the babies are in bed. I have to go online, not live in the present, non-electronic, moment.

In the end, these children of the new millenium, they're ALL modern toddlers, aren't they? Not just the New Yorkers, too over-scheduled to play--not just Charlie Ravioli. Even a two-year-old in a college town in southern Minnesota knows about dashing off a quick e-mail.

Good, bad, or simply inevitable?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Advanced Maternal Age

Further proof that I am getting old, old, old:

Yesterday I turned on some fast, fun kids' music and Julia and I had a dance party, running around and dancing and hopping and chasing for a good 20 minutes (Genevieve, propped in her new Exersaucer, was our enthusiastic audience). And for the rest of the day, my right knee hurt every time I went up and down the stairs.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Modern Toddler

This morning at breakfast Julia asked me, "What's 'the internet'?"

Good grief! She's two years old! What's she doing asking about the internet?! (Apparently someone on NPR was talking about it, and she heard the word.) I told her it was something grown-ups use to do work on the computer.

You know, I think this kid is going to run mental circles around all of us for her entire life. I'd better get ready.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Stop the Clock

Catherine Newman--my all-time favorite mother-writer and the object of a rather stalkeresque super-fan attitude on my part, which is neither here nor there--wrote last week, in her new-ish column at Wondertime, about the super-sad Kim family incident, the story so tragic and devastating that I really cannot even write about it, cannot think about it for more than a few seconds at a time, because it makes my heart hurt for days, just days, to imagine that mama and those girls in the car in the snow for over a week, that mama keeping them alive by nursing them both, the infant and the four-year-old too, because it was the only sustenance she had, that father off trying to get help and perishing in his attempt, that whole family not some exotic crew of mountaineers but just a regular family like mine, just two parents and two little girls on their way home from a Thanksgiving party who ran into a terrifying spate of bad luck. It's just beyond horrifying, beyond heartbreaking. And Catherine's column is as wonderful as ever, full of all sorts of thoughts that resonated with me, all sorts of things to write about--her sobering comments about the amazing power of the breastfeeding body came at me during a week when I was aching for a full night's sleep, for a respite from the night-nursing, and jolted me back to my senses: I am blessed to my very core to be able to hold this healthy baby in my arms at night and nurse her, watch her chubby baby hand drift and clutch at my fingers, my shirt, know that we're all safe and warm and okay here, in this night.

But beyond all that, what really got to me was her description of her general personality, how she tends to mix deep happiness and melancholy, how since becoming a mother she is constantly aware of the potential for loss and hurt. I feel exactly the same way, and I can't stand it. Just the other day I said to Christopher, "I just want these girls to stay the exact age they are right now forever; I never want any of this to change." (To his credit, he did not remind me of the many times I could stand for a LOT of this to change: tantrums, poop explosions, the ever-present sleep deprivation...)

What I mean is, I can't stand the idea of Genevieve no longer being a baby, of Julia turning into a bigger kid, of the wonder of the baby days being over, of the girls getting older and having bad things happen to them--even just the routine bad things that happen to us all in life. You don't really understand, before becoming a parent, that to love anyone this greatly means also exposing yourself to unspeakable pain, it means laying your heart bare to the world and saying, "Here it is, go ahead and break it." It's accepting that because you love your children so much, you will many times be very, very sad. So unfair! I just can't stand it, people.

You think, later, if I had known beforehand that parenthood would be like this--this awful, wonderful combination of love and pain, this constant slipping away of moments and memories (goodbye, chubby baby fingers; goodbye, velvety head lolling to sleep on my shoulder)--would I still have done it?

And sometimes you think, No, but you know in your heart that of course the answer is yes.

Monday Morning in Wonderland

I have so many things I want to write about, and time keeps getting away from me. But I'll try...

Right now we are having a good morning. After a strangely interrupted night, both girls slept late: Genevieve until 8:30 and Julia until 9:00! Right now Genevieve is napping and Julia is playing a game I have decided I really, really like: she is lying in her bed, under her quilt, propped on her pillow, reading books to herself. While I sit nearby on the floor writing on the laptop. She is calling this game, "Reading Books in Bed While Sleeping On The Train." This is because we were just looking at a Richard Scarry book wherein the pig family takes an overnight trip on a train and sleep in bunks in the sleeper car. Very fascinating. Don't ask me where the reading in bed comes in. But I'm all in favor of this kind of game.

We had a fun weekend, even though our dear friend Trish, newly moved back to MN from Philly (after 11 years! we missed you soooo much, Trish!), was only able to spend Sunday with us rather than coming on Saturday and staying over for a couple of nights as originally planned. We still had a great time with her and Julia was unusually non-shy. We had lunch at home, coffee/tea/snacks out at a coffee shop in the afternoon (after Julia refused to nap), and after dinner (and ice cream--boy was Julia was excited for that!), Tricia even offered to help me take down our Christmas decorations. Now that's a houseguest!

Speaking of ice cream, the breaking news around here is that, after three+ months off dairy for the sake of Genevieve's colic, I tried a bowl of ice cream the other night with no ill effects. Hallelujah, people! You can't imagine my excitement. Since then I've had another, and still no ill effects. I think maybe Genna has outgrown her dairy sensitivity. I've also had good luck with small amounts of chocolate over the past several weeks. Thank God; I was hitting my limit for how long I could stand to avoid these treats.

As for New Year's resolutions, luckily, I personally believe that resolutions can validly be started at any point within the month of January. Thus, if you resolve to eat less junk food but find yourself eating ice cream and chocolate on January 7, you have not broken your resolution, you just have three more weeks to start it (again).

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Blanket Battles

Sorry, people, I know I've been lousy about posting this week. I think I got out of the habit while we were gone for so long. Or maybe I'm just busy with getting our household back into a normal routine after our trip.

The main things that are going on here this week are that the snow is rapidly melting (almost all gone already; it looks like spring outside); Genevieve is continuing to drool like a rabid dog, spit up like she's in some sort of disgusting contest to see who can eject the most liquid from her gullet on a daily basis; and amidst it all, get even cuter and more irresistible with every passing moment (seriously: I cannot keep myself from kissing and squeezing and tickling her practically nonstop all day long); and then there's Julia and Her Bedding. Oy vey, people. The extremes of particular-ness and compulsive Needing of the Blankets to Be Just So are UNBELIEVABLE.

OK, so this is the baby who cried, at nine months old, for three straight nights until I realized that she was being tormented by the feeling of a yarn-knitted baby afghan on her bare legs. This is the child who once, for months and months, refused to wear any socks other than the Old Navy toddler crew socks, because no other socks felt quite the same on her feet (whatever that feeling was). This is the girl who routinely says things like, "Noooo, this hat huuuurts my eeeeears!" and "MAMA FIX THIS TAAAAAGGGGG!" She has whole outfits, given to her as gifts, that have never been, nor ever will be, worn, because she has deemed them intolerable in one way or another: the fabric not soft or stretchy enough, the cuffs too scratchy. (I have to say, though, that she does have good taste: she is especially averse to cheap synthetic blends, scratchy zippers, collars that chafe or gap.) So maybe I should not be so surprised. But the bedding issue is surely going to drive me insane.

I can't even properly write about it, because there is no way to explain it. You just have to experience it. The fretting, the wailing, the pulling the blanket this way and that upon climbing into bed for her nap or at night. The moving the pillow one millimeter in one direction, then in another. The placing of the stuffed animal in just the right position, then the frantic whining when her shifting in bed accidentally moves the animal an inch away from its original spot. The admonishing: "Nooooo, I need my pillow to be thiiiiiiis way!" and "Help! My feet are out!" and "Mama, my blanket is on funny!" Oh, the hand-wringing, the teeth-gnashing. It goes on and on and on. And here's the rub: there is no way for you, the adult to whom Julia is appealing for assistance in her desperate state, to actually FIX the problem. Because you cannot read her addled little mind, and because she is not making any sense. However, she is dead serious about all of it. It's not an act to delay bedtime or a way to manipulate us into an extra naptime cuddle. You would think, to Julia, that the fact that the border on her pink blanket is not perfectly lined up under her chin and Big Bird's beak at the same time is a matter of life and death. Yet try to line it up and you'll surely be shrieked at for getting it wrong.

You get the picture. It is an unwinnable war, people, so I end up saying, "Honey, I'm leaving now and I'm not coming back in to fix anything. Sleep tight." and then letting her tantrum herself to sleep. It ends up fine. But it's so, so annoying in the moment--one of those times when you can practically hear your nerves jangling, when all you can think is, Let's get on with this so I can go check my e-mail and finish my lunch before I shrivel up and die of tedium.

So. That's what's going on here. What about with you?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Resolutions

The blogosphere is abuzz right now with posts about New Year's resolutions, have you noticed? Everyone's talking about them, so I figured I'd chime in a little bit. I already wrote about my biggest and most important resolution, back in December. That one still stands; it's crucial to my sanity and the well-being of my girls. But, more boringly, I'm also working on the following goals: 1.) eat more healthfully, i.e. eat more fruits and veggies, drink more water during the day, lay off the junk food--which is really hard given the fact that I remain extraordinarily hungry pretty much all the time as I continue to nurse this giant baby night and day; 2.) be more committed to my exercise routine (I do pretty well, but I'd like to get back to the toned state I was in last summer; yes, it's true: I was in better shape at eight months pregnant than I am today); and 3.) floss my teeth EVERY day, not just when the mood strikes me, despite the fact that I am blessed with good teeth and have gotten used to never worrying about cavities or gum disease.

There. Aren't they just about the most mundane New Year's resolutions you've ever heard? How about this last one? I resolve to kiss my babies a million times a day, squeeze their little-girl chub, gaze into their big blue eyes and notice the amazing color and the curly lashes on a daily basis, and nibble on as many ears and toes as possible. I figure since I already do all of those things to excess, that is a resolution I cannot break.

Before I go, an observation:

Decaf coffee spiked with Millstone's "Foglifter" (fully-caffeinated) coffee is much better than plain decaf coffee. It does indeed lift the fog.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Julia and Genevieve's Blustery Day

Can we re-do New Year's? Because we spent OUR New Year's Eve stuck in a blizzard at the Super 8 hotel just off I-94 in Rogers. I'll let you imagine the toddler-and-baby-bedtime mayhem that accompanied THAT little unexpected adventure.

We had left my parents' place just after noon yesterday, hoping to have missed the worst of the bad roads and ice from a mild storm the day before. Turns out, we drove right into a blizzard, and ended up creeping along at 10 miles an hour in near white-out conditions, observing more and more cars in the ditch, before exiting at Rogers and deciding to wait out the storm overnight there. In the hotel lobby, I commented to Julia, "Well, honey, we are having a blizzard adventure. When Genevieve is older, you can tell her, 'Genevieve, your first Christmas we got stuck in a snowstorm on the way back from Nonna and Boppa's house and had to spend New Year's Eve in a hotel!'" Julia listened to me, leaned over Genevieve's carseat, and said, "Genevievey, it is Genevieve and the Blustery Day, and Julia and the Blustery Day!" (Julia discovered the joys of the "Winnie-the-Pooh and the Blustery Day" video at her grandparents' house, and it made a big impression.) I told her that indeed, it was truly Julia and Genevieve's Blustery Day, and everyone else's in southern Minnesota too. Part of living in Minnesota is knowing--and accepting--that such a thing can happen at any time. You can end up spending New Year's Eve in a Super 8 in Rogers because you got caught in a blizzard on the way home from Christmas up north. Here's a picture of Christopher bathing the girls in the dingy Super 8 bathroom last night:

Adventure Bath.JPG

So yeah: we're back from our big holiday trip to my family's in Fargo-Moorhead. We had an amazing time. Fargo-Moorhead is totally underrated. We love it there. We'd move back in a flash, were there any work for Christopher there. It's such an easy, friendly place to live. Plus, you know, the plains carry their own kind of beauty. When you've grown up under a sky that big, it holds its charm after all these years, no matter where else you've ended up in the meantime.

We were in Moorhead from the 23rd until today: for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, our nephew's 2nd birthday dinner, and my parents' 40th anniversary party on the 30th, thrown by my sisters and me as an open house at our family's church. It was wonderful to be surrounded by so many family members, friends, and neighbors for so many days, many of whom had not yet met Genevieve. We got to see my dear great-aunt, matriarch of my maternal extended family, who brings such love and warmth with her wherever she goes. We hung out with my aunts and uncles on my dad's side, who came to town for the party, including my uncle who lives most of the year in Alaska. We took the girls out to lunch one day with one of my oldest friends, someone I've known since we were both 19 and full of angst and unfocused ambition. Now here he is a big-deal editor at the newspaper, and here I am with my two girls, and there is something so touching and humbling about having a friend who has known you that long, about having outgrown your awkward phases together and now being able to sit together and have lunch and catch up and know that you still think the other is one of the best people you know.

What else? I ran my old running route a few times, and thought to myself, It's quite a blessing to be able and willing to run the very same route you did as a teenager, 15+ years later. I remembered, on Christmas Day, that exactly one year prior, we found out we were pregnant with Genevieve, though we didn't know then that it was her. I remembered, on the 28th, that it was our one-year anniversary of moving to our new town, and gave thanks that it is no longer that day of that year, a difficult, stressful, no-fun Christmas, but that instead it's a year later and life in Northfield is good and happy and full of children. I ran into my old high school lit teacher--my all-time favorite teacher, a kind and talented soul--at a pizza place in town, and recognized him immediately even though I had not laid eyes on him for 17 years. We went to church on Christmas Eve with the girls dressed in adorable coordinating pink and ivory Winnie-the-Pooh dresses.

Tassava Christmas - 5

We had a family portrait taken for my mom and dad's anniversary present the night before the party, with seven adults and seven children, the full family--and it turned out absolutely perfect, everyone smiling, no one with a runny nose or post-tantrum tears. And then, the day before we left, we had the big party itself, and it was so exciting that it accomplished the previously unheard of: it caused Julia to FALL ASLEEP IN THE CAR on the way home from the festivities, on a 20-minute drive between the church and the house. Here's proof:

Party Poopeder.JPG

Whew. It was an eventful ten days, and we're ALL exhausted. The girls are off their sleep schedules, and this week will no doubt be one of transition and complaint as we attempt to get everyone back on track with naps, bedtime, nursing, self-soothing, and not being held by one loving relative or another every waking moment of the day. After that, we start potty training for one baby and more rigid sleep rules for the other. Might as well start the new year off with a hearty challenge or two, right?!

Here are a few more photos from our holiday week. Enjoy! Oh, and really: Happy New Year, whatever the weather where you are.

Tassava Christmas - 3

Julia Opening Presents - 2

Elf

Snow Fun - 4