Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What To Expect When You're Expecting Your Third Child

It seems like all of the books, websites, e-mails and apps about pregnancy are geared toward the first-time mom.  It's understandable, I guess.  If I were any sort of a decent mother I'd be too busy taking care of the kids I've got to read about the kid I'm expecting.  I remember feeling very guilty about this when I was pregnant with Claire - as if her fetal mind knew that I wasn't monitoring the development of every toenail the way I did when I was pregnant with Mary Grace.

But my kids are big enough to entertain themselves quite a bit, now, and I have time to read again (hooray!).  And it's all very 100 level stuff.  There is certainly room in the world for a book about subsequent pregnancies.  It would include such wisdom as:
  • Your prior pregnancies have destroyed any abdominal muscles you might have had to begin with, so you will begin showing before you even know you're pregnant.  People will consistently think you're 2-3 months farther along than you are.  You will be asked, "Are you sure it's not twins?" often.  Try not to take it personally.
  • You will be more tired and more achy with this pregnancy than you were before.  It's partly because you're older, it's partly because you're taking care of a kid or two while trying to grow another one, and it's partly because subsequent pregnancies are harder.  Symptoms, like back pain and round ligament pain, will begin earlier and be more intense.  Suck it up, Cupcake, there's nothing you can do.  Oh, and just wait until you feel the after-labor pains this time.  You'll refuse to leave the hospital until your husband gets a vasectomy.  (No personal experience with this one, yet, but I've heard... and it scares me!)
  • On the other hand, the third pregnancy is better because you have evidence that you'll get through it.  You aren't as afraid of labor because you've done it before.  It's not some scary unknown.  It's do-able.  You won't have as much anxiety about the baby as you did before, either.  Maybe this is why third children tend to be mellow.
  • Your older kid(s) will push on your tummy at least eleven times a day, and you'll be convinced that your baby will be born with bruises from head to toe.  (I'll let you know in December whether or not that actually happens.  Fortunately, this mom-to-be-again has enough padding, still, to protect the baby from sibling elbows).  Speaking of padding....
  • All of your friends will be dieting, and your husband will lose all the sympathy weight he gained when you were pregnant the first time (or two) and you will feel like a whale (see above re: abs).
Chapters would include:
  • Nap Strategies - how to get your older kids to let you sleep for 20 minutes so you don't pass out when you're driving later.  (Hint - take the kids to McDonald's Play Place, put on your giant sunglasses, and doze while they play).
  • The Mom Diet - can you grow a healthy baby on raisins, Chicken McNuggets and PB&J?  (Hint - no.  Your kid will weigh 97 pounds at birth if you try.  Be sure to take a vitamin and eat a vegetable once in a while).
  • Lower Expectations - housework strategies for pregnant women with toddlers or preschoolers in the home.  (Hint - tell the kids that scrubbing the floor is fun and get them to do it until you're so big you can't see your feet or the floor anymore.  At that point, who cares?)
  • Time Warp - why this pregnancy is going faster than your previous one(s) and what to do about it.  (Hint - paint the nursery as soon as the plus appears on the pregnancy test, because this kid is going to arrive before you know it).
What would you include in the What to Expect When You're Expecting Again book?  Any publishers out there who want to give me a big fat advance check to write this thing?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Time Outs, Revisited

Anonymous writes:

I want to start off by thanking you for this blog! I have very similar qualifications and work with the same types of children. I implement TO dozens of times a day yet I struggle with behavior issues at home! I have a very bright, funny, sweet....HARD headed, overly emotional, stubborn, independent 2.5 year old daughter! The arrival of her baby sister has sent her into a tailspin (biting other children, spitting, hitting, HORRIBLE tantrums). I need to start using TO at home. Do you suggest I start by making time out a confined space such as a playpen or should I go right to the stair/carpet? Also, can you please elaborate further on what we should do when she just runs around the room laughing and refusing to take the time out?  Thanks again! This was amazing and I really needed somebody to put things back into perspective for me!!
Thank you for making my day, Anonymous!

First of all, I think we need to be really careful with introducing siblings into the family.  I hear a lot of parents setting themselves up for a self-fulfilling prophecy, by acting like they're scarring their older child for life when they bring home a baby sister or brother.  This is a Very Bad Plan (not that it sounds like you're necessarily doing this, Anon, but this is where my head went first).  I think it's vitally important to the health of our children's relationships with each other that we treat the arrival of a new sibling like the gift that it is. I can't tell you how often I say things to my kids like:
  • Friends will come and go, but a sister is a forever friend.
  • No one will ever love you the way your sister loves you. You should be nice to her and take good care of her.
  • You should always look out for your sister.  She is so special!
...and so on.  Daily, at least, if not more.  And now that Gozer is on the way we're already talking in extremely excited and positive terms about how much fun it's going to be to have a baby!  I think that if you say negative things like, "Mommy and Daddy won't have as much time for you when the baby comes," and so on, or if you're constantly making your older child wait until you've finished doing something with the baby, you're setting yourself up for a lifetime of problems.  (I think I can speak as an authority on the subject because I have outstanding relationships with both of my siblings, and my kids' teachers have commented on how exceptionally close my kids are with each other).

So, in other words, if you're doing any negative talking about the baby and the attention she's taking away from your older child, even if it's true, even if it's in empathy, stop right away.  Instead of saying, "I know you don't like sister because she takes all my attention right now," or something along those lines, make it positive.  Say instead, "I know it seems hard now, but you are going to have so much fun with your sister when she gets a little bit bigger.  You guys can ride bikes together, play dolls together...  You're so lucky!"  Put as positive a spin on the situation as you can, both when you're talking to her and when you're talking in her presence.  And for anyone reading who might be expecting, start before the sibling is born.

Now, on to your specific questions, if you're just starting TO at 2.5 you may have to physically confine your daughter until she figures it out.  I would try a playpen (not one where she plays normally, of course.  It needs to be a unique space that's only for time outs).  You don't want to use the crib, either, lest she have negative associations with going to bed.  If confinement is impossible, then when she runs around like a crazy person when she's supposed to be in time out, the universe - as far as she is concerned - stops.  No TV, no interaction with Mom and Dad, no meals, no snacks, no diaper changes (!!), no NOTHING until she takes her time out.  If she whines (and she will) say, "I'll be happy to do that when you've finished your time out."  Try to say it as neutrally and matter of factly as you can.  You don't want to let on to her that she's driving you nuts, even if she is.  She's "making bad choices" and you're "disappointed in her behavior," but you're telling her this in a very matter of fact tone of voice. 

So she's still running around.  Remember that your attention is your greatest currency with her.  Don't look at her.  Don't laugh at her.  Don't talk to her except to say, "You need to take your time out," and, "I'll be happy to do that for you when you've taken your time out."

You also have to be sure that she knows what a time out is.  Role play it with her.  Give yourself a time out and show her what you expect her to do.  Talk through it.  "Uh oh, Mommy said a naughty word.  Mommy gets a time out."  Then go to the step and say, "I need to sit here quietly and think about what I did."  Wait a couple minutes, then say, "I'm all finished.  I got a time out for saying a naughty word.  I'll try to use nice words instead."

I've given myself time outs once or twice, and it has been very powerful.  One time my oldest (who sounds a lot like yours) was mad at me because I'd told her I'd make spaghetti (her favorite) for supper, and I changed the plan without telling her.  I avoided a complete meltdown by taking a time out, and then explaining to her why I'd changed the plan (whatever I made instead was faster, and it was getting late, or something). 

It's not fair to get upset with her if she doesn't understand what you expect, so be sure that you're clear. Make sure she knows exactly how to take a time out.  You're going to have to explain it to her and model it for her more than once.

You don't say how old your baby is, but I found that initially we had a little bit of adjustment, then things were surprisingly smooth for several months, and the real sibling rivalry started when Claire was able to move around and take toys from Mary Grace - right around the age when she stopped sleeping all the time and learned to crawl.  If you're not there yet, expect improvement between now and then, and then another regression.  I promise, though, that if you make sure you talk about having a sister in positive terms, and if you remind her what a gift you've given her (and trust me, you really have!  My kids play together constantly and are so lonely when one of them goes somewhere without the other.  And I can tell you that the sibling relationship is something that is so precious and irreplaceable as an adult - I'm blessed with lots of close friends, but my sister and brother "get" me in a way that few people can... or would want to!) you'll see that it'll turn around. 

Our kids believe what we tell them about themselves and their world - so we need to be really careful how we spin it.  If you tell her that her sister is a stinky little usurper who ruined her life, she'll believe you.  If you tell her that her sister is a gift, and that she'll be her best friend, and that she'll be her favorite playmate, and that she's SO MUCH FUN, she'll believe you too.

I hope this helps.  Email me if you have more specific questions, and we'll see what we can do.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Taking a Page Out Of Mimi's Book

When Aunt Mimi was little she used to carry our mom's nighties around with her all the time, like a security blanket.

It's funny what behaviors are hereditary. Claire has been doing the same thing lately.

I'm going to have to start hiding them! It's annoying to have to search for my nightgown every night before bed.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's All Been Done

So mothers have Tweeted their births and Facebooked their births and liveblogged their births...  How am I going to kick it up a notch?

I'm thinking of raffling off a ticket for one of you to actually attend the birth!  This is my third.  The birth will be planned so logistically it'll work.  There were 74 people in the room when I had Claire.  I have lost all sense of modesty when it comes to childbirth, so why not?

What do you think?  $25 a chance, with the proceeds to go to Gozer's college fund?

(That sound you hear is BJ banging his head against the wall...)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Big News!


BJ made me wait the full 12 weeks to tell you, and it has been so hard!  I would've posted the day I found out, if he had let me! 

I'm due on January 5, 2011, but I won't go that long.  Let me explain...

With Mary Grace I had pregnancy induced hypertension, and was on bedrest for the last week.  I also had precipitous labor (3 hours, 45 minutes).  With Claire I had pregnancy induced hypertension, and I had Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (my liver broke) which can cause stillbirth if the pregnancy is allowed to continue past 37 weeks, and again I had precipitous labor (1 hour, 9 minutes).

If the trend continues, this kid will be born in 23 minutes.  Since having a baby on the side of the road is NOT something I want to get into the newspaper for, and since they keep moving the hospitals farther and farther away from me, I want to be induced at 37 weeks.  This will mitigate the risks of the ICP (which has a 60-90% chance of returning, depending on which study you believe) and the PIH (which usually hits me at the end) and the precipitous labor.

The OB who delivered the girls has temporarily left the area, so I am seeing a midwife (!!!).  I was really concerned that she wouldn't be able to take me as a patient, because of all my issues, but we met with her a couple weeks ago and she said that since I've lost weight she doesn't think the PIH will come back.  The ICP is a crap shoot - they really don't know anything about it, so the 60-90% thing is a guess (anecdotally, though, it seems like the women who have had it get it again).  And she agreed that with my precipitous labors, inducing was the smart thing to do.  She wants to induce me around 12/22, but I'm more comfortable with 12/15.  We'll see if I'm dilating and effacing then, and decide based on what's actually going on, not what we're afraid might happen.

I'll also have a back up OB - I'll meet her in about 6 weeks, just in case things go screwy.  This is a hospital-based midwife, so I won't be delivering at home either way - unless baby surprises us by coming earlier than 37 weeks and I can't make it to the hospital!!  I've asked the midwife if we can leave the hospital 12 hours after the birth if everyone's ok, and she has agreed as long as the baby's doctor - our family doctor - agrees.  So, ideally we'll go in early on the birthday and be out by bedtime.  I do NOT like hospitals and I don't want to stay there if I don't have to.  There's no staph or MRSA in my house, you know?  Plus, I don't have nurses coming in bugging me every 20 minutes at home.  My dad's a nurse, anyway, so we can plan for him to be here to bug me instead.

Now you know why the weight loss posts stopped about 6 weeks ago when I found out.  Did you suspect?  Of course it isn't healthy to diet when you're pregnant.  I'm happy to report that I have not gained anything during my first trimester.  Hopefully I can keep the weight gain to the 15-20 pound range.  I've always done a good job of not gaining too much during pregnancy.  I gained right around 25 pounds with each of the girls, which is ideal.

I've been oddly sick.  I haven't thrown up, but my mouth waters like I'm about to throw up.  It's very disconcerting, and it tastes really bad.  I've switched to taking my vitamins at night, which has helped a little bit.  That never happened with the girls, so I'm thinking maybe it's a boy.

I have also been itchy on my hands and feet, which is the major symptom of ICP.  It can occur this early, but the more likely scenario is that I'm noticing every little itch more than I would if I hadn't had ICP before, and it's making me think "uh oh!"  We're going to monitor the bile acids in my blood (just a blood test) throughout the pregnancy.  Unfortunately the labs here can't process that test, so they have to send it away and it takes a week or two to come back.  This is not ideal.  The levels of bile acid can rise quickly, so having to wait a week or two to get the results back can literally mean the difference between life and death (the higher the bile acids, the more the baby is being poisoned, and the greater the chance of the baby dying in utero).  There's also medication that I can take to help the symptoms and prevent bad outcomes.  We saw a specialist when I was pregnant with Claire, but he didn't know anything.  It's a very frustrating complication, and one I hope I don't repeat.

When I had ICP before, my feet were raw and bloody from scratching, and I poured hot water (really really hot water) and sometimes vinegar over them to try to get it to stop.  It was seriously miserable.  It's not just a little discomfort - it's the kind of itching that keeps you up all night, and leaves scars on your hands and feet.  Once I deliver, though, both the baby and I will be fine.  Claire and I don't have any ongoing issues.  I have confidence that we'll be fine.  We know that it's a possibility and we're keeping an eye on it, and I'm not afraid to induce as early as necessary to keep Gozer safe.

Oh yeah, we're calling the baby Gozer.  As in Gozer the Destructor from Ghostbusters.  I told BJ, "I have a feeling that this baby is going to be the one that really ruins my body."  He replied, "Gozer is the Destructor!" and it stuck. 

I'm already showing.  With the third your body kind of goes, "Oh yeah, I remember this," and BAM!  PREGNANT!  None of my clothes fit.  I'm going to be rocking a lot of dresses this summer, I think.

I've had a little bit of bleeding, but I did with the girls, too.  That just seems to be how my body does things.  Otherwise, though, everything is fine so far!

We told the kids on Saturday.  They're pretty excited.

Now you're caught up! And now I can write about what's REALLY on my mind!  YAY!

Monday, June 21, 2010


I'm in a crappy hotel in Denver. I miss BJ and the kids like crazy. I'm here for training on government contract accounting compliance, which is exactly as interesting and exciting as it sounds.

I spent the evening in Boulder, which is very cute but it smells like patchouli. I watched street performers and read menus, but nothing sounded good to eat. Does altitude make you lose your appetite?

I'm considering ordering an appetizer from room service out of boredom. It would be nice to have something to look forward to for 45 minutes.

Pout pout pout. Maybe I'll just go to sleep. I got a bottle of Benadryl because I had a rough time sleeping last night. My crappy hotel is practically on the freeway.

Send lots of comments to entertain me! Tell me what you did today!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New Bikes

For Father's Day, BJ asked for a new bike...... For each of the kids. Best Dad ever. Seriously, he makes me cry.

Friday, June 18, 2010


I took the kids to the city pool today because it's hotter than blue blazes outside (whatever that means) and we were bored.

I sat them on the edge of the "big pool" where neither of them can touch the bottom unless their faces are in the water, and they took turns coming in the water with me and floating around for a few minutes.  At one point I had them both up there, and we were all splashing each other.

"Excuse me," said a skinny woman with an enormous camera, "I'm from the local paper and we're doing a story about the heat.  I got a picture of you splashing with your kids and we may run it early next week.  Can I get your names?"

But what I heard was, "Everyone in town is going to see you and your enormous ass in that swimsuit that you bought at Walmart, hot stuff."

Like an idiot, I gave her our names.

I'm never leaving the house again.

Father's Day

I asked the kids if they wanted to give Daddy a Father's day message on the blog, and here (word for word) is what they said.

Mary Grace:  I love you most of all, Daddy.  You are my favorite.  I love that you fix all my toys.  I'm thankful because of my Daddy because he gave me the bamboo a long time ago, and I still remember it.  I want to take you to see the Shrek movie for your next birthday if it's still in the theater.  Or, maybe we can go get the movie if it's out on DVD, and we can watch it with Daddy.  I love you forever and ever and ever for all the things you do with me, like taking me to the Science Cafe and taking me to go launch rockets, go on vacation, wrestle, and robots!  Most of all, thank you for getting me the robots and thank you for taking me every place I like.

Claire: I love you after and always. (I think she means "forever and ever and always," like the book.  :)  I asked her if she wanted to say anything else, and she repeated it three times, just like the book.)

Amy:  Thank you, BJ, for being such a wonderful dad, and a wonderful husband.  I love you.

I hope all of you have a wonderful Father's Day!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

National Public Radio

This afternoon I was making dinner, and I put on This American Life's story "Held Hostage."  I had listened to part one and most of part two in the car yesterday.  The third act was about a man who had narcolepsy and catoplexy - every time he experienced strong emotion, he'd just keel over.  He couldn't move or speak, but he was fully conscious (so I don't know how they call it narcolepsy - because I thought you had to be sleeping for that, but whatever...). 

After most of the story had unfolded, Mary Grace, who was sitting at the kitchen table coloring, looked at me with big brown eyes and said, "Mommy, is this the sad channel?"

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


From the Kitty file:  Kitty is still died, as you might have guessed.  The kids, being resilient and blissfully ignorant on the subject of death in general, are over it.  I'm doing fine, too.  Thanks for all your kind concern and suggestions.

From the Where Have You Been file:  The Mommy's Time Out program **finally** started again, so the kids got to go to "school" yesterday and I got to go to work.  Yay!

From the Things That Make Me Shake My Head And Say "The World Is Going To Hell In A Handbasket" Like An Old Person file:  I read a story at Free Range Kids and again on Facebook about a boy who helped a 3 year old girl who was lost in a store, and got arrested for kidnapping her instead of the medal he deserved for his trouble!  Worse still, the media (in Orange County, Florida) released the 14 year old MINOR CHILD'S name! 

This is a horrifying example of shortsightedness and power abuse.

Here is an article from a local newspaper.

Folks, I really think it's important for sane, rational people like us to write to the Orange County Sheriff's Department and express our outrage at the way this kid has been treated.  Is he ever going to trust the police after this?  Is he ever going to try to help another child in need?  No.

I don't want to live in a world where people are afraid to help someone in trouble because they're covering their own asses, but it seems like that's the path we're headed down.  And here's what happens when you go down that path - a kid in England went missing, and a man saw her beside the road but he failed to act because he feared that he would be suspected of kidnapping.  An hour after she disappeared from her day care center, her mother pulled her lifeless body from a nearby pond.  She was two.  You can read the whole story here.

So, folks, those are your choices - make it a criminal act for people to talk to children (because all strangers are suspected child molesters!) and end up with dead kids who could have been helped, but weren't, or we can grow some frigging common sense in this country and stop treating all men (even 14 year old young men) as potential abusers. 

Oh yes, I went there, and here's my previous rant on the subject.

I have to go take a Tylenol.  Between this and the oil spill...  but that's a whole 'nother rant.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mommy, Is Kitty Still Died?

I have a lot to say on the topic of kids and death tonight, so if you've recently experienced a loss of any kind, from a cat to a loved one, you might want to proceed with caution or come back later.  I don't want to say anything that's going to cause you pain, but since I don't know your particular situation, I'm just going to have to trust you to click that red X if you can't handle a (fairly irreverent) monologue about death right now.

First of all, all the books about death for kids suck.  I need to write my own.  I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday after endless questions about the cat to try to find something to help the girls understand that Daddy couldn't fix kitty (after all, he fixes their toys, he is the Fixer of All Things, why wouldn't he be able to fix kitty?!) and that death isn't something you get better from (Claire said, as she patted my arm, "Kitty be all better tomorrow, Mommy.")

I was looking for Elmo's Pet Frog Croaks or something.  Instead I got to read a bunch of books that were way above my kids' pay grade.  One memorable one even had a line that said something like, "Sometimes someone you love may get really sad and kill himself or 'take his own life.'  This is called 'suicide...'"  Um, no.  Not for the preschool set, obviously.

I eventually settled on Lifetimes, a rather artsy-fartsy description of how everything is born and everything dies, and the in between part is called living.  It was repetitive (like a board book, so a familiar presentation), but light on actual concrete information such as, "Kitty isn't going to rise again in three days and have a big party with an egg hunt and lots of chocolate."  What?  Easter is their primary experience with talking about dying at this point.

I also bought When A Pet Dies (Mister Rogers' Neighborhood First Experiences Book).  It was the 1970s disco version.  I found it oddly comforting, since Mister Rogers was practically family, and since the leisure suits and mustaches of the 70s still speak to my inner child.  The kids, however, were less than enthralled.

(By the way, those are affiliate links.  I'm shamelessly profiting from my cat's death and the grief of my children.  This is probably a new low, but hey, you guys haven't been clicking through like you used to and Mommy's e-book budget is thin).

Where was I?  Oh, so the books sucked, but what sucked even more was standing in B&N reading all of the options to find the best (or the least horrible) one, bawling my eyes out.  I seriously went through a half a pocket pack of Kleenex.  The front of my shirt was all polka dotted with tears.  Fortunately they weren't busy, because I made quite the snotty fool of myself.

The other part of yesterday that profoundly sucked was the endless interrogation.  I mean, I expected questions.  I was prepared for a conversation.  I didn't expect the conversation to go on for the entire day.  Just when I'd put it out of my mind, they'd ask me some question they'd already asked 50 times, and it would all come back like a Mack truck.  I know, it's a cat, and I even said several times, "I understand that this is a disproportionate response..." to BJ, but I didn't get a single minute to put it aside all day.

And it didn't help that when the kids asked things like, "What is the vet going to do with Kitty's body?" my mental imagery immediately went to some Nazi-mustached vet tech throwing Kitty's stiff, lifeless corpse onto the top of a blazing inferno of other animal corpses.  (We had her cremated.  I didn't want to bury her in the yard only to have some neighborhood critter come and dig her back up again.  That would be traumatic.  So, the vet's office sent her off to be cremated in a batch and not returned to us as ashes because I am not the ashes-on-the-mantle type.  No offense to those who are, it just gives me the creeps.)  So, the kid asks a perfectly reasonable, innocent question, and my mind's eye goes to a perfectly unreasonable (although now that I think about it, after that Mister Rogers book, the mustache thing kind of makes sense), perfectly un-innocent place.  And I would ugly cry.

Of course I didn't say, "They're going to burn it up into ashes," but that's what I thought, and since I'm not really all that comfortable with cremation (let's face it - all of the options for disposing of remains suck.  I don't want to be buried or cremated.  I think I want to be made into jewelry, to be honest...).  Instead I sobbed and tried to choke out something about, "The vet is going to keep her body someplace safe, but Kona doesn't need her body anymore..."

Before you have kids you have this image of how you're going to handle these sorts of things, these Major Life Conversations.  I imagined myself getting down at their eye level, earnestly taking them by the hands and saying something poetic, comforting, and beautiful.  Maybe prettily wiping away one errant tear...  That's not at all how this went.  By the end of the day I was laying in Claire's bed, sobbing, while she interrogated me about feline mortality.  I finally cried "uncle" - went into the bathroom to wash my face and blow my nose, then I got into Mary Grace's bed for a snuggle, only to have her to start in with the questions.  At that point, I kind of lost my cool.  I was tired and sad and I'd been answering questions ALL DAY, and I said, "That's it.  I quit.  I'm done for the night.  No more questions.  I need to go to my room," and I just sat down and cried.  By that point I had a splitting headache and more than my fair share of hormones, and I was finished.

Fortunately, today, the kids went to the neighbor's while I went to work.  It was just the break that all of us needed, and I've been much more accepting of the situation today.  She was a good cat.  She had a good life.  BJ and I talked about some of our funny memories of her - the time that she stuck her head down into my glass to drink my water and got stuck, or the way she used to climb the screens when she was a kitten and just hang from the top, looking out at the world.  That was what I needed, and now I can heal.

I'll tell you what, though...  I'm glad that my kids' first close-up experience with death was a cat, and not a person they loved and had a relationship with.  That would be brutal at this age.  I don't know how people handle preschoolers who've dealt with a profound loss, like MG's friend from school whose mom died this spring.  I hope I don't ever have to find out how that works.

If I had it to do over again, I'd probably do everything I could to distract the kids and give myself time to get over it before I talked to them about it, just so I'd be a little bit more calm and less soggy.  If you're dealing with the loss of a pet, my advice is to take your kids out of the house somewhere (but not to the bookstore) and get everyone's mind off of it.  It'll be a little easier tomorrow.  If you're dealing with a more difficult loss, I've got nothin'.  Sorry.

So, that's how yesterday went. 

I feel like I should end this on an up-beat.  While the kids were at the neighbor's today, my friend Chelsea was getting them into swimsuits to go play in the sprinkler.  She was putting her youngest kid's suit on, and MG said, "My father would KILL my mother if she bought me a bikini like that!"  Fortunately Chelsea thought it was funny.  Our next big talk is apparently going to have to be about tact.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


 Mary Grace dressed up like Kona on Halloween, 2006.

I got Kona when she was a kitten, in 1996.  I was in college.  She was the first pet I had who was truly my own.

She died last night.  We don't know what happened.  She was fine yesterday.

It was really hard explaining it to the kids.  They asked to see her body, so we let them.  I don't know if that was the right thing to do or not.  Then Mary Grace asked if she could color a picture of her, so we found a printable online and they're in the kitchen memorializing her in crayon right now.

When she was a kitten she used to lick the back of my neck.  I'd wake up in the morning with my hair soaked.  She loved to have a little bit of the milk from our cereal, and would make a real pest of herself begging for it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to eat cereal without thinking of her.

She loved BJ's office chair and slept in it all the time.  I'm sitting in it writing this now, because my laptop is wonky and won't connect to the internet today. 

She hated the printer and would attack it whenever it came on.

She really loved BJ and always helped him with his work, hitting his keyboard with her paws, whenever she got the chance.

BJ took care of everything this morning, which was really kind. I don't know what I would do without him, because I've been a weepy mess all morning.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Abandoned Blog

If it were any more desolate around here, there would be tumbleweeds.  Seriously, what kind of horrible blogger am I, anyway?

I do have an excuse.  The kids are at BJ's mom's for a couple nights (we dropped them off yesterday and we'll pick them up tomorrow) and it is so very very quiet and weird here.  I had a horrible time getting to sleep last night.  "My chicks are not in my nest!" I told BJ (it turns out that he was asleep at the time). 

One would think that I would enjoy sleeping without Mary Grace steamrollering me out of the bed, and without Claire squeezing my upper arm flab, but instead I just laid there and missed them.  I am such a dork.

When your kids aren't home, you don't miss the whining and the constant requests and the fighting.  You don't even remember those things unless you try.  You miss the hugs and kisses and tickles.  You miss how Claire says, "round and round the gar-den," as she circles your palm with her tiny index finger, then says, "two step, two step," as she steps up your arm to tickle and make you laugh. And you miss the hilarious things that Mary Grace says...  The latest example was when BJ was installing their carseats in his mom's car, and Mary Grace looked around the garage and said, "Daddy, Grandmother has a big ladder and a little ladder, and she has a hose.  Grandmother must be a firefighter!"  I just love the way her mind works!  You miss the sound of their laughter.

I know they're having a super time.  Some of my fondest childhood memories are of spending the night at my grandma's house.  We would bake and sew, and my aunt Julie and I would sing "oldies" and dance around the kitchen.  I made them watch Mary Poppins a thousand times.  These memories they're creating are so good and wholesome and healthy - and it's nice for BJ and I to have some time alone together, too.  We went out to dinner and a movie last night, and we went out for dinner again tonight.  Two dates in a row?  Two dates per quarter is our usual!!

It's good for all of us.

Still, when they called this evening to say goodnight, I wasn't saying, "I'll see you soon!" to reassure them.  It was for me. 

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Doing Better

Grandpa watched the kids for a few hours yesterday so I could go to work and pay the payroll taxes and the bills, so I'm not going to federal prison for at least another month.  That, and a good night's sleep, took some of the pressure off.  I'm feeling a bit better.

Sometimes it's all kind of a lot.  I don't know what I'd do if I had a real problem, because I can't seem to get the hang of managing my little everyday problems.  I do ok for a week or two, and then all the plates that I'm spinning crash down around my feet, and I have to complain here and ugly cry on BJ's shoulder.  It's a broken pattern.

We have nothing planned for today.  I think we might run to the little local zoo and check on the baby goats and the baby wobblies.  We need to stop at the store and get milk, and something for dinner.  I called BJ at the last minute last night and asked him to bring home a pizza.  I hate cooking in the summer.

Claire is screaming in my ear about princesses right now.  Mary Grace just doesn't understand that Claire wants all of the princesses, and Claire is furious.  *sigh*  I need earplugs.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday Update 2: Keeps Getting Better

As long as I'm being Debbie Downer today, we got the official letter from the neighborhood school saying that MG will not be starting Kindergarten this fall (astute readers will remember that she misses the state cut off by 10 days).  They are not taking any early admissions due to budget restraints, even though a huge tax referendum just passed in May and increased the amount of money that the schools in our town will be receiving. 


The firm cut off date is stupid.  They should make the cut off June 1, but do testing for every kid born between June 2 and some arbitrary date in the fall, say September 1.  Wouldn't that be more fair?  Wouldn't that be more individualized education?

Wouldn't that be more expensive?  Yep.  That's why they don't do it.

I'm already studying to be "that mother" when my kids start public school.  Heck, I'm probably already "that mother" at preschool.  I was pretty much "that mother" all over town today.  I about decked a woman for shoving her way past MG at Panera today (I restrained myself and instead shouted, "EXCUSE ME," at her back - she didn't notice.  I don't think she spoke English.  No excuse for shoving a child, though).  Then another woman said "bullshit" while sitting right next to Claire, and while Claire has probably heard me say that more than once, the woman who said it didn't know that.  I very nearly said, "Nice language to use in front of a couple of kids!" but decided that I didn't want to get into a big Jerry Springer fight in the middle of Panera.  Again.

I'm going to bed. 

(Blessing counting:  Dad came over today, helped me run errands with the kids, and bought us lunch.  I have managed to work out a temporary childcare solution with the help of assorted friends and relatives until the Mommy's Time Out program starts.  I have plans to exploit other local Mommy's Time Out programs - we'll just be Presbyterian on Tuesday and Thursday, maybe we'll be Catholic on Wednesday and Jewish on Monday and Episcopalian on Friday.  Nevermind - Episcopalian is hard to spell.  We had a very good time at the Science Cafe about genetically modified food tonight, and I am a lot less worried about GMod food than I was going in.  The kids were pretty good, too, with only a few moments of noisiness that no one really seemed to mind.  It's not so bad.  I know that there are hundreds of thousands of people on this planet who would kill to have my "problems" instead of their own Problems.  I'm still going to bed.)

Tuesday Update

Remember how earlier I said that I would be ok, because the new sitter was starting tomorrow?

If you are my Facebook friend you've already read that she canceled at noon today.  Not just for tomorrow - for the whole summer.  And my head exploded.

And MG spilled about 2 cups of milk all over the kitchen floor, and more than a little bit of it got on the new carpet.

But it's going to be ok.  It is.  My brother is tentatively going to come watch the girls on Friday.  And my mother in law is taking them next week from Sunday through Tuesday afternoon.  And I've got a request in for the neighbor to take them one day at the end of next week.  And on the 15th the "mommy's time out" program resumes at the church, and I can take them Tuesday and Thursday from 9 - 1, for only $35 a week.

It's going to be ok.  I'm still breathing.  And I only yelled a little bit about the milk.

Things I Suck At: Tuesday Edition

I suck at asking for help.

There.  I said it.

And even in admitting it here, I feel like I'm wussing out.

But I really do.  And I (apparently, inadvertently, unfortunately) give off this air of "having my shit together," which makes people unlikely to offer help.  I once overheard an acquaintance say, about me, "She's like the ultimate mom."

I laughed.

Right now, I do not have my shit together.  There are a lot of reasons, but long story short, I'm struggling.  Yesterday was terrible.  My throat hurt from yelling by the time the kids fell asleep.  "Ultimate Mom" my ass.  I shudder to think what someone walking by our house would have thought of me last night.  (Claire has decided that she can't go pee alone, so she stands over the brand new carpet demanding that someone come watch her pee, and we've had it and we're not going along with it, because she can totally do it by herself, but she stands there and threatens to wet her pants on the new carpet until I lose my mind...  And I don't know how to make it stop.  Last night I told her that if she pees on my new carpet I will pee on her favorite toys, and I named names.  We'll see how that goes.  I hope I don't have to, but I'll totally do it if she pushes me.  Look out, Biscuit the Cat.)

But I've just had it.  I've been with these kids non-stop for 11 days now, without a break.  That's 264 hours of parenting in a row.  And I'm tired.  And I have 100,000 things to do at work that I'm not doing, and I'm getting more and more stressed the longer the things build up.  I feel like that old Ziggy cartoon.  "God put me on earth to do a certain number of things, and right now I'm so far behind, I will never die."

I finally, tearfully admitted to BJ last night that I can't take it much longer - just in time for him to go back to work this morning.  If I had a brain in my head I would've said, "Happy Memorial Day!  Take the kids and go away for a while!!" yesterday morning, but I didn't.  Because I can't ask for help.  Because I'm an idiot.

I talked to a friend about this once, and she said she's the same way.  She said that the phrase "I can do everything all by myself.... why isn't anyone helping me?!" summed up her life.  I feel the same way.

In my next life, I want to be one of those wilting-flower-type women who can't make Koolaid without someone saying, "Oh honey, let me do that for you - you go put your feet up."  I know a couple.  They're kind of a dying breed.  100 years ago they would've been frequent fainters, who carried smelling salts (no, whose friends carried smelling salts).  I don't know how they've pulled it off, but I think I would've had to start a long time ago to get anyone to go along with it.  It's too late at this point.  I have not managed anyone's expectations of me.

My dad's on his way over, thank goodness, so I probably won't snap today.  And our new sitter Delri starts tomorrow, so I'll be able to go to work and catch up.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.

Today, my goal is to avoid yelling, and to remember to breathe.