Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chris and Sharon

We've had a busy few days, and I haven't been tired in this way in quite awhile. I have to go to bed now, but I at least wanted to post my favorite pictures from this weekend of our friends Chris and Sharon, who live in Ecuador. We hardly ever get to see them and we miss them terribly. Four days wasn't enough time, but it was wonderful. They left this afternoon, and TJ left early this morning for a two-night trip to NYC for work. Wouldn't you know that E woke up for the day at 5:30 this morning, and only napped a half hour this afternoon, and has already woken up three times since I put him down tonight. We're spending tomorrow night at my parents' new house in San Antonio, so that's a relief.

More soon . . .

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Afternoon Nursing

I can't help wondering if E is moving towards dropping his afternoon nursing. Today was the second time this week that he refused it. Granted, I got my period this week, so that may have something to do with it, but I don't get the sense that's what was going on today. He just wasn't interested. It surprises me that I'm not more crushed. I guess after last month I've come to accept the fact that he's going to wean at some point, and if it ends up happening at a year, so be it (don't know if I really mean that). I feel like he's still very much dependent on the other feedings, so that's a comfort, frankly.

Pajamas, Spazzing Out, Bird as Toy

I know it's against blogging rules to drastically edit something you already posted, but as a former proofreader and copyeditor, I find that rule very difficult to follow (though I do try).

Anyway, I'm throwing the rule out the window with the tiny thing I posted last night about E wearing pajamas. I'm just going to include that tidbit in this post. I meant to explain that he's officially moved up a size to 18 months. I went to the Carter's Outlet on Tuesday and got him some new onesies and some real pajamas (his first). I also got some stuff for TJ's sister, who just had a baby boy last week, Owen (making Julia, age two this coming fall, a big sister).

So last night E wore some of his new pjs, and he was so freaking cute, I could barely stand it. They're blue with red and yellow bugs on them. I mean, come on. Also, it's just really funny to see him in cotton shorts for some reason. And a real shirt instead of a onesie. His tummy peeks out and we have no choice but to kiss it. None, I tell you.

This morning he woke up at 5:00. (He was also up at 1:00 and 10:30 p.m. and earlier in the evening. Last night was one of several consecutive Motrin nights.) We tried and tried to get him back to sleep this morning, but it wasn't happening. Wheeeeeee. He was so wired. I got up with him and when it came time to feed him breakfast, he would only eat yogurt (as per usual lately), and he was spazzing out a lot.

I don't think I've described his spazzes on here before. We have yet to meet another baby who does this, and people always comment on it, but I haven't been convinced that it's unusual. I'm starting to wonder, though. The ones this morning were super intense and more prolonged. For a second I thought, "What if these are seizures??" But they're not, because if I rub his leg and talk to him during one, he stops. He's in control to some extent. I think he's doing it out of excitement and as a way of expressing the energy he feels. I'm not sure how to describe the spazzing. Basically he tenses up his body and his face and concentrates to the point that he shakes. It's very intense. If you saw an adult doing this, you would know instantly that they were mentally ill. But when E does it, it's just funny (and a bit unnerving, recently).

The thing is, I used to spaz out kind of like this when I was a kid. It's too weird to explain fully here, but I would do it when I was intent on some activity, like drying my hair. I never did it in front of anyone. Ack, this is so odd, I know! But maybe it's genetic? Both of my half-sisters did versions of this when they were kids and really into something. They would hold their hands together in front of their faces and squeeze super hard while scrunching their faces up. My mom has always said they got that from their dad's side of the family, but I think evidence suggests otherwise, don't you?!

In other news today, Squeaky brought a bird inside this morning and killed it and ate it in the living room under the coffee table. Ugh. I'd left the door open a little because in the mornings she's so excited about going out she can't eat right away and comes in and out several times. E was in the jumperoo and I was washing dishes when I heard this squeaking sound, which my brain attributed to a toy until I realized that we don't have any toys that squeak. Sure enough, it was a poor birdy. Squeaky was batting it around, keeping it alive as long as possible, and generally having the time of her life. Our fearless hunter has returned.

If she gets one of the cardinals, I'll be pissed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

View on the way to the mailbox

Slimming Down

I thought I should report that TJ has lost a couple of pounds. Whew! And I've actually lost a few myself. We're really getting the hang of this new way of eating, I think. We're even more dedicated than when we started. TJ has cut pasta out completely; I still have it on rare occasions. We're also limiting rice and bread but we're still eating whole wheat tortillas and pita (and brown rice with stir fry but not as a side). We've found that having snacks with protein is key, and we've also discovered that a steak or grilled chicken salad (with a bunch of veggies and sometimes a hard-boiled egg) fills us up nicely. I don't think either of us has needed to snack as much as we did at first. (This added later: The snacking less comment may not be true.)

Our dinners have mostly been coming from the South Beach Diet Cookbook (the one with thirty-minute meals). Even though we're not doing South Beach per se, the ingredients in that cookbook are in line with the way we're eating now (which actually does equate to Phase 2 and 3 of South Beach, I think). So, we're learning and modifying as we go. I know TJ is disappointed that he hasn't lost more weight; I guess we'll see what happens over the next couple of months. I have to say that I feel great eating this way. It seems obvious to me now that I used to stuff myself silly--it's nice not to feel uncomfortably full and bloated every day. I've noticed that when I do eat pasta now (which I've had two or three times in the past month), I feel gross afterwards. I probably wouldn't if I only had a cup of it, but if I'm eating pasta, I want more than that. I do love me some pasta.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Harried Update

I'm going to be running around this week (or so I think), so I wanted to post a couple of quick things in case I don't get a chance to later. First, we saw my parents' new house in San Antonio yesterday and it's fantastic. They've never lived anywhere this nice and they're pinching themselves. We couldn't be happier for them. And my dad is doing fine. He didn't look as bad as I'd expected. He has a very black eye, scrapes on his forehead and nose, knee and arm, but feels pretty good. He's moving around like an old man, though, which we enjoyed pointing out. Teehee. Their life is going to continue to be nuts (as per usual) until school starts (he teaches high school and Gwen's a librarian at an elementary school). So I don't know when they'll ever get unpacked and set up in their new home. I'm trying not to let that drive me batty since it's their life and none of my business. I struggle with this since I LOATHE clutter and they're borderline hoarders.

My mom got stitches in three places on her arm and has to be in a cast for six weeks. They're undecided about whether to find a new home for one of the dogs. The fight sounded like quite a bloody scene and traumatic for everyone (except the dogs, who appeared unfazed). Luckily, my little sister was home when it happened and was able to help my mom get the dogs separated and deal with all the bleeding.

Eamon's sleep has gone to hell in a hand basket over the past few days. It's a struggle going down, he wakes up a ton in the night, and is raring to go at the crack of dawn. It's frustrating and exhausting. I think it's a combination of teething and that developmental stage that hits right about now--he's on the verge of crawling and is practically bursting with energy. His arms and legs give these spastic little jerks even in the middle of the night, and when I nurse him he hits and pinches himself and me and pulls his own hair. He's a crazy man. Not sure how we're going to tackle this one. So far we've let him cry but have gone in and rocked him when he hits fever pitch.

This week we have a couple of lunches, a pool date, and on Friday we're going to see the house that Catherine and Shannon just bought (their first home; so exciting). We're also trying to get the house ready for our dear friends (do you have to be in your eighties to use the phrase "dear friends"?) who are coming to visit from Ecuador next weekend. We're starting the process of babyproofing, moving the tv downstairs, etc., which has resulted in rearranging furniture, frames, books, and so forth.

By the way, I feel terribly conflicted (disloyal, even) for writing about that incident between TJ and me and portraying him in a negative light at all because he's so wonderful. But I trust that you guys get it. I cannot even tell you the number of times I've been cold and sullen towards him for no real reason and he only ever responds with kindness. Anyway . . .

Have a great week!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Avoidable Injuries

I don't think I've mentioned on here that my parents, by which I mean my dad and stepmom, found a beautiful house in San Antonio and are moving in today. They moved out of their San Marcos house at 5:00 in the morning on Thursday. They're now the first to admit that they did a terrible job handling the move (which I have to say we saw coming a mile away since they don't know how to set boundaries or manage their schedule and hadn't started packing as of this past Monday) and indeed they ended up in deep shit, staying up all night trying to get out by the deadline of 5:30 a.m. In the middle of the night, my dad fell as he was putting a load in the truck. As a result, he now has a huge knot on his forehead, a swollen, purple eye, and bruises and abrasions across his nose and face, hip, and knee. He's lucky he didn't end up in the hospital. (I still think he needs to see a doctor.) Gwen, in the meantime, came down with a vicious UTI and is on antibiotics, and they're both more sore than they ever knew was possible. Like scary sore. It's so frustrating to me that they did this to themselves, and hadn't arranged for friends (except a few last-minute helping hands), family, or movers to help them. The thought of my dad all beat up like that kills me. They said they hadn't taken into account that they're no longer in their early thirties, which was how old they were the last time they moved. And they completely underestimated the amount of stuff they had to move. Luckily, they hired movers to unload the truck today. They didn't have any other choice, since they are barely functioning physically at this point. What were they thinking??? We're going to see them (and the new house) tomorrow.

My mom, in the meantime, who lives in Dallas, reportedly got in the middle of another fight between her boy dogs, and ended up with stitches and a fractured arm. I haven't talked to her yet--I heard this from Nana (her mom). This is the third time my mom's been hurt trying to break up a fight between them, and this is the most severe injury. Up until now she's minimized the fights (to a comical degree), but I don't see how she can this time. I mean, surely this will finally be the wakeup call that they can't keep both boy dogs? They're super sweet, but they're both alpha males, and they aren't fixed. It seems like it should go without saying that her safety is more important than anything. On the other hand, they adore all three dogs and I know it would be traumatic to have to keep only two. I'm going to call her today or tomorrow and find out more about what's going on. She's in New York this weekend (she goes every month).

Something That Hasn't Happened in a Long Time

Yesterday E and I took a little snooze in the afternoon while he nursed. I remember this happening in January (or thereabouts) quite a bit, when he was between three and four months, but it gradually stopped, and then around six months we got more militant about him taking naps in his crib and I wouldn't let him sleep on me for long. His afternoon nap was only thirty minutes yesterday (also reminiscent of the good ol' days), and he nursed when he got up. I was in la-la land after only getting about 2.5 hours of sleep the night before (not all E's fault), and lo and behold we both drifted off for about half an hour. I came to a few times and looked down at him in a haze, feeling thankful--for getting to share one more moment like this with him, for being able to close my eyes and get some rest.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Crappy Way Last Night Ended

Like anyone else, TJ and I don't have a perfect relationship. But it occurred to me recently that this blog probably gives the impression that we do. I guess I'm not comfortable airing our dirty laundry here. And there's really not much dirty laundry to air, especially since April (which was when he started working from home). We have a sweet setup these days, and we don't take it for granted.

But anyway, TJ was reading the blog a couple of weeks ago and he said he thinks I'm way too nice to him on here. So I was wondering if I should write about this thing that happened last night after I got home from the parenting class. I wasn't sure if he was in a talkative mood--he was working on a project for a friend--but he asked me to come into his office and tell him about the class, so I did. I had all these notes and was excited to tell him everything, just like he did last week when he got home from the other class. He didn't seem that receptive or interested, but I forged ahead for a bit. I was animated and in that sense vulnerable.

Then I got to this one point and was trying to explain it the best way I could and think back to the class for the right wording. I finished the example and he didn't say much of anything. At all. So I said, "Well, you clearly aren't in the mood to hear about this right now, so why don't I tell you about it later." I guess I was expecting him to respond with something like, "Do you mind? I really need to keep working on this." Or, "No! Tell me more!" But what he said was, "I could've done without the last quarter of what you just said. I get it, okay. I don't need so many details." His tone was so unkind. I felt like I'd been sucker punched. I felt demeaned. I felt hurt. I said, "Okay," and got up and left. I was going to just go upstairs and not say anything, but I realized that wouldn't be healthy, so I went back and said, "Just so you know, you really hurt my feelings." He was defensive and surprised. Surprised! What he'd said was obviously rude, and yet I was now having to justify my response and try to explain why I felt so hurt. It was awful. In the end he apologized and we hugged and he said he didn't want to speak to me that way and was sorry he'd done it. Then he went back to his office to work on the project and I didn't see him the rest of the night. I proceeded to get a little weepy and then did my own stuff and went to bed. Today, before he was leaving to go out for the evening (there's a conference in town that a bunch of his old DC co-workers are here for), he came up to me and gave me a huge hug and apologized again. It was very heartfelt, and I needed that.

So there you have it, a not-so-great story. I'll have to tell at least one more sometime where I'm the villain, and then I'll leave it at that, because I really don't like writing about this kind of thing on here.

Incidentally, the dynamic of our exchange last night (the very subject, in fact--my tendency to include every detail, his impatience with that) is something that comes up from time to time with us, and we obviously need to work on it.

Oh, and I only ended up telling him about half of what we covered in the class last night. I guess if he wants to hear the rest, he can ask. And that's not a test.

Setting Boundaries Without Punishment, Shame, or Manipulation

That's what the parenting class I went to last night was about. It was super interesting, I took a ton of notes, and I feel like I learned a bunch of language and techniques I can file away for a few months until E makes his foray into toddlerhood. I have to be honest and say that I'm not TOTALLY convinced of everything that was covered. But I'm convinced of a lot of it, and will try to use it whenever possible. It's definitely a very different approach from the popular parenting techniques of today (punishment/reward stuff, time outs).

What was most useful was hearing other parents of two- and three-year-olds ask specific questions about how to handle things their kids are doing. One pushes her baby sister down hard multiple times a day. One mom described her son as a little lawyer who can find a loophole in any rule or argument. One two-year-old doesn't want to do anything her mom wants her to do (textbook, I guess). If it's time to eat breakfast, she won't. If it's time to go on a playdate, she doesn't want to. If it's time to get in her car seat, "NO." Her mom said it can take 45 minutes to get out of the house, and that she's resorted at times to tricking/scaring her. "Okay, I've laid out your snack for later. I guess you'll be staying here by yourself. Mommy's leaving. Bye." Carrie acknowledged that sometimes that's the way it'll go down, despite your best intentions. But she suggested saying things instead like, "I get that you don't want to go, but I'm the mom and you need to come with me." (Pick the screaming banshee up and walk out.) As you prepare to put them in the car, you might say, "This is no fun doing it this way. Yuck, this is hard! I'm really frustrated that you don't want to get in the car." Another idea was to make up a quick game (run around the house three times or whatever) to diffuse the situation and then resume getting in the car. Hmmm, I'll report back on whether this works in another year or so.

We covered so many topics it's impossible to relay them all here, but basically Carrie brought everything back to brain development and what's going on inside a toddler's brain. She made the point that young children aren't able to regulate their own feelings, nor are they capable of having "clearly defined thoughts about manipulating adults," despite how their behavior comes across at times. They misbehave because they're experiencing some form of stress, and it's important to respond to the behavior with sympathy and understanding instead of rage and punishment.

Carries maintains that time outs don't teach kids anything, and that they should be used for parents. The idea is that if your kid has flipped all your switches and you need a break, it's okay to say, "I think we need a break. I'm overwhelmed and need to calm down a minute. You sit here and I'll be right back."

She recommends having a clear set of family rules and expectations, and reinforcing these intentions by repeating beliefs such as, "We have a family that loves each other. We respect each other. We have fun together. We take care of each other." These mantras will be internalized by the kids over time.

Here's some language she suggested using in various situations.
"I know you want to paint, but we're not going to paint right now. We can color, though." Kid flips out. Don't repeat that you're not going to paint. You know you're not, but repeating it won't help. Just say, "I get that you really want to paint" and sit there until they calm down.

If they hit someone: "Hitting hurts people. It makes me sad when children get hurt. In our family we treat each other kindly." If necessary, gently restrain them first and sit down and breathe for a minute or two before talking.

In a nutshell, she advises being transparent and honest with them ("You know what, I'm having a bad day"), since they're more attune to your moods than you are. If you try to fake it with them, they'll push you until you admit it one way or another. They'll force you to be present with them through their behavior if you're not. Sometimes it helps to give them ten minutes of your undivided attention, get them started on play, and then go do the stuff you need to do.

The level of intensity present when you respond to negative behavior should be matched in everyday, positive interactions. Otherwise they'll keep returning to the behavior that results in the biggest reaction.

Give them alternatives to the behavior you don't want to continue. "Pushing your sister is not okay. If you need to push something, you can push this punching bag." Or whatever.

So there you have it. A synopsis of last night's class.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nine-Month Checkup

It's late and I need to go to bed, but I wanted to post quickly about E's nine-month checkup, which we had this afternoon. He weighed exactly 23 pounds (just under the 90th percentile), and is 29 inches long (can't remember the percentile for that). Basically his growth was great, and has slowed down in the way they expect it to. Dr. Mc was thrilled with where he is in all areas, and she seemed to get a real kick out of him. He was Mr. Personality in there--it was a hoot. I wasn't sure how he'd be, but he really poured on the charm. And curiosity. He didn't hold back at all. Babbling (she seemed especially pleased by all the sounds he's making: Da, Ma, Puh, Buh, Tt, Th, Yuh, clicking and clucking, and a bunch of other crazy sounds), reaching for anything and everything he could get his hands on, showing her how he can balance on his hands and feet and push back from that into a seated position (new development), standing up in her lap, laughing and smiling. She asked if he's saying any words yet or waving bye-bye, and I said he doesn't appear close to doing either one, which she said was no biggie.

I told her that we'd tried a couple of finger foods on him a few weeks ago but that he wasn't interested. She explained that he can eat almost everything we eat now, and probably won't put up with jarred food much longer. (He's already over it, actually.) She encouraged us to branch out and try giving him quartered grapes, cheese, etc. It must be time, because he's becoming more and more finicky about his food, not drinking from his own cup (only mine), looking longingly at our plates, etc. The only thing he loves is yogurt, and he LOVES it. Dr. Mc said that that's great because yogurt is almost a complete food and has pretty much everything he needs. She said we shouldn't worry if he wants it for every meal (which he does). That was a relief to hear. No matter how many books you read, it's much more helpful to talk to an actual person about this stuff.

She asked if he'd started having temper tantrums. I said that he's ramped up in that area in the past couple of weeks. We're now experiencing long, high-pitched shrieks when things don't go his way (or when I step out of his line of sight for a second).

We feel like he's changing so quickly all of a sudden. New behaviors (in addition to the shrieking) include lunging dramatically (either towards a person or to get down if he's being held), squeezing his legs tightly around my hips if I try to put him down and he doesn't want me to, pushing the spoon away with his left hand, banging blocks together on purpose, expecting to play a game where TJ carries him up the stairs and I chase them (and he squeals and laughs hysterically), and not sitting still--wanting desperately to be on the go. He manages to get hold of a lot more things now (through rolling and maneuvering), especially cords and plugs and cabinet doors. It's like a preview of a whole new world that's right around the corner. I can practically see the synapses in his brain making connections. His personality and desires seem more defined by the day. It's cool (kind of mind-blowing, actually) to see him expressing what he wants and doesn't want after having to guess for so long. He's always been a separate person, I realize, but he's starting to be able to really assert himself. It feels different. And exciting!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Superhero Journal

I don't know why I'm posting so many links all of a sudden. But anyway.

I wonder if any of you feel the way this mama does in her July 14 post called Hiding Out.

Bonnie Berry

I don't know Bonnie Berry at all, but I'm in love with her photographs.

Her blog is here. I check it a couple of times a month (at least) and dream of scheduling a family shoot with her. It would be expensive (not outrageous, but a little expensive for Austin), and TJ's not totally on board for that reason. But I think it would be so, so worth it. Maybe after E is walking . . .

Monday, July 14, 2008


This is our new favorite place to eat.

It's the real thing, guys, despite being located in Fake Town.

SO GOOD. We went yesterday for lunch, and I can't wait to go back. The salads are fantastic, as is the vegetarian panini, and the pizza looked good too (but we don't know that for sure since pizza is a no-no for us right now). It's good to go early (the restaurant opens at 11:00 every day) or in between lunch and dinner times; otherwise there's a big line.

Family Reunion

On Saturday we went to a family reunion (my dad's side) in scenic (not really) Temple. It had been a long time since everyone got together. My dad has six siblings, and their children, my cousins, have been reproducing like crazy in the past few years. There were babies and toddlers everywhere. The reunion was held at the Hilton Garden Inn, and everyone hung out in a banquet room all day. Here's a picture. That's E in the foreground. It was a long day with lots of stimulation, especially for a certain baby. But it was great to see everyone and freak out over how big the kids have gotten and introduce E to people.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Knowing Thy Toddler: Tips and Tools for Parenting One- to Three-Year-Olds

We signed up for two of Carrie Contey's parenting workshops (www.earlyparenting.com). TJ went to the first one last night (see title of this post) and I'm going to one next week on the subject of setting boundaries. He found last night's class helpful and interesting overall. We don't feel like it's the end-all, be-all, necessarily, but hopefully it'll help us be better parents to toddler-E.

They spent a lot of time talking about brain development, and the three brains present in toddlers: lizard (tantrums, rejecting, running away), monkey (resistant, irritable, clingy, fragile, hard to please), and human (happy, verbal, compliant, creative, affectionate). As we all probably know, toddlers are working hard to grow into their human brain, but they just aren't there yet. They're stuck in their lizard and monkey brains much of the time. Their behavior during this time is not a reflection of their personality or true self; it's just where they are developmentally. Tantrums and obnoxious behavior are inevitable, and not caused by poor parenting, and even if you were to do everything right, which is impossible, crazy-ass behavior would still ensue. The point of this class was to teach you how to react to these challenging moments, how to stay in touch with your child's emotional state, and how to redirect them and guide them through whatever they're feeling. She made the point that the stuff you're teaching them when they're toddlers are things they won't actually grasp until they're, like, five. But you just keep doing it, over and over. Eventually they'll get it, but probably not the first fifty times or more. Oh, boy.

Carrie passed out a flow chart (which TJ brought home) that's got the lizard, monkey, and human brains, the behaviors associated with each, and what we should be doing accordingly. For instance, when they're freaking the freak out (lizard), we should: pay attention to our own feelings, breathe, slow down, be present, reflect feelings non-verbally, and surrender expectations. (This one seems pretty idealistic to me.) When they're irritable and clingy and hard to please (monkey), they're likely at any moment to bring on the lizard. At this time, it's good to give them a snack of some kind, especially protein; give them water, go outside, play a pushing game, make eye contact, touch, reflect feelings physically as well as verbally. (Cool, this makes sense.) When they're human (happy, verbal, compliant, relaxed), this is the time to play and teach and sing, be creative, and tell stories about "big experiences" and stories about behavior. (Gotcha. But when do we get stuff done around the house?? Just saying.)

There's also a step-by-step guide on how to deal with behavior that is unacceptable. It seems like it'll be helpful, but it, too, seems pretty idealistic and scripted. I guess you have to make it your own. I won't knock it until we get to the point that we can try it. (I hope I don't sound like I'm being too critical of all this. I don't mean to be. I have some reasons, and probably a big one is that my mom is a play therapist, and is constantly using language like this, but in a way that sometimes feels contrived and devoid of real empathy.) Ultimately, I really am glad to have some guidance in this area, because I don't know how equipped I am to deal with a toddler all day, every day, and it's just around the corner. I don't want to find myself in a position where I'm constantly losing my temper and patience and disliking my baby. (I realize I will have plenty of moments like that, inevitably, but I'd like to work to minimize them. Do I sound like a first-time mom or what???) And TJ is glad to be educating himself on this stuff because he was raised with the parenting approach of "I'll give you something to cry about," and he knows he's in danger of repeating that same dynamic with E. A total disconnect between parent and child. That's the last thing he wants for him and his boy.

Anyway, I'm actually starting to be able to imagine E as a toddler, and it's exciting. He's really coming into his own, this one.

I can tell I only have a few more months (at most) of being able to blog as often, by the way. So I'm going to enjoy it (and the two naps a day) while I can. We're at a super easy stage right now, I've realized. TJ gave me some props last night, which was really nice. He realized from this class that it takes a helluva lot of energy to care for a baby all day, and it'll take a shitload more when E's a toddler, let alone when there's another baby around (goddess-willing). He was in awe, and I love him for it.

D and Baby, Night Weaning

E and I had lunch with my friend D and her six-week-old baby yesterday. It was the first time we'd met the baby, and she was awfully sweet, of course. It was strange holding such a little one again now that E's so big. I could've held her for hours. I wasn't able to enjoy E at that stage; I could only focus on caring for him and myself and getting through each hour. D had a similar experience her first time around (she has an older daughter who's 22 months), but this time she's enjoying it so much. Breastfeeding was smoother, the sleep deprivation didn't bother her as much, and this baby is wayyyyyyyyy easier than her oldest. I was impressed by how well she's doing. She even had all my maternity clothes ready to return. Jesus!

She also told me about her labor, which sounded intense to say the least. She went from 5 cm to pushing (only four pushes) in an hour, and she said she honestly thought she was going to die (and so did her husband). She said she'd have shot herself without hesitation if she'd had a gun. Seriously. And that if she'd been an animal a vet would've put her out of her misery. She didn't have time for an epidural; she couldn't even say the word. She said it was like a bad dream where you open your mouth to scream and nothing will come out. God! On the upside, she said she recovered super fast, like in a day, despite having torn, and felt completely normal and energized. And the baby was alert from the time they put her on D's chest--she immediately made eye contact and was in that quiet but alert state they talk about. This wasn't the case with her first, where she had an epidural (and where she'd pushed for 3.5 hours and ended with a vacuum). She's just not sure whether all the benefits she's noticed firsthand are worth that one hour of total hell. She said she realizes that sounds crazy, but that she can't explain how insane and horrible that hour was. I wonder if it would've been easier for her if she'd planned on a drug-free birth from the start. On the other hand, I remember our Bradley teacher telling us that people are always envious of fast labors, but they can be much, much more painful, and many people who've experienced them would trade them for a longer labor in a second.

I kind of doubt I'll ever experience a vaginal birth, but I'm fascinated by them (by all birth stories, really).

D also encouraged me to night wean. She told me about some friends she has whose two-year-old still wakes up in the middle of the night expecting to eat something, and they bring her actual food. I know he doesn't NEED to nurse in the middle of the night anymore, and that he's waking up out of habit, and that it'll be harder to break him of that the older he gets . . . it just makes me feel awful to think of withholding myself from him and not going to him at all. TJ will have to go instead. D advocates no one going in, period, but I don't think we can do that. Anyway, TJ and I talked about it and we figure we should do it soon. Over a weekend. It's not like we hadn't planned on it; we'd just been putting it off. We need to figure out the nighttime diaper situation as well. He often wakes up because he's wet, and then flips his shit when we have to change him. I've tried Pampers, Huggies, and the cheap-o HEB brand. I've heard the Costco brand works well, but I feel like we need some extra stuffing or something.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Today at Shipe Park

This and That

I used to have a lot of days like yesterday when E was smaller, like three to five months (except he's an incredible delight to be around now, no offense to his wonderful but less expressive younger self). I rarely had plans to see people then (or so it seems to me now, especially since he hated the car), I was always exhausted, and he took very short, unpredictable naps. Yesterday's afternoon nap was short, and he woke up grumpy. He wasn't happy here at home doing anything. We ended up at the Domain (a very nice outdoor mall that's relatively close by). We strolled around and I got an iced tea and people oohed and ahhhed over E (never gets old) and we sat outside next to the rock fountain on the spongy turf they have for kids, and he was happy. Meanwhile, I called seemingly everyone I knew, which is sort of pathetic to do on your birthday, but that's what I would've been doing at that moment regardless. I just felt like talking to someone. But no one was around, so I left rambling messages for people I hadn't called in months (this also used to happen a lot) and gave up trying to reach anyone. It probably sounds like I was feeling sorry for myself, but I really wasn't. It was a blah-er day than usual, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I felt thankful to be spending my birthday with Eamon. I love getting to stay home with him, even though it can be grueling at times. There are other things I hope to do in this lifetime, but there's nothing else I'd rather be doing right now.

TJ went and got salads from Freebirds last night while I bathed E and put him down. He was going to go pick up some charcoal (ours got rained on) and grill chicken, but it was already 6:00, and it stressed me out to think of eating as late as 8:00. Evenings are never long enough as it is. So this worked out better, and while he was out he went to the James Avery store nearby and got me this fabulous silver sun pendant along with a black leather choker. He also got a card and actually wrote inside of it, which is out of character for him. He wrote very sweet things. I knew he hadn't had a chance to get me anything, so I wasn't expecting a gift from him (and had told him not to worry about it). So that was such a nice surprise. Oh, and the Oreck I ordered arrived! I'm seriously stoked about this vacuum cleaner. Does this mean I'm getting old?

Anyway, today's been a good day. Good naps and a fun outing. (Our play date today was canceled, so I took E to Shipe Park to swim instead.) And now he's up, so off I go . . .

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Picture of the Day

I had put this basket out on the table to do something with later . . .
It started pouring down rain soon after this picture was taken. Huge, gusty sheets of it--always a welcome sight here in central Texas. Squeaky must've known something was up.

A New Kind of Birthday

I don't know if it's having a baby or what, but I don't care as much about my birthday this year. Usually I have this feeling on my birthday, a sort of spark of excitement or expectation, and this desire to feel connected to the world and appreciated in some small way. I guess I still feel that way a little today, but it's different. I don't feel as special or as in need. But I don't feel un-special either. Since E's needs are the same today as any other, and my job is to fulfill them, that takes precedence over everything else, like always. It seems only natural.

The best gift I can imagine right now would be to have a couple of hours to take a bath and read magazines in bed and just do whatever I want to do. The conditions would have to be perfect for this to actually happen (child care aside). I would need to be in just the right mood. I would need to be able to relax enough to do those things and not feel guilty or driven to be productive in other areas. I would need to feel tired. And I do today! I have a pounding headache, in fact!

We don't have any plans for the day. Maybe we'll go to the Y, or to run a couple of errands. We'll definitely get out of the house. TJ is making dinner tonight, and we have some leftover summery cocktails from Saturday that we plan to enjoy. We also have a BBC mystery saved that we could watch later (if I can stay awake; it's doubtful). Yesterday Catherine and Shannon took me (and E) out to lunch at Vivo on Manor Road. We sat outside, and E held up beautifully, and we took a bunch of pictures, and they gave me a lovely gift bag full of pampering items like foot scrub and foot lotion, and a Burt's Bees facial kit, and summer slippers, and a couple of magazines. Oh, and a babysitting offer, which we're taking them up on in August. They're the Best.

But back to the fatigue. I don't know where last night came from. E woke up at 1:00. He was wet. I changed him and nursed him (I'm not ready to night-wean him yet) and put him back down. He woke up at 2:30 and cried but then went back to sleep before I went in. Then cried at 3:00 but went back to sleep. Then at 3:30 he really cried. I had the Tylenol ready to dispense when I went in. He was having none of it but I got it down him by singing to him. It was only then that I realized he was soaking wet. Again! I'd just given him Tylenol for nothing. Argh, frustrating. I wanted to reach in and suck it all back out somehow. By the time I finished changing him and putting new clothes on him, he was WIDE awake. Rather than put him down awake or get TJ to take over, I decided to try rocking him. He snuggled up and put his head right down, but took a long time to fall asleep. He lifted his head up several times and stared at me quietly, eye to eye, before putting his head back down. I rocked him forever. I was both savoring the moment and desperate to get back in bed. It was 4:15 by the time I left his room, and I was wide awake myself at that point. Didn't go back to sleep until 5:00. He woke up at 6:10; I nursed him and then got TJ up at 6:30 and went back to bed until 8:00. So I was pretty much awake from 1:00 to 5:00, which I gather is why I feel like I've been run over today.

I can't believe I just wrote all of that out. BO-RING. But I'm compelled to record it for some reason (as I'm compelled to post obsessively in general on here for some reason--that's never been the case before with other blogs and journals), so I won't delete it, since this is my blog and I promised myself I wouldn't try to impress anyone. And plus, it's my birthday.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Going Nowhere, Commence the Pickiness, Our Happy Cat

We did too much this weekend, and E was out of sorts at Nana's yesterday as a result. I was out of sorts too, by the end. Irritable and depressed (or something). I'm looking forward to getting caught up on some things this week, and getting E back into the routine of being home. He did nap for an hour at Nana's yesterday afternoon, so that was a major score. We have two lunch dates and a play date this week, and tomorrow is my birthday (it really snuck up on me this year). I also have a bunch of errands to run. (Blah, blah, blah, this is so boring; sorry.)

TJ weighed himself yesterday and was discouraged to find that instead of losing weight, he's gained a little. (I don't actually believe that; I tried to tell him that weight fluctuates within around five pounds, but he still feels crappy about it, understandably.) Even just a pound or two would be such great motivation. He doesn't understand why he hasn't lost anything after cutting out sugar, fries, chips, unhealthy snacks, desserts, anything other than salads when eating out, switching to only whole grains, etc. On the other hand, we've only been doing this a couple of weeks, and both weekends we've pretty much had no choice but to eat stuff we wouldn't have chosen ourselves. But still. Is it just too early to see results? People keep saying that guys lose weight quickly. Could it be his genes, in part? We're planning to meet with the nutritionist at the Y. One thing that we think needs to happen is a lot more exercise. Two times a week isn't going to get him anywhere. Maybe we'll have to go on a more austere diet. Last night we had tofu stir fry with brown rice, and then at 9 p.m. we each had a small bowl of fat-free yogurt and granola. Maybe we shouldn't have something like that at night. But we don't have it every night, and it's a far cry from the ice cream we used to eat--doesn't that count for something?

E, in the meantime, has essentially stopped eating breakfast. It's happened gradually, with this morning being the worst so far. I wonder if we're seeing the early stages of picky eating. This morning he puked up the few spoonfuls I'd gotten down him (peach, oatmeal, and banana from a jar); I then mixed plain jarred banana (we were out of homemade frozen) with oatmeal and apple juice, but he gagged on that and wouldn't take anymore. He wouldn't even drink water. Wondering if he really didn't want water or whether he was just being a stinker and refusing to drink out of his own cup, I filled my own glass with ice and water and offered it to him. He was all over it. Oh boy . . . we're in for it now!

As long as I'm giving various updates, I should mention that letting Squeaky out during the day has paid off big time. She's so happy! And she hasn't woken us up in the night to go out. We let her in and out a few times during the day. The majority of her days are spent outside, on the cement steps in the back. She sprawls languidly about (both inside and out) in a way we haven't seen in a long time, since her glory days in Hyde Park. Contentment physically displayed. And her appetite is back, which is great to see. We pick sticker burrs out of her fur at night on the couch as she purrs fiercely. It's good to have her back, and to not be locked in a power struggle with her all day.

Visiting Nana

We spent yesterday in Wimberley visiting Nana. It was wonderful to see her. She doesn't seem sick at all, so it's a real mind fuck, especially for her, because she doesn't feel sick either (thankfully).

In the second picture, they're looking at what's in the third picture. She was only about fifty feet away from where we sat on Nana's back porch.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

These Really Hit the Spot

We went over to our friends Kay and Joel's house for an early dinner tonight. It was fun to watch the babies play and eat good food and catch up. Kay and Jonas and E and I meet up each week, but it's rare for all of us to get together. TJ made two kinds of summery cocktails. They were so good, I'm going to post the recipes here. They're from Epicurious.

(We used sparkling white wine.)

Servings: 8

5 cups seedless watermelon cubes
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, crushed
1/2 cup vanilla-infused vodka, chilled
1/4 cup triple sec
3 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 2/3 cups Champagne (or sparkling wine), chilled
Watermelon cubes and lime slices

Process watermelon cubes in a blender on high until smooth. Strain. Measure out 2 cups juice. Add mint. Stir; chill 30 minutes. Add vodka, triple sec, lime juice and 1 cup ice; stir vigorously. Remove mint leaves. Fill glasses with ice and pour 1/3 cup watermelon mixture into each. Gently stir in 1/3 cup Champagne. Garnish with watermelon cubes and lime slices.


It's important to use pure mango nectar here (though it may not be labeled "pure"); nectar mixed with other fruit juices or high-fructose corn syrup makes the drink too sweet.

Servings: 6

1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 cups (24 fl oz) pure mango nectar, chilled
1 (750-ml) bottle Moscato d'Asti sparkling wine or sparkling water, chilled
Garnish: cucumber spears and fresh mint leaves

Crush mint leaves with lime juice in a bowl with a pestle or wooden spoon until bruised and beginning to break up. Stir in mango nectar, then chill, covered, at least 1 hour.

Pour mango mixture through a sieve into a large glass measure, discarding solids, then pour about 1/2 cup mango mixture into each of 6 (10-ounce) glasses and top off with Moscato d'Asti (or sparkling water). Mango mixture can be chilled, covered, up to 1 day.


Last week I suddenly recalled the existence of a set of wooden blocks my dad made for me when I was a baby. Where were the blocks? I wondered desperately. I couldn't believe that neither my parents nor I had remembered them since Eamon was born. I called Gwen and she said it was a funny thing for me to ask at this very moment, because they had just finished cleaning out the digusting pool shed (which hadn't been touched in at least 15 years and was piled high with crap), and they'd found a bag that contained the blocks. I picked them up yesterday, and this morning I gave them a good scrubbing and dipped them in bleach water. They were filthy--caked with dirt and who knows what, some kind of animal droppings, I think. My dad doesn't seem to think they're anything special--I think he called them "simple"--but they mean the world to me, and I like simple. I couldn't get them in front of Eamon fast enough. There's something almost biologically fulfilling about seeing him play with blocks that my dad made for me.

Good-bye to 1407 Alamo

We went to San Marcos yesterday, the 4th, to hang out at my childhood home for the last time. My parents' house finally sold, and they're moving to San Antonio. My dad is the choir director at Alamo Heights High School, and my little brother will be a senior there next year. They're been commuting (ugh) for three years. They have to be out of their house by July 16 and they haven't started packing yet (and my dad will be out of town this coming week and then we have a family reunion next weekend in Salado). In other words, their life is crazy. But it's always crazy, frankly.

I can't comprehend that they will no longer be at 1407 Alamo, and therefore I don't feel hysterically upset about it. They bought the house in March of 1986, fifteen months after they got married. I was eight years old when we moved in. So of course part of me is sad and freaked out at the thought that we'll never be going back to that house, and someone else will be living there, and we'll be visiting my parents in a new setting, forming new habits and traditions. It's strange. But it's time. The house on Alamo is pretty crappy. My parents have been sharing a tiny, gross bathroom for 22 years, and an equally small bedroom closet. They deserve better, and I wish they'd had it sooner. They've fallen in love with this one house in San Antonio and they made an offer on it today, so fingers crossed.

In the meantime, farewell 1407 Alamo . . . I'll miss your familiarity. I have about a million memories in and around that house. Fighting with my blended family, sneaking out during slumber parties, being grounded, kissing a boy for the first time, getting my own phone (the kind that you could see through), family dinners and holidays, playing with my baby brother . . . the list goes on. Everything happened there.

Here're E with his Grandma and Pops, swimming in the backyard pool for the first and last time. It was fun.

New Favorite Expression

Taken on July 4th at Cedar Grove at the Junction (between San Marcos and Wimberley)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nine Months: What's Up

It's been awhile since I recorded where we are with E's milestones and sleep and daily routines. Seems like now is as good a time as any. Probably boring to most, but I think I'll be glad to have this later.

So let's see: No crawling yet. But he really wants to. He rocks back and forth when he sits up, and he leans forward over one leg with his hands on the floor in front of him and rocks some more. He hasn't figured out how to get on his hands and knees. He moves in that direction (hands in front, one leg out behind him and the other twisted under him) and then gets stuck and teeters precariously before pitching forward and landing on his belly--thwump. (It makes him smile every time.) Once he's on his tummy, he tries to move by lifting his arms and legs in the air and kicking furiously. Poor guy--for all that kicking, it doesn't seem fair not to move forward even an inch. He supports himself with his hands very well, and can move in a full circle that way. He scoots backwards as well, but not with any control. If there's somewhere he wants to be (near the cord to the fan, for instance), he always manages to get himself there by rolling and pivoting his body with his hands.

He's figured out how to cough on purpose, he thinks sneezing and grown-up feet are funny, and his little pincer grasp gets quite a workout while he nurses (he has a knack for grabbing the tiniest bit of skin under my arm and pinching the hell out of it). He gives wonderful hugs. We live for his hugs, and we get a lot of them every day.

He loves books with bright colors, different textures he can touch, flaps that lift up, and real pictures as opposed to drawings. His favorite books are B IS FOR BEAR, WHERE IS BABY'S BELLY BUTTON?, and BABY SAYS PEEKABOO. He also likes a set of books we have that are about colors, opposites, and time. He has no patience for regular board books yet (save Sandra Boynton's MOO, BAA, LA LA LA).

He eats pretty much anything. He went through a phase where he hated green beans, but he'll eat them if he's hungry (as long as they're from a jar). He's not wild about carrots at the moment, but he's loved them in the past. His favorite vegetable is probably homemade summer squash, but he also likes peas and avocado and sweet potatoes and Earth's Best's "summer vegetable medley." He loves all fruit, of course. And yogurt; he loves yogurt. (I've mixed tofu and cottage cheese in his yogurt and he's happily eaten it so far.) Mashed banana and oatmeal mixed with breastmilk are his favorite breakfast foods. I gave him a jar of rice and lentils a couple of weeks ago but it gave him a stomachache, so I'm waiting awhile to try that again. We recently tried giving him hard-boiled egg yolk and a pancake (separate instances) as his first finger foods, but he doesn't want to put them in his mouth (and was suspicious of the egg yolk in general). Maybe he's not ready for finger foods yet.

He lives for music. He will smile ear to ear when I sing him a song, no matter how upset he was moments before. If he's fussy in the car or while he's eating, I start to sing, or I put on a cd, and he's transformed. I sing to him a lot.

He weighs about 23 pounds. We nurse four or five times a day (seems to be moving to four) and once in the middle of the night (twice every so often). He's been going to bed a bit later than he was a couple of months ago. Now it's 6:30 or sometimes 7:00. He usually eats dinner around 5:30. More often than not, I feed him dinner, TJ bathes him and reads to him, and I nurse him and put him down. He wakes up at 6:00 in the morning on average, and he's often soaking wet. I change him and nurse him and then either take him downstairs or wake TJ and go back to bed myself for another hour.

He takes two naps, one around 9:00 a.m. and one around 1:00 p.m. He naps for an hour, on average. (I still can't believe he's turned into a predictable napper. I didn't think it was possible.) I usually put him down wide awake at naptime. He plays in his crib for a time and then he usually cries right before he's about to fall asleep, but he doesn't cry for long.

He loves ceiling fans and baths, but more than anything, he loves Squeaky.
His little yellow giraffe toy never gets old.
He lives for bouncing and walks.
He enjoys ripping up magazines and is very serious about it.
He likes meeting new people and he gives them huge, heart-melting smiles.
He's someone who needs his space, especially when he's been held a lot or when we've been around a bunch of people.

It's getting harder to take him out to eat. He's not as content to sit in his booster seat, and he's at the stage where he throws his toys on the floor over and over and then gets bored with them. He's developed quite an attitude in general over the past month. He sometimes screams in anger if you so much as turn your back on him (to walk over to the kitchen sink, say), or if you take a toy away from him (even a potential toy, like the iced tea you're drinking). On play dates with his friend Jonas, he gets mad if Jonas takes the toy he's playing with, and is not appeased by being given another toy. (And so it begins . . .) If one of his cds is playing in the car and I turn on the radio, he sometimes yells until I turn his music back on (and other times he doesn't care). You get the idea.

He makes fun, crazy sounds every day, and is experimenting with several new facial expressions that crack us up. One is the furrowed brow, one is the scrunched up nose, and one is the squinty smile-like-there's-no-tomorrow.

Guess that about sums up where he is at nine months. Did I mention how sweet he is? And beautiful and snuggly? And the way his hair has grown over his ears? And the way I really think my heart stops when I'm nursing him before bedtime and I look down at his eyes half open and his hair damp from the bath, and his sweet sucking, and I know I'll wish I could return to this moment again and again?

Swim Class at the Y (Last Friday)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Trip (Censored)

I feel slightly nervous writing much about our trip to my mom's because she knows I have a blog. I shared the blog with my little sisters (same mom as I, different dad), and the older one, Kristin, who's living at their house, let its existence slip, but then explained that it was private. Ouch. I've never said a word about it to my mom, but it makes me uncomfortable knowing she's aware of it.

In any case, earlier I had started a post about the positives and negatives of our trip, but I got too weirded out to write freely, so I think I'll just quit while I'm ahead. I will say that E was TERRIFIED of the dogs on Friday (and who wouldn't be--they are huge and out of control) but had overcome his fear for the most part by Sunday. He also slept remarkably well while we were there.

My stepdad was very sweet with E. It was the first time he'd held him. My sister showed no interest in holding or playing with him. I guess she's just not a baby person. (Don't know if she'll read this; I suppose it's possible.)

Oh, my mom showed me this beautiful Christmas stocking she's making for E. We'd picked it out together online, but I hadn't seen the pattern in real life.

Back to Normal, Household Things

I'm back to normal today. I was so glad that my stepmom, Gwen, came over yesterday. I needed all the help I could get.

So . . . some of you may remember an earlier post about our cat, Squeaky. (You can find it by going here: http://tinyurl.com/5mfg8x.) As it turns out, it's looking like Squeaky's wildest dreams are going to come true, and she's going to be an outside cat again (during the day). We just can't go on with the way things have been. She cries and moans and paces day in and day out. She's miserable, and she's making us miserable. TJ works from home, and he yells at her to shut up about a hundred times a day. I curse her uncanny knack of meowing loudly right when I've gotten E to sleep. Oh, I get PISSED. Everything she does irritates me. All of this makes for an unhealthy relationship between us and the Squeak, and it's not fair to anyone. At night when she wants to cuddle with us, we're so sick of her, we push her away. So out she goes. It's what she wants more than anything, and I've always known that her little soul belongs outside. If it means she dies sooner, I believe she would rather that than stay cooped up inside for the next sixteen years. And we would rather that too, although I'm petrified of her getting hit by a car.

I dug her old collar out this morning and opened the back door. She was crying (I can't use the word meowing here, because it was a droning, insistent cry) and I could not think straight. I have an order in for Frontline Plus and was planning to wait until it arrived, but I just can't.

The question is: Will she start waking us up in the middle of the night now, the way she used to? In addition to the fact that Mama don't play that anymore, we don't want her going out at night since there are coyotes around here (supposedly). I guess we'll see what happens . . .

In other household news, our electric bill was $313 last month. Gulp. That's the highest it's ever been. I've started keeping the upstairs at 75 (a bit higher than before) and the downstairs around 78. I'm curious to see if it makes much of a difference.