Monday, December 31, 2007

The end. The beginning.

I think it is just part of who I am. I have always been introspective. The end of the year always finds me buried in my journal. I am writing about the past year and looking forward to the new one. This year, I haven't found as much time for journaling as I would have liked. In years past, I would fill up a journal in about 6 months. I started my current journal three weeks after Seren was born. It begins, "I am a mom!" There are still 4 blank pages. Nearly 19 months later. So clearly my journaling has been placed on the back burner.

That being said, on Cape Cod this past week, I found time to write. To think. Too often my mind is a very "busy and loud" place. It hums with somewhat meaningless information. A master to do list. It begins when my eyes open. I check the clock and then calculate how quickly I need to move to get to work on time. And it ends when I lay down in the evening, calculating how much sleep I will get before I do it all again.

So I always look forward to the new year because it guarantees at least several moments of reflection.

I looked back to last December and read my goals for 2007. Sadly, they are very similar for 2008's goals! But there is promise to start anew!
In 2008, I hope to:
* Do yoga
* Visit my friends in CA
* Keep old friends and make new ones
* Blog/write

I always have a tendency to make about 1500 goals. That is meaningless. So I am keeping them short and sweet this year.

Happy 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

It got worse before it got better

Christmas 2007 will be remembered as a mix of germs, smiles and exhaustion. As my last post indicated, Seren was sick last week. The stomach bug she picked up from some time at the local mall had us all in a tight grip through most of the Christmas holiday.

Thursday and Friday of last week had me returning home to a very tired, very needy, very sick little one. Seren went on a hunger strike for three days. She wouldn't eat and when she would, would vomit it back up! It was horrible! I ended my work week on a bad note- traveling in a commute that lasted over two hours.

Saturday came with a punch! We too were vomitting all day. It was horrible to be SO out of commission! We took turns dragging ourselves out of bed to hug Seren who insisted on being "up, up" in our arms. We slept and puked all morning. And then it got worse. Our sewer system backed up! We couldn't run water or flush a toilet without it all ending up in our downstairs bathroom! We have had this problem twice in the year. Clearly, we need to replace our entire sewer system! So there we were. Fevers. Chills. Puking. And not able to flush the toilet!!

Gross.

The plumber came. We all went back to bed. We were supposed to leave for the Cape the next day at 10 in the morning. Nothing had been packed up. We still needed to purchase a few gifts. We called and changed our flight.

By Monday, we were on a plane. Seren was on the mend and so were we. Despite all of our warnings, my parents and brother insisted we come to Cape Cod. We were 24 hours out from our last puke when we arrived. Apparently, that wasn't time enough. We all had a great Christmas and then my mom and my brother were out of commission. 12 hours later? My dad.

So much for enjoying time as a family. We have been drinking ginger ale and praying to God it ends soon! :) What a year!

But we have been all together. As I write, all of us are feeling better, the sun is out and we have been on the beach. What could be btter?

Seren really enjoyed Christmas! Oh what fun we had watching her opening her presents! We went to Christmas eve services on Monday night. At the end of a hymn she cheered "Yeah!!" The entire church laughed at her enthusiasm. It was awesome! And so we enjoyed our time. My parents LOVE Christmas and were QUITE the elves. They gave her a play kitchen for the holiday and assembled it here on Cape Cod. She enjoys "cooking" soup for us! It took her HOURS to open the many presents. We spread it out over two days. She enjoyed just opening one gift at a time and playing with it. She rec'd many books. It has been great to extend Christmas out over a few days. She loves the tree and just smiles so widely when she sees a Christmas tree.

The words continue to come. The holidays have welcomed the words "wow!" "woah" and "ooh". We love to hear her mimic our sounds and words. Santa also brought her a tunnel to crawl through. This has been a big hit! She has really enjoyed the gifts but didn't anticipate them. It was refreshing! I couldn't help but to think what next year will bring. Last year, she LOVED tissue paper. SHe had just learned to sit a few weeks earlier. I think next year, if this year is any indication, she will be providing a running commentary.

We look forward to the next few days of relaxing with family, enjoying the quite of the woods, the waves on the beach and the time just focusing on being in the moment. Happy Holidays!

I'll be back to post pictures in a few days. I hope we captured some good ones. Despite the blog, the camera and the video tape, I still haven't figured out how to capture the joy I feel when I look at my little girl. It is hard to explain. Pure love. And if I needed any proof to myself how much I love her, I can just recall the moment when I leaned INTO the puke to comfort her when she was so sick.

I would do anything for that little munchkin. I am loving this week at home, the joys are many!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One more gross one for the baby book

We woke up late today. I heard my alarm but instantly fell back asleep. My unoffical alarm (Seren) didn't go off until 6:20. I was thrilled with the extra sleep. However, as soon as she "went off", something didn't sound right. I had just gotten out of the shower so Sam went in to get her from her crib. He said to me, "Oh, we have a problem."

Puke.

The first puke since all of that spit up that ended at 6-7 months. Man, that stuff is nasty! Thank God I'm not pregnant or else I would have followed suite. Poor little thing!

I have no idea when it happened. She slept well all night. But the poor thing was just caked in it.

Back into the shower with a dazed and confused Seren I went.

It was like a fraternity party gone bad.

I'm "hoping" it is food poisioning but I have a feeling that we are in for a bit of a rough road the rest of this week. Any suggestions/ideas how this may play out?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Gifts

It is the season of giving. But it is also the season of driving ourselves nutty with shopping, returning, budgeting, mailing, fretting, planning, etc.
Yesterday as I drove home from work in the holiday shopping traffic, I had a full blown pity party. I was sad that we would not be able to see certain friends, that we hadn't made as many new friends this year as I would have hoped, that our gifts weren't generous enough and that we couldn't donate what I wanted to East Bay Habitat, the organization that was (and is) so dear to my heart in Oakland. We made a family pledge back in 2005 which we have mostly paid off. But there was still some left over. The guilt of that unfulfilled pledge has haunted me. Because I know that they need it. We gave but it wasn't enough. They needed more. And we can't give it.

I missed Oakland.

I arrived to see Seren and Sam sitting on a huge pile of presents. Gifts had come from so many places. I immediately became giddy with excitement of the packages! And one of those gifts touched me in ways I'll never be able to express in words.

My dear friend is having one heck of a year. She has had some hard times. I won't go into details. I have tried to support her the best way I could. From 3000 miles away. I longed to visit. To have tea. To make her dinner. To just be there with her the way I wanted to be. But I couldn't. So I sent cards, emails and prayers. It all felt so useless against what she has been facing. No matter what I could think of to do, it just wasn't enough.

But we rec'd the most special gift from her yesterday. A wonderful card. But also a donation, in our name to Habitat! Her donation was the equivalent of the amount of money it would take to buy a door. She "bought" us a door for a families' new home.

I burst into tears.

The thoughtfulness of that gift touched me so deeply. On different levels. The first being joy at the thought of a family being welcomed into their home through that door. I got goosebumps at the thought of it. The second joy was just knowing that my words and prayers HAD reached her. On some level. Her generous gift was to thank us for our friendship. (Which she didn't need to do, of course. It is so "her" to turn that around and to give to someone else.) Our actions and our prayers ARE being answered. We can't contribute to Habitat the way we want to right now. And I can't be there for my friend the way I want to be. But in that moment of opening that gift, the two worries dissolved. My love for my friend and my commitment to the organization is "enough". She blessed me so much yesterday.

I sat there with tears in my eyes as Seren played nearby.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Random Thoughts

Seren is bringing me so much joy these days. On a daily basis, we get new words. Yesterday's words were "ham, heart, tree, cheese and house". Not bad for one day! Kids are just giant sponges. It is just so fun!

She LOVES the Christmas tree! Loves it! Whenever we ask her about the tree, she sprints into the front room and stares at it. She loves to talk about all of the ornaments on the tree. Bear! Baa-baa (sheep)! Naa-naa (horse)! It is so much fun to watch her just talk about the tree. She really likes the angel on top. (She helped Dad put it there two weeks ago)

Today she fed herself cheerios with milk. It took her FOREVER to eat the cereal but man, she was proud of herself.

Lastly, we love to watch her run. She just sprints down the hall. Her legs move from side to side instead of up and down but man, she can cover some ground. I especially love watching her run with just a diaper on or naked. She giggles while she sprints. She seems to be so free!

We are also enjoying the many kisses. She has got it down now where we makes the kissing sound at the same time as delivering the kiss. A few days ago, there was a delay. She'd kiss us and a few seconds later we'd hear "wwmah". Last night, she was just SO tired. I was rocking her and singing like I usually do. She was growing heavy with sleep on my chest. She then sat up, held my face, gave me a kiss and curled back up in my arms. I ask myself, "Does it get any better than this?" Honestly!

Here is to finding joy in all of the small things! Like Cheerios and fresh milk!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creative Dresser

It is genetic, I suppose. When I was little, around age 3, I would dress myself in the most amazing outfits. I wish I could scan a picture that my parents have of me. I had dressed myself to go out in the snow. I had a rain coat on, mittens, a sun dress, a sun bonnet on top of my rain coat hood and big red boots. I thought I looked smashing. So did my parents.

It is this sort of creativity and individualism that I really want to foster in my Seren. Just do your own thing! She'll have the rest of her life to be told what is "right" and "wrong" and "appropriate" and "inappropriate". Right now she can just do what she feels is fun!

Which is why, around 9 am last week she decided that she MUST wear her Halloween costume. Who cares if she is still in her pjs? She wore it for over an hour. She buzzed around the room happy as can be.




Monday, December 10, 2007

In the nick of time

This weekend was the weekend I needed.

The upcoming stress of the holidays, paying the bills last week (or the game we play once a month is "paying some of the bills"), new projects at work and a super long commute due to holiday shopping left me deeply tired. All week I knew if I could just hang on to the weekend, I'd be ok! And yet, Saturday morning was one of those ugly/overly tired mornings. Sometimes I feel like Seren in full meltdown mode. I can even see it coming! :)

But my parents arrived in the nick of time. We all had lunch together and then Seren spent the night at my parents house. They all left our house at 1 pm. And instead of sitting down and resting, I raked leaves. LOTS of wet, soggy leaves! 11 bags of leaves! 2.5 hours later, I laid down my rake. But it felt good. Felt good to move my body. Felt good to be outside.

Sam and I enjoyed a night at my company's holiday party. There is nothing like a bunch of nerds dressed up and drinking wine to make for some fun stories. We had a good time eating, drinking and dancing. But the best part of our weekend was spent on Sunday morning. We took a drive together. We did not play "Music Together", we did not talk in Elmo's voice, we did not argue about how "best" to drive, and we did not sing the "Itsy Bitsy spider".

We just sat. And drove. And laughed.

We needed this time. We needed the 24 hours of just "us" time. This morning, I feel as if I didn't see Seren as much as I usually do on the weekend. Because, well, I didn't see her for 24 hours of it. But I feel renewed as wife, mom and employee.

I needed to recharge my batteries. Thank God for grandparents!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

19 months

Seren turned 19 months yesterday! 19?! How did that happen? Doesn't that sound close to 20? Which sounds close to 24?!

When do parents stop counting months?

For the baby book, I'm going to recall a few things that Seren does/likes
* She has decided that baby cereal is out. She also seems to have "over dosed" on bannas

* She loves stuffed animals. Any kind. All get kisses. Including the ones at the stores.

* She still sleeps with baa-baa, her stuffed sheep.

* She sleeps with her paci during nap. Baa-baa has one too.

* Her general schedule is to get up at 6, sleep from 2-4 in the afternoon and go to bed at 8.

* She is getting very picky about food. Stuff still gets thrown on the floor. She eats a TON during lunch which makes her dinner a really small meal.

* Her newest obsession is to talk about her book, the Three Bears. "Bears! Bears!" I feel like I'm raising a Chicago fan. "Da Bears."

* She doesn't like diaper changes and procrastinates on getting them changed.

* Words are finally coming! We have heard "hat, head, bird, bears, hot, juice, etc." It is very fun to have someone to "chat with".

* She knows when something is out of place. I came downstairs today to find that the smoke alarm had fallen from the wall. Seren pointed to it. Pointed to the wall and got distressed. Things have a place.

* Bathtime is hit or miss. Sometimes, I can't get her out of the tub. Othertimes, I can't get her to soak at all. She particually gets scared of the sound of air escaping in her blow-up tub.

* Seren hates doctors. She had to visit sam's doctor last week and freaked out. No one was touching her but it was just too much for her.

* Strangers still cause her to be very shy. She mostly observes new adults and new children for at least 5 minutes before she is comfortable.

* Seren loves to read her books to herself and to us. (Or anyone else who wants to hear)

And since I didn't write about her 18th month birthday, which was a big milestone, I'll include a picture of the two of us for her 19th month.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

When do we do those "other" things?

In Berkeley, I was very involved in many community organizations. I spent a lot of time working with my church and working with Habitat for Humanity. At one point, I had 9 weekly obligations to groups of people. I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of this but also felt that my life was very rich. I spent time leading youth group, time leading a women's group, time knitting, time with elders, time working with Habitat for Humanity. These organizations helped me define myself. It was and is a big part of who I am. I was able to live out my life's values in meaningful ways.

Motherhood, I fear, has changed that.

I remember asking my good friend Andy, after she had her daughter, "When do we get to do other things?" She responded that it would take years. Maybe when they were grown. That we just need to focus on them right now. And later, we'd do the "other things."

This answer didn't sit well with me. And it still doesn't. I really wrestle with it. I agree that we need to focus on kids now. Currently, I work a 40 hour week and rush home, every day, to spend time with my daughter and husband. THAT is important to me. I don't want to go to "Committee" meetings if it means less time with my family. That isn't a trade I'd like to make.

But.

But the reality is that I still miss that life. I don't like that my current life is so...insular. So self focused. There are still young kids that could use an adult in their lives, there are still many families who need housing. None of that has changed. And yet, I can't find a way to live out that part of my life. I have tried to find a faith community. I have even taken the Habitat for Humanity training here in NJ. But I can't seem to dive in. It is a matter of time. Logistics. Guilt.

And so I basically work and then play at home. I don't do church, I don't knit. I don't build homes or create opportunities for women (of all ages) to connect.

I have seen women solely defined by their children and their children's accomplishments. And I can see how this can happen! Children are so life consuming. They are wonderful! They provide so much joy! But how does one be a "good mom" while holding that in tension with wanting to be a "good woman" and focusing both on herself and the broader world?

I guess there are two tensions here that I wrestle with. One is finding time to take care of ME. (Which is a different post). The other, is really finding time to take care of my corner of the world.

Some would argue that our children are our greatest gifts to the broader society. I can certainly see that point of view. That by doing well by them, listening to them, encouraging them, caring for them, playing with them, we are doing our part to change the world we live in. And maybe that is where I need to "be" for a while. But I can see that by focusing so much on "my family", I could forget how to "do" the other things. Or that I won't see value in them. And since doing those other things is really taking care of myself at the same time, I worry that I will lose part of "me" in post-poning it "until she is grown."

In time, perhaps Seren can join me on a building site. Or, if she wants, we can tutor kids together. But in the meantime, I struggle with how to hold my commitments to my family with my commitments to my social justice self. I think being someone who focuses on social justice issues will make me a better mother in the long run. But for now, I still see it as a tension and a struggle. Either one or the other. Afterall, there are only so many hours in the day.

Thoughts?

I just want to be a tree-hugger again. :)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Damum

We have a new word in our household. A word, that for me, symbolizes how closely our daughter connects my husband and I. Damum is the word given to both Sam and I. Dad and Mom. We get called this only when standing together. Or if she sees a picture of the two of us. "Damum!" Most of the time, when we are apart or she wants to tell only one of us something, we get called by the more traditional names of Mama and Dada. But how cool is it to be called a unit? "Damum!"

I think all couples struggle with the 'adjustment' that is parenthood. Adjustment is the biggest mis-nomer! And we have had our fair share of tiffs and arguments as to the "best" thing to do for her. But without a doubt, Sam and I are partners in this thing called life and this new adventure of parenting.

When we got married, I really resisted the whole notion of "the two should become one." For that reason, we opposed the unity candle and other references to "oneness" in our vows. We didn't feel that we should forget who we are as individuals just because we were getting married. We wanted to remain true to ourselves as individual beings. I would still be Megan and Sam would still be Sam but as a married couple, we'd be "Sam and Megan". I shuddered at the thought of unhealthy "co-dependent" lives. Who wants that? But as the years have gone by, we realize that being co-dependent is actually a good thing in marriage. You need to depend on the other person! That is one of the perks! When one is down, the other is up. And vice versa. We ARE a family unit. Yes, we still bring our own strengths to the relationship. And yes we still have our own thoughts and dreams but as a family, we are so much more invested in the other person's happiness.

So, after five years of marriage, I can say that I am happy to be in a partnership where I need my husband. I miss him when he isn't around! I depend on him, to some degree, to keep me laughing, calm and on an even keel. It is perhaps this close partnership that Seren also recognizes.

After all, according to her, we are most definitely a unit of one. Damum.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Back home, with Gratitude

We had a good time visiting family and friends in Flint, MI. The three of us traveled out on Thanksgiving day. Seren did well on the flights! Even though we didn't buy her a separate seat, we lucked out on three of the four flights- we were able to snag an extra seat. She LOVED wearing her big girl seatbelt. The fourth flight was a bit of a challenge. I sat with Seren, in the middle seat for two hours. But the man next to me, while easily 300 pounds, was a dad to a 2 year old and knew ALL of the songs and characters in Seren's Thomas book so he was a big help! He even had suggestions for "good" sippy cups. What a blessing to have very understanding folks next to us on the plane!

Our time with Sam's parents and sister was really nice. We relaxed and enjoyed eating together. Unfortunately, Seren got up every morning between 5:00 and 5:45am. She is still cutting those teeth and developed a head cold. (She shared this with me on the plane yesterday). So she had a bit of a rough time but it was so good to see her with her grandparents! She really enjoyed sitting with them and reading to them.

Seren is a very LOUD reader. She turns the page, and babbles to us, loudly. It is very sweet. She also is very clingy these days during her teething/cold. She will be playing along and then jump into our arms for a strong hug. She knows how to melt our hearts.

That being said, she is also getting very strong willed. Suddenly, as if over night, it seems as if many things are a struggle. Putting on shoes? The experience, if you ask Seren, can be likened to being forced into a tank full of sharks. Putting on a heavy winter coat? Being in a pit of snakes. And god forbid, you ask her to eat a green pea. Everything takes a LONG time and much negotiation. And creativity is a must! Which is why I found myself much of last week "feeding" stuffed animals before feeding Seren. It is very challenging. During one of these moments over our holiday break, I thought to myself, "One child is enough." I keep mentioning to other parents, with hope in my voice,"Well, this is a phase. It is a good thing- she is asserting herself. It will be better when she can communicate better." The more experienced parents simply just laugh. "You can tell yourself that."

Sigh.

But we had a blast being together for an extended period! I took two days off of work and just enjoyed PLAYING. We also had a photo shoot that Sam's dad put together. He has a love of photography and really did a nice job. We think we got a Christmas card picture out of the experience!

We have so much to be thankful for: our health, each other, our friends, our dear family, a home, and a daughter who has brought us so much joy. And so we enter the season of celebration and giving. I hope that we can continue to focus on the messages behind the season and not get too caught up in the insanity and consumerism. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

18 month stats (18 months and 2 weeks)

Well, I was wrong. Last post I wrote about Seren filling out in her face. The amazing double chin? It is not the result of too much cheese, it is swelling from teething! Poor thing! She has hardly gained any weight at all. The doctor said that when they get the big molars, they often have swollen faces. Apparently red blotchy cheeks is also an indicator. She took one look at Seren and said, "So, she's getting teeth, right?"

Height: 33 inches (90%)
Weight: 22 lbs and 14 oz (50%) *Note, the Doctor said 50% but the online stats say between 10-25% for weight. Hmm...
Head is between 50-75%

The doctor said all looked good. Poor Dad said he had a heck of a time. Seren CLUNG to him for dear life. He said his collar was totally soaked in tears. The doctor said that this response is totally normal for 18 months. Sam sounded like he had been wrestling an alligator the way he spoke about how adamant she was about NOT wanting to be there. This time, unlike last time, she was ok with being weighed on the scale. Last time, Sam had to be weighed holding Seren and then weighed without Seren. Not exactly accurate. :)

I am surprised by the lack of weight gain. I SWEAR she is heavier. I'd like to see her gain some weight but I guess she is just a tall and lean peanut. I hope that some tylenol will take away the sting of a flu shot, a Hep-A shot and those four teeth that are giving her such swelling. As for the tired Dad? Maybe he'd like a doughnut? :)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Packing it on

Seren is gaining weight in time for the holidays! I can't believe it. I look at her face every night and swear that it has gotten bigger since I looked at her in the morning. She has a double chin! It is amazing! We can't quite figure out what is causing all of the weight gain. (It sure isn't the green peas she refuses.) Maybe the cottage cheese?

But it is good. It is about time! We go for her 18 month appointment (three weeks late) on Tuesday so that will be good. At that point, we'll hear how much our monkey weighs.

Speaking of monkeys, Sam has taught Seren how to "be a monkey" by hooting and moving her arms around. He also taught her last week to walk like a penguin. When she saw a picture of a monkey in a book yesterday, she stood up, started to walk like a penguin, realized that was the wrong animal and started to "be" a monkey. It was almost as if you could see the neurons firing! What a riot!

This weekend we had a spontaneous playdate with a neighbor of ours! The little girl down the street, who is about 8 years old, wanted to 'play' with Seren. Her aunt walked her down the street, knocked on our door and the playing began! There are few times in our lives where something happens spontaneously. Usually it is all planned, orchestrated, timed. But Saturday, a little girl in our neighborhood wanted to play with our little girl. And that was that! No planning. Just play. How refreshing!

Three hours and two cheese sandwiches later, Seren was ready for a nap and asking for her "Baa-baa" which is the stuffed sheep she sleeps with.

Thanksgiving week here we come!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

She is really ours, isn't she?

At 18 months old, you'd think I'd be over the "wow, that is our daughter phase." But honestly, I'm not. I just sit there sometimes and marvel at her. How the heck did we DO that? And we are the parents? What an amazing responsibility and joy.

This realization has hit me at different times in this journey for different reasons. At first, I was terrified. I cried when the NICU called to say we could take her home. This was it! This was the big moment! We were allowed to 'parent' without nurses, cords, beeping machines. I cried and then went into complete anxious mode. Oh my goodness! WE were the parents! Were we ready for this?!

Then there were a few months of "wow, so this is our new life?" Where did 'we' fit into that picture? Where did "Megan" go? What did it mean to have this new 'title' of Mom? What did it mean if sometimes I felt sad that my 'old' life seemed so far away? Did it mean I was a bad mom if I missed coffee with friends and hiking with my husband? Or is that just 'healthy' to still have a sense of 'self' after months of being a walking burp cloth.

At this point, I think I have worked through much of the new identity stuff. I am her mom. And I like it. That being said, we, as parents, don't allow ourselves to really delve into those ideas as much as I think we should. Because there is a LOT tied up in parenting. (More on this later). So I have worked through that. But I still look at my daughter through an almost mystical, magical lens. We gave birth to her. It still strikes me as surreal. Where did she come from, this little person? We have been blessed by her. She brings us such amazing joy! She reminds me that life is really precious and to try not to sweat the small stuff. She reminds me to love, love, love.

She is really ours, isn't she?

I'm including this picture of Seren looking at the sky as a fall leaf falls. It looks like she too is contemplating some of life's amazing mysteries.


Monday, November 12, 2007

Four New teeth? Pass the tylenol, please

This weekend was another fun weekend! I am getting really excited about Christmas plans. The cool air really helps- reminds me that the holidays are right around the corner! Sam and I spent a bit of time planning for the holidays and trying to think about what to get for our friends and family. This year, like last year, it is easy to shop for our daughter. She can be there with us! In a few years, this will be impossible to do.

Seren has four new teeth coming in and spent most of the weekend, when she wasn't playing, massaging her own gums. Poor little one! We were about to drive to a friends' home, about an hour away. She was crying in the back seat. We pulled out of our driveway and headed towards the freeway before we decided, ya know, a stop at the Wallgreens would be a good idea! 10 minutes later, Children's Tylenol was our new best friend. Can you imagine getting four new teeth now? I'd be a complete mess. No surprise she was too.

In other news, we spent some time with my parents this weekend. I am so glad to see the bond that is developing between my parents and my daughter. Seren used to be so scared of my father. No one could figure this one out as he is so gentle and so good with kids. But every time he held her, the tears would come. Now, she walked right up to "The birthday boy" (celebrating 64!) and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. What is it about kids' kisses that just makes everyone melt? I live for those kisses!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

All about the Dada

I know that there will be a time when our child will favor one parent over the other. One of us will be chopped liver and the other parent will be gold. And of course we each will have our own relationship with our daughter. Just like I have a unique relationship with my mom and my dad.

Seren, starting at age 1, only wants ME to hold her in public. Now this is in public. Which drives my poor husband nuts. If he is holding her, she'll reach towards me. So I hold her. But now the tide is turning. Last night, I rocked her to sleep and all she could think about or talk about? Dada. Over and over. "Dada, dada, dada, Dad."

I have my own hang ups and worries about being the one who is out of the house and missing out on her life as I work. So to hear this quiet, gentle chorus made me incredibly sad. I was near tears as I laid her down to sleep.

I told her I loved her. That "MOM" loved her and said goodnight. I dried my tears in the dark and was nearly over it by the time I left my room. I mean, how cool is it that she and Sam have a good relationship? Very cool. And I don't want my daughter to feel she has to 'make' me happy. I don't want that weight on her at this early age! I need to realize that this need to feel loved by her is very child-ish of me. And it is silly. Of course she loves me! But to hear only Dada and to have Dad get most of the kisses these days...tough.

I walked downstairs and started to do dishes. It was quiet, no sounds from the monitor. And then, a little voice. "Mama. Mom. Mamamama".

As one my "grandmas" at church would say, "My cup runneth over."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Another take on the mysteries surrounding missing socks

(Two posts in one day?!)

You know the drill. You put a PAIR of socks in the washer and dryer but only one comes out. What happens to the other one? Did the dryer swallow it whole? Did you drop it somewhere between the washer and the dryer?


Or maybe, just maybe, did your toddler find it and decided that she only needed ONE leg warmer?


Acting it all out

I am pleased to see that Seren has developed a love of drama. We haven't yet taken her to a play but I have a feeling that she will love it. The reason why I think Seren will enjoy theater? She is acting out the pictures in her books.

Books and Seren have had a tedious relationship- as the pages in the books will attest. The first few months, the books were essentially chew toys. And then they were actual books- in that Mom and Dad read them to Seren. Then, around 15 months, she couldn't care less about them. Now, they are back in center stage. She carries them around and sits down to read them. One night last week, Seren was reading in the kitchen while Sam and I cooked dinner. We sat down to dinner in the dining room. Seren was still reading. We called to her, "Dinner!" No response. We finally had to go retrieve our little reader.

Last night, she refused to let go of "The Going to Bed Book". She held it close to her chest as she fell asleep on me. I pried it out of her hand as I placed her in her crib.

But all of this "love of books" aside, she is actually acting out the stories now. It is a riot! We aren't even reading to her and she'll flip open a page and do what the pictures are demonstrating. One book, there is a girl clapping, so, when Seren gets to that page, she claps. Another book has a picture of a boy scratching his head while he "thinks". Seren too scratches her head. Still yet a third has a picture of a doggy. She "woofs" and sticks out her tongue. Then there is the Curious George book of opposites. "Down" "up" "Forward" "Backward". Seren will squat down, then stand up, then walk forward and backward. I find myself looking at her thinking, "What the heck is she doing?" All of this is unprompted by us.

I love it! I love this age. I think I've loved every age but this "acting" is really a riot.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Halloween 2007

Wow! What a night! Seren had a complete blast! All week we got her 'used' to her costume. We spent a lot of time talking about Ladybugs and singing the Ladybug song from Sesame Street. (If you are in your late 20s-early 30s you'll remember it, right? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12 ladybugs came to the ladybug picnic..._)

Sam took Seren to a parade that a local hospital had. Seren enjoyed parading in her costume. Sam said she didn't smile much but just took it all in. And did a little flapping. And the nurses, doctors and patients loved seeing the little kids.

I got home last night (after fighting a TON of traffic), we ate dinner and off we went! It took a few houses before Seren "got it". She then would take one or two pieces of candy and wave and say "bye-bye!" A few houses said to us, "Oh, well, we can't give her candy! What do we have?" We politely said, "Just seeing you is part of the fun!" Sam was bummed that I didn't let our neighbors give Seren the candy...which is really giving Dad the candy. :)

Seren loved trick or treating! We took lots of pictures and really enjoyed the night. My parents also came along for fun. So we were a group of four adults and one child! She didn't pull off her costume- she was a happy ladybug. She DID hold our hands very tightly and got a little scared by the night time and strangers in the dark. Holding our hands was FINE with me. If only one of us were holding her hands, she wanted the other parent too. I could hear her calling, "MOM" if I stayed back to speak to a neighbor a little longer.

I went as a flower to go with my ladybug. Sam said he was the gardener. I have always loved Halloween. Always! But this year was just a complete blast.



Wednesday, October 31, 2007

High Self Esteem

I have written before about Seren's love of the word 'yes' in response to any question. She smiles when she says it. I can hear her sweet voice in my head. I asked her a series of questions a few weeks ago while she was bouncing on my lap and looking at me.

"Seren, are you very smart?"
"Yes!"
"Seren, are you also very beautiful?"
"Yes!"
"And Seren, are you also very loved?"
"Yes!"

It is my hope as her mother that she'll always feel this way about herself. That she is smart, talented, beautiful and loved. Chances are, she won't always feel that way. I remember distinctly, in 6th grade, I was waiting for the bus stop in the morning. I was wearing white shorts and my neighbor, an older girl whom I looked up to, said to me, "Megan, your legs are just too skinny. They look like sticks coming out from those big white shorts."

Now she could have said worse words. But it stung. My parents, like many good parents, didn't criticize my body or my appearance. Sure, there was a little teasing if an item of clothing didn't match but until that morning on the bus stop, I had never received such direct criticism about something I couldn't change. That was probably one of the first times I realized that I didn't "look right". Magazines, friends, boys added to those self doubts. Running track and being weighed before races didn't help either. Add to that acne and braces! Before I knew it, I was a skinny teenager worried about 'making weight' even though making weight was really about being underweight.

So us women (and maybe men too) are fed a full diet of self criticism from an early age. And, hopefully, at some point, we stop listening to all of those negative voices. If we are lucky, we find a great life partner who reminds us all of those self doubts are ridiculous. Or, we start to hear the truth about our bodies for ourselves. So that when we look in the mirror, we like what we see. We start to see ourselves. And we have high self esteem.

So, for now, I'll continue to tell Seren that she is smart, talented, beautiful and well loved. I am a mother to a daughter. I pray that she can look in the mirror at age 12 (or 22 or 30!)and answer the three questions the way she answers them now, at nearly 18 months.

"Seren, are you very smart?"
"Yes!"
"And are you very beautiful?"
"Yes!"
"And Seren are you well loved?"
"Yes!"

May she always feel that way about herself.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Zero to 60 in seconds flat

It never ceases to amaze me how Seren can go from sound asleep to bouncing in seconds flat.

I had to wake her up today to feed her some breakfast before I left for work. It is rare that I need to do this. When I opened the door to her dark room, she was nestled in. Her blanket was over her body, her arm around her beloved 'baa-baa' sheep. She was out cold. I gently said good morning; I touched her face, her arms, her curly hair. She turned her head towards me. Stretched out her curled up body and stood up.

And started to bounce.

And play her musical instrument.

There is no 'snooze' button for toddlers. There is no procrastination about starting the new work week. Seren needs no coffee. No shower to wake up and wipe the sleep from tired eyes. Seren is just asleep and then awake.

And ready to play, sing and discover!

If only all of us could roll over, stretch and start to happily bounce the second the alarm clock (or baby) woke us up. A good visual, yes?

Seize the day!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Self serve

I have written previously about Seren being the great liberator of things in the fridge. She just LOVES the drawers- especially the drawer that is always full of fruit. One night last week, I was making dinner (Sam was running another errand) and Seren picked out an apple. Usually, she hates apple when we try to feed it to her. Turns out, we had it all wrong. It isn't the apple she hates, but the fact that we cut it!

Before I knew it, she had taken a big bite. And another big bite. The skin was a bit troublesome but she solved that problem by spitting it out on her shirt. What a happy, apple eating munchkin.

Gotta love self serve restaurants!


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A word or two from Dad

My husband is an excellent writer. It is his greatest passion. He has an amazing ability to put complex ideas into words that make it easy for others to understand. On his way to his dream of being a full time employed writer, he has started to blog.

Many times he writes about politics, Islam, and ethics. He writes to provoke thought, to push the issue, to get people to THINK. His 'thesis statement' is that life has to be understood in context. I agree with his thesis. I don't always agree with his sentiments and am often challenged by his academic, conflict ridden arguments. He is, after all, a former lawyer and an academic! That being said, I love to read his blog. Because they are so well written. (And because he is my best friend and husband!)

Recently, his adventures in fatherhood have made an appearance on a more regular basis. I am bias, of course, but his stories of Seren and his experience of being a dad make me laugh out loud. I just had to share his post from yesterday:

http://thetruthssuperbsurprise.blogspot.com/2007/10/connections-my-daughter-loves-phones.html

And this post about his experience in music class. Both reveal a lot about the person I married!
http://thetruthssuperbsurprise.blogspot.com/2007/10/leaving-footprints-i-like-to-sit-in.html

So, today's post will be brought to you by Sam. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why we are just a wee-bit tired

Last Monday I posted that the previous weekend was a perfect balance of chores, friends and family. I cannot say the same of this past weekend!

Since Friday October 19th at 5:00 we….
· Scrapped wallpaper from the stairway
· Painted the hallway
· Painted the hallway a second time
· Hung up art in the hallway
· Took off the closet doors
· Sanded the closet doors
· Painted the closet doors
· Cleaned the old hinges by soaking them in something that took a year off my life
· Put the hinges back on
· Returned shoes to Marshalls
· Bought an area rug (and other assorted items) at Lowes
· Bought cleaning supplies
· Bought and returned a total of 6 knobs and went with a latch instead
· Did three loads of laundry
· Swept the front porch
· Bought and wrapped presents for a birthday party (Seren made the card)
· Raked the yard (Seren loved helping with this one)
· Mowed the front yard
· Moved stuff from the garage into the shed
· Puttied the front room
· Sanded the front room
· Painted the wall of the front room
· Placed corner blocks in the corners of the front room
· Painted the floor of the front room- times 3 for separate layers
· Played at the park for an hour
· Dusted off the futon frame
· Reassembled futon- complete with new futon mattress
· Laid out the new rug
· Moved the furniture back into the room
· Went to a birthday party for a two year old
· Swept out the laundry room
· Changed the sheets on the bed from the summer sheets to the winter sheets (only to learn that today it will go up to 82 degrees...)

We are tired. Thank goodness for Grammy and Poppy! They helped out on Saturday! This is QUITE the boring post but I'll show before and after pics of our 'new' room as soon as we can download them. Yahoo! It was work but it was worth it!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Missing the Snuggles

I miss snuggles! Seren is SO busy these days with all of her tasks, adventures and stories that it is rare that she and I just sit and well, snuggle. Those days seem like a long time ago. When she was 9 months, I still nursed her to sleep. Those days ended but I still put her down (mostly asleep) in her crib every night. I'd rock and sing and off she'd go to DreamLand. Then, at 15 months, we started to just calm her down and put her to bed. She is a big girl now.

But where are the snuggles? The rock-my-baby to sleep phase is gone. I guess that's because the 'baby' phase is gone.

The sleepy phase and physical comfort of mom/dad has been replaced by quick kisses (on the mouth) and what I call "fly by" hugs. She runs and jumps into our arms. And then that moment is done. And she is off! For the most part, I've learned to take what I can get of the displays of affection. I love the tackle hugs and tickles she gives us. Afterall , she is still really young and we love being affectionate! I also know I better enjoy it because these days are numbered too....(by age 13, I doubt I'll be getting cuddles?) So, I enjoy it.

But I do miss the snuggles. A lot.

However, regardless of how old Seren gets and how much she loves to hugs us or not...I can still go in every night and look lovingly at my sleeping miracle.

This way, in the quiet of the still night, I'll get my fill of snuggles.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

She is way ahead of me

The things my daughter is teaching me...


Last month, on a whim, I splurged and bought this:




It cost me $19.00. It smells great, and delivers! It has given me the "volumne" that my limp locks desperately seek. It was well worth it.





Turns out I should have bought this:















It only cost $2.99. And, apparently, if Seren's hair is any evidence, it has just the same effect! LOTS of volume!

Seren is way ahead of me already.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One year!

Today is a milestone for me on a professional front: I have been at my current job for one year! A year ago today I nervously made the commute from PA to NJ. I had a bad cold and was anticipating a long but exciting day! With my breast pump packed, I made my way inside the building. Our decision for me to work full time was a challenging one and one that hasn't been without a fair amount of angst on my part. I interviewed when I was pregnant. I borrowed a nondescript grey suit from a family friend (I looked like a blob) and did my best. I remember flying home with my belly and saying, "Well little girl, if they offer it to me, I'll take it." And so we negotiated a start date of October, thinking that Seren would arrive in June.

When Seren started to arrive two months early, we realized our plans would change a bit. I needed to birth a child, learn to feed her, pack our apartment, move and then complete my MA. We did it so by the time October actually began, I felt quite accomplished!

People's response to our working/stay at home parent situation is always revealing to me. I have several colleagues who say, "Your husband stays home? Well, that is a win-win situation." I have met other folks who say, "I could never do that! No way! I'd be too jealous of my husband." Truth be told, I'm somewhere in the middle. It is a challenge but a good challenge. I get to do work that is important to me. I enjoy my colleagues. But I also miss being home more. I think this is normal and natural.

So, thinking about a year ago today made me cry a bit this morning. On one hand, I'm proud of our family. We have a non traditional set up that we have made work. Sam is an excellent father who has enjoyed being home with her immensely. The bond between them is amazing to watch! It is hard to visualize our lives being any other way. And I am a good colleague and a good mom. (Despite my constant internal thoughts that speak to the contrary!) On the other hand, I have missed first steps (but caught steps 3-4 later that afternoon) and hate saying goodbye to that sweet face every morning. I live with a lot of guilt.

The truth is that there is no 'perfect' situation. We all choose how we respond to certain situations. And in that response, we learn a great deal about what is really important to us. As my father always says when I worry that I have not done something well. "Did you do your best? That is all you can do."

Sam, Seren and I are doing our best on a daily basis.

Today I celebrate my one year of being a working mom(in the traditional, outside the home sense). However, I also recognize today that while I'm not home during the day, being a parent is a full time position- a position held in our family by two, dedicated, full time employees.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Why weekends are great

I love weekends. Who doesn't right? Being with Seren and Sam all weekend fills my heart right back up. During the week, Sam and I are often overwhelmed by work demands, a house that needs an incredible amount of work and the challenges that come with raising a very funny but not yet communicative (and therefore frustrated) little one. But this weekend had just the right balance of everything: friends, family and chores.

Sam and I purchased a 1952 Levittown home. It has become QUITE the source of activity. When we aren't spackling, we are painting. When we aren't painting, we are staining. The term "we" is loosely used. Since Sam is home all week with Seren, I really want to PLAY with her on the weekends. So Sam has had the bulk of the work on his shoulders. But I do my share during nap as well.

Anyway, this weekend we did some of that but we also played as a family! So that was fun! Saturday we went out to breakfast with friends and Seren did her fair share to entertain the entire diner by throwing toys and graham crackers. We then went home to my parents home to 'help' them move all of the furniture our of thier first floor so that they could get the floors re-done. But really, it was an excuse to enjoy the small town, eat well and giggle with my parents. I am continually amazed how much joy children bring to situations. Of course they have melt downs and get tired but I love how Seren is much more of a social butterfly now. Waving to passing cars, greeting strangers. Seren, Grammy and I took a little 'train' through the small town. Mom and I wondered if the little train would make it around the block. Seren smiled and waved to strangers. We had a grand time.

While we were there, we took one of our 'strolls' which consists of Seren slowly walking through neighborhood picking up seeds, stones, twigs. When we got home, Seren put the seeds to her mouth. I instructed, "No, Seren, that is food for the birds." She turns around, gets that look like she is computing the information, and feeds the plastic bird on one of her toys.

How do they put stuff like that together? I love it.

As my aunt put it, kids these age are like little robots. "Must compute information." They just store it all in. Seren found a cap that goes on a specific lotion bottle she has. The cap was in her bedroom, not in the bathroom. She picks it up, grunts, and walks off to the bathroom. She opened up the cabinet, put it back on the lotion and returned to the bedroom.

Sunday we did chores and got together with friends from work. One couple had a 2 year old and a 4 year old. Between the three of them, they were very 'busy'! This whole new phase of our lives- meeting parents, studying others' parenting styles and finding 'friends' with little ones is still new. I hardly know the parents but there I was playing with Jill and 'marching' around the kitchen playing my 'saxophone' which was a spoon! Seren LOVES big kids. They always wear her out but she loves 'talking' with them and watching how they do things.


Another friend at the party was pregnant. She watched the three of them with wide eyes. She kept saying, "I don't think I'm ready." Of course not. But they don't come out doing all of these things! That's the beauty of parenting- you warm up to it. You get to grow into being a parent.


I just really am enjoying this phase of Seren. I like to think I have and will enjoy all of the phases of growing up but this age is just really fun and cute. And her Daddy still makes my heart melt.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trash talk

I'm not talking about what NBA players do on the court. I'm referring to the new word in our house. "Trash" Seren loves to talk about 'trash'. When we go on walks around our block, Seren points out all of the trash. Last week, we were strolling, just the two of us. We found a gum wrapper on the sidewalk. She looked at me, and yelled at it. "Trash!" I affirmed that. "Yup, Seren. It is trash." Thinking we'd move on, god knows how many pieces of trash we'd find, I encouraged her to keep walking. But nope, "trash!" was on the ground. (She says it with a lot of enthusiasm and emphasis on the 's'. As in "trassssh".)

Ok, ok. I'll pick up the trash. But that wasn't good enough. She had to HOLD the silver gum wrapper until we got home. All the while, she kept saying, "trash, trash, trash". This obsession hasn't quite let up. Dirty diapers? "Trash". Used Kleenex? Trash. She likes to watch us open up the trashcans and often helps us place the trash in its appropriate receptacle.

I'm so proud, my environmentalist!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Car trips

As any parent will tell you "traveling" has a whole new mean when you travel with little ones. This weekend we drove four hours to see my best friend and her family for her babies' first birthday. We were excited to see them. They make it easy when we are there- we share baby stuff and baby food. They are such good hosts and they set up a pack and play for Seren, etc. So it is a piece of cake when you get there.

It is just the getting there.

Seren has outgrown sleeping in the car.

We had her in the infant seat and rearfacing until she was 15 months at which point she really outgrew the seat. It used to be that she'd zonk out as soon as she got in her seat. But that is not true anymore.

In the eight hours of driving, four on Saturday and four on Sunday, Seren slept for 58 minutes total despite the fact that we were driving DURING nap time on Sunday. 23 minutes going up and 35 min on Sunday.

The rest of the time, I was the human muppet.

Most people who know me know that I am a muppet most of the time anyway. But as a parent, my tendency to sing and dance and act goofy is taken to a whole new level. The challenge is keeping it up. For about half of the trips, I pretended to be the voice of a koala bear puppet. Seren looked to just sit and chat with Koala. Which is fine and good. Except that Mom was getting just *slightly* tired of using my voice at such a high octave.

The other half of the trip, I was "Mom, the toy distributor". I had a big bag of specially selected toys. The more 'unusual' to Seren, the better. With each toy that emerged, I hoped to 'buy' five-ten minutes of entertainment. I got nervous when I looked down and saw that the bag was nearly empty. The last toy.

The ironic thing was that after all of this entertaining which included puppet voices, and singing, she slept like a rock during Monday. So much so that Sam had to rock her awake during an impromptu nap. She fell asleep in the car (maybe because I wasn't with her singing and dancing?), he carried her out of the car, up a flight of stairs, laid her on the floor, cleaned her room, got the camera, took a picture, and moved her legs and she was still asleep. After lunch, she proceeded to sleep another 3 hours.

Wonders never cease.





Anyone else's kids not sleep in the car anymore?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Seren turns 17 months

Seren turned 17 months yesterday. On the fourth of each month, when I go into her room in the morning, I sing her happy birthday. I just can't get over where the time goes! Our babies are quickly becoming children. I swear, as soon as they can walk and wear shoes, I feel like kindergarten is right around the corner!

Seren hasn't really been doing too much talking. Well, talking in English. The child gives us oral dissertations on a daily basis. We just don't understand it yet. This worries me. But she does say a few words and many sounds of animals so I know it is coming. Some words are just odd to know. For example, trash, squash, backpack, and toast. I love when Seren learns a new word. Still, as a mom of a preemie, I still have that 'what if' in the back of my mind. Perhaps ALL parents have that feeling. I am always waiting for something to be wrong. Sam thinks I'm insane. We are very blessed but I think it is impossible not to worry about your children. It starts the second you find out that you are pregnant! My mom assures me it keeps up for the rest of the child's life.

Our camera is back! So we have lots of old photos from September to share. Here are three from our trip to the zoo. Seren's favorite animal? The prairie dog. The prairie dog!? Well, for one, it was actually close so she could see it. And it moved! When she learned the name of the animal, she started to 'woof'.






Wednesday, October 3, 2007

One unique way to waste $10.00

This week I have been troubled by horrible ear pain. Ear pain? Who gets ear pain? I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but I found myself not able to sleep on one side of my head. I was feeling dizzy. And my ear was swollen and red. I described my symptoms to my colleague who instantly diagnosed me: ear infection. Great. An ear infection. So I call my doctor for an appointment. The earliest they could see me was Tuesday at 5 pm.

All day long I worried about my hot, red, aching, painful ear! At 3 yesterday, the pressure was unbelievable! Then, I felt a burst of pressure. Blood and pus were in my ear. What the hell!? I instantly start to google 'burst eardrum'. I read all about infections and fluids and blood and pus.

By 5 pm, I couldn't wait to get some good strong meds and start feeling better. I describe this all to the patient, young physcian's assistant. She thinks I have, in fact, burst my eardrum. She looks inside the good ear. Mumbles a bit. Then looks inside the 'bad' ear. For a long time.

Her assessment?

A zit.

A zit!? No way! I haven't been able to hear for two days!? I couldn't sleep on that side on my head! Could you check again? I'm 30! I still get acne (thanks dad) but a pimple INSIDE my ear canal??

Apparently all of that pressure can lead to the same feelings as an ear infection. She DID say, (perhaps to make me feel less foolish) "It looks pretty big and painful."

So to recap, I left work early, wasted a lot of nervous energy and generally freaked myself out. And for what?

A ten dollar zit.

Monday, October 1, 2007

September pics

Our camera is STILL MIA but we got some great pics from our father in law, Bill. These were taken two weeks ago when Seren had a major head cold. Still, I couldn't resist putting them up. Some pics of her swinging, resting and being a complete ham after bath one night.












More soon...

Friday, September 28, 2007

Chatting

I called home last night to tell Sam that I was on my way back from NJ. The phone rang as usual. But then, when it picked up, I didn't hear anything. Just silence.

"Hello?"
Silence.
(Then prompting from Dad, "Say Hello!")
Silence.
"Hi sweet pea! Its me, Mom!"
"Mom! Mom! Mama! Mom!"
"Yes! It is me! How are you? Did you have a good day?"
"Yes."
"Did you take Daddy out to play in the backyard?"
"Yes."
"Did you take a nap?"
Silence.
More silence.
More prompting.
Crying as Dad tries to wrestle away the phone.

It was awesome! We had a little conversation. Whenever you ask Seren any sort of question in the past two weeks, she picks up on the inflection in your voice and enthusiastically answers, "Yes!"
We get a big kick out of this. We ask all sorts of silly questions of her- mostly for our own amusement but also for hers. She likes when we laugh. She is quite the comedian. We think it is funny. Then again, we are the parents. We are SUPPOSED to get big kicks out of little things.

A new first- chatting with my daughter on the phone. Sam said she refused to give him the phone but just sat there, the phone pressed against her ear, with a really serious look on her face as she tried to figure out how Mom was 'in' the phone.

I loved it!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Things have a 'place'

Perhaps it should come as no surprise...afterall, Sam and I aren't what you call 'relaxed'. We plan, organize, fret, and plan some more. That is just who we are. I always wish I could just goof around through my life. Go rock climbing, forget to go to college classes, watch tv. But nope, not me.

So I don't know why I am surprised that Seren seems to be well...organized. It is amazing to watch her learn that certain things go in certain places. We clean up her room during the day and during the night. She helps us with this. So, she has learned that the Moose from Grandma goes on the top shelf of her bookcase. And that the cart should go against the wall.

Last night, I was dancing for her...wearing Sam's big flip flops. I don't know why, they were just there and since they made a loud noise, I went with it. She completely didn't appreciate my wild dance gestures, my shaking butt and my singing. Nope. She was focused on the flip flops. You see, they weren't MINE. They were Dad's! They didn't belong. She kept pointing and grunting. She was stressed out about it! Something was just plain out of place! When I stopped dancing to address the grunting, she just worked to pull them off my feet.

She returned them to Sam. Placing each flip flop carefully on each of his feet.

Then the dancing could begin.

Everything has a place. A child of my own heart.

Oh boy.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The one nap has arrived

This is an entry to help me remember the milestone: we are down to one nap! The jury is still out when the nap happens but yesterday, she was left by her Daddy in her crib with Baa-baa (her sleepy sheep) and put herself to bed. Good job, Seren! Lets hope it continues!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

If she only did windows

We had a end of summer 'clean the yard day'. Seren was a huge help! Seriously! Since at this age, she specializes in taking things out of boxes/bags and putting them back in, that meant that she had honed her leaf raking/leaf placing skills. She had her own bucket and put a whole bunch of leaves in it. I'd then empty her bucket in to the big one.

I looked over at her from across the yard. OUR yard. She was so busy. So focused. The sun shone. My husband was busy mowing the lawn. Moments like this, I pinch myself. How lucky are we? We are a family! I loved every moment of our yard work. Seren was a huge help and really got into the spirit of weeding as well. I have an image of all of us in my mind. Wish I could share it with you all. But it was wonderful to realize, again, how lucky we are.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Our little helper

Seren has become a personal shopping assistant. She is also really good at unloading the dishwasher, sweeping and picking up pieces of lint. It takes great skill, of course, to know when the cheese wants to be in the refrigerator and when it wants to be out. Clearly, us, as her parents, are not 'in touch' with most of the vegetables in the fridge. She is the great liberator of cheese, apples and lemons. And she works quickly! Turn around to set down the milk? Another lemon has been freed from the 'fresh' drawer.

As soon as the fridge door opens, she wants to be in there- liberating all of the food- saving them from certain boredom and doom.

Dad called to report that she was a great help at the Supermarket. She was especially skilled, he noted, at picking up the cans of cat food and putting them in the basket. The problem was that we didn't need ALL the cans of cat food. Seren was concerned that her job wasn't done. After all, there were still several dozens on the shelf! Why stop now, Dad?

Joking aside, we certainly do praise her for her help. She is a helpful person and we'd like to raise a helpful person. But I wonder sometimes if we go overboard in our praise.

The other day, Seren decided she would stand on a book. She puts one foot and then the other foot on a book laying on the ground. Just to get a rise out of her, I said, "Ta-da!" with my arms raised in jubiliation. Her visiting Grandma and father joined in. She liked that. She liked that a lot. Now, frequently, in the evenings, when I return home, I find her standing on items. Books, blocks, small cars (her experience with rolling objects hasn't been so positive) and she is yelling 'Ta-da!'

Wouldn't it be great if for every small accomplishment, you had someone cheering you loudly? Get to work on time? Ta-da! Pay the bills on time? Ta-da! Remember to floss every evening for a week? Ta-da!

I should work on this.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On why Moms sometimes need moms

My daughter is sick today. It started yesterday with what my optimistic husband was calling 'allergies'. We haven't had a cold in many, many months. I have no idea when Seren had her last cold so, I suppose were due. But man, just seeing your little one, full of snot, crying, wiping snot all over her face, toys, clothes...just makes you want to cry. So she didn't sleep well. We didn't sleep well. She actively fights any attempt to wipe her nose. It is a two person activity!

And I'm sure we'll get sick what with Snotfest 2007 raging in our house!

We are supposed to go away with my inlaws to the shore this weekend. People in NJ/PA say 'going down the shore'. Not 'to the shore'. So we are planning on doing this but the thought of traveling with Ms. Snothead to a family friend's home that won't be childproofed where we'll sleep on the floor? Ugh. It is just so hard and disappointing. We were so looking forward to this! We shall see. Maybe the fever will break and she'll be able to go to her first music class- also scheduled for today- but the chances are, I'll be snotty in a few hours.

Then *I'll* need a mom.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why singing lessons have backfired

I have been teaching Seren to sing for about 5 weeks. I sing to her all of the time. Little songs. La-la-la songs. She sings to me. It is just wonderful. It is something that Seren and mom do.

But last night and tonight, I realized that the singing lessons have failed me. As I was singing goodnight songs to her, she started to 'la la' right back at me. Then she started to giggle. So suddenly I'm racking my brain for some lullabye that a)I know the words too and b) doesn't have any 'la la's in it.

I really hope the singing keeps up- but lets hope the singing is a specialized thing- it stays in the shower.

Using the 'nice' things

I have always been careful to take care of my things. I have earrings that I've owned since 6th grade. I have clothes that still look good despite years of wear because I am clean and try to take care of them. And then there are the things that I simply don't use because they are expensive or meaningful to me and I don't want anything to happen to them.

My good china- still in boxes despite 5 years of marriage.
My great aunt's ring.
My gold bracelette.

But at the end of the day, these things are just that...things.

I decided recently that I would start just USING these things. If they are so special, I should enjoy them more! Seren recieved a very beautiful silver bangle bracelette from her Uncle John for Christmas. It was perfect. Just beautiful. Small. Sweet.

I put it on her arm for my mothers' birthday lunch. She LOVES it. We have tried to take it off but she complains when we do. It has been about a month. There it sits, a beautiful, feminine bracelet. I got a look at it up close last night; I managed to wrestle it off her arm.

I felt a twinge of guilt.

It was showing its wear. It has become banged up and scuffed from our walks in the park, baths, and daily playing.

It looked worn.

But children grow too fast. There is no guarantee that it will fit in the next "special" occasion. And isn't every day special? Shouldn't we live like it is instead of saving joy for 'later'?

I placed the bracelet back on Seren's arm. She pointed to it and smiled.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ponytails

As a woman, I've never been one who cares too much about appearance. In an ideal world, I'd wear jeans, teva/danskos (depending on the season) and a t-shirt. Unfortunately, with work, I have to do a little bit better than that.

I feel the same way about my hair. I cut it. I try my best but that is about it.

As a mother, I have a whole other head of hair to worry about. My hair is what I like to call "seaweed on a rock". It is straight. It doesn't too much. It looks somewhat the same for years and years.

My daughters hair? Not so much. She has two crazy callicks in the back and curls! I personally LOVE the curls. My curly hair friends say that she'll hate them one day. But what to do with curls? We currently are sporting ponytails. Sometimes Mom does a great job of it. Sometimes Seren sqirms too much and well, at least I tried.

Our digital camera was left at a friends' house so we don't have it for three weeks (sniff, sniff) so here are some early July shots of Seren and her ponytails. Before and after. My friend says that she looks older with her hair down. I'm not so sure.

When do I bite the bullet and get her hair cut? Will the curls leave? I'm not ready to say goodbye to them!




Sunday, September 9, 2007

Nothing a little snuggling wouldn't cure

I was in a funk yesterday about Mommy guilt, time away from her, working, the house...you name it.

But last night, Seren seemed to sense that Mommy needed a little pick me up. So in answer to my own question, "What will make me happy?" the answer came from Seren.

I do all sorts of things to try to make her laugh and smile. I play endless rounds of peekaboo, jump around, dance, make faces. It works. But not all of the time. The secret to spontaneous fits of giggles and laughter? Rubbing her face with my nose.

I was putting her to asleep and thought that she drifting off into dreamland. So, I snuck a little snuggle in- caressing her face with my fingers and then my own face. Her eyes opened up in the near darkness of her room and she started laughing. While I was trying to put her to bed, I couldn't help myself. I rubbed the tip of my nose on her cheek again. And again. More laughter! Then full out belly laughs.

What a riot.

Sometimes all I need, all we really need, is a snuggle.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Pleasure...with guilt

What is wrong with me? I have such guilt- at all times for all things- most of these things are totally ridiculous!

So I went for a massage Friday night. I was so excited! But for about 1/4 of the time, I was lying there, trying to relax and worrying about everything! I ruined my massage by stressing myself out!

Then, today, I was super excited to see my friend and get a pedicure. Talk about a weekend of luxuries! But could I relax and enjoy? Not at first. I was like a hot cake- nervous with excitement.

I literally can't relax due to an overwhelming feeling of guilt- that I don't deserve something, that I am imposing on my parents, my husband, that I should be spending more time with my daughter. It is an all consuming thing for me. And it stinks.

But, I really did have friend seeing my good friend, U. And my parents were wonderful with Seren. And my husband had a blast on his own- pulling up carpet. It is just me. Me who forgets how to enjoy life and is driven by an internal to do list and a sense of guilt that is unlike anything I've experienced.

If a massage, a wonderful coffee with an old friend, free babysitting and a pedicure won't do it...I ask ya, what will?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Separation

Perhaps one of the most challenging things that I go through is what I call the seperation of church and state. Which has nothing to do with either. But it is the complete divide in my brain between home and work. All of my life, I have had the ability to focus on one thing and do that one thing well. When I'm at work? I work well. When I'm at home, I do home well. Motherhood, to some degree, has changed that. Certainly I think about my daughter all of the time at work. But I think that part of my ability to do this 'seperation' between the two worlds is purely protective. I am protecting myself.

Because if I think about the fact that I'm at work and not at the zoo, or not playing on the playground or not making friends with other local moms, or not home with my daughter bonding, and not being her 'everything', then I start to cry. After months of crying, I decided I wouldn't do that anymore. So I have this guard up- so that I can just trust that when I"m home, I'll give my 100% and when I'm at work, I'll do the same.

The rub, of course, is that giving 100% all of the time, in every arena, is impossible. And you can end up feeling shitty about yourself as a mother AND as a worker. But that is another post.

Ba-boo!

I am work and just got a call from a happy Sam and Seren. They are at the zoo today! While I'm bored and working on spreadsheets, they are taking in the final hours/moments of summer at the zoo! Wow! I am so glad that they went out of the house and are doing these fun things. These are the days that Daddy will remember when Seren is older. The commute to the zoo wasn't bad and everyone seemed happy. Sam said, "Hey! We are right in front of the baboons!" and guess what I hear in the background, "Ba-boo! Ba-boo!"

Seren LOVES animals- just like her daddy. She loves telling us what certain animals 'say'. Her newest sound is the sound that cats make, "meow". She loves our cats.

I am in trouble.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"Earning" the break

As a working mom with a stay at home husband, I try to do my best to support him. I am surrounded by my friends who are stay at home moms and who sometimes complain about how they don't get breaks, are exhausted, always doing housework, and never get support from thier spouse. So I like to think I do my best to support my dear, tired, husband. I do my own share of housework, do bath everynight and clean up the home every evening. I try to overcompensate for being a working mom.

The thing is? He doesn't like to take breaks. We have this on going tension/joke that I'm always trying to get him to take some time 'off' from housework, home renovations, our daughter. He needs it! It isn't going to get better if we don't rest every now and again, right?

But truth be told, sometimes I want him to relax so *I* can then feel better/justified in relaxing at some other time. The guilt! Why do I feel like I have to 'earn' my relaxing time? A perfect example of this: for my 30th birthday (in Jan), I asked for a full body massage for my birthday. My mother in law, Linda, was happy to bestow this awesome gift on me! Have I used it? Nope. Do I want to? Absolutely yes!! The reason WHY I haven't used it? Because, according to me, I haven't quite 'earned' it yet.

This is ridiculous! Of course I have earned it. I realized this last night and made an appointment today for the 7th. I know I am not alone in this feeling of neglecting oneself or postponing taking care of oneself. I need to work on this.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fun weekend

Weekends like this past weekend make Monday mornings even harder. Uncle John visited from Colorado this weekend! He had a great time watching Seren just be Seren. She makes us laugh daily- buckets on her head, noises, faces she makes, the way she mimics. I was glad to see that he could enjoy her.

Saturday we went out to lunch for my mom's 61st birthday. Dinning out just isn't what it used to be. On Friday, Seren learned to scream. She even screams when you say the word scream. She isn't crying- she is just being LOUD. So, off we go to lunch. I am wearing a dress. We are all dressed up. Seren is in her high chair and Sam and I are doing our best to try to pay attention to the conversation but mostly, we are panicked that Seren is going to just LET loose during the lunch. I barely tasted my meal. She did well. She threw a spoon or two on the floor and emptied her bowl of corn but other than that, she didn't get too worked up. Just HARD to go out to dinner/lunch and relax. I need to drink more wine.

We also played in the hose on Saturday. As I have mentioend, Seren HATES when I clean her hair in the bath/shower. But the water and the hose? No problem. She just eats it up! She actually signed 'more' every time I turned the hose off. It took us two days, but when she signs more outside of the dinning room, it means 'more fun! more horsey rides!" We actually thought she was hungry so we kept giving her more snacks!

On Wednesday, we heard she weighed 22.6 lbs (50%) and is 32 inches long (90%). A long, tall, skinny one! I was so glad and grateful that she is doing well healthwise.

Thanks Uncle John for visiting and for giving us the occasion to see you, have dinner with Mom and Dad and have a celebration party in your honor! Come again soon!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Vacation Rocks

Learning to let go

I think everyone at some point in their lives has to learn to let go. Of an old fling, of a dream, of a loved one, of a perception of themselves, the world. And all of us struggle with it.

I struggle with letting go of a lot of things. But mostly, I struggle with letting go of old friends. It is challenging because you remember the good times, the times of reconnecting, exploring, laughing. But people change. And you change. And the old doesn't always mesh with the new. I am a fircely loyal friend- most would say that about me. I remember birthdays, offer prayers, offer to help out. At least that is how I like to think of myself. I have high expectations of myself as a friend. So saying goodbye is really hard for me to do. My mother always tells me that people change. "Yeah, I know...but...."

And so I am struggling to say a final goodbye to a friend who I've known of for a long time but really only was good, deep friends with for a short amount of time. Since then my attempts to reach out, connect, write, call have all been ignored. The message has been sent. She doesn't need me/want me in her life. It is just that rejection that hurts. It also hurts because I know she is CAPABLE of more...capable of returning my phone calls, etc.

They say when you are ready for a final goodbye, you don't feel blame or hurt or want the other person to understand why you are hurt. You just have to be able to walk away.

I am trying to walk away. And say goodbye....


Did I mention I'm bad at letting friendships go?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Stability

I don't like change. I have never liked change. As a young girl, I used to cry when my parents wanted me to get a new pillow. I liked the old pillow. Why change it? So to be pregnant, leave grad school, have preterm labor, have a baby in the NICU, move to an apartment, start a new job, move to a new house...all has involved change. It has been challenging and rewarding. And exhausting.

For the first time in over a year (maybe two?) I feel settled. And I like that. I like that I know what my job will be like. I like that some of the big questions are no longer questions anymore. We are good parents! We are blessed with a happy baby. So it is time to do something we haven't done in a long time: plan. And that feels very good to me. No, we haven't figured out child care or what daddy will do for work but we have each other and we are sitting still. I like that. I feel like we can put down roots and think about the future. I am beginning to enjoy the simple things again.

My family makes me so happy: all of them. I am truly blessed with family and friends that value me and remind me to keep going when I need that push. Call me boring! But too many life changes put me over the edge. I am back. I am here to stay (for a little while). I just don't like to much change.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Off

In naming my blog, I thought about my goal which is to find more balance in my life. Today is one of those days where I know I am failing. The issue today? Friends. Friends for me. Friends for Seren. Friends for Sam. The issue is that since we have moved to PA, we can't seem to make any! Most of it seems to coincide with finding other parents of young children. It is just one of the major life adjustments that I don't think I was truly ready for. I like to think of myself as someone who makes friends easily. And I do. I am outgoing and funny which goes a long way. But finding folk in our community who are open minded, educated and also enjoy children (if they don't have any themselves) has proven challenging. Where are the working moms out there? Where are the other stay at home dads?

I worry because I want Seren to grow up with a lot of people in her life. I want her to play with kids! She already is blessed with many 'aunts' 'uncles' and of course her grandparents and real aunts and uncles. But none of those people live in Levittown! None of those people can come play after work, join us for dinner, stop by to borrow an egg! I have tried and tried to find community on the internet. Sam and I have 'churched shopped' for nearly a year. But we just can't find that 'home' that we (ok, *I*) really, really long for. And that is frustrating me today. In time, it will come together. It really does take a while. I guess I'm just impatient. Not having a community makes me feel really off balance. I know I am not alone in this. And I am really blessed with long time friends and family are live sorta close by. I just miss my 'peeps'.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Baths are scary too

Seren, like most 15 month olds, seems to be in the midst of huge seperation anxiety. It is very charming for the first few days. I had a shadow, knee high, who hugged my knees constantly. Now, it is becoming challenging. She really wants to be held, to be at conversation level. I try to honor this as much as possible but sometimes you just need your own two hands (not the addition of two other, less 'helpful' hands).

THe past two nights have been hell in relationship to the bath. Naps aren't going well either. She has been good since about June at taking two naps. ONe at 8:30 or 9, the other at 2 or 2:30. Today's naps were at 9:45 and the other at 3:45. Poor Daddy! But she IS napping. Bath to bath hell...

It occured to me that as I was lowering her into water, I was doing two things to make her angry- letting go of her AND putting her in water. She LOVES water but not this week. That was so last week.

I showered with her again. Hmm. I don't really think I need two showers a day. I don't get THAT dirty at my desk job.