Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Venturing Out

Chicago winter this year has been brutal. We've only had a couple days above 40 degrees, and that usually peaks during naptime. It just hasn't been outside/park weather.

My poor, pitiful toddler has been cooped up in the house and has only been able to venture out to stores and storytime lately. We've had few playdates because it seems that this winter is also the winter of the sicks, and all of our local friends and their kiddos have been hit with it. We've also been dealt some sicks, but luckily Claire has yet to really get any of it.

I've been avoiding Benjamin's very favorite germ factories places because of my {possibly irrational} fear that Benjamin will get sick and then spread the germs to his sister which will then end up in the hospital at a wee 10lbs with RSV or something. I fear tubes coming out of her and IVs put in and all that. And not to mention the hospital bills. We're not done paying those from her birth, after all. They trickle in here and there.

I ask myself if it is worth it for that one hour of playtime to be sick and up all night with kids and dealing with scary sick for my wee baby. I've told myself for these last 2.5 months that it is not worth it, and so we spend lots of our time at home. It was easy at first because the baby was new and luckily slept 90% of her day. She's now becoming more alert and my attention cannot be fully on Benjamin; chasing him up and down the stairs and building forts.

Until today. Because yesterday Benjamin, for the first time ever, decided to nap zero minutes. I can't help but assume that it's because he wasn't tired because he had exerted only a small amount of the energy he had stored from the last sleep. And so he played. At 8:30, right before bed, he was running around the upstairs bathroom doing his very best (and pretty fantastic) monkey impression. He had way too much energy that needed releasing.

Today, we ventured out to the germ factory down the street. The indoor playhouse we used to spent every single afternoon playing at before Claire was born. When we drive by lately, he whines and complains that I am not stopping the car so he can play. I gave in today.

He exuded so much joy playing at that place this morning. Nevermind that sister had a blowout and I didn't bring a change of clothes and barely had enough wipes to manage the diaper alone. And that I practically had to drag him out kicking and screaming and the only way I got him out was to let him press the automatic door openers at the exit.

And you know what? He's napping. In his bed. Sound asleep.

Will we pay for it later? Who knows. I guess we will have to get outside of our bubble sooner or later. Two months of immunizations down... let's hope those pack a punch against the sicks of the world.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Our house is lucky to have a Chief Toilet Flusher these days.

That's right. During all of his waking hours, Benjamin takes the opportunity to follow everyone into the bathroom, open the lid for them and wait for them to finish their business. Then, he flushes and puts the toilet lid down. He actually got upset with me for opening the lid this morning. He insisted I stand back up so he could do that for me.

He does it like he's getting paid.

Never has he taken any interest in doing his own business on the toilet or on one of the three mini toilets we have around our house, but maybe it's a potty-training start. Just maybe, right? I'm both eager and afraid of potty-training this little guy. He's stubborn as they come {ehm, no idea where he gets that} so this should be a test of everyone's patience. When I ask him before I know he is going to poop, he denies it on all accounts. A minute later, he announces the arrival of the poop in his diaper and requests a change. It's a start. Something tells me this could be a long process.

He totes around a mini potty often and they appear in fun places: the living room, kitchen, on top of our beds... but the bathroom is not a place that he sees the need for such things. Because he doesn't use them for anything but sitting. With his pants on. However, he did pee standing up last night while holding his man boy parts. In the bathtub. Which is the same place he pooped the day before. The tub has been seeing a lot of Clorox these days.

I plan to roll up the rugs and pull a bootcamp-style training if and when his interest is peaked. I have stocked up on pull-ups and he currently has 16 pairs of big-boy undies in his dresser, washed and ready. It will probably faily.

I'm waiting for the weather to change where he's wearing fewer layers already. But mostly, I'm waiting until he expresses personal interest in going on the pot.

Here's where I turn this into an advice column. We have those mini toilets, but I hear the toilet toppers are the way to go (for a price tag of $35!). Anyone have experience? Do you just stick with a big toilet and let them fall in on occasion? Okay, kidding. But recommendations on preparation?

Saturday, March 15, 2014


The middle child is obsessed with sweets. I realize it's totally our fault for introducing them, but we are also fans of the sugary stuff and sort of take on the thought that life is just too short not to indulge. Sure, within reason and all that jazz. We don't feel deprivation is the key, at least not for our family. To each their own.

I started introducing "dips" to him when I was desperate to get him to eat something at the table. He's still a terrible eater. From about 6-12 months, he rocked the dinner table. And it's been downhill ever since. He ate 7 bites of dinner last night. That required 2 bribes. I'm not proud of it, but I do need him eating. You're probably thinking, "he'll eat when he's hungry." Sure he will. I know that. But I do feel a certain level of responsibility and guilt when he goes to bed at night having consumed the equivalent of 1.5 pieces of bread and a spoonful of peanut butter. All day.

"Dips" were first condiment sauces and jam for his PBJ (inverted). And one morning, we had pancakes. I gave him syrup dips on the side. He then requested those with his peanut butter sandwich. And the requests never stopped. He even requests those specific dips with just about everything else he eats. Though honestly, he probably entertains their use for about two bites before ignoring them. It's a control thing, I'm assuming. He likes making choices. We usually decline the request for anything but sandwiches because... spaghetti with syrup? gross.me.out

Our local Safeway chain closed in Chicago. I might shed a tear if I write anymore about that. I've resorted to shopping for groceries at Costco and Target for the most part. A couple weeks ago, we drove to a local town nearby (but too far to be our normal grocery stomping grounds) to check out their grocery offerings. We've had friends rave about the new store. It's a cross between a normal grocery store and a Whole Foods, but with reasonable prices and loads of really unique products in addition to the normal stuff. They have the coolest car carts for kids. And even those mini carts. It's really the best grocery store I've been to in a long time. We bought a few things and then scooted by the bakery department and picked up four Italian cookies. I was dreaming of our trip to Boston. We purchased our treats and headed to their cool eat-in area and shared cookies and cute little cups of water with sliced cucumber (added touch!) that was available in their condiment area.

We went back to that store today for the second time ever. As we were pulling in to park, Benjamin (who was practicing saying his name on the way to the store--3 syllables can be tough!) said it.


By the sight of the very large grocery establishment parking lot, he accurately deemed this store the "cookie" store. You know, because the one time he had been there before, we shared cookies.

Naturally, after our Dunkin Donuts breakfast this morning, we had to get a cookie before exiting. After all, we needed to positively reinforce the learning that was going on here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

General Updates and Rambling

- Claire is gaining weight and doing it well. I emailed a number of my friends last month after a mediocre pediatrician visit for support. The pediatrician wanted me to see a lactation nurse and I already feel like I can write a book on the subject with all my experience in the hospital, NICU and readings. So, I ditched the lac consultant appointment (canceling 4 days in advance) and bought a $60 scale on Amazon. I changed my technique and the girl is now gaining more than an ounce each day and I'm banking like 3-4 ounces of extra milk each day in addition. Without pumping. I'll spare the details on that one, but basically my body is sort of free-willed and likes to express its own milk. The lac consultant had me on 6-9 Fenugreek pills everyday and immediately things went wrong; green poops, oversupply, too much foremilk. So now I'm back to doing what I did all along without any supplement and things couldn't be better. She weighed in at 9lbs last night and made up all the weight she didn't gain the first month that they were concerned about and then some. Booyah.

- Otherwise, she's sleeping in her bouncer with the vibration on at night. It's not a good habit we've adopted, but then again, me not sleeping is just not an option with a toddler who demands ma-ma-ma-ma all day long. Because I was waking her to feed every 3 hours for the first 6 weeks, I think she's become accustomed to that luxury of frequent milk. For the last two weeks, she's been sleeping in a pattern of: 4.5hrs, nurse, 2.5hrs, nurse, 2 hours of splotchy sleep, nurse/awake. Not the best, but tolerable for now.

- My only concern? Traveling next month with a toddler and newborn in the same hotel room. And no bouncer with a vibration mode. Hmmm. Anyone who has done it with a toddler and newborn, please chime in. I'm thinking of ordering a rollaway bed (often lower to the ground) for Benjamin to tuck him away on the side of the bed she's not on. She'll likely sleep in her carseat. We had decent luck doing so with Benjamin at 6 weeks old on our trip to Savannah.

- I swear I've seen her crack a smile or two. But otherwise, she's like most newborns and hates tummy time, being put down or laying on her back. She does love nursing, being in her carseat, being worn in the K'tan or Ergo, and being walked around to look at bright lights.

- Benjamin is generally awesome with her. The occasional roughhouse does occur when he wants something she's sitting in or near, but he's generally great. The first word out of his mouth this morning, in fact, was baybee.

- One of his two-year molars is coming on through. He's (thankfully) a normal kid while teething and he's shown no signs of additional irritability. You know, over the regular toddler drama.

- He's back to his business of being up to no good. There's pretty much no place in my house that is safe anymore. I had a friend over the other day who seemed a little alarmed that he had a screwdriver "tool" in his hand. I taught him how it was used, so now he tries to use it on things with screws. We did have to remove the hammer from the junk drawer... along with the thumb tacks... stamp pads...

- He's really quirky. He had these little things he does that are just plain funny. Aside from being obsessed with the number 2 and pointing it out wherever we are (he knows other numbers too... but none are nearly as cool in his opinion), he does other odd things, too. He removes the same book from the bookshelf and removes the book jacket. The same thyme leaves spice container is removed from my spice cabinet, walked about 5 feet to the oven, flipped upside down and placed in the same spot. This happens multiple times a week. Always the same spice. It's so fun to see the little {random} things he's going to do.

- I think I made my second storytime friend! This will be a grand total of two friends who are independent (not friend of friends, etc.) in four years of living in Illinois. I gave this one lady my number a few weeks ago and she finally emailed me this week. Once the weather is nicer and all kids are healthy, we're going to get together. My other storytime friend who made those awesome mustache cookies was at storytime yesterday. It was nice to spend some time with her and her super cute daughter.

- Speaking of her super cute daughter... back in the summer we were having a playdate. Her daughter, O, was not speaking many words. She's a month older than Benjamin. At the time, Benjamin was speaking a fair amount, but nothing off the charts. She expressed a little worry that she wasn't up to speed. Now, the girl is speaking full on sentences with adjectives, subjects, pronouns and the whole deal! Benjamin strings together two-word phrases, but has only really developed his numbers, letters, and single-word vocabulary. Not that he doesn't understand... oh the kid is savvy... but yeah. Interesting to watch development. This is nothing I'm worried about as he communicates quite well and randomly says words I never knew he had knowledge of until it comes out of his mouth. His memory is uncanny.

- I take Benjamin to this {lame} gymnastics class on Wednesdays. We usually attend a real gymnastics class at a real gym for gymnasts. But it's expensive. And I knew with Claire's birth that we'd be missing some classes and I didn't want to forfeit the cash. We signed up at the park district and it's pretty lame. But Benjamin loves it. He calls it "class" and gets quite excited on Wednesdays. I was driving him to swim past the building yesterday (which is off the road and not terribly easy to see) and he shouted out "class, class!". He memorized the location of class from his carseat? Unbelievable.

- The husband is busy with business meetings and dinners all week. That means solo bathtime with the littles and man does that call for a large glass of Pinot. Too bad wine makes me exhausted and I'm already tired enough as it is. Good tired, but dude. I'm not pretending this is easy.

- I had a local friend visit the other day with her daughter who is 5 weeks but technically 3 days older than Claire gestationally. She had a plan for a natural birth and had a birth plan set. She ended up having a c-section due to a complication with her daughter having elevated heart rate. I'm telling you. Almost none of my friends have normal birth experiences anymore. It's a wonder pregnancy and birth are still considered natural. We have another local friend who is thinking heavily about a home birth and I literally can feel my blood pressure elevate just thinking about that. The what-ifs of being a loss mom and having four pregnancies and three complicated births just screams high-risk-situation to me. But that's my experience. Only 100% of my pregnancies had some kind of issue or complication. It's hard for me to see it as natural.

- This was massively long-winded. I clearly need more adult interaction.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Little Nuances

I've spent the last few days doing the single mom gig. The husband is away on business and I've been dreading him leaving. It really has nothing to do with the daytime, as I'm solo with that daily anyway. It's all about the 6:30-8:30 time when we usually have him around.

Bedtime is no easy task with two littles. It can be done, but one of them is likely crying in the process. As a wee baby, Benjamin had what we call the witching hour that was more like 2-3 hours of fussiness and some crying before bedtime. It's when he was alert and obviously tired. Well, Claire is no different. She's a pretty agreeable baby for the most part, but the witching hour(s) can really exhaust a person.

I was thinking to myself during a nursing session at 2:30 a.m. about the little things we say. My husband had written me an email and expressed how wild it was being able to type "kids" at all. I sat there in thought about how parents speak of their experiences. Sort of having a silent conversation with myself (you know, because when your husband is out of town, you get little adult chit-chat) about how both of my children had that wild witching hour each night.

And how crazy it would be to say all or none instead of both. When you have two kids, the pronoun fits the number as a pair. Words like neither and both are used. Always and only two kids being referred to here. When you have three or more children, the pronoun changes, yet remains the same for three... or millions.

While incredibly awesome it's been to say kids and both, that all or none would be totally awesome-r.

Fun little anecdote: Since I went all teacher on you in this post, I have to mention that one of the most difficult adjectives for kids in elementary school to spell is awesome. They would always leave out the first e for some reason. Compound word, too. Just to geek this up a little more. Awe + some. It's awesome because it has some awe factor to it.