Thursday, September 27, 2012


Gavin was home sick from school yesterday.  Which was frustrating, since we pay so much for day care and they are so quick to send kids home.  I get it: germs.  No mom wants their kids getting sick from the snotty kid at school.  Well, so far I am two for two - my kids are the snotty kids.  And I swear, they are hardly ever actually sick!  I blame over-active adenoids.  At any rate, Gavin was home and I was home with him.  Using leave I don't have.  I emailed my boss first thing:

I'm sure I'll completely waste the day doing nothing useful, but I'm home with Gavin. I'll check email if anything comes up.

A day doing nothing useful.  But what is useful?  Cleaning, folding laundry, pushing a vacuum?  Finding a better home for the towels than the guest room floor?  Ironing?  Decorating the house for fall?  I could have done all of those things and more.  I could have mopped, washed windows, weeded the "garden."  I could have been so very useful.

Instead, I snuggled with my little buddy in bed.  I played peekaboo and patty cake till my sides hurt from laughing with happy little Gavin.  I rolled on the (unvacuumed) floor, to give Gavin a good role model for tummy time.  I sang silly songs.  I rocked to my child sleep.  I spent my day as a mom, and nothing more.  Not a friend, wife, coworker, house manager.  Just a mom.

So did I do anything useful yesterday?  I think I did a whole lot of useful. 

Pouring my heart out.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Girl Dad

Nate and Laura were up early Saturday morning, sitting on the porch with the windows thrown wide open so they could hear the music playing through the TV as they watched the world go by.

Whitney Houston's I Wanna Dance with Somebody came pouring through the speakers, inviting a father to dance with his daughter.  Their peals of laughter (and terrible singing) brought me downstairs.  I quietly watched from the doorway, and twirled Laura and tossed her in the air.

[caption id="attachment_1738" align="aligncenter" width="224"] Twirling at the farm stand on Saturday[/caption]

Hours later, with both children in bed and a bottle of wine open on the coffee table, Nate opened his heart about this morning.

I didn't think I would like being a girl dad so much.  There's just something I could never have anticipated about it. 

And yet here we both are, drowning in tutus and PRINCESS and tiaras and necklaces and dolls and tea parties.

We were dancing this morning and it hit me all of a sudden: this could be it.  This could be the song Laura and I dance to at her wedding.  There isn't much time left.

In an odd way, he's right: there isn't much time left.  Laura is forming the memories that will shape her and her relationships right now.  When Laura is all grown up, what will she remember from childhood.  What will she think when she hears certain songs?  Will she remember one sunny morning, dancing  to Whitney Houston on the front porch with her daddy?  I hope so.

[caption id="attachment_1739" align="aligncenter" width="224"] Dancing in the street on a Friday night[/caption]

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Potty

Like everyone else on the internet, it seems, we are in the midst of potty training.  I read a good number of blogs.  Like a lot of them.  Maybe I just focus my reader on moms with kids the same age as mine, but wow are there a lot of potty training posts out there right now!

So here's mine.  Potty training is happening.  We've had a lot of frustration.  A lot of tears (mostly mine).  A few occasions where I thought potty training might kill me - and it might yet do just that. 

Last week, we were nearing the end of our stash of "Tiggers," the Huggies slip-on diapers we have favored for a while.  They slip on!  Like undies!  But have the full absorbency of regular diapers!  And I can get a bajillion of them for way less than any brand of pull-ups!

But I think perhaps the full absorbency was detracting Laura from actually going on the potty.  Sure, they did slip on and off, in the event that she decided to try on the potty.  But if she had an accident, she didn't feel anything different than normal.  And even though they slipped on and off, in the end Laura knew they were still a diaper for little girls.

I had tried cloth trainers a few times.  But that's what nearly killed me.  Washing poop out of that thick, incredibly absorbent cloth.  DIE.  Additionally, we tried those a few weeks ago.  And when you are a toddler, a few weeks can make a helluva difference.

So we were running low on Tiggers.  I hopped on the internet and found a great deal on a case of Princess Pull-ups - the kind that get uncomfortably cold when soiled.  Sold.  They arrived at home and Laura was in raptures over the Pink! and Princess! and BIG GIRL-ness of them.  We spent the weekend in both Princesses and Tiggers.  When Laura peed on the potty, she earned a Princess.  When she had an accident, she was back in a Tigger.  The incentive was strong. 

So I took the next step at school on Monday.  Laura did really well peeing on the potty all weekend!  She'll need lots of reminders, but please put her on the potty!  I let her wear a princess pull-ups and everything.  One accident.

Another good day Tuesday.  On Wednesday (yesterday), Laura woke up with a dry diaper.  She declared, "I keep my diaper dry all night because I wanted to keep it dry.  I am big girl and big girls keep their diapers dry!"  So after school yesterday I let Laura pick out some big girl undies (Princess, of course) at the store.  She's been in the princess undies all day with no accidents.

Wait.  It's better than no accidents.  Laura has kept her undies dry and clean.  Laura pooped on the potty today.  I couldn't be prouder.

Do we have a completely potty trained toddler?  I doubt it.  Are we free from accidents?  Probably not.  But we are well on our way.  I'm pretty ready to swear by those Princess pull-ups.  Maybe they are the greatest invention on earth... maybe the timing was just right.  Probably the latter, but a little PRINCESS! incentive never hurt anyone either!

And just so the internet karma doesn't try to bite me in the butt, I'm sure we'll continue to have good days and bad days in the weeks and months to come.  But I'm crossing my fingers and knocking on wood that the case of Princess pull-ups will be the only case I need to buy. 

Dear Self: please read this when attempting to potty train Gavin or any other future children and remember the afternoon you sat crying on the bathroom floor, because you just couldn't rinse out one.more.pair of trainers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Princess Laura

I'm not sure exactly when it happened; when my house turned into ALL THE PRINCESS!  It must have started off slowly.  We introduced Laura to a few Disney Classics.  Beauty and the Beast.  Cinderella.  The Little Mermaid.  Laura loved the movies.  Loved reading her princess books.  But nothing much more.

Then we started seeing the tutus creep in.  Every few days, a tutu on after school.  A magic wand.  An abracadabra.  It was still a slow progression.  Still manageable.  We could still get Laura to wear other clothing, speak of other topics, play other games.  But suddenly - seemingly overnight - a little bit of princess was not enough.   

I'd like to blame the Nanny (grandma) who watches her two days a week.  I'd like to blame the three days Laura spent with two other little princesses girls while day care was closed.  But really, I have no one to blame but myself. 

For I, too, am a princess.  You might not be able to see my tiara, but it's there hiding underneath my conservative hair.  You might not be able to see my tutu, but it's there hiding underneath my Loft skinny jeans.  You definitely can see my princess shoes - they are shiny silver with rhinestones.  But even they are disguised in a modest ballet flat.

[caption id="attachment_1719" align="alignnone" width="224"] Note the shoes![/caption]

Laura is less subtle.  She wears her tiara (and beads) whenever we are home or in the car, taking the tiara off only for school.  Laura wears her tutu over her shorts, under her jammies, outside, inside, at the grocery store, at the playground, with sneakers, barefoot, whenever, wherever.  And her princess shoes?  Well, you can spot Laura wearing my silver flats whenever she can wrangle them from my princess feet.

[caption id="attachment_1720" align="alignnone" width="224"] While playing soccer[/caption]

Laura had a tantrum last night when we forced her to take off the party dress (and tutu underneath) that she put on after school in order to put on pajamas. 
How can I be a pwincess without my pwetty dress on!
I snuggled her onto my lap and hugged her.  I've felt exactly the same, only too recently. 

[caption id="attachment_1721" align="alignnone" width="224"] Just before jammie time[/caption]

Laura, you are always a princess.  You will akways be a princess.  No matter the clothes you wear, the style of your hair, the house you live in.  All little girls are princesses.  Always.  And even princesses have to take off their tiaras every now and then.  Laura, you are my princess.  Never stop being a princess.

Pouring my heart out

Friday, September 14, 2012

Let's Go O's!

Happy Friday!  A few pictures to show off my awesome family.  Gavin loved his first game!  Let's Go O's!







Thursday, September 13, 2012

Buffet Closed

Confession:  I hated breastfeeding.

It just wasn't my thing.  It wasn't about nipple pain or poor latch or any of that.  Gavin was a good eater, and I worked through the annoying pain after our first week.  I didn't have the best supply, but I certainly wasn't battling over-supply or clogged ducts or mastitis or anything.  It's almost as if I just wasn't impressed with breastfeeding.

I have never experienced - with either child - the heartwarming feeling of looking into my baby's eyes as he ate.  Laura and I had so many other issues, all of which were exacerbated by breastfeeding and the feeling that I hadn't bonded with her.  I had hopes that maybe I'd feel that warm little chest tug while breastfeeding Gavin this time.  I did not feel the frustration (or depression or anger) that I felt with Laura, but I did not really feel anything.

Breastfeeding, for me, was a way to cut down on some of the costs of raising a child.  Why buy powder when the good stuff came from me for free?  So I kept at it until I went back to work.  I had decided early on that I was not going to pump at work, so Gavin went on formula during our first few weeks after my maternity leave were over.  But I did indulge some hopes that perhaps my supply would keep up for breakfast, dinner and midnight snacks.  And it did.  For a little while.  But then my supply tanked, and nursing Gavin only left him very hungry. 

So I have thrown in the towel.  Gavin is exclusively formula-fed from now on.  My family is happy and satiated.  We are all of us healthy - in both mind and body.  And for me, being healthy - completely and 100% healthy - is the most important thing.  I am happy.  My heart tugs in my chest as I watch Gavin guzzle his bottle that Laura helps hold.  With bottles, I get that feeling I'd always heard about with breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is not for everyone.  It's not for me.  This all you can drink bar is closed. Until our next kid, since I will always try try again.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sharing Real

I don't cry at weddings.  Usually.  This past weekend was an exception. 

I smiled as I watched a dear friend walk down the aisle to marry her best friend.  I happily listened to the beautiful "I Carry Your Heart" by E.E. Cummings for the first reading.  And then the second reading.  An excerpt from the Velveteen Rabbit.  What is real.  My eyes welled up with tears.  I surprised myself with a sniffle and tiny sob.  The Velveteen Rabbit is just one of those books for me.  A story with so much meaning and truth, I simply cannot get through it without tears.  I was so very happy for my friends married this weekend, so happy they have found real with each other. 

It is my duty as a mother to share The Velveteen Rabbit with my children.  So that they may find their own real.  Whether that real be a stuffed puppy as a child (like Walking Puppy who was left in the swing during the rain over the weekend), or  a best friend and lover as an adult.   But I'm not going to like it. 

How will I read The Velveteen Rabbit to Laura and Gavin, when I can't even read it silently in my head without sobbing?  How, when I can't even think about the story (or the recent reading of it) without tears welling in my eyes?

And what about all those other wonderful, beautiful works of children's literature that my children absolutely must read... though I cannot?

Where the Red Fern Grows (I sobbed through this one during class in 5th grade.  Not embarassing at all.)

Bridge to Terabithia (My mom saw I was nearing the end, and sent me up to her bed with a box of tissues to finish.  She came upstairs and cried with me)

Old Yeller (To be fair, I thought the new puppy in the movie was cuter.)

The Little Prince (I definitely understood this one far better as an adult, after a childhood of wondering why my dad was silently crying at the end.)

Some day I'll man up, get out the tissues, and start sharing these books.  I guess I should buy a copy of The Velveteen Rabbit to start.  My most cherished childhood stuffed animals are still very much real.  Laura's and Gavin's should be, too.

Pouring my heart out.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's OK to Parent

A headline caught my eye yesterday morning as I read the Wall Street Journal over some random man's shoulder on the train.  Since reading other people's newspapers is the only way I read print news.  Anyway, the headline was "Letting Babies Cry a Bit Is OK."  Naturally, I googled the article so I could actually read it, beyond the glimpse my poor vision allowed.

As a follower of the Cry It Out (CIO) camp when Laura was an infant, I was eager to see what earth shattering research the Wall Street Journal had uncovered.  Apparently an Australian six-year study that proved... absolutely nothing.  As I summarize the findings: babies wind up with the same risk of emotional trauma whether they cried it out or not.

The Wall Street Journal claims this study "will likely add fuel to an emotional debate that rages on playgrounds."  I'm skeptical.  I feel as though this study adds absolutely nothing to the raging fire of mommy wars.  As if we need anything added to that fire to fuel it.  I feel as though our society of moms has a special talent for swinging any evidence in the direction that most helps our personal feelings.

I had a particularly bad night with Gavin last night.  The poor kid has a stuffy nose and isn't used to sleeping with the noisy ac turned off.  I am in the CIO camp.  Solidly.  Except for when I'm not.  Because isn't that how motherhood works out?  You aspire to raise your kids in one particular fashion... and then reality sets in and you just try to survive one cup of coffee at a time. 

I believe in letting kids cry a little to figure out how to self-soothe... But with Laura and Gavin sharing a room?  I also believe in letting Laura get the best night sleep possible.  So if that means jumping up out of bed every single time Gavin coughs?  So be it.  Gavin might never have the chance to cry it out.  Who knows how that will effect the person he grows up to be.  I do know that I will continue to make parenting decisions with the best interest of my individual children at heart, and NOT because of what some expert, study or book told me is best.  It's ok to follow my heart.  It's ok to parent how I see fit.  And it's ok for YOU to parent how you see it.  It's ok for us all to be parents.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Read Aloud

I distinctly remember sitting on the love seat in our house in Florida.  The pastel blue and pink plaid one.  The one where Bear was lost under a cushion for three whole weeks - an eternity.

I remember sitting on that couch on my dad's lap reading my favorite story for the bazillionth time.  Ferdinand.  I remember turning the pages to my favorite illustration: the one with the lovely ladies with flowers in their hair.  I remember reciting memorized passages.  And suddenly!  A word on a page.  No longer individual letters, stark and black on a white paper.  But a drawn word.  A picture I could read. 


And now I sit on a recliner sofa in our house in Maryland.  The green leather one.  The one that Ries started to eat as a puppy seven whole years ago - an eternity.

I sit on that couch with Laura on my lap reading her favorite story for the bazillionth time.  Ferdinand.  She turns the pages to her favorite illustrations: the one with the men in funny hats, and the one with Ferdinand peeking out into the bull ring.  Laura recites memorized passages.  And suddenly!  A word on a page.  No longer individual letters, stark and black on a white paper.  But a drawn word.  A picture she can read.


In my two and a half years as a mother, I am not sure I have ever been so proud of Laura as I was last night when she found every "Ferdinand" in her favorite book.  Pride in part because my daughter is one smart cookie.  But mostly pride in her love of books and ready.  I hope Laura's love only grows throughout her life. 

What's your child's favorite book to read? 
Pouring my heart out.