Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Relationship Building

Therapists offices are full of people who want to and need to dissect, process and examine their former and present relationships with their parents and their siblings. People need to talk through these relationships and figure out how they 'fit' in a family's identity and how that 'place' shapes them into the person they are today.

It is scary to think about how some of the little decisions as well as some of the big ones will impact our kids. I joke sometimes that we should start a therapy fund now.

More recently, I have begun to ponder siblings and their relationships. (For obvious reasons). My brother, John and I are quite close. On the surface, in high school, we really didn't have much in common. He was (and is) a jock. I played field hockey and ran track but I wasn't a super star. He was. He had lots of fun friends and dated like crazy. Me? I hung out with the nerds and embraced my nerd-dom. He is outgoing and hysterical. I am funny but I prefer and preferred to be low profile.

But we seriously loved each other growing up. As little kids, we seldom fought. I do remember one "serious" fight when he was his karate phase. He kicked me but then I just held his leg and he had to hop around on one foot. I made him so mad by pulling his sock off and then dropping his leg.

There must have been other moments but seriously, that is the only thing I can remember! We just did our own thing. And respected each other and all of our differences all the way through. (For the most part.) I even remember one time, in high school, I literally fell asleep on my books and John took my book away, tucked me in, and turned off the light. There are many more memories like that.

John and I are about 2 years and 5 months apart while Wyeth and Seren are 2 years 7 months apart. I am the female firstborn as is Seren. I find family dynamics to be fascinating and amazing.

I'd love for Seren and Wyeth to be as close as John and I growing up and as adults. What of this can I 'control' by encouraging respecting, loving behavior between siblings? What of this is completely based in chemistry and personalities? Like most of parenting- the truth is somewhere in between. Here is to hoping that Seren and Wyeth enjoy each other as much as I enjoy my 'baby' brother!

Here are some pics of us. Aren't we cute? These are a few years old but are some good ones of us.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Milestone logging

(Please excuse the 'milestone' post- I started this over a week ago and forgot to post it.)

Wyeth is learning some new tricks:
* He said 'uh-oh' yesterday in context. He LOVES to say that. He also has a word for cracker.

* He waves at everyone. Coming or going. He waves to people from grocery carts or if we are taking a walk around the block and a car drives by.

* He continues to be very social!

* We put him asleep asleep each nap and night. I have no memory what so ever of when we just calmed Seren down and let her put herself to sleep. We have to work on this because at 23 lbs, he is getting too heavy to rock! Once in a while I do let him cry and it only takes about 10 minutes of crying so we are getting there.

* I have a list of foods that Wyeth eats. Which is growing. At his 12 month check up, the doctor did not want to take him off formula because he was still preferring baby food. So we are still on forumla but just this week he has decided that pasta, blueberries and waffles really ARE good. So that is a good sign! I gave him real milk last night. He had one sip and looked at me like I was crazy. But then he had a second sip. We shall see.

* I was debating turning his carseat around to face the front but then read some scary stuff on the internet and decided (for now) that rear facing for a while is still a good thing as he is still a wee one.

* We thought we were loosing the first nap but he napped all week in the morning. Wrong again, Mom!

* Yesterday he went to the doctor after about a month of the same cold. It isn't really a cold but this deep cough thing that we couldn't clear with our nebbie. Seren was a ROCK star at the Neb treatments but Wyeth HATES it. As a result, we kinda gave up trying. Hence the prolonged cold. The doctor took one listen and decided we needed to up it a bit. Seren's first real winter had her on treatments for four long months. And it looks like we are doing down the same road with Wyeth. He is on flovent AND abuterol but instead of the nebbie, he is getting it through the air chamber. And let me tell you, he just loves it! (Sarcasm!) It is horrible trying to make him take the meds. But we'll do it. He has to get better. Winter sucks!

Update on Seren:
*She can pour her own milk into her cereal bowl! This is just today's accomplishment. She said to me over the weekend. "Mom, I can pretty much do everything by myself now that I'm a big girl. I just can't drive yet. You have to be an adult for that." And she is doing it all! Getting dressed by herself (still requires some prompting) and apparently fixing herself breakfast!

*She is however, still peeing in her pull up during the night. We haven't really focused on keeping the pull up dry though. So maybe we should focus on that? It will be a year in April since she was trained but that pull up is wet every morning.

*She is working on learning how to ride her bike. If it ever gets warmer, we'll practice that one! She basically just 'brakes' really well which means she doesn't really go anywhere...But the preschool class made resolutions and her 'promise' was to learn to ride her bike. So we'll work on that.

*She is also making friends. One of the more upsetting parts of the teacher conference was that Seren wasn't really connecting with kids. I visualized her as the class loner and my heart just broke. Turns out, it isn't that others don't want to be with her, SHE doesn't want to be with them. So we all have been working on this and it is helping! The teacher is so awesome and has been instrumental in fostering her social skills. (Which is really the main goal of preschool for us). So that helps! And yesterday one of the boys in the class stated to the teacher that he really likes to go to school when Seren is there! The teacher had him say this to Seren directly and Seren was SO excited. A friend! Yeah!

* She continues to just love books. She also loves her dolls/animals. (She still says aminals). When she goes to sleep at night, she has to have the following friends with her:(Check out the names) Blue baa-baa, Pink baa-baa, Puppy, Bubbletop, Beauty, and Baggy. Once all are accounted for, she is good to go. She also still sleeps with the safety bar on her bed and the monitor on. Wonder when we are 'supposed' to drop these things. We aren't comfortable doing that yet but I wonder...

* She isn't on the nebulizer or flovent this winter. We shall see if that lasts.

Both of them continue to keep us busy and happy. Busy to the point of exhaustion but happy to the point of full on "you bright-up-my-life-smiles" too!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Good and the Bad: Weekend in Review

Weekends, I long ago decided, aren't what they used to be. Somedays I just want an old weekend- full of sitting, watching movies, doing errands or just exploring my local community. But other days, our full weekends of errands, kid wrangling, make believe, nap schedules, castle play and arts and crafts just rock.

So it is with kids. There are never any bad 'days'- just bad moments. The same is true for good 'days'- there are just awesome moments. Because two kids and two parents means that no one is in a stellar mood for very long. The opposite is also true: it is hard to be grumpy for a long time.

I am doing a lot of solo parenting on the weekends (two down, five to go) because Sam is studying for the PA/NJ law bar. It is life consuming. I don't know how he does it. He takes care of the kids during the days (preschool, naps, meals, etc) and then studies law at night- usually until midnight. Then we wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 and repeat the whole thing. It is insane. The bar is February 23, 24th and 25th. THREE fun filled test taking days! It makes me break out in hives just thinking about it.

All that is to say that I'm "on" during the weekend so he can catch up on studying and try to make some headway. I have had fun! We have gone to a fun place called the Little Treehouse. And this weekend we did a whole bunch of fun things.

But, as I said, there is always good and bad moments.

- Spending three whole DAYS with my little people.
- Deciding to not be too productive regarding the house and just focus on PLAYING
- Wyeth took a nap on me on Sunday which caused me to nap. Nothing like a big baby sleeping on you- that never happens any more and watching his cute, chubby face at rest was just awesome. My nap wasn't half bad either!
- Seren and I attended a friends' Princess bday party. Visualize 12-14 kids dressed up as Princess characters dancing! Seren held her own in a group of older kids and just LOVED being part of the excitement.
- I was able to relax at my parents' home all day Sunday. They fed me thai food. And brie. And later we had homemade cookies in front of the fire. Hello? That's awesome!
- Time to be with my friend, Whitney. We spent the day together Monday and took our kids to Panera for lunch. At one point, back at home, all three kids wore aprons and cooked us pancakes, soup and ice cream. Awesome time!
- I love my kiddos and love spending time just being 'MOM'.

The BAD:
- Wyeth is dropping his first nap which is turning out to be a long, painful process. Sometimes he naps. Most times he doesn't. But the more tired he gets, the earlier he wakes up. Ya know, because it makes no sense. Which brings me to:
- Waking up at 4am for the DAY on Monday. I managed to convince Wyeth to go back down for 30 minutes but I was awake. So my day off included not waking up at 5:30am with my alarm but waking up at FOUR!
- Seren didn't nap on Saturday due to the party and was TIRED for the rest of the day. (Read 'tired' as a being a pain in the tush due to exhaustion!)
- I worry that I may not be the best at saying 'no' to Wyeth. I can't help myself. He is too cute. And he is my baby. But I need to work on this because that kid can climb stairs, put his fingers on all types of electronics and just bring chaos to our home if we don't give him some limits.
- I was tired. Thank god for coffee and diet cokes!

Last night, I wearily put Seren to bed knowing that I faced a sink load of dishes and 10001 blocks on the floor downstairs. But Seren continued to stall. It was closing in on 8:45 and it was time for her to sleep. But she has a way of talking all day. All night. So Sam came up with the idea that if she wants to tell us anything else, she could just say it into the monitor and we would hear it. She likes this. So I reminded her of our messaging system.

I kissed her again, closed the door, went to the bathroom and went downstairs to the kitchen. I turned on the monitor. There she was, talking up a storm. Then I hear something that just about melted my heart.

"Ok. I have one more message for you. Just one. Ok. Ready? If your name is M-O-M, I love ya. That's it. That is the last message. The last thing I'm going to say. Ok? Ok? That's it. Bye. If your name is M-O-M, I love you. Ok? Ok. Bye."

And with that, the weekend was complete.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The News just isn't the same anymore

I tend not to watch a lot of local news. Living close to a big city, the news is full of shootings, fires, accidents and murders. I can't handle that.

The same is true of international news. It is much easier to bury ones head in the sand than it is to truly reflect on the life experiences of those living in tragic situations.

Since I have become a mother, I have felt the impact of the news all the more.

Haiti's earthquake is simply devastating. Seeing pictures on New York Times of injured children, scared parents and dead bodies puts me over the edge. There is a tendency we all have to simply click away from the New York Times and click on over to facebook where our friends complain about traffic, the cable guy not showing, etc. Then again, sitting there crying your eyes out looking at childrens' faces doesn't 'help' either. We can make a difference with our dollars. Some of us will go over and help out.

It is devastating. And as a parent, I see the whole world through a different lens. I cry seeing the images. I think about what it must be like to hold my own injured baby and have no way of helping him/her. Or going to bed in the street with my entire neighborhood out of fear that the buildings will shake again and we may be buried alive. One article spoke about spontaneous singing of the people- they were singing a hymn calling on God to help them. I don't know what to do with information like this.

Except to join them in thier pleas and prayers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Stuffing yourself

Due to our stove problems in the last month, our food choices haven't exactly been stellar. Our stove broke. Or we thought it broke. We bought a new one. In a snow storm. The new one didn't work. So, that meant it had to be electrical. Cue three week wait while we floundered around looking for a friend or friend of a friend to help us. We didn't want to be ripped off. We crock potted. We had fondue twice (yum!), we made waffled three times. We cooked pasta in the microwave. We got very, very creative. And hungry.

Then, on Sunday, the day of the scheduled visit from the electrician, Sam wanted to recheck something with the fuses. We had already done the basic stuff. Or so we thought. So he futzed around for approximately 2 minutes and TA DA! The new stove works.

I could have pummeled him. But I didn't. We laughed.

The amount of energy he has spent trying to create meals without a stove has been staggering! But then in about one minute, he had fixed our problem. OY! With my parents' help, we moved the new stove out to the garage and brought our OLD 19 year old, greasy stove IN after its three weeks visit/vacation to the back patio. Classy, right? Real classy.

The point of this long story is that we can now eat again using our stove and oven. Yahoo! And Wyeth is enjoying this.

Last night he stuffed himself with couscous. Ok, no big deal,right? But he literally stuffed himself. He took hand fulls of couscous and shoved it down his little white onsie t-shirt. Repeatedly. It was so funny- I couldn't stop him. He had a mission and was having a blast! I was not surprised at all to find couscous in his diaper last night before bath.

Kids rock. I love 'em.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Approaching 33

On Sunday, I turn 33. And for some reason, this is the first birthday in my life where I am not exactly excited about it. Maybe it is the grey hairs I keep finding (ahh!!) or the fact that I'm out of shape, or the fact that my babies are growing. Maybe it is just a new year and I keep thinking about what I want the year to hold. Maybe it is just that I'm introspective by nature. I don't know. But for whatever reason, I'm stuck on what the next year holds. Last year was just about survival with two kids- adjusting to that, adjusting to no sleep, adjusting to my husband's schedule of working nights, adjusting to my own work demands. But I seem to be coming up for air.

Andrea at Super Hero Journalis an amazing blogger. Everytime I log on, I am inspired by what she has to say. She lives in Berkeley (which is fun for me) and is an artist, writer, mother and some sort of awesome. She has encouraged her readers to look away from what we "should" do in 2010 because it implies that something is fundamentally wrong with us. That we need fixing. She has encouraged us by sending us to links to think about our 'word of the year'. The word (or short phrase) that captures what we want out of 2010.

I love this idea.

I have mulled it over a bit and think that my word/phase is "PRESENT". I want to be fully present. With my husband. With my children. With my work. I spend so much energy stewing on the next steps that I sometimes am really not 'here'. I want to taste meals. Feel the sun on my skin. Actually just spend more time laughing and living than 'planning'.

This is hard for me. I am a list maker. I am a "to-do" person. It is a survival skill for me because I get overwhelmed.

Bottom line? I'm not a very good Buddhist in my mindfulness. But I want to be!

So 33 will come this weekend and I think that when I wake up, I will reflect on just how rich my life is. How grateful I am for my health and the health of my family members. How grateful I am to be in a warm (heated!) house with people I love. And the fact that while many of my close friends are far flung, I have great people in my life who support me and encourage me in so many ways. I will choose to be grateful for all of these things and more. And I will be aware of the way the sheets feel, the way my body feels.

And then with a heart full of gratitude and fully present in my toasty bed, I will then most likely attend to little people and thier bodily functions. :)

But it will be a start- this focusing on being present and full of gratitude for what and who I have RIGHT NOW.