Monday, February 28, 2011

Why I Love My Husband

Once upon a time, my dad got the girls one of those keyboards with the lights inside the keys that will teach you to play, assuming that you don't just set it to play Beyond the Sea at volume level 12 and run away, laughing maniacally.

Tonight after dinner, the girls did just that, once again, for the squajillionth time, and BJ says, "You have a key to your dad's house, right?"

"Yeah, why?"

"Because we're totally breaking in and we're leaving that thing there."

"Oh, that would be funny."

"And we're going to glue down the volume switch, glue shut the battery compartment, and leave it playing Beyond the Sea at about this volume level."

"That would be AWESOME," I laughed.  "He's working tonight..."

  You can have this kind of fun, too!  Gotta love Amazon!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What I did during naptime...

I get these grand ideas about things, generally having to do with a craft or the house, and I'll go out and buy (or ask for, in this case) all the supplies, then when it comes time to execute the plan, I get stuck.  I become afraid to proceed because the final project isn't going to look the way it looks in my head, and I know I'll get frustrated, so the supplies will just collect dust for years and years until I finally suck it up and go for it.

The latest project?  Framing photos.  I take thousands of pictures, and occasionally one turns out well, and I have wanted to turn the wall in the living room into a gallery of family photos since Mary Grace was born.  My brother got me a whole bunch of black frames from my Christmas list in 2009 (but now that I think about it, it might have even been 2008!) and they've just sat in my cupboard waiting for me to get over my fear of failure and do something with them.

Last week I ordered a bunch of prints from Shutterfly (LOVE!  Shutterfly rocks), and they arrived today, so I spent Jack's nap finally hanging them up.

I think it turned out pretty well...  What do you think?

Pay no attention to the messy house surrounding the pictures.  That's what happens when I don't spend Jack's nap straightening up.  (I did get the dishwasher loaded before I sat down to post).

BJ hasn't even been home to see this.  What do you think he'll say?  Will he appreciate the mad decorating skillz, or will he worry about all the holes I put in the wall? 

It's not quite what I pictured, but it feels cozy to me.  It feels like home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kindergarten Round Up Fail

In my first official act as "Mary Grace's mom" at her brand new school, I proved once again that I am a complete and utter tool.

I sat down next to two women who obviously knew each other.  The one farther from me in the noisy cafeteria asked me if I had a pad.  I dug through my bag for a second and said, "Sorry, all I have is this," as I sheepishly held up a size 1 diaper.  Might work if you're desperate," I said with an apologetic shrug. 

"What?  Oh, no, I said a pen," she replied.

And I died.

If Mary Grace had been there, I'll bet I would have gotten my first, "Mo-THER!" 

So I lied, "Well, hi, I'm Amy and I'm hard of hearing.  Thought you said pad.  Nice to meet you."

I can only hope that she forgets me by August.

PS - how is my baby already old enough for Kindergarten?

PPS - how is it that I'm this big a dork, and yet I still have awesome friends?  Be honest, are you all just hanging out with me for comedic purposes?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Temporary Banality

The weekends go by too quickly.

My friend Barbara-Dahling came down to see us yesterday, and Grandmother Diana and Ken came today.  I love visitors, but I always feel so badly because I have nothing to talk about right now.  What do I do every day?  Nurse Jack, change diapers, wipe noses, manage illnesses (none this week, thankfully), let the dog out, cook meals, make snacks, let the dog in, work, cart kids around, wash clothes, wash dishes, fold clothes, read books, print out coloring sheets, drink tons of hot tea, contemplate having teeth whitened/liposuction/gastric bypass, exercise instead because it's cheaper, pay bills, shower, collapse into bed, do it all again tomorrow.


I am so boring.  Seriously.  This is why new parents talk to each other about the various characteristics of poopy diapers. 

At least this time I know it's only temporary. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

First vs Third

When Mary Grace got her first shots I cried as much as she did.  I took her home, put her in her coziest jammies (at 11 am) and we laid in my bed all day watching daytime TV (me) and nursing our blues away (her).  I didn't leave the house for two days.  I did this every time she got shots.

Jack got his first set of shots today.  I teared up a little.  After the doctor's appointment we picked up MG, then BJ, then our friend Wright and we took Wright to the airport (about an hour, hour and 15 minute drive - much longer if you count the time in the car running around to pick everyone up), then we went out for lunch at a fairly grown-up sit-down restaurant (a microbrewery - while we have seen kids there, I didn't see any other kids today), and then we spent the afternoon with Shannyn and her boys at the Children's Museum.  We got home around 6, and Grandpa brought dinner over.  Then I bathed the girls while BJ held Jack.  He started to cry so I finished up an e-mail before I came down and BJ went on bedtime duty.

And that, my friends, is the fundamental difference between the first child experience and the third child experience.  (The Claire experience was about halfway between these extremes - more crying than with Jack, but less taking-to-the-bed-with-the-vapours than Mary Grace).

Sometimes I wish I could go back 5 years and smack myself.

(Jack weighs 10 pounds, 12 ounces, and is doing great - our doctor has no concerns.  YAY!)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Apres Ski

After a long day on the slopes, Jack likes to relax in front of the fire in his comfiest swing, a cup of cocoa in his favorite teddy bear mug balanced jauntily on his knee. "Oh, hello Mitsy!" he calls as he waves to his debutante friend. "Capitol day, just capitol!"

(Thanks, Mandy, for the CUTE suit!)

Organizing My Life with Evernote

(No one paid me anything to write this, although I'd happily accept a year of Evernote Premium in return for being such a nice blogger, if the Evernote people happen to find this...)

I've been looking for a solution for literally YEARS to the information overload that plagues me.  I think I've found it with Evernote.

Evernote is free.  You download the app to your phone and your computer, and you can access it through the 'net, too.  You can save images, photos, lists (with check boxes), web pages, PDF files, notes... and in the premium version you can save Microsoft Office documents.

I have to admit, I've had it on my phone for a long time without realizing its potential.  But yesterday I had some time to fool around with it, and I'm really excited about the possibilities...

One area where I have total info overload is recipes. I'll be surfing and I'll see something and think, "Gosh, I really want to try that!" but then when I sit down to plan our grocery list I have NO idea what to make.  I can't remember that there was this recipe on Allrecipes and that recipe on Pioneer Woman and so on.  Well, now when I'm surfing and I come across a recipe, I just "clip" it to Evernote.  Just this morning I made Oatmeal Pancakes from Smitten Kitchen (LOVE these) and I clipped it to Evernote (with a picture copied and pasted into the file!) so that next time I want to make them, I don't have to search for the recipe (and run the risk of finding the wrong Oatmeal Pancakes because I can't remember which blog it was, or the risk of the whole blog being taken down for whatever reason).  If the internet is down, I can still make them, because the file is mirrored on my computer.

I can scan in my own recipes and put them in the same "notebook."  Then, when I make them, I can take a picture with my phone and upload it to the recipe easily.  I can tag all of my recipes, too.  Entree, Beef, Chicken, Dessert, Must Try!, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Christmas Cookies....  The possibilities are endless, and it will make them easy to find.  And it's SEARCHABLE!

Now, imagine I'm at the grocery store and I suddenly have an urge to make pancakes...  I can call up the recipe on my iPhone and make sure I have all the ingredients (ok, bad example, because I always have all those ingredients, but if I wanted to make some exotic recipe that didn't just use pantry staples, and I couldn't remember if I needed lemon or lime or whatever, I'd have that information at my fingertips).  If I'm up in Grammaland and I want to make a new Christmas cookie with Mimi, we can pull up all my recipes on her computer and use them there.  And since it's web, phone, and computer based, I don't have to endlessly print out the same recipes (or type up the same recipes to send to someone - I can e-mail it to you straight out of Evernote).

Ok, so beyond recipes and groceries, I have plenty of ideas for how Evernote can simplify my life.  If I'm talking to someone and they mention a book I'd like to read, I can put it in a special note (with check boxes!!) called "Books to Read" - then, 10 years from now when I have time to read again, I can call up that list and have all those book titles at my fingertips.  Ditto for movies.  How many times have we been sitting in a theater watching previews and said, "That looks great!" but then we get to movie night and we can't think of anything to rent.  Oh my gosh, that happens every time!

Let's say I'm out shopping and I see something that my mom would love.  Well, we draw names at Christmas so I don't get her a Christmas present every year... but I could put a note called "gift ideas" in my phone, and jot it down, and then if I draw Mom I've already got an idea for her.  I could also clip a website to Evernote if I'm surfing and run across something I'd like to get for her.  Awesome, right?  I can't be the only one who gets to December and draws a total blank on what to get for everyone.

We get freezer beef every year.  I am considering making a checklist of what we get, then checking it off as I use it.  With the checklist function, there is a lot of potential for inventory. 

But wait, there's more!  If I'm on the phone with someone at work, and I need to take notes on the conversation to refer to later, I have a whole notebook called "Work" where I can keep that stuff, and tag it so that I can find it.  There are about a thousand ways I can use it at work, all of which are boring because they're work, so let's move on.

Kids' sizes?  In a note so that if I'm shopping without them I can remember what size shoe they wear.  I never remember shoe sizes.  I can put BJ's sizes in there, too. 

Medical stuff that I need to remember?  Note.  Tagged with the person's name.  Magically accessible from anywhere so that if (God forbid) we're in the ER and they need to know when something happened, I can call it up and tell them exactly.

We want to build a house in a few years.  As I'm surfing if I run across an idea I like, it goes into Evernote.  If it's in a magazine I can scan in the page.  If it's at someone's house I can take a picture with my phone.  So when we sit down to design our "forever" house, I'll have years worth of ideas at my fingertips.

I can even take pictures of the kids' art projects (or scan them) so I don't have to store the originals.  Tag them with the kid's name and date them, and poof!  Instant preservation.  It doesn't get much easier.

I just couldn't wait to share this tool with all of you.  I hope you find it as useful as I do!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Boiler Up!

True story - in this house, Hail, Purdue! is a lullaby.

Also, how adorable are those lil' sneaker socks?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Today we're going for a preppier look.

And look!  His first photo with a real smile!  Somebody likes firetrucks, and no one on Mommy's side of the family will be surprised by that. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Psychology Today - Ticking Me Off All Week

Normally I really enjoy Psychology Today's blog, but lately, they're just honking me off.

First there was this post about "Why Your Child Cries."

Bottom line, "most of the kids, autistic or not, cry mainly for one reason: it works."


I wrote a lengthy comment, but with the way the website is set up, no one ever sees the comments, so I'm going to copy it here because I can.
I can think of a good half a dozen reasons why children cry that have nothing to do with manipulation. Stress, overstimulation, pain, fright, frustration, anxiety - and those are just off the top of my head. Hunger, fatigue, and other physical needs are other legitimate, non-manipulative reasons for crying.
Children cry to communicate, not to manipulate. Young and non-verbal children may cry because that is the only way they can express their needs. I've already learned the difference between my 6 week old baby's hungry cry and his tired cry. We're dealing with awful reflux that makes him scream, but he rarely cries because he knows that I'm here, responding to him and comforting him, and that he doesn't need to cry because his needs are met, in spite of his pain.
Your advice to "move slowly" so that the child won't learn that crying will get him his way seems misguided at best, and cruel at worst. Children of responsive, engaged parents cry far less - they learn that they don't need to get all wound up to get their needs met - whether they're autistic or not.
When my older children cry, I teach them to use self-calming techniques ("breathe," for example) and to communicate with words instead of tears, because I understand that their tears are an attempt to communicate with me, not to "get their way." I generally comfort them through the tears, "Calm down, it's ok," and once they're settled we talk about what happened and what needs to happen next. That's not being manipulated - that's being a loving, engaged, responsive, compassionate parent.
If nothing else, you should have fleshed this post out a LOT before publishing it. I think you recognize that there are legitimate reasons to cry (as you said, "Of course, that's not the only reason...") but you should talk about how to tell the difference between manipulative and other types of crying, and when it's ok to "move slowly."
I can't imagine anything sadder than being in real distress, and having the people I rely on to care for me move deliberately slowly in an attempt to... what? Show me who's boss??
Ironically, the very same night I wrote this, Mary Grace had a big old neon screaming hissy fit, pitched for the sole purpose of getting out of cleaning up...  But hey, I'm not stupid.  I know that kids DO manipulate, and when they do I react accordingly.  I just think it shows a fundamental flaw in one's parenting philosophy if one assumes that a kid is manipulating first, and attempts to find other reasons for crying later.

I finally calmed down from that one, and then I see this article today (comments seem to be disabled, so I'll just comment here).  Fortunately, this time the author seems to agree with me - although we arrive at the same conclusion via two very different routes.

The author of the post seems to think that all parents have some bizarre version of Stockholm Syndrome - that we love our kids because we can't quit them, so like a kidnapping victim we fall in love with our captors.  Not only do I think that's a weak argument, I think it shows a basic, fundamental flaw in psychology's interpretation of how people operate.  (Besides - people can and do quit their kids every day, whether they physically leave or just mentally check out - it happens all the time).

Psychologists seem to equate happiness with a lack of work.  (Maybe that's why they became psychologists?  Who else gets paid so much to sit around and say, "Tell me more about that..."?  Sure beats construction when it comes to ease!*)  I, however, have noticed that when I look back over my life, the times when I worked the hardest are the times that bring me the most joy.

Here's the best example I can come up with - I went to IU and slacked off and partied and watched soap operas for two years before I dropped out.  Later, I returned to college at Purdue, where I worked my ass of to maintain an awesome GPA, was on the Dean's List every semester, and I worked full time while doing it.  Guess which time period in my life I look back on more fondly.  Purdue, hands down.  It wasn't because I was with BJ when I was at Purdue - I had boyfriends at IU too.  It wasn't because I had more friends at Purdue - in fact, I left some of my best friends behind when I left IU.  It certainly wasn't because working 40 hours a week and taking 15 - 18 credit hours was easy.  No, I look back at my time at Purdue fondly because I worked hard, and I did something difficult (earning a degree) that not everyone can do.  My self-esteem was higher at Purdue because I was achieving - I was earning it!  That hard work paid off.

I had this job once where I was paid about $10, maybe $12 an hour to do NOTHING.  I was in an office alone, working for this internet service provider, and their main office was in another town.  I have no idea why they maintained the local office, but for whatever reason they decided that they needed a person there to provide "customer service" to the one person a week who came in to pay their bill, and the two or three people a day, at most, who called.  I also had to do something or another if the power went out.  The power never went out.  A lot of people think that making that kind of money in their early 20s (in the late 1990s) for absolutely ZERO effort would be awesome.  Those people are wrong.  I was miserable.  I was lonely and bored and tired and cranky.  The days crawled by so slowly.  It absolutely sucked.

Ease does not equal happiness, no matter what your shrink tells you.  If you solved all of your current problems you'd simply find yourself new problems.  It's part of being human. 

So, yes, parenting is really hard.  It's "the toughest job you'll ever love," in more ways than I can count.  But the difficulty, the struggle, is what makes it great!  Without struggle, there is no opportunity to learn and grow and change...  And that's why we'll all look back on our childbearing and childrearing years fondly when we're old and we have nothing that we have to do - not because they were easy, but because they were hard, and through that difficulty we grew and learned and became better versions of ourselves.

Well, that, and because kids are just cute and snuggly and fun, but everyone knows that.

* Edited to add:  The part about psychologists not working is just a joke.  I'm well aware that one doesn't need to break a sweat to work hard, I was just kidding.  Tell me more about how it made you feel when I made that joke.  :)

Who are you callin' pretty?

I'm a tough guy! 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Cute Suit

Jack looks so much older in this outfit!  Claire calls it his Farmer Pants.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Late Night Mothering

It's about 4:30 am and Jack stirs, wanting to nurse. He must have slept a long time, because I'm pretty sure we're in the same position we were in when we fell asleep. That's good and bad. I'm wide awake from all the rest, but I'm engorged. I know he's going to cough when I feed him.

Sure enough, he finishes eating and it starts.  The medicine is helping, but not fast enough for anyone, and his last dose was about 8 hours ago.  After the first couple times, we move to the couch where I can keep him on my chest, close to my heartbeat, and in a more upright position.  It seems to help.  What else can I do?

I want to change his diaper, but putting him on his back would make it worse.  He's so tired, fighting so hard to go back to sleep.  Daddy gets up and holds him while I make myself comfortable.  We'll probably be out here for the rest of the night.

I check my email to distract myself from his pain.  When he coughs I rub his back and whisper words of comfort, "I'm here.  Mommy's got you.  You're ok.  It's going to be ok.  Just relax..." as he strains.  Even though it must hurt like hell, he doesn't cry.

I think of all the other moms who might be awake tonight.  I think of my friend whose baby just got out of the hospital, and another who is out of town on business and missing her boys, and especially a brand new mommy who is waiting to find out whether or not she's having a miscarriage.  I send little prayers to each of them, wishes sent through the darkness for comfort, peace, health, safe travel, and for a tenacious little embryo who will beat the odds. 

It's so hard, I hate to see my little man in pain.  I wish so much that I could take it away.  All I can do is keep him upright and whisper words of love to him.  I hope it's enough.  I think of all the other moms and dads out there who are up right now, doing the exact same thing.

He's quieter now.  I'm going to close my eyes and try to rest.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Masterpiece Theater

Selected scenes from Peter Pan. The kids have been watching the stage version on Netflix. It's too funny...